Oatcake Day No5 @ The Sugarmill 09/08/14

The day had finally arrived, the day ‘Stokies’ cherish – Oatcake day!

It was bigger than ever this year for the 5th year running. 6 Towns Radio were live from Sainsbury in Stoke where we set the highest record of 3 oatcakes eaten in 2 minutes also the creator of Oatcake day, Terry Bossons, delivered oatcakes to Donna Louise and Dougie Mac hospices to spread the positivity around Staffordshire then we finished the great day off with an awesome live gig at local venue The Sugarmill sponsored by Richer Sounds.

The opening act was Stafford based rock duo – The Taskers. Playing tunes from their previous album, Rat Residence it showcased their sheer power and volume of experimental talent. They’ve currently released an EP as a bridge from Rat Residence and the next album, the variety of sounds is all created on stage, musically and through their compelling stage presence.

One of the strongest sets of the night, 25 minutes full of Sonic Revolvers best tunes. Bouncing all over the stage, front man Darrell reminds me of Matt from The Pigeon Detectives. Massage his ego and he will perform. Loco Lifestyle still has that crisp, warm tone vibe to it, but we heard new tunes, especially for Oatcake Day. Black Star and Can you Hear Me? Which will be the next single for these infectious four piece – the stunning guitar solo, firm bass line and captivating drum beats, it’s certainly sounds like another Hype Chart number 1!

A supporter of Oatcake Day and 80s legend Owen Paul joined the celebration. Playing all sorts of 80s hits from Mike and the Mechanics and Simple Minds – who he did actually tour with and performed songs with. With just him on stage for 60% of the set and a backing track he seemed lost on stage but it got the audience singing along and back to their youths. He concluded the set with his biggest hit, You’re my Favourite Waste of Time, it was nice to Owen still enjoying performing and engaging the crowd.

Headlining of Oatcake Day No5 gig was another Oatcake Day supporter and The Bluetones legend – Mark Morriss. He played 90s classics that everyone sung along to and his solo album material; A Flash of Darkness was released in February. It was a lovely little intimate gig with just him and his guitar. His new material is a lot more reflective and you see more of Mark’s talent; especially when he’s live. He was a great headliner with a great personality.

Bring on Oatcake Day 6.

LC

The Devil Blues – In The City – Single Review 05/08/14

Mike Patton may hate bands that try to sound like they’re from the 70s, but I am laid back about it when it is done right.

When it comes to The Devil Blues their main goal seems to be to make a really good and catchy song and that is what they do, fuse an old sound and make it seem fresh. They name bands like The Kinks and Nirvana as influences and you can tell if you listen closely.

In the City is darn catchy and a great song to nod along to when you’re writing reviews for Lucee. With a great drum beat and a chugging bass to start it all off, the guitar adds a retro atmosphere to their sound. The vocals are gritty and the backing vocals continue this atmosphere during the verse.

This song is a firm favourite of mine out of the songs I have heard this year from Stoke’s local scene, and it has a firm grunge style to the sound that somehow makes the song sound older than it is. With that in mind they remind me of Blue Cheer, they seem to be one of a kind in the “indie” scene at the moment and I like a band like The Devil Blues who do their best to stand out from bands who try too hard to be like Oasis.

In The City is a class tune, and deserves to be in the Hype Chart.

 

Matt Clewley

Boy Brave – The Fire 01/08/14

The music scene is in need of more acoustic musicians with something more than singing Ed Sheeran songs in a crappy way.

So, I got sent some acoustic songs by Boy Brave, and I was quite surprised by it.

The Fire has an immediate start with singing and music, giving off a nice and joyful folk feeling to it. The vocals give off an Elvis feel to it, but just imagine a calmer version of that man whilst listening to Fleet Foxes. It’s an intriguing folk song; the vocals fit the song perfectly. The reverb on the vocals makes the song comfortable to listen to, it could do with a little less, but it doesn’t swamp the music. It’s catchy at the chorus and a wonderful listen when the song goes on. It’s not a long song sadly; it would be nice to hear more as it does drag you away.

This song would be a great live piece, and I hope Boy Brave get some gigs coming soon, even if it’s small pub ones, it would be bliss to hear The Fire live. The song is well produced and also well written, The English vocalist should be proud of this one, I look forward to hearing more from him.

Matt C

Lazy Eye – Wherever I Go

Lazy Eye is personally one of my favourites on the local music scene and it’s fair to say, record after record, I’m still impressed. Wherever I Go is a truly touching song and a beautiful tribute. You can always tell when a track is personal to an artist as that’s where their talent usually shines through the boldest, and this song is no exception.

The track is quite stripped back, with the acoustic set up creating a soothing edge yet exposing the rawness and feeling behind it. The passionate vocals and the gentleness of the instruments together seem to elevate a sense of sadness, yes, but also determination to remember the good times and carry on, which is an admirable message.

Overall, another fantastic track and definitely one to be proud of.

Logical Drama – Swoon – Review

Every time Logical Drama have boasted a new single, I’ve proclaimed it to be “their best work to date” – here we are again with hot off the press Swoon and I’m at risk of repeating myself. Frankly, I don’t know how Logical Drama do it; they release one incredible piece of music, and completely and utterly steamroll it with an all the more superior piece. It’d be entirely iniquitous to state that Swoon invalidates a collection of their previous work; however I unreservedly believe that this is a colossal step up.

Swoon opens with a chilling pluck of strings, transmitting a horror film like essence; initially you begin to speculate the depth of the song until that signature violin manifests itself within the track and pulses up and down throughout. And just as the soothing nature of the verse glides into a state of tranquillity, the track instantly brandishes instrumentals that erupt into a collision of melodies that impose a dizzying senselessness, and beneath the pure wreckage and chaos; the only solitary shimmer of clarity bellowing through the misted array of sound emanates from the compelling vocals.

FS

The Taskers – Hog Wilde EP Review 24/07/14

 The Brother-Sister two piece The Taskers are back with another release, this time a 4 piece EP to bridge the gap between Rat Residence released earlier this year and their sixth album.                 They grace us with only four tracks on this release – and the first is Hogs from Hell, taken straight from Rat Residence, so it’s inclusion seems to be their simply to aid the volume of tracks on the EP.             

The second track on the release is Never Knew and Sophie takes over the track with her vocals which are sublime. The first minute is a gentle acoustic build up which is chilled, albeit dull. After that initial duration of relaxation though comes the chorus: Sophie powerfully belts out the lyrics which lifts the song up a level and the strings are much more purposeful. It’s a good well-rounded track, well worth a listen in the end – a bit of a grower.          

The third track on the release is also led by the incredible female vocals – Blinked is only a short track but it’s the best track on the EP, the acoustic riff is much less passive, and it’s the tune that will catch your attention more than anything. The track is unspectacular, but there’s something charming about it – it’s clean and extremely soothing.               

 The last track on the EP is an acoustic reimagining of Raptors which opened Rat Residence. It loses a lot of what made it such a good track on the previous album, the acoustic nature means it loses its heavy grunge style and loses a lot of its original appeal however it does adopt a style that still works, Jack’s vocals work better with the acoustic version it seems more relaxed, less forced and still maintains the structure and flowing riff that made the original great.                

The EP serves its purpose as a bridge, but they’ve only really showcased two new tracks on it – fair enough save some back for the next album; but that begs the question did the EP need releasing at all? Of course though; the musical talent is undeniable and they are 4 good tracks – If you haven’t listened to the Taskers before, listen to this EP because they do demonstrate a variety of skills and genre which epitomises them.

 

Nathe Owen

Campstag – Leviathan Swims 16/07/14

Leviathan Swims is the authentic track from Camp Stag’s forthcoming EP Leviathan. Already with a few impressive tracks to their claim, I’m glad to say that once again Camp Stag have pulled it out of the bag. The track starts with a calming introduction, and the soothing tone to the vocals create a tranquilizing effect, taking you to another place completely. The gentle build created by the soft drum beat and delicate guitar playing leaves the track circling in your head after a few listens, and in my opinion, it’s a prime example of the local indie talent that Stoke has to offer. Promising things to come for sure from these guys.

https://soundcloud.com/campstag/camp-stag-leviathan-swims

AG

Dead City Souls – Album Review 15/07/14

 

The first serious release from one of the most in-demand bands on the local music scene, I can only hope the energy they portray on the mini-release is representative of them, because I imagine they need it – on the weekend of the release for the EP alone the five-piece ensemble played three shows – two on the same day: an apt insight into their full schedule.

The EP itself is well poised and extremely well produced, the levels are more or less perfect for the most part – my only quarrel may be that the vocals seem a little underpowered in the odd place; the production quality comes as no surprise – recorded in Tunstall’s Summer Bank Studios on our own doorstep.

The first track on the EP is but a tool to build anticipation – entitled Embark, it features no vocals, however it does feature a well-constructed arrangement of clean-cut guitar and an occasional kick against a bass drum seemingly dropped in to mimic a heartbeat: perhaps slightly cliché, but it does help to create some tension and engages as it intrigues – it serves as an adequate intro to the album, making you sit up and pay attention to what is about to come.

Back against, is the first actual anthem on the self-named EP, and the contrast between the intro and this is stark, after a short intro section the lads waste no time running straight into a heavy rhythm which is complimented well by some very hearty vocals courtesy of front-man Jay Davies, his vocal style is not too dissimilar from that of M. Shadows (Avenged Sevenfold). The song is solid, however it can get a little repetitive – even though it’s catchy it seems too familiar – there are no instrumental hooks but you probably will find yourself singing along even on your first play through.

The third track is almost certainly my favourite, multiple changes of rhythm and tempo makes it impossible not to take note, and opens up with an almost pop-punk dialect and you feel the energy immediately, the verses are pacey and unrelenting – to the point where just listening to the song is increasing my typing speed. The chorus feels like a breakdown with a nice rhythmical beat and some thumping of the toms, it’s a nice track and epitomises the aforementioned energy the band has.

Save me, is another good song, a real clean nice underlying guitar hook sits underneath, and I admit to finding myself humming it on a couple of occasions, is contrasts well with the vocal talent on show, the vocals keep quite a slow tempo, where the instrumental pace frequents. Save me is a really nice filler track, a song that seems to just seem quite pretentious at first but really does grow on you with a familiar charm and it truly will burrow itself into your mind to the point where it may start to irritate – but aren’t they always the best songs?

The fifth installation is entitled Say Goodnight – it’s unspectacular and quite simple in its construction, but again it’s solid and fit for purpose, it wouldn’t be out of place in an old need for speed game alongside some forgotten B-side from Bullet for my Valentine. It’s the kind of song that can just play in the background and you won’t really notice. On a positive note: there’s a really nice chunky 30 second instrumental pinned in the middle which demonstrates a certain finesse with their instruments but that’s as good as it gets, it’s not bad song, it just feels a bit safe compared to what’s come before it on this release, perhaps I was just being a little over-expectant because the previous tracks were so good.

Hurt no More is a 5+ minute epic, and ‘epic’ isn’t simply an adjective to describe the length of the song – but also the quality of it. Instrumentally perfect with a strong, thumbing pulse running through it; making you nod along like a Churchill dog in an earthquake. Again it echoes a style similar to Avenged Sevenfold, Jay displays a nice range in his vocals once more hitting about five notes just in his verbalisation of the word ‘I’ in the chorus, a real nice fist-pumping anthem that simply lifts the release up in terms of quality.

The final foray into the EP is named Watch the World Burn… Which is… Nice? It’s a befitting ending, where the instruments take centre stage, the intro is over a quarter of the track in length before any lyrics are uttered, but when they are, the song erupts with pace and power again demonstrating the energy the band embed into their songs. The song has everything required to open a set, it builds atmosphere and excitement with the length intro and when it kicks, it just releases such energy.

Overall, the EP massively surpassed any expectation I had from a band little of a year old since their formation, but that is what is appealing about them – there is more to come. They are raw, they are certainly extremely talented, and the effort put into this release is clear and abundant but the final product is far beyond the sum of its parts. It really is an epic and is a clear reason why they are so in-demand at the moment, It’s not often that you hear a local band that releases a locally produced EP that is the same calibre of that you could buy from a mass produced record company – it’s a release to be proud of and I can’t wait to hear more.

 

Nathe Owen

Moral Panics @ Sugarmill 13/07/14

Taking my first steps into the Sugarmill Friday night, I thought I walked into a school disco. It was impressive to see the next generation getting into the live local music scene. It’s also great to see the next generation forming bands and performing just like first act of the night, indie rockers The Revenues. With a secure catchy original tune – Hooked – under their musically belt, it’s undeniably why these lads are so popular. With being such a young band alongside heaps of energy and talent, majority of the set were typical indie, sing a along ,feel good covers, it got the crowd going and definitely showed the potential these five lads have.

Forming only this year, Into Treason surprised the Sugarmill with their raucous talent. Their sound is undeniably forceful. They reach out to the stadium shaking rock choruses and enormous, head banging guitar work, and surprisingly all the power comes from three men. Rolling into song after song after song showed the passion and energy Into Treason have. I was tired just watching the drummer. These are going to prove very popular in the local scene once they have recordings and a few more gigs ticked off.

This band never fails to fascinate the crowd with their excellent live performance skills. Scarlett Arcade showed fans and new fans a musically experience they will remember. Decorating the stage with neon lighting and having a digital background kept all attention on them through the whole set. The music alone is an experience with a strong 80s influence, they modernise this with spin of effects and their creative flair. Gemma’s gorgeous vocals and the intense lyrics sway Scarlett Arcade over the edge to something quite out of my musically world. With such strong talent spread across each member it’s incredible that they haven’t been snapped up by an electro-pop Svengali’s yet.

The only home town gig on their summer tour and Moral Panics nailed it. Their hook laden tunes saw The Sugarmill bouncing in unison. WLVS their EP has been out for a few months now but it’s still got that refreshing musical breeze every time you see it live. Moral Panics are by far one of the most impressive live performing bands in Staffordshire and Cheshire. The indie, rock, pop, alt textures all add up and create explosions in each and every song making them each time, unique. I have good feelings about Moral Panics in the very near future!

 

LC

Acoustic Showcase @ Sugarmill 09/07/14

Most commonly know from local legends The Control. Joe took to the stage with a very similar approach as everyone knew and loved. His lyrics so strong and opinionated, many would be left shocked however also very relatable to many working class people in Stoke on Trent like himself. Such a distinctive voice just left you speechless. Conversations were stopped just to admire the beautifully husky voice. Claiming he needed three songs to ‘hit peak’ ; many would disagree average Joe hit peak the second he opened his mouth. Despite the lack of people inside the Sugarmill, unlike the sweaty bouncy Sugarmill he was used to, Joe gave his absolute heart and soul into every word he sang leaving the place feeling the emotions. Sipping his Newcastle Brown in between every song, jokes would come out leaving people completely engaged and keen to hear his next witty line. The comfort on stage was shown as clearly as he wanted to be on there for as long as possibly, despite there being a tight schedule. Left hopeless from his band, average Joe proved to be more than average.

This was Peterr  A’s first gig, nerves put to one side, stage presence was displayed like Peterr A had been playing gigs for years, second song a cover by Train, Hey Soul Sister, left people in the crowd singing along to the delight of Peterr however some notes were sung that weren’t meant to be sung, despite this though Peterr A redeemed his mistakes with strong vocals coming through via another cover by Green Day. Original track I’m Leaving You saw Peterr fill with emotion as lyrics clearly meant a great deal to him. After this gig we hope to see a lot more from Peterr A only progressing into the stoke music scene even more.

Energetic covers throughout the set by Narn saw her with a very unique ukulele adding to the confident stage presence, awkwardly forgetting to plug her guitar in isn’t what you’d want before playing a song, but the way she covered the mistake up with a joke to her mum in the audience made everything alright. With her powerful stadium filling vocals, we could easily picture Narn playing much bigger venues. However the whole set appeared to all merge into one with no distinctive stand out song. The whole performance appeared to be very scripted and very rehearsed. This young talent has a lot to learn but come this time next year this girl will have only progressed and become a much better performer.

Soft melodic harmonies accompanied by an electric keyboard bought out complete potential of Emma Corbett Usher’s voice. Songs you could easily see in charts and played on the radio raved about by many. The Sugarmill isn’t quite a big enough venue for this young talent. Great use of a loop pedal allowed Emma to explore her range with the use of technology leaving those naive to the way music technology works amazed by the talent. A very modest character left confused by the great applause she received at the end of every song she played. This girl doesn’t know how good she is

Maddy Storm entered the stage full of confidence absolute buzzing off her opportunity of her first Sugarmill headline, accompanied by Nick Joyce on drums most well-known from his work with Bet It All and another friend of Maddy’s, Jake on guitar. Maddy Storm stepped out of her comfort zone of playing just her and guitar and explored more into the depths of what it would possibly be like if she were in a band. A great voice, none of the less, many would agree that Maddy needs a band to show off her true potential and allow her to achieve to goals she appears to have set herself. Very rapidly growing all the more popular within the local scene, Maddy gave supporters a great show to enjoy, with many more quality performances to come.

The night as a whole was very much stolen from the first act ‘Average Joe’ who was undeservedly the first to appear on stage. However all acts gave a great night for acoustic lovers to witness.

CH