After spending years writing and recording music by himself in various bedrooms and basements, Andrew Carter hit his stride with the debut Minor Poet album, And How!. Made on a creative whim with no outside expectations, the eleven-song collection combined Carter’s love of carefully-crafted pop with a loose, fun, off-the-cuff recording aesthetic. The album was released in 2017 and developed a small but loving fan base, and Minor Poet has grown from a passion project into a cross-country touring band with write-ups in publications such as American Songwriter.

Minor Poet’s second album, The Good News, is a six-song collection that expands the boundaries of what constitutes the band’s sound. In just twenty-two minutes, the songs take apart the standard formulas of guitar-based rock and infuse them with vibrance and energy. On opener “Tabula Rasa,” interlocking guitars and a Farfisa organ carry the song through until everything drops suddenly into a doo-wop section that wouldn’t be out of place on a 1950’s greatest hits compilation. Warped noise envelops a tropicalia-flavored Casio beat in “Tropic of Cancer” before a slick groove and sliding bass line lead into the chorus’ pure pop bliss of of horns and vocal harmonies. “Museum District” begins with a drum intro reminiscent of an off-kilter “Be My Baby,” and “Bit Your Tongue/All Alone Now” features a midsection with a glam-rock guitar solo amidst trumpet fanfare. These are a just a few of the infectious moments on an EP filled with many more.

The Good News was made over four days at Montrose Recording, in Minor Poet’s hometown of Richmond, VA. In the past, Carter has played all the instruments and handled all the production, but he knew he that he had to reach outside himself to do justice to these songs. “I couldn’t capture the sounds I heard in my head,” Carter explains. “I wanted something that was vast and expansive but that at the same time could hit you immediately in the gut.” Paying homage to the “wall of sound” techniques made famous by Brian Wilson and Phil Spector, Carter and co-producer Adrian Olsen (Natalie Prass, Foxygen) overdubbed layer after layer of Carter playing an array of guitars, pianos, organs, synths, and percussion, as well as singing all the harmonies. The members of Minor Poet’s touring band were brought in to perform the core rhythm section, and local musicians stopped by to add crucial flourishes, such as the harmonizing guitar riffs in “Reverse Medusa” and the saxophone solo that closes out “Nude Descending Staircase.”

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At the center of everything is Carter’s voice, singing lyrics that seamlessly mix allusions to religion, mythology, art, and philosophy as he questions himself, his place in the world around him, what he owes to his relationships, and, in turn, what he needs to ask of others in order to stay healthy. Tabula Rasa is a concept that argues that humans are born blank slates, shaped through experience and environment. The last two years couldn’t have felt more applicable for Carter, who started out as a fresh face with little-to-no experience in the music industry and slowly grew into himself as a stage performer and bandleader through both good and bad times. During this period he began to come to terms with lifelong struggles, such as the depression that permeates “Tropic of Cancer” and the social anxiety that runs through “Museum District.” Rather than be one-dimensional, however, Carter dives deeper into himself and his motivations, such as in “Reverse Medusa” when he sings, “Hide my love in poetic half-truths/never was one to dwell on my issues.” Carter’s ability to balance emotional honesty with a tongue-in-cheek self awareness adds to the richness and originality of the music. Short but memorable, catchy yet meaningful, The Good News is another promising step forward for Minor Poet.

Releases May 17th, 2019
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After three years on the road, the New York singer Mal Blum returns with a refreshing directness, a hungry turtle and “Things Still Left To Say.” In their first new song since the 2015 album You Look a Lot Like Me, Blum confronts an estranged relationship where so much has been left unresolved. Though hard, Blum stresses the importance of being truthful, especially while “we’re all still here.”

The upbeat, punk-pop power chords and infectious lyrics are accompanied appropriately by a karaoke-style video. Along with the neon pink and blue text stretching across the screen with every line, a montage of clips shows people dancing and singing into the camera to “Things Still Left To Say.” In the background, Blum is laid out in a plant-filled living room, feeding lettuce to a turtle. Vibrant and liberating in all it’s awkward glory, what shines through is Blum’s signature, self-effacing honesty.

“‘Things Still Left To Say’ is a song about the desire and persistence to be heard,” Blum tells us in an email. “About times when we swallow or deflect vulnerable aspects of ourselves because we feel that there is no space for them. This song is about navigating that distance, the specific flavor of isolation (so awkward that it’s almost comical) that occurs when you feel unknown in front of those who think that they know you the best.”

Blum repeats a kind of mantra in the chorus, “There are thing still left to say / I’ve got phrases / I’ve got phrases.” It’s a reminder to keep those words close, just in case you get a chance to set them free.

“Things Still Left To Say”is out now on Don Giovanni Records, and Blum will be back on tour with Lucy Dacus and Fenne Lily in March.

BLACK FUTURES – ” Trance “

Posted: February 21, 2019 in MUSIC
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The London force of electro psych-punk noise duo Black Futures burnt into the ears last year, with their live shows winning notice for its both aural and visual display – something which will no doubt be visible again on their February UK tour with Frank Carter an their own shows in March.

Described as a no-holds-barred aural assault of Anarchic Electro Psych Punk Noise that is something like Death From Above and the Chemical Brothers’ bastard offspring”

Black Futures – Trance

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The Murder Capital having recording with Flood (PJ Harvey, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Foals) wasn’t a bad start for this Dublin outfit The Murder Capital to make their debut with ‘Feeling Faces, showing how they have risen to become one of Ireland’s emerging hot properties – with the not-to-forget, gravel-edged vocals of James McGovern leading the way.

Band Members
James McGovern,
Damien Tuit,
Cathal Roper,
Gabriel Paschal Blake,
Diarmuid Brennan,

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Fierce, forceful and infectiously accessible this, Ballingry, Fife four-piece Paris Street Rebels emerged onto the scene just early in 2018; their debut single – produced by Johnny Madden (of Baby Strange) and Chris Marshall – ‘Freakshow’, firing an incendiary five and a half minute burst of solid punk’n’roll.

This video acts as a love letter to our home Ballingry , a tiny mining village in Fife that most people would rather ignore or wish never existed at all. A place where the young grow up mean and wild and free and the old drink to stolen kisses with forgotten loves alone in working mens pubs untouched since the 70’s.

It offers a window into our youth and more importantly , it shows the town that made us and broke us then made us all over again. We hope you lot see something in this that relates to your own lives , or at the very least understand this was made with every ounce of our hearts to bring you nothing but our best.

Big shout out to the Ballingry young team Ben Ritchie Ian Aird and all the other young rebels who gave up their precious friday night to come help us tell our story. You’ll never know what that meant to us.

And as always, thanks to the wizards that are Chris Marshall Johnny Madden and Jamie Holmes at 7 West Studios for helping us bring this to life. Also, big thanks to our long suffering benefactors Derek Wilson and Teresa Donnelly who own the legendary Red Goth pub and who let us film within the pub and have shown us nothing but kindness long before anyone else would give us the time of day.

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The 80s influences have once again be ramped up on The Paper Kites 2018 album “On The Corner Where You Live”, but their folk roots are still there to be uncovered.

“Our hotel window in New York City looked straight into the apartment building across the street. You could see all these windows lighting up and people getting home from their nights out. We just sat there and watched them. It was fascinating. It was living art.”

Sam Bentley, frontman for The Paper Kites spoke of the moment the album’s concept clicked together. “It’s a collection of stories about these characters all living in an apartment building; I wanted to capture moments, feelings, it’s about people and their stories,” he says of On the Corner Where You Live (released September 21st via Nettwerk Records), the Australian band’s melancholic, mid-tempo companion to the recently released album, On the Train Ride Home.

Give them your tired, your lonely, your lovesick, your unsure, The Paper Kites have a song for each of them. “I created a world based on the idea of watching other people, but a lot of the songs are extensions of myself or people I know,” he says.

Such artistic insight has earned The Paper Kites (which also includes vocalist Christina Lacy, guitarist Dave Powys, drummer Josh Bentley and bassist Sam Rasmussen) a loyal, organic fan base. In the eight years since they formed, what’s followed is an impressive reach of their music, with steady international touring, nearly 47 million combined YouTube views and over 260 million streams on Spotify.

On the Corner Where You Live wafts evocatively with noir-ish saxophones, guitars, ambient traffic, even the languid sound of rain. Its levitating and bittersweet, heavy-hearted stories that are resoundingly universal.

Expanding on the group’s acclaimed second full length, 2015’s twelvefour, Sam says “I’m still very much drawn to the late nights and the sound of them: rich, honest, compassionate music.” The group originally planned to release On the Corner Where You Live and On the Train Ride Home as a double album, but decided to split them up due to the difference between the tracks – “We had these earnest, minimal, almost acoustic songs and these bigger songs you hear in On the Corner Where You Live. Like two sides of a coin, it’s the same feeling, just different expressions of them”.

The Paper Kites co-produced On the Corner Where You Live with Grammy-winner Peter Katis at his studio in Connecticut – a 120 year old victorian era home that the band lived and recorded in for 5 weeks.

On the Corner Where You Live’s opening instrumental “A Gathering on 57th” bridges the gap between the two records, the first thing you hear is the sound of the train running along the tracks and a street busker wailing into the night. The albums’ concept came to Sam while on tour – “It came from watching people really, being in unfamiliar cities, observing other people’s lives. I remember the band was staying in a hotel on 57th street in Manhattan and we’d come home from wherever we’d been. Our hotel window in New York City looked straight into the apartment building across the street. You could see all these windows lighting up and people getting home from their nights out. We just sat there and watched them. It was fascinating. It was living art.”

“Give Me Your Fire, Give Me Your Rain” takes over from where On The Train Ride Home left off. Josh Bentley’s punching drums making a statement that the record is a slightly different affair from the quiet solitude of the previous offering. A lush sonic tidal wave of midnight melancholy sets the tone of longing, loss and hope echoed through everything that follows.

The band recorded the Manhattan street noise from the window of their 57th street hotel, adding it to the lilting meditation “Midtown Waitress,” Sam tells the story of being alone in London bar years ago, where an elderly woman who turned out to be a pianist for the ballet scribbled down a melody on a piece of paper, gifting it to him, naming it “The Encounter.” During the recording session, Sam dug out that piece of paper, transforming it into a woozy, sax-based coda to “Midtown Waitress.”

“Music is so much more purposeful and devastating when it makes you feel exposed,” says Sam. Take “Deep Burn Blue,” a song about a girl who won’t leave her room. “It’s that feeling of being so inside your own thoughts that it’s debilitating.”(If that weren’t gutting enough, the song even references Nick Drake with the line, “You like the sound of a pink moon cry/Lying on the floor as the day goes by.”) Its foil is “When It Hurts You,” a harmonic lament about a man, locked-out of his apartment, making phone calls and yelling apologies from the street below. Says Sam; “You’re hoping the next morning things will smooth over, but you know it probably won’t.” Sam wrote 30 songs across three months. “It certainly consumed me. I was exhausted by the end of it,” he says, “I didn’t stop writing until Christina told me I had to stop.”

Christina Lacy takes lead vocals on “Mess We Made”, her first lead song since the bands debut album. Sam says “I remember we had planned to have her singing lead vocals on the last record (twelvefour) – but our producer at the time felt it sounded as if she was just singing my songs and wasn’t making them her own – so we decided that if she was singing on a record it had to be songs that she’d written and had an emotional connection to, and she did just that.”

Authenticity is important to Sam, who penned many of the lyrics for both albums while on the road, composing both albums in Melbourne. Amongst his many influences – film played a part. “I had films playing on the wall of my studio: ‘Lost In Translation,’ ‘Rear Window,’ ‘Lost Highway’,” he explains. In that vein, he wrote the piano-based track “Does It Ever Cross Your Mind” while working at a cinema.

Immersed in an aural diet of blues and jazz, “I was also listening to these ’50s mood albums like Jackie Gleason’s ‘Music to Make You Misty’ and Frank Sinatra’s ‘In The Wee Small Hours.’ I wanted to do a tribute to a mood album.” In a similar style to the covers of such albums, the artwork was painted by Los Angeles American Noir artist Gina Higgins, who also painted the cover for On The Train Ride Home and worked closely with the band on the concept.

While The Paper Kite’s songs explore longing and compulsions, Sam’s own obsession lies in breaking elusive sound-emotion barriers. “It’s a delicate responsibility to try and be sincere, but I think if there’s never a lack of feeling, it’s earnest to say the least”.

New Album ‘On The Corner Where You Live’ is available now

Band Members
Sam Bentley,
Christina Lacy,
Dave Powys,
Sam Rasmussen,
Josh Bentley,

GURU – ” Consumer Helpline “

Posted: February 20, 2019 in MUSIC
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If you like your indie rock dark, heavy and bordering on the psych-punk, then Brighton’s GURU should be the band for you. Guru blend psychedelia with fuzz and punk to bring one of the most promising and unique new sounds. It’s harsh and in your face, with outstanding vocals, tasty riffs and heavy bass. With ‘Medicine Man’ and the blistering ‘Consumer Helpline’ putting them on the radar strongly enough to propel this four-piece hollering loudly for attention into 2019.

Debut single – proper – ‘Consumer Helpline’ is a stark, electrifying piece of Brutalist indie rock, worth comparing to those initial Shame cuts or even elements of the Fat Whites. Picking apart modern relationships in an era of hyper-capitalism, it reminds us of everyone from Wire to Sports Team, that kind of barbed, deeply British take on art-punk.

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The single ‘Medicine Man’ is the band’s most visceral yet, opening with eerie feedback and a menacing bass line, the song kicks into a track that oozes with the attitude and commotion that defines them as a band.

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Band Members
Tom – Vocals
Kieran – Guitar
Fergus – Bass
Simon – Drums

 

GULLS – ” Flaws “

Posted: February 20, 2019 in MUSIC
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Gulls These Brighton almost spoken word indie punks captivated me during a local gig recently, using lyrics to convey political or social problems with danceable tunes. I think we’re going hear more from them in the future.

Sweet vocals join hard beats and guitars, all with a message running through it. Gulls make their own kind of Brighton Rock. Formed in 2016, Gulls‘ punk-rock-poem-pop sees them combine their influences that span QOTSA, Sleaford Mods and Nirvana, to created a raw seaside show of their own. Likened to Hole, Sleater Kinney and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Gulls make music so raw and stripped back it’s ready for a skinny dip plunge off Brighton Pier.

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Gulls are:
Rhi Kavok; punk poet
Boe h; guitar and vox
Hicks; drums

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Afghan Sand Gang, Hailing from the new musical hotspot of Mossley, near Manchester, these have been slowly making their mark in the city and beyond with some very good releases, namely with most recent release An Electronic Lexicon of Stiff, Grounded Beats and Ethereal, Ascending fog. ‘Glistener’, a swooning piece of electronica which is well worth a listen.

Band Members
Paddy Neville (Guitars, Vox)
Matthew Burgess (Synth/Vox)
Will Owen (Bass)

Official video for “Glistener” by Afghan Sand Gang Directed by Danny Satchell

 

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The Peach Fuzz, These Scouse newcomers have already made a splash on the scene last year with plenty of gigs in their home town as well as a few high profile tours with The Vryll Society and Clean Cut Kid. Their debut single ‘Destroy The Evidence’ being a personal favourite of mine of 2018; It’s a mixture of pysch, pop and rock ’n’ roll reminds me of the Manic Street Preachers during the ‘This Is My Truth’ to ‘Lifeblood’ era, ‪Produced by James Skelly and Rich Turvey at Parr Street Studios‬

Band Members
Nathaniel Cummings – Vocals / guitar
Danny Murphy – Vocals / Guitar
Phil Murphy – Drums
Pauly T – Bass
Tom Corfield – Synths