I always try to find the positives in reviews and give constructive pointers where there are areas for improvement, and I guess with that in mind there’s some nice fingerpicked guitar here coupled with Tommy Harwood’s obvious enthusiasm for what he’s doing. Maybe it’s that enthusiasm that’s at fault here, because ‘Walking In The Dark’ feels and sounds like the passion to get the song finished and recorded took away from the necessity to polish the lyrics and work on the performance. Sadly, the guitar’s lacking in any midrange warmth and so bright as to be brittle and shrill, the vocals are too up-front in the mix and have some – to put it delicately – tuning and pitching issues, and the cajon sadly wanders in and out of time seemingly of its own volition. All of these things could be corrected by some vocal coaching and some time with a seasoned producer to take charge of the engineering and mixing, and to guide the performance in the right direction.
Tommy’s a poet as well as a songwriter, and there’s no question that, at the root of all this, he can write verse; he needs to focus a little more on meter-over-music – poetry and lyric writing are very different beasts, despite their surface similarities – and on the vocal performance. He certainly knows his way around fingerstyle guitar, and it’s a shame that the production values on this demo don’t really allow that to be showcased. It may be that in his eagerness to commit ‘Walking In The Dark’ to tape (is that even still a thing?) and add ‘multi-instrumentalist’ to his CV, he’s done himself a disservice – it’s entirely possible that, with a few fewer instruments to worry about, a bit of singing-and-guitar-only focus, and a decent producer to get the best out of his vocal and guitar-playing performance, there’s some nice song ideas here. It’s just a shame that they’re currently being undone by his intensity and spirit, and a desire to do everything all at once.
Small towns in Wales seem to regularly turn up superb melodic rock bands, and Empire of Lights – with their new single ‘Hit The Highway’ is no exception to that rule. Sparse, echoey guitar, pounding drums, and driving bass are the order of the day here; there’s a gothy vibe to the music, a feel of ‘The Forest’ or ‘Jumping Someone Else’s Train’-era Cure, mixed with Johnny Borrell Razorlight vocals from singer John Aziz.
It’s a vaguely psychedelic, spacey sound – there’s something special about the dynamics of three piece rock bands; think Hendrix, Cream, Husker Du and Sugar, and of course Nirvana. The interplay between instruments and vocals, the necessity of accepting and using space rather than simply turning everything up louder than everything else, allows for a different approach and that serves Empire Of Lights well here, adding to that slightly ephemeral, dreamy feel, and coming from such a young band – drummer Eifion Davies is still too young to drink in the bars that Empire Of Lights should be playing this year – shows a realy understanding of arrangement and songwriting. The future looks very bright for Empire Of Lights.
Melbourne-based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ceylon Rose released their debut single ‘Bubbles and Reflections’ on March 12th and shared some of the epiphanous thoughts that led to his transition from their anxiety-riddled state into someone with confidence in their ability.
One of the many stunning aspects of this track is how it reminds the listener that darkness can be overcome. Then there is the soundscape itself which unravels as a melodically soulful mix of RnB, pop, psych-rock and hip hop. The Hendrix-style solo gives you plenty of time to let the preceding introspection sink in and appreciate the multi-faceted nature of Ceylon Rose’s talent.
Bubbles and Reflections is now available to stream via Spotify.
To keep up to date with news on the artist’s following releases, connect via Facebook.
We first met US singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jade Moede through their raucous feat of retro rock, ‘No More lies’, their upcoming release, ‘Shine Your Love’, exhibits a very different facet of their ability to manipulate emotion through music.
While most love songs work on the assumption that the listener is already affably sated, Jade Moede went in a completely different direction. His psychedelic synth-rock track reminds the listener of the infinite nature of love – you’ll find plenty of it within the unapologetically eccentric production that’s an extension of what the Beatles had to offer. But there’s something utterly stunning about Jade Moede’s determination to make sure that love emanates through the track orchestrated for his drum teachers, Jack Brand and Stuart Miller who have both since passed. Something tells me they’d be just as proud of his MO as his technical ability.
Canadian singer-songwriter Troubled Traveller has made their debut with the all too resonant single ‘the lucky ones’, created in collaboration with Floridian space pop producer Brian Squillace and vocalist Amber Nicole.
With shimmering guitars cascading down melodies first heard in 70s psych-rock finding synergy with deadpan vocals, everything in the lucky ones pieces together like a perfect jigsaw that you never want to tear apart.
Troubled Traveller succeeded in lacing the lucky ones with the same despondence that we’ve all been in bed with recently without making it a self-flagellating melancholy fest. He’s set the bar with his seriously strong debut, but we’re more than assured he’ll exceed expectation with their upcoming releases. Don’t be surprised if Troubled Traveller ambles onto your radar when you hit play on their debut.
the lucky ones is now available to stream via Spotify.
Cork-based duo, Ebben Phlö have released their fuzzed-up storming feat of indie psych rock, ‘Loose Ends’; if you could imagine what it would sound like if a little more kaleidoscopic colour was thrown into the Strokes’ tonal palette, you’ll get an idea of the intensity delivered.
It isn’t every day that you experience such a visceral mentally-modifying single which oozes mainstream appeal, but Ebben Phlö’s hooks which lure you into the scuzzy synth-laden soundscape are as sharp as you’re going to hear on the airwaves today.
If artists garnered hype on their creativity alone, Ebben Phlö would be sitting pretty right next to the likes of Black Keys and Muse right now.
Loose Ends is now available to stream via Bandcamp.
The work of musician Seth Leininger, from Laramie, Wyoming, ‘Ghost House II’ – from Mantisgrove’s debut album ‘Our World’, is a dream of a track, a mixture of synthpop and mellow, full-band, beauty; chiming guitars, descending bell-like synths, and ethereal, soft vocals. Reminiscent at times of that gentle wave of British indie that included the Inspiral Carpets, the Chameleons, Ride, and the Stone Roses (think ‘She’s a Waterfall’ or ‘I Wanna Be Adored’), ‘Ghost House II’ spirals and twists around a central repeating guitar motif, mixing that indie vibe with psychedelia, surf rock, and chillwave to produce something alluring and fascinating in its winsomeness.
The follow-up to Mantisgrove’s well-received debut EP ‘Noon Blue’, you can check out the delicious ‘Ghost House II’, and the rest of ‘Our World’, on Spotify, and follow Mantsigrove on Facebook and via their website.
After honing-in on their craft in popular UK touring bands, Mark Millar finally made their debut in 2019 with the solo album ‘On the Journey’. Inspiration has been flowing ever since, leading to the release of their sophomore album, ‘Take Me to the River’, featuring the stunning spin on psych-tinged blues rock ‘Killer’.
Lofty blues guitars perfectly complement the 70s style rock vocals which bring a Jim Morrison kick to the soundscape which allows Mark Millar to humbly show his lifetime of experience perfecting blues bends.
You can practically hear vultures circling above the deserty full-bodied semi-orchestral instrumental arrangement which allows classical strings to pull off the intricate soulful progressions which will serenade you as much as the vocals.
You can check out Mark Millar’s album Take Me to the River via Spotify.
Classic rock conservationists, The Leafs, dug up the roots of 70s rock and spliced them with elements of 90s Britpop in their latest single ‘Mr. Coffey’. With driving guitar tones as vintage as Keith Richards himself, the preservation of classic rock is safe in the deft hands of The Leafs – and so is the future of alt-rock.
With vocals which are sweet to the point of seduction, a psychedelic kick to the synthy euphoria-spilling instrumentals and tenderly romantic lyrics, you can expect your soul to be filled and your rhythmic pulses to be arrested while this earworm crawls in.
The Berlin-based artist may have only made their debut in 2020, but you’d be hard-pressed to find another 2021 release containing more commercial potential than Mr. Coffey. It’s an obsession-worthy track.
Racking up over 10k streams and garnering major airplay with a debut release is the dream for many aspiring artists, The Walking Trees first single ‘SOUTHSIDE aLIVE! is equally as ethereal.
By channelling post-punk despondency vocally, infusing Depeche Mode-style atmosphere and exuding frenetic Black Keys-style blues through the guitars and keys, SOUTHSIDE aLIVE! drips with Marlon Brando-level cool.
The Frank Zappa-Esque. Spoken word verse was so much more than a nod to an icon, the serpentine canter of the poetry is utterly transfixing as it affirms the amount of artistic intellect behind The Walking Trees sound which carries reminiscence from everyone from Gorillaz to the Cramps.
The Walking Trees is everything a modern alt-rock act should be. From their image to their experimental intrigue, everything points in the direction of success for The Walking Trees. With their forthcoming single due for release in late February, they are well-worth having on your radar.
You can check out the official music video which premiered on January 23rd via YouTube.