Category: Reviews

Album review: Joe Go Beat

JOE GO BEATAlea Iacta Est[self-released] State-of-the-nation albums are by their very nature hit and miss affairs. Attempts to encapsulate the modern turmoils of the UK usually come off pretty fragmentary….

Alea Iacta Est

State-of-the-nation albums are by their very nature hit and miss affairs. Attempts to encapsulate the modern turmoils of the UK usually come off pretty fragmentary. But with slowthai sort of doing one last year maybe it’s something Northamptonians feel drawn to; something in the Nene water that Joe Go Beat has been busy supping on too.

Anyroad, Joe Martin has done a 35 minute, lockdown written/recorded solo album that’s not quite full of his usual piss and vinegar in GoGo Loco [and previously The Mobbs], but none-the-less is certainly not the ramblings of a contented individual. Here he utilises some of his previous central influences – The Who, Dr. Feelgood, Billy Childish, The Black Keys – to create an often more restrained version of his usual primitive rock’n’roll displays. Whether mining garage rock, pub rock or something more rootsy, it’s these familiar tropes on which he hangs his delicate barbs at Brexit-loving little England.

Opener ‘Dirty Old Rag’ does little to disguise its target – The Sun newspaper and their ilk. “Dirty old rag/The vomit splash/The xenophobe voice/Filling heads with trash/Dirty old rag/Solely to blame/For every evil/For all our pain”. There’s little room for wiggle in deciphering that message. And it comes attached to rhythm’n’booze barnstormer – the old tactic of getting them dancing and taking it all in subliminally…or something.

“Sold a lie by the tuneless clown”. There’s no let-up on songs two and three, ‘Albion Town’ and the title track. He takes aim with both barrels at David Cameron’s Brexit vote, the public discourse that followed, and where it has all ultimately lead us. If there’s a more prescient lyric around at the moment than “Scrolling up and down on your media feed/Until your inquisitive fingers bleed” this writer has yet to hear it [incidentally if you want the lyrics they are all there to read on Bandcamp].

‘Ipso Facto’ righteously growls along like an update of The Sonics garage punk classic ‘Psycho’, berating how within British narratives it is often the empty vessels that make the most noise [hello Katie, hello Piers]. The firmly tongue-in-cheek exhortations of ‘Jingo Man’, meanwhile, tells of a man who “Will save us all/From the terrors of foreign rule”. Joe’s interest in British wartime culture provides the title of ‘Stand By Your Beds’. An acerbic takedown of small-minded English people, the songs levity is suddenly absent in the pay-off: “Look out at the stars/You stupid blind fools/We are specs of dust/On the universe’s walls”.

Sometimes it can overwhelm with so much bile to ingest; ‘The Hope & The Glory’ is a smashing Berry/Dylan-esque rocker, but it’s like being bashed over the head with one too many concepts. But that’s not really an issue; you don’t come to this album for love songs. The whole album can be neatly summarised as one man’s bafflement at the post-Brexit landscape. The chorus of ‘Walking Backwards’ is thus: “I thought we’d left behind/The blue, white, red and pompous kind/But it seems we’re walking back/Walking backwards [clap clap]”. And that’s quite heartbreaking when you think about it. Final song ‘T.T.F.N.’ is a wave goodbye to the European Union [“Tut ta for now my old friend/Let’s hope we meet again”].

This album is perhaps a cathartic outpouring of resistance to our Brexit betters, a plea for other ways. Either that or he’s just a bloody Remoaner! This album is a sorrowful collection, full of regret and with little evidence offered to stay positive. Yet it remains an enjoyable ride for the spirit with which each note is played, and the intelligence coursing through every hard-written line. You only improve your future by reflecting on your past mistakes, after all.

Phil Moore

Alea Iacta Est is out now via the usual digital platforms

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Step On: the week’s best new music tracks [May 29]

New Boots editor Phil Moore takes you through the best new music tracks this week. Billy Lockett ‘One World’Northampton lynchpin Lockett is your perfect isolation artist: much of his recordings…

New Boots editor Phil Moore takes you through the best new music tracks this week.

Billy Lockett ‘One World’
Northampton lynchpin Lockett is your perfect isolation artist: much of his recordings feature just him and his trusty grand piano, so musical life hasn’t changed that drastically for him. But this is something of a left-turn – an instrumental ‘classical’ piece. Before you panic, its actually excellent: his dexterous fingers taking the listener on a moving journey into the recesses of the mind. Or, if you will, the soundtrack to exploring a deserted house filled with half-remembered memories. An album of this stuff is promised.

Squid ‘Broadcaster’
The London quintet are gearing up for their sure-to-be-a-game-changer debut album, and drop another mini beast to tease us some more. Dystopian jazz sci-fi feels from this one, a slow building pulse of proggy doom that doesn’t really go anywhere, except towards inner space. Not as immediate as some of the previous singles, but still gives the all-important goose pimples.

The Mysterines ‘I Win Every Time’
“Even Robert Johnson said I’d win every time”. And the Liverpool band led by singer/guitarist Lia Metcalfe do just that. Fierce, relentless, filthy; some adjectives to help underpin the sheer excitement that these elemental, stomping, primal songs produce. Their sold-out live shows have been causing some serious palpitations amongst those in attendance. Everything is looking blood-red rosy for them, in fact.

Roska ft. Elle Delaney ‘Give Me Some More’
Londoner Roska deals in funky house moves, and yet his ‘Internal Sunshine’ EP sees him working on a more mellow tip with a trio of female vocalists, including NN’s Delaney. This opening track bears witness to some nice electronic shuffling beats, and her distinctive vocals pine for the old times when we could go out and party til the small hours. It’s also a celebration of feminine energy, as is the whole spacious and progressive EP.

Jamie Lenman ‘The Road To Right’
The singer, guitarist, illustrator, and all-round cult hero has been keeping the quality high this past decade as a solo artist. Taken from forthcoming mini-album King Of Clubs, this second preview single is a shouty little monster, bringing the Pixies/Nirvana loud-quiet dynamic, but with plenty of layered vocals and general drama to have you basking in it quickly. His last single was called ‘The Future Is Dead‘. The man is a sage; listen in.

Maddox Jones ‘Headspace’
The Born Stranger artist is now releasing music under his own name. The title track from his forthcoming EP, he’s worked with Dave Crawford [Kinships] to create a warm, ambient-house winner that takes a spacey opening and builds to that singalong chorus. Perfect for 6am Ibiza sunrises, it tackles head-on the fragile mind state that requires human connection to fix. The same but different, this version of Jones is onto something special with ‘Headspace’, and long may it continue.

Riskee & The Ridicule ‘Blue Jacket’
“I don’t know from who/But I’ve got my country back”. A Brexit song from the Kent rap rockers, it’s spitting pithy truths to have the Daily Mail brigade huffing and puffing all the way to their drawing rooms. “You’re a joke/You ain’t woke/You’ve always been dead” is as about a good a put down as you’ll hear in 2020. Punk rock is safe as houses in their hands; go buy this and then wait for their next tour announcement – it just might change your life.

The Moons ‘How Can I Convince You To Love Me?’
Taken from the Home Demos & Rarities, Vol 1 album hastily compiled as a lockdown stopgap until their fourth album proper hits the streets in the second half of 2020. This one is fully formed; arranged with the full gamut of instruments, it has a vaguely Middle Eastern melodic pull, and a distinct sea shanty rhythm. It’s a quality, catchy number that really shouldn’t have been shelved, so it’s great to finally see it have its moment in the sun.

Thee MVPs ‘A Song For Councillor’
“We only get together when someone else has met their end”. Leeds garage-punks today release their second long-player, Science Fiction. This latest single about a passed relative is them at their most boisterous: fat guitar/bass riffs, muso shredding in the middle section, and memorable “bar ba-ba-ba-bar”s til the cows come home. It’s Thee Oh Sees meets Black Flag, and its fucking glorious, as is everything they do.

Amii Dawes ‘Uninspired’
“I just want to be admired/Is that too much to ask?” Definitely not, for this uber-melancholic slow-burner is a real heartbreaker that perfectly underlines Dawes talent. A voice dripping with hidden depths, these soul-searching five minutes, full of self-doubt, are wrapped in a simple but haunting arrangement. Based around plinky piano and foreboding Hammond, it might just push you to tears. The title is a misnomer; this is beguiling, sophisticated singer-songwriter fare.

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Album review: Bushpigs

BUSHPIGSBushpigs[Massive Rodent Records] Regular Northampton gig-goers will recognise Bushpigs as the ultimate party band. Most weekends you’ll find them at weddings, birthdays and bar mitzvah’s playing classic covers with a…

[Massive Rodent Records]

Regular Northampton gig-goers will recognise Bushpigs as the ultimate party band. Most weekends you’ll find them at weddings, birthdays and bar mitzvah’s playing classic covers with a smattering of original tunes. But between 1994 and 2001 the band recorded a substantial amount of music which, rather criminally, had remained unreleased. Finally the cream of those songs are collected here on their 11-track, debut Bushpigs album.

This album features recordings from the bands original line-up: Tony Riseley, Steve Goddard, Dave Briggs and Keiran McLaughlin, plus their current incarnation which finds Tony and Steve joined by Steve Briggs and Duncan Bisatt. The first thing to note on spinning this album is how well the tracks hang together, despite the intervening years and shifting personnel. The riff that kicks off opening cut ‘Face’ is a thing of beauty and has a circular motif that recalls ‘Eton Rifles’ or ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’. Perhaps attesting to its age the recording is slightly flawed; the drums sound empty and hollow, and the overall feel is of a good quality demo. On the plus side it’s raw energy perfectly captures the excitement of Bushpigs in the live environment.

Another groovy riff heralds ‘Indian Song’ which skips like a stone across water, while the addition of synths adds deep, rich textures. Capturing the edgier end of the 1980s (think Orange Juice, or Dub Sex) the track races towards a swirling vortex with cries of “Hare Krishna” and shades of neo-psychedelia. On an album of many facets ‘Sometimes’ has a Merseybeat vibe with a stop/start riff that recalls The Beatles ‘Taxman’ while some sultry saxophone adds a Roxy Music flavour. It’s a combination that works rather well. Gothic inflections, meanwhile, juxtapose a bright, breezy chorus for an interesting tension of opposites on ‘Honest Man’.

The ethereal ‘Vegas’ is the perfect driving song, and evokes images of road trips across desert plains, especially when the guitars are set loose for some bluesy soloing. In another shift of gears the snappy and angular ‘X-Ray Eyes’ has some choice samples, reminiscent of Big Audio Dynamite, while the skating synth brings to mind Phantasmagoria-era Damned. ‘Nervous Breakdown’ arrives with all guitars blazing, before ‘Sweet Thang’ takes a more funky turn. Raunchy rock n’ roll doesn’t get more visceral, or vital, than ‘Little By Little’, a track that simply smoulders with sensuality. However the Bushpigs aren’t all testosterone-fuelled ballsy rock: two ballads intersperse the more raucous numbers ensuring Bushpigs ebbs and flows evenly. Cloudbursts and keys that fall like rain permeate ‘Daylight’s Almost Gone’, whilst ‘Reach Out For The Light’ ends the album on a rather wistful, ominous tone.

The wealth of experience that each individual member brings to the constituent whole means a Bushpigs album wasn’t going to be anything but solid. If you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing them live, Bushpigs let’s you know what all the fuss is about.

Peter Dennis

Bushpigs is out now on all digital platforms. Physical formats will follow after covid-19

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Step On: the week’s best new music tracks [May 22]

New Boots editor Phil Moore takes you through the best new music tracks this week. Arlo Parks ‘Black Dog’“It’s so cruel/What your mind can do for no reason”. A timely…

New Boots editor Phil Moore takes you through the best new music tracks this week.

Arlo Parks ‘Black Dog’
“It’s so cruel/What your mind can do for no reason”. A timely sentiment, as its Mental Health Awareness Week. The young west Londoner continues to make incredible, tender songs in the short time she’s been releasing music. This wise-beyond-her-years trippy, cinematic indie-folk will appeal to fans of Laura Marling, Beth Gibbons, and Bon Iver. She is tipped for big things, and its not hard to understand why.

IDLES ‘Mr. Motivator’
One for the moshers, the first single from the upcoming third album by Bristolian post-punks. The band want to “encourage our audience to dance like no one is watching and plough through these dark times with a two-tonne machete of a song”. And there’s no doubt it’s a slaying track. “Let’s seize the day!/You can do it!” After hearing this you will fell like you can pretty much do anything.

Flyte ‘Easy Tiger’
Previewing their LA-recorded second LP, the London folk-rock trio are still as wispy as ever. A band which keeps building their fanbase [you may have caught live at the Roadmender [2015] or The Black Prince [2017]], they weave a chugging guitar motif and warm vocal that’s a little reminiscent of Eliot Smith. Singer Will Taylor said he was “exorcising shame, heartbreak, jealousy” with this one, and it’s bleak realism does a notable job in reflecting such emotional dissonance.

Pottery ‘Hot Heater’
This, on the other hand, is a backs-to-the-wall art-rock attack of which we haven’t really heard in a while. With band members drawn from across Canada and the UK, they mine from the same well of mounting tension and shifting time signatures as the likes of Television and Talking Heads. If it wasn’t so well executed you might shout ‘pastiche’, but it possesses enough joie de vivre to simply be utterly lovely.

CB ‘Tell U’
Charlie Borthwick is a producer possessing much skill, harnessing the club vibes and taking things in whatever direction he feels like. On this garage number it’s a slightly restrained throwback to the classic ’90s sound, with spacey female vocals and plenty of peaks and troughs to take you on a sonic journey.

Ray Gemini x Li-Likeisaid ‘Fake Love’
Another soulful Harlz production, this Northampton three-way is the latest in a working relationship that’s been harnessed over time and now flies. The flow never stops between these two upcoming rappers, and if you can keep up with the pace you’re in for a treat.

Torus ‘The Feeling’
Second official single from the Milton Keynes/N-Town group featuring prolific musicians Alfie Glass and Harry Quinn. Thick and sludgy like the best grunge/stoner rock trios are, there’s no escaping the heavy attack and overwhelming sense of being smothered in hot grease. The small amount of vocals on this one are heavily distorted, with dirty lo-fi garage vibes preferred to diamond-bright melody. Note: you must see live when all the shitness is over.

Hxrmz LB ‘Baddest’
Liam Berry’s third single, another Northampton rapper with great collaborative work with the likes of Napps and Dreadz, and part of the ‘Lay It Down’ scene. A fan of the vocoder and a sexy beat, this one, with production from Mayan, is a full-on lush dancehall club sound.

Teenage Waitress ‘You Ain’t Got It Bad’
Southampton bedroom production from Daniel J. Ash [not the Bauhaus guitarist!], this Colorama Records release is his third single, all from a future album called Mucho Gusto! It’s a sweet, synth-heavy psychedelic-pop winner, using layered sounds and repetitive phrases like a half-forgotten nursery rhyme. You’ll be humming this one for days.

philclarkful ‘Wither’
“Watch the weather outside/While you wither inside”. Born out of a small skit from Boris Johnson’s lockdown announcement speech, this first release from Northampton-based Phil Clark is a catchy ode to the fucked up times in which we live. Crisp production and ’90s sensibilities make this a wide jeans wearing, Odelay-style winner.

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Step On: the week’s best new music tracks [May 15]

New Boots editor Phil Moore takes you through the best new music tracks this week. slowthai ‘ENEMY’“Have ups and downs like an elevator”. After a rather public down last February…

New Boots editor Phil Moore takes you through the best new music tracks this week.

slowthai ‘ENEMY’
“Have ups and downs like an elevator”. After a rather public down last February there were plenty of people writing off the Northampton rapper. And to some degree he addresses that on this track, as the simple title pun on NME makes clear. After threatening to kill kids [ironically, calm down] he gives his real message – “I need the revenge, so I made a plan/To kill you with kindness”. It’s not exactly a response song, but there’s enough intrigue there, and it shows he really isn’t someone to take things lying down. As Darko and Sammo dish out the beats to that make you sit up and listen, it’s great to hear him again doing his thing his way, as only he knows how.

Paul Weller ‘Village’
Another preview song from upcoming album On Sunset [as in, Boulevard], Paul now moves into summery pop territory. If it gives you Style Council vibes, well, that might be because Mick Talbot is there on keys, as well as usual NN collaborators Andy Crofts and Ben Gordelier. A string-laden and Fender Rhodes-led ode to appreciating your blessed life as it is, it is self-consciously sickly sweet, and your appreciation will depend on how much of a sweet tooth you have. If we can’t have much of a proper summer in 2020 this goes some way to lifting us up anyhow.

BLOXX ‘Lie Out Loud’
The suburban London indie rockers are causing a real stir with their anthemic rousers, working with a sound reminiscent of noughties-era Manic Street Preachers, or even Republica. The title track from their forthcoming debut album [Aug 14], the trio – led by vocalist Fee Booth – are aiming straight for your heart on this confessional sing-a-long

Sleaford Mods ‘Second’
The single chosen to promote odd and sods album All That Glue [out today]. It was recorded in early 2017, just after the English Tapas sessions. It’s another winner from of aggro-pop from one of the UK’s most interesting acts. Vocalist Jason Williamson bemoans his runner-up status to the brands that he consumes. They’re a Marmite band, yes – but Marmite is lovely, isn’t it. “Full ranking!”

Sarpa Salpa ‘Forwards Backwards’
The seventh single from Northampton’s indie-pop masters, and this one has bought along the robotic funk. The first number to feature the contributions of keys player Meg Amirghiasvand [Future Love, OhBoy], its a smooth neon-lit smasher. Singer Marcus gives himself quite a workout in the chorus, and you can imagine the crowds getting right into this in a field sometime in 2021 [weep]. If they don’t take over the UK soon it will be nothing short of criminal.

Mint ‘Turbulence’
Grimsby. Always hated the place since I witnessed the Cobblers lose to them at Wembley in the play-off final back in the day. But finally I can forget all that as they have an ace garage-punk outfit making waves. Filthy drums, filthier bass, guitars that buzz more than pylons…it’s hard not to get turned on by this primal rock’n’roll noise. Singer Zak has an excellent slashed-throat delivery, and *stop reading this and go and listen below*.

Bugeye ‘When The Lights Go Out’
London disco-punks whack out the barrelhouse piano to aid this bouncy sci-fi glam sacrificial offering to the music gods. Inch by inch Bugeye are building a rich name for themselves with great live shows and killer singles, and luckily for us they should be hitting Northampton once lockdown is over. Kitsch power-pop fun beckons…

Neil’s Children ‘The First Conversation That We Ever Had’
This is a turn-up for the books. The London art-punks were one of the leading lights circa 2004 when decadent rock’n’roll had its moment in the sun again. And for good reason: music connoisseur John Linger was able to shift his talents continually. After adventures that took them more psychedelic and electronic, they went away; Linger is now in Girls In Synthesis. But this reunion is a touch; grasping at that maniacal energy of old that captured so many willing hearts back then. An album of this style would be a pleasant, full-circle outcome.

Evolution ‘Lover’
Northampton/Birmingham whizz-kid Josh Worley-Ebbs brings the club beats for an Ibizan summer that’s not happening in 2020. Your back garden will have to do. ‘Lover’ is a booming house track, with an in-your-face vocal delivery. He’s a unique talent, this one.

Broken Empire ‘Locked Out Of Heaven’
Daventry/Oxford hard rockers have been gaining a lot of critical praise in the right places over the past couple of years. This one is a curveball though, a Bruno Mars cover. It transforms the reggae-pop original into a crunching monster, keeping the strong melody and little else – adding the inevitable double kick beats and guttural screams to complete a smart metallic metamorphosis.

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Album review: hazeyjane

HAZEYJANEAnima Rising[Tu-Kay Records] Three years in the making, this is the sophomore album from the Kettering-area musical collective fronted by singer-songwriter Chris Brown. Recorded and produced by Ash Tu-kay, Anima…

Anima Rising
[Tu-Kay Records]

Three years in the making, this is the sophomore album from the Kettering-area musical collective fronted by singer-songwriter Chris Brown. Recorded and produced by Ash Tu-kay, Anima Rising presents ambient folk moodpieces that touch on mythical subjects in highly poetic form.

The title is a Jungian concept, denoting a rising of feminine energy. It’s used by Joni Mitchell on ‘Don’t Interrupt the Sorrow’, which, as a key touchstone artist for hazeyjane, is probably where it came from. ‘Inside Out’, the opener, is a lovely mix of Mitchell’s mid-70s experimentation, and the similarly inclined explorer of inner space, John Martyn. It’s a beautiful, mature song; multiple voices weaving the story, a prominent and hypnotic bassline, and attacks by a string quartet occasionally penetrating the stoned vibes.

The album proceeds in similar fashion, ‘Trade Winds’ being a Floydian meditation on uncertainty [“the cracks between wrong and right may never seal”]. Brown’s rich voice delivering an unmistakable message of fear and regret. The title track brings piano solemnity into the mix, and it’s not unwelcome.

‘Haunting Hands’ delves a little into prog, a lengthy instrumental opening passage before the reverberating guitar and voice of Brown brings it back to earth. ‘Gwendolyn’ brings acoustic guitar to the fore, whilst ‘Alraune’ ruminates on unholy love.

The back end of the album ties everything up nicely. ‘Lost’ is fronted by Corinne Lucy and her luxurious tones; an old folk voice from a forgotten time re-emerging with new tales to tell. Closer ‘Hush, Little Sister’ has a strong emotional pull; it says as much in its spaces as it does through its’ crashing waves of guitar and percussion.

Alongside fellow traveller Kenneth J Nash the hazeyjane troupe bring spiritual, otherworldly vibes to the NN music scene, and we are deeply indebted to them for conjuring such spaces. Anima Rising is a rich and beguiling piece of work: an intoxicating, immersive experience which brings much reward on repeat listening.

Phil Moore

Anima Rising is out now on streaming platforms, and CD direct from the band

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Step On: the week’s best new music tracks [May 8]

New Boots editor Phil Moore takes you through the best new music tracks this week. Fontaines D.C. ‘A Hero’s Death’“Life ain’t always empty”. They’re back so quick we’ve had little…

New Boots editor Phil Moore takes you through the best new music tracks this week.

Fontaines D.C. ‘A Hero’s Death’
“Life ain’t always empty”. They’re back so quick we’ve had little time to miss them, with the title track from the Dublin fivesome’s second album [due July 31]. Musically it’s a continuation of the themes of before. Vaguely threatening, scratchy, arty rock – with an intense guitars-battle-with-swoony-“bab-ba-ba”s crescendo come the denouement. Grian Chatten gives it some proper sermonising too. Elemental magic.

The Blinders ‘Lunatic [With A Loaded Gun]’
Another guitar band previewing their sophomore LP, the Manchester trio continue their socio-political cause with a righteous punk blast against modern-day tyrants. As an opening couplet goes, “There are children in cages/On Monday’s front pages” doesn’t take any prisoners. It’s considered rage rather than unhinged, as the album title – Fantasies Of A Stay At Home Psychopath – possibly reflects. The band are tighter than a gnat’s chuff, as always. Until they get to slay us all again from the stage this does the job very admirably.

Dylan Cartlidge ‘Yellow Brick Road’
Nods to Beastie Boys, Prince, Jamie T, Andre 3000? Yes it the North-East’s version of Ginger Snaps. Sunshine funk-pop with indie cred, the radio loves him and he’s surely got the world at his feet. The forthcoming debut album is going to be fly, you just know it.

Husky Loops ‘You Bore Me’
Clattering rhythms, bassline bombs, fuzz guitar, distorted vocals: the Italians-in-London have never sounded looser and heavier. Their debut album I Can’t Even Speak English from last year was a crisp alt-pop triumph, and whether this progression is representative of newer horizons is tough to know right now. I like it anyway. One of the more interesting bands around; moving guitar-pop away from base elements and using studio manipulation to demonstrate what’s possible.

Sonic Boom ‘Things Like This [A Little Deeper]’
Pete Kember returns to releasing music under his Sonic Boom moniker, which he dropped after Spacemen 3 in favour of Spectrum and Experimental Audio Research. The new album is All Things Being Equal [June 5], his first long-player in any description in over a decade. He’s been producing the likes of Panda Bear and MGMT in recent years, and the sound of this one is as bubbly and hypnotic as your mind’s eye would imagine. With live shows soon too [fingers crossed], it’s great to have him back.

The Scruff ‘Vultures’
The Bedford boys return to the front line. After a tricky year or so where it all went quiet, it’s very satisfying to hear them in such rude health. A scathing take on internet troll culture, it’s got a confident swagger in its step. Hell, it’s got “indie rock banger” stamped through it like some fine candy-stripped stick of rock. Some good time rock’n’roll is just what the doctor prescribed right now, so hats off to these guys for coming up with the goods.

Scarlet ‘Friends’
Singer Jessie Robinson is not one to sit on her laurels, and with a rejigged line-up her Liverpool band start 2020 with fresh impetus and this fuzz-rock plaything that’s practically oozing with perky alt-rock energy. Drums and bass are pretty much off the scale on this one, plus that lazer-guided melody means it leaps out at you like a Joe Exotic plaything. The video is worth checking out too, as they enlist their music mates [Hands Off Gretel! Salvation Jayne! etc] to mine along.

DARKSAVAGE ‘Feeling Blessed’
New Northampton rapper Jordan Potter. Not much info to be gleamed so far beyond the music. Nice production touches going on in the background. One to keep an eye on.

Stevie Jones and Mark Gill ‘Glow’
Taken from Eleventh Hour, a 2011 album by Northants singer-songwriter Stevie Jones and guitarist Mark Gill released originally for 24 hours only but now being made widely available on CD/DL. The seven track album was recorded live at Yellow Bean Studios in Leicester, and you get Stevie’s raw vocals and Mark’s acoustic guitar flourishes meeting to produce some minor-key fireworks. Perfect for fans of rootsy music by the likes of John Mayer, or Counting Crows.

The Comms ‘Transmission One’
Brand new garage-punk band from ShoeTown, this first release was recorded and mixed by Adam Gammage and mastered by Greg Coulson, so keeping it lots of NN talent in one place here. You get highly-stylised vocals by Liam Taylor, backed by some explosive and sharp guitar attack. Think Buzzcocks, think IDLES, think moshing on the front row and getting a stray boot to the head. Glorious beginnings are something to shout about.

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Album review: The Rogue State Circus

THE ROGUE STATE CIRCUSSongs From The Sea Of Storms[self-released] Northants’ Rogue State Circus have been defiantly avoiding genre categorisation since 2009. Their latest album Songs From The Sea Of Storms…

Songs From The Sea Of Storms

Northants’ Rogue State Circus have been defiantly avoiding genre categorisation since 2009. Their latest album Songs From The Sea Of Storms is a delectable smorgasbord, incorporating 12 tracks of indie, power-pop, folk and Americana – and serves them up as a cohesive whole.

The retro keys that introduce opener ‘St Jude’s Blues’ give proceedings a distinctly 1960s feel, and combined with the country twang on the guitar provides a rather sinister tone. The type of song you’d expect to find in a Tarantino film, it’s a walk through the dark side of Americana. John Delaney’s vocals mirror the music’s ululation, and evolve from a gargling growl to falsetto high notes…and all in one line! The multi-layered sound is akin to an octopus’s tentacles that entwine and hold the listener captive. The pure pop perfection of ‘Sunday Driver’ follows, yet its buoyancy is tempered with a dark edge, something indefinable yet ever present. If ‘St Jude’s Blues’ didn’t win you over then ‘Sunday Driver’ will.

Still led by the indefatigable singer-songwriter Jon Delaney, Rogue State Circus have had an ever-changing line-up and perhaps this accounts for their kaleidoscopic output. However eclectic things become though there’s a common lyrical thread that stitches the album together. That’s best exemplified by the following two tracks, ‘London Bridge’ with it’s nod to ‘Waterloo Sunset’ and ‘Downhearted In The Uplands Of Love’ which, like Ray Davies at his most expressive, explores the minutiae of modern life. ‘I’ll Be Happy To Stay With You’ picks up it’s feet for a swirling neo-psychedelic sound before the wistful and whimsical ‘It’s All Over Town’ and it’s quintessentially English understated humour.

Adding some female vocals [courtesy of Karen Angela] gives ‘What Are You Waiting For?’ a nice warm texture and brings to mind that lazy summer’s day vibe of Division Bell-era Pink Floyd. In opposition the evocative and cinematic ‘Only A Matter Of Time’, with its soulful 80s vocals, seems tailor-made for a lonely walk through a neon-lit metropolis. The dramatic ‘Red Sky’ carries a lot of Irish folk inflections, and juxtaposes the power-pop of ‘La La Life’. An infectious backbeat and a joyful guitar line carries the song forward and, with Karen Angela again adding her vocal talents, reminds me of an effervescent Blondie.

The short and snappy ‘The Goodbye Note’ is another infectious tune that would have made a perfect album closer but, in a tension of opposites that defines Songs From The Sea Of Storms, that honour goes to the elongated ‘Great Expectations’. Clocking in at over six minutes it gives Rogue State Circus an opportunity to flex their musical muscles and build a substantial sonic structure. Peppered with Eastern flourishes it’s a song that fades to a rather ominous ending that promises more than it concludes.

Songs From The Sea Of Storms is the second album in a trilogy (tentatively titled Lunar Sea) that began with 2011’s Songs From The Sea Of Serenity. This latest opus is a worthy addition to the Rogue State Circus canon and is a tantalising taster for the third instalment…but hopefully they won’t make us wait another 9 years!

Peter Dennis

Songs From The Sea Of Storms is out now via Bandcamp, see below

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Step On: the week’s best new music tracks [May 1]

New Boots editor Phil Moore takes you through the best new music tracks this week. The Rolling Stones ‘Living In A Ghost Town’Their first original music in eight years, so…

New Boots editor Phil Moore takes you through the best new music tracks this week.

The Rolling Stones ‘Living In A Ghost Town’
Their first original music in eight years, so this is something of an ‘event’. “Life was so beautiful/Then we all got locked down” – you can see why they released it now. Some people don’t like it when the Stones throw their reggae bit into their songs, but you know: it’s fine. This song is presumably a knowing sonic/lyrical nod to the Specials. It’s not them at their freewheeling best [what is?], but it does lock into a nice groove, and Mick at least sounds on top form in that claustrophobic chorus. It’s nice to have them back.

Tom Grennan ‘Oh Please’
The second preview track from the Bedford man’s upcoming sophomore long-player. Its mini-symphonic soul sound aligned to a bluesy vocal is bound to illicit some Richard Ashcroft comparisons. Grennan has bags of personality though; his delivery always strong enough to get the blood pumping, and you always root for him. It’s both close enough to, music wise – and far away enough from – the DNA of Lighting Matches to satisfy everyone. Result!

Vistas ‘Summer’
The Scottish trio have been drip drip dripping singles for quite a while now; fortunately debut album Everything Changes In The End is out at the end of the month. This one is glorious wide-screen melancholy rock, which displays substantially more ambition that most of their alt-contemporaries. The guitars are set to ‘preening’, the production immaculate – and if cinematic indie is your thing then Vistas are your go-to guys for 2020. Looks like the summer’s been cancelled, though, so let’s hope their timing isn’t always so off.

Self Esteem ‘Favourite Problem [Alternative Version]’
A more homespun version of defiant alt-pop from Rebecca Lady Taylor and co. The original version on 2019’s Compliments Please album had more bells and whistles, but this take brings the gospel backing vocals to the foreground, courtesy of Sheffield-based choir Neighbourhood Voices. Ex-Slow Club member Taylor has talent and guile as large as the well of emotion that this version stirs. The ‘Cuddles Please’ EP is out today, offering similar reworkings of album tracks ‘The Best’ and ‘In Time’, alongside a cover of Alex Cameron’s ‘Miami Memory’. No cuddles at the moment sadly, but here’s a virtual high five anyway. [photo credit: Charlotte Patmore]

ghostofblu ‘Don’t Care’
Picking up fan across the globe with his dark digital trap/hardcore manoeuvres, your Yorkshire-via-Northampton man is assisted on the beats production for this by Sweden’s Istasha, and hell they make some beautifully twisted noise together. From new four-track EP ‘IV’, his intensity is paramount on all tracks. He’s reached the general quality level now where some vinyl needs to spring forth; his legion is many, and they need artefacts.

Naked Next Door ‘Halo’
MK indie rockers have been consistently excellent these past 12 months, putting out emotive bangers more often than I put out the bins. ‘Halo’ continues the tradition. This one has a rolling tension built within the chassis, even if it sparkle and shines enough to make you think of the big boys like The Killers or Kings Of Leon. Taken from forthcoming EP ‘Swerving Out Wide’, NND are the very definition of “Ones To Watch”.

SPQR ‘No Brain No Pain’
Liverpool always seems to be sprouting up some of the best new music. The latest is SPQR, an art-rock quartet who have released their third EP this week. Starting with previous singles ‘Nuthin Gud’ and ‘Just Sumfin’, the real humdinger is the elastic title track. The djembe-led percussive movements hit the sweet spot, the Pixies basslines mixing with the Talking Heads existential dread to produce something of real heft. They deserve to be successful, rich rock stars. Also: unbelievably exciting live show.

L30 Robinson ‘Text’
A quality samba rhythm kicks off another rap masterclass from NN’s mister lover man. His fifth[!] single already in 2020, it’s a mystery he’s not already a shooting star. A paean to forgetting relationships past and enjoying the present, ‘Text’ is as infectious as anything he’s previously done, and you will be dancing ’round your kitchen to this one. It’s the law.

Lucien Moon ‘Tainted’
Long-awaited new music from the artist formerly known as Jamie Benkert. Taking cues from the likes of Frank Ocean, Drake, The Weeknd, John Newman, etc., this is soulful cosmopolitan R&B from the NNiverse. Great voice, great image [shout out to the sexy video shot in The Market Tavern!], and plenty of tense atmospherics within the haunting piano and beats. Smashed it, lad!

Charlie Bridgen, LT Quickscope, Deadboi ‘Tactical Chunder’
Kettering area love-in! Three rappers/producers from that part of the world team up to make some dark-beats and a story about debauched nights out [remember them?]. Grime could always do with more tales of dark fruits and ID requests…and trips to toilet cubicles for the titular strategy. Immense and scary in equal measure. More of this craziness please, guys.

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Album review: Brigadoon

BRIGADOONItch Factor[self-released] Singer-songwriter/poet Barnaby Smith is a man with a story. Splitting his time between Northampton and rural Australia is not something many people can say. His debut album, composed…

Itch Factor

Singer-songwriter/poet Barnaby Smith is a man with a story. Splitting his time between Northampton and rural Australia is not something many people can say. His debut album, composed and recorded over a four year period, is Itch Factor, which can only be categorised as outsider folk/loner folk. It’s essence of experimentalism, DIY spirit, and tonal atmospherics was realised “in a rickety garden shed in the hills behind Mullumbimby” in New South Wales [a stones throw from the hippy enclave of Byron Bay, reference fans]. This “crudely constructed shack full of snakes, spiders, and lizards” had fed the impassioned work of a no doubt reclusive soul.

Should we care? Yes. This is a magical, rural, 3am record that can bring to mind the stark intimacy of Nick Drake, Tim Buckley, Bon Iver, Amen Dunes, Cass McCombs, or Daniel Johnston. There’s not much need to discuss songs individually, for they cover similar ground: ethereal voice, harmonies, acoustic guitar. A wistful and mysterious blanket covers the listener throughout, from the chiming and claustrophobic tones of ‘Of The North’ right through to bleak lo-fi ruminations on ‘All That Is Solar’. His cover of former Beta Band man Lone Pigeon song ‘Waterfall’ is important, clearly; indeed it is almost a template for the Brigadoon aesthetic. At 15 songs and almost an hour long Itch Factor is perhaps a little too all-encompassing for some. It would have been hard to self-edit the tracks; they all reflect a time and place in Smith’s artistic life.

This untamed and uncompromising work is the authentic voice of the soul in lockdown. We have much to learn, much to gain from basking in his rustic philosophising. There’s inspiration and hope within its’ wanderings. This might be one of the few times you have the wherewithal to delve into such a work as Brigadoon Itch Factor.

Phil Moore

Itch Factor is out now on CD/DL via Bandcamp, as well as the usual streaming platforms

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