Friday, 27 March 2015

Album Review: Unguarded by Rae Morris

Rae Morris is a singer-songwriter from Blackpool. Since her discovery back in 2011, Morris has gone on to be dubbed one of the voices of 2015, and according to former Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe, she is “becoming the countries’ most beloved singer-songwriter.” Her debut album Unguarded was released in January.
The album features a good mix of upbeat and slower songs. Morris’ expressive vocals illuminate the album, showcasing the variety of musical genres present. At times the album is pure dancefloor pop, at others it’s raw and emotional piano ballads. Her vocals are equally adaptable. She can go from punchy to delicate even within the confines of a single song, providing an impressive vocal display throughout.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Album Review: Sonic Soul Surfer by Seasick Steve

Image credit: Caroline International
Blues musician and festival staple Seasick Steve has recently released his seventh album Sonic Soul Surfer just in time for festival season. Over recent years, Steve has become a well-known and popular musician, quietly establishing himself on top of the festival circuit. For that reason, it hardly seems believable that it’s been less than 10 years since Steve Wold first appeared in our lives with his 2006 performance on Jools Holland’s annual Hootenanny TV show.

Seven albums in, there’s a real danger of music becoming stale. If you’ve ever heard a Seasick Steve record before, you’ll know exactly what to expect. Steve hasn’t altered his formula at all for Sonic Soul Surfer but, like the rest, it’s charmingly rough and ready music that you can’t help but like. In fact, the gruff energy of the music makes this album rank among Steve’s best work yet.

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Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Interview: As December Falls

Image credit: Matt Waterhouse
As December Falls are a four-piece female-fronted rock band from Nottingham. The band are: Bethany Curtis (Vocals), Ande Hunter (Guitar/Vocals), Timmy Francis (Bass), and Lukas James (Drums).

The band formed in 2013 and spent six months writing and recording their debut EP A Home Inside Your Head, which was released in November 2014. I recently talked to As December Falls ahead of the release of their new single Capture.

How did you first become interested in music?

Ande: I really discovered guitar through my cousin Sam when I was 14 and living in Spain. I had an old, beaten-up classical guitar which he tuned and started playing the riff to Can't Stop on. It was crazy for me to see him recreate some of my favourite songs and he taught me the first couple of riffs I ever learnt.

Timmy: I was 14 and into a lot of pop-punk music. It was a Blink-182 song where Travis and Mark just lock in on this breakdown and it sounds amazing. I saved up, bought my first bass and I've never stopped playing since.

How did the band come about? 

Timmy knew Lukas from college and was introduced to Bethany through a friend and they started the band together. Ande and Timmy grew up playing in rock bands in Nottingham and played many gigs together whilst in other bands. When the EP was being written and the studio was booked, Timmy asked Ande if he would write and session lead guitar parts in the studio if they couldn't find a more permanent member, since Ande was in another band at the time. As soon as Ande heard the demos, he decided to commit as a permanent member.

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Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Gig Review: Duke Special at The Stables MK

Image credit: Sonic PR
Northern Irish songwriter Peter Wilson, aka Duke Special, is currently on tour around the UK. The tour is gearing up to the April release of Duke’s latest album Look Out Machines! Friday night I was in Milton Keynes to see Duke’s show at The Stables MK – and I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and atmosphere of the performance.

Duke played a mix of new tracks from Look Out Machines! alongside covers and some older favourites. From new songs like Step To The Magical to older songs such as Apple Jack and Cherry Blossom Girl, the entire show was delivered with energy and passion.

It was especially nice to see Duke perform solo in such an intimate venue. The smaller audience and acoustics of the room allowed Duke’s talent as a musician to really come across to the audience. He didn’t need any fancy bells and whistles to keep the audience’s attention – everyone was captivated right from the start.

Duke’s distinctive vocals dominate his music. He has a clear tone to a voice that somehow manages to be haunting despite its warm depth. His strong Northern Irish accent is also easy to hear, lending a certain quirkiness and charm to his music. Coupled with his expert piano playing, the acoustic performance really works well for Duke Special.

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