Fears Chella – ‘Polaroid’ Single Review

Do you remember that feeling you had when you had your first high school crush? The rush of emotions you had when you saw them. The way that every little thing that they did played on your mind until the moment you fell asleep. You’d count the days left until you’d get to see them again and the only thing that would be on your mind was that specific person.

That’s the way the new Fears Chella record leaves me feeling. It’s an odd analogy but stick with me.

Springing onto the Stoke music scene back in 2016 with ‘Cool’, one of the strongest debuts I think I may have ever heard, Fears Chella left us wanting more. It took them a long time to deliver more, however, when eventually they released two further singles last year titled ‘Girlfriend’ and ‘Lush’.

RELATED: Fears Chella – ‘Lush’ Single Review

But with a tour planned (and postponed due to a “mental studio schedule”) and their popularity rising, Fears Chella are back with new music and it’ll putt the sunshine in your blustery wintery days.

If catchy guitar pop does it for you, then ‘Polaroid’ is most certainly what you need to get your kicks.

Opening with their signature clean-cut guitar sound and Andy Gannon’s distinct vocal style, ‘Polaroid’ begins like a dream. Its lyrical simplicity and almost predictable musical nature are what makes this track stand out from the crowd, allowing you to truly lose yourself in its bubble. The verse breaks like a wave over the chorus, where every single building block can be heard in all of its glory. From Ben Tansey’s foot-stomping drum beat and Tom O’Neill’s understated bass line to Gannon and Dylan Mellor’s overlapping guitar parts, the chorus is the sticking point of ‘Polaroid’.

There’s no complex lyrics to over analyse, nor is there an intricate riff to throw you off course. There’s just three minutes of quality Chella and their developing sound that is quickly maturing into something completely new.

So I return to my earlier analogy of high school crush pop. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a song for kids, although it can be enjoyed by everyone of any age. What it does do is provide you with that rush of feelings you experienced as a loved-up teen, keeps you lingering on every single lyric, then leaves you pining for another drop of whatever it is that has you reaching for the replay button.

Compare ‘Polaroid’ to their debut ‘Cool’ and you’ll hear how this band have sneakily revamped their sound from grungey rock to ear-worm guitar pop. Fears Chella jumped straight into prime position when they arrived on the scene all those months ago and ‘Polaroid’ ensures that they stay there, where they so rightly deserve to be.

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Listen for yourself: https://open.spotify.com/track/5XLqqO72icrWXMlKwXayEH?si=h37FpS34TIugujeZkAIVBA

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Oli Ng and his band embark on tour of UK & Europe

You might know him as the former frontman of alt-rock band The Eyres, but more likely you’ll know him as the solo acoustic performer that’s been winning the hearts of everyone that hears his music.

Of course, we’re talking about Oli Ng.

The Springsteen-inspired musician is about to hit the road with his band to tour his brand new upcoming EP titled ‘Hold Fast’. Despite having toured Europe previously, this will be the first time that Oli will take his band abroad with him.

Speaking of the tour Oli said: “I’m really looking forward to getting back on tour, especially with my band this time. It’s been a while since I jumped about on a stage as I’ve done a lot of solo acoustic shows, so I can’t wait for that!”

His latest four-track offering will be released on Friday 2nd March. ‘Hold Fast’ will include ‘Gone Mad’, his most recent single release, as well as two new tracks and a rework of The Eyres classic ‘Long Way Down’.

RELATED: Oli Ng – ‘Into The Dark’ EP Review

The trio, made up of Oli on vocals and guitar, fellow Eyres bandmates Jordan Cope on bass and Leon Robinson on drums, will begin their 16-date tour at the Arena Theatre in Wolverhampton on Wednesday 7th March, finishing up at Checkpoint Charlie in Amsterdam on Sunday 25th March.

Oli and his band will stop off in Stoke on Saturday 10th March to support The Jokers at The Sugarmill. Tickets and more information can be found here.

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Nixon Tate & The Honey Club – ‘Porch Light’ Single Review

We’re very lucky in the Stoke-on-Trent music scene, in that we hold some of the strongest bands and musicians known to any local scene ever. So lucky in fact, I think we often take for granted how readily available good music is to us. We don’t think about what life would be like without some of these bands when we step out of the door and head to a gig to see them.

Nixon Tate & The Honey Club are one of those bands. They’re the sort of band that draws people in; the kind that leaves everyone in a venue asking the same question: how has this band not made it yet?

After the release of their EP ‘Roses & Bones’ back in January 2017, which they drip fed us track by track over a period of 12 months, they fell silent. Although performing heavily at both local venues and local festivals, a new music release was very much lacking and it was something that was beginning to concern me. But the release of ‘Grubby Kids’, a track that had had a place in their live set for some time, soon blew those concerns out of the water.

Nixon Tate & The Honey Club were back and it seemed they were armed with new music (and lots of it). This was confirmed earlier this month when they released yet another track that further cemented them into the local music scene.

‘Porch Light’, released on Saturday 17th February, was promptly given the honour of being BBC Introducing Stoke’s track of the week; a title that it more than rightly deserves. It’s a simple track, in that it is no more and no less than anything we have heard from Tate and his Honey Club, yet it is exactly what we want and more importantly, what we need.

Beginning with the anticipation of Joe Richard’s revving guitar, ‘Porch Light’ uplifts you from the getgo. NT’s warm vocals breakthrough and soon, the rest of the band are slotting in around each other to create an effortless and almost perfect bed of chords, rhythms and beats. Every single track feels like a musical recipe and ‘Porch Light’ is no different: every lyric, strum, chord and rhythm added to the mix in equal measure, combined with 100ml of “ooomph” and 400g of pure euphoria.

For some time, I’ve struggled to put my finger on what it is exactly that makes this band stand out from the rest. What is it that these four men (now five after the recent welcoming of new drummer Peter Richards) have that other bands don’t? Yes, lyrically, they’re one of the most poetic of the bunch and you only have to listen to the briefest of seconds to feel that rising urge to dance, but it’s more than that. So much more.

Maybe it’s their experience of performing, writing and making music, or more likely the friendship that bleeds through into every note played, that makes Nixon Tate & The Honey Club a damn good band. Put simply, these guys have something good and they should keep hold of that for as long as they physically can.

‘Porch Light’ is like every Nixon Tate & The Honey Track rolled into one and it provides us with an idea of the direction that the band intend to take their music this year. 2018 is set to be an incredible year for local music and I predict that Nixon Tate & The Honey Club will be leading that charge from the front.

If you do one thing this year, let Nixon Tate & The Honey Club into your life and allow yourself fall in love with this band and everything that they have to offer. It’ll be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make.

E.

 

The future is bright for Futurewife (‘Nicest Day’ Debut EP Review)

For over a year, I’ve been privileged enough to have been given a secret look in at an exciting project from DROMA Records.

Remember them? DROMA Records, the creative project of brother/sister duo Jack Tasker and Sophie Bret Tasker. Still in its infancy really and yet already a significant heavyweight in the Staffordshire music scene, thanks to a growing number of artists who have had the pleasure of collaborating with them and producing music with them.

RELATED: Droma, Taskrz and everything in between. Jack Tasker gets real with E Major.

So when something arrived in my inbox from Sophie Bret Tasker, I got very excited. Even more so when I realised that this wasn’t from a DROMA artist, but actually from Sophie herself. If you’ve listened to the latest Don’t Call Me Ishmael album, or, indeed, any of the most recent Taskrz records, then you’ll have probably already have wondered where Sophie’s solo release is. It’s true that after the release of Don’t Call Me Ishmael’s second album ‘I’m Broken But I’m Fine’, second to the unique songwriting style of Gary Wilcox, the subject that received the most airtime from listeners was Sophie Bret Tasker’s staggering vocals on their single ‘To The Moon’. Her heavy vocals cut through the track like a razor and cover the song in a chocolatey layer of pure bliss.

But that was then and this is very much now.

That something that arrived in my inbox back in October of 2016, would later become her debut release as Futurewife. And what a release it is.

‘Nicest Day’ is a four-track EP, made up of three fully formed songs and one opening collision of sounds, beats and harmonies titled ‘Pram’. This is followed by ‘Again and Again’, the leading single from the EP, which elegantly introduces you to Sophie Bret Tasker and the thing that’s been pulling focus for the last 18 months. ‘Again and Again’ carries an entirely funk-inspired guitar riff, that, if it wasn’t for the ahead of its time synthesized sounds and the electrifying ending, could easily be placed amongst some classic 80’s pop records.

‘The Nicest Day I Can Remember’, the track that made BBC Introducing Stoke sit up and listen and finally offer her a chance to debut her work live on air, is one of the most personal pieces on the EP. It’s the one that I distinctly remember listening to late at night, after receiving another exciting email from Tasker herself, telling me she’d been working on the experimental side project.

Her lyrics, so raw and personal, are masked by her ability to make some of the funkiest beats known to local music. And, with a little help from brother Jack Tasker and mixing master Tom Bath of UTC Studios, those beats are the reason you end up hooked on her sound.

Wrapping up ‘Nicest Day’ is the sombre ‘In Our House’, a track that is mainly led by its bongo beats and simple soft synths. Tasker’s vocals float effortlessly on top of what lies beneath this track, slithering in a reflective dream-like state, before reaching their peak midway to produce a noisy chasm of sound. Much like ‘The Nicest Day I Can Remember’ the lyrics are real, openly discussing some of the hardest and most heartbreaking moments in Sophie Bret Tasker’s life.

‘Nicest Day’ is a spellbinding debut release, from a musician who is known for everything but creating electronic experimental music. It makes you wonder how long Sophie Bret Tasker has been sat on this urge to break out and create something of her own; something so different, yet so brilliantly unique.

What matters now, however, is that Futurewife has been born and with it, a brand new collection of songs and stories awaits.

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What does music mean to you? We want to know.

What does music mean to you?

It’s a simple question, but the answers are endless. At a time where social class and social status seems to be at the centre of every headline and conversation, music is one of the few things that links us all together.

Music doesn’t care where you were born, who your parents are or what sort of salary you earn. It doesn’t care whether you’re a builder, a plumber, a lawyer or a banker. It doesn’t care if you went to university or not, nor does it care about the decisions you make.

Music is for everyone and unapologetically so. It defines every single moment in our lives. There’s a song for your first kiss, an album for your first love and a whole genre for your first heartache. There’s music for your wedding, for when your children are born and for when they fly the nest. There’s music for when your favourite team wins a game and for when they lose. There’s music in our darkest days and in our finest hours.

There’s music in everything we do.

We want to know what music is to you. There’s no right or wrong answer. It’s personal to you. Our aim is to collect as many responses as physically possible and display them on a page or in a post on our website. We want to bring people together through music, by celebrating what it means to you.

So tell us, anonymously if you wish, what does music mean to you?

The Hubbards – ‘Easy Go’ Single Review

Catchy, creative and irresistible; three words to describe The Hubbards and their music over the last couple of years. 2017 has seen the release of ‘Just Touch‘, a single that nudged them ever closer into the limelight, given them slots at festivals such as Radio 1’s Big Weekend, Great Escape and Dot to Dot and carved out a string of shows and tours that have put them in venues all around the country.

With the recent release of ‘Body Confident‘ still hot to touch, it’s time to delve deeper into this AA side and the second single that accompanies it. ‘Easy Go’ is the parallel opposite to ‘Body Confident’. It’s laid back, softer, yet so obviously belongs on the same page as ‘Body Confident’.

There’s a subtle sadness that pours out of ‘Easy Go’ as though it was written after a night out that turned sour. It plods along to the sound of the band’s signature guitar style, which has become such a strong definitive aspect of each of The Hubbards releases. ‘Easy Go’ continues to bubble away under the surface before gradually becoming slightly more twisted as it turns in on itself, leaving vocalist and bassist Rueben Driver screaming into the depths of the song, opening up the layers and peeling back the emotion.

Almost as soon as it rips itself apart does it put itself back together, like the moment after an argument where you can feel every single word hanging heavy in the air. ‘Easy Go’ is the sort of song you’d want to play in that moment, to fill the silence, and to say the things you’re too afraid to say out loud.

The Hubbards have a magical way of joining the dots and ‘Easy Go’ slots in perfectly. Even the music video draws a line of connection with past single ‘Cold Cut’. Listen to any of their music and you’re sure to hear that something that is hidden within every chord sequence and every strum of their guitars.

Who knows what 2018 has to offer for this four-piece, but I know that their journey as a band is far from over. In fact, it may only just be beginning.

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Jean Rouch – ‘Glory To He Who Brings Dispute’ Debut Album Review

He’s a mystery and that’s how he likes it, but now, nine months after he first teased us with his music, Jean Rouch has released his debut album.

The story of Jean Rouch appears to begin at the start of the year, when the phrase “If you seek, you will find” was distributed (without any explanation) amongst popular music figures within the Stoke-on-Trent music scene. It was confusing, but it didn’t take much time for everyone to jump on the bandwagon, some without really knowing what they were sharing it for.

This in itself seems to fit into Jean Rouch’s character and the themes of his album, but more on that later.

Since then, Rouch has released two singles: ‘Racketeer’, an instrumental track complete with plodding drums that seem as though they’re signalling the start of a battle and ‘Privacy Is Sin’ featuring Cal Locker and Ant Holland, a track that seems to twist and turn into something terrifying and nightmare-like. Both have very different yet very significant accompanying videos, both leave you with unanswered questions and they both make you feel just that little bit uncomfortable.

‘Glory To He Who Brings Dispute’, his debut album, is not an easy listen. It isn’t something you’d put on after a stressful day at work, nor is it something I’d recommend you press your ear to if you’re struggling with hard times. It isn’t an album to listen to in one sitting either, unless you’re looking for seven reasons to start a revolution.

Opening with a short burst of dialogue and the haunting whispers of the album’s title, ‘Glory To He Who Brings Dispute’ starts as it means to go on. There are no vocals, other than the exchange of words at the beginning; only a dark and brooding guitar part that says more than enough to paint a picture in your mind.

The album continues in this way with ‘You’re Not Alone’ (featuring a guest appearance from The Red Kites frontman James Biddulph Junior), feeding into your own personal nightmare. James Biddulph Junior’s vocals sound like nothing I’ve ever heard from him before, especially as the song picks up pace and JBJ’s recognisable psychedelic style transforms into a beastly roar.

It’s worth noting that Jean Rouch himself appears never to sing, only acting as a narrator to the chaos he whips up around himself. He lights a fire with his words and the music does the rest, making this collection of songs extremely remarkable and a little bit mind-blowing.

Listening to ‘Laid To Rest’ makes you feel like you’re falling through heaven backwards, the ethereal ghostly harmonies of Natalie Webb and Jack Wood lifting this track up above the rest. ‘Racketeer’ follows, with ‘Media Is Pain’ falling in behind and Emily Law’s soft vocals heavily contrasting against the wailing guitars. Rouch returns here too, repeating the words “…seeing… hearing… lying… cheating…” over the music until eventually dying out in the final seconds.

‘Media Is Pain’ is the most “pop” track off the album, although using that term to describe any of these songs would be clutching at straws. What this track does do however, is offer a reason as to why Rouch began his life by distributing a phrase via social media. The ease at which it spread, much like a virus, falls effortlessly into the premise of this track and even if it wasn’t planned in that way, it makes for a very fitting example of the power of the media.

Rouch’s first single release ‘Privacy Is Sin’ follows on, before you reach the concluding track ‘Le Dernier Chapitre’ or “the last chapter” for those who were wondering. All of the guitars in the album seem to be based around a similar pattern, making this feel more like a concept album than anything else. ‘Le Dernier Chapitre’ opens with this guitar pattern, as Rouch pours his dark poetry all over it. He speaks as though he’s looking down on the world, speaking to and for the people, as he says “love each other and forget how to hate… make memories to last forever, not money to last one solemn hour…”.

It’s oddly positive and empowering, providing a kind of beacon of light amongst a crumbling world. ‘Le Dernier Chapitre’ is the song you’d expect to hear at the end of a film, right before the world falls in on itself and yet, it’s my favourite of them all.

Jean Rouch is eccentric, unique and yes, still very mysterious. His inspiration and musical themes are heavy, but he speaks for the ones without a voice. The music is cinematic, the quality is crystal clear and the album as a whole is unlike anything else. Is ‘Glory To He Who Brings Dispute’ going to be your next favourite album? Probably not, but Jean Rouch is a person you’re going to want to follow and his music is definitely something you’re going to want to hear.

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