10 Gauge is a fairly new hard rock band from the UK, and they’ve just dropped their debut single “Hand You’re Dealt.” Making the music are Rob Jewson on lead vocals, TJ on lead guitar, Gareth Dearing on bass, Kieran Best on rhythm guitar, and Neil Felgate on drums.
The track starts off on a quiet note, with a gently strummed but ominous sounding guitar riff and a simple drumbeat. In a low, earnest voice, Jewson begins to sing about how quickly a man can change, and his life begin to unravel, under tough circumstances. At about 0.50 minute, the music bursts open with grimy riffs, heavy bass and thunderous percussion, as he wails the chorus: “I’ve made decisions with the cards I’m given. I had to play their game. If I’m going under, going under, then I go down in flames. My soul’s possessed by Satan, it’s hell. Won’t believe me when I say I’m tryin’ my best.”
The music calms back down for the second verse, and we hear some really fine subtle guitar work before everything ramps back up for the second chorus. Jewson’s vocals are outstanding, with a raw intensity that perfectly conveys the strong emotions expressed in the lyrics. “Hand You’re Dealt” is a great song, and a very impressive debut from 10 Gauge.
The excellent video shows the band performing the song interwoven with powerfully-moving scenes of a man suffering an emotional breakdown at his workplace.
I continue to learn about so many really talented young artists, and another recent find is LOUD HOUND, a musician from Ventnor City, New Jersey. LOUD HOUND is the artistic moniker of singer/songwriter Tommy Florio, who released a wonderful – and aptly named – debut single “Fine By Me” earlier this year (I say aptly named because it’s the kind of lo-fi surf rock I love), and now follows up with another fine new single “Runnin’.” The track has a slightly more polished sound than “Fine By Me,” bit still retains that great surf/garage rock vibe.
According to webzine Born Music, Tommy wrote the song one summer a few years ago when going through a spell of bad luck. “He had watched both his dog and grandmother pass away. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, he discovered his girlfriend was cheating on him with her ex. Oh, and he broke his foot. You’d think this would be a summer he’d rather forget, however Tommy did everything he could to turn the summer into a positive and productively used his housebound time to record music.” Tommy explains that “Runnin’ is asong about love. Fighting for it, losing it, feeling it for the first time, watching it fade away, or even the melancholy feeling that exists with being in love.”
The song opens with jangly surf guitar and a pleasing drumbeat that evoke a sun-kissed afternoon at the beach. At around 1:20, the guitars turn grittier, the drums more intense, and LOUD HOUND’s smooth vocals more impassioned as he sings of fleeing from painful experiences, yet running toward things that are unattainable:
runnin’ as far as we go runnin’ is all i know, alright now runnin’ for the poor man’s soul runnin’ for all your gold, alright now
He lays down some pretty tasty distorted guitar in the bridge, then around 3:45 the track shifts to a languid tempo with gentle jangly guitar and cool, faraway-sounding synths. LOUD HOUND’s echoed vocals turn a bit melancholy as he wistfully sings the poignant lyrics about the love he lost:
there was so much i had to say she’s so far away she was my gold, my lady my baby, the summer rain
It’s a long track, running nearly six minutes, but is so good I didn’t notice it’s length one bit. Take a listen:
Heist at Five is an electro/hard rock band based in London, UK, but in a sense they’re also an international band, with roots in several countries. Band front man and lead vocalist Oskar Abrahamsson and production guru Kim Björnram are from Sweden, but moved to London to study music. Bassist Marco “Fuzz” Paone hails from Turin, Italy, and guitarist Jozef Veselsky is from Slovakia, leaving drummer Josh Needham as the only British-born band member. (Paone and Needham are also bassist and drummer for Oli Barton & the Movement, who I’ve featured on this blog a number of times.) Their aggressive, innovative sound borders on experimental rock, with complex melodies, intricate chord progressions and wicked electronic and guitar-heavy instrumentation.
Heist at Five released their debut EP The Blacklist in February, and I’m here to tell my readers why they should listen to it. Kicking things off with a blast of fuzzy throbbing synths and a pounding drumbeat, “Intelligence” immediately whets our appetite for what’s to come. And what is that, you ask? It’s a fucking eargasm of furious riffs, psychedelic synths and thunderous percussion, that’s what. The instrumentation is amazing, with unexpected change-ups and all sorts of interesting sounds that make for an unsettling yet exciting listen. Oskar’s powerful vocals are marvelous as he goes from a menacing seductiveness one moment to savage screams the next. (I also love his Swedish accent that shines through.) It’s all a perfect match for the provocative lyrics about authoritarian thought-control: “So just close your eyes so you can see. And realize that I’m controlling from within. I guide you through love and pain. I’ll lead you through your life without leaving your brain. I’m defying the concept of what’s false and true. Especially made for you. / Who am I? I’m the intelligence.”
Here’s a great live performance of “Intelligence” that really showcases the band’s energy and charisma:
The guys keep that energy flowing with the hard-driving “One Moment.” Opening with a rapid, hip hop synth beat, the track bursts open with roiling gritty guitars played by Huw Roberts (the previous lead guitarist who is no longer with the band), and Josh’s tumultuous drums, while Marco keeps it all grounded with a solid bass line. Once again, the band skillfully employs sharp melodic shifts and elaborate instrumentation, including flourishes of distorted guitar, quirky synths and Kim’s hauntingly beautiful keyboard riff, to create an outstanding track. And it goes without saying that Oskar kills it with his passionate vocals.
“Three Steps Behind” is perhaps the catchiest track on the EP, with its arresting melody and galloping riffs. To my ears, the song has a bit of an Incubus vibe, and even Oskar’s vocal style on this track reminds me of Brandon Boyd. The band continues to amaze with “The Island,” serving up gorgeous keyboards and intricate, jaw-dropping guitar work. Oskar’s soaring emotionally-charged vocals bring goosebumps once again.
The guys save the best for last, with the magnificent tour-de-force “When Eternity is Here.” The track opens with a captivating bass-driven Tango-like melody, accompanied by an achingly beautiful synth riff and snare drum. Oskar fervently sings “All of us watch a never-ending road. We are pushed by the wind. No one allowed to stop. And the holes in the ground grows bigger every day.” His vocal passion rises along with the instrumentals in the chorus, where sounds of sirens lend an ominous sense of unease as he wails: “Where are you my friend? I can see our world’s in danger. / Come to me, my dear, my darling. Our world’s disappearing. Everything will change for us when eternity is here.” The guitars and keyboards in the bridge are spine-tingling, and so is this phenomenal track.
Heist At Five have set the bar quite high with their impressive debut EP, but given their collective talents, I’m confident they’ll daze our ears with their next musical efforts.
1. PINK LEMONADE – James Bay (1)
2. THIS IS AMERICA – Childish Gambino (2)
3. HANDYMAN – AWOLNATION (4)
4. &RUN – Sir Sly (5)
5. BAD BAD NEWS – Leon Bridges (6)
6. BROKEN – lovelytheband (3)
7. I FEEL LIKE I’M DROWNING – Two Feet (9)
8. WHATEVER IT TAKES – Imagine Dragons (8)
9. ZOMBIE – Bad Wolves (14)
10. THOUGHT CONTAGION – Muse (11)
11. CELEBRATE – Dirty Heads, The Unlikely Candidates (13)
12. THE JOKE – Brandi Carlile (7)
13. GUIDE YOU IN THE DARK – RECKLESS JACKS (10)
14. SAY AMEN (SATURDAY NIGHT) – Panic! At the Disco (16)
15. DEVIL – Shinedown (17)
16. I HOPE YOU’RE HAPPY – Blue October (18)
17. THE NIGHT HAS AN ALIBI – Wons Phreely + the Horses (12)
18. WITHOUT WALLS – Lyia Meta (19)
19. UNWIND – John Defeo (20)
20. FAVORITE COLOR IS BLUE – Robert DeLong, K.Flay (24)
21. SORRY – Nothing But Thieves (15)
22. COLORS – Beck (25)
23. SATURDAY SUN – Vance Joy (21)
24. SILVER LINING – Mt. Joy (26)
25. LIFE TO FIX – The Record Company (28)
26. HUNGER – Florence + the Machine (29)
27. YOU WORRY ME – Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats (22)
28. RED MOON SKY – Face of Stone (30)
29. FOUR OUT OF FIVE – Arctic Monkeys (N)
30. QUARTER PAST MIDNIGHT – Bastille (N)
Liverpool foursome Wide Eyed Boy burst onto the local music scene in early 2017 with their gorgeous debut single “Wolves,” quickly making a name for themselves throughout the UK and beyond – even here in the Coachella Valley of Southern California where yours truly resides. They followed up in July with another magnificent single “Loving You is So Easy.” I loved both songs so much I featured them on this blog, and both reached #1 on my Weekly Top 20. “Wolves” ended up at #17 and “Loving You is So Easy” at #13 on my 100 Best Songs of 2017.
Wide Eyed Boy is comprised of Oliver Nagy (Vocals), Jonny Ball (Guitars), Kobi “Danger” Pham (Guitars, keyboards) and Tom Taylor (Drums). In March, they dropped their third single “Sun Again,” another stellar track that provides further proof they’re a band of exceptional songwriting talent and musicianship. The exuberant track opens strong with roiling riffs of fuzzy guitars, propelled by Tom’s hammering drums and a cascade of crashing cymbals. Oliver’s smooth, clear vocals are dazzling as always, soaring along with the instrumentals as they build to a goosebump-inducing crescendo. Regarding the song, the band states: “It’s about escape. Breaking out of that vicious cycle of mundane life and getting back that sense of freedom to go do whatever the hell you want.”
I’d like to say that I ‘sat down with’ the band for a conversation – which I would absolutely love to do! – but, given the fact we’re 6,000 miles apart, we conducted our interview over the internet. Fortunately, all four band members took time to respond to my questions.
EML: Hello guys, I’m honored to have the opportunity to interview you! As you know, I’ve been a huge fan of yours since I first heard “Wolves.” I think you’re one of the best indie bands in the UK, if not the world! I already know a bit about you – that you all met at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA), became friends and eventually formed a band. Also, you went to Budapest, Hungary in 2016 to write songs. What prompted you to decide to go to Budapest? Did you feel you’d have more inspiration for your songwriting there, rather than in Liverpool, and if so, why?
Jonny: Thanks for having us! Yeah that’s how it all started. We’ve written a lot of music in Liverpool so Budapest was an opportunity to go somewhere completely different, have some fun, get sunstroke and gain some inspiration from a new environment. As Oli’s family are originally from Hungary they still have a house in the country which is what gave us the chance to go over and make some noise for a couple of weeks.
EML: Is your songwriting a collaborative process that each of you take a roughly equal part in? Or do certain band members take greater responsibility for writing lyrics and/or music?
Kobi: Our songwriting is definitely a collaborative process! Most of the time Jonny, Tom and I will have more of an influence on the music/arrangement side of things and Oli writes the main melodies and harmony and lays down the bare bones of lyrics. But the cool thing is, at the end of it, we sit down and go through all the ideas Oli has and we finish the lyrics off together to get some sort of finalised song. Collaboration is the only way to make music great!
EML: I don’t know your ages, but you all exhibit a real maturity in your songwriting, both in terms of compelling lyrics and your gorgeous melodies, not to mention your amazing musicianship. Were any of you active musicians or play in other bands prior to attending LIPA?
Tom: We all played in bands before we went to LIPA. It’s what we loved to do, I started my first band back at school. I remember we got all of our mates to come down to the local pub and we played a gig, I think we only had two songs so the rest we just played covers. So yeah we all played loads of music before WIDE EYED BOY I’m sure if you asked we still all remember our first gig but that’s another question.
EML: Oliver, you have an incredible voice, which I’m guessing is a natural gift to a large degree. Did you have formal vocal training while growing up or at LIPA?
Ollie: Thank you for the compliment. I had one to one singing lessons at LIPA and I also had training in Germany years ago. Obviously it did always come natural to me and I started singing professionally at the age of 10 but after my voice broke I felt like I needed to relearn how to use my voice properly.
EML: Your songs are really magnificent, with expansive instrumentation and arrangements that transcend mere pop and rock. What and/or who are some of the influences for your sound and songwriting?
Tom: In WIDE EYED BOY we are each influenced by so many different bands but its good really as it means when we’re travelling we have loads of different tunes on in the car. We all agree on Oasis and RHCP, but coming from a city like Liverpool there are so many bands that we’ve been watching for years like Clean Cut Kid and The Wombats. We’ve also been lucky to go on tour with Feeder and The Rifles and we learnt loads from them. There’s too many to list really.
EML: I already love your latest single “Sun Again,” which you formally released on March 9th, but I saw a video of you performing an acoustic version of it a year ago on Liverpool Noise. I’m assuming it’s one of the many songs you wrote while in Budapest. I’m curious as to why you are periodically releasing singles, rather than an EP or album, given that you’ve already written enough songs for a full album? And when do you plan on releasing a full album?
Jonny: Thank you very much, Sun Again was actually one of the first songs we wrote as a band and was an idea around for a while that we’re really glad we finished and recorded. We’re still a really new band so releasing singles just made a lot of sense to us at this point although there’s no doubt bigger bodies of work will be coming sometime soon.
EML: Despite releasing only a few singles, you’ve managed to quickly build quite a large following, which has to be incredibly gratifying. Has your seemingly overnight success been a surprise, and do you feel any pressure to keep upping your game?
Ollie: It truly feels amazing when the crowd sings along to our songs because it shows that we actually managed to reach people. I wouldn’t personally call it an overnight success because if you are so closely involved in a project you don’t even realise how it’s growing. However, we do obviously notice the positive resonance and all we can do is to try our best, and release music we are very proud of.
EML: I see this question asked by a lot of interviewers, but I’m gonna ask it anyway LOL. In addition to what we’ve already discussed, are there any other things about you or your music I neglected to ask that you’d like your fans to know?
Kobi: Haha, if you’re wondering if we have any new songs coming soon…we have LOTS of new material we have been working on…that’s all I can say at the moment but they’re very exciting, not going to spoil anything (I’m terrible at secrets).
Here’s a fun fact, our band name Wide Eyed Boy is actually someone…a human in this world (alive)…I’ll let people figure it out!
Have a listen to their songs and I’m confident you’ll agree that they’re pretty amazing.
St. Louis music innovators iLLPHONiCS are more than a band, they’re an identity. They’re also a rarity, in that all five individuals in the band are founding members, and since 2006, they’ve consistently made some of the most groundbreaking music to come out of the St. Louis music scene, if not the entire Midwest. Their infectious, high energy sound incorporates elements of hip hop, rap, R&B, soul, pop, jazz and funk, with stylish compositions and harmonic vocals that grab and hold listeners and audiences rapt attention. The five band members include lead singer/emcee Larry “Fallout” Morris, Keith Moore (keyboards, backing vocals), Kevin Koehler (lead guitar, backing vocals), Simon Chervitz (bass) and Chaz Brew (drums, backing vocals).
I had the pleasure of reviewing their superb fifth album Gone With the Trends in 2016 (which you can read here), and in 2017 they followed with Purple Piano Society, which was named one of St. Louis’ best albums of 2017 by The Riverfront Times. Now the band is set to release their first Digital 45 entitled “X-Rated” on Friday, May 25. “X-Rated” will include two songs, an A-side “Breathe Like” and a B-side “Green Note$.” The band calls the Digital 45 “a comfy middle ground between the paltry single and the increasingly trendy EP.” “X-Rated” will be available to stream on Spotify and Soundcloud, among other platforms. The band requests all downloads be purchased from their Bandcamp account.
A week later, on Saturday, June 2, iLLPHONiCS will celebrate the release with their first St. Louis live performance of 2018 – “A Sensory Experience,” to be held at the Stage at KDHX, starting at 8 pm. Tickets are $10 and available in advance through Ticketfly. The band will be collaborating with Captured Planet on visuals for the event, which will also serve as a kind of ‘unofficial’ release party for ‘X-Rated.
iLLPHONiCS went on tour in 2017 to promote Purple Piano Society, performing in Detroit, New York and Boston, among other cities. Then they spent this past winter writing new songs, the first of which are the two now being released. Regarding these new songs, band frontman and emcee Larry “Fallout” Morris explains: “Musically we have melded many types of genres but the one genre we haven’t explored the most is Hip-Hop. It only makes sense that we go deeper into what’s at the core of our sound.”
“Breathe Like truly is what it is. We all have physical desires and fantasies, and they are even better when you’re engaging with someone who shares the same passion for you, as you for them. Being able to act upon those things and being open with your partner (and vice versa) is a beautiful thing and something worth celebrating. I appreciate love songs and the beauty of intimacy, but sometimes you got to kick it up a notch. This keeps things interesting!”
“Green Note$ is inspired by my own experience but also by stories I’d get from my cousin and bandmate Chaz, who at one point used to frequent gentlemen’s clubs often. I know many regular people who attend strip clubs, and I feel that it’s awkward that society often looks down on the profession, especially when we are embracing sexuality in ways they didn’t when my parents were growing up. I also play on the power dynamic, because even though some unfortunately may see the profession of stripping as “lowly,” I see the power in a person being able to seduce an individual to come off some cash.”
“Breathe Like” has a slow and sexy hip-hop beat, with background breathy sounds that continue throughout the track. Cool synths and a crisp snare drum are the dominant instruments, but there’s smooth bass and terrific harmonic vocals holding it all together. Morris croons “I love when you bend down and let me feel some.” And “Green Note$” features sparkling synths and smooth guitar set to a mesmerizing beat. The harmonizing vocals are especially nice on this track, but then that can be said of all iLLPHONiCS songs. They’re both exceptional tracks, and fresh proof that, after 12 years of making music, this band is still at the top of their game.
I recently stumbled upon yet another terrific British band (there are so many!) named Barbudo, and it took me only a few minutes of listening to their music to become a fan. Consisting of brothers Ben and Harry Stanworth and Elliot Salter, they fuse elements of old-school funk, soul, psych rock and smooth R&B to create an infectious and incredibly pleasing sound they call ‘Nu-eyed funk’. But whatever one calls it, I hear influences from The Isley Brothers, Rufus, Steely Dan, Average White Band and Style Council, and how could you possible go wrong with that lineup?
Following up on their exceptional 2017 EP Pleasures, Barbudo has just dropped a sparkling new single “Secret Admirer,” and it was instant love for me. The band have managed to craft an uplifting, intoxicating track that’s at once both cool and hot – sort of like sipping an icy Margarita at a tropical beach bar. The coolness comes from a breezy mix of smooth vocal harmonies, chiming synths, chill bass lines, and shimmering grooves on the clavinet, while the summery Latin dance beat and funky guitar riffs provide ample steam.
In describing the song, Ben explains “We were going for a Latin-infused funk vibe, like a blend of Michael Jackson and Santana.” Harry adds “It’s a playful confession of secretly liking something that is deemed ‘uncool’ by most people. You might not publicly admit to liking it, but beyond judging eyes you see it for what it is. Like listening to Coldplay when you are sad…” Hey now – I love Coldplay and am not ashamed to admit it!
But seriously, “Secret Admirer” has all the right ingredients for the perfect summer song, and I can’t stop hitting replay. Listen for yourselves and you’ll be helplessly moving your hips within seconds.
Deh-Yey is a fairly new band from Chester, UK comprised of guitarist Cash Burns and drummer Tom Maude, and they’ve just released a brilliant new single “Death and Politics.” The hard-hitting track takes on the politics of gun culture in America with thunderous instrumentals as tumultuous as the subject matter. Using only layered guitars and percussion, the duo create a heavy, dynamic sound that blasts through the airwaves.
“Death and Politics” opens with banging drumbeats that sound like rapid gunfire, then a barrage of grimy distorted guitars and wildly crashing cymbals arrive like a thunderbolt, jolting us out of our complacency. The guys employ a complex melodic structure with numerous change-ups that serve to keep us in a constant state of unease. Cash’s intricate guitar work is jaw-dropping; he makes his six-string hum and chirp one moment, then wail and scream the next. And Tom attacks his drum kit like a demon, generating pulse-pounding, speaker-blowing power that penetrates all the way to our inner core. Cash sings the biting lyrics with an arresting authority, and together their soaring harmonies in the chorus are superb. It all makes for a phenomenal track.
Time is wasted on everyone, and still the world turns, Moving house with you’re youngest son, no one around who cares, Blatantly flashing a hand made gun, Such a sore sight What about the young and dumb Can we amend your right?
Start another fight, Terminate a life, Come together when it’s too late, Sing Oh oh oh ooooooh
You look surprised when you opened up your eyes and you seen the special prize at the end of the trail, Some say you had it all, but you wanted more control and the gods you fucking worship set you up to fail, The ruler of them all, and he’s still inclined to fall as he sees a sign of war from the very ledge that gave him life, You’re still burning down my furniture, Just to piss in the light.
Deh-Yey certainly set the bar high with “Death and Politics,” and I for one cannot wait to hear fresh tunes from them very soon.
James Bay’s fantastic single “Pink Lemonade” is #1 for a second week, and Childish Gambino’s brilliant and provocative “This is America” jumps to #2 in just its second week on the chart. Bad Wolves’ remake of The Cranberries’ powerful protest song “Zombie” – which resonates more than ever today – leaps 10 spots to #14. Florence + The Machine are back with a great new single “Hunger,” which debuts at #29, and three other songs debut as well: “Silver Lining” by Mt. Joy, “Life to Fix” by The Record Company, and “Red Moon Sky” by Face of Stone.
1. PINK LEMONADE – James Bay (1)
2. THIS IS AMERICA – Childish Gambino (8)
3. BROKEN – lovelytheband (3)
4. HANDYMAN – AWOLNATION (4)
5. &RUN – Sir Sly (5)
6. BAD BAD NEWS – Leon Bridges (7)
7. THE JOKE – Brandi Carlile (2)
8. WHATEVER IT TAKES – Imagine Dragons (6)
9. I FEEL LIKE I’M DROWNING – Two Feet (10)
10. GUIDE YOU IN THE DARK – RECKLESS JACKS (11)
11. THOUGHT CONTAGION – Muse (12)
12. THE NIGHT HAS AN ALIBI – Wons Phreely + the Horses (9)
13. CELEBRATE – Dirty Heads, The Unlikely Candidates (18)
14. ZOMBIE – Bad Wolves (24)
15. SORRY – Nothing But Thieves (16)
16. SAY AMEN (SATURDAY NIGHT) – Panic! At the Disco (17)
17. DEVIL – Shinedown (19)
18. I HOPE YOU’RE HAPPY – Blue October (21)
19. WITHOUT WALLS – Lyia Meta (20)
20. UNWIND – John Defeo (23)
21. SATURDAY SUN – Vance Joy (13)
22. YOU WORRY ME – Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats (14)
23. IRREVERSIBLE KNOT – DENSE (15)
24. FAVORITE COLOR IS BLUE – Robert DeLong, K.Flay (26)
25. COLORS – Beck (29)
26. SILVER LINING – Mt. Joy (N)
27. DOUBT – Joywave (22)
28. LIFE TO FIX – The Record Company (N)
29. HUNGER – Florence + The Machine (N)
30. RED MOON SKY – Face of Stone (N)
Matt DuPuy is a singer/songwriter, music producer and recording artist based in Nashville, Tennessee. He’s thrilled to release his very first single “More Than I’ve Ever Known,” which dropped May 15th, and I’m happy to review it. Matt had assistance from Andie Sandoval and Antonio Brum, who provided backing vocals, and the track was mixed by Jeremy Hatcher and mastered by Nathan Dantzler.
The track opens strong, with a strutting electric guitar riff and thumping drumbeat that quickly hook us in. An assortment of kick-ass bluesy, funky and distorted guitar licks are gradually layered over the continuous strutting riff, accompanied by aggressive drums, loudly crashing cymbals, and organ that dial up the heat as Matt sings about a steamy romantic encounter: “I want her and she wants me. Can’t fight the pull of gravity. I think I’ve found my place. She was hiding in the smoke. Can you take me higher baby. More than I’ve ever known.” Matt’s smooth earnest vocals are terrific, and I love the calm interlude in the bridge, where keyboards and strings share the spotlight, and Andie and Antonio’s beautiful harmonizing background vocals really shine.
“More Than I’ve Ever Known” is a fine, well-crafted song, and a promising debut effort from this talented young musician. Not only are Matt’s guitar-playing skills impressive, his songwriting and vocal abilities are also first-rate.