Category Archives: REVIEWS

CHINA MOON: ‘Sleep Talking’ EP

Manchester three-piece, China Moon, are, I confidently predict, a band you will soon be hearing about on national radio.

Certainly, based on the evidence of the new five-track ‘Sleep Talking‘ EP, they are a perfect fit for Radio 6 Music.

There you go – colours to the mast!

Their music is new to me, but it is such a fresh amalgam of sounds that I was instantly drawn into the first track. ‘Nebula,’ portrays a deep sense of frustration and anger – at least it does to me – with the thumping beat and the vocal delivery in short stanzas. This impression is backed up with the video produced for the track.

The band’s second single release, ‘Lonely Game,’ is also on the new EP. It differs big time from ‘Nebula.‘ It’s perhaps not quite so ‘instant,’ and may appear a bit disjointed on first listen – but stick with it. There’s some lovely little surprises throughout its near four minutes duration.

Next up is ‘She Won’t Go Back To You.’ Again, different.
The song has a more conventional structure than the first two, but the harmonies rise and fall like a fairground carousel; a fairground carousel with slightly demented horses flaring their nostrils, the only mare among them being your nightmare.

Free Fall‘ I’ll be honest, I’m rather unsure about. I’m not convinced. I’m no musician. And I’m no technician either. But I think this could do with a bit of a remix. The vocal delivery doesn’t really work for me.

Final track, ‘Like That,’ is more upbeat and again shows what China Moon are capable of. There would appear to be some Arctic Monkeys echoes in this one.

But overall, China Moon give me the same feeling as did The Savage Nomads (now Artbreak) back in the day. Discordant flashes of guitar; staccato delivery and off kilter drums combine with a light Eastern / Indian style to create something original and exciting.

And hey – maybe you’ll like ‘Free Fall.’ Maybe it’s just a ‘me’ thing.

ALLAH LAS: ‘In The Air.’

Los Angeles psyche-pop band, Allah Las are set to release their fourth album, ‘LAHS,‘ this autumn (October 11th) with ‘In The Air,’preceding it as a taster.

The album sees the band drawing from their years of touring the world, and experiences of recording three prior LPs. Their development as songwriters and producers is quite evident, and there are even a couple of songs sung in Spanish and Portuguese.

However, the melodies, hooks and harmonies are all still there, and on ‘In The Air,’ in particular, you would hardly need a second guess as to where the band come from. The warmth of a Californian / desert evening positively drips off this track. There’s a distinct psychedelic feel about it – a jangly, poppy psyche feel, which reminds of the less commercial catalogue of The Monkees. The video promotes that feel a little too. Ok – a bit darker than ‘Day Dream Believer,’ but you know what I mean.

(Incidentally, the album name, ‘LAHS’ is simply reference to a common misspelling of the band’s name – and once I read that I had to re-write the heading to this piece three times!)

REGGAE ROAST: ‘Sensi Skank Reloaded.’

A few weeks ago, I mentioned I’d pop up the video for Reaggae Roast’sSensi Skank Reloaded‘ release just as soon as the embargo had been lifted.

Well, today’s the day, and so, here it is …

There may be a few faces here that you’ll recognise. That’s all I’m saying.

Nice one!

TELEVISION SUPERVISION: ‘Gimme A Girl.’

Tampa Bay punks, Television Supervision have recently signed with the excellent Standby Records, present home of Waco, and a label that once counted Black Veil Brides among its roster.

Their debut album ‘Waldo‘ will be released on January 17th next year, but ahead of that, the lead single ‘Gimme A Girl’ has just been made available.

This track takes me back! It’s classic good-time ‘second wave’ punk, harking back to the early to mid 2000s.

The band themselves have said their aim is to ‘ give people a much-needed break from the stresses of their daily lives and to renew their hope in today’s vapid rock scene.’

It may be a rather cheezy thing to say – a PR bite, if you like, but ‘Gimme A Girl,‘ does exactly meet the mission statement. Sometimes, I think, musicians can get lost in their art. Sometimes bands take themselves and their music, that bit too seriously.

I’m betting Television Supervision don’t!

Listening to this track, I felt confident in predicting where their musical influences lie. Blink 182, Box Car Racer, Jimmy Eat World, Good Charlotte and Lagwagon can all be heard here. The video even reminds me of early Green Day.

My personal collection of music is both expansive and varied. But there are certain styles and sounds that I return to more than others, and this is one of them. I’m sure I’m not alone in that.

Pop punk with a smile – ye cannae whack it!


WACO: ‘Levenshulme Lover.’

I love it! There’s so much collision of styles, sounds and ideas within less than four minutes of video, that right now I bear the expression of a labrador asked to solve a rubik’s cube puzzle.

Firstly, the title attracted my attention. For a few months back in the day, I stayed in digs within the village (small town really) of Fallowfield which bordered Levenshulme, a larger suburban town in Greater Manchester, England.

That’s just ‘FYI’ as they say.

Waco are a London based four-piece punk band though I think I may detect a north-western accent in the vocals.

They have so much going on in their music. They have been described as ‘cosmic punks,’ whose music is ‘ … laced with metaphysics, conspiracy theories and spirituality.’

Work that one out, if you will.

Me? I’m a bit more shallow and uncomplicated and in this particular single, I hear: a big shouty, sing-a-long ‘Oi’ styled opening; street punk; gypsy punk and all delivered with a distinct sense of fun. So let’s just say they are are fun-loving punk band, eh?
And I’m tempted to say, no I’m going to say (and it’s mean’t as a compliment) the spoken word piece at a minute and a half sounds like sumat from The Lancashire Hotpots’ book of song presentation.

These guys look a riot to be around, and I get the feeling their shows could be wild. My kind of band!

Waco’s new full length album, ‘Human Magic,‘ will be released through Standby Records, on November 1st 2019. The following track, ‘The Jersey Devil‘ will also appear on that LP.

SLEAVE: ‘Homebound.’

That album, ‘Don’t Expect Anything’ is now completed and primed for release in autumn, this year.

By this time, I was thinking more along the lines of Blink 182 type pop punk bands. And then the mood changed yet again with the chorus which had me convinced their was a wee bit Foo Fighters inspiration creeping in.

So, there’s definitely a lot going on here for just one track! And, I’m pleased to say my UK related were somewhat confirmed when I read that the band have recently signed a deal with UK label Engineer Records.

(It’s tenuous and most probably a simple coincidence, I know, but I’m claiming it anyway!)

THE DARLING FIRE: ‘Dark Celebration.’

A band that boasts members who have played with, amongst others, Poison The Well, Dashboard Confidential and The Rocking Horse Winner are surely going to pique your interest , right?

To class The Darling Fire an Indie Supergroup would be all too easy, and cheezy, but they are most definitely a super group.
(That’s just so stereotypically ‘British,’ sounding isn’t it? And, when I think about, even more cheezy than Supergroup. But it’s done now.)

Dark Celebration‘ is just that. It’s “ …really a celebration of dark themes and experiences that have occurred in our lives both personally and distantly,” says guitar player Matthew Short.

“While we’ve each had some struggles in our lives, we wouldn’t be where we are at this moment if not for those dark times,” vocalist Jolie Lindholm adds.

Album opener ‘For The Loveless,’ is a solid, mid-tempo, driving rock song, as heavy on the drums as the fuzzy guitars.

‘Nevertwin‘ is possibly my favourite track of the eight. It’s of slower pace than the first song and while it has a sort of dreamy, ethereal feel to it, it’s still powerful and totally rocks!

Omaha,’ definitely starts out in a dark place. Mean and moody, the pace picks up for the choruses where it takes on a more expansive sound with some great guitar work. ‘Catatonia,’ raises the tempo somewhat and is classic indie rock, with pounding drums and a catchy chorus.

Silver Spider,’ is the song that convinced me of my (possibly wayward) initial thinking that Jolie’s vocal style is reminiscent of Liz Fraser from The Cocteau Twins. I know that probably sounds odd, and her voice is certainly deeper than Liz’s, but there’s definitely something there. Trust me.

The Constant,’ has a dreamy, relaxed feel to it that builds towards a more full-on climax. ‘Saints in Masquerade,’ is a total indie rocker, definitely vying with ‘Nevertwin‘ as my favourite. I must say too – what a brilliant video! Big props to director Ian Fursa.

The album closes with ‘In Twilight‘ – almost five and a half minutes of slow burning musings from Jolie that build in intensity and confirm my earlier vocal comparison. At least in my head.

Altogether this is one classy rock album. Thoughtful lyrics and concept delivered in a clean and uncluttered fashion. It’s melodic, but not sugar sweet , and best of all, it KICKS ASS!.