Author Archives: Laurence

Steve Smyth

Australian singer songwriter Steve Smyth unveils his new single “Endless Nowadays” on March 12th, taken from his debut album Release, which was issued last December.

Smyth’s voice has gravity and range, and “Endless Nowadays” comes over as an unholy alliance of Rufus Wainwright, wrestling with Tom Waits, whilst Neil Young kicks the door down and strangulates his fretboard. There is beauty and angst in equal measure.

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Thomas White: new album Yalla!

Thomas White’s third album Yalla!, which is released on March 19th, finds the young Brightonian hitting a career peak thus far.

Following the death of his mother, and the break up of a close personal relationship, White took a trip to Egypt, and the resultant album manages to combine the deeply personal and the melodically accessible, putting him at the forefront of young British talent.

Check out one of the album’s many highlights, “King Of The Kingdom,” above.

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Phantom Limb: new
single and video,
“Gravy Train”

Bristol’s Phantom Limb have unleashed the video for their new single “Gravy Train” taken from their second album, The Pines. It will be released on March 12th via Naim Edge, but here’s a sneak preview:

The band are supporting the release of The Pines, which was recorded in California under the auspices of Black Crowes producer, Marc Ford, with a set of live dates. The tour, which kicked off in Glasgow on February 18th, runs till March 15th with the final show in Plymouth that date.

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The Pains Of Being
Pure At Heart: New 12″
for Record Store Day

Brooklyn based Indie-Pop quartet The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart are to put out a 12″ coloured vinyl remix EP for Record Store Day. The remixes are taken from their 2011 album, Belong, which was produced by ‘Flood’ (Depeche Mode, U2) and Alan Moulder (Smashing Pumpkins, Jesus and Mary Chain, Ride).

The band will also play a one-off London show on 8th March at the o2 Academy Islington.

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Introducing: Rickolus

Richard Colado, aka Rickolus, was originally going to call his new album Penelopeia, the mythical wife of Odysseus in Homer’s The Odyssey. Quite why the album ended up with the title Coyote And Mule is anyone’s guess, but one thing’s for sure: Colado has crafted a bright, direct collection of songs, uplifting and deceptively catchy, whilst retaining a lo-fi sensibility.

Check out “Candy Blood,” from the album, which was released last week.

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The Pharmacy

Washington state’s Scottie Yoder has been creating melodic garage rock for ten years now with friend and trusted collaborator Brendhan Bowers. Classically trained pianist Stefan Rubicz joined the duo in 2007 and The Pharmacy became a threesome.

Since then the trio’s amazing work ethic has produced three albums and a handful of 7″ singles with tours all across North America and Europe with acts such as Japanther, Vivian Girls, and Kimya Dawson.

They spent 2009 living in New Orleans where they recorded the LP Weekend, creating the most consistent record the band has ever made, capturing a magical mid-‘60s vibe that yours truly believed had been lost forever. This was followed by three US and two European tours and a SXSW session with Daytrotter, before returning to Seattle with a wealth of new material.

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New from Towns,
“Gone Are The Days”

Bristol based Towns (James MacLucas – vocals, John Paul Beaumont – guitar, Adam Hastings – bass, Miles Hastings – drums), was formed in February 2011 in their native town of Weston-Super-Mare. Squeezing inspiration out of the nineties’ British guitar-pop scene, the Somerset shoegaze foursome are on the cusp of great things this year.

Always keen to plough their own furrow, Towns spent last year hosting band nights in Bristol, featuring such acts as Tribes and The Chapman Family. They also released an über-limited edition cassette through local label Howling Owl Records, and prior their own two track demo, “Fields” and “Heads Off,” the latter receiving a wealth of support from key online taste-makers and publications.

Now, two months into 2012, the boys release their new Owen Morris (Oasis, Verve) produced split-single, “Gone Are The Days.” The track is a fuzzy reverb drenched affair filled with shoegazey guitar, Gallagheresque vocals, and a lot of swagger, looking to propel the Somerset four smartly along to the next level.

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Brand new from These Furrows, “No Invitation No Welcome”

Hard to pigeon-hole outfit, These Furrows will release their new single, “No Invitation No Welcome” backed with “3:16” via Underdogs Music on 26th March. “No Invitation No Welcome” is also available now as a free download from their website.

Both tracks are taken from their debut album, Treasures which was recorded under the guidance of rock veteran Tony Platt (AC/DC, Motorhead) and mixed by Chris Sheldon (Biffy Clyro, Foo Fighters). It is expected that this long awaited first album will see the light of day in June this year.

For those not familiar with the band, they are fronted by Darryl Reid (guitar and vocals) and backed with Danny Cooper (bass), Jack Brewin (drums) and Calum Price (lead guitar and backing vocals). Their sound really defies easy genre-fication, as their set drifts from rock and post-hardcore to more tuneful melodic ramblings, all built on a quirky indie foundation. Like I said, hard to pin down!

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Who the hell is:
The Big Nowhere

Can you tell us a bit about the origins of The Big Nowhere?

The Big Nowhere started when Billy and I were working together and we’d make mix CDs to play at work. We were both in different bands at the time (I was in Brown Eye Superfly, and Billy was in Summersalt), and the kind of music we loved most was a world apart from what we were doing in those bands. We each had a bunch of songs written that we’d play for one another, kinda indulging in a little one-upmanship, when one of us would write something the other really liked, it would inspire the other to outdo it.

Over a few tequilas one night in an empty basement pub we sketched out The Big Nowhere on the back of a cigarette packet. We’d do the whole thing ourselves, recording in my living room, trying to capture a sound and more importantly a vibe that was just missing from music at that point. We wanted to recreate the feel of the albums in our record collections that had been handed down to us from our parents and grandparents like stone tablets.

We have an anything-goes attitude to music. The song dictates how it goes, not us. It’ll pull you in the direction or feel it wants to go in, and you just have to follow. Sometimes you end up with something completely different from what you started with, but that’s part of the excitement of writing music. When we play live, we switch up the instruments depending on who we have available to do the show, and that’s one of the things we wanted to do most when we first started the band. Every performance is different, and that’s how we think it should be.

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You need to hear:
Denison Witmer

He may be fifteen years and nine albums into his career, but Denison Witmer is a new name to us at Vinyl District UK. His latest album, The Ones Who Wait, is a reflection of his understanding of self and the growth that comes through life experience. It is an intimate take on the daily struggle of life, relationships, love both lasting and transient, and the sense of helplessness without ever expressing any sense of futility.

In Denison’s own words, the album is about “patience and reverence. Being mindful and open to what you’re experiencing. A desire to take hold of what’s happening in your life, yet trusting the mystery of it enough to let go and participate rather than dictate.” It is his lyrical insights which give this stunning album its core and emotional power.

Released on March 6th, this album is highly recommended, particularly for fans of Jackson Browne, early Paul Simon, and Josh Rouse.

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Cygnets: New album Dark Days and free download “Teenager”

Cygnets (Logan Turner – Vocals/Bass/Guitar; Dan Snow – Synth/Vocals; Chris Bruce – Guitar/Bass/Vocals) is a 3 piece from Edmonton, Canada. Their sound is a retro mix of guitars and synths that could easily have been torn from the pages of the ’80s style magazine, The Face.

Founding member Turner had previously written and recorded a wealth of material alone prior to bringing in close friends Chris Bruce and Dan Snow to establish Cygnets officially as a trio. The pair brought more depth and texture to their sound by adding a flourish of melodies which complimented Turner’s darkly personal lyrics and singular vocal style.

Last year the boys self-funded their debut album Bleak Anthems, which was released on CD, and the digital version was given away (and still is) free from their website. Their forthcoming follow up album Dark Days, is due for release on March 6th and will also be free and available digitally.

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Daisy McCrackin

Born and raised in San Francisco, Daisy McCrackin moved to Los Angeles to further her career as an actress. Whilst appearing in films such as 3000 Miles to Graceland alongside Kevin Costner, and co-starring in Halloween alongside Jamie Lee Curtis, Daisy found herself stretching her artistic horizons with music, playing guitar and writing songs between acting.

It was during her two years living in the Topanga Canyon artist colony The Rodeo Grounds where she started to redefined her artistic identity. At the behest of a close friend she finally jumped full-time into music, playing her first live show in 2006 where she was dubbed ‘an instant rock star’ in an LA Weekly review.

In 2009, following the release of her live acoustic soundtrack album Til Death Do Us Part, Daisy paired up with renowned musician/producer Alain Johannes (Eleven, Them Crooked Vultures) to record a collection of six original songs entitled “The Rodeo Grounds”. The EP was an homage to the Topanga community that she had become such a part of.

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Oh Minnows covers JAMC for charity album

Oh Minnows has recorded an excellent version of The Jesus & Mary Chain’s ”Just Like Honey” for the album of the same name, a charity cover versions compilation. 100 % of the profits from all the songs will be donated to Breast Cancer Care.

Oh Minnows plays every instrument on the track himself and recorded it in his home studio in Brookyln, New York.

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Introducing: The James Low Western Front

Some people are simply blessed with names that match their chosen professions. Singer/guitarist James Low is a case in point. His band, The James Low Western Front, who hail from Portland, Oregon, deliver a new album, Whiskey Farmer on February 21st. It’s a record of depth and subtlety, with that classic assuredness that only great American bands seem capable of.

Low himself explains the album’s themes, with the central character (possibly based on Low himself) as someone who “always done things kind of right – did OK in school, went to a generic college, racked up a shitload of debt, and got a job to pay off the debt. He drinks to forget. He alienates the ones who love him best, and just cannot believe that this is all there is to life.”

This is a record that sits proudly next to Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska, Lucinda Williams’ Car Wheels On A Gravel Road, and the finest work of Chris Whitley and Steve Earle, as a personal statement of struggle and the search for meaning in modern life. Any which way, it’s the first release of 2012 to stake a claim for album of the year.

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French Wives

Since forming in 2008 through mutual friends at university, French Wives (Stuart Dougan – vocals/guitars; Chris Barclay – bass/vocals; Siobhan Anderson – violin/vocals; Scott MacPherson – guitar/vocals, and Jonny Smith – drums/vocals) have been quietly plugging away and building up a loyal live following in their native Scotland. Along the way they have supported the likes of Bombay Bicycle Club, Mystery Jets, and Two Door Cinema Club as well as having performed at a number of festivals including T in the Park.

As a pre-curser to the release of their debut album Dream Of The Inbetween (due 7/5/12) this Glasgow five-piece has just made available a new track, “Younger.”

French Wives will be playing a short tour of the UK in March before heading over to SXSW in Texas and Canadian Music Week. With more dates booked in April and the festival circuit looming, 2012 looks set to be a breakthrough year for them.

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