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

From the outside, the Tasker residence is an unassuming one. Situated in a quaint cul-dee-sac somewhere inside Stafford, the house sits comfortably in a row of others like it. Step through the door however and you’ll soon realise that there really isn’t anything quite like this house, as The Tasker residence is the home of Droma Records.

On a typical Droma day like today, the hall is where you want to be. Wires and cables snake along the floor, half a drum kit stands alone in the corner and amps, monitors and microphones have been abandoned in various positions in the room. On the table in front of the mirror, amongst empty beer cans, random scribbles and family ornaments, an Apple Macbook is open and Jack Tasker is concentrating hard.

 

The King’s Pistol, a three-piece dark folk outfit, are adding the final touches to their ‘Pistol Whipped’ EP (“It’s like The Everly Brothers on acid”), their first non-vinyl release to date. The thirty seconds I hear sounds good. Really good. Like The King’s Pistol we know and love but reimagined in a digital format.

Once happy, the band pack up in a well-rehearsed routine, stopping for a quick selfie with Mr Droma himself in the garden, before disappearing into the August sunshine, leaving me and my dictaphone to get to work. Sophie Bret Tasker, Jack’s sister, Taskrz band mate and fellow Droma creator, joins us for a short while as I try to understand what Droma is to this brother/sister project.

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The big D

“Droma is, as a legal entity, a record label that was set up when we [Taskrz] released a double a-side of ‘A Man Possessed’ and ‘Hogs From Hell’,” Jack tells me, as he pours himself a glass of red wine. “We’d just been through a really frustrating period where someone had said, basically, that they would back us with some money and it all went horribly wrong.” The two tracks were awaiting release and without the backing of the small label they thought they’d have, the pair knew that they’d have to release them independently. “I was uploading the songs onto the system so they’d go onto iTunes and stuff and I was at work at the time. It was through Ditto Music. You can set up your own record label relatively easily – they give you a lot of the legal paperwork. I just said like “right, shall we set up our own label?” and we did.” As simple as that.

The name ‘Droma’ was taken from the full length Latin name for the Raptor family of dinosaurs, something that is significant in the history of Taskrz and one that Jack claims is the coolest thing he’s ever named. Droma has since grown into what Jack describes as a “music project”, with numerous releases from other artists under its belt, the first being their friend Matt Toner (Matt Topowski & The Wailing Synagogues).

“I’ll ask you a question”, Jack says, turning to Sophie. “Do you enjoy doing Droma things and do you see its worth and what it’s about? Do you feel proud to do stuff for it?” There’s a slight pause. “I like when we get people in who aren’t us and our mates. I like that. Inviting people in that you probably wouldn’t ever maybe play music with yourself.” Sophie recalls recording an album with Ingrid Schwartz, a record that she says she loves listening to. A quick visit Droma’s bandcamp page unearths the ever-growing roster of musicians that the pair have worked with, including the likes of Chris J Venables,  TMC and Don’t Call Me Ishmael.

“I never imagined to have people approach me and want to do stuff and I think that speaks volumes for what we’ve done and what the people we’re associated with have done”, Jack says, shortly after Sophie leaves to catch a train. “I personally enjoy the story behind each record. Running a studio would be great and running a record label would be great, but actually running this thing that is so involved in the process is, I think, far more fun.”

But with the label/music project beginning originally as a way for Taskrz to release their music through, are Droma looking to reduce the amount of outside musicians they work with? “No. I’d be really interested to do stuff with other people, it just comes back to being able to do the right thing for each person.” This personal touch, the need to produce something that is entirely individual for that specific musician, is something that is an obvious draw for Droma. Listen to any one of the records that they’ve produced and you can practically hear the passion popping through your speakers, although this isn’t just down to Sophie and Jack. “Pretty much any release that we’ve done, barring the ones where I’ve mixed or mastered it, Tom’s had his hand in and he’s just brilliant,” says Jack as we discuss their relationship with UTC Studio’s Tom Bath, who mixes and masters nearly all of Droma’s releases. “I’ve never wanted to take stuff elsewhere because we just have such a good kind of working relationship. I think Droma is going to continue to do stuff with Tom. He makes the sound.”

Much like the dramatic re-branding of Taskrz, Droma have had a facelift; a changing of the logo from a fossilised Raptor skull to a vintage cassette tape seems like a natural progression. “There wasn’t necessarily some great big philosophy, but I had thought we needed to change things. I think the layout was still a reference to the first Don’t Call Me Ishmael album and I realised actually no, we need to have our style that is referenced in other people’s stuff. I’m literally making this up on the spot, but that does actually make sense! That each time, the colour changes to reflect the artwork that the artist has picked out. I’m a genius.”

Taskrz

Asking Jack to give me a potted history of Taskrz, is like asking for the moon in a jar – pretty much an impossible task. The band have been together for over five years, releasing a sizeable amount of albums, EP’s and singles along the way. “I’d recommend anyone to go and watch Taskersaurus”. A short documentary that gives you everything you need to know about the roots of the band and one that displays the strength of Jack and Sophie’s relationship, ‘Taskersaurus’ is a must-watch for all.

“The joke I often tell on stage is I’d come back from Liverpool, didn’t know what I was doing, but had a support slot for a rock covers band.” Jack had been booked to play the slot as Jack Tasker and The Wild Oats although there was only Jack in the “band”, “…which is a bit shit when you think it about it!”.

After accompanying him on pots and pans as a child, Jack took a chance and asked Sophie to join him on drums. At first refusing on the grounds that Jack’s songs weren’t up to scratch, she eventually agreed and the pair spent two weeks rewriting a set that mainly consisted of covers. From then on, the pair known as “The Taskers” began gigging more and more, often playing up to sixty gigs a year. “Those first two/two and a half years when it was just the two of us was just incredible fun. The stories you have.”

The band have since had a small handful of additional members, including Sarah Pickwell, Jack Rennie and Laura Ellement, three members who are heavily set in Taskrz last album ‘Wolf Party’. But after Rennie and Pickwell left and all members of the band experienced tough times in their personal lives, it was unknown even to Jack whether the band would continue making music. “The band that had been going for nearly five years, that ended. I would definitely say that ended. And whilst it doesn’t look like that to anyone externally, I can categorically say The Taskers who released ‘Wolf Party’ ended. It was done.” As of December 2016, Jack, Sophie and Laura were unsure of whether this path was one that they wanted to continue walking.

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“Yeah we play a lot of the same songs, you can say it’s kind of like you press pause, now you press play, but mentally the space we’re all in… it is a different band. The way it wants to make records, the records it wants to make, it is completely different.” It’s odd then that the first release the new Taskrz put out was ‘Five Years Of Fuzz‘, a celebration of the five years that the band had been together. “[The EP] was really helpful in that process of just bringing some of the older songs up to scratch, musically. It was closure.”

Today, the band stands strong. The addition of Rob Haubus on bass and vocals has given Taskrz a new lease of life and it’s evident in their current release. “He just brings a kind of precision to it, but I think that’s because he’s mainly an indie guy, so it’s all about those real tight precise bass things.” Laura Ellement, on vocals and violin, joined the band after performing with them at a gig in Stafford in 2015. “Laura is just the glue. She could be in a band and not play anything and she’d still serve the most vital role. She just kind of humanizes us.”

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The future and beyond

Moving forward as a band and a label, there’s a bright future ahead and one that Jack Tasker is happy to embrace. For Taskrz, the second part of their ‘Five Years Of Fuzz’ EP is due before the end of the year, as well as the promise of more records into 2018. As for Droma, the list is endless. The King’s Pistol, Attack Of The Vapours, TMC and Don’t Call Me Ishmael, as well as talks with Merrym’n and Sherry Counsellors, make for a rather exciting 12 months for the pair.

“A transition to doing other things like maybe publishing short stories or pieces of art or things like that,” enthuses Jack. “Maybe that will begin to happen next year. And maybe trying to create some kind of multimedia area, where you have a record label, you have short stories, you have artwork. That’s my dream but that’s probably a long way off.”

Spending an hour with Jack Tasker and his bubbling creativity and passion, is something that is hard not to get swept up in. As we signed off I asked him for one final ending quote that would inspire nations, halt wars and insight world peace. It might not do any of those things, but in his response, he speaks the truth: “I know I see Facebook posts like this every other day, people saying that the local scene is so much more exciting and interesting now, but I think it really is. I think more than ever, now is the time for artists to work together and to do different things and just mess about. We always go back to the music scene of Seattle in the early 90’s – that’s what inspired me and Sophie. The kind of grunge era. They were all so supportive of each other. If they weren’t gigging that night they’d be watching another band, or they’d be listening to their record, or helping do whatever. Everyone has a part to play in making a local area really culturally exciting and interesting, so I hope they keep doing it.”

E.

 

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Cassia @ The Exchange, Stoke 25/08/17

The last time I saw Cassia, they were sat behind a merch table with a long line of adoring fans waiting to meet them. This was back in May at Gorilla in Manchester, after they’d played a show-stopping set supporting Leeds based four-piece Clay. But it seems that in those three months, a lot has happened in the land of Cassia.

All of it was written across their faces the moment that they stepped into The Exchange in Stoke: tired eyes but beaming smiles, bold enough to light up any room. And although it was a disappointing turn out for the band (in terms of crowd size), Cassia were on cloud nine.

The Lounge Act and Stu Whiston opened up the night, two contrasting bands with contrasting levels of experience. The Lounge Act were extremely tight, their version of The 1975’s ‘Sex’ was proof of that. As was the colourful spectrum of originals that were included in their set, that offered those that stood watching a diverse bunch of feelings and emotions. As tight and as entertaining as they were however, I couldn’t help but notice the lack of interaction with the audience that remained throughout. Maybe it’s part of the image they’re aspiring to have, but it’s important to remember that it’s not just the quality of live performance that leaves an audience talking.

Stu Whiston on the other hand was very vocal, his driving indie rock sound powering through the venue. Original tracks such as ‘Silver’, ‘There Was A Time’ and the anthemic finale that was ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Show’ that rose and then fell so effortlessly, were all huge talking points of the band’s set. Whiston had the crowd moving, even if his crowd were smaller than he really should have deserved, but such is the attitude towards “not local enough” headliners i.e. Cassia. Just as The Lounge Act did, Whiston and his band made it work and neither bands seemed particularly fazed by their dwindling crowd.

It was disappointing to see a band of Cassia’s size perform to a half empty venue, something I feel can only be blamed by the amount of local music supporters, who’re often too afraid to take a chance on a band they’ve never heard before. But with a busy weekend of performances at both Reading and Leeds festival ahead of them, Cassia were far from sharing my disappointment.

 

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Cassia – a band that will change the world, one bongo beat at a time.

 

They played, just as they had done at Gorilla to a room packed full of excitable teenagers, to an exceptional standard and it was quite clear to everyone present that this band are the next big thing. Their signature tropi-pop sound made it virtually impossible to stand still, with tracks such as ‘Moana’, ‘Get Up Tight’ and ‘Weekender’ gaining them new fans with every strum. Rob Ellis, Jacob Leff and Lou Cotterill were comfortable on stage, something that has naturally grown from their love of performing together. Leff in particular appeared to be in his own world and the band couldn’t help but bob up and down to the music they were making.

But that night was significant for the band in more ways than one. Not only was this the first time the Macclesfield based three-piece had performed in Stoke, it was also the release day of their brand new single ‘Sink’. Scroll through their Twitter account (@wearecassia) and you’ll find an overwhelming feeling of love and support for this new track and quite literally all of their exciting musical endeavours. ‘Sink’ is taken from their brand new EP ‘Movers & Shapers’ that will follow their 2016 self-titled three-track release. ‘Sink’ is a natural progression for the band and one that is evident in their live performances.

Cassia concluded the evening with ‘100 Times Over’, their most popular track to date. Ellis’s clean guitar, Cotterill’s smooth bass line and Leff’s caribbean inspired drum beat, the three most important aspects of every song they make, slithered cooly out of the speakers and wrapped themselves around the room. For a moment the world seemed to stop and ‘100 Times Over’ seemed like it could last forever. So much so that when it came to an end, you were left wishing you could replay their entire set all over again.

Cassia have a gigantic few months ahead of them, with a potentially life changing few years in touching distance. But this is a band who are making music for the love of it, a band who befriend everyone they speak to and one that deserve every ounce of the attention they’re receiving.

E.

 

Larkins @ Band On The Wall, Manchester 18/08/17

Four piece conquer Manchester with hometown show

Manchester will forever be known as the musical capital of the country. Not only is the thriving music scene one of the liveliest and most prolific, it’s also home to some of the biggest names in our country’s musical history, the most obvious being Oasis and The Smiths.

But away from the distant hum of the champagne supernovas and the light that never goes out, a revolution is taking place and it’s only getting louder.

Deep inside the small independent venues of Manchester’s Northern Quarter, are a plethora of acts all chasing the same dream. Behind every door, a different band or soloist is taking to the stage, with a fire in their heart and music on their mind. How many actually achieve that dream is unknown, but if there’s one band who stand a good a chance of taking it all the way to the top, it has to be Larkins.

On Friday night at Band On The Wall, Larkins dominated the night. It was evident from the moment you walked through the door, that this wasn’t going to be just any old gig. With an exciting string of gigs and festivals behind them (as well as a sneaky  play on ITV’s This Morning), the four piece were back on home soil and ready to prove why they’re one of the most exciting bands in town.

The night began with Matter Of Mind, a young rock band from Stockport with energy comparable to that of a tightly coiled spring. They performed original tracks ‘Sanity’, ‘It’s Obvious’ and ‘Far Too Long’, as proud family members and a gaggle of excitable followers looked on. Like many aspiring bands, Matter Of Mind have a short way to go to reach their full potential and their mish-mashed and slightly off centre sound reflects that. However Matter Of Mind have the foundations of an exciting band and I’m sure that with a little more time and experience, we’ll see them truly flourish.

Next up were tropical pop Scots Indigo Velvet. We’ve featured their music in previous playlists, but it’s only when you see them live that you can really appreciate just how infectious their music is. Opening with hair-raising harmonies and a laid back carefree attitude, Indigo Velvet put on a spectacular show. Their set included ‘Mona’, ‘Easy Love’ and ‘Rugrats’, a song built around the popular children’s TV show theme tune.

Their strong Scottish accents bled through their music, weaving its way into each song and giving their set a large helping of personality. It felt as though they’d been plucked directly from Paradise and dropped into the venue, as the crowd bobbed and swayed as the music took hold. Indigo Velvet are all kinds of heaven and just in case we weren’t fans before, we most definitely are now.

But we weren’t just there to be given a tropi-pop fix. We were there to catch Larkins in action, as they stole the night away from Manchester’s firm grip.

Excitement built quickly after Indigo Velvet left the stage and the sold out Band On The Wall, now filled with sweaty bodies, seemed to be alive with electricity and anticipation. Eventually the lights dimmed and the sound of Larkins’ walk on music began to seep from the speakers, until gradually, as though being called to battle, all four members were ready to wage war.

The band ignited the night almost instantly, with incredible live renditions of their current single ‘Sugar Sweet’, ‘The Tale of Cassandra’ and ‘Velvet’. Frontman Josh Noble was particularly fiery, basking in the attention from his hometown crowd and the noticeably large amount of teenage girls, all pining for a piece of him. The rest of the band were driven by this attention too and their confidence levels and quality of live performance were sky high. ‘Wasted Years’ was a definite set highlight as it demonstrated just how together Larkins really are, both on a musical and physical level. When you’re building your footing as a band, gigging constantly and writing and recording new music, this togetherness is vital and is something that Larkins are not short of.

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“Manchester, we’re going to pretend it’s our last song…” announced Noble. “If you’ve got lights, now’s the time to put them up” he added, an order that the whole room obeyed instantly. Noble continued to control the crowd like puppets on strings, as he instructed them all to “get down low” until nearly the first few rows were sat on the floor before him. Larkins performed ‘Sapphire’, taken from their ‘Don’t Leave The Light On’ EP, before exiting the stage for the first time to the pleading audience, who just wanted one more song.

When a solo Noble returned to the mic carrying an acoustic guitar, the crowd erupted once more. A breathtaking acoustic version of ‘Let Your Hair Down’ ensued and it was at that very moment, whilst observing the hundreds of people singing back at the top of their lungs, that the power of this band really hit home.

Larkins are more than just a phase, in fact they’re far from that level now. Yes, they’re following in the footsteps of many bands that have gone before them; some who’ve succeeded and some who’ve failed. But they’re at the forefront of this musical revolution, overthrowing the overplayed and over rated sounds of the UK Top 40, giving young adults everywhere a soundtrack to cut loose to and, more importantly, they’re proving that music always wins.

After the band played out their final track, the stadium sized ‘Hit and Run’, and everybody began to pile out of the room, the weight of what we’d all just observed still hung heavy in the air. Larkins would leave Manchester like gods, knowing with almost certainty that Manchester was their kingdom.

E.

Tommy Ashby – ‘Passing Through’ Single Review

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that my mood influences the style of music I listen to, at any given time. My love of clean-cut guitar riffs, earth-shaking bass patterns and hard-hitting drum beats is probably evident throughout the blog and is something I’m not afraid to admit. But deep beneath my love of loud rock tracks and catchy pop hooks, is an undying adoration for acoustic music; be it modern folk or full-blown Americana.

That’s why, when I first heard Tommy Ashby’s brand new single, I knew I had to write about it. Ashby is a Scottish born singer/songwriter, with a musical style similar to that of fellow Scotsmen Martin & James and 90’s rockers turned easy listening four-piece, Travis. That comparison may sound cliché, but it’s something that was obvious to me from the very first listen.

‘Passing Through’ is Ashby’s brand new single, recorded at the infamous Abbey Road Studios in London and mixed and mastered by the equally infamous Sam Okell (whose previous clients include The Beatles, PJ Harvey and Laura Marling, to name a few). These two key elements as well as Ashby’s natural talent and musical flair, combine to create a truly angelic single.

‘Passing Through’ is a real treat for the ears, with Ashby’s warm accented vocals taking you to somewhere far from this world and all of its flaws. It’s a wonderfully uplifting arrangement, complete with angelic feather-light harmonies and soft strums of the acoustic guitar. These elements are especially noticeable in the build-up to the chorus, when the song breaks like a wave on the shore, despite giving the impression of something far heavier and more prominent.

But there’s nothing prominent or heavy about this song, other than Ashby’s thought-provoking observation on life and relationships, that creates the main focus of the track: “…’cos the way I see it you’re lonely and I am too. And the way I see it we’re only passing through…”.

Tommy Ashby is a remarkable musician and ‘Passing Through’ is evidence of that. If you were enchanted by his ‘Further’ EP released in 2016, were wowed by his performance at Boardmasters Festival earlier in the month, or even if you’ve only come across his music for the first time today, I can say quite confidently that this single will not disappoint.

E.

Release @ The Sugarmill, Stoke 11/08/17

After several years of reviewing live gigs in and around the Staffordshire and Cheshire music scene, I’ve learnt to correctly guess which local band is playing where just by looking at the shape and size of the crowd outside the venue. That is most certainly the case for Release, a band I’ve happily watched grow into their sound for the last couple of years.

Outside The Sugarmill on Friday night, things were slightly chaotic to say the very least. A mass of teenagers littered the streets, buying and selling tickets like the least threatening (and most legal) touts you’ve ever seen, making me question just how the pint sized venue would be able to contain a crowd of this size.

Inside and it was as though they’d read my mind: metal barriers had been erected at the front of the stage, something that was definitely required if any of their previous shows were anything to go off.

Bonsai’s Chris Hough opened up the evening, at first playing a solo acoustic set of covers and originals, which included Stephen Fretwell’s ‘Run’, better known as the Gavin & Stacey theme tune. Hough was nervous, something he openly admitted to his listening audience and that came across in his performance. He was later joined by two of his fellow Bonsai band members on acoustic and electric guitar and they performed ‘Fruit Shoot’, ‘Yesterday’s Tomorrow’ and their current single ‘Clowes Avenue’, with Hough’s confidence blooming quickly. But something from his stripped back set must have resonated within him, as before leaving the stage, Hough remarked: “I might do this more often… everyone listens…”.

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Next up were Postal, a new band to the Stoke music scene and one that is yet to grace this blog. Postal were an interesting outfit: simple guitar melodies, loud catchy choruses and a front man who seemed to be lapping up every moment in front of the large crowd. Their sound was nothing too dissimilar from the bubbling indie scene that has taken local venues by storm, therefore they were an instant hit. Performing their own material as well as a cover of ‘Should I Stay Or Should I Go?’ by The Clash, Postal were a ball of energy and although their sound will only benefit from the usual refining that happens with constant gigging, their set at The Sugarmill on Friday night was promising.

The penultimate act of the evening was ALMA, a band whose presence could still be felt long after they’d left the stage. The buzz that surrounded them was indescribable and it was hard not to forget that the four piece weren’t headlining the evening. Jack Kennedy, frontman and, for one night only, a little bit of a local celebrity, absorbed it all. Every last second of it.

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I thought I’d seen them at their best at Ashcombury Music Festival earlier in the year, but the ALMA that performed ‘Taken For A Fool’, ‘Honey’, ‘Swine’ and ‘Help Me’ on Friday night, were an ALMA I’d definitely never observed before. In fact, I’d go as far as to say, with confidence, that ALMA are one of the best young bands on the scene right now. They’re a passionate bunch of talented musicians, with an obvious drive to make the music we all want to hear. Energy levels were through the roof as the band left the stage, their raucous crowd chanting their name.

In the minutes after ALMA left the stage, an odd atmosphere rippled its way across the venue. When a supporting band perform a headliner’s set, it’s hard not to feel a little bit deflated that you can’t have more. But the gauntlet had been thrown down and Release were raring to reclaim it. And oh boy, did they reclaim it.

It took a couple of songs to recharge their audience but once they had, Release were back in the saddle. They instantly reminded us all of why we paid our good pennies to see them perform. Opening with ‘C U Next Time’, ‘Flippin Heck’ and ‘Publik Urination’, Release took hold of the crowd and rocked them in their usual way. Front man Caleb Allport was up to his old tricks, conducting the crowd with his arms as though leading a full orchestra.

 

‘Back To The Old Routine’ took a very mellow turn, with audience members raising their lighters to the sky and making Allport eloquently observe: “You are fucking brilliant… thank you so much…”. The gratitude was written across his face. Despite his band’s consistency in selling out local venues, it’s quite obvious that this isn’t something any of the band take for granted. As they ploughed on through their set, performing ‘The Inevitable’ and ‘Neat Seat’, in which Allport used his mic stand as a prop, Release’s energy didn’t falter once. Neither did their ability to perform their music to a near note-perfect standard. Closing the set with ‘Repetition Repetition’, an as yet unreleased track, that’s when the band seemed to come into their own.

The new track displayed the maturity and growth that’s naturally occurred within Release’s sound and if this is what the future holds for the band, then I don’t think we have anything to worry about.

As the night drew to a close, the bands packed their equipment away and the under 18’s were turfed out of the venue, a thought quickly crossed my mind. If these are the kinds of local bands Stoke-on-Trent is producing and this is the size of the ever increasing local interest, I don’t ever see an end to this scene and its soundtrack of talented young people, in need of a kick of a different kind.

E.

TASKRZ – ‘Heart That Bleeds/Baby Keep Walking’ Review

Taskers, The Taskers or TASKRZ. It doesn’t matter what you choose to call them, Jack Tasker, Sophie Bret Tasker, Laura Ellement and Rob Haubus are four parts of a very important and highly prolific local band.

TASKRZ (as they now like to be known) is a name you’ll have probably have heard quite a lot, either through this blog or by dipping your toe into the Staffordshire and Cheshire music scene. With five years of making and releasing records behind them and several lineup changes later, a new version of TASKRZ is now ready to join the party.

Just before dropping brand new material, Jack Tasker and Sophie Bret Tasker released their version of ‘Seasons’ by Chris Cornell, a moving tribute to a lifelong inspiration and icon. It was a truly touching rendition filled to the brim with sadness and emotion, but there was something in the music that made me think that this was merely the calm before the storm. And I wasn’t wrong.

Exclusive: TASKRZ release ‘Seasons’ in memory of the late Chris Cornell 

‘Heart The Bleeds’ and ‘Baby Keep Walking’ are the first glimpses of the new TASKRZ and what they have to offer. They’re not strikingly different from anything they’ve released previously, except that this version of the band is far more sure of itself and its sound, than ever before.

‘Heart That Bleeds’, the title track, is reminiscent of that of their earlier work, although only in the most subtle of ways. Built around the powerful and emotive lyrics of the chorus, written by SBT and sung by her too, the rest of the song falls easily into place. The screeching of Jack Tasker’s guitar, the sound that has come to define their sound so well, pierces through the introduction and remains a prominent feature throughout.

There’s something rather heartbreaking about ‘Heart That Bleeds’ that’s hard to pinpoint, both lyrically and musically, however it’s something that comes into its own in the final moments of the track. If there’s anything that TASKRZ are good at, it’s creating poignant finales to songs and ‘Heart That Bleeds’ is no exception. All of the major elements of the track begin to fade away, one by one, until all that’s left is a lone electric guitar playing out against an empty reverberating backdrop.

Following behind is ‘Baby Keep Walking’, a cleaner cut, straight up rock ‘n’ roll song – no frills, just thrills. That screeching guitar of Jack Tasker’s that stands ten feet tall in ‘Heart That Bleeds’ remains, snaking its way through the track, growling impatiently like an uncontrolable beast that can’t be contained.

But the thing that’s been making everybody talk is the addition of local music celebrity and friend of the band Nixon Tate (without his Honey Club). It is, for those who know TASKRZ well, a collaboration that’s been a long time coming, with Tate regularly joining the band onstage to perform their version of ‘All Along The Watchtower’. But ‘Baby Keep Walking’ is all theirs and the addition of Nixon Tate only adds fuel to the raging TASKRZ fire.

Never before have TASKRZ sounded so comfortable as a band and so confident with the music they’re making. As mad and as wonderfully complex as ‘Wolf Party’, their last full length release, was, ‘Heart The Bleeds/Baby Keep Walking’ is a welcome return to a band who have returned to solid ground. No gimmicks, no flashing lights, no smoke machines and no beating about the bush. TASKRZ are back and you better believe it.

E.

Puppet Theory – ‘I, The King’ Single Review

At the beginning of June, emerging rock quartet Puppet Theory released their brand new single ‘I, The King’, alongside a music video with a story to tell.

The Manchester based band are on an exciting journey through the music industry, as they snake their way through packed out live shows and festival appearances. ‘I, The King’ is a further development of the sound they’ve already worked hard to create, with production level at an all time high. It’s the sound of a band who’ve just stepped up their game, justifying their recent rubbing of shoulders with popular emerging bands Cabezudos and Affairs.

‘I, The King’ hits you at full speed from the very moment you press play – and it rarely slows up. Frontman Chris Pickering’s distinct vocal style makes Puppet Theory stand out from the crowd and ‘I, The King’ is no exception. The catchy chorus punches through the music, making sure that you don’t forget this band easily.

But by far my most favourite part of the track is the brief instrumental that follows the second chorus. The pain and desperation bleeds through each instrument and, similar to that of Sam Lyon’s ‘Constellations’, without even a single word sung, Puppet Theory manage to express a bucket load of emotion through music alone. Amplified even more so by the mini-drama of the accompanying music video, ‘I, The King’ quickly goes from being a catchy 3-minute earworm to a rollercoaster ride of a song.

With recent gigs at The Rocking Chair, Sheffield and Islington’s O2 Academy, as well as the promise of more new music in the very near future, it’s clear that Puppet Theory are onto something rather good. Although ‘I, The King’ is not their debut, it certainly seems like the start of something new for Puppet Theory, a band with so much more to bring.