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Music

Jesse Slack – Rust: A Country Blues Pop Playlist Essential

Jesse Slack has perceptibly found the answer to keeping Country music commercially accessible with his latest single “Rust”. The genre-defying track may borrow plenty of elements from different genres, but the roots of Country Americana Blues are well and truly blossoming in Rust.

The cuttingly angular guitar tones sit alongside the winding rhythms which are more typical from the genre providing a refreshing added dynamic to the instrumentals. While the lyrics and vocals allow Rust to share reminiscences with Pop and Bluesy Pop Punk artists.

If there’s any justice in the music industry, Jesse Slack will share the same success as the likes of Taylor Swift. Because evidently, he shares the same talent when it comes to crafting sticky-sweet melodies which will stick in your throat during the build-ups.

You can listen to Jesse Slack’s latest single Rust for yourselves by heading over to Spotify now.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Music

Country, Rock and Pop Converge in Kylee Stone’s Hit Single “Homegrown”

Up and coming Country Pop Rock artist Kylee Stone released her latest single “Homegrown” on January 31st and made Country music more accessible than ever.

It’s easy to see that Kylee Stone could follow in the footsteps of the likes of Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus after the release of Homegrown. There’s plenty of familiarities to be found in the timeless style of the track. But the distinction lies in the talent offered by Kylee Stone and her band.

No review of Homegrown would be complete without mentioning the insanely mesmeric lead guitar work. With riffs which would rival Slash’s, this emotive and soul-inspired single is taken to the next level. If any track could simultaneously appease Rock, Pop, and Country fans, it’s Homegrown.

You can check out the official music video to Kylee Stone’s latest single Homegrown for yourselves by heading over to YouTube.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Music

LIVE REVIEW: Amigo the Devil, The Deaf Institute, Manchester, 04/02/2020

There will never be anything as beautiful as someone who has seen the dark bringing the light with their music. And that’s exactly what happened when Amigo the Devil graced Manchester with his amicably macabre approach to Folk.

Within the realms of Dark Folk, you’ll find plenty of dark and twisted lyricism. But Amigo the Devil (Danny Kiranos) goes beyond that. He digs up the storytelling roots of the genre and exposes the complexity of 21st-century sentience with the addition of humour which will touch even the staunchest of existentialists.

I hadn’t quite anticipated how emotional a live set would be. Yes, you can practically hear each drop as his soul pours out through his lyrics on his records. But seeing the stinging conviction behind each word amplified their veracious meaning in a way I could never have anticipated. Yet, every time I was moved to tears, I was forcibly shifted back to laughter with his quick humility-soaked wit.

The words “crowd participation” usually send shivers down my spine. Yet, with Amigo the Devil, it’s almost a knee-jerk reaction to get caught up in the experience and become part of it in solidarity with his candidly expressive bravery.

Given that there’s a fairly eclectic array of instrumentals on their recorded material, I was slightly dubious how he could recreate that live armed with just an acoustic or banjo. But his inventive request for the audience to help out with foot stamping and clapping percussion was infinitely more immersive than any backing band could have been. He’d instilled unity in the room quite early on in the set by reminding us that death is one of the only commonalities which we’re certain to share, that will probably only sound depressing if you’ve never been to an Amigo the Devil Show.

It’s all too evident why a cult-like fanbase surrounds him. I think I’ve been indoctrinated, and I couldn’t be happier. If you get a chance to see him live, take it.

Artist Links:

Spotify, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

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Music

Mancana has made their debut with the infectiously catchy Psych Pop Rock Earworm “Living a Lie”

Manchester-based Alt Rock newcomer Mancana dropped their debut single “Living a Lie” on January 13th. The sticky-sweet soulful Americana-inspired hit affirmed just how lacking the airwaves are when it comes to naturalistically good-vibe feats of Rock. Mancana along with a whole host of other deftly talented artists more than made up for the shortfall.

The constantly evolving rhythms seamlessly sweep across a diverse tonal palette. From striking cutting Blues progressions to effervescent Jangle Pop to the euphoric ringing warmth of Psych Pop. Their sweet harmonic tones and infectiously catchy melodies transformed Living a Lie into one of the most welcome earworms we’ve heard in a long time. Living a Lie drips with 60s Psych Pop/Garage Rock nostalgia, but with Mancana’s personal charm, there’s no better revival to aurally throw yourself back in time with.

Additionally, with a bio like “A casual northern chancer with a penchant for the rock/country/Americana sound. Good honest & wholesome, like your Nan’s Sunday roast.” How could we not instantly become enamoured by Mancana?

You can check out Living a Lie along with the B-side single “CalifornIA” for yourselves by heading over to Apple Music or Spotify now.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Music

Unshackle Yourselves from Gender Stereotypes with Stacy Gabel’s latest Country Pop Single

Stacy Gabel

Femininity is hard. I’m still not entirely sure how to do it properly. But I do know that there’s plenty of resonance to be found in Stacy Gabel’s empowering upcoming single “High Heeled Shoes”. Especially for anyone who doesn’t particularly feel like bowing to gender normativity.

With Abba-style chorus vocals and Stacy Gabel’s accessible personality injected into the conversational verses, High Heeled Shoes is a work of unforgettable Indie Pop musical theatre. The instrumental arrangement is equally as eccentric with strings and the mandolin alongside the acoustic guitar in the Cabaret-Esque soundscape.

High Heeled Shoes basically offers the same mood-boost as watching your favourite musical – just without the time commitment. Make it a playlist essential.

You’ll be able to check out Stacy Gabel’s single High Heeled Shoes from February 21st, 2020. In the meantime, you can get a taste of her uplifting approach to Country Pop by heading over to Soundcloud and checking out her earlier releases.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Music

Grant Nesmith – Every Night: Celestial Shoegaze-Infused Alt Country

https://grantnesmith.bandcamp.com/track/every-night

If you’re always craving potent hits of archaic aural bliss, you’ll be able to scratch the itch by pressing play on Grant Nesmith’s single “Every Night” from their debut solo album “Between Tides”.

With inspiration from Neil Young, Gram Parsons and Shoegaze pioneers, Grant Nesmith was able to pull quintessential elements from a myriad of genres and tie them together to create a feat of uplifting alchemy.

Every Night filled me with the same fuzzy euphoric feeling as I get when I delve into one of Cheap Trick’s indulgently sentimental, nostalgically blissful singles. But as the track progressed, the instrumentals became transcendentally celestial. Allowing Every Night to become an intensely emotional experience comprised of sonic layers of hypnotic choral sound.

You can check out Every Night along with the rest of the debut album for yourselves by heading over to Bandcamp now.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Music

Tyler Meacham – ‘Denver’

Tyler Meacham’s ‘Denver’ is country alt-pop at its best. Hailing from Richmond, VA, Meacham creates folk-infused music that transports you to another time that’s drenched in sepia.

‘Denver’ begins with a delicate chord progression that immediately begins to paint the backdrop for the tender subject matter: a story of lost love. As the wistful lyrics come to play, we realise that Meacham is singing about a past relationship and the “what ifs” that permeate her wandering mind. Following Meacham’s regretful tone within the vocal is a collection of country-style keys. A flowing, smooth slide guitar then soars in to join the aforementioned sounds; it’s these aural components working together seamlessly that conjure the nostalgic atmosphere of the song most powerfully.

The soft sounds ebb into the first chorus. But suddenly, the drums pound in – courtesy of Dusty Ray – taking the song to the next level. This expansive sound kicks the second verse up a notch as the full band come to the fore. Meacham’s voice becomes more potent in the next chorus. The band take a step back and her voice hits those expressive notes that reflect the emotive nature of the song. Then, we’re treated to a holistic, engaging instrumental where the lead guitar takes centre stage.

The final chorus takes us back to the calm, serene vocal as ‘Denver’ draws to a close. But that’s not before we crash back into one last, loud section before the quiet, peaceful acoustic guitar returns, coming full circle as Meacham’s impassioned vocal rings out true.

Review by Alicia Carpenter

Music

Death Knell – Boom, Click: Dark Country Folk for Dark Times.

https://deathknellofficial.bandcamp.com/track/boom-click

As their band name not so subtly indicates, Death Knell definitely aren’t your average Country band.

Any fans of Amigo the Devil’s Murder Folkstyle are sure to appreciate the angsty lyrical ingenuity found in their single “Boom, Click”. Especially anyone who is sharing contempt for the 1% whose odious nature is leaving us non-billionaire folk rightfully enraged.

Lyrics such as “And they don’t realize they’re doomed, with their bleached white teeth, fake tits, and exceptional veneers. Their thousand dollar suits will be nothing but ash when I’m through”. Imaginatively narrate the injustice we’re all subjected to so the upper-classes can have their Eyes Wide Shut style soirées.

Death Knell are an essential band to have around right now. Their satrical approach to Country is sorely needed on both sides of the pond. I for one am extremely grateful for their resonantly cathartic yet riotously energised track which immediately found a home on my playlist.

You can consider Boom, Click to be an invitation to fuck the establishment while simultaneously being treated to some intricately mesmerising frenzied instrumental alchemy.

You can check out their single Boom, Click for yourselves by heading over to Bandcamp.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Music

Jessta James has dropped his sultriest single yet with “Inferno”

Jessta James’ latest single “Inferno” merges the rhythmic immersivity of Country with infectious melodic Pop hooks creating one of the sultriest tracks we’ve heard this year.

If the winding Bluesy guitars or the vibrantly tribal percussion doesn’t do it for you, the velvety vocal notes from Jessta James definitely will.

With each new release, the US-based breaking artist has a new brand of aural alchemy to offer. But it’s safe to say that with Inferno they’ve found a sound which comes with a massive amount of commercial appeal which the mainstream will find hard to ignore. Everything about the single is tantalisingly sweet while being simultaneously salacious.

You can check out the official music video to Jessta James’ single Inferno which premiered on November 5th for yourselves via YouTube.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Music

Markus Ernehed & Fredrik Björns tackles the issue of domestic abuse in “A Song for Jimmy”

Swedish Duo Markus Ernehed & Fredrik Björns released their latest single “A Song for Jimmy” on November 14th. After hearing the first few pensive notes of the Country track, there was little doubt that the soundscape would leave me sharing the same melancholy which the tonality offered.

Nothing could quite prepare me for how morose A Song for Jimmy would be. Markus Ernehed & Fredrik Björns tackled the raw issue of domestic abuse and narratively explored the deep wounding impact of domestic abuse on both women and children.

A Song for Jimmy deserves to go viral. Partly due to the stunning feel of the delicate single. But mainly because millions of women who have experienced domestic abuse will find plenty of comfort in this deeply empathetic single which feels like an ode to the strength of femininity.

You can check out the official video to Markus Ernehed & Fredrik Björns’ latest single A Song for Jimmy via YouTube.

Review by Amelia Vandergast