My first memory of hearing Texas must have been around 1999 when my older sister played them to me in the car. I was instantly hooked and have been a fan ever since.
When I got the opportunity to go and review them at the 'Prime Live Presents' series of shows I was stoked. Having seen them play a great set at the Isle Of Wight Festival the previous week I was already looking forward to it.
Amazon announced back in May they were moving into live music saying ‘these shows would be the best live experience you’ve ever had’. Tickets are only available to Amazon Prime members and feature big artists playing in intimate venues they wouldn’t normally play in. Included in the announced shows are Blondie, Alison Moyet, Katie Melua and Texas.
For Texas they had a selected a fantastic venue: Porchester Hall, located in Bayswater. Having been to hundreds of shows in London as a seasoned gig goer, somehow I have missed this venue. It is absolutely beautiful, stunningly decorated and a great atmosphere.
We quickly got through the extensive security which was quick, efficient and polite. What struck me first was the amount of Amazon Prime staff on hand to answer queries and deal with customers. They were all friendly and only too happy to help. It was very obvious they had paid attention to detail, with everything: there were even a larger number of bins throughout the venue than you would normally find!
We headed to the drink to grab a bar. It did come as a bit of a surprise that this was a cash only bar. Considering amazon were running the event I would have expected a card payment facility. Something to work on for next time! Apart from that, there was a wide selection of beers, spirits, wines and softs.
With only 650 people in the audience the standing space was extremely comfortable and you didn’t feel cramped in. I’m sure if they desired, more tickets for the show could have been sold.
Sharleen came on stage at 8.15 to start her Q and A. This was lighthearted and fun; Sharleen is immensely friendly and genuine person to listen to. Given it was a sit down Q and A, the audience were attentive and listening throughout.
The band came on stage a 8.45 and played a blinding hour of all the hits new and old. The feeling from the audience was that this band are immensely loved and have a loyal fan base. Everyone reacted at the times; singing along when required and being silent as required. This was definitely confirmed from the average age of the crowd!
They finished with an encore and departed the stage at 10.00, leaving the audience wanting more.
My verdict on Amazon Prime shows: Well worth the £75 for the ticket, you get a unique and quality, well run experience.
Get a prime membership and get to a show. I’m excited to see what they announce next. Amazon are onto something here,reviving the live music experience with a fresh new formula.
Genuine-article singer-songwriters are hard to find these days, but Northampton's Corinna Jane is without a doubt the real deal.
Having previously released 'Three Faces of You', an upbeat pop-rock track that exhibited her quirky personality and music to the world, Corinna has now returned with 'Echoes Of My Mind', an emotive ballad that showcases her versatile vocals and simple, yet effective songwriting approach.
This is perhaps one of Corinna's best traits as a songwriter; her ability to construct simple songs, in terms of structure and instrumentation, that allows the thought provoking subjects of her songs to take centre stage. There's nothing over the top about Corinna's music and sometimes, the most simple songs are the best.
A wavering piano lead introduces the song, setting the tone for a track we immediately seem to know will be an emotional one. It isn't long before Corinna's delicate vocals ooze into the song, showing off their range all within the first verse. Subtle string sections sit humbly in the background, adding that further bit of expertly-crafted texture.
'Echoes Of My Mind' is a dark piece of art, referencing the end and aftermath of a relationship. The track is built up to a point, in depth of instrumentation, that it truly reflects the insurmountable grief that comes from a situation such as this.
With an evocative black and white music video that perfectly accompanies the themes at play within 'Echoes of My Mind', Corinna is sure to be making waves with her quality songwriting and beautifully constructed songs.
So you thought classical music was a thing of the past? Where older men with wigs compose epic pieces with tons of straight-jacket musicians helping them out in the performance- how wrong you were!
Trying to reinvent the sound of classical music for modern audiences is the talented young Maltese composer, Edward Abela. His brand of soft piano-led compositions are nothing like what you would expect from 'classical' music, employing imaginative soundscapes and effects to ameliorate and drag the genre into something wholly more appealing and fresh.
With his new EP entitled 'Echoes', Abela has built upon his work from his previous album 'Chronicles', giving us much of the same style that he has built a name for himself with. Fans will be pleased to hear that he has not strayed too far from his signature style, yet he has developed his ability to create images through his music and this is key for Edward who always aims to tell a story through his work.
'Stella Maris' is an intriguing piece with an innate curiosity and child-like nature that you can instantly imagine as part of a film score. There is no doubt that Edward's experience as a composer for Warner/Chappell has helped him pioneer this filmic style, but equally, he can be placed up there with the best, including his influences Ludovico Einaudi and Nils Frahm.
Meanwhile, the lead track 'Echoes' is an interweaving masterpiece of complex instrumentation that displays Edward's true compositional abilities. Whilst other sounds and effects are introduced, providing originality, the piano is always at the heart of Abela's work, creating beautiful, yet often simple melodies that transport listeners away in just a few notes.
There is an ambience and atmosphere to Abela's work which is rare to find and the cinematic nature of his music would be equally at home providing a soundtrack to sit back and relax to as much as it would be on screen.
Overall, 'Echoes' picks up where Edward left off with his last album, but this trademark style is quickly becoming synonymous with the composer and his undeniable talents. Well worth a listen if you're ready for some deep thinking!
M3staken (M3)identifies himself as primarily a hip-hop artist, but it can certainly be said that he is like no other hip-hop artist you have heard before.
The young, yet talented producer and musician has grown up in South Carolina, developing a unique style of music that pushes boundaries as much as it pleases it the critical listener's ear.
His new soundtrack album 'Apex' is somewhat of an experimental, concept piece that builds and develops M3staken's hip-hop roots with genre-defying hints of both electronic and classical music. Of course, these aren't style you would normally blend together, or even associate for that matter, but M3's willingness to see what happens when you do is both commendable and impressive. It's not often you come across a young artist who is quite as ambitious with their musical experiments as M3staken.
'In Space' exhibits jarring hip-hop beats with a discerning drone and the first example of his piano skills on the album thrown in. It's a dark instrumental piece, but one that is thought provoking and image conjuring too. 'Apex' is by no means a traditional soundtrack album, but somehow you feel like there would definitely be a place for it in the film market.
'YaphetKotto' displays more of M3's dissonant and fractured style but it is not just noise; there is structure in the unstructure of it all, only proving M3's talents that clearly belie his years.
Moving in a lightly different direction, 'Milo' provides us with a much more melodically pleasing tune, layered on top of complex beats and subtle bass. It often be easy to turn everything up when composing music, but M3 is subtle and considered in his production, bringing us a sound like no other.
Overall, if you're looking for something a little different, something a little left field, but you're still a hip-hop lover at heart- give M3staken's Apex a try. It will certainly take you to new ground and expand your musical horizons.
Brighton based band Warsaw Radio are bringing a whole new level of songwriting to the game with their new single, 'After Eve'.
Formed in 2013, Warsaw radio create a beautifully crafted blend of rock-pop, with orchestral tinges and a folk infused edge. It's a potent combination that makes for some great listening.
'After Eve', which has an intriguing name as it is, focuses on the imaginative idea of what would have happened if Adam and Eve had been separated after their banishing from the Garden of Eden. Sung from the perspective of Adam, listeners are transported into a whole other realm through front-man Brian McNamara's inventive approach to songwriting. Ask yourself, how often do hear a song that takes on a completely different perspective other than the singer? Whilst someone who doesn't know the subtext of 'After Eve' might simply think it relates to a personal experience of a member of the band, it can often be a mistake to associate poetic voice with author. This is where Warsaw Radio differentiate themselves from similar music on the market.
McNamara's rich and warm vocals open the track alongside a subtle string section whose chord progression gradually builds in both texture and grandeur as the song continues. Suddenly Brian's voice raises up a notch as the bass drum kicks in, eventually making way for the violin led hook. As the song builds towards its crescendo, there's a sense of severity and seriousness over the situation being addressed in the song and this creates strong imagery from the music.
A fantastic instrumental break provides contrast to the rest of the song, but also allows it to build up once again, in order to drop back into the chorus. Not only is there a deep meaning and story behind 'After Eve', but the consideration of structure and composition is second to none. There are pop hooks in there making for a catchy listen, yet the orchestral sound championed by the band places them in their own whole category- it's hard to pin down, and this is a good thing.
If like me, you were drawn to the band's name, you'll be surprised to hear how it came about. McNamara was reading about the siege of Warsaw in 1939 during WW2 and how the orchestra of the Warsaw Radio continued to play and air their music throughout the chaos. Eventually, their protest was brought to an end when an artillery shell destroyed the transmission mast, but Brian was so inspired by the story, he named his band after them.
He said: "The story really inspired me. Working as an original artist in what can be a tough industry can be hard and having an inspiration like these guys in 1939 helps to keep you going”.
Overall, 'After Eve' is a break-out stamp on the music industry from a band who have found a truly unique sound. With an original sound and inspirational songwriting that is second to none, Warsaw Radio are one you should definitely keep an eye on.
You might not have heard of Jodie H. Dunn yet, but she is certainly making her mark on the music industry with her outstanding vocal capabilities and affinity for songwriting.
The young singer-songwriter has always been fascinated with music, singing in the garden and the playground as a child, even pretending that her neighbours were her audience. Since then, Jodie has eagerly developed her talents, teaching herself a little piano in order to help her songwriting process.
Her latest single, 'I Belong In Hell' is a dark, brooding ballad powered by Jodie's distinctive vocals and a subtle, yet potent piano hook. As Jodie grew older and suffered with bullying at school, penning songs became a sort of diary for her and 'I Belong In Hell' touches on the idea of someone controlling when you are feeling really low.
The haunting little piano hook opens the track with Jodie's vocals gently soaring above, all before the pounding drum beat enters, adding substance and texture. Subtlety is the name of the game in 'I Belong in Hell' and this is partly down to the skills of producer Andy Whitmore of Greystoke studios. For example, the bass line sits quietly in the background but provides a depth of sound that only goes to reinforce the seriousness of Jodie's lyrics.
Speaking of which, it takes an experienced songwriter to come up with such profound and meaningful lyrics, yet Jodie is only just starting out in the professional music world. As a result, you know that she is going places with her music. Although the bullying that Jodie experienced was deeply upsetting, even forcing her to move schools during her GCSE exams, it is these experiences that have provided her with the powerful material to write songs like 'I Belong In Hell'.
Preferring to write emotive ballad style songs, Jodie can be compared to artists as big as Adele and Sam Smith, but she is inspired by a wide range of music, but most notably by American singer-songwriter, Jhene Aiko. Speaking of Adele who sang the bond theme for 'Skyfall', Jodie's 'I Belong In Hell' is exactly the kind of track you can imagine working well with the opening of a bond film too, with its stunning vocals and the powerful drop during the chorus.
Overall, 'I Belong In Hell' is a track worthy of the biggest names in pop music yet is has surprisingly been written by a young (but highly talented) songwriter from Swindon. Watch this space and Jodie H. Dunn may well be the next big thing - or maybe just wait for the next bond film!
You can watch Jodie talking about how she writes her songs here:
With the sort of experience that Matt Boroff has in his hands, you might feel like you should have heard of him, especially since he has shared stages with giants of rock, Queens of the Stone Age, Calexico and even Nirvana!
The Nirvana gig was back in the day when Matt was playing with his high school band, but since then he has performed under a number of guises, forming Matt Boroff and the Mirrors, with whom he enjoyed success, and now he has embarked on a solo project with his new album 'Grand Delusion'.
'What A Shame' is the first single from the new record and it displays Boroff's alt-rock sound at its most powerful, driven by walls of distortion and Matt's deadly baritone.
Boroff shows his vocal range too, opening the song softly before unleashing the animal inside him during the chorus as he screams the song's title. A noodling, western style guitar breaks up waves of distortion, providing a considered and unusual contrast that works surprisingly well.
Having dropped big names already in this review, I won't do it any more, but clever listeners will recognise similarities between QOTSA, Nirvana and Matt. There's a distinct early 90s sound, taking on the heavy elements of grunge, but there's glimpses of gentleness too, particularly through the lyricism. For example, 'Your air-conditioned wax museum is melting in a heat wave' conjures a graphic, quite horrifying image (especially if you've seen House of Wax), but these cryptic lyrics are not just for show, there is meaning behind them.
The album as a whole addresses complex themes such as greed, nationalism and war mongering, so one can admire the way that Matt discusses these in such a profound manner. His lyrics invite debate and provoke thought, rather than just being forgotten in the background.
If the video for 'What A Shame' is anything to go by, Matt is quite the performer, too. He oozes charisma, handling his guitar as if he were taming a wild stallion and this confidence is mirrored through his confident songwriting and lyrics.
Overall, 'What A Shame' resurrects sounds from a by-gone era, adapting the style to fit modern concerns and contemporary issues. Consequently, Boroff's style isn't just alt-rock for the sake of nostalgia, he is pioneering a progressive sound that fuses the true heart of rock music with clever lyricism, making for a potent and unmissable combination, worthy of any rock fan's ears.
My Heart Is A Metronome (MHIAM) are a Swedish trio bursting out of their Scandinavian roots with their infectious brand of indie rock. Having started off playing at a kid's birthday party, the band has come a long way since then and their music is tipping them as the next big thing.
'Tierp' is the name of both the band's new EP and lead single which refers to the hometown of lead singer Mattis, which was labelled with the unwanted title of ugliest town in Sweden.
Despite this, there is nothing ugly about the track at all - 'Tierp' is a stormer of a track employing catchy hooks, potent guitar riffs and wide ranging rock-infused vocals. Throughout the verses, Mattis' voice is soft and gentle, with a distinct husky tone to it which contrasts, yet fits perfectly with his full-on rock roar that takes over during the chorus. The deep tone in Mattis' vocals can be compared to to that of Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam, only his voice is much clearer!
The balance of dynamics throughout the track make for a rock tune that really builds up before letting the chorus hook really ring out. Honestly, you won't be able to listen to this just the one time.
As well as this, the guitar work is a thing of beauty. The riffs are uncomplicated but this is what makes them work so well in the genre of indie-rock-pop.
Evidently, the trio have a level of chemistry as musicians that belies their years. If MHIAM continue in the same direction then they're sure to be heading for big things. Watch this space.
'The Night' is the latest single from Spanish alternative rock group, Screams On Sunday, who are reigniting the genre for modern audiences.
The female fronted rock group blend heavy guitars with powerful rhythms to create their distinctive style which is epitomised in 'The Night'. The band were formed via the internet and self-reflectively, they are keen to discuss the idea of today’s generation being obsessed with creating an online persona, lacking real life relations.
'The Night' opens up with a toned down version of its killer guitar hook which eventually drops in with more distortion and potency than you could possibly imagine. There's some interesting little drum trills in the track too which subtly add another layer of both texture and musicianship.
The break down towards the end of the track is expertly-crafted as well, providing respite from the onslaught of guitars. It is then built back up gradually, allowing for an even more powerful drop back into the chorus.
In addition, it's always nice to hear some original lyricism as it's so hard to find these days in the majority of music and Screams On Sunday have come up with the goods. Lead singer, Patty Noa opens the song singing:
'There’s noisy, forced laughter in the air.
We’re enjoying our boring holiday entitlement.
I’m trapped in the silence of my words
and the ones I spoke once are never coming back'
Consequently, you can see that there's a strong subtext behind what Screams On Sunday are doing with their music. This isn't just resurrecting alt-rock for the sake of it; the band are taking the best elements of a seemingly dead genre and reinventing it, putting their own stamp on it for contemporary listeners.
‘The Night’ was recorded at Sound-Hub in Belper and mastered at Metropolis Studios in London, previously used by U2, The Who and Blur.
“Music is global and Screams On Sunday are proving that Spain deserves to be taken seriously in the rock music scene.” – FTD Music
Orlando based group, The Maladaptive Solution have released their beautifully melodic track 'Ontology (Form and Content)' which will charm any listener with its fusion-esque style and catchy hooks.
The Maladaptive Solution is made up of Brad Beard, Michael Carpenter, Michael Giblin, Jimmy Haber and Kylie Whitney, and they make a spiritually infused blend of folk-rock-pop that aims to teach its listeners through the powerful medium of music.
Using classic instrumentation allows the focus to be centered on the deep and meaningful lyrics of 'Ontology (Form and Content)'. However this is not to say that the band have a simple sound. One of the first things you hear on the track is the Indian-inspired Sitar-like drone that noodles away continuously under the rest of the track, creating a unique mix of fusion-rock-pop that you're unlikely to hear anywhere else.
The track gradually builds with the addition of echoed backing vocals and electric guitar which all add to the innately powerful feeling of the song. A lot of people have reported strong emotions when listening to the track: crying, a strong sense of happiness and even support. For people to say stuff like this about a song only goes to prove that The Maladaptive Solution obviously have their musical recipe right!
'Ontology (Form and Content)' is the kind of track that you might only listen to once, but you'll have it stuck in your head for days; there's just so many great hooks within the song. The band have explained that in a sense, they want to 'brainwash' listeners, so that would explain the catchy nature of the track.
Although the song was written in just one session, the several years and high standards of perfection that have been put into recording mean that the outcome is an expertly-crafted and produced song that shows us what we can expect from The Maladaptive Solution in the future. Check them out now so you can say you knew them before they were big!
You can watch the lyric video for 'Ontology (Form and Content) here:
Welsh singer-songwriter may have been hiding her stunning voice within the valleys for a while, but now she's ready to break out with her latest single 'Dirty Love', which does not disappoint.
Having teamed up with renowned producer, David Ezra, who previously worked with X-Factor finalists, Reggie and Bollie, Chey has been able to combine her talented vocals and songwriting abilities with the professional expertise needed to create a great pop song.
Whilst we might put up the encompassing 'pop umbrella' over Chey's music, there is a distinctive 90s edge in 'Dirty Love' that takes listeners back to a time when pop music was a whole different (arguably, more melodic) animal. Employing ice-cold string sections and whispered vocals during the verses, there is something very Portishead about the style of the track, yet it also has the power to feel at home as a James Bond soundtrack- it's just got that sort of vibe.
Chey notes that “I wanted this song to emphasise the power of a woman, and how she uses her sexuality to get what she wants” and the notion of power is quite evident as the song builds into a potent chorus of roaring vocals and resonating electric guitar.
The singer also explains that “Dirty Love was written in the heat of the moment. Having feelings about someone else can sometimes be the trigger you need to move on from the relationship you’re in. I recorded the vocals the same day it was written to reflect the emotion I was feeling at that time. I wanted the single to be raw and edgy and convey as much passion as possible.” For a song that was written and recorded in the heat of the moment, 'Dirty Love' is the genuine article. There is a professionalism about the production and recording of the track that demonstrates Chey's musical qualities and what we can expect from her in the future. Move over Adele, there's a new girl in town.
'Dirty Love' is set for official release on 20th January 2017 and you can find out more on Chey here:
As well as album, single and gig reviews we now have sections devoted to looking at the latest tech including mobile phones, audio and TV for the home and even cars. In short anything you can listen to music on or in. Or just stuff our crack team of writers things is interesting.
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