Archive for UK

I SEE ANGELS-Nausea

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 17, 2017 by TheManicBlogger

 

I’m not sure how I missed the August 2016 release of this 3 track ep from Manchester, UK based I See Angels. The songs are brilliantly melodic, playing in my head long after listening, with cool hooks, and seamless changes. There is a wonderful 1980’s art rock vibe going on, reminiscent of The Psychedelic Furs. This pop-emo rock band, delivers way cool guitar, dynamite keyboards, clever arrangements, and perfectly ethereal vocal tracks. An insanely great listen, that will have you floating along the waves of melodious dreams. Favorite track: ‘Nausea‘. You can stream and purchase at a ‘name your price’ option here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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THE COUNTERACTS-Under Cover

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 8, 2016 by TheManicBlogger

counteracts32There are covers, and then there are The Counteracts doing covers. The latest ep from the Kent, U.K., band contains 4 cover versions of songs by Wings, Radiohead, The Kinks, and The Everly Brothers. After a couple of listens, I realized that the band was not merely covering the songs, but were, in fact, paying homage to them, and the artists who created them. All of the tracks are wonderfully done, staying true to the original, while making them completely Counteractual. The addition of ‘strings’ on The Everly’s “All I Have To Do Is Dream” is a wonderful enhancement. Never a Radiohead fan, the cover of ‘Creep‘ recorded here, is far preferable to the original, and this version of ‘Waterloo Sunset‘ (The Kinks), is exceptional. Well done! Fun for the whole family, and I suspect, the whole neighborhood. You can download the ep for free here. What are you waiting for?

 

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TSINDER ASH-The Carbon Of Your Delight

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2016 by TheManicBlogger

tsinderI like experimental music. Hell, I like eccentric, and eclectic music.  Listening to Tsinder Ash‘s 2015 release, The Carbon Of Your Delight, reminds me why.  This London, U.K. artist is mega talented; as a songwriter, a singer, and a musician. The album contains wonderfully diverse instrumentation and arrangements, with melancholic vocals, that deliver dark, brooding lyrics. The melodies are incredibly captivating, almost hypnotic, even though they seem to fall on the far side of centre. There are shades of eastern musical influences, with a Leonard Cohen thing going on, set within an alternative folk-blues vibe that is quite possibly not from this world! There are dynamite additional vocals from Clara Engel, and a myriad of instruments I do not regularly hear. An insanely good album, that will mess with your mind, as it soothes your soul.  I can’t wait for the release of the next album, which, I am told, is coming soon. If it is not tomorrow, it is not soon enough. Give this a few listens on his bandcamp page, and then, purchase yourself a copy. Definitely one for the collection.

 

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THE 286

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2015 by TheManicBlogger

the2861Another U.K. band, introduced to me by former The Toniks drummer Colin Marshall, The 286 released a self-titled EP in April, 2014. I confess. I missed it then. The 4 tracks resound with shades of ELO, and George Harrison. “Miracle On 286th Street“, an instrumental track, offers cool piano and bass, with some wonderful tremolo guitar. “Little Louisa” delivers a nice vocal track within a 1950’s Rock ‘N’ Roll vibe. There are 2 versions of “Let The Rain Fall Down“, a shorter radio edit, and the extended play. The track is amazingly infectious. The bittersweet melody fuels the wonderful vocals. There are incredible changes, a cool bridge, and a great hook. An incredibly beautiful song.

the2863This ep delivers. A wonderful fusion of classical themes and pop melodies. The arrangements are exciting. Orchestral-pop is back. The 286 are simply a lot of fun. I am looking forward to the next release. Check them out for yourselves at https://the286.bandcamp.com/ and LIKE them on facebook…https://www.facebook.com/the286?fref=ts

 

 

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YOU’VE COME A LONG WAY, BABY…WOMEN IN MUSIC, PART 2

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 2, 2014 by TheManicBlogger

Another insanely informative and entertaining article by Frank Gutch, Jr. This time its all about women in Indie Music.

 

Time for the followup to the first post regarding women in music (click here) and, boy, have they ever!  Come along way, I mean.  You can forget about barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen (yep, there were idiots in the old days too) and inequality in the workplace, at least if the workplace has anything to do with music.  Ladies have shrugged off the shroud the old boys club laid over them and are giving them the old what-for (and they damn well deserve it).  Those days when the few women who picked up instruments were allowed only so much respect are now kicking the guys to the curbside.  Consider it the equivalent to kicking sand in the wimpy guy’s face.

I grew up to respect women, to look upon them as individuals (which wasn’t easy, considering the large amounts of hormones which were kicking my ass in  my earlier years) and to consider them equals.  Given the chance, I thought, they will overcome, and, man, have they!  You want proof?  I’ll give you proof!  Starting with…..

No Small Children—  Whew!  I have waited for a band like this for decades— a three-man (er, wo-man) band with punch and grit and chutzpah to show their wiles.  I back-doored into the band, having found them through their guitarist who used to record under (and still retains the name of) Lisa Parade.  Two albums and I was in love.  Lisa has everything it takes to make music fun and, more importantly, make music music!  She is joined on this project by sister, bassist and major voice Joanie Pimentel and the percussive poundmaster her own self, Nicola B.  Thus far, they have recorded a number of tunes, all available for perusal on their bandcamp pages (click here and be sure to check out all the tracks available by clicking on the icons on the right), and have a new album almost ready for delivery.  But why wait?  Here is a video which says everything I cannot.  I love these girls!!!

 

 

Dala—  Surely you have heard of Dala by now, but just in case you haven’t, let me tell you a bit about them.  They’re Canadian, are working their asses off touring wherever people will hear them and are doing on their own what the music industry would not do for them.  I found them quite by accident, having checked in with CDBaby at just the right moment, and watched them wow the crowds at the The Newport Folk Festival a handful of years ago before barnstorming North America and the UK, building a solid following.  Their voices are beautiful and sometimes downright haunting, their music is sweet and ethereal and they have the attitude which many women musicians have these days— do or die.  Here is a song from their latest album, Best Day.

 

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Arborea—  Okay, it’s only half-woman, but Shanti Curran is so good she makes up for the non-half.  This duo have been shopping their musical wares for some time now and are finally beginning to break through the white noise.  When trying to describe what they do, I stumble over words and phrases like “renaissance” and “medieval folk” and “trad folk”, but none really fits the bill.  They are, in a way, futuristic with a serious look backward.  Whatever it is, it is beautiful stuff.  Maybe this will help.

 

Good buddy Brian Cullman is always drawing names out of a hat (at least, it seems like it) and his latest is a lady named Mary Fahl who, for some odd reason, always posts herself as Mary Fahl (former lead singer of October Project).  I had not heard of October Project until I started following Brian’s leads but am well aware of them now.  Mary has had a run with major labels and is now attempting to work the field her own self (though she must have label connections somewhere) and I give her a big thumbs up for attitude and energy.  She works the social networks like a trooper and responds to almost any positive comment passed on to her and that alone takes an enormous amount of time.  Talent-wise, she has a voice and uses it well and writes as well as she sings.  To give you an idea, here is a video she posted a few months ago which catches her in an Enya-style mood.  Very impressive.  No, Celtic is not all she does.  In fact, she is all over the map, but it is a delightful map.  Here she is singing a song from her latest album, Love & Gravity.  You can thank me after listening.  In the meantime, I will be thanking Brian, who is also working on an album.  Or so he says.

With the Midwest and East coast in deep freeze, the warmth has to come from somewhere, so why not from Nashville’s own Kink Ador, whose run at the brass ring the past few years has been a rollercoaster ride.  In spite of personnel changes and deep probes by aliens, they have put out consistently impressive recordings.  My first exposure to them came by way of friend Joe Lee, who performed on the same stage (not at the same time) a few years ago and was impressed enough to send me a link to this video, saying that they were, indeed, the real deal.

After watching that vid, I joined the Kink Ador Fan Club and even got my secret decoder ring.  Four years later, here they are with a summer anthem of another color.  Wrap those blankets around you, you East Coasters, and think warm.  Good stuff.

Ollabelle‘s Glenn Patscha (certainly not a woman) has recently teamed up with two ladies to form a band they call The Big BrightFiona McBain is another leg of the tripod and Liz Tormes rounds out the trio.  Beautiful voices and great arrangements are what they are all about.  They do what they call “new wave nocturnes,” rearranged songs by the so-called new wave of bands from the eighties.  The album, in fact, is titled I Slept Through the 80s and is notable for the arrangements as well as the choice of songs.  Here they are doing a live version of Yazoo‘s Only You.

 

 

You’ve probably heard of Meg Hutchinson if not actually heard her.  Time for you to hear her if you haven’t, methinks.  She started out as far as I am concerned a folkie of worth but has recently (since signing with powerhouse indie Red House Records) blossomed into a strong, confident and well-rounded musician.  Her last album, The Living Side, was her best at the time of release (2010), but 2013’s Beyond That is a step into another dimension, the songs deeper, more emotional, more mature.  This is a search for self through music.  A solid A.

 

 

Allow me to continue singing the praises of Maxine Dunn, who records under the name Maxi Dunn.  This lady is quite unlike any other performer I’ve heard the past few years, living somewhere in the realm which produced so many female singers of the past— Petula Clark, Sandie Shaw, Cilla Black.  Her real strength besides her songs, which are sometimes off-the-charts good, are her arrangements, vocally and instrumentally.  Part of the credit for that can go to fellow musician Peter Hackett who has a real flair for numerous instruments, but most is Dunn’s.  Last year’s Edmund & Leo entrenched itself solidly in my Top Ten early in the year and refused to be replaced.  Here is Dragonfly from that album.  Seriously, listen to the production and arrangement on this.  They are exceptional.

 

 

Lisbee Stainton seems to be one of those musicians from the UK who somehow gets lost in the shuffle, not unlike Ireland’s The Minnows.  Unique, impressive, and with exceptional voice, she has made great inroads in home country England but just cannot seem to gain a toehold in the US of A.  I blame it on Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry, but then I blame everything on them.  Oh, and Justin Bieber.  Can’t leave him out.  Here’s the thing, though.  Lisbee has put out four good to exceptional albums and has little to show for it in North America.  Time for the US and Canada to take the earmuffs off— well, after the winter season, anyway.  Here she does a live performance of a song from the excellent Word Games album (2013).  Listen closely.  She won’t be a secret long.

 

 

There’s this dude in Portland, Oregon, one Ben Darwish, who came up with this futuristic story of the past— a story of drought and the struggle to find potable water in what seems to be a dying world— which he calls The Clear Blue Pearl.  Consider it theater of the mind music.  The vocal core of the band (Morning Ritual) is Darwish and The Shook Twins, two Pac NW girls who are turning some heads.  This is a track from the opus, performed live by Oregon Public Broadcasting.  They have performed the entire album live.  I am sorry to have missed it.  And, yes, the Shooks perform on their own as a duo and in combinations with other bands.  As a fellow Oregonian, I can’t help but have a little pride in them.

 

 

I’ve said it many times.  Rita Hosking is a musical treasure.  She comes from mining stock (meaning her ancestors were miners) and has a grasp of the past that she weaves into some of her music that is quite disarming.  Bluegrass, folk, country, pop— she does it all.  Here she is performing a song from her latest mini-LP, Little BoatParting Glass— a song I have come to love almost as much as a song she recorded earlier, The Coyote.  Remember, this is live, folks.  No overdubs, no bells and whistles.

 

 

The Abramson Singers— How I missed this British Columbia collective, I don’t know, but I somehow did.  Fool’s Gold I had heard through a site promoting Canada’s Lilith Fair tour a couple of years ago, but I could find little else on the Net.  Well, it’s there now, and I’m telling you you should take a listen.  Not only is Leah Abramson unique in voice, she has a real sense of song quite different than others I have heard.  This is beautiful stuff.  Two albums and a single from an earlier solo album.  Listen to them all.  Maybe, as my friends sometimes tell me, I am easily impressed, but I am really impressed.  ReallyYou can listen to the albums and single here, and if you prefer, here is a video of a song from their latest, Late Riser.

 

 

Sometimes I think it’s time to turn it all over to the kids.  When the kids are as talented as Paige Anderson & The Fearless Kin, I don’t think that would be bad at all.  Here is the video which turned me onto them, passed along courtesy of the aforementioned Rita Hosking.  There is one whole lotta talent in Grass Valley, it appears.  I especially love the end where the kids smile, knowing that they just nailed the vocals.  Makes me chuckle every time.

 

 

Women in music, indeed.  I am finding that I am more and more an equal opportunity listener, but I do have a special feeling for what women are doing these days.  Their time is fast approaching, not only in music but everywhere.  Time for us men to step aside and give credit where credit is due.  They have surely come a long way, baby, and they ain’t done yet.  Check back in a year and I’ll have Part Three ready for you.

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EURASIANEYES-Silent Cries

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 15, 2013 by TheManicBlogger

eeIt’s been a long time since I’ve listened to Synth-rock, and Eurasianeyes, the duo from Sunderland, U.K., have piqued my interest with their debut EP, Silent Cries. released in July 2013.

The opening track, “Afterworld“, has a wonderfully full sound, reminiscent of 1980’s synth-rock, and yet remains original. The vocals are great. The melody, superb. The effects and transitions, brilliant. “Chaos In Your Mind” has a beautifully, ethereal opening as it erupts into a great melody with strong vocals. The instrumentation of “Guardian Angel“, follows the vocal melody line and provides a great beat, incredible production techniques, and a kick ass ending.” Jealousy” is more upbeat than the other tracks, but continues to provide a great melody. The very cool, but somewhat off kilter melody of “Silent Cries“, make it the highlight of the album for me. With a great beginning and ending, spectacular transitions and the use of scales in between, this song is what synth-rock is about.

ee2Eurasianeyes are Paul Russell and Mel Bell. They developed their love for synth music in the 1980s, listening to Ultravox, Gary Neuman, and Depeche Mode. Their music is melodic and full.  Their songs are well crafted and well executed. If you are a synth-rock fan, this could be what you’ve been looking for.

You can listen to Eurasianeyes here:   http://www.reverbnation.com/eurasianeyes

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Eurasianeyes will be featured on New Music Mondays on  Radio That Doesn’t Suck on October 21, 2013 at 12pm, 6pm and 10pm, EST. Listen in for interview and music.

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TOUR WITH THE TONIKS-Toronto 2013

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2013 by TheManicBlogger

After months of anticipation and a few days of school girl giddiness, the time had come to hang out with The Toniks. All week, my wife had been informing our friends that “He thinks he’s going to hang out with The Beatles”. What can I say? Was I excited?  Like a pre-pubescent school girl with a new puppy! For 10 days all I drank were Gin & Toniks.

htI take pleasure in knowing that I had some part in bringing The Toniks’ music to Canadian ears. Actually I am proud as hell!  I had found them on the internet and contacted them. I wrote a few articles about their music and over time we became friends. When I learned that the English band were coming to play the legendary Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto to promote their new album, Rise & Shine, I arranged to meet  up with them, get an interview and catch the show.

In doing my research, I discovered that this is the 2nd incarnation of The Toniks. The 1st line-up, included Ollie Smith on drums and Jim O’Neil on keyboards. A 4 track EP was released in 2009 and 2 of the songs, ” Wonderful Then” and “Simple Things” appear on the Rise & Shine album . For the past 9 months, the current 5 members have been touring in England and recording.

We met out front of the bar and decided to conduct the interview over dinner. Jez presented me with a Rise & Shine CD and a t shirt they had made for me.  How cool is that? What a great bunch of guys. And a girl!

Colin Marshall

Colin Marshall

Finding a place to eat was challenging. In the midst of Chinatown, Mark announced he does not like Chinese food. Colin was adamant that he needed grilled chicken and veggies. So we headed out  across Queen St W until Colin found us a restaurant. We settled in, and ordered (yep, Colin got his grilled chicken and veggies). I had prepared 10 questions that I wanted to ask, however after the 1st, the interview took on a life of its own. Incredibly cool. It just naturally flowed. This band was open and honest, appreciative and humble.

Mark Taylor

Mark Taylor

The band informed me that the music industry in England has been decimated by the influence of X-Factor and Simon Cowell. It has become increasingly difficult to even get gigs if you are not an X-Factorite. Canada, they claim, is far more receptive to new bands and music than England. And while they see no changes occurring in the English industry in the foreseeable future, they have no intention of leaving. Not yet anyway. While Colin helped the server clear tables (the guy is so ADHD) Mark and Jez informed me that they are the song writers, and described their relationship with producer/manager Graham Dominy as very positive. “Graham allows us to make our music. He just helps show us how to get it to sound the way we want it to sound.” There is no plan or conscious effort in their song writing. “We don’t sit down and say, well let’s write about this topic or that topic. We just start playing and it just sort of happens”. They do believe that they write positive songs because they are positive people. “I don’t like being down”, Mark says, “so I don’t want to bring others down”. Really cool attitude. One of the most endearing qualities of  this band is that they try to view everything in a positive light.

Jess English

Jess English

It’s a tough haul being a Tonik, though. They have no major iqnrecord deal, and have to cover all expenses out of pocket. They hold down full time jobs and devote as much time as they can to their music. The 5 of them share 1 hotel room. Not so bad since they view the band as family.  “I miss not being with them”, Colin said, “but I miss not being away from them”.  But this is one smart band. They have their own publishing company, and their own record label.  They have learnt all they could about royalties, mechanical rights and return on investment. They get that this is not just music. Its business.

Jez Parish

Jez Parish

I invited my buddy, Todd Miller of Radio That Doesn’t Suck to come down and see the band. I had given him a copy of  the new album and he seemed impressed. We hung out with the band in The Horseshoe for a while, talking about the artists who had played there and our own musical experiences. We sat through 2 opening acts and listened to the band talk about how cool it was that people in Canada move up to the stage. “In London, they move way to the back. That’s just what they do”, Mark told me. It was interesting for me to see Colin’s pre-gig ritual. Drummers tend to be incredibly ritualistic. Colin reads a very special book written by and given to him by a dear friend, Danielle. He sits alone and reads his book. This was the only time I saw him sit still for any length of time.

Tom Yates

Tom Yates

When The Toniks hit the stage, Todd and I were front and centre, taking pictures and shooting video.  I watched the crowd as Scapegoat began, and  everyone was tapping their feet, or dancing, or moving in one way or another. What a great opening song! They morphed into “Wonderful Then” and when it was done, the crowd erupted in applause. I knew it!! The band relaxed, smiled and got down to having fun. Each song they played drew the audience deeper into their world. The band was tight, with spot on harmonies. The vocals rang true, cradled in an almost perfect rendition of each track. You could feel the band’s energy, and you just knew that they were having the time of their lives. I am certain they are like this every time they play.  The Toniks are as much fun to watch as they are to listen to. Not just a studio band, these guys love to entertain, to work an audience.  They closed the set with “Figure It Out“. The audience erupted in chants of  “1 more song! 1 more song!”.  “You And I” was the encore. Killer song.   Killer show!

128I can’t helping really liking this band. Not just the music, or the performance, but the people in the band. Jess, the lone girl, is gentle, quiet and oh, so English. Mark is cerebral and tends to worry and wonder, and reminds me of Ian Hunter.  Jez is animated and quite sardonic in his humor, and very much the musical director of the band. Tom is quiet in his cool. He plays in the Gilmore style of less is more:  No shredding.  Just clean, crisp solos. And Colin, well, Colin has enough energy for his band mates and then some. He is an amazingly gifted drummer who plays with the exuberance of Keith Moon’s  “beat the crap out of my kit” school, but with that same less is more style. I just refer to him as Ringo. And yet these very different personalities have come together in an insanely talented and creative band.  It seems a perfect fit. These guys belong together. They are The Toniks. Their camaraderie, well, let’s call it festive. They like playing together. They like each other. They anticipate each others moves and, at times, finish each others sentences.

148This was their first visit to Canada. They said the Canadian response to their music has been great. “Can you believe people were buying our CDs and asking us to autograph them?” They opened for The Sheepdogs last weekend and played The Horseshoe. Not bad for a first Canadian tour.  Todd Miller was so impressed that he informed them that he was putting their music into regular rotation on Radio That Doesn’t Suck. I am determined to have them return for a longer tour, playing around Southern Ontario. They loved the Horseshoe. They loved Canada. And from what I saw, Canada loved them. Awesome music. Awesome band. Awesome people.  I am proud and thrilled to call them friends.

toniks19The Toniks are:  Mark Taylor–Bass, lead vocals; Jez Parish–Guitar, background vocals; Tom Yates–Guitar; Jess English–Keyboards, background vocals; Colin Marshall–Drums.

You can purchase Rise & Shine on The Toniks website:    http://www.thetoniks.com/riseandshine.php

Very Cool The Toniks Videos:

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