DENSE – EP Review: “Third Eye”

I continue to be astounded by the sheer number of talented young bands today that are making some really great music. Another recent find is DENSE, a psychedelic garage rock band hailing from Leeds, England. Their music is unlike any other band I’ve heard lately, with a sound that’s at once retro and futuristic. They claim as their inspiration such bands as Wand, King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard and Queens of the Stone Age, and though it may be entirely unintentional, I also detect hints of 60s Yardbirds and early 80s Billy Idol. But whatever their influences, their sound has what I would describe as an ‘industrial surfer metal rock’ vibe, and I love it.

DENSE

Making this awesome music are Charlie Fossick (Guitar/Vocals), Dylan Metcalf (Bass) and Sam Heffer (Drums).  Despite their youth, their intense music style exhibits an impressive maturity and complexity that would be expected from a more seasoned band. In March, DENSE released their debut EP Third Eye, which according to their bio “was crafted by Charlie Fossick in his bedroom one summer.” And while it may be lo-fi, it certainly makes up for it with a thunderous wall of sound.

DENSE2

The title track “Third Eye” kicks things off with a barrage of gritty, distorted guitars and throbbing bass steeped in reverb, while Heffer hammers out an aggressive beat on his drum kit. Fossick’s electronically enhanced, otherworldly vocals are mesmerizing, and hold their own with the power and intensity of the music note for note. This is one hell of a song!

The video is awesome, with clever psychedelic visuals that perfectly complement the song and its theme.

Distorted buzz saw guitars are in full force on the scorching psychedelic instrumental track “Glutton Free.”  At times, the guitars wail and scream like a raging elephant. Metcalf’s pulsating bass gives the song incredible strength, with added help from Heffer’s pounding drums and crashing cymbals.

Stone” starts off with what sounds like small explosions or basketballs hitting the court on heavy reverb, then a nifty little bass line ensues, followed by an eruption of frantic shredded guitars. At roughly the two minute mark, we’re treated to a catchy guitar riff before the onslaught of shredded, gnashing guitars return to close out the track, which immediately segues into “Shade.” Almost as if DENSE didn’t want “Stone” to end, “Shade” sounds like a continuation of it, but with a slight change up in the melody, and minimal vocals. It’s OK by me, as I didn’t want “Stone” to end either.

Connect with DENSE:  Facebook /  Twitter /  Instagram /  Website

Stream their music:  Spotify /  Soundcloud

Purchase the EP on iTunes or download for free by joining their mailing list.

OLI BARTON AND THE MOVEMENT – Single Review: “Sleeping With the Enemy”

Oli Barton and the Movement is a London-based indie alternative rock band with a winning combination of talent and personality. They released their terrific debut single “Photograph” through Coke & Dagger Records in late 2016, and in April they dropped their brilliant new single “Sleeping With the Enemy.” The band deftly melds alt-rock with a bouncy psychedelic punk groove to create a complex song that’s equal parts catchy and menacing.

Oli Barton

The four member band is headed by Oli Barton, who does the majority of the songwriting, plays guitar and sings lead vocals. Their hilarious Facebook page bio cleverly introduces each band member, so rather than attempt to paraphrase, I’ll just copy and paste as is for my readers’ enjoyment:

“Oli is an alternative musician who is the only modern artist to truly inherit classic British eccentricity. By utilising a unique sense of humour and an unequaled songwriting talent, along with the Movement [he] creates a sound that is personal yet anthemic, alluring yet pensive, and enjoyable yet thoughtful.

The Movement are:
Guy Monk – Drums
Guy is a strange fellow, ridiculously talented but crazily articulate for a drummer. He likes to spend his time going into toy shops and rearranging stuffed animals into a Circle of Life arrangement.
Marco Paone – Bass
Marco is the resident Italian Stallion. Famed for his close friendship with Gary Barlow, he is known to enjoy country walks and simply adores taking the time to visit zoos and pet the penguins.
Ryan Wilson – Lead Guitar
Apparently an admirer of fine wines, Ryan’s expertise are most credible playing lead guitar. He is said to have a pedalboard longer than the Great Wall of China and is also said to be the finest guitar player in the South of England. One of these statements is true.

Oli Barton & the Movement

The band has been playing lots of gigs in and around London over the past year or so, building a loyal fan base with their engaging performances. In an interview with  Johnny’s New Music Lowdown Blog, drummer Monk said “Our gigs are just mental. We have amazing crowds. That connection on that night when its just us and the audience is extraordinary. We get into the crowd and pull fans up on stage. The vibe of the audience is contagious and it pushes us even further!” The band took some time off from performing while finishing up on the album and making the videos, but has several shows lined up in the coming months.

In the same interview, Oli said of “Sleeping With the Enemy: “I hate to say it’s about Trump because everyone’s making tracks about Trump.” My personal take is that the song is essentially about rampant duplicity in politics of late that always seems to leave people feeling like they’ve been screwed, and the biting lyrics get right to the point: “And I know what it’s like, to be stabbed in the back with a knife. It’s just my life, and I’d better learn to take it from behind. Sleeping with the enemy. Denied any sympathy.  Sincerity will soon erode, when you’ve got nowhere to go.

Musically, the song alternates between an aggressive, fast-paced beat and a slower, almost hypnotic cadence. Wilson and Barton’s guitar work is awesome, with lots of shredding and distortion going on, and Paone’s bass anchors the track without overpowering. Monk’s drumming is spot on, matching the bass line note for note, while Barton’s fervent vocals convey his sense of powerlessness and exasperation with the state of things. At the bridge, it all builds to a cacophonous barrage of heavy buzzing bass, distorted guitars, pounding drums and impassioned vocals.

The dark video for the song was filmed in a dismal abandoned factory. The band is shown performing outside the factory, interspersed with scenes of Barton running through the woods and ending up at the factory, appearing to be fleeing some unseen tormentor. At one point he’s shown blindfolded and kneeling with his hands tied behind his back.

The band plans to drop their third single “Kinky” at the end of June, and their debut album soon after. I’m looking forward to hearing both.

Follow Oli Barton and the Movement:  Facebook /  Twitter /  Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify
Purchase:  iTunes /  Amazon

CANDID – Single Review: “Rumours”

Candid is an up and coming indie band from Coventry, England who play ridiculously good alternative rock. Following up on their wonderful debut single “Moving On,”released in the fall of 2016, the four-piece just dropped an exciting new single “Rumours” on May 12. Making the music are brothers Rob (rhythm guitar and vocals) and Dan Latimer (lead guitar),  Sam Baines (bass) and Ben Williams (drums). Hallmarks of their dynamic sound are catchy melodies, outstanding guitar work, wicked percussion and Rob Latimer’s commanding vocals.

Candid

“Rumours” starts off with a tasty little riff, then explodes with multi-textured guitars, guided by Sam’s throbbing bass and Ben’s rapid-fire drums pounding out the driving beat. Rob and Dan’s guitar work is exceptional, employing layers of intricate riffs and solos that give the track a complexity that’s incredibly satisfying to the eardrums. Rob’s vocals are beguiling as sings in earnest about people acting ignorant and spreading hurtful rumours: “So let ’em talk if they’re gonna, pick you up when they want to. And pass you up like a stranger, as soon as they’re done with you. ‘Cause all they talk about, is what they think about, the way we go about our lives.

Candid’s sound has been compared to Catfish and the Bottlemen, both with regard to their music styling and Rob’s vocals, which at times bear a striking similarity in tone and delivery to Bottlemen lead singer Van McCann.  I love Catfish and the Bottlemen, so it goes without saying that I would also love Candid – which I do based on just their two released songs. At any rate, similarities or not, they’re four talented guys who play some terrific music, and I’m eager to hear more from them soon.

Take a listen to this awesome song:

Follow Candid:  Facebook  /  Twitter /  Instagram

Stream their music:  Spotify /  Soundcloud /  YouTube

Purchase:   iTunes

MICCOLI – EP Review: “1/2”

I’m back in the UK to shine my spotlight on Miccoli, a wonderful adult alternative/pop band from Birmingham, England. The band is comprised of three talented and strikingly attractive siblings: twin brothers Adriano and Alex Miccoli and their sister Francesca. Adriano plays guitar, Alex plays piano and guitar, and Francesca plays piano and harmonica, and all sing – quite beautifully I must say. In fact, their extraordinary harmonizing vocals are a hallmark of their sublime music style.

They’ve been making music together for many years, but 2017 is turning out to be a break-out year for Miccoli. In February, they released a gorgeous single “Idle Stranger” to rave reviews, and now deliver a lovely four-track EP entitled 1/2 which drops today, May 12. The songs deal with love and relationships, and the challenges they bring. In addition to the smooth vocals, their music features beautiful melodies, soft piano and stellar guitar work that make for an incredibly pleasing listen.

Miccoli

The first track “Idle Stranger” is a bittersweet plea for someone to not toy with your affections, acting like they love you but unable to fully commit: “So hear me now cause I don’t wanna be loved by you, if you’are gonna be an idle idle idle stranger. I’ve told you now cause I don’t wanna feel love like this cause you will always be an idle idle idle stranger.” The intricate, layered guitar work is exceptional, and nicely paired with gentle piano and percussion.  The beautiful video produced for the song was filmed in Venice.

The emotionally-charged “Undo” speaks to a loved one who’s slipping away from the relationship: “Every time that I get close to you, you’re a world away and I just can’t get through. All you do all you do is try, to undo. But this heart beats for you.” The track starts off slowly, with a gentle strummed guitar and Miccoli’s soft vocals, then breaks open with an assertive drum beat and lots of fantastic layered guitars.

Lights” is a lovely song with a catchy melody and hopeful lyrics: “Cause when the lights go out and I’m all alone, and I feel like there’s nowhere to turn, I will close my eyes and I’ll think of you. ‘Cause you are every beat of my heart.” The jangly guitars on this track are especially nice. The band just released a great new video for the song that was filmed in Las Vegas, famed for its lights and thus perfectly suited for the track.

The final track “Devices” is breathtakingly beautiful, with mellow strummed guitar and delicate piano. Miccoli’s beguiling harmonic vocals register just above a whisper, giving the song an ethereal quality. It’s my personal favorite of their songs, though I think every one of them is superb. This terrific EP is well-crafted and definitely worth owning.

Follow Miccoli:  Website /  Facebook /  Twitter
Stream their music:  Spotify /  Soundcloud / YouTube
Purchase it:  iTunes /  Amazon

Song Review: THE CLEAR – “The Planets”

I recently had the pleasure of discovering the terrific UK band The Clear when they contacted me about their new single “The Planets.” The Sheffield three-piece plays an incredibly pleasing style of what can best be called “West Coast Dream Pop” (‘West Coast’ referring to my home state of California, thank you very much).  Their utterly beguiling sound is like no other artist or band I know of. Among the many positive attributes of their music, the thing that really stands out for me are their sublime harmonizing vocals.

Formed in 2013, The Clear consists of Chris Damms, Jules Buffey and Bryan Day.  “The Planets” is taken from their outstanding debut album Patchwork, which they actually released in 2016. In preparing to write this review, I listened to the entire album and found myself enveloped by a dreamy soundscape that’s at once beautiful and spellbinding. Patchwork is honestly one of the best albums of 2016, and I’m sorry I didn’t learn of it until 2017.

The Clear

In describing “The Planets,” the band states it’s “a quirky analogy of dying love, with stars burning out, and satellites fading and crashing to earth. We like to describe the song’s style, as Nancy Sinatra in 1950’s space!” Indeed it is! The song has a distinct James Bond movie theme feel and, to my ears, sounds most like “The World is Not Enough” by Garbage. It’s a captivating song with a retro 60s vibe that whisks you back in time to an imaginary party at a mid-Century modern home in the Hollywood Hills. With a hint of a Latin beat, the song features lush, soaring orchestration and mesmerizing electric guitar, accompanied by Buffey’s incredibly seductive vocals.  She croons:

“Tears in my eyes once again. Torment and lies spell the end.
Planets they turn, mine collide. Look to the stars , they burned out long ago.
Love is a flame but quick to burn. When satellites fade they fall to earth.
Planets they turn, mine collide. Look to the stars , they burned out long ago.”

The brilliant video combines scenes from old science fiction films and TV shows, including 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Trek, with actual footage of early space exploration as well as an orchestra performing. Check it out:

To learn more about The Clear, take a look at their website.

Connect with them:  Facebook /  Twitter /  Instagram
Stream their music:  Soundcloud /  Spotify /  YouTube
Purchase it:  Bandcamp /  iTunes /  Amazon

EP Review : FUTURE THEORY – “Fool’s Dream”

To prepare for writing a music review, I start by immersing myself in the artist or band’s music in order to fully understand and evaluate the various elements of the lyrics, instrumentals, vocals and production values. In most cases, I come to more greatly appreciate the music the more I listen. And every now and then, I find myself falling deeper in love with the music each time I hear it. Such is the case with the incredibly talented UK band Future Theory. Last October, 2016, the foursome dropped their debut EP Fool’s Dream, and it’s nothing short of spectacular.

Future Theory is made up of Max Sander on rhythm guitar and vocals, Chris Moore on lead guitar, Rex Helley on bass (although Jake Scarbro was bassist at the time the EP was recorded), and Rohan Parrett on drums. Taking inspiration from such bands as Radiohead, Pink Floyd, Audioslave, Queens of the Stone Age and The Verve, the Lincolnshire collective have developed a lavish sound built on elements of alternative rock, shoegaze, psychedelia and funk. Furthermore, their skillful musicianship and intelligent songwriting are all the more striking given their youth (I believe they’re all under the age of 21).

Future Theory

Fool’s Dream starts off with “Eye of the Storm,” a dynamic and beautiful track overflowing with intricate, jangly guitars, sharp percussion and soaring melodies. Sander’s mesmerizing vocals have a sultry vulnerability as he sings the lyrics “Here I stand upon the sands. Stranded here in no mans land. Said I’m through with lies, but now I see.”  The track closes with a scorching guitar solo and a brief flourish of distorted guitar at the very end that conjures up images of a storm that has finally spent itself.

Now is a good time to state flat out that Sander’s sensuous and startlingly mature-sounding vocals are a thing of wonder and, to my mind, a defining element of Future Theory’s sound. It’s astonishing that a man of his young age could vocalize with such nuanced emotional intensity. When combined with the band’s dazzling instrumentals, his captivating vocals result in songs of exceptional caliber.

The title track “Fool’s Dream” is an achingly gorgeous song about realizing that your love interest isn’t quite what you’d hoped, thus shattering your dreams. Sander moans “Why is the glass always half empty when you’re around? Sense of frustration now, stretching my mind. Oh I feel all down.” The swirling guitars and crystalline synths are, well…dreamy.

The guys lay down some terrific psychedelic grooves on “Horses.” Shredded and distorted guitars duel with thumping bass, crashing cymbals and glittery synths, creating tension as Sander seductively croons “See the horses, they’re the only ones who know motive. / Another scene, another slaughter, when enemies hold their line. / Woah oh oh oh horses, why won’t you take me away.” They funk things up on “Listen Closely,” with lots of jangly guitars layered over funky bass and a driving beat. The guitars on this track are so good!

The final track “Horses (Koncide Remix)” is a spellbinding EDM/techno re-imagining of “Horses.” Gone are the layered guitars, and in their place are complex, multi-textured synths that create a dramatic, yet dreamy, soundscape. It’s the perfect ending for a fool’s dream.

Connect with Future Theory:  Facebook /  Twitter /  Instagram

Stream their music:  Soundcloud /  Spotify /  Google Play /  YouTube

Purchase on:  iTunes /  Bandcamp

Song Review: BLACK ROSE CADILLAC – “The Devil’s Road”

Black Rose Cadillac

I just discovered an awesome band from the English Midlands called Black Rose Cadillac and I’m completely smitten with their music. The five-piece band plays ridiculously good hard-driving rock’n’roll guaranteed to shake you out of your complacency and have you shouting ‘hell yeah.’ I LOVE this band! I’ve listened to every one of their songs I could find, and to say they’re all fantastic is a gross understatement. They skillfully meld guitar-heavy hard rock with classic rock’n’roll in the tradition of great rockers like the Rolling Stones, AC/DC and Black Sabbath. Making all this fine noise are Ryan Hulme (lead vocals), Simon Hawkes (guitar), Myles Cooper (more guitar), Richard Clark (bass) and Ben Kirk (drums).

The guys just released a hot new single “The Devil’s Road” and it’s six and a half minutes of hard rock’n’roll heaven. The intricate guitar riffs are blistering and melodically complex, layered over heavy, buzzing bass and accompanied by powerful drums. Hulme’s aggressive, gritty vocals add to the track’s intensity. The song seems to end at five minutes, then starts back up with a terrific guitar flourish. The end result is an incredibly satisfying track that makes you feel like you’ve just listened to a mini rock concert all rolled up into one song!

The lyrics are as powerful as the music, and speak to struggling with one’s inner turmoil: “There were demons beneath my skin. Rising up from within. As the light fades the darkness invades. And I can’t tell real life from a dream. I’m gonna make a deal, reform my ways, yeah I’m walking down the Devil’s road.  I’m gonna make a scene just for you to see, cause I know the devil is in me.

Support Black Rose Cadillac by following them on  FacebookTwitter  and  Instagram, and subscribe to their YouTube channel.  Do yourself a huge favor and check out more of their incredible music on Spotify,  Soundcloud  or Reverbnation.  Their music may be purchased on Bandcamp or iTunes.

Update: In May, three of the band members – Ryan, Myles and Richard – left Black Rose Cadillac and started up a new band Ryders Creed, and were joined by Lee Spencer and Lee Gilbert. Black Rose Cadillac will continue on with Simon and Ben. “The Devil’s Road” will now be attributed to Ryders Creed, but will still be performed by both bands.

Featured Video: FOUR COLOUR GHOSTS – “Freak” live

Four Colour Ghosts2

I recently discovered the alternative rock band Four Colour Ghosts, and once I heard this incredible live performance of their song “Freak” I became an instant fan. Hailing from Teesside, UK, the band is comprised of AJ (Lead Vocals/Guitar, Lewis Jeffreys (Lead Guitar), Paul Brown (Bass/Vocals) and Rob Moore (Drums). Their dynamic, wide-ranging rock style is influenced by such greats as Pearl Jam, Iron Maiden, Foo Fighters, Stereophonics, Guns n Roses, and Joe Bonamassa. As they humorously state on their Facebook bio – “We are the band that your music teacher warned you about, the band your neighbours bang on the wall for, the band you want blasting on your car stereo.” Yes, yes and a big yes to all that!

This live performance and the blistering guitar work remind me of Cream at their best. Take a listen and be prepared to have your senses dazed!

Connect with Four Colour Ghosts:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram /

Stream their music: Spotify / YouTube / Soundcloud

Purchase it: iTunes

 

EP Review: ORTARIO – ‘A Place Called Home’

I reviewed Welsh band Ortario as a guest on The Symphony of Rock blog.

The Symphony of Rock

 GUEST BLOGGER
JEFF JAYPEG
A Place Called Home EP Artwork
Welsh alternative rock band Ortario are quickly establishing themselves as one of the best new rock bands in the UK. Following up on their first two singles released in 2016, “Forte” and “All Outta Money” – both of which are very good – they dropped their debut EP A Place Called Home in late January, and it’s outstanding. Ortario consists of Chris Clark (Vocals), Jamie Thomas (Bass), David Wheeler (Guitar), Mark Lloyd (Guitar) and Nathan Lewis (Drums). Having two guitarists plus a bassist gives their music a dynamic, guitar-heavy sound.
 

OrtarioORTARIO

 
When I asked about the theme of A Place Called Home, bassist Jamie Thomas explained “For us, there is no place like home. [Being] a band that situate ourselves in different Welsh valley towns, we’re proud of our Welsh heritage and where we come from. The song “No Place Like Home” for instance is basically about leaving…

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Song Review: WIDE EYED BOY – “Wolves”

I know that I keep featuring artists and bands from the UK on this blog, but there are just so many good ones making great music that I can’t help myself. Another recent discovery is Wide Eyed Boy, a four-man New Wave/Indie-pop collective based in Liverpool, a city rich in music history and influence. They’ve released a stunning new single “Wolves” in advance of their self-titled debut EP due for release this Spring.

wide-eyed-boy

Wide Eyed Boy consists of Oliver Nagy (Vocals), Jonny Ball (Guitars), Kobi “Danger” Pham (Guitars) and Tom Taylor (Drums). They all met at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (which was founded by Paul McCartney and Mark Featherstone-Witty), and bonded over a shared love of music. They headed to Budapest, Hungary in 2016 to write songs for their album and returned to Liverpool to record it with the help of producer Rich Turvey.

“Wolves” is one of those songs that make you stand up and take notice the moment you first hear it. Everything about it is perfect – the melody, lyrics, arrangement, production, instrumentals and vocals. Musically, the song has an exuberant, hard-driving drumbeat, gorgeous sweeping synths and nimble multi-layered guitars. Nagy has an incredible voice, and his soaring vocals are absolutely mesmerizing, adding a haunting beauty to this exceptional track. I loved it at first listen, and kept hitting replay.

Nagy stated the song ‘is about letting people in that are bad for you.’ He passionately sings “Why can’t I leave it all behind? Why can’t I save myself this time? I fall just a little bit, don’t wanna be a part of it. Wolves are the only friends I know.

The beautiful video contains frenetic scenes of urban life, filmed in and around Manhattan.

Wide Eyed Boy have set the bar quite high with “Wolves,” and if their other songs are even half as good, our ears are in for a real treat when they release their EP. I for one can’t wait to hear it! Support these guys by following them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Stream “Wolves” on Soundcloud.