LUNA ROSA Release Fundraiser Single & Video “Fear, Filth, Dirt & Death”

Luna Rosa Single Art

Luna Rosa is an outstanding Alternative/Psych/Indie rock four-piece formed in 2015, and hailing from Corby, Northamptonshire, UK. Making the music are Rory McDade (guitar, lead vocals), Aidan Furey (guitar, moves), Jack Connolly (drums, howls) and Charlie Thorneycroft (bass, noises). They released a superb self-titled EP Luna Rosa that same year, and followed up in 2017 with a fantastic double single “Mercurial Man/Vessels.” They now return with a powerful new single “Fear, Filth, Dirt & Death.

The song is a scathing attack on the negative aspects of Capitalism that helped make the fire at Grenfell Tower all the more deadly. (The cheap – and highly flammable –  insulating cladding used for the building renovation in 2017, just prior to the fire, is now believed to have caused the fire to spread much more rapidly.)

Musically, the track starts off with a galloping drumbeat and a scratchy guitar note, then explodes into a furious barrage of roiling guitar riffs and thunderous drums that seem to channel The Clash. The hard-driving music perfectly fits the harsh lyrics:

Fear Filth Dirt & Death
There’s fucking nothing left
The rest is left for the one percent at best
Look out for yourself
Prisoners of the State

Fear Filth Dirt & Death
You take away our NHS
It’s cause we matter less and less I know
It’s in your best interest

Heroes are buried in paupers graves
The money worth the morals you trade?
How come the ivory towers ain’t burning?
Grenfell fell for your earning
Prisoners of the State

The band explained their intent behind the song: “All money generated from the single as well as merchandise sales will be going to the victims of the Grenfell Tower disaster. We are under no illusion that we can give these people what they need or deserve, but we feel the need to make the gesture and let them know that we stand with them.  Although dubious on whether to release this, as we didn’t want to cause anymore hurt, we thought there’s no better way to bring people together and show support than music.”

If you can donate £1 via our justgiving page, leaving your name and email we will get the song over to you:  https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/luna-rosa-single

Or you can buy it through our Bandcamp page and we will make sure everything goes over:  https://lunarosa.bandcamp.com/track/fear-filth-dirt-death

If you cant spare the £1 then please share!

Further Merchandise sales will be going to Firefighters & NHS Nurses. Thank you to Jordan Cameron for creating and donating the artwork to the cause.

Catch Luna Rosa at one of these upcoming shows:

Saturday, July 21  –  Percy’s Cafe Bar, Whitechurch, England w/Porcelain Hill

Saturday, July 28  –  Wrexfest 2018, Wrexham, Wales

Thursday, August 2  –  Kaleidoscope, Birmingham, England 

Friday, August 17  –  Shout About It, Liverpool, England

Saturday, August 18  –  Voodoo Lounge, Stamford, England w/Failsafe, Ten Years Dead

Friday, August 31  –  The Cookie, Leicester, England w/Oddity Road

Saturday, September 8  –  Rocked Up Hootenanny 2018, Rockingham Motor Speedway, Corby, England

Connect with Luna Rosa: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music: Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple Music
Purchase on Bandcamp / iTunes

RANDOM… – Album Review: “Long Ago When Tigers Smoked Pipes”

Random... Album Art

Hailing from Rotherham, England, the music project known as Random… (Random dot dot dot) creates multi-textured synthesized music that ranges from dark and politically topical to catchy EDM. Born Ben Ellison, the enigmatic Random… describes himself thusly: “Random… is reclusive, innovative and slightly insane. Those lucky enough to have met him will testify that his view of the world is warped, dark, but always entertaining.”  Who am I to argue with that?

In May 2016, Random… released an EP Headspace, which featured spoken words by poet Wayne Dyson, and in April 2017 he released a remarkable full-length album Out of the Strong Came Forth Sweetness, an ambitious work released through Velvet Moron Records. The album was produced with contributions from two poets, Gav Roberts and Wayne Dyson, along with guitarist Mr Jiggs. I reviewed the album, which you can read here. Now, Random… is set to drop a new album Long Ago When Tigers Smoked Pipes, also to be released through Velvet Moron Records.

The new album is once again a collaboration, this time with poet Gav Roberts. They explained their working relationship and creative process for the album:

Random… met rather, well, randomly and they clashed heads from their two very different fields of creativity almost instantly. Having a mutual respect for each other’s work, Ben appreciating Gav’s poetic ramblings and Gav in turn enjoying the unique sounds that Ben creates. They are very much 50/50 doing their own thing and not interfering in each other’s work. Ben doesn’t like writing words and Gav can turn any musical instrument into something with the musical quality of your average Ikea table.

Indeed, the vast majority of what Gav records are poems that would otherwise grow old in notebooks, never to be opened, so he is overjoyed that Ben wraps them up in music.  Both of them are neither precious nor pretentious about their work, both believing that creativity is an entirely selfish process that a human must go through in order to ease the mental passage through this mortal coil. ‘Long ago when tigers smoked pipes’ is the Korean equivalent of ‘Once upon a time’ and that is what Random… have created, a story, a journey through their lives.

OK, so let’s get into the album, shall we. The first track “The Possibility of 0 or 6” opens with spacey, sci-fi sounding synths and a monotone piano chord, then a pulsating beat ensues. The instrumentals expand into a melodic soundscape as Roberts describes a scene on a platform of a train station, where a woman becomes fascinated with a man pacing back and forth counting. “To wait, on a platform alone with him she feels cursed. Just her and the crazy finger-counter, counting numbers backwards, forwards on his fingers he counts. / So on and so on, til the initial fear she had when she first saw him turns to passive intrigue. / Eventually, one cancellation and several delays announcements later, a full 45 minutes after fear forgot … she observes the pacing man. He’s a friend of hers now. / She’s totally transfixed with the possibility of 0 or 6.” It’s a fascinating and mesmerizing track that seems shorter than its 4:11 minute length, holding my attention from start to finish.

Gingerbread” is a dark track about a doomed relationship in which the woman tried to make the man into something he wasn’t – the opposites that initially attracted them to each other now repel. The ominous synths beautifully convey the biting resentment expressed in the lyrics: “Within months, I was on a choke-chain of my own making. Wearing clothes that you had bought me, dressed up like some kind of mannequin… I started looking like a really ugly ken doll as the gingerbread-cutting phrases came thick and fast. ‘You drink too much, you smoke too much.’ So Julie I drank less, and I smoked less, but what you didn’t realize was that the opposites were attracting less and less.

Supernova” is a hauntingly beautiful and epic track, with dreamy, otherworldly synths. Roberts speaks of going against all common sense and good judgment, submitting himself fully to the passionate urges of love: “I am carefully turning supernova. Here, in the rain. For I have stood here a time or two, thinking of you with a wish or two, chanced away upon a fellow shooting star. I must congratulate you. And I must conclude that I am joining them in their letting go of the ability to hold on to anything, never mind, everything, never mind plans. The scientists have advised against it, and they have done extensive research and they have told me to stop thinking of you this time or two. But, I don’t want to. I’ve told them to fuck right off.

The lively title track “Long ago when tigers smoked pipes” has a rapid EDM beat that has a sort of African jungle vibe, replete with animal-sounding synths – but of course! It’s  predominantly instrumental, but halfway through Roberts says “This party isn’t over, it’s merely changed form.” Then, toward the end, we hear an echoed voice state “Long ago, when tigers smoked pipes, there was a world that lived in harmony. Without war, disease.” It’s a great song.

We Occupy” is a hard-hitting protest song of sorts, encompassing many aspects of the human condition from suffering to triumph, and everything in between. Here’s a sampling of the compelling lyrics: “We occupy the shit jobs, the shop floor shelf-stocking rat race. / We occupy fragility in nursing homes and hospitals. / We occupy the uniforms that treat our dying loved ones with respect. / We occupy lives senselessly lost to war. / We occupy an education system manipulated to manufacture robot people with robot souls.  But we will not listen anymore. We have given up on your promise of a house on the hill at 2.4. We occupy free thought, free religion, free love, freedom of any kind.”

Roberts assures a friend or loved one of his unconditional support on “Let Me Know,” a brief track with a languid beat and wobbly synths that feels more like a soothing interlude. Next up is “Sometimes making something leads to nothing,” one of the more unusual and arresting tracks on the album. The track begins with strange, sci-fi synth sounds, then the music settles into a synth-driven melody with guitar, strong bass, and sharp percussion, the eerie synths continuing throughout the song.

The equally unusual and engrossing video shows a man pushing a large block of ice for what appears to be miles through the streets of Mexico City. As he continues on his journey, the block of ice eventually shrinks down to a small chunk, which he nudges along with his foot, until it completely melts away.

The final track “It depends on YOU” is a dire warning about the growing trend toward authoritarianism now happening in many parts of the world, including Europe and the United States. The dark, sinister-sounding synths really make the disturbing words seem all the more chilling:

In our world, there will be no emotions except fear, rage, triumph and self abasement
The sexual instinct shall be eradicated
We shall abolish the orgasm
There will be no loyalty except loyalty to the party
But always, there will be the intoxication of power
Always and every moment there will be the thrill of victory
The sensation of trampling on an enemy that is helpless
If you want to picture the future
Imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever
The moral to be drawn from this dangerous nightmare situation is a simple one
Don’t let it happen.
It depends on YOU

It’s a pessimistic end to a album that at first glance seems rather pessimistic on the whole, yet there are several glimmers of hope and optimism to be found. Random…’s masterful synths are the perfect accompaniment for Roberts’ dark but poetic words, and together they’ve created an enthralling and deeply contemplative work. The album will be available soon on many streaming and download platforms. Random… will give all of the profits from sales of the album to charity and is currently talking to a local independently run charity that helps people with mental health issues.

Track listing:

  1.  The Possibility of 0 or 6
  2.  Gingerbread Man
  3. Supernova
  4. Long ago when tigers smoked pipes
  5. We Occupy
  6. Let me know
  7. Sometimes making something leads to nothing
  8. It depends on YOU

Connect with Random…: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Soundcloud
Purchase:  Amazon / iTunes

HANOVER – Single Review: “Saw You Alone”

Hanover is an electronic pop band based in Liverpool, UK that I had the pleasure of discovering through Tom Taylor, drummer for fellow Liverpudlians Wide Eyed Boy (who I’ve featured several times on this blog). Hanover consists of Calan Nickle, Joel James, Dan Hancox and James Rookyard. They’re quickly building a name for themselves in the Liverpool music scene, having opened for such bands as Saint Motel, Peace and Saint PHNX, and getting airplay on BBC Merseyside. In late May, they released their debut single “Saw You Alone,” a beautifully-crafted track that sets a high bar for the four-piece.

It’s an uptempo, synth-driven song with a captivating melody and pulsating beat that compels your body to sway to the music. The sparkling electronic synths are really lovely, but there’s a hint of sadness too, reflecting the bittersweet lyrics that speak of seeing an old flame and having all the feelings you once had for them come flooding back, hoping that love might perhaps be rekindled again and you can make another go of things. Calan has a smooth vocal style that’s incredibly pleasing, and sings with a subtle vulnerability that conveys the poignant emotions expressed in the lyrics, without becoming maudlin. It’s a terrific song and a fine debut for this promising band, and I’m eager to hear more from them soon!

Hanover will be appearing with Wide Eyed Boy and Milpool on Thursday, July 26 at Buyers Club, Liverpool

Connect with Hanover:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream/Purchase “Saw You Alone”:  Spotify / iTunes / Soundcloud / Google Play

THE MILLION REASONS – Single Review: “Dizzy”

The Million Reasons2

I think everyone who loves music will agree that one of life’s supreme pleasures is hearing a song for the first time and having it move us in some powerful way – which could be to bring chills, tears, joy, laughter or make us want to dance with abandon. Chills were what I felt when I first listened to the new single “Dizzy” from Chicago rock band The Million Reasons, which dropped July 13. Wow, what a powerful and gorgeous song it is, and I was so moved that I had to feature it on this blog.

The Million Reasons is comprised of Scott Nadeau (vocals and guitar), Ken Ugel (guitar), Mike Nichols (guitar) and Colin Dill (drums). Their dynamic sound – which they refer to as “rock and roll for summer nights and long rides” – draws influence from such legendary bands as Led Zeppelin, Queen, Thin Lizzy, Aerosmith, The Beatles, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Foreigner and Rush. The guys released their debut EP The Runaround in 2017, featuring six outstanding hard-hitting tracks that I highly recommend my readers check out. But with “Dizzy,” they’ve really struck sonic gold.

The track opens with an enthralling guitar riff that immediately pulls us in with the promise that something really beautiful is about to unfold. As the song progresses and the music expands with added layers of intricate guitars and percussion into a soaring anthem, we’re not disappointed. The guitar work is simply amazing, and by the time the chorus arrives with jaw-dropping riffs of screaming guitars and thunderous drums, we’re left gasping for breath.

With his raw, earnest vocals, Nadeau passionately sings about a relationship in which both are blinded by an obsessive desire for one another:

If you’ve got something to say
I wanna hear you speak
Because girl
You’re gonna be the death of me

And you make me dizzy
You confuse me
And I make you dizzy
Because you don’t know what to do with me

“Dizzy” is a magnificent song from start to finish, and even at 5:41 minutes in length, it seems over far too quickly. I love it, and I love this band! I also love the beautiful video that was directed and edited by Stephanie Battista. I usually prefer videos that show the band or artist performing the song, instead of an acted-out story that sometimes has little to do with the actual song.

Catch The Million Reasons at one of these upcoming shows:

Saturday, July 28 – House of Blues, Chicago w/Young Pioneer + 2 others
Wednesday, August 22 – Emporium, Chicago w/Shiver + 1 other

Connect with The Million Reasons:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify / Apple Music / Soundcloud / YouTube
Purchase:  Bandcamp / iTunes / Amazon

Top 30 Songs for July 15-21, 2018

1. I FEEL LIKE I’M DROWNING – Two Feet (1)
2. HUNGER – Florence + the Machine (3)
3. UNWIND – John Defeo (7)
4. SIT NEXT TO ME – Foster the People (6) 40th week on chart
5. SAY AMEN (SATURDAY NIGHT) – Panic! At the Disco (5)
6. SUCH A SIMPLE THING – Ray LaMontagne (9)
7. BAD BAD NEWS – Leon Bridges (2)
8. ZOMBIE – Bad Wolves (4)
9. FOUR OUT OF FIVE – Arctic Monkeys (10)
10. BROKEN – lovelytheband (13) 22nd week on chart
11. COLORS – Beck (14)
12. LIFE TO FIX – The Record Company (15)
13. RED MOON SKY – Face of Stone (17)
14. 44 – Oli Barton & the Movement (18)
15. PINK LEMONADE – James Bay (8)
16. HI HELLO – Johnny Marr (21)
17. QUARTER PAST MIDNIGHT – Bastille (22)
18. I HOPE YOU’RE HAPPY – Blue October (16)
19. KAMIKAZE – WALK THE MOON (24)
20. GOLD RUSH – Death Cab For Cutie (30)
21. THOUGHT CONTAGION – Muse (11)
22. CELEBRATE – Dirty Heads, The Unlikely Candidates (12)
23. BLOOM – Troye Sivan (26)
24. GIVE YOURSELF A TRY – The 1975 (27)
25. HANDYMAN – AWOLNATION (19)
26. &RUN – Sir Sly (20) 22nd week on chart
27. WHATEVER IT TAKES – Imagine Dragons (25)
28. HUMILITY – Gorillaz featuring George Benson (N)
29. FLAWLESS – Dorothy (N)
30. TRANSITION – The Winachi Tribe (N)

CEREBRAL DESECRATION – Single Review: “Peel of the Rotten”

Cerebral Desecration is an amazing death/thrash metal band based in San Marcos, Texas.  Founded in 2010 by guitarists David Machado and Javier Zamora, the band also includes Kobey Lange on vocals, Joe Muniz on bass, and Collyn Rios on drums. Their brutal sound is heavily influenced by bands such as Testament, Obituary, Hatebreed, Sepultura, Pantera, Whitechapel and Lamb of God, to name a few. They released a debut EP Immortals in 2013, and now return with a face-melting new single “Peel of the Rotten.”

The guys waste no time getting right down to business, unleashing from the get-go a juggernaut of raging buzz-saw guitars, crushing basslines and gut-punching drums. Having two lead guitarists gives their sound extra heft, and Machado and Zamora nicely deliver an unrelenting barrage of furious jackhammer riffs that will satisfy any metal head. Zamora plays a beautiful little melodic riff in the bridge that momentarily draws our attention from the relentless onslaught. Muniz nearly blows the speakers with his supermassive bass, while Rios pummels his drums with awe-inspiring fury.

My ears are bleeding, and I haven’t even gotten to the vocals yet! Lange is quite honestly one of the best death metal vocalists I’ve heard in a long while. He sings with a ferocity that boggles the mind, like a rampaging beast stomping through the streets, laying waste to everything in its path. He seems to effortlessly transition from guttural growls to savage screams and back again without skipping a beat.

It’s a fairly long track, clocking in at 5:16 minutes, but there’s not a single throwaway moment or note. It’s a magnificent death metal song from a totally badass band! Take a listen and see for yourself:

Fun fact: I love that the track was recorded at the Dead Room Recording Studio.

Connect with Cerebral Desecration: Facebook / TwitterInstagram / Reverbnation

IAMWARFACE – Single Review: “Closer”

Closer

IAMWARFACE is a London, UK-based electro-rock project formed by singer/songwriter and producer Matt Warneford in 2016. Though they’ve released only a handful of songs, they already rank high among my favorite UK bands. Their aggressive name is a fitting metaphor for their bombastic high-energy, groove-based sound – an awesome name for equally awesome music. Besides Warneford, the current line-up of band members include Lou Matthews (guitars), Tom Howe (DJ synth), Mike Smith (bass) and Adam Stanley (drums). Their sound is influenced by many peers such as Depeche Mode, Gary Numan, Kasabian, Muse, Big Black Delta, Nero, Queens of the Stone Age, Tears For Fears, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Black Keys and MGMT – all artists & bands that I also happen to love.

IAMWARFACE2

IAMWARFACE released their debut single “Say My Name” in 2016, a phenomenal track that literally left me speechless the first time I heard it. In my review of the song, I likened the effect to being “hit by an atomic blast of music greatness.” I loved it so much it ended up at #14 on my Top 100 Best Songs of 2016. This past February, they released another fantastic single “You Don’t Love Me Anymore,” and today, Friday the 13th of July, they drop their latest single “Closer,” and once again, I’m completely blown away!

The track opens with a mysterious throbbing synth chord that slowly builds into a stunning and dramatic soundscape that envelops us as Warneford implores to someone with whom he seems to have an obsessive and destructive relationship:

Who, who am I?
I’m just living to die
This old night when it comes
I’ll be free of these old bones
And I don’t know what I’ll do
It’s this old dog holding me down
Cause I used to have a soul
I just lost control
And I’ll move, move closer
Yes I’ll move, move closer to you

With that, the music explodes into a maelstrom of tortured but gorgeous wailing synths, fuzzy guitars, buzz-saw bass, and thunderous percussion, punctuated by almost violently crashing cymbals that emphasize the feelings of desolation expressed in the bitter lyrics. Warneford’s passionate vocals seem filled with despair and resignation over a love affair that now lies in tatters. “Feel I’m walking on shattered glass. This romance just has to end, to reset, erase, begin again.”

My body is covered from head to toe with chills by song’s end, as I sit dumbfounded by the fierce beauty and power of this monumental track. IAMWARFACE continues to astonish with their superb skill for creating incredible high-caliber, epic-sounding music, and I can’t wait to hear more from them!

Those of you in the UK can see IAMWARFACE live at one of these upcoming shows:

July 21  –  Cricketers, Kingston
July 29  –  Crown’s, Brighton
July 31  –  Live Acoustic Session
August 27  –  Fiddler’s Elbow, London
September 7  –  Verve Bar, Leeds
September 12  –  Aatma, Manchester
September 13  –  Santiago Bar, Leeds
September 14  –  Scruffy Murphys, Birmingham
September 15  –  Maguires Pizzabar, Liverpool
September 16  –  Fiddlers Elbow, London
October 27  –  London Stone, Staines

Connect with IAMWARFACE:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple Music

German band Atlanta Arrival Launches Charity Fundraiser Tribute Single “Colliding Stars”

Atlanta Arrival CollidingStars

German alt-rock band Atlanta Arrival has launched a charity fundraiser for their drummer Björn Mertz, who passed away after a long battle with cancer on May 17, 2018. They’ve released a new single “Colliding Stars” in his honor. Here is their statement regarding his passing and the fundraiser:

On 17th May, we had to say goodbye to our dear son, brother, uncle, friend and drummer Björn Mertz. He was a fighter and an optimist, always determined to support his beloved ones instead of burdening them with his own stroke of fate. After months of battling cancer, it seemed like a miracle when he left the hospital cancer-free at the beginning of this year – still full of enthusiasm and joy of living. He enjoyed the time with friends and family and poured all his energy into his music, his one true passion. So, after our former band The Satellite Year split up, we composed an album that was supposed to be our next project.

Björn was about to go to a health resort, so we wanted to record the songs afterwards – but as if he had had a vision, he insisted on finishing the recording of the drums before his leave. And so he did: 9 songs in only 8 hours! At this time there was no way that anybody could have known that he was already developing a number of new tumors. While his friends believed that Björn was at the health resort as planned, really he was staying at the Uniklinik Homburg, a hospital, again fighting a battle against cancer with only his family by his side – and he did fight to the last. There is no rational explanation for what had happened during the last few weeks of his life or why this even had to happen. Similarly, there are no words for the pain and grief we feel. But should pain, emptiness and misery be the only things left? He himself would not have wanted this.

Therefore, it’s the deepest wish of his family and friends that Björn’s music and with it his unique spirit live on. We finished Björn’s favourite song of the album as well as a music video and kindly ask you to donate whatever you want and can afford to give, in order to support the German Cancer Foundation.”

Here are the poignant lyrics to “Colliding Stars”:

Yesterday when you woke up
Welcomed with the kiss of night
All your pain was gently stopped
You left soundless with the light

Every day when we wake up
Not aware of what will come
Your memory will stay the same
You told us to seize the day

Every day we think of you
wondering what you’re up to
You had to go, no one to blame
You will never fade away

In the night sky there’s no light
Stars are born just to collide
We’re listening to your symphony
But in our own melody

Goodbye old friend
We’re by your side
And in the end
We’ll meet again

You can download a digital version of the song on their Bandcamp page and also have the possibility to order the single CD version of the song (limited, only 200 CDs) for 5 € (or more if you like to donate more). All profits will be fully donated.

Donation via paypal:
https://www.paypal.com/pools/c/8575pb3xy9

If you don’t like to use paypal, you can also donate via bank transfer, immediately to the bank account of the German Cancer Foundation. Please use AK49006741 as a reference.
Bank account:
Kreissparkasse Köln
IBAN DE65 3705 0299 0000 9191 91
SWIFT/BIC COKSDE 33XXX

Björn’s family, friends and band would like to thank you from the bottom of their hearts for each cent they are able to donate to the German Cancer Foundation in Björn’s name.

BEN WRIGHT – EP Review: “Lifeline”

Ben Wright is a singer/songwriter/guitarist from Manchester, UK – a city with a vibrant music scene, from which have come several artists and bands I’ve previously featured on this blog. I’ve also been a little amazed by the number of singer/songwriters in the UK that play folk or Americana music, some of whom I’ve also featured on this blog. But then I remember that American folk and country music has its roots in the music that British, Scottish, and later Irish settlers brought to America. In Ben’s case, his pleasing style of acoustic folk/pop is influenced by blues, rock, and even a little reggae. He released a wonderful debut single “Starry Nights” in October 2016, which I reviewed. Now he’s returned with a seven-track EP Lifeline, released in early June through Sound-Hub Records.

Ben Wright

For the recording of the album, Ben played guitars and sang all vocals, the esteemed musician/producer Barrington Mole (White Moor, The Further, Ejector Seat) played bass, and Dan Williams played drums. The EP kicks off with the title track “Lifeline,” a lovely song about not letting fear of failure keep you from pursuing your dreams. Ben sings of his struggle to make it as a musician, though the lyrics could apply to any type of performance art. His smooth, calm vocals are incredibly pleasing as he sings: “Cause I’ve been waiting so many years to see this blurry silhouette coming through these tears. Cause I don’t want to be waiting for another lifetime. So I’ll throw these dreams a lifeline.”

The song’s arrangement and production are on-point, and Ben’s slide guitar work is positively sublime. I really like the video that shows him and his fellow musicians performing the song. For the video, the supporting musicians are Chris Bull on acoustic guitar, Dave Fox on bass, and Alex Bayley on drums.

Ben states that he was inspired to write the beautiful second track “Starry Nights” “whilst travelling and sleeping in the middle of nowhere in New Zealand.” The poetic lyrics describe the simple beauty of a starry night in the rural countryside, unblemished by the artificiality or pretense of urban life. “Looking down from high above, they’re flickering til the day is born. No artificial beams can reach the sky. No piercing sounds will break the night. Starry nights reveal innocence. There’s no delusions and no hollow men.” The song has a lovely melody and acoustic rhythm guitar riff overlying gentle percussion and bass. Ben’s soothing vocals convey a sense of tranquility – that everything’s alright with the world. The charming video, which shows Ben walking and/or performing the song by a lake, nicely complements the track.

Visions of You” is an upbeat folk song about celebrating the love he feels for his girl, while the cheerful “My Hometown” has a peppy reggae vibe. One of the things I like about this track are all the different guitar textures, including the wobbly little riff that can be heard throughout.

A favorite track is “She’s Leaving Town,” a bittersweet song about the end of a relationship that leaves him blindsided: “She’s leaving town tonight. The boy has no idea what it’s all about./ That smile is just an illusion.” The track has a bluesy feel, and the funky guitars and bass are really terrific. “Home Beyond the Pines” is another great track – oh hell, they’re all great! It starts off with a a bewitching little guitar note that expands into a pleasing acoustic riff, set to a happy toe-tapping beat.

As I listen to each track, I’m struck by the serene beauty of Ben’s voice, and no more so than on the gentle folk song “Fight Against the Tide.” His vocals are tender and heartfelt as he sings the inspirational lyrics about not letting self-doubt and the setbacks that life sometimes throws our way keep you from moving forward and living your own truth: “Wash away your pride. Don’t neglect your mind’s eye. Trust the strength you have inside, and fight against the tide.” It’s another favorite of mine.

Lifeline is a marvelous, well-crafted EP filled with songs that make you feel good, even when the subject matter is not particularly happy. Ben’s songwriting, musicianship and vocals are all first-rate, and he should be very proud of this work. An accomplished musician, he also teaches guitar lessons on his YouTube channel, which you can check out here.

Connect with Ben:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream his music:  Apple Music / Spotify / Deezer
Purchase:  iTunes / Amazon UK / Google Play

ALL TAKEN – Single Review: “Smells Like Mistakes”

All Taken2

All Taken is an alternative rock band based in Los Angeles. Formed in 2015 as a duo by long-time friends Daniel Daghlarian and Avo Karapetyan, All Taken melds electronic and hard rock, along with a bit of 90s grunge, to create their dynamic alt-rock sound. Daniel plays guitar and sings lead vocals, and Avo pounds the drums and sings backup.

They released a strong debut single “Burning Red” in 2016, and followed up in March 2017 with their EP Accept This, which I reviewed. They’ve just dropped a hard-driving new single “Smells Like Mistakes,” and they sound better than ever. (They also recently hired a new bass player after the song was recorded, but he will play on all future tracks.)

All Taken Single Art

The track opens strong with an explosion of gnarly, stabbing guitar riffs that rip through the airwaves, aided and abetted by heavy crushing bass and pounding drums. At the chorus, Daniel lets loose with a blistering guitar solo while Avo hammers out a powerful military beat on his drums and furiously crashes the cymbals. You give me chills guys!

Daniel’s vocals sound great as he passionately wails the lyrics about a man dissipated from a self-destructive life lived hard: “It wasn’t what he said. It was those tired eyes. Cigarettes dangling from lips dried up from whiskey sips. The twists and turns that life may take. You’re just a man who smells like mistakes.

Although a short track, clocking in at only 2:39 minutes, it’s a real head-banger, so crank up the volume and rock the hell out! And what about that awesome artwork!

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