Ryan Dooley – The Beach 

Coming from a band and pursuing a solo project must be incredibly daunting, but Ryan Dooley has stepped up and set the bar high for those that brave the music scene alone. With a successful history with band All The Young, Ryan’s new solo single ‘The Beach’ offers a more gentle acoustic sound. After hearing glowing feedback from his recent home show at The Sugarmill, I was interested to give his new music a listen and I wasn’t disappointed. 

Although we all love an upbeat and feel good song, everyone has a soft spot for a slightly slower track that completely takes you away from everything, no matter what genre you’re into. This is what is so great about ‘The Beach’ as it’s such a lovely, mellow tune it’s hard to resist warming to it. Ryan’s vocals and the gentleness of the guitar in particular bounce off each other so effortlessly that the track sounds so genuine and natural. This special knack seems second nature to Ryan, and the track is executed with such ease it’s really no wonder that his heartfelt solo material is proving to be such a hit.
I can’t urge you enough to spare a few minutes to give this single a listen, especially if you fancy a brief break away from everything, and definitely keep an eye out for Ryan Dooley in the near future.
Alisha 

Pacific – Those Nights

‘Those Nights’, the brand new single from Pacific, is guaranteed to be your summer anthem for 2015. 

If you thought they couldn’t build on ‘Time To Forget’, you were very clearly mistaken. Everything about this song, whether it’s the soft choral tones of the piano that define Pacific’s sound so brilliantly, or the nostalgic aftertaste that this track emits, will leave you feeling entirely refreshed. 

Very rarely do you hear a track where every single component fits into place as well as ‘Those Nights’ demonstrates, and that’s the something that will take this band to where they belong – at the top. And rightly so. Anthony Orzels vocals pour gallons of nostalgia into a well structured, well built and well delivered example of pop and rock at its best. 

Everyone should download this song instantly. Not just to show support to a visibly passionate and extremely promising band, but because Pacific are going places. 

Let ‘Those Nights’ be the song of your summer.

Em Jones 

Lazy Eye – First Thing Tomorrow EP Review

Having listened to a few of Lazy Eye’s records I had an idea of what I’d expect, however I’ve proven myself the true definition of the word philistine as Scott and the lads keep on surprising their public, front man Scott Powell seems to have found a new lease of life, true the Miles Kane/Kinks influences are still there but there is a sense that the band are moving towards more eclectic tastes!
First song Katie Jones starts off like a mod revival record with its ambient subway sounding build up however it comes across more indie pop then mod rock something I’ve been critical of with most local bands, it  includes name checks such as Carly Simon and Carole King. Katie Jones is a fine way to start an already promising E.P.
Rich Man improves on the promising start, from the first 30 seconds it sounds like the best thing the band have ever done and hearing it 2 or 3 times more I cannot see my opinion changing.
Killer Ooh is a track most fans will already be familiar with, this was early implication of the bands change of style, Killer Ooh is not too dissimilar from the previous two songs adding to the all round vibe of an impressive EP.
Its obvious that Lazy Eye have progressed from Miles Kane influenced Rock and roll to an all round British sound. Its sounds to me like Ray Davies and Parklife era Blur might have been an influence in the songwriting process. While early tracks like ‘Get, Get, Get’ give the implication that the band had such started walking in songwriting terms its tracks like the ones on this E.P prove that this band can run with the best of them.
Tom

We Few @ Sugarmill 

A night full of dirty rock and roll. 

Still fresh as a daisy in the Stoke on Trent music scene The Manalishi opened the night with an incredible set, the best I’ve seen them yet! The setlist as full of original tunes that could maybe be anthems for the new generation of local bands. The song writing structure from front guy, Josh Alcock askes a series of inside questions like; who is mummy’s little hooligan? So many layers of each song come together to make a gripping unique sound. So High has slowly become my favourite and they started with it, I was a little fan girly when I heard that starting riff. It’s got this quirky 60s pop influence and howls an influence from The Beatles which conflicts with their debut single which they ended with, Alive as that howls a Rolling Stones influence (especially with jagger legs on bass). Out of the Blue again another ace track, it added some funky bass and we heard more of the gravelly vocal from Josh. A hard working intelligent modern rock band with challenging melodies, they will make a big footprint in the local scene, as they walk off stage with the audience screaming ‘encore’. What more can the four piece offer? 

Dirty Rotten Souls never disappointment, I have ran out of compliments for this band. The technique of this band is mesmerising, so mesmerising it makes you wonder how just three men can make this sound and create so much intelligence in the tracks. Still Dirty Rotten Souls play there good old favourites from the beginning in their set. Everytime they have a new element and just show how much better they can be, they won’t stop being excellent till they end (which I hope isn’t soon). The performance was full of swag and melodic weighty rhythms stirred with the confident enjoyment of every member. Seeing a smile on stage makes it all the more better to enjoy. I bet she’s filthy from their EP is full of driven passion to be brilliant, making me yet again speechless. Another hard working band making their stamp clean and shiny for new people to find. 

Wow, just wow. Money For Rope delivered enough hype and energy to supply me for a month or two. From Melbourne they sure are energetic bunch, more interesting, from Holland to Stoke on Trent in one night, that’s pretty impressive! They were full of rock and roll layers with jazzy grooves and psych madness. You haven’t heard rhythm so intense until you have seen Money for Rope. They had two drummers and introduced a saxophone during some tracks. The attention to detail has taken passion and determination to make perfect it’s intriguing. I have nothing to compare to these lads but what is created was admired by the whole of The Sugarmill, the desire to explore bizarre sounds is what makes them so entertaining. 

What an excellent night for We Few’s headline, amazing support, cracking set and Tom had his hair cut. “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers” there is no other better slogan for this band. Their aggressive beats and arrogant performance is what the audience adored. An erupt of screams and appreciation exploded after every tune, which they truly deserved. Every track to their debut single Push, these lads are perfectionists and spot on every time. The dirty feel of the music makes you want to get involved even the lyrics are catchy and as they ended their set their melodies were eating me alive. We Few have got it all, the rock and roll look, attitude and music. One to watch for 2015.
LC 

Regale @ JJM Studio

After travelling 30 plus miles down the road, Stoke to Walsall, Ryan Jarvis, Pleasure House and Regale made the boring m6 drive worth it! JJM Studios is a great intimate, alternative venue, definitely a venue to check out.

Singer/songwriter Ryan Jarvis kicked the night off with already the impact room pretty packed. Being from Manchester Ryan could easily get stuck in the Gallagher/Fray musical circle but safe to say Ryan isn’t going round and around he’s going one way and that forward. As I walked into JJM Studio’s live room it was amazing to see the support just a young lad from Manchester can get in Walsall. As Ryan smashed through his set he played tunes from his debut EP Outside This Town and it was very clear Ryan loves his Manchester hometown and he’s very much in love. With just him and his catchy guitar riffs it is faultless, I walked out the room humming the melodies.

A band that have easily made my favourite unsigned band list is Pleasure House. What an incredible live band, even with only ¾ of the band present. Alex took on the frontman, rhythm guitar and bass drum role, his thigh and ankle may have been aching but it was totally worth it. The rhythm of all the signature bouncing beats were still there. Walking into the room and witnessing that straight away I knew I was in for a great set. The humour and intelligence of the bands stage presence made the gig more comfortable and entertaining. Pleasure House are a feel good band and evidently put a groove in everyone’s step, especially in JJM studio. The sensitive meanings and dark themes within the lyrics blended with the smooth energetic mesmerising melodies by far baffles my mind how they are so much fun to watch and listen too.

Finally the day had arrived, Regale release their new single Tonight along with their rather raunchy music video. It was totally packed out, you could feel the music shaking through the dance floor then into my body. As always Regale put on an original performance full of plenty of bouncy beats and groove riffs. Playing good old favourites and we even heard some brand new exclusive tunes, the mash up of different genres, booms of bass and the mental dancey vibes were utterly infectious throughout the whole room. Regale sure know how to party and sure know how to have a party on stage.  Whilst dancing and of course Bail cracking out the hilarious yet pathetic jokes the whole band are razor tight and the funky groove have plenty of sharp edges. Regale smashed their single launch and should be treasured within their hometown for sense of innovation and bringing the biggest party to JJM Studio.

LC

Moral Panics – Ataraxia EP Review

If you’ve not heard the hype surrounding Moral Panics, where have you been hiding?!Despite their undoubtedly cool persona and ocassional unruly stage diving antics, don’t be fooled as their new EP ‘Ataraxia’ is sounding more mature and perfected than ever.

I’ve become fairly familiar with this band over the past year, having seen them more times that I can remember and being a regular listener. The prospect of releasing another EP is always a brave move as it will undoubtedly be compared to the success of past releases, but thankfully Moral Panics have nothing to fear as they return with this seemingly cool and enhanced sound.

‘Mammoths’ is the first track and what a track it is. Having previously reviewed this as a single a few weeks back, I cannot stress highly enough just how good it is! It’s the perfect opener for the EP, giving a taster of the brilliance that later unfolds. Introducing a slightly newer sound, it’s a bit different from their previous material but is definitely up there with my favourite Moral Panics tracks, bursting with passion and conjuring a storm of dexterity. If you have time I’d definitely check out the music video for it as well.

The second track ‘Here’ kicks off with a classic drumbeat, and the introduction of the bass and sprightly riff overlaying it adds an unmistakable groove that sounds pretty immense when played at full volume. It’s slightly more chilled than the opening track, which I quite like as it allows you the opportunity to properly get into the EP without being too overwhelmed from the outset. There’s an element in the chorus that reminds me of Two Door Cinema Club, yet this influence is mixed with something a bit more cutting that rules it out from being a generic indie track and throws a bit of grunge in there.

‘Calidore’ launches straight into an oscillating riff and an unmistakably catchy one at that. It’s eerily beautiful – the marginally upbeat undertone, which is almost cancelled out by a more sincere and sorrowful vocal, creates a divine result that captures what this EP is all about and the direction Moral Panics are pursuing.

Track 4, ‘Lungs’, is another gritty track that combines thoughtfully crafted lyrics, powerful drumming and an explosion of a chorus that is simply electric. The bass in the verses allows Dan’s intense vocal to flourish, and once again the lads have come up with another timeless and effortless melody that just screams out their iconic sound – but version 2.0.

If you’re going to recognise one Moral Panics song it has got to be ‘February’. Featuring on their previous EP ‘Wlvs’, this was the song that initially got me into the band. It’s quite clever including this as the closing track to the new EP – despite a slight tweak in their sound that old flare and spark is still there and is burning brighter than ever. There’s always been something so raw and exposed about ‘February’, and that paired with the emblematic tune just allows you to escape for a few minutes.

It’s easy for bands to pigeonhole themselves with the same sound and influence being regurgitated over and over. The ones who excel are the ones who bring something new and exciting to the table, and for me this is why Moral Panics have always been the ones to watch. They have got everything spot on, and ‘Ataraxia’ is what they have to show for it. The sound is evolved and frankly quite mesmerising, and if that doesn’t persuade you to give it a listen I’m not sure what will.

Alisha G

Bonsai @ Sugarmill

Saturday night at The Sugarmill, it’s very rare I can say I felt the youngest there but I did. It was genuinely an amazing night full of great talent.

The Taskers opened the show. They released their latest album last month called Pleasure Point. Listening to the recordings you can hear the variation of sounds and themes, live the album tracks are even better. Every little layer is performed in 100% effort by all three members. Listening to Undone is a lot different to watching it. To actually see all the dancey beats, shimmering cymbals, tinkering keys and simple vocals live it brings all those Logic Pro loops to life. Smear is a Radicals Rising favourite, characterised by Band of Skulls-like lightning riffs and choruses that could trigger a catastrophic avalanche. There are songs with cheery breezy riffs, the whole set list touched almost every musician emotional. One of Stoke on Trent underrated live bands.

Thieves Asylum never fail to disappoint. The music and performance has no faults, they have worked hard to get what they’ve got and it’s beginning to pay off. The swift changes from one song to another is unnoticed. Starting with a weighty entry and into, Radicals Rising’s favourite Katapult, combining their heavy beats, monster riffs and the swaggering vocal. Their new tunes already have their trademark stamp built in and can’t wait to hear them again. Despite Joe’s guitar string breaking the band improvised and carried on, if that’s wasn’t an example of professionalism I don’t know what is. They know how to act and play like a band. Spot on, they set the standard high.

With the crowd warmed up, Bonsai were ready for their first headline. It was my first encounter with Bonsai, majority of the band have been in bands before but this time the chemistry between all members on stage is real. Bonsai have clear dynamics between dark and light tones throughout the whole set, as well as the music varying, the stage presence did too. We saw Chris full of excitement kinda like the love child of local bands Rinse and Moscow then we saw his adoring to the acoustic section of the set. Covering Catfish and Bottlemen and Kings of Leon was a good idea, it got the crowd going and singing back, it won’t be long till people are singing Ned lyrics or Houdini lyrics back at the band.

Logical Drama – Siberia 

Any decent human being would look forward to new music. Unfortunately, I’m not a decent human being. In the case of local atmospheric six-piece Logical Drama; I’m doubly hesitant, because every single track I’ve reviewed, I’ve found to be faultless. And so I’m agonisingly awaiting the day that this chain of perfection sadly ends.

Has that day arrived? Thankfully, no, no it hasn’t. 

In all honesty, my expectations for the new single ‘Siberia’ were all the more inflated with the arrival of a fresh vocal influence in the form of Joel Hughes. And without discrediting previous works, I definitely detected the new-found dynamism the change has offered. Vocally evolving from a melancholic drone to a tuneful anguish. 

As you’d expect, ‘Siberia’ bears all the classic characteristics of a Logical Drama single; of course you have those wrenching guitars, of course you have that grovelling bass and of course you have those ominous strings. But this track is distinctive in that no other Logical Drama song has engulfed me in sound as immeasurably as ‘Siberia.’ I could probably sit here all day and throw out synonyms for ‘dark’ or ‘dread’ and it’d most likely describe ‘Siberia’ in a general sense, but that’d just demean the music itself because there are a collection of instances in this track where Logical Drama just truly clinch you. The initial slow and icy violin, an abundance of piercing sound effects thrown into the background, and not to mention that delightful tempo change just after the minute mark that overthrows the entire mood of the track.

I’m not all that fond of music that’s comfortable, or puts me in a position of ease. I think that’s why Logical Drama sits so well with me – it’s detached, callous and evocative. They aren’t making jogging music here; they’re making music the way it should be made, to be sat down and listened to. You either completely embrace it, or completely misunderstand it… and I know which side I’m on.

It’d be banal and predictable journalism if I said this single is the symbol of a band establishing its sound, but I don’t think it is at all. I think Logical Drama will almost certainly advance their sound further, and will get even better. 

Please never stop making music. 

FS

Moral Panics – Mammoths – Single Review

Moral Panics are more than just 4 local lads making music together; they are a force to be reckoned with so it’s not surprising that they’ve nailed it once again with their new single ‘Mammoths’ from their upcoming EP ‘Ataraxia’. With a recent replacement in the band it’s been eagerly awaited to see if they would still hold that same magic we all know and love, and ‘Mammoths’ see’s them manage to keep their signature sound but somehow still kick it up yet another notch. After witnessing Moral Panics headline just the other week at The Underground it’s unmistakably clear that this band are still going onwards and upwards even after the success of their previous EP ‘Wlvs’.


The track launches you straight into Dan’s euphonious vocal over a timeless indie riff, which progresses with the buoyant drumming that characterises their sound down to a tee. The chorus is pretty monumental with a release of energy that hooks you immediately. Live Moral Panics completely captivate the crowd, and on record it’s no different. Before I’ve compared their sound to that of Foals, but this track seems almost slightly heavier and holds something else in there that makes it utterly brilliant. Without a doubt these lads are one of the best local live bands you’ll see and luckily the release show for ‘Ataraxia’ is just around the corner on 8th May at The Sugarmill so I’d definitely get yourselves down there to witness it.


This single definitely show’s that this EP is looking to be bigger and better than anything else they’ve produced and once again they’ve somehow managed to fire out something great in what feels like no time at all.


Alisha 

The Taskers @ The Met 18/4/15

There’s a lot you can buy with £5. A pint, a reduced CD, a cup of coffee. A bunch of flowers for the one you love. But on Saturday night, £5 bought me a seat at The MET in Stafford to see The Taskers launch their brand new album titled Pleasure Point, with a little help from their friends.

Wilcox:Hulse kicked the night off excellently, with a laid back ‘folk and roll’ infused set. Opening with ‘From The top Down’, a song carried by the warmth of the acoustic guitar, and the ever growing need to tap your foot, Wilcox:Hulse were the best choice to begin proceedings. Along with songs like ‘Upon’, a song about Stoke-on-Trent, ‘Coming Back’ and ‘The Year Of ’42’, the acoustic duo appeared to be entirely immersed in every word they sang, and every chord they played.

Next to take to the stage was Sons of Clogger, a four piece folk rock punk and bit of everything band. Playing songs such as The Bearded Lady, The Ventriloquist and King Of The Gypsies, Sons of Clogger put a big slice of personality into all aspects of their performance. I could tell this was a good set, just by looking at the clapping, cheering and stamping of feet from the audience. The four piece from Stoke-on-Trent ended their lively, dancey slot amongst an evening of fantastic musical madness with Get Yourself Off Home, which contained equal amounts of the obscurity and enthusiasm they began with.

With every audience member left walking on the ceiling after Sons Of Clogger’s fast paced fusion of fantastic songs, it was Gavin Osborn who had the job of bringing everyone back down to their seats. To the untrained eye, which included every member of The MET’s audience, Gavin Osborn looked as though he’d have a hard time filling the Clogger shaped hole that had been left on the stage. Yet, in the best and most brilliant way possible, he did it. Opening with a song that centred around Adam Woodyatt and his much loved character Ian Beale, (yes, you heard me right) Osborn instantly won everyone’s compassion. This compassion remained throughout the entirety of Osborn’s performance, and continued to grow with every story he sang to us. One song that really struck me was Albert Went Out To See Rock Bands, a beautifully sung story about an elderly man he’d seen moshing at a Charlatans gigs. Gavin Osborn’s set was entirely relevant and very culturally aware, leaving me to beg the question ‘How have I never heard of you before?’

With Gavin Osborn’s set completed, it was time for The Taskers to take their place before us. Quite accidentally, I’ve seen them at several points in their career and watched them evolve into the four-piece they are today. I was no stranger to a typical Tasker set list, which could make me biased, but not one person in that room could deny the brilliance of their performance. The Taskers were most definitely on form.

Opening with the title track off their new album Pleasure Point the four-piece, consisting of Jack Tasker on guitar and vocals, SBT on drums, cajon and vocals, Jack Rennie on bass, keys, percussion and vocals, and Sarah Pickwell on cello, brought energy levels sky high. Ripping through a load of new tracks including Chemical War and Shit & Blossom, it’s really clear that The Taskers have found their sound – and I absolutely love it. Songs such as Undone and Ghost remind the audience of how effortlessly they make even the calmer, more laid back songs seem, and provide a small break in proceedings. A beautiful moment occurred in Ghost, as all four members appeared completely lost in every corner of their music. One of the strongest songs from their set was most definitely Denmark, an acoustic, mellow song that was entirely ripped apart in front of us all. With a hauntingly beautiful cello accompaniment, and the extent of SBT’s vocal talent being showcased for all to see, Denmark has to be one of my favourites from the evening. Not only is it a pleasure to see four talents come together and make brilliant music, it’s great to see such confidence between them all. The Taskers continued on with Rafts, a folky number, Smear, Hogs From Hell (oinking and snorting included), Trials and, the ever beautiful, Mountains To The Sea, until eventually ending on an impromptu rendition of Rockin’ In The Free World by Neil Young. Bringing the night to a rocky end, The Taskers left the stage and headed to the pub next door to sell copies of their brand new banger of an album.

I left on a high, and I’m pretty sure the rest of the audience did too. Our ears had observed a rocky, folky, dancey, funky, up beat, laid back, well connected and well rehearsed evening of great talent, and all for the price of a cheap bouquet of flowers. Such raw and real talent like that of The Taskers is hard to come by, and the fact that they’re probably the nicest people going is certainly a benefit. What does the future hold for The Taskers? I don’t know, but I do know that they’re only going to get better.

Em Jones