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.

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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

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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

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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.
 

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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.

Featured Song and Video: CALLING ALL ASTRONAUTS – “Life As We Know It”

UK band Calling All Astronauts are a London-based three-piece who play complex and dark politically-charged Electronic Goth Post-Punk music.  They’ve established a reputation in the alternative underground not only because of their often provocative lyrics, but also their ability to mix electro, rock, goth, post-punk and dubstep into their amazing music style. Band members include vocalist/songwriter/programmer and producer David B, guitarist JJ Browning, and bassist Paul “Buzz Saw” McCrudden

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In a divergence from their usual darker sound comes their latest single “Life As We Know It.” Taken from their superb highly topical album Anti-Social Network, it’s a really outstanding EDM track featuring gorgeous synths and chiming guitars set to an addictive driving beat. David’s rough monotone vocals contrast with the smooth clear instrumentals, creating a bit of tension that adds to the overall quality of the track. I liked it so much upon my first listen that I had to feature it on this blog.

The terrific video produced for the track features a beautiful young woman dancing to the song in various indoor and outdoor settings, as well as a few other women shown dancing in brief scenes. I promise you’ll end up hitting replay.

To learn more about Calling All Astronauts, check out their website, follow them on  Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to their YouTube channel. Stream their music on Spotify and purchase on iTunesAmazon, Bandcamp or EBay.

Song Review: MADE OF EYES – “Wishing Well”

Every now and then you hear a song for the first time and you’re instantly blown away by it’s magnificence. That’s the feeling I got when I heard the brilliant new single “Wishing Well” from UK alternative rock band Made of Eyes. Following up on their previous, equally fantastic single “Feel Alive,” “Wishing Well” dropped today, November 28, and it’s a gorgeous work of musical art. Lush, soaring synths combine with thunderous guitars, forceful drums and a buzzing bass line to create a powerful, stadium quality anthem.

Made of Eyes is based in Glasgow, Scotland, and consists of four guys whose first names all begin with ‘J’ – JR Campbell on Guitar/Lead Vocals, Jason Stewart on Lead Guitar/Vocals, Jay Jay McMeekin on Bass, and Jacob Kane on Drums. The guys have been a band only since July 2015, but already have a definitive, polished sound.

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The track starts off with a dreamy synth melody, then blistering guitar riffs and hammering percussion take over. Jason, who’s lead vocalist on this single, passionately sings: “So throw me down the wishing well, and I hope you wish me well.” The song slows at the bridge with a brief but lovely guitar solo, then ramps back up for the finale with more soaring, thunderous riffs that bring goosebumps. With incredible emotion in his voice, Jason implores: “Why can’t you just be honest. It would save so much time.” This song is so good I had it on repeat more times than I can remember. Take a listen:

UPDATE: The band released their four-track Bonds early in 2017, which you can stream on Spotify or purchase on iTunes. You can also listen to their songs on Soundcloud.  Support them by following on  Twitter  and Facebook.