What better way for me to see my first live Damned show than to see the band in their hometown at the legendary Brixton Academy. They’re touring with a two hour set that opens with the classic punk masterpiece Damned, Damned, Damned played in its entirety—which is just ridiculous in a good way.
It’s hard to believe that The Damned are celebrating their 40th anniversary as the band is still going strong. Having been the first UK punk group to release a single AND a full-length album is one hell of a legacy to live up to, but frontman Dave Vanian and guitarist Captain Sensible are certainly up to the task.
Having grown up in the US midwest, The Sex Pistols and The Clash were the only UK punk bands on my radar back in the ’80s. While both played their own unique role in the punk rock explosion, you could argue that The Damned were the spark that lit the match. Somehow I completely missed The Damned, so I have a hell of a lot of catching up to do.
“There’s something about vinyl. There’s something about that crackle and just-slightly-out-of-tune quality to it that gives it a warmth and instant charm that no other format manages to replicate.”
“As a kid, I grew up in a fairly musical family and we had a lot of vinyl. I remember my grandpa having a whole set of Pavarotti records that he would play, mostly at night, on an old oak-set record player that could’ve been stolen straight from the set of Mad Men. That sound of Luciano Pavarotti’s voice bellowing from a record player in the next room as you were falling asleep isn’t something you easily forget, and listening to it now instantly takes me back to being about 5 years old in that house.
At our own place, my parents’ tastes were a bit more modern and my dad had a few Police, R.E.M. and Depeche Mode records that we listened to all the time—as well as my mum’s Cyndi Lauper LPs and a heap of new wave stuff. It was these records that really set my attention to wanting to play what I was hearing. All of it just triggered a sense that this was something I wanted to do, every artist’s sound painted a different picture in my head and I wanted to paint my own.
Eclectic Scottish indie rockers The Imagineers formed back in 2011 and released their first EP “See As I Say.” They have since gained exposure through an array of publications as well as making a guest appearance on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. With the release of their debut full length Utopian Dreams imminent and the title-track released as their first single, The Imagineers are well and truly back, sounding bigger and better than ever.
Utopian Dreams is an album full of sonic ups and downs. Their tastes differ from track to track, and quite rightly so, allowing each member of the band to incorporate different styles to create a unique sound. Elements of surf rock, baroque pop, and folk inform the album with a natural cinematic edge.
With the music industry continually in flux, The Imagineers’ diverse sense of songcraft bodes well for a flourishing career. You’ve heard it here—and them—first.
Utopian Dreams by The Imagineers is out on 24th February 2017 via Hit The Light Records.
The Dead Daisies took over Camden’s Electric Ballroom for an old school rock ‘n’ roll show that is truly one of a kind these days. Touring in support of their third album Make Some Noise, this supergroup has a rotating lineup that never disappoints. On deck for the Daisies during their UK tour are Brian Tichy (Ozzy Osbourne, Foreigner), David Lowy (Mink), John Corabi (Mötley Crüe, Union, The Scream) and Marco Mendoza (Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake), and guitar virtuoso Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake, Dio).
Let me start by saying that these guys might be the hardest working rock band on the planet. Not only do they connect with their fans in meaningful ways at their shows (they do meet and greets every single night), but they are masters at social media marketing at which most artists are flat-out terrible.
From live video performances to video updates and exclusive photos across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, these guys could give a masterclass in social media to 99% of their rock ‘n’ roll colleagues. It’s always an approach that makes all the difference and these guys are leading the way and setting one hell of an example for their peers.
But back to the music. I have two words for you: John Corabi. This guy is one of the most underrated/ under-celebrated talents on the planet. He’s got it all—the voice, the chops, the personality—it’s as if he was born to lead a super-group, and I think he’s found a perfect home for his talents.
Vienna Ditto is band who are hard to define. With their previous EP “Ticks,” one felt you could potentially put them in the box with new wave artists such as The B-52s. They are a band who defy genre and they continue to do so with their latest EP “Busted Flush.”
Title track “Busted Flush” has a fantastic tango-like feel, almost as if its been composed especially for the Moulin Rouge. Moving swiftly to “Barracuda”—about guitarist Nigel Firth living in his barracuda bungalow boat (obviously)—this one’s more upbeat and oozing with wonderful ’80s inspired synths and sci-fi infused goodness. The final track on this multi-coloured, vibrant EP is “Boy Meets Wolf,” a blues tune that wouldn’t feel out-of-place in some sort of new-age Western.
Throughout the EP, lead singer Hatty Taylor’s voice is focused—her smoky, soft tone breathing life into each track. “Busted Flush” may not be everyone but there’s certainly a huge amount of intrigue and more than enough to dig your teeth into—mark our words.
“Busted Flush” is out now via Ubiquity Project Recordings.
’90s loving pop duo Lowla are back with the release of their brand new EP “Walls,” bringing their own unique pop flavour with a fierce, no-nonsense attitude that has become their signature.
Title track “Walls” is politically themed, expressing the girls’ anger toward the greed of corporations and the lack of freedom citizens of the world have in contemporary society. Melodically, there are elements of Florence Welch during the chorus as they chant “we’ll start a revolution.” Spine tingling pop. The second track, “Those Days Are Gone” is the EP’s signature ballad with elegantly poised vocals coasting through a whirlwind of emotions—a beautiful and inspiring song.
“Money Doesn’t Matter” is the highlight of the EP—explosive choruses, vibrant synths, and pop melodies—a brilliant concoction. “Electrified” concludes the EP, returning to the shimmering alt pop sound Lowla are so expert at creating—its composition and structure perhaps offering a glimpse of where Lowla is headed next.
Lowla is pop with a conscience…and perhaps we all need a little bit of that right now.
It’s been five years since we’ve seen Architects of Grace, aka Duncan Robert. In 2011, he released the album Moments In Time, a dark take on indie rock, and with the release of the “Outsiders” EP imminent, it feels like this is Architects of Grace’s rebirth.
In terms of sound, there’s a more refined feel to the textures Robert created on the debut album. Elements of ’80s indie are present and the edges feel somewhat sharper than before. The black and white visuals of the video “Stay To Say” have the same gothic feel as before, but there’s an added avant-garde shade to proceedings and a maturity to the music.
In five years the scene has seen the resurgence of vivid ’90s pop, shoegaze, and elements of grunge, but as the tide ebbs and flows, it may be just the right time for Architects of Grace to step out from the shadows.
Andrew Wasylyk is the alias of Scottish writer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist, Andrew Mitchell. Cinematic nostalgia, elements of Baroque pop and the influence of classic 1970s songwriters come together in a diverse collection of ten songs which comprise debut album, Soroky.
After a successful UK tour opening for Eleanor Friedberger (Fiery Furnaces) and a homecoming show at Dundee’s Gardyne Theatre with an expanded line-up featuring a seven-piece band, brass, and thirty-piece choir, Wasylyk’s year draws to close on a high with a sold out date supporting celebrated singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright at Strathpeffer Pavilion on November 18.
“It’s been a productive year since the album’s release; I’ve had three projects simmering away throughout and just finished an instrumental commission called ‘Themes For Buildings & Spaces’ for an arts festival in Scotland, which I believe will see an official release pretty soon. I’ve been a great admirer of Rufus’ work for quite a while, and indeed all of the McGarrigle / Wainwrights. He’s a wonderful writer and performer. Really looking forward to seeing him do his thing in the Highlands.”
Scotland’s Crash Club are making waves in their homeland and they end the year on a high with their EP “C.C. 101,” out December 2nd. The offbeat four piece make raucous electro rock, roughing up the edges of the scene, ready to rock the new year to its very core.
Their EP features an array of guest vocalists bringing a different flavour to each track but what remains true is Crash Club’s ability to create high-octane songs that come to life live. The band have already graced the stages of Isle of Wight Festival and T in the Park and have gained a reputation for their killer live shows.
With Crash Club already receiving rave reviews and praise from fans, peers, and press alike, it feels like 2017 could be their year to bring electro rock back to the fore.
There was a magical time in the mid-90s when a seemingly new genre took over the world, led by the likes of Marilyn Manson, Filter, Nine Inch Nails, and distilled even further by Mindless Self Indulgence, Prick, and Orgy. These were the highlights while a more generic movement was spawned on the flipside, led by the Dave Matthews Band and Counting Crows. It was the golden age of industrial if you will, but it would soon go back to where it came from—the underground clubs—before losing its edge during the rebirth of the rave scene that it helped to create.
Fast forward 20 years and a new torch-bearer has emerged with an updated spin on the forgotten genre with multiple personalities. Doom pop, gothic, industrial, cinematic art rock, whatever you want to call it, Death Valley High are primed to re-introduce the world to a time when music pushed the very boundaries of art. The new record is called Cult [As Fvk] and the first single is a brilliant number called “Ick Switch,” coupled with an equally impressive video.
The live show was a mix of punk fueled industrial rock and these native Californians have mastered the delicate balance between man and machine. While many in this genre have relied too much on the latter, eclectic frontman Reyka Osburn leans more on his performance and audience interaction to seal the deal. The end result is a band that’s paying their dues on the road and seem ready to embrace the spotlight and the long grueling touring years ahead that follow the release of a highly anticipated new record.