Crown of Thorns: Omen Machine

Omen Machine is new young 5-piece band on the East Midlands Metal scene and in Crown of Thorns, their first single, they are setting the bar mighty high. They describe themselves as an ‘Alternative Metal’ band and within the first few bars of the introduction, a whole wave of major influences can be heard, justifying their claim.

I make no apology for making comparisons with major names such as Rage Against The Machine and Faith No More, whose work has obviously flavoured the band’s approach. What these guys are delivering is outstanding! Once Matt Nathan opens up on his lead vocals and the track gets underway, you could so easily be forgiven for believing this is an established band with a credible history!

Instrumentally, Omen Machine are smashing it! Fred Bettis’ drums and Ross Walters’ bass line create a bedrock of power, depth and drive, while guitarists, Callum Parkin and Oliver Nelson display incredible versatility from the melodic introduction to thrashing choruses and intricate noodling solos.

If this is their first offering, then, on my recommendation, Omen Machine is destined to be ‘a name’ of the future!

Pre-order Crown of Thorns in time for release on all major digital platforms from 4th August.

Remember, you were there at the first!

The Small Town Boys: EP review

EP REVIEW…
This.Is.Not.It
The Small Town Boys

Indie band, The Small Town Boys have their own unique sound which is loud, punky and very energetic!. This.Is.Not.It is a live EP and it’s has been so well engineered you would barely know it wasn’t studio recorded!

Musically, these guys are great! Rhys Davies plays frenetic, powerful lead, with a thumping good bass line from Ash Simpson on bass guitar and Joe Hodges on drums. Scott Baxter’s vocals are raw and exciting.

Standout track is the eponymous, This.Is.Not.It. which fuses Britpop, Rock and Punk in glorious chaotic sound! BBC Introducing gave them an airing this week and if this is how The Small Town Boys roll, they are, as the local scene tells me, a band worth following!

Stream or download on most good digital music platforms.

https://www.facebook.com/thesmalltownboys/

Alex Cavan…A Man on a Mission

All For You
Alex Cavan 
https://www.facebook.com/cavanmusic/

Life can be so tough and music is such a great method for people to express the way they cope with the challenges that come along.

All For You is a heart-on-the-sleeve love song from talented musician , Alex Cavan. The East Midlands-based singer/songwriter has a beautiful wife and tiny daughter far away in South Africa and his song is an open dedication to them as he tries to make a life for them over here.

The production on this track is excellent. It enhances Cavan’s rich, sonorous voice and increases our empathy with his wishes to be reunited with his family as soon as possible. Lyrically, the words are crystal clear and the listener is left in no doubt as to the sentiment expressed here. Musically, All Of You is a charmingly melodic, gentle rock style.

This is a song you can listen to over and over again. There is also a beautifully shot video on YouTube which is worth catching. Alex Cavan’s delivery is so impassioned and genuine, you can’t help but want his wishes to come true quickly. In order to do that you can help towards realising that dream by streaming/downloading All Of You on all major digital platforms now.

Jack Ryan – The kids are alright…

How do folks? You find me in the midst of a rather manic day before a holiday. My car needs packing, there’s mixes to mix and I have other exciting things occurring that I’m dying to share in good time! Today’s blog however, focuses on a young chap called Jack Ryan.

I met Jack around 10 years ago when me and his Dad Mark played in an outrageous prog band together. I’ve performed with Mark in loads of guises throughout the years, and without going off topic I will quickly note that he’s an amazing drummer who has an unrivalled passion for JUST PLAYING MUSIC.

Though it may not seem immediately relevant, Mark played an important role in my journey as a producer when he asked if I would like to rent a residential rehearsal space with him. Whilst this seemed like a cracking idea, my 17-year-old self lacked the funds for such a luxury and my band at the time did too. After scraping together all my pennies and inviting Matt to join the band because he had a JOB and a VOLKSWAGEN POLO (sellout…), we still couldn’t quite meet the figure needed. Faced with this information most people would just drop the idea, but Mark isn’t most people. He was so passionate about music (both supporting it and playing it) that he agreed to front far more than his fair share of rent so we could get the space and commit serious time into playing and developing as musicians. Having that creative space and the time to use it led to me finding my passion for recording and the rest, as they say, is history.

(His wife Jo also deserves an honourable mention here for always encouraging me, Mark and Jack in our musical endeavours – nice one Jo!x)

With this background, I was more than happy to help when Mark got in touch asking if I could record his son Jack and capture some songs he’d written. Whilst I knew Jack was really creative after hearing about his infinite list of hobbies, I was chuffed to hear that at the age of 15 he’d sat down at a piano and written his very own batch of his songs. In a time where there’s a million distractions for kids and adults alike, it’s always great to hear about someone you know finding a way to channel some much needed creativity into the world.

You never really know how people will perform when they first enter a studio (particularly at such a young age!) but Jack honestly blew me away with his tunes and really natural performances. So on one sunny Sunday afternoon a few weeks ago we found the time to get Jack in for a video. Aided by the legend that is Rich Wosik on acoustic guitar (Crazy 66, Maffa Kings….Himself), Jack performed his song ‘Why Can’t You See’.

(Rich is another unsung hero who has helped me no end in my musical endeavours…I’ll give him a cheeky blog one day too!)

It’s an awesome little ballad, and whilst it was never intended to be a Pin-up Session, it struck me that releasing it as one might give Jack a little leg up when setting up his artist pages and beginning his journey as a musician. Though I know Jack loves Billie Eilish (who doesn’t?), his first batch of tunes put me more in mind of Adelle/Sam Smith and the likes. The recipe of simple raw songs sung with tonnes of passion is certainly one I can get behind. Take a look at the Roots sneak peak of his session below!

ROOTS SNEAK PEAK ( Not a bad first performance in front of a camera ey?! )

Stay tuned for the full video on Friday (assuming I have signal at my campsite!) and give Jack’s brand spanking new instagram a follow at @jackryanofficial_music_page. You’ll no doubt watch him go from strength to strength over the next few years.

As always, a quick reminder to subscribe to my channel to check out the likes of Pretty Babs, Scribble Victory, Reqs, MYOK, Them Are They, Myles Knight, Crazy66, Clonk, Olly Hensby and Boats on the Ocean doing some amazing live sessions.

Ta,

Ben x

Jake Martin: First Night

GIG REVIEW…
Jake Martin
Rough Trade, Nottingham

Rough Trade was enveloped in genuine love and admiration for this young acoustic punk/folk singer/songwriter. Jake Martin has a dedicated following nationwide and friends from all areas of the circuit turned out for his special night.

He had selected fantastic support in the form of Manchester’s Arms & Hearts, (Steve Millar), who warmed up the audience with heartfelt renditions and interaction which undoubtedly won him a room full of new fans.

Ever popular Jess Silk treated the audience to a blistering set in which they sang along to anthemic favourites such as Preaching From The Barricades and Drink Up Your Whiskey, as well as new sounds such as the incredible, thought provoking Stranger On A Train.

By the time Jake Martin took to the stage for the first night of his first ever headline tour, the audience was truly warmed up and ready for the top man.

He opened with Introducing, (just in case) and continued by delivering a fine set of old favourites and new tunes. There were introspective moments about growing older and losing good friends, but generally the mood was light and humorous, as Jake Martin bantered with the audience with confidence.

It was plain to see in his face, the joy Martin feels when everyone has fun with what has become his ‘signature song’ : For F*cks Sake Jake, as well as with the final rousing chorus of We Sing The Words All Wrong.

This was an evening of music, smiles and laughter all ways round and has set the tour off to a fantastic start.

If Jake Martin is touring your way, I highly recommend you catch up with him for a great evening’s entertainment with one who will make himself a favourite within minutes!
https://www.facebook.com/jakemartinmuzic/

📸: Rock Shotz Live Music Imaging

Scott Makepeace – No War Double Album Review

Scott Makepeace is making up for lost time. He is having a creative explosion!

This self-produced opus contains a hefty 24 tracks of original material, so if you choose to buy to download, you can be sure you are getting a lot for your money!

Amidst a plethora of new material you will find a small number of familiar tracks already available as singles: This Is What I’m Made For, Robin Hood and my personal favourite, I Was A Slave, which I heard recently as a full band piece with The Peacemakers. This track has now been sampled and extended from the original acoustic single and so still makes it the standout track of this collection, in my opinion.

Makepeace is a terrific songwriter. His observations on everyday life are interesting and astute. He is an accomplished guitarist and successfully combines this skill with looping and technical experimentation. His voice is distinctive, with that comforting Jack Daniels’-soaked timbre. For that reason, I would rather enjoy the moment selecting single tracks to play rather than listening to the album in its entirety at one sitting. Scott Makepeace deserves to be listened to, not to be background music, which I found it became whilst trying to listen to the album all in one go.

Not War is certainly an album worth investing in, but enjoy it at its best by listening at more than one sitting; that way you’ll get the best of Scott Makepeace!

Available to pre-order from tomorrow: June 28th and to download/stream from all good music platforms from July 12th.

Olly Hensby: Finding an undiscovered gem down a Facebook wormhole

When I began pulling together artists for the latest series of The Pin-up Sessions I decided it was time to indulge my ears a bit and find an amazing bluesy/jazzy guitarist. I started my quest on Facebook and more specifically on some posts from Myles Knight who happens to run some of the finest open mic nights in Nottingham. I stumbled across a post mentioning Olly performing so I thought I’d better investigate a little further and go down the rabbit hole of clicking various links and profiles. To my disappointment I couldn’t find too much of him online, but what I did find was a homemade video of Olly playing John Mayer’s ‘Neon’ perfectly – which is literally ‘well hard’ for those of you who don’t know it! This was enough for me to ask Myles ‘Is this Olly lad much of a jazzy/bluesy guitarist?’ and when he replied with ‘Yeah man he’s awesome’ the deal was sealed.

You can also discover some awesome talent at one of Myles’ nights which you can find links of here and on his personal profile. Plugs are easy when they’re completely true! Oh go on you can watch his session here too if you want…

When Olly arrived at the studio it became apparent he was a very likeable chap and me and the Pin-up squad immediately hit it off with him. As resident guitar nerd, me and Olly had a chat about all things John Mayer, and after a brief introduction to the works of the amazing Joey Landreth we got to business.

Olly ended up performing a brand new song which didn’t even have a name yet (later to be dubbed ‘Midnight’). We love it when people do this as it allows us to capture a song in its early stages and get the undiluted essence of what makes it tick. After stating ‘I might mess this up’ Olly proceeded to smash out an effortlessly cool performance first time round. You can view a little secret roots snippet of the session below (the full thing is out on Friday so be sure to subscribe to my channel to catch it !)

To me, the track brings to mind all of the best bits from Maroon Fives ‘Songs About Jane’. Mixed in with Olly’s quite frankly GAWJUS voice, the result is a song that’s been going around my head for the last few weeks and making me subconsciously do that slow forward head bob thing like this…

‘Midnighttttt’

Stumbling across Olly online highlights the unique situation the music industry and artists find themselves in today. How a man with his talent can remain largely hidden is mystifying, but the fact he can be found within a few clicks of a Facebook stalking session gives hope to all of us trying to get our music found. Hopefully this video and The Pin-up Sessions can play a small role in helping people discover some of the amazing talent that’s on our doorstep. With that in mind, make sure you follow Olly’s Facebook and Instagram, and if you’re interested in catching him as part of an amazing line-up, be sure to go to Tori Sheard’s headline gig at The Bodega on the 22nd July which also features our next amazing Pin-up Session artist Kelsey and The Embers.

I’ll end with a little reminder that you can watch Olly’s full Pin-up Session on Friday by SUBSCRIBING TO MY CHANNEL and also check out the likes of Pretty Babs, Scribble Victory, Reqs, MYOK, Them Are They, Myles Knight, Crazy66, Clonk and Boats on the Ocean while you’re at it. More artist sessions coming very soon!

Benjy x

Pretty Babs Take Over The Bodega

Pretty Babs

It was an early start for Indie band, Pretty Babs’ debut headline show in Nottingham on Saturday as there were three support bands on the line-up. This was the first city gig for the Babs’ management, One Eye Shut Music Promotion, so everyone was on a mission.

Sam Jones, Brad Drury, Craig Tucker and Liam Bainbridge, 4 young men from North Nottinghamshire, make up one of the most talented and hard-working bands in the East Midlands. It’s hard to believe they’ve never headlined in the city before, so this was a Big One for them.

The Bodega was almost at capacity, drawing in Babs fans from far and wide, many wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the hashtag #upthebabs, bringing love and fandom for the band in mini-bus loads!

The programme for the evening was exceptional, kicking off with Warsop stalwarts, The Star Botherers, singing their original songs on matters as wild as what to do when your bass player dies and the problems of being a Star Wars bride! They quickly broke the ice and set the atmosphere bubbling.

Next up was festival favourite, Nick Parker, complete with full backing band. The False Alarms bring a full-on sound to a number of Parker’s familiar, self-penned songs. I’ve seen Nick as a solo artist many times, but I wasn’t prepared for the huge difference the band made to the presentation of his set; a versatile, exciting group of musicians joined, on this occasion, by Dave Burbidge of The Leylines fame, depping on drums as though he was a natural member of the band. A great set!

With entertainment of this calibre, it had to be a carefully-chosen act on third to maintain the ‘buzz’ before the headliners and the incredible Essex heavy rock duo, Ghosts of Men, were exactly the right pick! Loud, funny, impressive, Ads and Clegg gave a rollicking performance, engaging some of the more well-known members of the audience to help them with their unorthodox show.

By the time the headliners were ready, the audience was rhythmically chanting ‘Up the Babs’ as one voice, creating a tangible air of excitement.

Pretty Babs opened with The Fall, getting everyone on their side, then proceeded to deliver a well-considered set which included beautiful ballads such as The Storm. I was privileged to be working from the stage at the time and the sight of the audience waving their phone torches along with this song was breath taking and surely must have been a highlight in many peoples’ memories.

Lead singer, Sam Jones has the most exquisite Indie/Rock voice and plays guitar like a demon. Some of you may know hi as a solo artist on the Roots Music Circuit and this has been where has honed the confidence needed for being a strong front man. Either side of him are dynamic bass player, Liam Bainbridge and Craig Tucker who is a good match for Jones on guitar and vocals, adding to the sheer musical weight of the front line, each of them bringing their own exuberance to the stage. Behind them sits the powerhouse who drives the band, Brad Drury, a drummer of incredible stamina and experience, who is key to the synergy of the band. All the right ingredients for a tight, professional, impressive line-up.

By the time the band played their final songs, Road Runner and Don’t Step On The Moor, the audience was ignited, animated and desperate for the music to continue. Sadly there was a curfew,so the show really was over: however, Pretty Babs were showing Nottingham loud and clear that not only can they host a great programme of music, but that they have the capacity to fill The Bodega more successfully than some more well-known names!

You can call this one A Success, guys!
#upthebabs Proud of ya!

Benjamin…Concrete Rose

When you look at the musical calibre of this new band, it just oozes quality! With connections to Unknown Era, Ferocious Dog and Idle Nova, you know you’re in for something really special.

Of everything queued up before me today, Concrete Rose’s debut track, Benjamin has the ear worm. I challenge you not to have the refrain in your head for the rest of the day after the first chorus!

This is a sunshine song. You feel as though you should be watching the cricket with a picnic and a long, cool lager as it plays.

With marimba sounds from the keys, rim shots and traditional second beat drop, this is reggae as it was meant to be played. With Philip Wilbraham’s expertise on production, this is a class track.

Benjamin is a happy song from a band who like to keep it happy. It’s bright, it’s cheerful and it will make you smile every single time you hear it.

Available to stream or download from all good music platforms now.

https://www.facebook.com/concreteroseband/

Code Blue…Jack Chapman

Nottingham is a city awash with young singer/songwriter talent and Jack Chapman fits the bill. Having decided to go solo at the end of last year, he is carving out quite a local following! He plays a cool guitar and has a delicious voice.

Code Blue is a passionate love song. The lyrics are emotional and Chapman’s delivery lives up to that. It’s not sweet and sentimental, but a modern love song sitting comfortably in today’s Indie airwaves.

Instrumentally, the guitar playing is spot on and the balance with the vocals in production make this easy on the ears.

This is my introduction to Jack Chapman and if Code Blue is characteristic of his work, then I will be pleased to hear more. He has my recommendation as One To Watch!

Search Code Blue on Spotify, YouTube, Apple Music and Deezer to stream or download.

Waiting For A Miracle…BlitZ

I came across BlitZ a few months ago when I was asked to review their latest album, Welcome To The Rock Show. I was so impressed; I made the effort to catch them live & now our paths cross on a regular basis.

As soon as Kev Simpson’s guitar riff begins, I am immediately transported back to my early days, the days of KISS, Boston and Journey. This is Blitz’s signature sound, signalling more than a passing nod to the days of poodle perms and glam.

Simpson, Stuart Corden (bass and lead vocals) and Mat Davies (drums and vocals) make the perfect classic rock trio, creating an incredible full, polished sound for a band with so few in number. Their songs are all originals and, like Waiting For A Miracle, you feel as though you should be singing along with the chorus as soon as you hear it, even though it’s only your first time through! BlitZ have a musical formula which works for them!

Waiting For A Miracle has a great hook, wicked guitar breaks and Bon Jovi-style harmonies. What’s not to love if you’re a classic rocker!

The single drops this weekend, 7th June, premiering the video from their FB page at 7pm. Most definitely worth scheduling for wherever you may be.

Four artists, one day and an abrupt, heavy sound of impact…

So after a few months away from Pin-up Session activity, the 12th of May went off with a bang. Or a clonk to be precise.

Learning from all our shoots to date, the Pin-up squad* have come to the realisation that we can minimise our costs and boost productivity by getting a number of sessions done in a single day. It’s difficult, to the wire and couldn’t be done without the grim sweaty sweat of all four of us pulling in the same direction. What it does mean however, is that we can get an awesome adrenaline boost of different music through the day.

*more on this team of heroes to come in a future blog!

With this new found game plan, I decided that what we should be doing is showcasing as wider range of music as possible within the sphere of people we know and want to get to know. I’m endeavouring to make sure there’s a mix of genres and backgrounds and hopefully we can keep growing The Pin-up Sessions to properly showcase the awesome music we churn out around these parts.

Every artist we feature does have one thing in common though; the fact that they’ve ‘wowed’ me at some point and have the ability to do an amazing live performance without any additional production aids like clicks or backing tracks. So how better to start the day than with Clonk: an obnoxiously raucous 4-piece from Nottingham.

Side note – whilst I can truly appreciate the time and energy put in by artists who perform with full productions and backing tracks (and sweet DJ’s for that matter) I think it’s nice to shout about the freedom of unscripted and uncontrolled performance in my own little corner of the world – a world full of glorious little imperfections and loud things!

I came across Clonk after hearing good things about them from my band mate and partner in audio crime(s) Rob. He’d seen them at a battle of the bands and couldn’t stop raving about how massive they sounded and how professionally and seriously they went about their work. It turns out Rob wasn’t the only one digging this band, and I kept bumping into people with the same impression.

My first encounter (of the rock kind) came when I was in University putting the final touches to a mix for the lovely and supremely talented Ben Haynes (which you can watch here). Whilst being in the zone, I’d noticed some earth shattering screams coming from the virtually noise proof studios next door – some feat! This required further investigation…as I popped my head in the door I was greeted with the sight of Clonk doing some live demos. It sounded massive and unique and after I’d picked myself off the floor and recovered from the jealousy of not engineering the session, I thought I better get them in.

I’ve never been much good at accurately comparing bands with an encyclopaedic list of musical references, but to me Clonk seem to embody the raw vocal power of a Gallows era Frank Carter mixed with the musical complexity of bands like Queens of the Stone Age. Throw in a nice dose of unique sounding evil epicness and I think it’s a pretty delicious recipe for people who are in to such things. Just don’t expect your granny to like it…

The boys, consisting of George (vocals/bass), Troy (drums) and Fraser and Ed (shred wizards) didn’t disappoint at Pin-up HQ. They were awesome lads and smashed through several takes with precision before identifying ‘the one’. They were sweaty, we were sweaty, even the cameras were SWEATY (really need to get some aircon init?), but  a thoroughly good time was had by all. Whilst you can view a little snippet of their upcoming Pin-up Session below, I implore you to check these guys out live and give them a follow on Facebook and Instagram. Bands with their level of talent, commitment, and infuriatingly young age (how do the kids get so good?) have all the tools to go on and do great things with a little support. You can catch their full session on Friday by SUBSCRIBING TO MY CHANNEL and also check out the likes of Pretty Babs, Scribble Victory, Reqs, MYOK, Myles Knight, Crazy66 and Boats on the Ocean while you’re at it. More artist sessions coming very soon!

Ta

Ben x

Post Remedy…new sounds

New release: Enemy

4-piece Alt/Rock band from Nottingham. I don’t know what else they do, but I’ve been listening to this track on repeat for around 20 minutes now and it’s so chilled!

The band are fronted by Jess, who’s vocals are a major feature of this song. To give you an idea, her voice is an amalgam of some of the most best rock/blues females I can think of: hints of Amy Winehouse; Cerys Matthews of Katatonia and the incredible Anastasia Walker, (Stars) of Bang Bang Romeo! It smoky, sultry and beautifully emotional.

Add to that a tight, rocky backing from the band and this sets the bar high for people like me for whom Enemy is an introduction to their work.

Enemy is the perfect late night chillax sound!

Give them a listen: https://youtu.be/R2xJu75qd_Y

Find out more: https://www.facebook.com/postremedy/

Catch them live on 25th June, (before The Maze closes its doors forever).

#upthebabs

Pretty Babs haven’t been slouching since they released their debut album, Graffiti Lights, back in 2017 (I had to check then, in my head it was only last year!) – with an ever-growing gig schedule they’ve released a new EP, #upthebabs – building on their debut by adding Craig to the ranks to beef up their guitar sound. 

For a bunch of fellas so young they have a mature gritty rock sound – the kind of thing Sam’s powerful voice has been literally crying out for since I first used to go see his acoustic evenings up at the Brown Cow in Mansfield. Coupled with the clear bond of friendship the four of them have, it makes for a really engaging live show.

Most recently I caught them at the always awesome Ey Up Mi Duck festival last month, and have subsequently been procrastinating about writing this review having acquired their EP there (thanks Andrew!). Oftentimes I find that my favourite live bands don’t always translate to recording – not that I don’t enjoy them, but it can lose the buzz you get from a live performance.

Not so here – clearly the band are careful to work with producers who aren’t going to smooth the edges too much when they hit the studio. Guitars snarl, bass thumps and drums crash across these five tracks, paces change and they give the perfect backing to counterpoint Sam’s voice.

The Fall opens gently before the main guitar riff kicks in joined by bass and drums, as the vocals join the guitar slows right up. There’s pace-changes in the pre-chorus leading into the chorus too before a treat of a guitar solo – the lyrics talk of lighting beacons and I suspect echoes of the horrendous political turmoil we find ourselves in at the moment. It’s a strong start! 

Tumbleweed comes with an accompanying video (well, okay, it’s more of an image!) – after initial guitar it’s very percussion led with some overlaid guitar intracies. Almost hypnotic verses are pretty much driven by Brad’s drumming with building guitar and bass input before a rousing chorus kicks in. There’s a nice instrumental bridge here too showcasing pretty much everyone before the backing almost drops out but for subtle guitar and vocals – then everything’s back for a final rousing chorus. More referencing to lighting of fires too!

Blue kicks right in with vocals and guitar strums and occasional stabs, then some drum fills kick in to the full track. If there’s an underpinning of political influences in the previous tracks then here it becomes much more overt “It’s such a pity she’s a Tory girl”is the lament throughout but this is a real barnstormer of a track – you could get a good sweat on having a dance to it.

Roadrunner kicks straight in after a cymbal count in – I do think they missed a trick to have a “meep meep” in there, but maybe it’s not about a cartoon bird trying to constantly foil a not-so-wily coyote! But on listening, perhaps not the right mood to set – we have heavy chugging guitar here and empassioned vocals – definitely much heavier, with an unfeasibly catchy riff following through most of the song.

Then finishing up with with the quieter lament of Death of the Free Man, starting with deliciously intricate finger picking and heartfelt vocals, which you can sample a live rendering of below. I’d half expected it to kick in with the full band – but even as Sam’s vocals lift for the chorus the guitar picking is all that accompanies him, and I think that’s the right call for this song – and rounds off nicely the multi-facets that Pretty Babs bring to the party.

Of all the unsigned bands on the circuit I’ve grown to know and love over the last few years, I’ve said before and I’ll say again that in Pretty Babs they’re the one that I could imagine crossing over to become more mainstream – and I certainly don’t mean that as an insult, but they have such an accomplished style that you could see landing well with a more mainstream audience.

You can catch Pretty Babs at The Bodega in Nottingham on 15th June with a glittering array of amazing support acts too for the sum of just ten English pounds. It promises to be a really awesome night – I for one am looking forward to it very much. You can avail yourself of a copy of #upthebabs from the band at a gig – and presumably digital releases will follow. 

Originally posted on FerociousBlog

The Last Netflix Show

The Last Netflix Show May 2019 

Everything comes to an end, Betamax lost out in the battle to  Video which became  subsumed by DVD which is becoming slowly taken  over by boxed sets stored on TV hard drives.

( Believe it or not I have just discovered the last Blockbuster video store exists in Bend Oregon and is still going strong)

I’m old enough to remember the 78 record the crackle and hiss of plastic discs which eventually gave birth to the 45 in tandem with  the 33 LP ( for those too young to remember plastic discs the number refers to the RPM, revolutions per minute, that your chosen disc would play at, was when placed on your turntable )

There are strong parallels  between film and music here. I don’t watch much television probably a couple of hours a month, preferring to listen to music or play and sing it at Acoustic nights.

There is a great joy and release in singing and playing, for myself and some of the people I play music with its the simple pleasure in the singing of the song but equally important is the community of singing and the discovery of new singers as they haul out their battered instruments and sing.

On many occasions  I’m at  a music night and the most unlikely of singers turn up and play and quite often are stunning and we all look at each other and say where have they been all these years. 

I recall seeing Steve Cartwright the well known  folk musician from Leicester at Wymeswold acoustic night some 18 months or two years ago. His songs were entrancing, fluid and resonant, he sounded as though he had been writing for centuries and was still looking for that elusive song. His dark dark song “Its Very Nice” is my favourite. Last nigh at the Guildhall Leicester he was in fine form.

I listen to his music on CD and in the car but nothing can beat the sheer joy of listening live to Steve and many others who make the  live music scene in the East Midlands so joyous. It’s sounds good on CD\record but to me listening live with other people  is the killer.

And so, for me so it is with film. I personally don’t think you can beat going to a cinema and seeing a film in the company of others and enjoying/hating  the film with them and then afterwards in the bar or coffee shop dissecting the whole thing, the bits you liked hated and so on. For me  its not the same as watching it in the quiet of your own living room.

Eventually Netflix will give way to some other format that you can watch films on, but it made me think that it would be incredibly ironic if the last film ever showed on Netflix before it closed was the wonderfully sad  and elegiac Peter Bogdanovich film The Last Picture Show. 

This is a synopsis for you

The Last Picture Show is a 1971 American drama film directed and co-written by Peter Bogdanovich, adapted from a semi-autobiographical 1966 novel The Last Picture Show by Larry McMurtry.

Set in a small town in north Texas from November 1951 to October 1952, it is about the coming of age of Sonny Crawford (Timothy Bottoms) and his friend Duane Jackson (Jeff Bridges). The cast also includes Cybill Shepherd in her film debut, Ellen Burstyn, Ben Johnson, and Cloris Leachman, and features Eileen Brennan, Clu Gulager, and Randy Quaid. For aesthetic reasons, it was shot in black and white, which was unusual for the time. The film features many songs of Hank Williams Sr. and other recording artists. 

Faust…Infernal Symphony

‘Dissonance!’ In musical terms it means a general lack of harmony which, in Western music, our ears are unused to. In layman’s terms: think of the sound created when a cat walks up and down a piano keyboard! Got it? You need to know this in order to understand the context of this review and to appreciate that this is a serious piece of work.

Infernal Symphony is the moniker of Derby musician, Dom Bishop. Within this sphere, he is a one-man band, producer, artist, engineer, songwriter, instrumentalist working on a solo project as a challenge away from his previous work. Looking at the Facebook page, this is definitely a cross-genre sound, with influences as broad and Gothic as: Megadeath, Sepultura, Rob Zombie, Opeth, Slayer, Mastadon, Dream Theater and Iron Maiden. The narrative is taken from classical German literature; the tale of Faust selling his soul to the devil in exchange for unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures.

I guess by now that you are getting the idea of where this is leading…

Infernal Symphony wants to bring his music into ‘The deepest, darkest depths of your soul’ and in my opinion, he is successful. However, it certainly isn’t for me,then neither is the work of composers such as Philip Glass, Alexander Scriabin, Arnold Schoenberg, Thelonius Monk, John Cage, Jimi Hendrix and Pierre Boulez! I have always been challenged by dissonant music and this album does not change my mind.

This is an opus of truly epic proportions, taking an epic theme and drawing up an epic electronic orchestral chronical to accompany it. The work consists of a whopping 20 tracks with titles such as: Yearning for Burning, Seductive Decay and ending with, inevitably, Irrevocable Damnation, leaving the listener in no doubt as to the fate of the character.

This is not an album to listen to if you want sweet, memorable tunes, it is dark and disturbing; but there are people out there who are really into this kind of Gothic doom. Infernal Symphony has a clear demographic in mind. If you are even slightly put off by the artwork, track titles, general Satanic vibe, go no further; but if you like a challenge, give it a go!

Good luck, travellers!

Check out Infernal Symphony on FB: https://www.facebook.com/InfernalSymphonyUK/

You can purchase a digital copy from: https://infernalsymphonyuk.bandcamp.com/

From Angus Young Impressions to The Pin-up Sessions: an introduction to my Roots blog.

Last week I had a message from Chris asking if I’d like to join the writing team at Roots. Whilst I’ve become a bit sick of late night dissertation writing marathons this year, a head scratch lasting about 0.5 seconds led me to say ‘absolutely mate!’. Although I’ve always felt slightly uncomfortable bragging about my own artistic/producing ventures, I could rattle on infinitely about the talent around these parts. Before doing that however, I thought I better start off with an introduction to myself, what I do, and what I love about music.

Like many, my musical career started by telling people I could play guitar when I was about 10. Unfortunately for me (and my impending school talent show) this was a complete and utter fabrication of the truth; the truth being that I spent most nights pretending to be Angus Young in front of the mirror whilst blasting classic rock tunes stolen from my Dad’s CD collection. After being caught in the middle of a ‘duck walk’ too many times to brush off, it was put forward by my parents that I could actually try and learn to play guitar FOR REAL. After some apprehension, I agreed and set myself a goal: learn one ‘sick’ guitar solo which I could impress people with, and then retreat to playing the Xbox and picking my nose.

At this point however, I was introduced to an eccentric guitar teacher who unquestionably changed my life forever. He taught me all of my favourite songs with a focus on enjoyment instead of theoretical aspects like reading music, and before too long I was hooked. No longer was one solo enough – I needed more. Much more.

I was lucky enough to have parents who encouraged me every step of the way, and a teacher with patience and passion: though not essential, in my opinion these building blocks are invaluable in any music community.

The teacher’s name was Phil Brock and although I’ve lost touch with him a bit, I still see his crazy luminous green transit van knocking about from time to time, and I’m sure he’s still a guitar wizard (I endeavour to catch up with you soon Phil if you’ve finally got round to getting the internet!).

Me not long after breaking out of the bedroom (note terrified disposition: is this a chord? Am I in the right key? Is this jumper/polo combination really working for me?!)

Though I need to crank an amplifier to remind myself of it sometimes, the joy I get out of playing guitar is ethereal, cathartic and unsurpassable (apart from scoring a mint goal at 5-a-side obviously). That joy fundamentally drives me to write, perform and produce music and also dictates what I want to do with my life and career. Although it comes in different guises, I’m sure that this same passion is present in everyone involved in the artistic community and it’s why this whole ‘music’ thing is so important for us humans.

“So why are you recording music now Benjy?” I hear you ask.

Well, Roots readers, my passion for recording started with my first original (and current) band The Fine Art Society. After rising from the ashes of a school prom performance and going through a few members, me and my best mates Matt and Max wrote a bunch of songs. We had no money and were too busy going to ‘Mosh Mondays’ and being 17 to even consider approaching a ‘proper’ recording studio. Max was studying at Confetti and had some basic recording gear, so we decided to record and release our tunes ourselves. We stayed in a sweaty band room for nights on end until the sun rose. We got noise complaints. We smoked too much and tried to sing high harmonies we had no right reaching. The result was a handful of songs which sounded a bit ropey, but contained all the honesty and gusto you’d expect from 3 lads who had nothing to gain; no X-Factor judges to impress, no record deals to gain and no fans to consider. Just the reward of getting OUR songs recorded and out into the world. Like a footnote or a piece of graffiti on a school desk – a little memento that we were here together and we created something we were proud of.

You can actually still listen to these tracks on Sound Cloud if you’re brave. Check out how different Matt used to sound – ha!

It was at this point I came to the realisation that capturing and releasing a song was an amazing achievement. From nothing, a small idea you have in your head can become tangible. Like catching lightning in a bottle – a little bit of your soul can be kept, shared and enjoyed again and again.

After a few more professional outings learning this dark art became my mission. Over the past few years its led to me spending all of my money on gear (an occupational hazard for us muso’s) and leaving a sturdy office job to study the trade at university. Again, taking this step was much easier with the encouragement of the music community around me.

(a special note here to my girlfriend Lara here who has been forced to listen to more mixes than any human should reasonably be expected to endure and still continues to support me).

Whilst I’ve got a few more skills now (and continue to gain them at a rate of knots) I’m still fundamentally a chubby air guitar champion who loves putting that passion into helping people capture their music. I’ve been lucky enough to record some amazing artists so far and am proud to have founded a pretty cool live session called ‘The Pin-up Sessions’ which showcases some mind blowing local talent. The D.I.Y ethos is strong, and we share a lot of parallels with the roots community:

Let’s encourage and brag about every ounce of talent we have around here and have a blast doing it.

You can check out all of the artists we’ve featured so far by subscribing to the channel at the link!

I hope to spend future posts chatting about the artists I get to work with, music I think deserves your attention and maybe even some recording tips to help you get the best results for your budget and demos.

Thanks for the invite Chris and I hope I can write some interesting bits for you all to read in the future!

Ben Marshall

The Importance of Being Local

Whether you’re travelling from the borders of Sherwood Forest or the Derbyshire wilderness; it’s best to take a spare set of strings.

When Chris asked a few of his closest muchachos, amigos y compadres if they would mind surrendering some of their time, effort and finger movements to write more blogs, reviews or various other musings, my first reaction was simple.

Go away, I’m working.

Alas, if only that had been the case. On the contrary, the work and effort applied by the Roots Live Music team around the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire areas has been paramount to the growing success of this local scene. Moreover, let’s consider for a second the impact it may have on the performing artist themselves.

It’s a Saturday night. You’re 18-and-a-bit years old. Your kicks, pumps, converses, whatever, are torn at the seams. Worse more, you have a 12-year-old guitar in your lap- presented as a gift from Argos from a family member or overly-enthusiastic-possibly-pushy relative. The A string seems to be missing. Hang on, which one is the ‘A’ anyway? Well, it hardly matters, because you’ve just spent that night learning the ‘classics’ (the acoustic versions of tunes you’ve accidentally discovered on YouTube after hours and hours of superfluous browsing). There’s a G in there…and a D…possibly an A minor, but you can’t quite remember, but it seems to flow and sounds like something that’s popped up on your Spotify-suggested list.

Well, you see, after the first couple of covers learned, mimicking, re-writing, re-imaging…or simply copying…these well-known songs becomes a little too easy. Occasionally, an artist will make that leap between cover and original and attempt the impossible, unthinkable and unimaginable…

But the thing is, this also becomes addictive. Like a honey badger with a pair of human genitals, a dog with a bone, or me with ‘owt to do with Star Wars, the process of songwriting becomes sheer fandom. This could be for many reasons- pride, a sense of achievement, or just for the f**k of it. Nonetheless, it soon moves to the very next step- the final Orc guarding Mordor- performing these said songs.

Ben Mark Smith
I get by with a little help from cute ‘lil library workers

See, the thing is, this is the case for quite literally hundreds of bands, artists or poets around the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire area; scratch that, nationwide. Performing and songwriting must start from somewhere. The toad was once a tadpole, afterall. And that, you see, is where promoters like Roots come in.

Roots don’t just slap on live entertainment for the sake of satisfying a pub’s locals. Although, of course, that is fantastic when that becomes evident. Roots act as an anchor for local artists to be able to showcase material live. The fact of the matter is this: music lovers want to hear stories about chocolate biscuits, festivals, funny anecdotes, crippling heartache and sheer drama, which is of course no different from other forms of media ranging from books, magazines to social media itself. F**k it, isn’t that what all major soap operas base their foundations on?

I bet Wellington himself even liked music. Weird.

The only difference, of course, is that there’s a communal aspect to sharing these various emotions and fables, particularly when it’s coming from somebody who perhaps shares a similar cultural, social or even geographical likeliness to the audience. All these factors are circling the room in the 3 and a half minutes it takes to sing a song…we just don’t fully comprehend it yet.

Get me in a drink my friend; I swear that i’ll repay

What Roots pride themselves in is not simply music. We’ve had that for ages in Western society. And believe me, mainstream-wise, it’s only getting worse. So why not go ‘back to basics’, and see someone pour their heart out, shiver with nervousness so the chord shape seems wobbly, or stand on a table and make you forget that it’s Tuesday night and you’ve a date with the rat race the morning after? Community and melody go hand in hand with us. Ambition and performance compliment each other. Interaction and alcohol wink at each other like naughty friends. And, arguably most importantly, new music is born into the world…

…it could be at your local watering hole…

…in the middle of a crowded town, someone could be telling the greatest story ever told…

….probably in the key of C.

Sam

Roots Live Music

Now my life’s a little crazy, but I don’t give a s**t…

Blue Lighting with Captain Accident (& the Disasters.) The Maze, Nottingham. 03/05/19

Emergency! Emergency! The Maze is closing down! Captain Accident & the Disasters come all the way from Cardiff to this well-loved venue to bring some much needed cheer.

Adam Parsons (aka Captain Accident) sits alongside me in one of the big comfy chairs in the artists’ area. In profile I can’t help but notice he has cheekbones to die for! To begin with, he is a little self-conscious, but visibly relaxes when I tell him I won’t be writing as we talk.

I have been looking forward to this, having fallen in love with their music when I saw the band live at Rock City late last year. (More of that later.)

I discover that there is some truth in my deduction of the origin of the band name. I ask about the clumsiness? Dyspraxia? Adam hypothetically demonstrates his lack of spatial awareness with the corner of a table and a pint glass. Oops! From teenage years, ‘Captain Accident’ became his moniker and he now proudly wears three enamel school ‘Captain’ badges on the front of the hat he wears to establish to his on-stage persona.

In every day life, Adam Parsons is a husband and dad to a young family. He teaches Music (Performance) at an FE college in Cardiff 3 days a week. The studio where he writes and records is in his home.

As the child of hippy parents living in a part of the country which includes the dockland area known as ‘Tiger Bay’, Parsons was reggae and ska savvy from a very early age. His band has supported some huge names associated with the genre: Aswad, Less Than Jake, Bad Manners, The Toasters and Neville Staple; but he is proudest of playing with his personal music icon: Toots & the Maytals, on more than one UK tour! It was in this role that I first saw Captain Accident & The Disasters last year. To have the endorsement of such a great name is a massive achievement!

When I ask about festivals, I am told that current emphasis is on promoting the tour (of which this is Day 2,) but that there is genuine band excitement to be playing Wilderness Festival in Oxfordshire for the first time this summer.

The audience at The Maze know their reggae! With warm-ups from Mat Crosher, Buenos Treehouse and the extremely popular Jimmy the Squirrel, people are already set for some serious skanking when the Captain and his crew arrive on stage.

The 7-piece plays true reggae, dub, lovers rock, rocksteady. Mostly original songs, with the occasional take on a classic, such as The Fugees’ Ready Or Not, concluding their set with a personal favourite of mine: Twenty Pence.

The line-up sees Captain Accident on lead guitar, with The Disasters providing bass, rhythm, keyboards, drums and additional full-percussion section. Together they are as tight as you please, sending good vibrations radiating from stage to audience.

‘I love what I do!’ Adam Parsons says as we’re wrapping up the interview. Those cheekbones resurface and the Captain’s smile says it all!

For full list of tour dates and where you can hear live summer sounds, visit their FaceBook page: https://www.facebook.com/captainaccident/

Review: Ferocious Dog – Fake News and Propaganda

Taking you from the hearth of a fireplace to the heart of a rebellion, Nottingham’s own Celtic-punk Ferocious Dog have produced an album that has managed to infuse a healthy dosage of punk-style commentary into its diverse soundscape…

Ken Bonsall and co may not quite be as consistently ferocious here as they have in the past, but it leaves room for more harmonious anthems that will leave a smile on your face and beer on your breath.

Fake News and Propaganda stays true to the sound of Ferocious Dog; Bonsall’s attitude along with the intricate dynamic fiddle work of Dan Booth and the ravaging tones of an electric guitar complete the recipe of this folk-meet-punk genre. Instilled within this hybrid soundscape are ever-changing lyrical themes, whether it be unity in the face of adversity (a concept that strongly resonates throughout the track Cover Me), to the hearty “life’s for the living” message in Yellow Feather. Neither of which can shout louder than Ferocious Dog’s shoulder-worn political commentary.

With the chaos of Brexit and fake news still afoot it’s an exciting time in politics, making a perfect climate for songs like Fake News to have Bonsall striking up a chorus over the conglomeration of mass media chanting. As the latter half of Up All Night brings some ferocity and cynicism to the subject of the infamous EU referendum, it’s a great way to blow off some steam.

Great though it is, there is arguably potential for FNAP to edge even closer to perfection. While I would never want the band to compromise their signature motif, the electric guitar does seem to be limited in providing the underlying growl to tracks in which it appears. Perhaps giving it a little more space to stretch its strings — even for a moment — would add lightning to what is an already exhilarating package.

Nevertheless, looking back to 2017’s Red, this record is evidence that the Celtic Punk rockers from Warsop are evolving, or perhaps maturing their style as their track list construction gives equal amount of limelight to each of their emerging styles. You will see just as much devotion to the balls-to-the-wall tracks in Traitor’s Gate and Bedlam Boys as you will with the heart-string pullers like Justice for 96 and Lacey-Lee giving the record a more well-rounded aftertaste; something that Red simply missed.

It’s definitely an exciting time to be a Celtic-punk fan, and Ferocious Dog have once again shown us why.

By Alex Mace

Article originally posted on Platform magazine: www.platformmagazine.co.uk/music/review-ferocious-dog-fake-news-and-propaganda/

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