Rachaayluu – Angel (Review)

Latest single from Rachaayluu, who is currently studying vocals at BIMM in London, is the graceful, “Angel”. Based in London while studying but originally from the West Midlands, the track sounds influenced by that personal experiences of trying to be this type of “angel” to someone special in your life (a partner or even a friend) and they just not accepting who you really are. Saying that, I feel the track was intended to be more off “I’m the angel on your shoulder helping you, why won’t you realise I’m here?” vibe. Dropped only a few hours ago, this anticipated track is already making followers go crazy and creating well deserved fans for Rachael. 

Creating a dark pop atmosphere, the song begins with angelic vocal harmonies soaked in a layer of reverb. As the main lyrics come in, rhythmical vocals is how we remember the simple but effective lyrics. Before we know it, we’ve reached the first chorus. The lyric “i could be your angel darling, see me in the moonlight falling” is simply about a falling angel. “Did it hurt when you fell from heaven?” would be the perfect pick up line to associate with this track. The heavenly motion of the track makes you fall head over heels. The instrumentation is set on a type of loop that fits the repetitive message perfectly. Written and recorded by Rachael herself, the track was then mixed and mastered by Zac Viney. 

FFO: Charli XCX, Karin Park, SEYD

Score: 3.5/5

“Angel” is available on all platforms.

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She Makes War – Brace for Impact (Review)

Finally getting round to sitting down and reviewing this really great album. For people who don’t know, Bristol based, Laura Kidd has her own solo project called She Makes War. Think delicate, angelic vocals over powerful, melancholy grunge ballads, pretty cool huh? She Makes War is FIERCE. With already 3 albums and 2 EPS under her sleeve, “Brace for Impact” is her latest album. Released on the 5th October, it’s already had thousands of streams on Spotify. Also, the album made the official charts, as an independent record, that’s absolutely amazing work. In 6 days time, Laura and her band will be supporting Lonely the Brave for a few dates on their tour, 2019 is already off to a wonderful start for She Makes War. 

Starting off the album is the heavy single that is “Devastate Me.” “This is a song for the heavy-hearted” is the clear entrance to a timeless track. I personally feel that this song is about how time goes past so quickly and it’s a *middle fingers up* song to the listeners to “get your act together, live to the full.” Who knows, that’s just my point of view. Even though it sounds like a strong 90’s alt rock track, it has that refreshing sound of this era with Laura’s British accent making it feel a lot more personal. The powerhouse of the drums (Dan Whitfield) are in your face throughout, implying “there’s no escape, you’ve got to listen to this track.” In conclusion, it really is a big opener for this strong album. 

There’s a sense of insecurity with London Bites” that draws you more and more in. The track begins with quite dark chords and these scary like vocals that sound like lost souls trying to find their bodies. Basically, it’s gloomy as hell. As for the lyrics, it feels like Laura is singing about a past that she struggled with and had not found the strength to talk about. The vulnerability and anxiety lie deeper which makes the song a whole new level of personal. The arrangement of the track is huge, making the anxiety and sense of feeling empty a lot more comforting. It’s a safe haven. It’s a song that shows, it really is ok to not be ok. 

A melodic driven ballad, Strong Enough” sits nicely next to two intense tracks. “Don’t let go darling, we are strong enough” implies maybe a relationship falling apart, but Laura is really persistent to make sure it works. A lot different to the first two tracks, which is always great, the diversity with this track shows that Laura really does have a lot of different approaches to her music. She’s not afraid to experiment and that’s what makes being an audience listener/member so honourable to watch, plus it makes it so much more personal. This piano guided track is covered with heartache and intimate moments for the album. We can all relate to this track in some way or another. 

A heavy start filled with anger is quietly hushed around the 20 second mark to a much quieter approach. Undone” is about coping with the loss of someone and having someone reply “life goes on.” It’s completely natural to mourn someone and with this song, it makes the whole coping process feel a lot more human. Mourning someone leaves us feeling empty, and some of the time, angry. The imagery of this crosses with the track so perfectly. As for the music, everything comes together so well, and the vocal phrasing is memorable to the point that this track will probably be stuck in my head for the next 5 days (I’m not complaining.)

Just before half way through the album sits the captivating “Then the Quiet Came”. I think this could well be my favourite track off the album, the production is beautiful. The track begins with a raw demo of the track played on an acoustic guitar with no effects on Laura’s voice before reaching the main mix. The stripped back beginning makes you sit in your tracks thinking “wait, this is different, I like this.” The lyric “the water washed us clean away” begins the full band arrangement which takes us through a dream alt-pop journey. For a song that really is uplifting, the subject is quite sad. “I picture myself getting older, but it’s not with you” indicates a falling out of love motion happening. I really like the imagery of having this sad topic with some angelic, happy chords over the top. A true sense of independence blooming through the track and another nod to heartache. 

The 80’s has arrived… again. “Fortify” travels us through what feels like a surreal, psychedelic adventure through space. A lot different to the other tracks on the album, this shows another variation to Laura’s music. Fortify means to protect or even strengthen against an attack. The story is never really identified fully, but it does seem that it’s about becoming independent and being happier on your own. At the end of the day, you must always be happy with yourself before entering a relationship. The synth’s remind me of a fiction, video game, maybe this track is fiction and has a hidden meaning? I’m eager to find out the true meaning behind this now…

“Weary Bird” goes back to the alt rock path. Reminding me slightly of what sounds like an Elastica meets Nirvana arrangement, the grunge-esque of the track travels you back to the 90s. This is a track that you’d definitely head bang to live (or in your bedroom.) If you ever do get chance to see She Makes War live, make sure you actually WATCH and don’t go on your phone. You must get the full experience (so I’ve heard). I’m still due to go see/hear. In conclusion, it’s a great song. I personally feel it doesn’t sit as high as the others (not good to compare, I apologise), but it’s still a great contender.

Let Me Down is soft but heavy at the same time (?!) and this dynamically makes the song a lot more stronger. It feels like it lacks a lot of the balls as the other tracks have but it does sit nicely at 8th. Towards the end of the track sits a breakdown of a simple guitar solo, comforting the simple arrangement of the song. Next is a lot more brighter sounding track called “Dear Heart” which introduces Laura singing about a break up while playing a ukulele. A real, beautiful track. It’s somewhat the most confident song on the album. Laura is really being mature with every aspect of the words that she’s singing. It sounds like she was dealing with the break up and has now DEALT with it. Definitely the happiest sounding track on the album, it really is a wonderful piece of music. 

Taking roots back to the 90 alt rock sounding triumph that we’ve heard quite a fair bit on this album is the heavy-hearted “Love This Body.” It deals with self-love. You can tell it’s a big dig to beauty companies and people who think they can simply put on a face and it’ll make them ‘love themselves’. Beauty standards on social media and just everywhere in the world are disheartening for women. It annoys me because people believe that simply painting your face will make you ‘beautiful.’ Grow up. I stand with Laura and honour her for standing up for what she believes in. “Hold On” is an indie fused track that has a bold chorus that really does stand out. It has a sound that reminds me of a strong feeling of someone looking over your shoulder and making sure everything’s ok, in other words, it’s caring and taking care of you through Laura’s journey. 

“Miles Away” doesn’t feel miles away, it’s close and comforting to hear. The orchestral backing is humble and easy listening. The track deals with being abandoned and feeling left out from a close friend. If you’re a 90’s grunge, a soft dream pop ballad, 80’s psychedelic synths kind of person, this album is right up your street. If you’re not, give it a try, it just might surprise you. Before you know it, the mesmerising song comes to an end and so does the album…well, in that case, let’s play it again…

Favourite Tracks: Devastate Me, London Bites, Strong Enough, Undone, Then The Quiet Came, Fortify, Dear Heart, Miles Away

Score: 8/10

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PaperWolf – Talk About It (Review)

It’s safe to say that the indie rock scene at the moment is probably at the biggest it’s ever been. PaperWolf are here to just prove that even more. The power trio from the south of London already have quite a good discography under their sleeves. The new EP “Talk About It” is a collage of all the colourful things that the band bring together to make them PaperWolf. Released on 26th October, let’s talk about… Talk About It.

Instantly from the get go, “Do the Right Thing” has that raw indie London sound. Camden’s music scene sounds just like this. You can smell the London air from the fumes of this track (in the best possible way.) The track is rather short but definitely involves all the great aspects of a true indie piece. The harmonies blanket the main vocals in a warmth, comforting way, making us as the audience feel calm. Some parts of the track feel a bit rushed, but I think the adrenaline glowing from the composition just covers all the track for pure enjoyment throughout.

Crazily enough, the verse began with what I thought was David Byrne singing. The track really does have that Talking Heads feel from the vocal arrangements. As for the actual music part of things, it gets quite repetitive and predictable. Feeling like it doesn’t have anywhere near as much adrenaline as the first track does, this is just “The Way We Feel.” Saying that, the subject of the song is never really introduced, they’re simply just listing off the way they feel which is actually kind of clever, making us as the audience think “what and why are they FEELING these things?”

“Danny Slow Down” has more roughness to it, as the guitar chugging and repeated vocal hook line indicate that this is influenced by punk rock. Half way through, the track changes to a higher key creating another path for the track. The key change feels slightly more pop orientated which isn’t a surprise as Ronald Maas (bassist/vocalist) has always been a pop songwriter, I reviewed his EP “Aries” back in 2018. In conclusion, the track is fun and reminds me ever so slightly of the aura that “Johnny B. Goode” always delivers when playing it back after all these years. 

The final track on the EP is “Get Away” which has a subtle guitar effect that sounds inspired by the 80’s music scene bands such as; The Cure and The Smiths. The lyrics get straight to the point of feeling forced to get away from a certain situation. The music really implicates that too, it’s somewhat unwelcoming. It can either go two ways with putting a track like “Get Away” as the final track of an EP as it could leave the audience not feeling welcome OR is a clever artistry position as PaperWolf are showing that this is “the end.” In my eyes, it’s definitely the second option and a clever way to finish a great EP.

Favourite Tracks: Do The Right Thing, The Way We Feel, Get Away
Score: 7/10

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The Dollymops – Gap Year Tourists (Review)

You may never have heard of The Dollymops, but for any newbies, they’re a 4 piece, indie-punk band from Oxford. Drawing influences from the classic indie prodigies that are The Libertines, The Strokes, The Clash and that small band from Manchester called Oasis, The Dollymops second EP has that refreshing indie sound that every indie band strives to have. While still sounding quite vintage, the band have modernised the noughties indie sound with attitude.

“Plastic Proletariat” tells a story of a plastic (in other words “fake”), working class man. You know the band are quite angry with who ever this song is about with them even calling him a “condescending twat.” The angst and the pure indie accent that the singer portrays in this song identifies the song as a pure indie anthem. You can tell from the moment the song starts that this is such an important track in the Dollymops discography. Perhaps it could be a stepping stone towards a more rock and roll approach to their music. 

“Pied Piper” instantly reminds me of elements from The Kooks. It’s an upbeat, bouncy song that makes you tap your foot from the get go. As the vocals are introduced, I can’t help but think that Sean Stevens (lead vocalist) sounds similar to Morrissey. As for the instrumentation, it’s pretty straight forward all the way through and doesn’t really escalate. The subject of the song is situated about a “Pied Piper” and again, doesn’t really escalate to explain the true meaning. Perhaps it could be a metaphor and the pied piper is simply someone who encourages people to follow them and copy their actions. It’s never really stated properly what it’s about, making the audience feeling a little bit unsure of what’s going on. 

3 seconds of pure silence introduces “Addicts” before a melodic guitar riff enters with an identifiable punk tone. The chord progression is moved quickly and feels slightly rushed over the vocals. As the whole band enters, the mix of the song sounds like the band have recorded a live version in a garage, which I find really cool, you get the rawness of the band that way.. They probably didn’t actually record it in a garage though, it just sounds like it. Before we know it, the song has come to an end a bit too quickly. I feel that the song was screaming for a bigger arrangement to another world of possibilities for the band. 

The title track of the EP “Gap Year Tourists” rounds off the EP lovely. It’s a feel good song with lyrics full of wit and charm. The delivery of the song is simply just fun. This song would simply get any Dollymops fan on the dance floor straight away, just from the first bar. I can really hear The Smiths in this song and the post-punk vibe that’s radiating off this song is filled with nostalgia. A well crafted EP of some great songs. Their weak points aren’t even weak points, they are pure qualities of their work. I’d say the band need to get slightly tighter as there’s always room for improvement with any artist. The charisma of the band have really opened my eyes and they’ve definitely got a new fan over here. 

Favourite Tracks: Plastic Proletariat, Addicts, Gap Year Tourists
Score: 7/10

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Tom Misch – Geography (Review)

Not many folk had heard of Tom Misch until his latest release, the timeless album “Geography”  back in April. I can already tell that in a decade or so, this album will simply be put as a “classic”, as the production, the songwriting, the talent is oozing with goodness out of every pour. Tom is only 23 years old and comes from England’s capital, London. Having skills as a producer as well a songwriter is really like having the world in the palm of your hand. He has the skills to record at any time as he can just do it all by himself and that’s the main thing I like about Tom. He’s signed to a record label, but he records, produces primarily on his own which has turned into 2,000,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, so he must be doing something good.

“Before Paris”  is the album opener and it’s simply introduced as a monologue from an interview that Roy Hargrove (jazz trumpeter) did. The song develops into a jazz-funk groove with quite a modern-pop guitar tone to keep it a refreshing feel. The whole production on this track is warming and a lovely start to an album. The monologue seems to be about someone who loves to do what they do as a career or even a hobby. It really mixes the album to make us believer that Tom loves what he does and that’s so humbling to know. The prominent part to me is how the drummer hits the snare repeatedly making it sound so tight and clean.

I’d read numerous descriptions for the next and they’ve been making me laugh so much. “Lost in Paris” makes you feel that it’s simply about a love that Tom lost in Paris but apparently, according to Tom himself on twitter, it’s about a hard drive that he, well, lost in paris. If this is true, it makes the song feel a bit more humorous and we can sympathise in a way because we’ve all lost something before. The amount of times I’ve lost my house keys is off the charts. Unlike this song which is still IN the charts! The melody is easy listening and suited for the warm weather we’re having at the moment in England. The tracks features Goldlink – a Washington DC Rapper. He adds a flavouring which makes the song suited for Rap/R’N’B lovers.

The track “South of the River” is filled with elements of pop, funk and r’n’b music with classical even being a strong influence with the string violins being a crucial part to the song. The vocal melody is memorable and pleasing to the ear. The way that Tom sings the lyrics are rhythmical, creating the catchy funk element. When we reach the solo, the instrument plays a jazz type scale introducing another influence for the song. As a whole, the lyrics are simple and the song subject is simple too, but the production and sound that the song delivers is really lovely. The fade out of the keyboard & guitar is mesmerizing, making the song sound like a dream. It’s diverse and the song compliments different decades because it sounds like a 70’s dance hit, an 80’s roller disco track, 90’s club anthem & a 00’s/10’s “banger” (as our youth say.)

Reminding me of 90’s R’n’B bands such as The Fugees, “Movie” is a mellow, relaxing composition that features spoken word at the beginning from Tom’s sister, Polly Misch. Tom really does have his own style which is so great to hear originality in this day and age. Tom has a very soft, calm voice which really compliments this song perfectly. The low frequencies on all the instruments are truly mesmerizing as it’s had to produce low sounds well into music without it sounding just like noise. What’s so amazing is that you can hear all of the instruments in their own limelight.

“Tick Tock” is filled with laid back vibes which reminds me of Bonobo ever so slightly at the beginning, then it develops into an upbeat, dance track. It’s warm sounding and gives a similar influence of “Make Luv” by Room 5 featuring Oliver Cheatham. The violins are featured in this track which makes it resemble “South of the River.” It’s always nice to have familiarity on an album of songs that truly stand out. For an instrumental, it really holds your attention. Sometimes we get lost and don’t stick with a song because a lot of use primarily listen to lyrics and vocal phrases, but this song catches you throughout.

De La Soul, the iconic hip hop band are featured on It Runs Through Me.” It’s quirky and clever how the lyrics “she told me add a bass line” is when the actual bass line of the song begins. This lyric is a hint towards “Add the Bassline” by Jordan Rakei who is one of Tom’s dearest friends and collaborators. This song has been hyped  up to be one of the best on the album, probably cause De La Soul are on it, but I feel it’s a bit repetitive and isn’t as interesting as all the other songs so far.

A jazzed up version of the soul hit “Isn’t She Lovely” by the legend Stevie Wonder is dreamy and very lo-fi. It’s layered with guitar parts over each other creating this bright tone. It’s the shortest track on the whole album, but still an important track on the album. Featuring a cover on an original album is really hard sometimes because people have their own expectation of a cover already (from the original.) Tom picked this song that’s covered by a lot of people too, which makes it even harder to compete with, but either way, he pulls it off and it’s a lovely, safe rendition of the track.

“Disco Yes” is a love song that seems like a relationship is going through a rough patch with the hook line being “i STILL love you,” leaves us as the audience thinking, are they together or not? If they’re not, they should be an item again because they’re still longing for one another. I feel the song dragged on a bit too much and should have ended a bit earlier as it feels like it out did it stay. This could be what Tom longed for with this track to make it seem that the relationship did go bad but then the happiness of the song is telling us that there’s still hope for the two lovers. I just feel it should have definitely gotten to the point a bit quicker than it did.

“Man Like You” is another cover. Originally done by Patrick Watson. Tom’s version is more of a Jeff Buckley approach where Jeff would take a cover song and transform it in his own way using his voice and guitar. Tom features ambient violins in the background which creates a spaced out atmosphere. Plus Tom sings this version in a lower register to how Patrick would do it. It’s a really great cover of an even greater song. A must listen on the album for sure.

Loyle Carner who’s a British rapper/spoken word artist features on “Water Baby.” The song deals with how bad things affect us, but if we don’t let it get to us, the grey will turn to sunshine. It’s a positive song but I feel it lacks something. The lyrics, rhythm’s and melodies are great, but I feel dynamically it stays the same all the way through, like a straight line that’s never-ending. I’d definitely like to hear subtle dynamic shifts in this for sure.

As much as I really like Tom’s voice, it always has the same tone in all of the songs on Geography and he uses the same phrases in “You’re on My Mind” too. It’s a true heart-felt ballad which doesn’t really go anywhere.  The chord changes are really nice though as well as the main drum beat. As a singer myself, I like to hear singers sing different verses differently as it captures the listeners even further. The guitar solo is very John Mayer-esque which I’m not surprises in the slightest as that’s one of Tom’s biggest musical influences. John Mayer is a sensational songwriter and guitarist who’s very underrated, just like Tom.

Heavily sampled by “So Hard to Find” by Pazazz is basically “Cos I Love You” in a nutshell. There’s not much to say really about this song. It didn’t grab my attention at all and I feel it sounds similar to everything else on the album. It really lacks originality. It’s forced to feel like everything else I should say. I do like how Tom heavily influenced a 70’s disco track and gave it a fresh new light but it’s cheesy and unnatural.

“We’ve Come So Far” is the last track on the album and it literally repeats “we’ve come so far” all the way through which gets annoying after a little while. The rhythm and harmonies make the song appeal more to my ears. Although I feel it’s not the best, it sends a warm, positive message across to the listeners making it a happy finish to a great album.

Favourite Tracks: Before Paris, Lost in Paris, South of the River, Movie, Tick Tock, Isn’t She Lovely, Man Like You

Score: 8/10

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The Garage Flowers – Crashing The Party (Single Review)

London-based band, The Garage Flowers are a typical bad boy, dirty rock and roll band. The energy they create in their songs is unbelievable and reminds of what The Rolling Stones would have sounded like if they took their music down the slightly heavier guitar tone route. The Garage Flowers fan base is forever gaining with thousands of followers on their social media sites, and with their latest single, I’m not surprised. They’ve certainly gained a new fan in myself.

Crashing the Party is a real indie number that would definitely make anyone tap their foot too. The band have elements of brit pop in their music, and I can definitely hear Pulp in this song. It’s a fun, witty, indie number that will definitely go down well at any gig for sure. The catchy tune has got over a 1,500 views on YouTube in 2 months. The song was produced by Paul Tipler (The Horrors, Carl Barat, Squeeze), so no wonder the production is clear and features the essence of a great dance track. If you’re ever in the neck of the woods that The Garage Flowers are in, go crash their party and have a fun-filled night of laughter and music.

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Score: 3/5