Foo Fighters – Saint Cecilia EP Review

Saint-Cecilia-EP-640x640This surprise EP, recorded at the Saint Cecilia hotel in Austin, Texas, dropped on Saint Cecilia’s day; well, perhaps not so surprising after all then, especially considering she’s the patron saint of music and that there was a countdown clock on the Foo Fighters’ website. Anyway, it’s a kind of end of tour (or possibly end of career given the tone of the accompanying letter) thank you from the Foo Fighters to their fans and was recorded in a series of Margarita fuelled sessions that picked up the pieces of some riffs and song ideas that had got left on the studio floor.

As a result, it feels like a step back in time and is actually quite fun, although it’s a bit like listening to Noel Gallagher in that you get the feeling he’s used that melody/riff/lyric somewhere before and if you looked hard enough you’d probably find it. But what the hell, we all love Dave, so if he wants to give us free music, then great!

‘Saint Cecilia’ kicks things off and it’s Foo Fighters being Foo Fighters; straight forward rock n roll riffing, a catchy chorus, a tempo change in the mid section and a perfunctory guitar solo. Pretty much everything you’d expect, and well, it’s Dave, so it’s pretty good. ‘Sean’ is uptempo Foo, this time the mid section has a punked up Rockabilly feel to it and again it’s good fun, albeit relatively disposable.

‘Savior Breath’ is more retro with its punky riffing and raucous feel; this would have fit nicely on the Teenage Time Killers record, although it is not the best production wise (which may be deliberate); the vocal being a little distorted in the mix. ‘Iron Rooster’ is a straight rip of Neil Young’s ‘Old Man’ up to the dreamy Zeppelin esque mid section, and serves as nothing more than a little respite.

However, ‘The Neverending Sigh’, a twenty year old tune, is far and away the standout moment; an atmospheric opening segueing into multi-layered riffing that ebbs and flows around time changes and hook filled melodies. OK, so it follows the Foo formula, but it sounds fresh and epic at the same time and would stand up amongst their classic material from the same period.

So, what you’ve basically got here is the Foo Fighters celebrating themselves as a treat for their legions of die hard fans, it’s hardly groundbreaking but is all very enjoyable and seems like a fitting way to close this chapter. Maybe Dave and co. need to do something else for a while and this gives fans a little something to hang onto while they are away.

8/10

The free download is available here:

http://www.saintceciliaep.com/

He For She

While thinking back over the music I’ve enjoyed during the past year, I came to the realisation that a very large portion of it came from female artists or female fronted bands. This really shouldn’t be noteworthy in this day and age, but if you think about it, with the exception of the pop market, most musical styles are still pretty much male dominated. I mean, think of your all time favourite metal/rock/indie/rap acts and basically only indie really has a high chance of including a girl and she’s almost certainly gonna be called Kim.

As such, Indie continues to lead the way with a much higher percentage of female fronted bands; maybe it’s down to being a less image oriented genre, where who or what you are is far less important than your art, who knows? Even so, with the exception of Florence’s last minute headline slot at Glastonbury, the UK festivals were still shamelessly male dominated, indicating that there remains an undercurrent of male bias in the industry. This is highlighted by the fact that when you consider that based on merit alone, rather than the questionable practice of positive discrimination; that is, using record sales and critical acclaim as a guide, the main stage at Reading, Glastonbury, Leeds or IoW could easily have lined up Bjork, Florence, Sleater-Kinney, Wolf Alice, Courtney Barnett and Soak on the main stage; wouldn’t exactly have been torture now, would it?

So, whether the powers at be choose to recognize it or not, there has been a lot of damn fine records released this year by women across all genres, even Rap. Therefore, in my best Emma Watson-esque spirit, I think it only fair and right to give a shout out to some of the supremely talented ladies that have contributed so much to my listening pleasure of late.

Although the overriding misogyny of the Rap/Hip-hop scene continues to be a difficult hurdle for female talent, the likes of Kate Tempest, the classy Dej Loaf and Little Simz represent a new generation of talented girl rappers. In addition, 2015 also saw the return of some old school talent; with the unique Missy Elliott coming back with a stylish new single after stealing the half time show at the Superbowl from under Katy Perry’s nose. However, it’s Tairrie B., one of the most pioneering performers in the game, that has most surprised and challenged me this year with her return to the genre for the accomplished ‘Vintage Curses’ project (https://hardpresseded.wordpress.com/2015/08/18/tairrie-b-vintage-curses/). It showed that she still has a flow comparable with any major rap artist around right now, as well as being as empowering as ever. Check out this badass remix of ‘Wicked Witch of the West Coast’ by Mediatrix – another upcoming female talent.

Hard Rock / Heavy Metal is another complicated area for women, but the likes of Pvris and Marmozets are breaking down old fashioned sexism with the sheer quality of their material. Speaking of quality, I can’t put down the smoking ‘Into the Wild Life’ by Halestorm; Lzzy Hale has a superb hard rock vocal and on ‘I Am The Fire’ she is, well, on fire.

As I said before though, it’s the world of indie/alternative where women are really holding their own. I cannot get enough of Wolf Alice’s ‘My Love is Cool’, especially killer tracks like ‘Bros’, ‘Your Love’s Whore’ and ‘You’re a Germ’. Lead vocalist, Ellie Rowsell, has a superb voice, drifting easily from a breathy hush to a full blooded scream on WA’s classy songs – album of the year?

I discovered the old school indie sludge punk of Haybaby a couple of months back and believe they too are set for bigger things. Leslie Hong has a very strong voice and is equally good whether understated or raging; I love her screaming “I don’t give a fuck if you love me anyhow” in the middle of the chorus to ‘Old Friends’, badass.

Laura Hancock of The Echo and The Always, is another vocalist that has seriously impressed me this year. She has a little more bite to her voice, which glides easily amongst the multiple facets of their intriguing record; she can deliver a pop hook with ease, hold her own on rockier numbers but also has the smoothness of a folk singer. This band will be massive.

To be honest, there is so much amazing female talent around right now, whether it’s a tiny upcoming band like False Advertising (Jen Hingley), hot new singer-songwriter like Soak or a legend like Björk, I could go on and on giving examples. Suffice to say that with so much good music on offer I find it staggering that the issue of equality still needs to be addressed in the music business.

Millie Manders – Obsession Transgression EP Review

obsession transgression [webres]The hard working Millie Manders is a badass singer songwriter from South London, who, like the city, has quite a cosmopolitan approach. There is a punky attitude to the rocked up ska tinged tunes that create a backdrop for her socially conscious lyrics and cutting vocals; the four tracks on her third EP showcasing her multiple talents succinctly as she tackles subjects as diverse as the media’s perception of women and possessive/abusive relationships.

Title track ‘Obsession Transgression’ kicks off in upbeat fashion with an insistent sax riff and low-fi guitars. The vocals are sharp on the hooky chorus and the ska vibe gives it a cool retro feel. ‘Teddy’, however, is quirkier with its mooching bass line and slightly manic vocal; it actually reminds me of early Florence demos and there is a certain charm to the punky simplicity of it, although the saxophone once again adds dimension.

‘Bacchus’ has a more serious tone, the swirling sax riff building intensely, while a deeper vocal fits the ode to alcohol use and abuse well. Millie has great range, not only of tone but also style, dictating the emotional vibe of her songs with apparent ease. Everything comes together on the sublime groove of final track ‘Long Gone’; again the vibe is more serious and there’s a suitably intense vocal performance, superb horns and some great guitar work as the song ebbs and flows.

At only four tracks long the EP is on the short side, which is a shame because I’d like to hear more from Millie, the last two tracks especially, hinting at some serious potential. I’m not sure she has the same mainstream appeal of a Florence or a Marina but there is obviously great passion in her art and it will be interesting to see what she comes up with next.

8/10

http://www.milliemanders.co.uk/

https://m.soundcloud.com/milliemusic

http://milliemanders.bandcamp.com/releases

What’s Hot in My House – November

My earphones have been as busy as ever with the likes of Haybaby and Wolf Alice, but there’s been plenty of other stuff filling my personal airwaves. I’ve reviewed some great stuff for Already Heard, like Saint (the) Sinner, Aurora and This City Limits (See below for reviews), as well as the new Nitin Sawhney and Jeff Lynne’s ELO releases right here. It’s all great stuff but there’s a few other things topping my personal charts right now.

Dave Gahan & Soulsavers
It’s quite natural for stuff that I’m reviewing to get a fair few plays, but Dave’s latest has been on super heavy rotation ever since. The almost cinematic quality of this sweeping soundtrack to life is extremely impressive and its depth and texture nothing short of sublime. Gahan puts in a strong vocal performance throughout; the rough edge to his voice carrying an emotional weight that combines beautifully with the epically dark gospel feel. Killer.

The Cult
I’m not ashamed to admit that The Cult is my all time favourite band and tend to get played pretty much every week as it is. So when I decided to do my 10 reasons The Cult are awesome piece (https://hardpresseded.wordpress.com/2015/11/10/10-reasons-the-cult-are-awesome/) it was the perfect excuse to delve into their back catalogue even more. Electric/Peace got a fair few listens as did Love. They are such a unique band, despite wearing their influences on their sleeves; nobody else sounds like them and they defy classification. Billy Duffy’s guitar playing is always superb, conjuring up varied riffs and smoking solos, while Ian Astbury’s baritone is the most distinctive voice in rock. Here is something a little newer though, from the soundtrack to Gone In 60 Seconds, ‘Painted on my Heart’. Love ’em.

Of Allies
I’ve reviewed them, I’ve interviewed them, I’ve featured them in not one but two other pieces and yet I can’t stop listening to them. Both the first EP, ‘Tempers’, as well as its follow up, ‘Fragments’, are regular listens that I just never get tired of hearing. On Tempers we get the earworm that is ‘Ghosts’, the brooding ‘Our Decay’, the bombastic ‘In Screens’ with its guitar interplay and hook filled chorus, the ebb and flow of the atmospheric ‘In Stasis’ with its epic finale and the massive ‘Play Dead’. Fragments is equally triumphant with its slightly more radio friendly, but no less hard edge sound. The title track is pure quality, ‘One 19’ is a hook filled belter, ‘Old Bones’ is full of twists and turns, while ‘Tempers’ rocks seriously hard before the accomplished ‘Call It Home’. Basically, I cannot get enough of this band and am stoked that work on their debut LP has begun – look out for them in 2016.

http://alreadyheard.com/post/131955145513/album-review-saint-the-sinner-masquerades-ep
http://alreadyheard.com/post/132473530378/album-review-aurora-faithbreaker
http://alreadyheard.com/post/132884286627/album-review-this-city-limits-heres-to-hoping

Jeff Lynne’s ELO – Alone in the Universe Review

JeffIt seems unbelievable that one of the hottest records of the moment is the comeback album of Jeff Lynne’s Electric Light Orchestra. It shouldn’t be, I mean there is no way this should be happening, Jeff’s last comeback in 2001 was nothing less than a complete disaster and lets face it ELO part II was just flogging a dead horse. So, how the hell has a band which fizzled out thirty years ago been dusted off, reanimated and come back sounding exactly like they always did? It’s like the time fabric continuum got folded and Jeff just picked up where he left off.

Basically, this is Jeff doing what ELO does best; high quality hook filled tracks offering a sense of nostalgic comfort. So, in that regard it’s an enjoyable record that fits the current retro climate perfectly, but one can’t help but feel that there’s something not quite there. It’s a bit like drinking decaf, it tastes good and fulfills ones desire for a cup of coffee but something just don’t feel right, and I think I might just have put my finger on it.

‘When I Was a Boy’ sets the tone with its easy piano melody like something from a John Lewis Ad, that slightly muffled drum sound and the nostalgic lyric; it’s oh so familiar as we are taken back in time to Jeff’s childhood bedroom. It’s effective though, I find myself transported back to my own, except in mine you could here ELO coming through the floor from my Mum’s record player. ‘Love and Rain’ continues the vibe with a vaguely funky guitar riff, like a laid back ‘Superstition’, it’s lyrical simplicity in stark contrast to the musical complexity with multiple layers of instrumentation.

The album then proceeds to pilfer Jeff’s own back catalogue magpie style; we get the futuristic sound effects on ‘Dirty to the Bone’, the predictable ‘All My Life’ and the mid-tempo flashback of ‘I’m Leaving You’. It’s as if Jeff went into the studio and pieced a few songs together from the ELO catalogue of licks, drumtracks and melodies; nowhere more so than on ‘One Step at a Time’, which is futuristic sounding, but with those well used ELO harmonies. The two bonus tracks, the Wilbury’s-ish ‘Fault Line’ and ‘Blue’, seem to owe more to other periods of Jeff’s career however.

Nevertheless, there are some gems sandwiched between the slices of predictability. The reggae vibe of the riff and the minor piano chords to ‘When The Night Comes’ giving it a slightly darker feel, while the atmospheric ‘The Sun Will Shine On You’ evokes a sense of longing, but is bang up to date and has a quite lovely vocal from the man. There is always a simple Beatles-esque number and in ‘Aint It a Drag’ we get a straight ahead crowd pleasing pop-rock melody that sounds as if it has Ringo on the drums.
Album closer’Alone in the Universe’, the bonus tracks notwithstanding, is a down tempo slice of emotion with a lingering guitar to give it a heartfelt edge – it’s all kinda obvious, but hey, what the hell, Jeff could give lessons on how to write a hit.

All in all ‘Alone in The Universe’ is an enjoyably nostalgic journey through everything that once made ELO the biggest band in the world and Jeff Lynne one of the industry’s most successful hit makers. It’s a comfort zone record, Jeff didn’t leave his and it will no doubt transfer you to yours and as such fits the times like a glove. There’s just that ever so slight sense of disquiet, the feeling that something is missing and I guess it’s the drama that those sweeping orchestral crescendos of multiple Cello and Violin used to bring to ELO all those years ago, after all, losing 21 members of a band is bound to strip something away.

7/10

http://www.jefflynneselo.co/music

Nitin Sawhney – Dystopian Dream Review

nitinsawhney_dystopiandream_1500px392x392Multi-talented, multi-instrumentalist Nitin Sawhney is back with his tenth studio album and as you might expect from someone so critically acclaimed, the bar is high. With the growing hostility towards immigrants as an underlying theme, ‘Dystopian Dream’ is an intelligent record flirting with musical genres in characteristically atmospheric fashion.

‘Fires’ provides a nice chilled start with easy guitar picking, down tempo beats and a pensive bass line adding texture to the hooky vocal. The moody vibe continues on the first track to feature Eva Stone, ‘Days R Gone’, which is a little darker with its slow grinding beats. Eva is back later, on ‘Silence’; its chilled out piano and lovely beats very easy on the ear.

There are plenty of other guest collaborators but they come further down the line, in the meantime we get crisp beats and slide guitar on ‘Dark Day’, the soundtrack vibe of ‘Timetrap’ and the bluesy house beats of ‘Lose us All’, which is vaguely reminiscent of Moby.

The first male vocal comes from Akala on ‘Dystopia’ and it’s suitably disjointed, giving a sinister edge to the rolling desert storm beats and moody synths. Other elements of Sawhney’s style come through on the jungle-esque ‘Scape’ and the most Asian track of the record, ‘Tere Khyal’, whose multi-vocal chants convey deep emotion.

However, it’s the latter half of the album that has the most high points; there’s the badass performance from Stealth on ‘When I’m Gone’ and the flamenco guitar, break beats and Indian vibe vocal from Natacha Atlas on ‘Can’t Breathe’. Meanwhile, ‘Keep the Light On’ finds Joss Stone on form, her soulful voice suits the bluesy acoustics and jazzy piano equally well; there’s a nice contrast between the bar room feel and the jungle-y beats. The high point for me though is the quite stunning vocal from J’Danna on ‘Redshift’, the rough edges and jazzy soul feel to her voice over the clever bass beats nothing short of sublime.

There are one or two moments when Nitin could maybe hold back a little; the overly textured ‘Dimension’, featuring Bernhard Schimpel, being a bit irritating actually, although it does work in context, and sometimes there is so much going on in a track music wise that it crowds the raw emotion of the vocal a little.

Even so, Nitin Sawhney’s talent is undeniable and once more he has come up with a highly accomplished, mature sounding record, soundtracking the disquiet of modern life; good stuff!

8.5/10

http://www.nitinsawhney.com/

10 Reasons The Cult Are Awesome

I blame my brother, he went through a Goth phase at school in about 1987; I was just entering a hard rock/heavy metal phase and the one common ground we developed was The Cult. After resisting the jangly goth lite of ‘Love’, which I now, er, love, I gave in to ‘Electric’ with it’s array of classic rock riffs and soon became a mega fan/collector of all things Cult. I was overjoyed when ‘Sonic Temple’ achieved mega success whilst sounding like only The Cult can sound. They were the first band I ever saw live, well the second if you count their support band Claytown Troupe, at Wembley Arena on the Sonic Temple tour, and I went on to see them another 16 times (I think!) – the only reason I went to Guns n Roses at Milton Keynes Bowl was because The Cult were supporting. Every time I saw them they were fucking awesome; working the stage as hard as hell whatever the crowd; even the lukewarm half sized crowd the last time I caught them in Brazil (2006?) were treated to a relentless performance. IMHO Ian Astbury is the best rock vocalist of a generation – nobody but nobody sounds like him, he has a uniquely rich voice of superb depth that adds a real emotional edge, while Billy Duffy is a cruelly underrated guitarist that can play pretty much anything from badass rock to the ethereal. The Cult are a unique band that never really conformed and could never be pigeon holed and here’s ten reasons why you gotta love em.

Horse Nation
One of the first songs to really show the band’s potential, from the atmospheric intro to the scuttering riffs, it offers a glimpse of what Billy Duffy can do as a guitar player, what the band can do as songwriters and primarily how even with some very familiar elements they manage to sound unique.

Love
The most obvious rocker from the album of the same name, it’s got groove, it’s got feeling and is a showcase for some smoking guitar from Billy as he plays multiple breaks of ever increasing intensity behind Aster’s slow boiling vocal. “Gonna drive away in a big fast car….”

She Sells Sanctuary
This is the song that made them and stands up as a classic until today. I can’t really pinpoint one thing that makes it so good, maybe it’s that it sounds like no one else, maybe it’s the instantly familiar opening chords or the riff structure, or maybe its the multiple hooks; whatever, it works and is a master class in song writing, the 7 minute Long Version from the 12″, with the vaguely ironic clapping at the end, being nothing short of superb.

Love Trooper/Zap City
The Cult had a turbulent time making their third album, Electric; infamously scrapping the Manor Sessions with Steve Brown in favour of a stripped down, rocked up sound with Rick Rubin. The final result worked and both versions are very listenable (despite the god awful ‘Bad Fun’), but two tracks left off the final version of Electric, and rightly so because they don’t really fit, though subsequently used as b-sides, are two little gems from those initial sessions, Love Trooper and Zap City. They are pretty straight forward rockers but there was enough of Love in them to bridge the gap to Electric, and here’s the thing, they stand up as highly listenable until today.


Wolf Child’s Blues
Recorded live in the studio New Year’s Eve 1987 – I fuckin love this song – there’s just something so raw about it. Killer.

Fire Woman
On Sonic Temple Bob Rock helped them marry up their Led Zeppelin aspirations and the atmosphere that Rick Rubin had stripped away to come up with an enormous sounding record the Americans went mad for, and Fire Woman was the perfect lead off; it rocked, had a big ass chorus, some great riffs, the instantly recognisable intro and was just enormous. Winner!

Gone/Real Grrl
The Cult’s eponymous album failed miserably but further listening reveals it to be seriously underrated. The album came out at a difficult time for rock bands, if you weren’t Grunge or Britpop you were going nowhere, as this record did, but in a different context listening to it today, which I have done frequently, there are some great tracks – ‘Gone’ is angry as shit with some seriously hard guitaring from BD while ‘Real Grrrl’ is a superbly structured song brimming with power, energy and emotion.


Love Removal Machine
Although L.R.M is by no means the Cult’s greatest song, it is the best show closer in their armoury; partly because it’s got some groove from the tambourine shakes and the rumbling bass but mainly because you know what’s coming in the frantic closing section; the song rocks back and forth, Billy teases with a cool solo, the Stones-esque riff ebbs and flows, then…bam “Look out here she comes” – “Shake it don’t break it baby” and it’s swirling mosh pit chaos – I should know, I was in it every time.

When I started writing this I didn’t realise The Cult had new material about to drop, lets call it a happy coincidence! Check out killer new track ‘Dark Energy’ right here:https://youtu.be/pSDnqJB3Wc8

Twitter On and On

Social media is a funny thing; sometimes it works amazingly well, other times it’s like pissing in the wind. I work on the premise that if someone has decided to follow me the least I can do is check the person/band out and maybe follow if there is some common ground. In the case of musicians I am also more than happy to give them a listen and a little publicity. However, when the follow up from them is non-existent, or stops at a favorite/heart on a tweet, it’s a bit frustrating – they want publicity, I’m giving them publicity, but rather than publicize the piece you just get a “oh, thanks” – jeez if you want people to see what others are writing about you then retweet it and/or post it on your Facebook page – quite simple really! Anyway, here’s the latest batch of artists who’ve taken an interest in following me:

Walking Stone Giants
This Greek power trio sound pretty much as you might expect from their name – big! They have a heavy metal/stoner rock vibe going on and I will admit to being pleasantly surprised by their measured, technically proficient, approach of interesting riffs, low key bluesy vocal and smoking solos. Their 2013 EP is available as a free download right here: http://walkingstonegiants.com/getit.html

Tim Turner
Very slick, smooth groove, acoustic pop – Tim crafts a nice tune and has a good voice. There’s a latino air to some of the guitar playing which adds a little depth to his pleasant sound. He also has a fair few covers on his YT channel, including this nice take on Frank Ocean.

Sean Beeson
Piano composer. Relaxing, vaguely wistful, instrumental pieces composed with soundtracks in mind.

Anokato
This German rock band have the unique concept of releasing a song every 10,000 followers. Not sure it’s a great marketing technique but what the hell, I checked out ‘Heart of the Nile’, their 30k release (they now have over 40k), and at nigh on six minutes it’s good value. It is pretty well done intense brooding middleweight rock that slow boils to a fairly resounding climax. Nice.

The Droids
Damn these guys are good! This husband and wife team make what I can only describe as alternative pop; there’s a bit of everything going on – synths, guitars, dark piano, the occasional break beat and superb vocals from Sarah Anne. It’s all fairly uptempo and there are some serious hooks, I guess they’re in similar territory to Marina and the Diamonds or Florence and lose nothing by comparison. Great stuff.

Fetal Pulse
Conceptual atmospheric electronica with a serious vibe. It’s not all beats and beeps as there is plenty of instrumentation and good work with beats. It’s interesting stuff actually, occasionally bordering on ambient, that makes for a chilled out listen.

Navaka
Pleasant enough, positive vibe pop rock with an air of country, inspired by the transition from financial services work to full time musician. Not exactly pushing any boundaries, but sure to find a niche in the American market that cannot resist a catchy country rocker. Also enjoys a cover.

Vita Museum
Epic rock from the dark side, with a strong industrial/electronic feel from the heavy synths and programmed beats. It’s an interesting mix with an accomplished feel and even an air of dark pop to the well constructed atmospheric tracks. Worth a listen.

Five More British Rock Bands That Could Use a Break

Since staring to write for http://www.alreadyheard.com and subsequently on my own blog I have become more and more involved with bands at the hard end of the music industry.

Earlier in the year I wrote a piece on some upcoming British bands and went on to interview three of them about the difficulties of the industry. (https://hardpresseded.wordpress.com/2015/08/06/five-british-rock-bands-that-could-use-a-break/) The picture they painted was, to be quite frank, fucking depressing and totally awesome in equal measure. Depressing because it is just so damn hard to get anywhere when so little money filters down to this level of the industry, especially given that major labels are now far less likely to take a risk, indie labels live eternally cash strapped and a large amount of so-called music lovers seem to believe that music should be free. Throw in the fact that every five minutes another venue closes and you’ve gotta feel for the bands; not much chance of giving up the day jobs just yet, all the more so when you consider the competitiveness of the scene. Which brings me to the awesome part; the music scene is bubbling with superb new bands! The internet has made life so much easier in many respects; they are able to market themselves, get financing and even sell their product more easily – bandcamp is a veritable hotbed of vibrant new material.

Nevertheless, there is still this disconnection between industry savvy professionals and the pool of talent, so not only do bands have to finance themselves and juggle rehearsals, shows and writing around their day jobs, they then lack top draw professional input in terms of production and or A&R advice, even if they are lucky enough to have a deal, as with one or two of the bands here. Moreover, studio time itself is also expensive, before you throw in a producer, and even if the band have a manager it is rare to find one that really knows about artistic development. So the odds are stacked against new bands, but they keep appearing and here are a handful that I have come across recently that could all use a break, whether in terms of a record deal, quality A&R input or just expanding their fan bases; check them out.

False Advertising
Manchester based trio False Advertising are “twisted power grunge” indie rockers with a serious weight to their riffs and some interestingly quirky touches to their songwriting. They have just the right amount of pop sensibility to write a decent hook and are particularly good vocally, whether it’s Jen Hingley or Chris Warr taking the lead. They are such a DIY band that they also share guitar and drum duties, while Chris does production and Jen takes responsibility for artwork and videos. The addition of Josh Sellars on bass added depth to their songwriting/sound and their totally DIY debut album is pretty damn good. With a bit of polish to their rough edges they could really go places.
(Full review: http://alreadyheard.com/post/128182956195/album-review-false-advertising-false (not my words))

The Endeavour
Peterborough based five piece are on the radio friendly side of alternative rock and certainly know how to write a hook. They showed plenty of potential on their debut EP released earlier this year and have been working hard on the live circuit to build a following. They are strong instrumentally and flirt a little with a number of styles, though they’re at their best when exploring their guitar interplay. They have definite hit-making potential and with a steadying hand could well sail onto bigger things.
(Full review:http://alreadyheard.com/post/124570358619/album-review-the-endeavour-voyage-ep)

Deepshade
Hailing from Wigan, this three piece band have a distinctly seventies feel to their straight ahead hard rocking sound. They do have a slight touch of the psychedelics coming through now and again though, and IMHO their sound has more depth when they mix it up a little and include a few twists and turns. However, lyrically speaking they are socially aware, especially on the highly critical “Out of Hand”, and instrumentally they are seriously talented – there are plenty of top draw riffs and musical interludes that really nail it; throw in the occasional smoking solo and it’s hot rocking heaven. As I said in my review, if they leave their comfort zone a little more when composing they could be set for bigger things.
(Full review: http://alreadyheard.com/post/130061922814/album-review-deepshade-everything-popular-is)

Aurora
Maybe it’s down to the fact that life for a certain section of society always gets a bit shitter under a Conservative government or that the youth of today really are the “Lost Generation”, who knows? But either way the UK metalcore scene is boiling over with top quality bands expressing their disquiet in emphatic style and close to the top of that pile is the hard as nails sound of Aurora. They are a bit less screamy than some bands, which helps add even more weight to their sound, and they are not afraid to mix things up, putting plenty of stops and tempo changes into their songs. When they go on the attack they are badass heavy but when they slow it down they also know how to work a melody to good effect, it’s a good example of where metal is at right now.
(Full review: http://alreadyheard.com/post/132473530378/album-review-aurora-faithbreaker)

Saint (the) Sinner
Spectacular blend of melodic hardcore and alternative rock, Saint (the) Sinner have a theatrical quality á la Panic! At the Disco combined with a seriously hard edge that is really something special. They employ two different vocal styles, one a guttural scream, the other more melodic, which combine to good effect on their catchy as hell songs. The new EP, ‘Masquerades’, was released to coincide with Halloween in a stroke of marketing genius and these guys really look set for bigger things. Their post hardcore side may limit their appeal in the long run but right now they are an interesting proposition – ones to watch.
(Full review: http://alreadyheard.com/post/131955145513/album-review-saint-the-sinner-masquerades-ep)