INTRODUCING. Cameron Avery with debut album review – Ripe Dreams, Pipe Dreams

Release date: 10 March 2017
Genre: Experimental blues/folk
Rating: ★★★ 1/2
Words by: Scott Murray

With such an emphasis on production in the modern era, vocals have seemingly fallen to the back burner. This is not the case for Perth’s Cameron Avery. His debut album ‘Ripe Dreams, Pipe Dreams is a truly beautiful offering thanks to Avery’s transcendent vocals, with the entire album highlighting vocal qualities reminiscent of Jeff Buckley. This, paired with Avery’s poignant lyrics of longing and loss, create a dramatic vocal landscape.

That is not to say that Avery’s production suffers as a result, to the contrary Avery has created a striking instrumental landscape filled with sounds not of the modern age. His use of strings, horns and even an organ is shockingly refreshing in an industry filled with synths, and generic drum beats.

This old school sound shines in the albums fifth track, ‘Big Town Girl’, a soulful ode to Jane, the girl running circles in Avery’s brain. Avery drives this home in the song’s forth verse.

“You know I’ve never had the time to wait around for a dame, but if I knew that we could make it I’d wait around for Jane”.

The track begins with a swell of an organ before being joined by thoughtful guitar and minimalistic percussion. Avery’s voice then cuts through the instrumentals in what feels like an instant, but lasts in your ear for far longer.

A standout of this track is the pain in Avery’s voice, constantly oozing his longing and eventually his loss. These two themes can be heard throughout the record, no more so than when Avery croons “Could I suit her better, than that dark blue sweater? Probably not.”

There isn’t a tune on the record that manages to escape Avery’s titanic wave of despair, every track dips its toe into the deep pool of Avery’s pining. This coupled with Avery’s seeming opposition to contemporary sound has allowed Avery a unique opportunity to let his lyrics to take the fore.

However, there are tracks that seem entirely independent of this sound. The album’s third track ‘Dance With Me’ highlights this through its neo-western sound, similar to that of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds track ‘Red Right Hand’.

As well as this there are tracks that give glimpses of Avery’s psych rock pedigree. Avery, Tame Impala’s touring bassist and a former member of Pond, briefly lets his roots show in the album’s two busiest tracks ‘The Cry of Captain Hollywood’, an entirely instrumental track that is as rousing as it is peaceful, and ‘Watch Me Take It Away’.

Watch Me Take It Away begins with pulsing, almost sitar-esc guitar before the track takes flight with a swarm of rhythmic clapping and heavy short bursts of guitar and rapid fire percussion. This ensemble becomes a tapestry that allows Avery to highlight his range whilst also allowing his powerful lyrics to shine. The track follows Avery’s growth as he grasps that he need not waste his time on relationships without mutual respect, starting the third verse with the glass shattering realisation that his time is as important as anyone else’s. “I aint got time for your perversions, I spend my time transcribing versions of the truth”.

Overall the album is musically undefinable, and yet astoundingly beautiful. There is something ethereal about Cameron Avery’s voice that creates a sense of hope, despite the distinct sense of loss seen through almost all of his lyrics. This is a fantastic first effort from a talent that has been hidden behind a bass guitar for far too long.

 


Listen to the highly anticipated debut album from Cameron Avery here
Also make sure to check him out on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

 

S.M.

 

LIVE REVIEW. Natalie McCool at The Cluny 2 with Katsi and Mat Hunsley

Date: 16th March 2017.
Venue: Cluny 2, Newcastle
Genre: Alt-pop
Words and Photography: Victoria Ling


North East newcomers, Katsi started the night bringing their haunting harmonies with a few original numbers and selected covers of Fleetwood Mac, Britney Spears and TLC. With Katsi’s interesting mix of minimal guitars and carefully constructed vocal layers, this could be a duo to watch out for.

I was quite anxious for the next support as I had heard great things about their music and even met them but and never actually seen what they could do. What was to come? Would it be an anti-climax or would I like them as much as those who had recommended them so highly? Mat Hunsley is the artist in question and he was everything we wanted and more. He begins solo and then his set becomes “instantly happier” as drums and bass join him – his words not mine! With both set-ups he was captivating as he performed a set of original folk material with an indie undertone.

unnamed (5)Having seen Natalie McCool on her last tour on the back of a successful Pledge Music campaign for her magical debut album The Great Unknown’, I was very excited to hear she was coming back to Newcastle to coincide with the release of her single ‘You & I’.  McCool oozes stage presence wherever she goes and with drummer Laura and keys player James added to the mix, there’s that extra bit of fierceness to the set up. Kicking off with the energetic ‘Magnet’ sets the tone of the night and with a slight technical hitch early in the set of tangled wires before her poppiest song of the night, ‘Cardiac Arrest’, McCool still has it under control and the audience still engaged. I mean if you don’t loose your shit getting tangled in wires and pulling out your mic, you have a lot to be admired for. Even with the slight confusion over the set list, everything is calm and the show goes on. This is what I love about Natalie McCool live and with the company of her band on stage – the joy and chemistry between them is so genuine. Everything is free flowing and everything is so real.  These little hitches make YOU feel more engaged so when the songs about Natalie’s exes are performed you feel like she has caught that bit of you in the performance…. that is if you have had an ex!

Highlights of the night were definitely ‘Sorry Sight’, a new song and ‘Feel Good’, from the album. Sorry Sight has a slight touch of Florence and The Machine as Natalie’s vocals do some impressive acrobatics. We are told it might get a release and if it does I will be the one shouting about it.  Feel Good is a personal favourite. Great on the album but when you witness it live, it is like an out-of-body experience – you can feel that guitar, those drums and the keys just get under every part of your skin. Basically, everything you want to feel at a live gig whatever the genre of music – Feel Good is one of those few moments for me.  Then Natalie tells us ‘Fortress’ is going to get a release soon with an added choir. Can you imagine that performed live? Brilliant with this three-piece set up but add that choir and I might just loose it when I next see Natalie McCool live, as I was on the verge of it this night.

 


Make sure to check out Natalie McCool’s new single You & I here. You can also follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

 

Through the eyes of Lil Vik

LIVE REVIEW. The Sherlocks at Wedgewood Rooms with support from Crown Of Thieves and Jordan Allen


Date:
February 23rd
Venue: Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth
Genre: Indie/alternative
Words and Photography: Martina Di Gregorio

The Sherlocks, the fast growing indie band from Sheffield, played at Wedgewood Rooms in Portsmouth as part of their tour that is selling out impressively fast considering they have only been signed for three months.

Crown Of Thieves kicked off tonight’s gig slowly warmed up the audience with some hard rock music and light hearted jokes. The leading vocalist went from sitting down and drinking his beer during the bassist’s solo to passionately bending to the ground during his high notes – definitely was an interesting way of starting the night!

They were followed by Jordan Allen, who did a perfect job of engaging the audience through their intense performance. They did not stray away from the audience, not even post-set as Jordan signed merch for all those people that rushed to purchase their new EP, ‘Living La Vida Loca in Bolton’. The band never gave up on making the audience scream for them, and the efforts certainly paid off.

But the real highlights of the night were of course The Sherlocks, who stole the spotlight and proved just why they have risen so high so fast. The set started with ‘Last Night’, and the lead vocalist, Kiaran Crook, didn’t miss a single note while balancing his trademark stage presence with vocal performance. The crowd grew increasingly excited with every track, screams erupting every time they announced the next upcoming song. It was impossible to stay still in the sea of people jumping around and swaying to the electric beat in the Wedgewood Rooms tonight.

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Fan favorite ‘WIll You Be There?’ was the fourth song played and everyone simultaneously lost it in a moment, understandably. But the track of the night had to be ‘Live for the Moment’. As Kiaran encouraged the chorus reprise, bassist, Andy Davidson took over the stage and deployed his best tricks, grabbing the attention of everyone in the room. Josh Davidson and Brandon Crook were solid performers as well. The chemistry between the band is incredible, you can really see the authenticity in the band members’ connections and nothing could have stopped them tonight.

There was no need for the band to even try to encourage engagement from the crowd tonight, as they were already jumping and screaming within an inch of their lives. They even played new songs such as ‘Nobody Knows’ and ‘Candle Light’, giving the audience a taste of what to expect as The Sherlocks continue to grow and experiment with their sound.

The penultimate song was their most recent single ‘Was It Really Worth It?’ and once again the audience were completely engrossed. They are definitely on the path to becoming big with their ever growing fan base and packed out gigs. With the amount of shirts thrown onto the stage, the summer should bring about class festival performances. The Sherlocks’ increasing on-stage confidence also shows as the band power through technical issues and sound malfunctions, nothing can stop them now. Tonight, the Bolton lads were full of energy and certainly did not disappoint dedicated fans or sceptical newcomers. 


The Sherlocks have just announced another tour, check out all the details here. You can also show your love on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Make sure to also check out Crown Of Thieves and Jordan Allen

 

MDG

 

 

LIVE PREVIEW. Why You Need To See The Magic Gang play The Green Door Store

Date: 13 April 2017
Venue: The Green Door Store, Brighton
Genre: Alternative Rock

If there’s one thing we love, it is the showcasing of authentic and interesting talent in independent music venues, and Bushmills ® Irish Whiskey have announced that it is launching a nationwide tour to do just that featuring: We Are ScientistsThe Magic Gang, VANT and The Wytches.

The Bushmills Tour’ is part of the #AnswerTheCall campaign that aims to showcase creators, artists, entrepreneurs from the music industry and beyond to showcase their talents and inspire others to fulfil their true calling. The Music Venue Trust have reported an estimated 40% of music venues closing in the past 10 years – which sucks – so here, Bushmills are aiming to celebrate these iconic venues that remain the lifeblood of the UK music scene – which is great!

One of the UK’s most impressive new bands, The Magic Gang are going to be kicking off this tour at the Green Door Store in Brighton next month as part of this tour. With irresistible tunes such as ‘How Can I Compete‘, and ‘Jasmine‘ are sure to be lashed out to the budding Brighton crowd, and with the Summer just about on the horizon, now is the perfect time to get a glimpse into what the festival favourites are going to have in store.

It is bands such as The Magic Gang that are so important within alternative music (no matter what flavour of alternative is the one for you) as they are continuing to emphasise the importance of independent music venues as well as the huge sweeping festival fields and stadium halls. So yeah, it’s pretty important and it’s gonna be pretty cool.


Tickets for the full tour are now available through Dice

See you at The Green Door Store next month!

 

INTERVIEW. Talking Tunes, Knitting, and Ray Romano: Getting to know Vertigo

Knitting and Ray Romano may not seem like central parts of the typical band, but the lads that make up Vertigo are not typical. They may not be a household name yet, but they are definitely on track to being so. In less than a year of performing together Vertigo have become a mainstay of Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley precinct, known to pull large crowds on days when everywhere else seems to be dead.

Through this live exposure Vertigo managed to broker a deal with The A&R Department, known for their work with Harts, Meg Mac and SAFIA, and ultimately grab some studio time at Airlock Studios to record a few tracks for their upcoming EP ‘No Feeling is Final’.

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We had a chance to sit down with singer Hamish, and guitarist James, to talk all things Vertigo. The lads, who met at high school, with the exception of bassist Hugh, have recently released their lead single ‘Get Away’. The track begins with an energetic guitar riff, joined by rapturous bass and the powerful drums of Nelson, before settling down into the bass driven verse of the song. The vocals of Hamish fit exquisitely amongst the distinctly heavy instrumentals of this tune, which is akin to ‘The Hunter’ by Slaves with markedly better vocals.

The lyrics of the track, written collectively by the boys, are quite poignant, pleading a friend to leave a corrosive relationship. Despite the subject matter of the song, Hamish told us that while the realism of the song makes it appear to be based in personal experience, it was not. James then said “We were writing it like it was a pretty generic human experience.”

Get Away’ was one of the first tracks the lads wrote when they were first starting out, back in March 2015.  As Hamish quipped, “Our writing has definitely matured a lot since then”.  They credit this maturity to having performed live.  According to James “they were writing really elaborate, debatably self-indulgent music” prior to performing live. The experience of gigging on a stage has taught the boys how to work a crowd, using the reception of each song to adapt their set list.

The lads opened up about playing a private gig at a 50th, and how they managed to cater to that very different audience. “We played a 50th the other week… for this big country family. So we were like ‘we should probably learn some Johnny Cash. So we learnt ‘Ring of Fire’. When we were learning we were like what the fuck are we doing. What has Vertigo become. But then we whipped it out live and the crowd went wild… We played it twice and it went off even bigger the second time.”

Johnny Cash may never be heard again, at least not from these blokes, but it highlights the emphasis that Vertigo have put on performing live and creating a great show for their fans.

Vertigo not only care deeply for performing, and for their fans, but they also have a deep bond amongst themselves. Hamish highlighted this when he said “It’s like being in a relationship with three guys.”

ray-romano-covered-with-silly-string_pn016918The boys clearly get along.  My afternoon of sitting with Vertigo was filled with laughter and jokes, often at the expense of themselves and their hobbies. Hugh spent the weekend they recorded ‘Get Away’ learning how to knit, since he had recorded the bass early and had time to kill. Or at the expense of those surrounding them. Prior to their first gig at Rics, James’ Mum ignited the bands light obsession with Ray Romano, often referring to the Brisbane venue as Ray’s. This collective joy of their creative process bodes extremely well for future performances and for their upcoming EP ‘No Feeling is Final’. They are definitely a band to watch in the future thanks to their collective drive to make great music, and have a good time while they do it.


They will be playing at The Brightside’s Homegrown Battle of the Bands in Brisbane on March 15th and at Blackbear Lodge of April 23rd.

Keep an eye out for their upcoming single ‘Velvet Revolution’, and their EP ‘No Feeling is Final’, both coming out later this year. You can also keep up to date with all things Vertigo here

 

S.M.

 

LIVE REVIEW. Shura at The Forum

Date: 7 December 2016

Venue: The Forum, Kentish Town

Words: Victoria Ling

Photography: Victoria Ling

Dressed in layers and entering the stage for the penultimate date of the ‘Shura-pean’ tour, The Forum went into darkness as Shura took to the stage with her band (Luke – guitars, Ally – drums and Rory – bass) and kicked off the night with ‘Nothing’s Real’ to roars from the sold-out crowd. Who could have guessed that the main girl of the night was full of Shu-flu as Shura worked her way from behind the keys to the front of the stage and back again. As she gulped from a pint glass, the crowd were told that she is actually downing a hot toddie to kick her flu which also may have helped with her energy; however Shura is not a woman lacking in energy, they seem to be

getting better as the crowds grow bigger. The drive in this band is simply mind-blowing. ‘Kids N’Stuff’ kicks in with goose bumps inducing effect, any long-term fan of Shura knows that something special is going to happen at this point – the transition. Everybody was waiting for that transition and as soon as ‘Indecision’ starts, the crowd simultaneously loose control as The Forum’s atmosphere is stepped up a notch. Indeed, there was passionate crowd interaction a plenty tonight, especially during Shura’s confession that she is admittedly quite shy which she says is ironic to the career she has now. Thankfully Shura remains standing with strength and grace doing what she does best, and in quite a lump-in-throat moment we are given ‘2Shy’ going into ‘Make It Up’. “So I just released an album and every song I performed is from that album but this next one is not from that album,” is what Shura tells us. Excitement brews and I hear someone say ‘Just Once’ but it is not to be, instead a new track is presented, and ’Sacrifice’ is great testament to how Shura’s sound is still progressing. The sound is fresh and distinct, but still contains familiar elements, this is why Shura gains more recognition by the day in this ever changing cut-throat music industry.

If the night could not get any more emotional, a dedication goes out to the fans in the form of ‘Touch’, the first song written for the debut album. Whoops come from the crowd as Shura climbs into the pit to grace those who were lucky enough to get to the front barrier with her presence. It is such an exhilarating moment that it even stirs a few happy tears from the crowd as she disappears but thankfully not for too long as the encore comes with ‘White Light’ which is quite possibly Shura’s most electric track performed live. Strobes galore shine down with Shura bashing out the sample pad and sending the crowd crazy in awe that even she falls to the floor before catching a breathe to take us to the end of this ‘tidal wave of feelings’ of the Shura-pean tour to a sea of confetti.


Check out Shura on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

 

Through the eyes of Lil Vik

SINGLE REVIEW. The xx – On Hold

Release Date: Out now!

Genre: Electro-indie pop

Rating: ★★★★★

It begins with the graceful, familiar voice of Romy Madley Croft, as it’s been so long since we have been graced with fresh material, her voice instantly brings any fan a feeling of satisfaction. This track is about grasping at the tail end of a failing love, in a desperate attempt of regaining momentum and making it work, “it could be love I think you’re too soon to call us old“. With some almost psych-pop sounds woven in, the song has very romanticized undertones while still keeping to the signature xx chilled-out sound.

 

img_2758In many ways, the xx have not changed, to the relief of many. With the same warm charm brought by the voices of Romy and Oliver Sim, as well as the distinct, simplistic guitar melodies and electro-ambient vibes that can only be constructed with just the right mix of elements. However, after the lyrics “when and where did we go cold, I thought I had you on hold“, there is a drop that reveals a whole new lease of life for the xx. During this energetic segment of the track, inspirations uncovered by Jamie xx during his solo projects of the past year materialise themselves, and the result is a refreshing mix of the chilled out, low-fi vibes expected from the xx, and the electro beats of the house scene Jamie often frequents. It sounds remarkable, and has also worked well live on the few recent performances of the trio on radio and US talk shows.

 

This long awaited new track from the London group has been met with warm welcome, and rumour has it we can expect more surprises such as this in their upcoming album ‘I See You’.


Book tickets to the 2017 headline tour

You can also connect to The xx on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

 

 

Baker out.

SINGLE REVIEW. The Big Moon – Formidable

Released: OUT NOW

Genre: Alternative-rock

Rating: ★★★★

The Big Moon have been on the rise for the past year now in playing notable shows around the nation with big names, and having a growing, passionate fan-base. With an extrovert-like, 90s girl-punk style and all the right sounds, The Big Moon have comfortably made a name for themselves within the London alternative scene, however this single – released ahead of the debut album ‘Love In The 4th Dimension’ out April next year – demonstrates how the female quartet are moving out of their comfort zone, and exploring a new world of dark, indie fuzz.

love_in_the_4th_dimension_tbm_low_res-jpg-768x768The track opens with the familiar voice of front-woman Juliette emerging with the oh-so-cynical rhyme “Did she make you swallow all your pride, does the love still shiver down your spine” before a gentle crescendo of reverb and bass. The slightly ominous “oooh” echoed by all of the girls calm the air before the chorus ignites. The band really bring it in the chorus, and this is the point you realise how much The Big Moon have really progressed since their early releases; with powerful vocals that could get any room chanting out loud and some of the heaviest guitar and thunderous drums we have heard yet. This band have the capability to bring all the noise and carnage you could ever need, while still having the control to execute haunting harmonies and more delicate tones, something that works so well with this type of music.

The only drawback to this release is the length of it. Leaving the listener wanting more is always a good move (it certainly worked), but the girls still could have reached even higher levels of intensity and experimented more with this new sound if they had given the track some more time. However, this seems to be a song that could be developed and expanded greatly during a live set. Let’s hope for more dark magic such as this in the album.


You can listen to ‘Formidable‘ now here and pre-order the debut album here.

Give The Big Moon some love too on Facebook and Twitter

 

Baker out.

EP REVIEW. Stevie Parker – Blue

Release date: 11th November 2016

Genre: Ambient/electro-pop

Rating: ★★★★

Stevie Parker comprises of a young artist from the West of England with a raw voice oozing wisdom and heartbreak. After building a substantial platform from her debut release ‘Never Be‘ on Soundcloud in 2015 and later performing alongside noteworthy British artists, especially in the Bristol Summer Series, Stevie Parker’s debut EP, ‘Blue‘ has been released highly anticipated and is seeming to gain success within the electro-pop world.

stevie parker press shot.pngThe EP begins with ‘Better Off‘, a sinister-toned tune with delicate vocals and an empowering message of realisation of worth in the face of sorrow.  Stevie’s vocals are reminiscent of a more energetic Lana Del Rey against the musical resonate notes of groups such as London Grammar. This is the perfect opener to set Stevie Parker aside from other up-and-coming alternative-pop artists, especially the young ones – who can often blend into one homogenous group. The title track of this EP takes a more heavy-beated, electro-pop turn. This foundation is well-suited to this artist’s hypnotic high-notes that are showcased during the outcry “I’ve been blue over you”. Despite being at risk of being slightly repetitive at times, this track demonstrates the versatility of Stevie Parker well, and is catchy enough to make you keep her music in your head all day.

Siren‘ is possibly the highlight of the EP, as it is the most distinct and complex track. With raw lyrics, telling a tale of desperate love and lust, Stevie Parker shows her human side for all to relate and sing along to. The graceful combination of thudding beats with warm piano melodies creates a sound that belongs to only her. We are shown a contrasting aspect of Stevie with the final track ‘Different For Girls‘. Whether this track is making a political statement, or simply expressing the emotions often experienced within a troublesome partner, this acoustic number shows a totally different song-writing style, one of simplistic and honest statements. This is an artist is wise and elegant, with the ability to get you both dancing and crying out in sorrow.


Hit up Stevie Parker on Facebook and Instagram, and listen to ‘Blue‘ over here

 

Baker out.

 

INTERVIEW. INHEAVEN ahead of Debut Album – “We always made sure we never compromised our creative vision”

After taking the UK by storm last Summer, the DIY, dream-punk quartet INHEAVEN are continuing to create funky sounds and getting people hyped for the debut album coming next year, with hit single ‘Treats‘ already sweeping up a positive reaction after being premiered by Annie Mac this month. We got to know guitarist James and talk idols, festivals and what remains important to a band such as INHEAVEN despite rising up in the world.

Hey James! What would you say is the main message of your music? 

We think music should make you feel free, so we try to create songs that evoke that feeling.

 

Do you guys have a specific creative process when writing?

It’s weird but we can never explain how we write a song, it just happens! It is really something that happens completely in the moment.

 

Since you have emerged onto the scene, you have gained the seal of approval from many ‘royalty’ fans such as Wolf Alice and Julian Casablancas (The Strokes), you even released your debut single on Mr Casablancas’s label, Cult Records! How did that come about? 

We set up a website before we changed our band name and were called ‘Blossom’, and just used to put up weird videos and music on a daily basis. We ended up taking the whole thing down, but months later we got an email from Rory Atwell (who mixed our demos) forwarding an email from Cult Records! They said Julian and the label loved us and wanted to put out one of our songs. But yeah, it was one of the best feelings ever, it’s not everyday you get an email from one of your idols. 

 

What has been your favourite gig so far and why? 

Reading and Leeds, we grew up going to those festivals so it really felt like a coming of age moment that we will remember forever! The best story from that year was probably us and The Magic Gang getting chucked out of a party for running up on stage and playing someone else’s drum kit.

 

INHEAVEN are known for having a strong DIY ethic, what is it you guys enjoy so much about that and why is it so important for the band to stay true to that even as you progress and grow in size?

We never set out to be a DIY band, we just did everything ourselves and never stopped even when we got signed. We always wanted to have complete control over everything we do, the only way we felt we could separate ourselves from every other band was to make sure we never compromised our creative vision.

 

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Debut Album ‘TREATS’ out in 2017

Do you think anything changes once a band has signed to a record label and starts to grow in popularity and size? 

Nothing changes, it just ramps up a gear. We are our own little creative hub, so we could be on any label and it will still always sound and look like us.

 

What have you guys got in store for us in the near future and what are you most excited about right now? 

We are off on tour with Blossoms in December, and our Debut Album will be out next year. It doesn’t get more exciting than that really!


INHEAVEN are going on tour with the lovely Blossoms next month, buy a ticket here

You can also check them out on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

 

Baker out.