Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Knight In Shining Armour - Dougal and Gammer featuring Hannah Faulkner.

Take one acoustic pop song, add 2 renowned hardcore producers and 1 remix later you have a solid gold dance floor anthem.

Narrowly missing out on song of the year 2012 in the Hardcore Heaven Awards "Knight In Shining Armour" is destined for big things and is sure to fill dancefloors everywhere.

It's nice also to see the hard work and dedication of songwriter Hannah Faulkner gaining recognition and being rewarded. Reward which is so richly deserved.

Phil Brookes

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Sarah Carter - In Disguise

Hailing from Northamptonshire, Sarah Carter is quickly making a name for herself on the county's thriving open mic circuit as an accomplished Singer/Songwriter.

Sarah's latest offering, the 3 track E.P "In Disguise" opens with the instantly memorable "Blue". Complete with some well executed guitar that brings to mind the giants of American folk music like Woody Guthrie and the early work of Bob Dylan. The rhythm of the boxcar. Driving... This contrasts perfectly with Sarah's crystal clear vocal which is almost apologetic whilst at the same time supremely confident.

Sarah is an excellent storyteller and proof that there is a lot to be said for straightforward musical structure and well delivered vocal melody. For this is campfire music in the truest American folk music tradition yet it remains uncompromisingly British. With the lyrical wit and wry delivery style very reminiscent of The Beautiful South we are treated to a magical musical soap opera which leaves you wondering what will come next.

The title track "In Disguise" eases in with a slight change of gear with Sarah showing a more direct, semi-aggressive delivery. Almost like a female Billy Bragg. But there are no party political messages here, only the politics of love and a brilliantly understated bittersweet tale. Displaying the lyrical depth and musicality of an artist beyond her years, Sarah yet again proves that the best music is indeed, ageless.

Which brings us to "Jump" the E.P's closing track which is another slice of  mellow folk music, Sarah's voice is at it's hypnotic best as it floats, effortlessly, over the by now trademark well executed musical backing which is now augmented by some tasteful cajon playing.

All three songs flow seemlessly to make for a pleasant listening experience and with a running time of a little over 10 minutes, while totally satisfying, it definitely leaves you wanting more. Special mention must go to Stevie A. Rigsby for his sympathetic production, which showcases the songs on this 3 track E.P. perfectly, allowing them to shine.

So, what's next for Sarah Carter? With the right exposure, she could well be on the brink of a wider audience and she has indeed set the bar high for her contemporaries.

I myself would love to hear Sarah perform with a full band, and in the future who knows, maybe there will be a modern folk-rock revival.

For more information on forthcoming showcases visit her website.

"In Disguise" is available for download now and I can't recommend it highly enough. For £3 it's a bargain.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Corinne Lucy - Black

It seems more and more common these days for young female singers to either "over sing" and lose sight of melody, or put on some kind of fake accent in a blatant parody of the popular singer of the day.

Every now and then something comes along and takes you completely by surprise. Someone with the imagination and talent to buck the trend... Enter Northampton's own Corinne Lucy...

What we have here is a glimpse into the imagination of a talented singer/songwriter. Opening with a strong rhythmic drum pattern sitting on a musical bed of sparse folk brilliance.

The song is driven by a wonderful vocal performance, complete with layer upon layer of swirling, cascading harmony lines. Almost haunting in it's complexity whilst remaining resolutely direct. Lyric and melody effortlessly blending and producing hook after hook and one of the best choruses I have ever heard. FACT.

Corinne is certainly a force to be reckoned with. A modern day troubadour with old fashioned musical values and, based on what I have heard so far, a name to look out for.

Check her out for yourselves...

  Corinne Lucy - Black

And buy her amazing album, "Clockwork", here

Monday, 9 April 2012

Past Life - Jordan Herbert

Buy it HERE

From the same producer that brought us Hannah Faulkner's debut, (see below) Harley-Joe Arnold does it again.

This time with Jordan Herbert's debut single Past Life (which he co-wrote as well as produced)

Immediately we are greeted by a radio friendly vibe that's as fresh as tomorrows bread. Although it might not be the heaviest Hip-Hop joint it's certainly no lightweight throwaway either. Jordan throws down some fine rhymes, delivered with a likeable cheeky swagger as he paints a picture of modern angst as seen through a young mans eyes. The sincerity adds to the enjoyment. This is Hip-Pop my friends and we like it.

Musically supported by a well crafted mellow R&B groove the combination produces a sound and style that is as unmistakably British as Fish and Chips.

Jordan's debut album, 'Nothing More, Nothing Less', is due to drop on June 1 and if this track is anything to go by, a treat is in store.

One to watch.

Use Me - Jeff Grable

From the digital album "With Any Luck"
Buy it HERE

This track is CLASS... A rock ballad matured by years of hard work and and dedication. Jeff Grable may be the best kept secret in Rock and Roll but he is living proof that the troubadour spirit is alive and well, in Morgantown, West Virginia at any rate.

An acoustic guitar saunters in, casually. It set's up a mood of peace and tranquility and you just know that you are in for a treat. Enter stage right a voice embittered by battle, bearing the scars of a thousand songs, seasoned with a mixture of whiskey and cigarettes. You know, the Rock and Roll way. This voice could sing the contents of a detergent bottle and make them sound like a hit. This time it's singing a story as old as Rock itself, a story as old as Man. Forbidden fruit... Guilty pleasures... you know what I'm talking about...

Not only has Grable got a great rock voice, he also has a great way of injecting Soul and intimacy, with tasteful use of harmonies this is a great all round vocal performance.

But it's not ALL about the vocals. Oh no... We are also dealing with a supreme guitar player. A player with taste and control. If the first chapter in the guitarist's handbook is "Touch and Feel" then be sure of one thing, this man has done his homework... After all, this is not "Guitar Playing for Dummies"

If you do nothing else today, bag yourself a copy of this gem of a track and while you're at it check out the rest of his back catalogue. You won't be sorry.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Left Right Left - Hannah Faulkner


Hailing from Northampton, Singer/Songwriter Hannah Faulkner is quickly making a name for herself, in no small part due to her being one of the hardest working young talents on the circuit. This hard work has recently rewarded her with a place in the National Finals of Open Mic Uk at London's O2.

Taken from her debut album "Ni Ni", Left Right Left is a slice of soulful, acoustic driven pop. Hannah's powerful voice has an understated sultry quality which is showcased perfectly by this song. Hannah's thoughtful lyrics about the struggles of modern life compliment the slightly sparse musical arrangement really well and, in so doing, provides more hooks than a fishermen's convention!

I look forward to seeing and hearing what Hannah does next...

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Better With Me - The Boobytraps


Kicking off with a solid funky guitar this track drives like a freight train whose sole intention seems to be destroy everything in its path!

What we have here is an uplifting slice of modern psych-pop. This could almost have been recorded in the mid to late 1960's. It has a delicious British garage feel to it. Very similar to The Creation.

The mix of the guitars makes excellent use of the stereo field creating lots of space for the drums and a wickedly driven bass.
Guitar players, take note... This is how you generate power.
The vocals are both urgent and plaintiff with some great harmonies thrown in for good measure.

Picking up the baton that was dropped by a well known Manchester band and giving it a makeover, The Boobytraps deserve to reach a wider audience and, if this track is any indication, I'm sure that will only be a matter of time.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Epic 45s - The Relays

Let me be the first to tell you... Britpop is BACK... And it's back with a vengeance.

Enter The Relays... A 5 piece from Wigan fronted by Adam Redmond, who, incidentally, was the boy on the cover of the Oasis album, Masterplan.

So the track begins and within the first bar you know this is a hit. Bar 5 and your head is nodding. Briefly, I'm back in 1985 reminiscing about The Alarm - but no, this is different. It's smoother, almost laid back. It's being driven by a solid rhythm section, while the vocals float, almost effortlessly over the top. I really like the way the guitar parts play off each other, painting their own picture while the understated energy of the drums carries the weight and provides the backbone to this 3 minute slice of brilliance. Seldom has a title suited a song so perfectly, this is indeed an epic 45...

Yes this is pop music. Britpop music. Welcome back.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

This Town - Loor a los Heroes


This is a shining example of the timeless quality that the best music has.
Displaying a maturity that is well in advance of their years, this track starts the way it means to go on. Like a fury. With a deceivingly simple and melodic guitar line that bobs and weaves it's way throughout like a prize fighter. The bass and rhythm guitar forge an almost awkward groove which is resolved by some neat drumming to create a perfectly balanced backdrop.

The theme here is frustration. Frustration at both surroundings and circumstance... Handled yet again with the trademark tongue in cheek vocal delivery which makes Loor a los Heroes so appealling. All in all, musically, it pulls no punches as it drives you away from "This Town" and you can almost feel the wind in your hair!

Perfectly crafted, expertly executed, guitar driven lyrical pop. Superb. Genuine class.
Ordinarily I would recommend you go out and buy this track but you don't need to. It's available for FREE download. Now that's a bargain. So... what you waiting for?

She Don't Think So - Loor a los Heroes


The jagged guitar intro sets a scene of faux jollity which is betrayed excellently by the lyrics which reading in isolation seem quite melancholy but here delivered with youthful humour! A double betrayal! This is a clever tool employed by the greats. Being an old fart, I appreciate the fact that the lyrics are actually telling me a story! And it is done with style. Musically it is extremely tight with no heroiocs, simply each part defined and justified. In my opinion just the way it should be.

There are obvious comparisons that can be made about who and what this song reminds you of (cough, Arctic Monkeys!)

That being said being said this track stands up very well in it's own right. I'm hearing lots of similarities to artists such as Buzzcocks, Television, combined with the wit and guile of Billy Bragg.

To make any such comparison is kind of unfair because these guys will undoubtedly carve out their own path.

This certainly falls in to the category of best played as loud as possible and, as I have found today, it is great to drive to as well. Double win.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Emily J - Ghost

S.G.R. Productions


Aptly titled, this track floats in on the breeze like a friendly spirit, takes you by the hand and leads you on a magical journey through the clouds.

Emily J's voice, likewise, is like a whisper on the wind and adds splendidly to the mood. The sparse musical arrangement is haunting in it's simplicity.

This is mature music very much in the vain of Nerina Pallot with perhaps a more folky edge reminiscent of Judie Tzuke. The only negative point I can find is that it seems to be over all too soon but maybe that's a good thing. To be left wanting more.