Therese Aune Records Enchanting Farao Cover For Kultmucke

therese-aune-photo sara-angelica-spilling
therese-aune-photo sara-angelica-spilling

“In the fear of being lonely I tried it all to get you back
There were things you never told me Like your heart was painted black”
So run the opening lines of Berlin based alt-pop cum indie artist Farao‘s 2013 single, ‘Tell A Lie‘, a cover version of which has just been released by her fellow Nord, Therese Aune as part of a series of exclusive covers featured by the German Kultmucke publication.

Farao’s original is an even-tempered electro-pop ballad – measured, simplex, bleak in aspect with funereal organ-like synths creating a dark underbelly penetrated by tight guitar loops, jagged handclaps and a refracting click track.  The Norwegian’s voice is as light as a feather and cool as a Winter’s dawn.  Yet, despite the regretful melancholic sentiment that lies at the heart of the song, Farao’s beguiling vocal interpretation remains clear, poised, at times almost detached from the track’s emotional resonance.

Step forward Therese Aune with a dazzling electronic arrangement that takes the tempo and spirit of the song to another level. So delightful is this interpretation that if one didn’t know the lyrics one’s reaction would be one of instant joy!  Aune’s expressive vocal dances around the words and pirouettes between light-hearted synth reps and electro-beats.  It’s as uplifting and energised as Farao’s version is coolly sophisticated.  Two sides of the one song, as diverse as they are impressive.

Covers are always difficult and emulating the original should be avoided at all costs.  With her version of ‘Tell A Lie’ Therese Aune has taken what was obviously a deeply personal song and made it very much her own.  By re-choreographing it she has put her own unique stamp on this gloriously uncomplicated complex song.  Bravo.

There’s No Going Back To The Beginning for Irish Duo Motions

motions

As I sat listening to the hoarse vocals crying through the sparse opening bars of ‘Back To Where I Begun, the debut single from Dublin duo, Motions, I couldn’t help but feel that I’d heard that rasping plaintiveness somewhere before.  It was on the tip of my tongue and brim of my brain but nah …

Fate stepped in, it was getting bored, and whilst humming the melody I turned my head sideways and lo, there it was, a CD jutting out from my stockpile that immediate caught my eye.  The album, ‘Violator’, the band Depeche Mode.  Wham! It hit me.  This cigarette stained and strained, guttural yet strong and commanding vocal was redolent of Mode frontman Dave Gahan on ‘Condemnation’, widely held by DM fans to be his finest vocal hour.

But this isn’t about Mode … this is about Motions, the upcoming Irish duo whose very single, in all its debut innocence, was voted by savvy music fans into the Top 10 Fresh Faves over on the BBC Introducing feeding ground, Fresh on the Net – click here to read the review!

Motions aka @MotionsMusic is the enigmatic and mysterious Tom Daly and Dave Nulty, and currently an unknown entity. ‘Faceless anonymii’ about town around which wafts an air of Celtic mystery.

There’s no mystery to their music though – it’s attention-grabbing, showstopping alt-rock.  Musical headlights with an option of dip function.  Full throttle anthemic built on a weave of potent, grizzling guitars, spacious spiralling synths, vibrant drum rhythms and that ‘oh so amazing’, infectious vocal.

‘Back To Where I Begun’ opens in a near empty soundscape of spacious ‘piano’ chords and a wistful vocal, that from the outset create a brooding and regretful atmosphere.  A steady, introspective build follows, as the song makes a gloriously dramatic ascent through chorus and verse to a clamorous climax.  The chassis of the clangour is redolent of the chaos of the lyrics.  Layers of looping sequences and thrashing percussion underpin Daly’s honest and memorable vocal and save for a momentary dip of the afore-mentioned headlights, bring the track to a dramatic close.

Instrumentally solid with a vocal powerhouse in Daly’s voice, Motions have effortlessly arrived at the perfect combination of musical strength and lyrical insightfulness.  In fact, this duo make songwriting seem easy.

With a cleverly choreographed, ‘”Leave Your Emotional Baggage Behind” before it’s too late’ themed video, ‘Back To Where I Begun‘ is as ready-to-market/radio a commercial package as I have come across.   [Although there are some scenes in the video that I wish I’d never seen, thanks, and someone give that guy a razor #beardrash]

The vocals are potent, the lyrics thought-provoking, the music anthemic and for a debut single, that’s something special.

In a word, ‘memorable’.

You can sneak up on the mysterious Motions via their socials – Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTubeSpotify

Watch the Motions visual mini-drama whilst feeling your pulse soar here,

Dédé Davi Makes Her Debut & Alan Wilder Is Back A La Mode

Dede
Dede

Alan Wilder steps back in from the sidelines as performer-producer on debut single from upcoming Londoner, Dédé Davi.

Alan Wilder, man behind the Recoil music project, formerly one quarter of Depeche Mode, those pioneers of synth pop whose music captured the zeitgeist of ’80s experimental electronica, and general all-round enigma, has, after some years of silence which presumably he ‘enjoyed’, resurfaced in the form of performer/producer on an R&B piano-ballad by an upcoming English singer/songwriter.

calling-the-clock

‘Calling The Clock‘ is the debut single from Londoner Dédé Davi to whom Wilder was introduced by erstwhile Mode road-manager, Daryl Bamonte, now a successful label and artist manager in his own right. Dédé, who has gone from a Uni degree course, through being BBC play-listed, to working with the likes of Steve Hewitt (Paul Draper, Placebo), is currently in-studio working on her debut album.

Rehearsed and recorded in a negligible four hours, the song sees Wilder reprise his role as accompanying pianist, and music composer and arranger, one that recalls his indelible contributions to songs like ‘Somebody’ and ‘Pimpf’ and which will doubtless reawaken the memories of many a Mode fan.

Speaking of the collaboration with Dédé. Wilder said:

 I was struck not only by her beautifully soulful and sophisticated voice, but also the simplicity and directness of the words along with a melody which left plenty of room to come up with the arrangement … With limited hours in the studio, an immediate focus was required to get the right piano and vocal performances … The whole experience was refreshing and rewarding …”

alan-wilder
Alan Wilder

Similarly, the song itself – lyrics & melody – was written in a matter of hours, early ones at that, in a creative burst that saw the Croydon-born artist put body to a title that had been lying around for quite some time.  Explaining how the track came about, the singer confessed:

I knew I liked the sound of it; I just didn’t have a clue what it meant to me or what it could turn into. It came out of frustration, I kind of just stopped caring what it could be and at 1am on a Saturday I just wrote what came out and what I felt like.”

Listening to the lyrics one can easily understand how they flowed during the lonely darkness of the small hours.  The sense of frustration is palpable, the emotion raw, the uncertainty the territory of the still of the night.

Wilder’s musicianship is as meticulous as it is intuitive and his understated yet effectual performance provides the perfect balance for Davi’s heartfelt vocal. Her voice, which is pitch perfect and well controlled throughout, has a warmth and silkiness that lends itself well to this style of soulful balladry.  Mr Bamonte certainly had a eureka moment when he conceived of this perfect musical pairing!

‘Calling The Clock’ is a masterclass in subtlety and discernment.  A modern day soul song, emotionally stirring without being overindulgent, performed with accomplished restraint, by two musical perfectionists.

Dédé Davi  is as they say, ‘one to watch’ and so in a way, is Alan Wilder. Where or when he will next be seen or heard is anyone’s guess. We can only hope it won’t be another four years. In the meantime, you can download or stream ‘Calling The Clock’ (our on Smile Records) here : itunes | spotify and watch Dédé perform the song in the video here,

Introducing Picture This … ‘A Sight Worth Seeing’

Jimmy Rainsford (L) & Ryan Hennessy (R) make up Picture This
Jimmy Rainsford (L) & Ryan Hennessy (R) make up Picture This

With a sound that veers in the general direction of their fellow Irishmen and musical forerunners The Script and Kodaline, recently appointed chart-sensations, Picture This, have arrived more quickly than most at that point on the musical map that many of their peers will only ever view from a distance.

Formed a little more than a year ago, theirs has been an easy and rapid ascent up a most vertical trajectory.  Watching ‘themselves’ from the virtual side-lines, as they shot from ‘Home Studio, Jimmy’s House, Athy’ to the top slot in the Irish charts must surely have been as surreal an occurrence as an out of body experience.

Even more bizarre must have been the spine-tingling, stomach turning flurry of butterflies moment they surely experienced walking onto the stage to a capacity crowd in a packed-to-the-rafters Olympia theatre a couple of nights ago.  How many bands can put that on their CV just a little more than 12months from recording their first hook on their iPhoneX?

Picture This Olympia Dublin
Picture This Olympia Dublin

‘Picture This’ has drip fed slow, steady single releases to their ever-increasing fan-base. Starting with the beautiful ‘Take My Hand’ which they first sampled only in October 2015, the duo continued, throughout the long, dark Winter months, to unfurl their uplifting musical charms onto an unsuspecting Irish audience, who singularly and eagerly fell captive to their unassuming yet compelling and honest sound.

So much so that the band’s debut gig was in the Academy (cap. 850) – like who the hell debut’s to an 850 strong crowd?  A rolling tour across Ireland and the UK that included full house lives in both Manchester and London, has culminated in three sell-out dates at the music-lovers venue of choice, Dublin’s Olympia theatre.  All on back of one Aslan cover and a 5-track EP, ‘Picture’. Phew!!

On 12th August, Picture This released their debut EP – the tracks of which run in single release sequence – and six days later it had reached the number one spot in the Irish charts.

Needless to say, the critics ranted, in a good way natch, while the fans raved, and now after one helluva rollercoaster ride and rock-n-roller tour, Picture This are set to finish 2016 on a high when they hit the stage at Dublin’s 3Arena on 3rd December, for the 2FM Xmas Ball in aid of the ISPCC.

When the fall of ticker-tape subsides and the shutters come down on the year that was 2016, this pair of ‘unlikely lads’ (and I say that in the nicest possible sense) will probably clink a pair in Some Pub, Main Street, Athy, and raise them in salute to friendship, Aslan, YouTube, iPhones, Kildare and oh, I suspect Lady Luck and good musical genes may just also get a nod.

With an album on the way next year, 2017 should see more of the same if not bigger and better from the Athy pair whose star looks surely set to rise, and rise, and …

‘Picture’ is available to buy or download via iTunes, Spotify et al, details – https://wmgartists.com/lp1/7444/picture-this-picture-this

Picture This will play Dublin’s 3 Arena on 3rd December along with Kodaline, All Tvvins & more, as part of the ISPCC Charity Ball organised by 2FM – tickets available here – https://wmgartists.com/lp1/7444/picture-this-picture-this

Album Review: Ludvig Moon ‘Kin’

samfunnet-bislet-ludvig-moon
samfunnet-bislet-ludvig-moon

The danger with indie is that if there isn’t sufficient diversity of theme, tempo, and instrumental style, it can quickly segue into one continuous jangle cum drone, depending on which line the artist is peddling.

In this regard, Norwegian newcomers Ludvig Moon, appear to have done their utmost to unfurl their creative tendrils in several directions to try to ensure that debut album ‘Kin’, stretches across a broader than generic indie spectrum. For the best part, they have succeeded.

Ludvig Moon have been steadily honing their clearly identifiable sound since the 2014 release of their self-titled debut EP.  It is a testament to their synchronicity as a unit that this multi-member outfit has developed such a tightly woven sound – no mean feat in a group where seven musicians are competing to be heard.  Or maybe that is the secret, that together they recognise the Ludvig Moon whole is greater than the sum of its individual parts.

kin

This septet (see below for the roll call) is a talented cohort with a lot of genuine promise, who produce highly evocative and at times magical material.  As a group, they often seem to be reaching for a sound bigger than the confines of their immediate Oslo environs. One whose sound almost over-reaches; almost.  It certainly spills over beyond the brim of indie, flowing through the outer reaches of American rock,  alt-rock and pop punk – think Green Day, Smashing Pumpkins and Ash.

Whether by accident or design, the sound at which they have arrived, pulls from the vestiges of the glory days of ’80s pop-punk and the classic ’90s indie-rock sounds both defined and dominated by the big American ‘supers’. Eleven track ‘Kin’ spreads its wings across this cross-generational spectrum, dipping and diving into styles coloured by the past blended with that freshness and effervescent urgency that is the trademark of youth.

After a string addled mini-melodrama of an intro, a mere whisper bookended by some windswept cymbals crashing off the shore, the album cracks open with the propulsive ‘When the Storm Breaks’, a song full of vim and vigour, thrashing percussion, great striking guitars, stonking keys and a killer chorus. A track to leave you wanting more.

I dare you to listen to the track ‘Sparks’ and not hear The Cure, albeit the post-punk goths back-dropped by a glorious if frenzied instrumental ascent/descent of musical scales fashioned by what is quite possibly the closest guitars have ever come to sounding like change-ringing.

‘Are We Still’ takes it down a few notches, showing a more restrained and subtle but no less experimental musicianship with its ‘eerie’ touches (redolent of the saw), golden melodies and heartwarming chorus, which by itself is a fine example of the perfect chemistry between fronters Anders Magnor Killerud and Lydia Popkema.

Indeed it is the pairing of Killerud and Popkema, whose vocal contrasts are like fire and ice, that gives so much depth and texture to the band’s songs. The fluidity and balance of their duets heighten the evocative essence of the songs’ lyrical themes. Speaking of which, here’s what frontman and lyricist Killerud had to say about the albums thematic inspos …

The lyrics are based on stories from my life the past few years. People around lost control over their lives and I lost toucb with many of them during those times. For me this album mirrors the winter of 2015. It’s my soundtrack to life as a young, broke and confused twentysomething in Oslo – not knowing who I was, not knowing what I wanted to become. Filling the album with grandiose sounds felt like my cure against the grey fabric of life at the time. Making the album really helped my through the winter though, especially mentally.”

As expected, singles ‘Houses At Night’ and ‘Cult Baby’ take centre stage, but while the latter is the diamond at the heart of this long playing jewel, something in me remains unconvinced by the former.

For originality and instrumental flair, I find myself veering towards ‘Moth’, a song which more than piqued my interest with its perky finger picking guitar sequences, lively percussion and billowing, swirling synth background.

There’s a filmic vibe to this ever growing spiral, with it’s somewhat subtle shades of country come Americana, as it twists and ascends to a curious finale of alien noises and instrumental riddles.  For ingenuity and musicianship, I’d score this a 9/10.  For me, this is a song that walks a different path and the standout track on the album.

There are a few less noteworthy inclusions but overall the memorable outweighs the forgettable.  The album has some really standout moments, not least the afore-mentioned ‘Cult Baby’, a track which has proved to be a firm radio playlist favourite across the broader reaches of the EU, particularly in the land that shall now always be known as Brexit.  A track that could easily take Ludvig Moon into the US Billboard charts should they ever venture to stray that far, it is a benchmark against which future singles will be measured.

For a debut album, Ludvig Moon have played a strong hand with ‘Kin’, and while there is still room for improvement, they are young, ambitious talented enough to make the upward transition to a more mature and experimental level, with relative ease. They say the second album is always the most difficult.  For Ludvig Moon it should be plain sailing.  They’ve set the bar.  It’s now up to them how far they wish to raise it.

Ludvig Moon are currently on an extensive tour of Norway; having seem them live, I can heartily recommend you check them out, details here https://www.facebook.com/pg/ludvigmoon/events/

Ludvig Moon is : Anders Magnor Killerud ( lead vocals, guitar), Ole Torstein Hovig (synths), Herman K. Hulleberg (guitar), Kristofer Staxrud (Drums), Andreas Andre Myrvold  (bass, vocals), Lydia Popkema (vocals, guitar, tambourine), and Simen Sandbæk Skari (French Connection, vocals, tambourine)

You can follow Ludwig Moon on Facebook and keep up with all my reviews on Dervswerve Twitter and Facebook.  ‘Kin’ is out now via Riot Factory. You can buy or stream it via the following links:

Spotify: http://spoti.fi/2ea9463   iTunes/Apple Music: http://apple.co/2dYzxAC    Tidal: http://bit.ly/2dShQ9e
Vinyl: http://bit.ly/2dYzOUe

Single Review: Sigma – Find Me ft. Birdy

Millie Bobby Brown by Christopher Sims
Millie Bobby Brown by Christopher Sims

Once upon a bus journey, I caught the tail end of an acoustic piano song on the radio.  Enchanting, delightful, and unforgettable, it wasn’t groundbreaking, but it had a special something in the form of a memorable vocal with a nuance, control and clarity beyond its 14 years. The song segued into another on the radio playlist, so the singer’s identity remained a mystery.

Every now and then, I’d hear mention of a name the originality of which ensured it was glued onto the pasteboard of my mind. Birdy – the word conjures up the most fragile and mellifluent of images – whose name found an empty spot in my musical cache, despite my never having heard any of the artists songs.

Then one day as I was browsing through the stacks at Tower Records, I came across a CD entitled, ‘Fire Within.  It was 2013, and Jasmine Lucilla Elizabeth Jennifer van den Bogaerde aka Birdy, had just released her second album.  The name struck a chord, and the intense B&W photo kind of resonated with me, so without having heard it, or read any reviews, I bought the album.

As the words to ‘Wings‘ kicked in, something clicked.  The wheels of my memory started to turn, as that voice with all its fearless self-assurance and youthful purity effortlessly tossed the lyrics around its upper reach.  Gritty but not forceful, controlled but with enough fluidity to flow into the melody, this was a vocal with the maturity of a more seasoned performer.

The album was followed by a string of live performances.  Simultaneously, several Birdy tracks were picked up by international TV series (eg Vampire Diaries) and film soundtracks alike, thereby giving the artist huge exposure across the North Americas and ensuring her fanbase went from local to universal.

Earlier in Spring 2016, Birdy released ‘Beautiful Lies‘, her third and most exploratory album to-date, a compilation which saw her ramp up to an altogether more expansive, textured and powerful level.  Exquisitely performed and meticulously arranged, ‘Beautiful Lies‘ has a depth and potency that lift Birdy to the heights of such contemporary ‘supers’ as Florence Welch and Marina Diamandis.

Since the LP’s release and subsequent chart sucess in more than 40 countries, the singer has played a myriad sell out shows including a stellar homecoming at the Hammersmith Apollo.  Brit & Grammy nominations as well as a worldwide sales tally of 10million+ sit alongside Birdy’s status as the biggest selling female artist in the UK, 2016 to-date.

Her latest foray is into the techno world of fellow English artists, drum & bass DJ and production duo, Sigma.  The pair’s latest single, ‘Find Me‘ features this young shooting star on vocals, while the main attraction of the nocturnal video, which was shot on the streets of Los Angeles, is Millie Bobby Brown, a 12-year old actress who lip syncs with a dramatic flourish.

Find Me’ is the first single to be taken from Sigma’s second album ‘Life‘.  The irresistible track blends Birdy’s touching lyrics and pristine vocal through infectious precision-beats and trademark soaring strings. The single is out today via 3 Beat Records & you can watch the accompanying video here!

“Find Me” is available now on Spotify http://po.st/FindMeSpotify Apple http://po.st/FindMeApple & 
iTunes http://po.st/FindMeITunes

Why Sometimes Saying Thank You Just Isn’t Enough … #Blogging

dervswerve

Emailed thank yous that no-one ever sees … discreet little intermittent likes on Twitter … the odd like of a post on FB.  Nothing obvious.  Not so anyone would ever notice. No words or actions that publicly acknowledge, support, reinforce, or help spread awareness.  The key words in that sentence are “publicly acknowledge” – meaning, “to show someone you have noticed them or heard what they have said; to publicly announce that you are grateful to someone for something; to publicly recognise how good someone is”.

Type Irish Music Bloggers into Google and two things happen …

Aside from the omni-present Hype Machine, which imo is a whole lot of exactly that, hype, two links dominate the SEO rankings.  The interesting thing about the top search result, ‘Irish Music Blogs – serenityb‘ is that the latter no longer exists. Having fallen off the Twitter bandwagon in February 2015, it disappeared into the blog-ether towards the end of that same year.

The search for Irish music blogs also yields a link to ‘The Best of Irish Music Blogs’ – a list compiled by the IASCA.  This list however, dates back to 2011 in comparison with the aforementioned site whose list is a little recently clocking in mid 2015. However, the stark reality is that of the 20+ music blogs recommended by both sites, over 50% of them are now defunct.

The sad truth is that the reality tends to be a lot harsher than the passion foresees – endless long hours gnawing into weekends, family, quality and recharge time, a seriously scaled back to non-existent social life, and the relentless allocating of annual leave to far flung festivals.  Not to mention the cost.  We haven’t even got that far yet.  Then there’s the ugly reality – the wake up and smell the one way aroma, wrap yourself around the cold comfort of unreciprocated support.

You see the fact is that unless the support network operates a dual-way system, then one side will eventually become redundant. . Like a pot plant that grows in half-light/half-shade, one side will thrive in the warm glow of attention, cosseted and nourished by a drip feed of positivity, whilst the unattended other, will simply fade and die.

The ultimate aim of most bloggers is simply to write about, nay rave & rant about music they love.  And to help promote it, as best they can.  To have their views, thoughts, emotions, values, and passions reach an audience of any size, age, colour and creed, as long as that audience is appreciative.

No-one likes to be derided.  No-one sets out to be ignored. No-one wants their words to fall, like crumbs off a kitchen table, down a virtual shaft of disregard. Nor do they want their time and effort to be used like newspaper clippings, to pad out a press portfolio that nobody ever reads.  A box ticked, a quota reached, job well done all round.

Which brings me back to the comments at the top of this piece … or, put simply and in the words of Amy Winehouse, ‘Love is a losing game’.  Love is a losing game and blogging is a mug’s game … if you’re green and gauche enough to let them both beat you and mug you off.  I was.  Not anymore.

Days, nights, bank holidays, weekends, holidays.  Time which should have been spent with loved ones, nights when I should have been out having fun, afternoons when I should have been working, Sundays when I should have been relaxing. Hell, even holidays when I hid the laptop in my suitcase, sitting up into the early hours typing reviews.  Why?  Because X had asked me, and if I said no, they might never ask again.  Because I had promised, and I wanted to keep my word.  And oh because it’s such a great song I need to be in on the action.  More often than not the reward was never as sweet as the sugar I was pouring onto the WordPress screen.

How many times have I spent hours, days, working on an album review to get it just so, to make it the best I could, only for it to pass through the social ethernet unnoticed.  How often have I sat hunched over a laptop on a Saturday night while everyone else was out enjoying themselves as I laboured over reviews for this publication and that publication because they operated on a strict 24 hour t/o, despite the fact that they rarely put out their requests before Friday and notwithstanding the fact that they themselves hardly ever worked over the weekend.

Possibly the biggest kick in the teeth you could ever give a reviewer is to ask them to review something and then completely blank it.  The biggest slap across the face? Ask them to review something on another publication, and then completely blank it.

And while I can take the saccharine emails teasing for my opinions, pining for my thoughts on this, the latest artist du jour’s best banger ever, I cannot accept the insouciant ignorance of the musicatti – self-anointed music royalty using bloggers like some free PR vehicle.

Which brings us to the crux of the problem and the real reason why so many of the afore-mentioned go-to blogs listed by their peers as being at the top of their game, have failed, have faded and have died.

Who do you think pays for the site, pays for the time and effort, pays for the music on Spotify and iTunes, and pays for the trips to festivals including travel, accommodation and food?  Where do you think the hours and days off come from?  Have you ever actually given it any thought?

The funds come from our own pockets, our wages from the real jobs we do every day – banking, teaching, sales, copywriting – and, from our savings.  Heck one 2016 trip even came courtesy of a bank loan!  When was the last time someone took out a loan to pay me to write something? [ B L A N K S P A C E]

The time comes from our holiday leave allocations, our weekends, our free evenings! Everything that’s there – we give it, US, for FREE. The bloggers.  The time, the money, the words, the research …

Now musicians you might counter the argument by saying that you rarely get paid for playing a gig – but at least you’re playing your own music!

If you ask a blogger to review your work or your artists work, if you cannot financially recompense them, at least show them the respect of supporting their blog.  And, AND, if you have enough brass neck to ask a blogger to post a review or make a submission to another site, at least acknowledge the author when you are blowing the trumpet of that very same and usually much bigger site, because without the writer, you and your music or your artist would not be there.

If PRs and musicians do not start supporting blogs in a mutually respectful way, there will be less and less small blogs, leaving a monopoly of a handful.  The big guns who hoover up all the “woo woo premieres” (really guys, they aren’t all that!) – big titles, big soundbites, one quote and no substance.  If that’s what you want, then that’s what you’ll get.  But with everyone competing for space within the limited confines of the few, how will every artist ever get press?

And if the big guys only ever want premieres, then does that not lessen the chances of cross-publication coverage? Because despite what some PR folks think, there can only be one premiere (unless the definition of the word has changed in the past couple of days).

Every time I am asked to post a review on another site, I respond with a simple question: how would you like it if I were to ask you to promote an unsigned band for free and/or your artist/band (tick where appropriate) to play only cover songs?

Just play 3rd party songs all the time there will you?  I don’t care that you write, rehearse, record and play your own songs; I love your voices and the way you play guitar, it’s really cool, but could you just see your way to singing A.N. Other’s songs.  I’d be so grateful. Smiley Fucking Face.

Let’s call a spade a spade.  If the Quietus asked Portishead to do an interview but only asked them questions about Goldfrapp, how soon do you think it would be before the words “fuck off” were used?  If Matt Horton wrote a piece about Taylor Swift stating that he loved her voice but she’d be far better suited to singing Demi Lovato songs, how would that work do you think?

Or, let’s look at it in another way.  You or your band or your artist writes/records/produces an album.  They give a copy to several reviewers whose email response is – wow, that’s super cool, thanks.  That’s it.  All that trouble.  All that effort.  Hardly anyone has heard it.  Hardly anyone knows who you are or that the album has even been released.  You’ve worked really hard, for no financial gain, no return and now, after everything, you don’t even get any kudos for a job well done.

Well folks, that’s us.  That’s blogging.

Every month another blog closes down; because they’ve lost their mojo, or they can’t keep dedicating the time, or they can’t build enough recognition to make any money from their labour.  If music artists and their respective management, PR teams and cohorts don’t actively and publicly support bloggers then why should they expect constant support themselves?  They want bloggers to review their music to help generate awareness of their brand, yet in return, they offer no reciprocal support to the majority of blogs unless the words Best Fit or Clash feature in the title! How does that work?  It doesn’t!

It’s not about the money, it’s not about the notoriety.  Hell no.  What it is about, is respect.  Over the past three months I’ve sailed very close to the wind of ‘give up’.  I’ve toyed with just fucking the whole thing in the bin.  There’s only so much anyone can put up with until they blow.  I’ve blown….red hot wired and blown.  But you know what? When the lava cooled I asked myself why should I give up doing something I love because of ‘the few‘?

From November, I am returning to the blog, with hopefully, the same verve and spirit that I’ve had in the past (or at least hoped I had). This time however, the rules have changed.

If you, or your band, or your PR don’t care to support me, then remove me from your lists.  If you want your music reviewed, please send it to me.  If you are PR and you send me music to review, I expect you to show willing on Twitter or FB.  If I don’t see any mutual love, three strikes and we’ll shake hands.

You see this is my time, my money, my life, my choice.  I started writing 18 months ago because I wanted people to know about so many unsigned bands that were going unheard.  I wanted to shout out about amazing Norwegian music and beatastic Danish Americana.  I wanted to bounce enchantments of Dorset other-worldliness off the moon.  And, I wanted to write about Radiohead.

All of that and more is what I am going to continue to do.

But I’m going back to basics.  I’m going back to basics.  Doing things the way I want to do them, when I want to do them and how. Blogging for the right reasons.  And, for the love of music.

If you’re with me, I’ll cya around.

Derv x

Dagny Shines An Ultraviolet Light On The World Of Pop

Dagny Photo Andrea Edmondson, London's Courtyard Theatre
Dagny Photo Andrea Edmondson, London’s Courtyard Theatre

I’ve met Dagny … she’s the funny, self-deprecating, bubbly young woman, with whom I spent an hour chit-chattering before cajoling her into posing for a daft photo in the foyer of the Clarion hotel in Trondheim.

That was back in a snow-ridden February, just before she was due to play to her live set as part of the Trondheim Calling Festival.  The Norwegian popstrel wasn’t feeling 100%.  Her throat was a little scratchy. She made herself a hot drink and went up to have some quiet time in her bedroom.

Three hours later she blew the sox off a capacity crowd sardined into the massive glass menagerie that is the Rockefeller venue, with a kick ass performance that had them screaming their appreciation and baying for more.

She was going to the States she told me, to work with some top liners, producers, other musicians, play some lives, shoot the breeze, soak it all up, #livethedream.  It was all hopefully gonna kick off for Dagny before the end of the year.

Now here we are in September, the sun is getting low in the sky and the evenings longer.  What better way to transition from the azure days of Summer (what Summer?) to the hazy shades of Autumn with the sun-soaked, rainbow hued pop songs of Dagny’s debut EP, ‘Ultraviolet‘.

Five nuggets of pure pop gold, ‘Ultraviolet’ has had UK music media in its thrall since its release a few days ago.  We’re thinking especially of PopJustice Ed in Chief, Peter Robinson, who’s been raving about it with a capital R!

This bouquet of punchy pop kicks off with a retro-vibing, beat-tastic bamarama.  With its guitar licks carved out of the ’70s and a melody dug up out of the garden of Now That’s What I Call The ’80s, ‘Fight Sleep’ is what you might expect to hear if legendary singer/songwriter Cathy Dennisshe of Kylie mega-hit ‘Can’t Get You Outta My Head’ fame, was to do a disco remix of tub-thumper ‘War Baby’ (just don’t tell TRB!).

Dagny has a strong voice and carries this weighty track well, but, and this is just a personal observation, maybe the vocal would be served better with a little less of the accentuated end of line upticks!

Lead track ‘Ultraviolet’ is the perfect ‘getting ready with the girls before a night out‘ anthem.  Rife with ‘all American’ rock riffs and rollin’ percussion, this is the kind of number the Pinks of this world do so well, and, which the US of A, home of all things rock-pop with a danceable pulse, buys by the Platinum-coated bucket load.  This is slick, strobe-lit, high-school pop, and with its upbeat, ‘oh-so-memorable’ catchy hooks, ‘Ultraviolet’ should have gaggles of teens and tweens everywhere reaching for their hairbrushes.

Photo DMc Cloat
Dagny Oyafestivalen 2016 Photo DMc Cloat

Mid-stream finds us in Taylor Swift/Ariana Grande territory with the pure pop beats of ‘Too Young‘, a track that sees Dagny show a more youthful, lighter side to her oft smoky vocal.  This hands in the air head-bobber, is pure iridescent spinning disco ball.  An NRG driven sing-along that will demand you dance your ass off to its compelling gold-plated melody lines and pulsating beats.

Next up, it’s the big one.  ‘Backbeat’, the track that propelled Dagny’s into the world of mainstream pop and etched her name in the minds of Euro-pop-media.  Released in late 2015, it lingers long with its infectious OHs and speed of light handclaps, hyperactive drumming and driving guitars.  An instrumental winner wrapped around shimmering synth loops, it’s enriched by an intense vocal delivery, and yeah ok, we have those Dagny upticks again, but in this instance, they kinda work.

To be fair, I guess when you’re starting out and trying to be remembered, you need to nail an evo-stick trademark.  I get it guys!

The EP finale comes in the form of flamboyant, ‘Fool’s Gold.  A sparkling stunner of a pop diamond, it’s fuelled by a propulsive mid-line of synth wrapped guitars and blood pumping percussion.  If this doesn’t get your toes tapping, head nodding and hips swinging then see a doctor about getting your pulse checked, as it’s quite probable that you’re dead.

With 5million plus streams on Spotify, it’s a class A pop rocket.  A turbo charged stomper that perfectly book-ends this blast of an EP.

If multi-coloured, heart stoppin’, summer lovin’, fluorescent, pure unadulterated pop is your thing, then Dagny‘s music is for you. Five star recommendation for teens, tweens, popstrels, party girls, girls who just wanna have fun, boys who like girls who like boys, and high heeled, sequin swept, glammed up disco queens.  Do It!

Dagny’s ‘Ultravoilet’ EP is available to buy, stream, download via all the usual digital channels, links here.

Music/iTunes:http://republicrec.co/DagnyUltravioletEP
Music/Apple:http://republicrec.co/DagnyUltravioletEPAM
Google Play:http://republicrec.co/DagnyUltravioletEPGP
Amazon:http://republicrec.co/DagnyUltravioletEPAZ
Spotify:http://republicrec.co/DagnyUltravioletEPSP

ToY – ‘Churches’ : We Are One But We Are Not The Same

Rainbow

This is dedicated to Jo – a gorgeous, funny, loving, loved and immensely talented person I am very proud to call my friend.

Sometimes artists are led by their head but more often they are led by their hearts, their instincts, or both.  Still, it’s not uncommon to find lyrics, that start with a gut reaction, but are fleshed out with both rhyme and reason.  Rather than drifting on a sea of emotion, they square up with a quiet, refined resolution, to address the difficult or compromising situation in which the artist finds themselves.

Let’s face it, we have all at one time or another, found ourselves in a challenging situation – one that prods and pokes both psychologically and emotionally; maybe even physically.  Many of these situations are caused by perceived differences and notions of social grandeur swept with disdain like cashmere pashminas over the shoulders of the various ‘castes’ and classes within our tribes, parishes, communities, workplaces and/or organisations.

But just what makes someone different?  Who sets down the criteria?  What defines beauty and why is it that external scars are considered ugly in comparison with the internal scars that so often go unseen or unnoticed? Who set the bar for normal and why is it that nonconformists should be compelled to conform and by whose rules?  “We are ONE but we are NOT the same!”*

We are all of us born free from bias; it is both the culture and society and in which we grow and evolve that taint the innocence of our childish hearts and minds. Put a child in a playground with other children, and they will, after time, take the hands of those around them.  They will trust them, laugh with them, play with them, tumble with them.  They do not see colour, or creed, or gender – they see other children. Other children just like them.

So why is it, that we as adults, cannot emulate our children.  Why can we not see past the prejudices that surround and chip away at our daily lives, and just let others simply ‘be’.  There is no right or wrong, superior or inferior, perfect or imperfect.  We are all flesh and bone, with none of us worth more than the other, so why is it, that we cannot accept that?  Why is it, that we try to put people like pegs into holes that we have fashioned for them?  That we try, against the might of nature, to make people something or someone which they are not.  And, when some have the very gall to stand up and say, “I am not a fit for your standard, I do not want to be that person you think I should” then we shun, cast off, criticise and ostracise.

I have my beliefs, you have yours … you live your life, I’ll live mine.  But we can still be friends.  We can still drink, laugh, dance, flirt, debate and argue.  We won’t always agree – that’s what makes us humans different from other animals and, makes our lives so varied, interesting and colourful.  Fundamentally speaking “We ARE ONE, BUT we are NOT THE SAME”*.  It’s time we all accepted that fact, and, each other.

Photo: @GetInHerEars
Photo: @GetInHerEars

To take us out, you’ll find the Soundcloud link below to ‘Churches’, the latest track release from Winchester duo, Temples of Youth, comprising Paul Gumma and Jo Carson. Specialising in lo-fi electronica wrapped around subtle, evocative guitar and soft, percussive beats, theirs is a sound defined by its refined understatement.  Reserved yet moving vocals translate perfectly the striking prescience of Jo’s lyricism.  ToY’s music has received the undisputed support of team BBC6 Music from Tom Robinson to Huw Stephens through Steve Lamacq to the moderati at new artist support hub, Fresh on the Net.  Temples are currently on the gigocircuit and having done Blissfields, Birthdays and Brighton, they are short listed to live’n up the Joiners, Southampton, on 10th August: details of this and all other gigs on their Facebook page.

All proceeds from the sale of Churches is being donated to the Equality Florida fund, and you can stump up to the bumper here on the Temples’ Bandcamp page.

*Quote is from “One” Written by Paul Hewson & David Evans and performed by U2.

Irish Duo Hvmmingbyrd Ask ‘If Love Was Enough’?

Hvmmingbyrd

Suzette Das (vocals, piano) and Deborah Byrne (vocals, guitar) make up emerging Irish alt-pop pairing, Hvmmingbyrd and with word of the uber high quality of their songwriting/performances spreading like a fire through dry scrub-land, their latest single, ‘If Love Was Enough’ is set to propel them even further into the musical limelight.  If there’s any justice, that propulsion will help flag their growing rep as insanely talented vocalists and percipient songwriters to music audiences beyond these shores.

Wistful lyrics are spun like finely threaded colourful silk through an intricate weave of warm electronica, pulsing dance beats and latino/jungle percussion. Das’ and Byrne’s golden vocals, which are in perfect symmetry, give off an air of shimmering hopefulness, to create a bright light at the end of that dimly lit tunnel into which the up and down complexities of love can often throw us.

‘If Love Was Enough‘ was written and co-produced by Hvmmingbyrd along with Aisling Jarvis.  The touching video, which you can watch here, was directed & produced by Irish film company Crooked Gentlemen and stars actors Eoin Macken and Olivia Romao.   You can buy ‘If Love Was Enough’ via the Hvmmingbyrd Bandcamp page and keep up to speed with the duo’s gigs and releases via Facebook.  The Hvmmingbyrd girls are using the hashtag #iflovewasenough to try generate some trendin’ social media love … so join in, like/love/share.