Forthcoming from Slow Riot

Slow Riot

I featured Slow Riot on the blog last year, when their debut single ‘City Of Culture’ came out – and you can read the interview I did with them here. I very much enjoyed that song – which went on to be placed at no.19 in last year’s Festive 50 on this blog, coming from their EP Cathedral.

Anyway, a new year – and a second mighty fine single from the Limerick-based band, entitled ‘Trophy Wife.’

Slow Riot support Girls Names on February 27th at Limerick Dolans and have confirmed a London headline show at The Waiting Room on Monday 25th April. ‘Trophy Wife’ is released on April 15and the 7″ can be pre-ordered here

…and if you still haven’t heard ‘City Of Culture’ yet (come on, keep up!) you can stream that below:

A song for today #27: High Violet


This was another song that arrived in my inbox that I just happened to give a spin to one morning, and found myself singing for the rest of the day.

There’s not much I can say about High Violet – whilst their name is also that of an album by The National, the four members – Smem, Ricky, Dan and Emily seem to pick up where Haim left off, a glorious take on 1980s Fleetwood Mac. This is a debut single – and while I can’t find out much more about the Australian four-piece, other than that they seem to come from Sydney and Adelaide, just take this song on its own merits. It’s bloody fabulous!

A song for today #26: Swells

Originally from Missouri, and now based Oklahoma City Sophia Wells performs under the name Swells. With a soul-infused take on pop, she takes influences such as Allen Stone and Ella Eyre, as well as earlier R&B artists like The Supremes and Otis Redding, and today releases her debut single ‘White Noise.’ Nothing to do with the AlunaGeorge track of a few years back, the artist who I hear most is Amy Winehouse.

I’ve played this quite a lot since it dropped into my inbox a few days ago – and it’s out today (and yes, I bought it to set everyone a good example). It’s short but sweet, and I look forward to hearing more from her.

Presenting…Playing House

Playing House

Photo credit Veronica Aguilar photography

It’s probably not fair to judge a band on the basis of one track alone, but before my first play of ‘New Haircut’ by Playing House had even finished, I knew I had to feature them on the blog.

Formed just ten months ago in East London, Playing House are Mel Patman (vocals & guitar), Izzy Cox (vocals & bass) and Killian McCorley (guitar). Shortly to release their debut EP New Haircut, the first track to be released from that is the title track. To describe it as youthful is not to infer it is naive or unpolished; rather it is to say that there is an optimism and freshness in the sound, an excitement that is infectious, and like all decent pop songs, before you’ve even finished playing it, you know you want to play it again and again.

Playing House say that their name ‘comes from the idea that we are all learning how to be a grown up and the pressure to keep it all together” and their songs are full of honest observations on life, love and a fear of everything.’ On the evidence so far, they’re going to be just fine.

This is a live video of another song from the forthcoming EP ‘Grapefruit.’

This is another song from YouTube ‘Lion and the Lamb.’

Album Review – De Rosa

de rosa

De Rosa -‘Weem.’

For a town of roughly 20,000, Bellshill has more than punched above its weight musically: not only were Sharleen Spiteri and Sheena Easton born in the town, so too were Teenage Fanclub, BMX Bandits and the Soup Dragons formed here, and also De Rosa.

This is the band’s third album, and their first album in 7 years. Having released Mend and Prevention on the Delgados’ Chemikal Underground label, the band have moved to another Glasgow independent label, run by another of Scotland’s most acclaimed bands, in this case Mogwai’s Rock Action.

The album starts off very strongly indeed. The opening ‘Spectres’ moves from understated to anthemic and back again. It would have been easy to fill the album with tracks like this – fortunately the band and consequently the album (up to a point) are stronger for them not doing so. Second track ‘Lanes’ sees them in more frail musical territory, as if forging a link between Alasdair Roberts and Frightened Rabbit. Then ‘Chip On My Shoulder’ takes the album to someplace else, whilst continuing the theme of the album
– and it’s deservedly been another one of the tracks to do the rounds from the record.

The thing is that while there’s a beautiful Scottish melancholy running through the album, it does let go slightly of your attention from the fourth track ‘Scorr Fank Juniper’ (no, that’s not a spelling mistake) onwards until the penultimate track ‘Devils.’ The reality is that losing attention with the middle part of this album is something that happened several times with the album, not just after one play.

So, it’s good to have De Rosa back, and on the evidence if this album, they certainly have it in them to make a really strong album, and I think their style is far better served on an independent label than a major that would have most likely insisted on several facsimiles of a couple of tracks. Let’s hope that however long their fourth album takes, that they make sure it plays to all their strengths.


Weem is out now on Rock Action.

Album Review – The Cult

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The Cult -‘Hidden City.’ (Cooking Vinyl)

Hidden City is the Cult’s tenth studio album. It’s 32 years since their debut Dreamtime, and in that time Messrs Astbury and Duffy, with a long list of members (one-time drummer Matt Sorum reputedly joined Guns’n’Roses for a bit of peace) have by and large raised a hearty two fingers to the post-punk scene they emerged from, and shown that what they want to do is rock. That attitude may not have endeared them to sections of the British music press, but it’s won them a lot of fans, and certainly at times has seen them, ahem, straddling the camps of goth, metal and indie.

Having originally called time on the band in 1995, the band have now been reformed longer than they were split. This album is the final part of a trilogy that began with Born Into This and continued with Choice Of Weapon. For the most part, it’s a fairly solid Cult album. The three tracks that did the rounds before the release of the album ‘Hinterland,’ ‘Deeply Ordered Chaos’ and ‘Dark Energy’ are among the strongest tracks here. Indeed, ‘Dark Energy’ is a very strong start to the album, the problem is that it perhaps overshadows some of the rest of the album, meaning that some of the record pales a bit by comparison. It’s not an overlong record, although perhaps a couple of tracks left off the record would have made it a bit stronger overall.

Whilst it’s perhaps unlikely to win them lots of new fans, those who have loved The Cult for many years (including this scribe) will find much to enjoy here. And it’s clear that well over a quarter of a century that decades after their emergence, there are many who are still interested in what the band have to say.


Hidden City is out now on Cooking Vinyl

Album Review – Plastic Animals

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Plastic Animals -‘Pictures From The Blackout.’ (Song, By Toad Records)

Well, no-one could accuse Plastic Animals of rushing things. It’s been a number of years since their debut EP A Dark Spring, and finally we get their debut album Pictures From The Blackout. Signed to Edinburgh’s Song, By Toad Records, a label who have put out much fine stuff over the best part of a decade now, it’s important that they found a label who understood what they were doing and gave them time to develop (as opposed to some coked-up London twat sitting their stroking his hipster beard and wondering where the singles were).

So yes, the reality is that Plastic Animals will come under the heading of those artists who take their time (see also: eagleowl, Blue Nile, Stone Roses), rather than those who work at a terrifying rate (see: The Fall, Ty Segall). But the reality is that it has been worth it. In a world drowning with indie by numbers bands devoid of charisma (no wonder so many people fall for ‘pop’ music, which is a whole lot more fun), Plastic Animals show that indie rock does still have some tricks up its sleeve. So while they describe themselves as being ‘atmospheric sludge rock’, there’s hints of shoegazing at its most dreamy, krautrock at its most rocky and least formulaic and most importantly of all, actual, y’know, songs. Each successive play of this album has shown this to be an album I would be pleased to have bought, as the waves of noise, psychedelica and everything else, that kick in right from album opener ‘Ghosts’ and by track three ‘Colophon’ seem to be bringing in a wave of melancholia – and that’s not just the Sunday afternoon slump kicking in.

A debut album for the band to be proud of, then.

…Oh, and how much do I like this album? Put it this way: even though I was sent a copy to review, I’ll be buying a physical copy out of my own pocket. That good.


Pictures From The Blackout is released on Song, By Toad Records on February 8, 2016

Album Review – Emma Pollock


Emma Pollock -‘In Search Of Harperfield.’ (Chemikal Underground)

This year marks twenty-one years since Emma Pollock co-founded the legendary Scottish label Chemikal Underground, and released her first record as part of the seminal Scottish band The Delgados ‘Monica Webster.’ And yet with the release of this, her third solo album, and first solo album in six years, she shows that musically she is not harking back to the past but rather moving forward in the present.

That said, it’s a record that’s shaped by her family history, and she makes sense of it in the here and now. The first track to do the rounds was ‘Parks And Recreation’, which recalls the teenage experience of just wanting to enjoy life in the local park, without the local bullies spoiling it for everyone. That’s not the only reference to history here.

The title refers to the very first home that her Parents, Kathleen and Guy Pollock bought a few years before she was born. The man on the front of the album sleeve is her father, working on the land. Pollock has acknowledged that the death of her mother and her father’s illness have shaped this album.

Musically, this might just be the most accomplished album she has been involved in since The Delgados’ The Great Eastern. It’s shaped by the gorgeous arrangements of Malcolm Lindsay and Pollock’s
husband Paul Savage which add yet another depth to the record, in the same affecting way that Dave Fridmann’s production on the aforementioned Eastern album revealed new textures to the band’s sound. Like all skilled artists, there’s a number of songs that stand out on their own merits (were she in the unenviable position of being on a major, the A&R guys would be able to hear loads of singles on
the record), and amongst the highlights are album opener ‘Cannot Keep A Secret’, the devastating ‘Intermission’ and ‘Alabaster.’

So a happy coming of age to her recording career and record label running then, and what better way to mark it than with the release of this album?


In Search Of Harperfield is out now on Chemikal Underground

And from the archives, an interview I did with Emma Pollock back in 2007

The long-awaited return of PJ Harvey


Five years since her last album, Let England Shake, PJ Harvey will release her sixth album The Hope Six Demolition Project on April 15. It’s her ninth studio album since 1992’s Dry album.

The album tracklisting is as follows:

1. The Community of Hope
2. The Ministry of Defence
3. A Line in the Sand
4. CChain of Keys
5. River Anacostia
6. Near the Memorials to Vietnam and Lincoln
7. The Orange Monkey
8. Medicinals
9. The Ministry of Social Affairs
10. The Wheel
11. Dollar, Dollar

The first track to be released from the album is ‘The Wheel’ which is available to download now, and will be available as a 7″ shortly.