EP Review: The Arcadians – Fools On The Road

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The music reviews continue at Brewtown Music with a look at the upcoming EP from The Arcadians known as Fools On The Road.

The article linked above on The Arcadians dates back to 2014, but of course a lot has changed for the band since then, including a new bassist, a new studio to record in and of course, new music to release.

Bassist Oscar Carrington-Porter joined the band in 2015 and since then, the band has been getting back into their groove after Jack Lenaghan left. Let’s see if the new band addition and time spent in Slough has kept this young band strong since their 2013 debut!

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Track #1: Yes

Coming with a video released onto Youtube on March 18th 2016, people got their first taste of the EP with its lead single Yes.

Starting with a simple bass-line, high hat tapping and an echoing guitar riff, Yes gives the EP a foot-tapping indie feel that the band has evoked in their previous work, only with a more polished production behind it done by Egypt Lane Studios in Slough.

Vocally, Jamie Cavanagh continues his to use his Alex Turner-esque northern twang to great effect, immediately differentiating it from a lot of music in the Burton music scene and adding their own personality to the songs. The vocalist acts at the spokesperson for the band (the voice if you will) and let’s just say they put a good PR statement across!

Also, check out the music video above directed by Boxman Media with the boys in their all-white gear and Cavanagh chilling out in a nice little leather chair. Who could say no to that promotion?

Good introduction and an ideal lead single.

Track #2: Ruckus

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No, not THAT kind of Ruckus! This kind of Ruckus is much smaller than that, clocking in at a very short 1 minute 16 seconds! Although the more hard rock/punk feel that it gives off is a good match with a shorter length of the track.

Though it doesn’t stick around too long, Ruckus leaves an impression since Cavanagh gives us his rap-rock stylings in this track which suits his vocal style very well and although it’s no Psyko Dalekhe gives us more aggression than we usually see from the band.

A short description for a short, but serviceable track.

Track #3: Lovers Apart

A more troubled romantic song graces number 3 on the EP, telling the story of a man trying to get a hold on his long distance relationship.

Cos we’re two lovers apart and the cities they are changing

As time took control.

Cos we’re two lovers apart in cities with strange ways.

The lovers in the song are distanced not only by literal distance, but also in personality and the fact that the man in the scenario has a busy life that keeps him from spending as much time with his partner as he could.

The song starts off with a gentle guitar riff but soon picks up the pace with almost a jolly and brisk pace that is, shall we say, poles apart from the subject matter. Juxtapositions never heard to have around in any form of media so let’s have one in for our love song on the EP!

A frustrated love song that gives the album a tragic slant!

Track #4: Change In The Tide

A drum roll and striking chords lead us into our penultimate track, that appears to be about a person who can’t face the circumstances of change amongst her social group whether it be a personal attitude change or a change of surroundings for where they usually meet (Is it under your skin, is it really your thing? A dirty disco with an 80s theme)

Both the person being addressed and not the singer addressing have this feeling due to the addressee’s attitude getting under the singer’s skin for not having a good night out with him and the party.

The song is punched with HEYs and AHOYs give the song a bizarre pirate-like quality that doesn’t seem to fit with the message of the song, although the song is called Change in the TIDE (Tide, sea, pirates, best I can do!) and it’s memorable so you have to give that to them!

A song for one of those awkward, unsocial nights out.

Track #5: Nightmare In London

The EP ends on a sinister note with the song Nightmare In London which takes the night out from the awkward yet still fun tone of Change in The Tide to the almost dire and hopeless feel this ending track gives off.

With the almost metallic chords, cowbell tolling and creeping keyboard riff, the untoward feeling pervades the song from the offset and continues with the words of abandonment and loneliness the singer feels in the early hours of a night out in London:

Lost friends, 4am, what a horrid situation, where could they be?

I was so scared, they were taken by the alien population!

Cos this is another world to me!

Could be worse! Perhaps eated by a looming wolf in London!

Sounds like the desperate drunk ramblings of a London town night to me, or a guy who’s watched too many John Landis movies! Whether the monster turns out to be a backpacking American or not remains to be seen.

The vulnerability of not only being out of your head, but also out of your element is clear here and ends the EP on quite a dour note despite apart from the scary intro and minor key, retains the up tempo energy from the other songs on the release.

Not one to listen to when stumbling out of the club without your friends on your big weekend away, but definitely one to listen to out of enjoyment nontheless!

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Preferably in the most philosophically looking way possible!

Despite a slight line-up change, The Arcadians continue to put out good content with this EP being a summary of such. The energy stays in each song no matter what the subject matter and it one to prepare you for the influx of indie tunes you’ll no doubt be listening to in the wake of the year’s festival season.

Fools On The Road will be released on 27th March at the launch gig in Burton Market Hall which also features upcoming Burton-based singer-songwriter LAYKES (Kyle Munsie from Between Kites), punk group The Mammoths and Midlands favourites Star From Ivy.

Until the next brew served, see you next time!

Brewtown #25: Circularity Album Review

AUTHOR NOTE

OK, before I get started with this, yes I’ve been away for a VERY long time and been away for all of 2015! The scene was unfortunately dealt a serious blow with the now permenant closure of the renowned music venue The Wetmore Whistle and thus the gigs have been sparce and the apathy factor has been aplenty.

I look to remedy that for 2016 as I realise that while the gigs in Burton may not be so frequent and the amount of bands for articles may run out, the music itself certainly isn’t. That’s why Brewtown Music will be doing music/album reviews from bands who I may or may not have already covered on this blog.

Band articles are definitely still a possibility, but this will be a different direction I’m taking and isn’t necessarily what I started the site up for in the first place sue to music reviews being an overly saturated market compared to pieces on musicians themselves, but it’s a new year and it’s been a year since I’ve written anything, so let’s get to it!

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Circle Of Life

For the long, long, LONG-awaited milestone 25th piece on Brewtown Music, we take a new approach for a new year. Not writing about a new band, but reviewing an album of a band already written about on this site. Star From Ivy‘s newest online release which is so good you could play it loop, 2016’s Circularity.

Just to recap, Star From Ivy are a Burton-based rock four-piece (Chris Baldwin, Daniel Baker, Steve Gibbs, Mark Maczkowski) who have been performing all over the country since 2001. But over the last few years, they have been putting together a big online project/album that was released one track per day since Christmas Day of 2015.

With its own website and world-famous recording studio at the band’s disposal, they set out in creating an online, multimedia exploration of the concept of circularity through positive themes of peace, love, unity and even some darker themes of war and depression.

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Maybe not quite all, but it encompasses a lot in life.

The aforementioned world-famous recording studio was that of Rockfield Studios in Monmouth, Wales which, since 1963, has recorded albums for the likes of Black Sabbath, Queen, Super Furry Animals and Turbowolf just to name four!

It also has another Burton-based alumni in Kitten Pyramid, the eccentric Midlands supergroup (of which SFI lead Chris Baldwin and guitarist Dan Baker were a part of) who recorded their album Uh Oh the studio once occupied by Freddie Mercury in 2013

Their labour of rock-based love was released Twelve Days of Christmas style from December 25th to January 7th (going one step beyond, Madness style) on their Circularity Facebook event page and Brewtown Music is here to see what our true band gave to us…

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Track #1: Call To Alms

We start the cycle with Call To Alms, an anti-war song that was released by SFI on Christmas Day. A Lennon-esque move if there ever was one! Containing themes of war, human rights and peaceful protest, the album starts off on a socio-political note and a clever pun on the phrase ‘call to arms’ signifying that we should trade our acts of violence for acts of charity. War and Peace pertains to the theme of Circularity with various acts of violence instigating war and ceasefires bringing about peace in a seemingly never ending cycle depending on what area of the world you live in. That of course is a simplified version of an incredibly complex issue so I will just stick to talking about the music now. The music is forceful to match the theme of violence, but the lyrics reflect the need for peace:

Put the fire down, look into the body.
A soul so beautiful just strewn around.
Like an edifice blackening us wholly.
There is new belonging wanting to be found!

The waste of life that comes from war is lamented here and the only solution seemingly available is “A Call To Alms, and it’s all we have now…”. A strong start to the album with the contrast of a loud declaration of peace and demand of human rights.

 

Track #2: A Reason

The Boxing Day track A Reason is a much more laid back track with its ambient electronics mixed with a gentle guitar riff. The lyrics explores reasons from something as complex as the meaning of life to being kind towards others. An appreciation for our own existence and the existence of those around us:

Hold up the Sun! Cos we’re all Alive!
Hold up both hands and say you survived.
It builds us. It calls us. It saves us.
But there must be A Reason to live.

I don’t suppose you’d lend me your fears, so I’m not bold?
I don’t suppose you’d lend me your years, so I’m not old?
I don’t suppose you’d lend me your coat, so I’m not cold?

The phrase “Hold up the Sun” from the Reason article on the Circularity website “is a celebration of life, and an appreciation of being here now!” Caring for yourself and those around you is a mindset that features heavily on circularity.org and this song sums it up very well.

 

Track #3: Sounds Like Crows

You know, for a song about death, this is pretty jaunty! Sounds Like Crows is a song that has been in SFI’s back catalogue for quite a while now like a few of the tracks on this album, as in back to their Prologue days. The song, as said before, tackles death but is also a continuation of the theme of appreciating the life you have from A Reason. It’s like the song said: “Hang on! Hang on! I haven’t finished helping you to make the most of your life yet!”

Preserve time, there’s no way to rewind.
Yeah, this instance will not occur again.

All this love that echoes out disguises rage and I believe that I,
In spite of all these years, am still a child and do not think that I will ever die.

It’s good to know that in this album with a running theme, that there are sub-themes that link together as well which is the sign of great consideration and thought in your work.

 

Track #4: I Can’t Breathe

Now, here’s a track that shows no dissonance between music and lyrics! A hard rock number gripping themes of depression, inner rage and the darkness that dwells within (hard rock, not prog metal!). I Can’t Breathe is on the surface and angry song, but it’s a frustrated and scared song when dug into it a little deeper knowing that mental health is looked at here and is further explained in the song’s sub-section on the Circularity website. But the lyrics make it plainer to see in the song itself:

I don’t see no light, I just feel the fire burning me inside.
Mercury is on the rise.
Broken rage of old, swallowing the white.
Balance overthrown, compromise a waste of time

I can’t see it, it’s out of my sight
I don’t need it, get out of my mind!
Don’t believe it?!? Just wait til I fly

The song is also a great showcase of Daniel Baker’s guitar work with a soaring solo before the final chorus. A very dark song that is as much a part of Circularity as a vicious cycle more than anything else. Definitely one for those who feel trapped and need to free some of that tension!

Track #5: Imago

Faith and religion has been able to unite millions of people to a common cause which fits under the banner of Circularity, though the song Imago does appear to look at a more humanistic and secular approach to world unity as well. Deriving from the phrase ‘Imago Dei’ (Image Of God), this acoustically-driven track (with an electric solo mind) ponders whether it is better to have belief in a deity or not:

Want to wish the world away?
To draw a line to Everest?
Rid the world of sin and saint?
Rid the world of all this love?

I don’t need Imago, I just need to come back down.
For all my life I’ve waited for Him.

This could be seen as quite damning of religion, but the Imago page does include a quote from Article 14 of the UN convention on the rights of the child saying: “You have the right to choose your own religion and beliefs. Your parents should help you decide what is right and wrong, and what is best for you.” It definitely takes a more balanced approach knowing that while there are great reasons for a more secular society, it is up to the individual about their religious alignment and how it affects them personally.

Track #6: Slumberland

Sleep is a natural recurrence, unless you’re an insomniac, so of course it would be #Circularity. Sleep is needed to replenish your body and mind, but when you’re sleeping, you can be at your most imaginative, intentionally or not given the freedom you have to think of whatever you like during them. When you’re sleep-deprived, the need for rest and the avoidance of any social activity even with your partner is usually evident and is noted in this song:

I crave for a sight, and a sound, and a drink.
My decency rules in the land of OK. It’s a shame that that place isn’t here.

This time I am sleeping my dear. Do not try to wake me.
This time I am breathing my dear. Do not suffocate me.

Though this song is by no means a lullaby with its heavy chorus so it’s hard to feel sleepy (which is a good thing since you don’t want a song putting you to sleep when it’s trying to entertain you!), but the lyrics do convey the need for sleep in terms of escaping from the real world, being one with your thoughts and having the need to keep coming back which, quite frankly, is a good thing both physically and mentally.

Track #7: Wall Of Sound

Now this is a track you would have thought would have had a musical fit for Slumberland, but here is a light, solo acoustic song from Baldwin that is a song…about songs! Well maybe not quite that simplistic, but music is definitely the focus here, in a literal and metaphorical sense. With the purpose of Circularity here to be a call for unity through music, this is very much a symbol of that notion. Whether through teaching children to learn music or weaving a poetic image of love:

I’ve got a brain and I know how to use it; I’ll teach them to sing and I’ll teach them to play,
and then we can make sound til the day that we die and harmony echoes around, my love.

You’ve got a heart and I know that it’s broken; the pulse is arranged in the strangest of ways.
But we can unite and make regular tempo, and create the rhythm of life, my love.

The Wall of Sound recording technique as popularised by Phil Spector could be an ironic reference here given that the recording technique itself was meant to give free range for artists to include large orchestral accompaniments in their music. That is not the case here with just one man singing and playing his acoustic guitar being as far removed from that vision as you can get. Still, well worth a listen to for appreciating the power of music in a stripped-down fashion.

Track #8: Soul

A hard and heavy song in the same vein stylistically as I Can’t Breathe, but thematically is much more defiant and empowering. We all need to find ourselves and our own identity at some point in our lives and be true to ourselves in the face of adversity. Now whether you want to interpret ‘soul’ as being a religious connotation or a personal connotation would probably depend on which side you took on Imago, but either way, the song fits both sides well.

I am a liar and you are on fire yet all I inquire is ‘I got Soul’.
I am the wire and you are on fire and all that I know is you’re my heart’s desire.
I’m raising the ocean. I’ll cause a commotion and all that I know is that ‘I got Soul’.

This is more of the Circularity of oneself and feeling whole in oneself rather than a collective unity. Play this one when you’re feeling doubt in yourself.

Track #9: Blood

Don’t worry, this isn’t a gothic vampiric anthem dropped into your album about unity and togetherness! It’s a song that fits right in with the theme of charity and good deeds with the image of blood flowing without a heart and that’s just a mess right? A call for empathy and compassion reigns true in this number. Blood without the heart has no use and therefore, poetically speaking, has no real feeling behind it.

What is Blood, an emptiness of heart?
What is Hope, I need it from the start.
We wait in line for security but we are one and all eternally.
Cos I can feel it in my heart.

And oh, my, we went too far.
We didn’t know to be with it.
And I know that you pray to God cos you don’t wanna deal with it!

That last line, while continuing the religious undertones set by Imago and Soul, is not necessarily a jab at religious thought processes, but more of a way of saying that people must show that they care about those in need rather than just saying they do because they don’t feel that they can themselves. Another track that calls for more care for others.

Track #10: The Only One

Now here’s one that will be very familiar to people who have seen SFI perform live for the past ten years! The Only One has been the opening song for their live sets for quite a while now, but is track ten of fourteen here. Regardless, it’s great to hear it get an album release! While there have been religious-themed songs on this album, there hasn’t been one that has looked at the concept of there being an afterlife for us when we die specifically. The idea of an afterlife is a source of comfort for many who fear death so it’s nice to have a comforting and melodic song giving that notion some thought.

And we wait for love, and we break for love and find the only one is opening a door.
As we fake for love, we erase the loving of the only one who’ll catch us where we fall.

Cos we won’t be around forever, and we won’t be around til Kingdom Come.
So we live here in this moment – The Only One.

And when we understand this notion that everything that’s ever been will go.
Our impermanence is only. The Only One.

A subtext of true love could be found in these lyrics with not realising that as we wait for love, someone has always been there to catch us when we fall and that we should cherish the moments that we have with the ‘Only One’ and the use of the word ‘impermenance’ shows the idea of wanting to stay in that moment because it won’t get better than right now. It’s a multi-layered song in lyrical content and musical production with the ‘REV phrase’ (reverse sound engineering) created by bassist Gibbs that produces a backwards instrumentation that can be heard at around 2:30. It’s trippy and provides a celestial and astral feel to the song that’s already existential enough as it is! Definitely recommended to hear a long-standing SFI song given the full Rockfield recording treatment!

Track #11: Proud

Pride in your own or someone else’s accomplishments and creativity is great feeling especially if you are a parent trying to encourage the potential that your child has or if you yourself need to find a way to unlock your own potential on your own whether it be through practice of a certain skill or inner/outer exploration.

The quiet came to aid our thought, we focused on the emptiness.
And you came like you had no choice, and you screamed til you had no voice.

So release the fire, betray the night – come on we’re trying to save your life in the fire.

You wonder why you’re changing.
And you wonder why we’re changing.
You wonder why it’s changing.

A slow, yet joyous and passionate song that will be sure to fan the flames lit after that first creative spark. Welp, this is sounding more like an advertisement than a review isn’t it?

Track #12: Circularity

And so we come to the title track! A title track should be seen as the representation of the album, a condensed and abridged version of the album. The track Circularity does this very well, featuring a change in musical style from verses to chorus to reflect varying styles (the lighter style of Slumberland to the harder style of Soul) to the lyrical content which looks to call for unity amongst our fellow man out of personal belief of a better tomorrow and the fear of global disharmony.

I believe in clarity, a simple singularity engaging.
Where everyone believes that everything perceives all.
A radiance outside of me, a chance to see that all of this inflaming is borne of all a blurred and discontented soul.

But there’s a kind of elation that’s transcending us to perfect bliss.
Yet there’s a sense of frustration that’s corroding everything!
Yeah, I know that I’m ‘only’, but I just can’t perceive myself.
There’s a sense of a longing; that we need circularity.
Yeah, we know that we’re lonely, but we’re losing our sense of ‘self’.
There’s a sense of foreboding that we need circularity.

The screamed lyrics of the second paragraph contrast with the softly sang lyrics of the first paragraph and create a piece that summarises just how close, yet so far away we are from creating a better world. #Circularity indeed!

Track #13: Lifelines

The penultimate track on this cycle talks/sings about how we could always use a little help despite knowing how much we already know currently in our life. Even if we’ve decided we don’t need our Imago or we have each declared “I GOT SOUL!”, there’s still uncertainty felt in our lives so just in case, give us a lifeline to fall back on just in case it all goes tits up, to put it a bit more bluntly than usual in this article!

I commit to a lifestyle, a creed and a brand of submission.
There’s a paradox somewhere that I will believe.

Now it’s time for us to get higher. Yet I do not know if I can see it, but I will in time.
In this life, yeah we’ll be all right – just as long as there’s Lifelines.

Heavy, but with a calmer pace than tracks like Sounds Like Crows, this track provides a good final release of energy before our finale, which is…

Track #14: Answers

Who can provide the answers that we need? Though they vary greatly from person to person, the need for answers and guidance is a universal need whether spiritual or physical. This slow, piano-driven final track shows us that we can either wait for answers or we can find them ourselves through individual journeys or journeys with others that we take.

And I’ll wait ‘til Heaven’s stars can tell me where you are.
And I’ll wait ‘til all the skies point to where you lie.
And the oceans drift apart to lead me to your heart.
And golden autumn leaves fall into our dreams.


Yeah, I wish to see you grow into fire, into soul!
Yet I’m standing in these shoes just to warm them up for you.
Because you can see it real, and you can see it clear.
And I can hold my heart on offer from my palm.


Can you give me Answers, please?

“We’ll get some answers…soon.”

Whether you see this as a hopeful or a somber note to end the album on, it’ll definitely leave an impression with what songs have preceded it. Like the title track, there are also combinations of themes from other tracks such as the consideration between humanism and religion “Faith and Science fused” (Imago) which seems to bring Circularity, shall we say, full circle.

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Well that killed the mood!

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

To conclude, SFI have produced an excellent album in Circularity. Each song is well-performed, well-recorded and written with a lot of care and precision as to really give the project a sense of focus on the one true goal which is the one true goal that they wish everyone from all walks of life to get on board with, you guessed it, Circularity! Personal recommendations would be I Can’t Breathe, The Only One and the title track but that is just me. You will find what you’re looking for I’m sure!

Be sure also to check the feed of SFI’s Facebook page as their posts since each track has been posted have article links to world events that match the theme of a song name with a hashtag of said song name, like an article on Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s battle with depression is followed by #ICantBreathe. It’s a good way to promote the album and start a productive discussion.

Anyway, that is all from this landmark first of a piece on Brewtown Music! Let us know whether you enjoyed the review, if you enjoyed any of the tracks you may have listened to and we will see you next time for another hearty review brew of Midlands tunes.

 

LINKS

Circularity Website: http://www.circularity.org/

Star From Ivy Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/starfromivy/

VultureHound interview on Circularity by Thomas Miller: http://vulturehound.co.uk/2016/01/star-from-ivy-circularity-the-interview/

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CREDIT FOR PHOTO: KIMBERLY BAYLISS

Brewtown #24: Brewtown does YNot!

YNot Festival Logo

For this edition of Throwback Thursday, I thought I’d do something out of the ordinary (for this site at least). Something that is short, sweet but also informative of a certain event that happened nearly 3 months ago! That of course is the annual Midlands music festival extravaganza YNOT.

I know that this may be a stretch to be a Throwback Thursday piece, but since it happened a bit back and I just want an excuse to try something different, I think it works…kind of! But anyway, I decided that if there was any music festival to go to this year, it was YNot. Pretty close to home, great press and hosting some big names like Dizzee Rascal, The Fratellis and Andrew WK!

But this year saw a number of local acts (Brewtown acts no less) perform and be very well-received not just by the old familiar faces that they’d see down the Whistle, but also by the general public who ambled by the stage they were on. I’ll look at how they were day by day and how the festival was overall.

THURSDAY EARLY ENTRY

Despite the official kick-off being Friday morning at 10, Thursday evening saw the influx of early birds who had paid an extra £13 to get a fresh spot at the festival as well as see some acts that would exclusively be performing on that day (Or so we thought!).

Although we did have the welsh chav comedy hip hop (a much maligned genre) giants Goldie Lookin Chain ending the night in The Giant Squid tent, we had Brewtown giants Max Raptor getting the festival off to a moshing, head-banging start with their many fans singing along and nearly mutilating each other in the mosh pits, as you do. It is moshing etiquette after all.

FRIDAY

On a day which featured such big guns as Razorlight, Reel Big Fish and Andrew WK (your humble writer’s favourite act of the weekend), it also featured Midlands acts like Alex Blood and the Diggers who got the Hog & Barrel stage stomping with their delightful acoustic versions of their ska infused set! Their energy very much countered the wet and windy misery of the weather!

The Allotment stage (which stood in the same area as the Main Stage as a support stage if you will), featured the majority of the Brewtown acts which included Follow You Home and Tilted Smile on the Friday. The main stage also featured Sonic Boom Six that day who Follow You Home have supported in the past.

SATURDAY

The sun finally came out in the afternoon after a severely wet Friday and Saturday morning (the poor souls who forgot their wellies!) and brought with it a surprise set from Max Raptor! Yes they played double duty at the weekend after another band The First couldn’t make it. I guess Max Raptor were…the SECOND choice! Sigh, rotten fruit and veg are over there. Fire at will!

Derby-base acoustic female guitarist Harriet impressed at the Hog and Barrel while Welsh indie rockers Catfish and the Bottlemen graced the main stage. The reason they’re mentioned here is because Get Cubs supported them earlier this year, so there you go!

The Brewtown highlight for Saturday was Exile84′s evening set which brought in a good mixed crowd of Burton regulars and newbies seeing them smash it for the first time. Plus, the band had a replacement bassist! None other than Kitten Pyramid co-founder Matt Redfern taking over for an absent Ash Eaton! I feel sorry for The Fratellis and Dizzee Rascal for having to follow them!

SUNDAY

The last day of the festival weekend (not counting the exiting hangover of Monday morning) saw Frank Turner and De La Soul headline the Main Stage but the more low-profile bands were still bringing in the crowds to tide them over till they arrived.

Now a duo, 5 Days of November gave 100% at the Allotment stage despite only being 50% of what they were previously. George Mills and Woody Arnold remain on lead vocals/guitar and drums respectively. Derby act House of Thieves also played at the Quarry around this time which so far hasn’t had a mention so, yay Quarry!

Jamie Beau played a delightful set for the Hog and Barrel attendees/drinkers and Derby soul singer Jamie Joseph closed out the weekend (at least on the Allotment stage) with a fantastic and engaging set. And with that, YNot was over not just for Brewtown, but for all the campers, musicians and staff alike.

VERDICT

As a whole, YNot boasted a huge, diverse line-up of acts from Indie giants The Fratellis to UK grime king Dizzee Rascal to US Hip Hop legends De La Soul, but the local talent pulled in some surprisingly big crowds and interest for their sets despite a lot of competition selling some merchandise and gaining social media followers along the way (hint hint, Brewtown Music Facebook page…pretty please?).

Cheap plugs aside, the Brewtown acts all played well, especially Max Raptor who pulled double duty at the hugely popular Giant Squid alternative stage, both sets were just as great as each other. Each band kept everyone enthusiastic and energetic despite the horrid weather to start off with and they each earned a drink or ten afterwards!

Brewtown played it’s part at YNot and little by little, it’ll continue to play it’s part around the country at other gigs and festivals too. Reminisce and be proud Burton-on-Trent! You’ve left your mark, quite literally as seen below! Till another mark can be left, this is Brewtown Music, serving up more nostalgic music memories (if 3 months ago can be considered such!)

Exile84 line-up bomb

Brewtown #23: Big Rhino

Big Rhino is a funk band name and not metal? from left to right: Andrew Gibson, Paul Gibson, Bendelow and Pugh

Big Rhino is a funk band name and not a metal band? from left to right: Andrew Gibson, Paul Gibson, Bendelow and Pugh

Shall we have a bit of fun today? Let’s do so by having a look at an upbeat band based in Nottingham but with members from around Burton so it does count for this section and not another What Else Is Out There, so nyer! Either way, be careful not to get trampled by Big Rhino!

Richard Bendelow (lead vocals/guitar), Andrew Gibson (lead guitar), Paul Gibson (drums) and Miles Pugh (bass) make up this four piece party rock band who despite having set up camp in Nottingham, most of the members are Brewtown through and though and perform in Burton quite a bit!

But with a name like Big Rhino, you’d assume that they can bring a lot of noise and stomping to wherever they perform and have a right silly time along with it. Let’s explore and see what we can get out of this piece on these guys!

If we can't, we at least have this brief summary image!

If we can’t, we at least have this brief summary image!

The history of the band stems from a number of places, both geographical and musical, with each band member having their own story to tell before they got to be a part of the giant rhinoceros.

Bendelow, the Gibson brothers and Pugh all eminate from and around Burton, Yoxall, Barton and Coton-in-the-Elms more specifically. They also studied at John Taylor High School where members from Get Cubs and Max Raptor studied which has been covered in this piece about the latter.

Paul Gibson and Pugh were once business partners at their own local promotion Pink Boards Records which in essence was meant to add some much needed colour to a quite harsh and angry scene. This idea however does clash with Gibson’s band around that time called Invey who described themselves as a “hate fuelled, hard rock band.” Can’t fault diversity I guess!

Nor the brightness of those lights!

Nor the brightness of those lights!

Invey themselves have had a lot of success themselves as a Midlands band, touring all over the country from the mid to late 00s supporting the likes of Children of Bodom and Nightwish.

But of course this is still about Big Rhino so we should probably get back to them. Richard Bendelow and his brother Rob were a part of a revival of the successful 80’s Derbyshire band Saracen. After they decided to call it a day around 2012, Richard met up with good mates The Gibsons and Pugh and thought about forming their own band.

They each thought about bringing together a big four way rock band dynamic whilst still maintaining the fun spirit of Pink Board Records to form a party rock band (LMFAO and Andrew WK would be loving this!) and this is how Big Rhino came to be.

Not before some assisted planking though.

Not before some assisted planking though.

They started writing and recording in the Autumn of 2012 in Base Rehearsals in Nottingham which is why they would be known as a Nottingham-based band although most of them were Burton-based to begin with.

Their first gig came in Nottingham as well with the Creative Christmas Party in December that saw them being well-received by the audience even though they were on first which is always a good sign.

As 2013 came, so did their first EP that they had been working on towards the end of 2012. Turn Around Baby was released on January 11th and featured songs such as Perfect Guy and Tom Bombadil.

Bombadil’s mushrooms must have been passed around at some point!

After the EP release, they released their first music video for their song It’s Just The Way We Are in February which has over 2000 views as of this date. This along with their free EP release had garnered a decent amount of buzz amongst their friends and Midlands music fans that they expanded their reach from just Nottingham.

Speaking of, they also were working with and gigging with other local musicians at this time such as recording with Dan Shipley of Burton metal band For The Kill and performing at The Shed in Leicester on the same bill as Exile84.

Throughout Spring, they would do a few gigs in Burton such as the Star and Garter in March and the grand re-opening of the Wetmore Whistle in April along with the aforementioned Exile84 and Great Scott.

Grand re-opening? Let’s tear the place down! Wait…

A very positive review came for the band after they performed at the Dot to Dot Festival in May at the Rescue Rooms in Nottingham where they were described as “a highlight, playing a fun and uplifting set that ranged from surfer rock to indie pop that at times wouldn’t be out on place on the soundtrack to a Tarantino film.” Django Unchained 2, you have some party scene BGM!

In the Summer they played everywhere from Ashby’s Bunka with with The Decade Runners and a protoypical Red Monroes, Waterfest in Nottingham and Summerfest in Derby. Definitely full momentum for this Rhino!

Careful now!

Careful now!

A weekend mini tour came for them in September with Murphmania at Barton on the 6th, Amazement Festival at Nottingham Racecourse on the 7th and the Barefoot Walk In The Park at Woolaton Park, Nottingham on the 8th.

A particularly glowing review came for them after their Amazement gig: “It’s impossible not to smile and have a cheeky dance to their surfer gypsy pop rock. The most striking thing about the band is how much they clearly love to perform, always a must for any band worth their salt.” Gypsy pop rockers, haven’t Green Fortune got that honour?

No amount of praise would prepare them for October’s Big Money gig at The Star Foundation in Burton though! A huge charity even with a Jools Holland type of set-up of multiple stages with two acts a stage also featuring the likes of Black Wolf Catch, Exile84 and Get Cubs.

Oh and a back-up singer from Jon Coulton's Re: Eat Your Brains! All in good flesh-eating fun!

Oh and a back-up singer from Jon Coulton’s Re: Eat Your Brains! All in good flesh-eating fun!

One last huge gig for 2013 was post-Xmas at the Wetmore Whistle with their 2nd EP launch simply titled The 2nd EP. Straightforward I guess. Supported by For The Kill and Sleaford-based math rockers Bear Makes Ninja, they were met with rousing, happy na-na-nas through to the New Year.

Now to this current year of 2014, they also received good feedback for their music video for first track from their sophomore effort People which featured footage (stock or made by the band themselves) from around the world!

With their EP being made available to stream on Soundcloud in February, the followed that up the next month with a big card on a bizarrely placed gig. Phoenix Salvation‘s last gig and free EP launch saw BR as well as Star From Ivy and Black Wolf Catch feature in The Goodridge which is a Burton-based Wetherspoons chain.

Who said pubs have to have unique identities?

Who said pubs have to have unique identities?

In between recording their next batch of material, BR supported New-Zealand alt-rock band Kobosh (best have been worth the millions of miles!) a Nottingham’s Chameleon Arts cafe in April, as well as finding out they’d once again be a part of the Waterfront Festival (which takes place July 12th) after a successful BroadgatesFest near Nottingham Uni in June. Kobosh!

But after all that charging through the scene, how does Big Rhino hold it’s horn (stop snickering!) in said scene? Deep down, everybody wants to have a little, silly fun once in a while and if that had silly fun had an iPod, Big Rhino would somehow always come on shuffle!

With the aforementioned label of ‘gypsy pop rock’, Big Rhino take surf rock, funk and reggae to make a joyous sound that always seems to win over even the most cynical of audience members. Bendelow’s enthusiasm combined with the Gibson bros’ and Pugh’s wily musicianship will get people on their feet, spilling their beers in the process of partying hard!

The first of two recommended songs is Just the Way We Are, the final track from their debut EP. The spinning opener Turn Around Baby and Tolkien toe-tapper Tom Bombadil were good bracers for this track which brings an end to a short, but worthwhile party bringing a sense of togetherness and acceptance to the proceedings.

With a rhythm and bass line that will remind you of BBC Test match cricket (no seriously, look up the theme by Booker T and the MGs and listen), the light-hearted nature of the song is a great solo introduction to their sound and will prepare you for the live merriment!

Dreaming ain’t the only way to fly

Reaching ain’t the only way to climb

I’m climbing higher and higher and higher

I’m for hire yet I play my songs for freedom

Definitely not one to be taken seriously, but would they want it that way? It’s the good time that counts and you will have this listening to this one!

The second song to recommend is People from The 2nd EP which does allow them to be a bit more diverse with their sound with tracks ranging from blues rock (Under The Sun) and a bit more an indie flavour (Over) and while a sing-along stomper does sound like it fits in with their previous party anthems, it still stands above them as a bit more socially conscious while still being humourous and carefree.

The tone can change lyrically be it from serious (Let’s sing songs about things, songs about the people that we love and the predicaments they find themselves in) to downright silly and lewd (Let’s go down to Tesco! We’ll buy a bottle of rum, have some fun on the desk that I took your virginity on!), but musically it stays at an easy yet brisk pace until it goes into a Capella way-ohs from the audience before we call it a day!

The video featuring all kinds of footage helps the universal feel to this song showing that we are all just people who have our own lives and what’s up with a bit of a break in that monotony to just relax, have a drink, have a sing-song and then go home? If you feel that way, give it a listen, or not depending on if you value my opinion in any way, shape or form!

To finish up, Big Rhino are there for you if you need a shindig, rave or hootenanny (maybe even a box social!) and some fun, catchy music. While Nottingham may be their stated home for now, Brewtown is way they originated so…you’re welcome Notts! This has been Brewtown Music, serving another fresh batch of local tunes.

 

BIG RHINO’s stuff

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BigRhinoMusic

Bandcamp: http://bigrhino.bandcamp.com/

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/big-rhino-music

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCu3-RCZLw3trAR7aBz-JvJQ

Rhino sign

Brewtown #22: The Red Monroes

Marilyn never posed like this from left to right: Fitton, Alexander, Dolman and Woods

Marilyn never posed like this from left to right: Fitton, Woods, Dolman and Holmes (Alexander unpictured, sorry!)

As we continue on through our jaunt through the acts of Brewtown, we today look at a band that had another identity through the noughties, but have reformed in a more modest sense. Boop-boop-be-do, it’s The Red Monroes!

Philip Fitton (Lead vocals, Guitar), Sean Alexander (Lead Guitar, B Vox), Rob Dolman (Drums, B Vox), Damien Woods (Keys, Synth, B Vox) and David Holmes (Bass, B Vox) make up this five piece that go back longer than the small time they’ve been around as the Ruby Marilyns!

Although starting the RMs just last year, Fitton has led with another band called The Risks who made a big impact themselves in the scene since they formed nearly a decade ago. Let’s take a look at that history up till now shall we?

Just watch out for Fitton along the way. He get's very hungry!

Just watch out for Fitton along the way. He get’s very hungry!

Just to clarify, this is still an article on The Red Monroes, so I’ll keep The Risks’ stuff as brief as I can, but to start, Fitton formed The Risks back in 2005 with Alexander, Holmes and a drummer by the name of Kev until eventually getting replaced by Dolman. Kev everybody!

Originally, they were a covers band under the pretense of securing gigs but after a couple of bookings, they started writing their own material and as Dolman came in, they were performed a Fantastik 4 hybrid set of covers and originals.

Their style of music was hard indie and punk from the main musicians and with an Elvis Costello-esque vocal performance tinged with some Bryan Ferry-like vibrato from Fitton.

Vibrating so hard he may as well have DualShock printed on his body! 2:07 onwards in particular!

Highlights for The Risks included a TV appearance on Sky Sports (Kitten Pyramid level fame here!), support slots for Little Man Tate, The Futureheads and The Rascals and a gig at the 2007 Glastonbudget. Also, they performed at Liverpool’s world famous venue The Cavern Club which Fitton and Dolman were hugely proud of being big Beatles fans.

Over a successful couple of years and some well-received gigs in Nottingham and Manchester’s O2 Academy, things fizzled out for The Risks and so they decided to call it quits in 2009.

However, in 2012, Fitton, Dolman and Holmes thought it would be nice to start performing again, but a new identity was needed. And this is where the story of The Red Monroes begins!

Finally, I've been waiting ages for you to get going with that!

Finally, I’ve been waiting ages for you to get going with that!

Though they would begin writing and rehearsals around about November 2012 and through the Winter/Spring of 2013, they wouldn’t get their first official gig until June where they started out in big style, at the Victoria Inn in Derby, a regular place for The Risks to perform.

Woods was added to the line-up on synth to further develop the sound of TRM as well as some new show slots, including a return to the Wetmore Whistle (Risks popular venue again) and performing at mini festival Hilton Party in the Park in July.

Ashby’s BUNKA venue was also on the cards for July, a venue where hip hop legend Grandmaster Flash played with Jacob ‘Jaws’ Wilshaw of Raptorial!

Why am I showing this pic? Because it's awesome and I can! MWAHAHA!!

Why am I showing this pic? Because it’s awesome and I can! MWAHAHA!!

But on topic of the article, the Autumn saw more promotion of their debut EP and two more gigs at The Vic with the first being a headlining gig on top of solo local talent in October and the second supporting The Vibe and Get Cubs in November.

Before finishing their EP, they added one last lead guitar layer provided by Alexander who made the band a quintet in December. After a private demo amongst friends and family was given a thumbs up, they looked to release the EP in Spring 2014.

Sure enough, they did release their debut self titled EP on April 4th for release on iTunes, Google Play and physical release for gigs. To further promote the EP, they decided to reach further afield than Burton. Say…Canada…yeah that’ll do!

Yep, sure I’m not stereotyping here eh?

They were actually promoted twice on Canadian radio stations! One of them being 103.7FM CFBU Brock University Student Radio in Ontario (rolls right off the tongue eh?) in April and CISM 89.3 French Canadian radio in May!

With further gigs in the pipeline including one supporting Star From Ivy at the Whistle in mid-May, TRM will know doubt be looking to gain back that old attention-grabbing fire back from their days as The Risks. I’d say they’re on their way.

Still, regardless of this journey, what about the material? Well I’m glad you asked that. The evolution of the sound from Risks to Reds has been an interesting one and in some ways for the better so…

Come on then! Bored first person drummer is bored!

Come on then! Bored first person drummer is bored!

Their music from their Risks days did seem more raw in the sense it was more rooted in punk than anything else. Songs like Change Your Ways from their rough demos did sound like a heavier Elvis Costello number!

But with the Monroes, there’s power there, but it seems more heartfelt and romantic as well as the production being more slick and polished. Not to it’s detriment, it’s just an observation.

Songs like Don’t Waste Your Shadow and Take My Hand seem much more romantic, optimistic and catchy pop rock numbers than the punk sounds of previous times but…they are romantic, optimistic and catchy so there’s a big upside to the style change.

The first of two recommended tracks is Information was put up as a free download on their Soundcloud as a preview for their EP and it was a pretty good call.

It displays the upbeat Indie melodies that came with their style change including harmonic guitar riffs and the synth/piano featured on the whole EP that adds to the happy nature.

The lyrics are also a consistency with their new sound, with romantic themes such as a new woman coming into your life that was miserable before and the ‘Information’ being the facts needed to be heard by the singer to get him out of the slump he’s in. You can listen to it above.

The second of these tracks, Light of the Corner, is even more happy and joyous than the previous song! It’s quite the feat, but it will leave you with a bigger smile on your face!

The jangly guitars, the melodic piano, brisk drum beat and vivacious vibrato vocals (say that 5 times fast!) make it an essential gateway into the sound of TRM.

You say the words that make it all seem right

Can’t understand why I blame it on myself….

Where the light is a corner we found!

Fitton sings about that special place in private where you can just make out with your partner and not have to care about anyone around you looking. No smooth jazz needed, just happy Indie sing-alongs! If you care to check it out for yourself, by all means do so!

In conclusion, The Red Monroes/Fitton and co have definitely shifted in tone from what they were nearly ten years ago, but I’d say it’s a refreshing change. A much more upbeat approach to counter the anger in certain musical facets is always refreshing, at least to me. Either way, this has been Brewtown Music serving you a hearty brew of Midlands tunes!

The Reds’ stuff

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theredmonroes

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/the-red-monroes

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3k7D2tS4pWB2xzWB3r_BbQ

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheRedMonroes

The Risks’ Unsigned page: http://www.unsigned.com/therisks

The Risks’ Myspace: https://myspace.com/therisksderby

The Red Monroes 2

Brewtown #21: Wet Lettuce and the Magik Bean

Colourful characters from left to right: Wyatt, Hutchings, Jordan, Houlbrooke and Waddell

Colourful characters from left to right: Wyatt, Hutchings, Jordan, Houlbrooke and Waddell

Hey, we’re back with Brewtown once again and to start off this next order of local music, we’re going to look at a hard rock/metal act with a slightly psychedelic/naughty name. If you know what I mean, it’s Wet Lettuce and the Magik Bean!

Kyle Jordan (Vocals), Gaz Waddell (Drums), Lewis Hutchings (Bass), Dan Houlbrooke (First guitar) and Sam Wyatt (Second guitar) are the five ingredients for this strange-sounding recipe that provides a lot of suggestion and hard rock…and more suggestion!

These lads, like other young acts such as Mario’s Nicotine Parlour and The Arcadians have only been around for less than two years but have been working their way into local favour and into our heads with their bizarre and did I mention suggestion?!

Yes you did! Now get on with the article!!

Yes you did! Now get on with the article!!

Four young men (no vocalist yet and bassist then was Robin Nichols) were part of a music course at Burton college who decided to test out some of their instrumental tracks that they had written together and formed the band on May 22nd 2012. Instrumental because they didn’t have a vocalist yet.

Their first gig was, oddly enough, something to do with college with a music evening at the Brewhouse Performing Arts Centre called Pick ‘N’ Mix organised by the college that also featured Lucida Scroll and Great Scott.

However, they didn’t make their official live debut until October where they opened the Deafbox Promotions launch night at the Star and Garter pub on a card which also featured The Distancing and 5 Days of November.

Dah! I thought I erased that image from my brain!

Dah! Dammit Millsy, I thought I erased that image from my brain!

In the midst of this debut, they were busy uploading demo tracks to Soundcloud and searching for a permanent singer. The latter wouldn’t come just yet, but it did come later in the next year.

The first two gigs of 2013 for the Wets were both in the same month, April to be exact with the 13th giving them a support slot once again alongside Lucida Scroll and put on by DeafBox and on the 20th at Branston’s Gate Inn with CURV and Double Helix put on by Septic Sounds. Unfortunately, the latter gig was cancelled due to Nichols breaking his wrist. Damn!

Their first festival date came in July the day after another gig at the Star and Garter. This was at the Grass Roots Festival at Appleby Magna in Leicestershire which would also feature acts as diverse as Them Deviants, Theia and The Vibe.

The ideal landscape for electric funk and vagina innuendos.

The ideal landscape for hard funk and vagina innuendos.

The next couple on months would be a very brief public hiatus for the Bean to prepare for the announcement of their next few gigs and the arrival of their fifth member, which would be that ever so mysterious lead singer I was on about earlier. To hype up the singer’s debut, they announced they had laid down some vocal lines for their EP on Facebook.

At the end of October, they supported Theia this time for an acoustic set at the Dog Inn and with it, introduced Jordan to the mix as permanent vocalist! As November rolled round, they got themselves a support slot with Star From Ivy of all bands at the Wetmore Whistle which was also the first time they performed at the famous Burton venue.

In mid November, they would hype up a big gig in Crewe supporting Birmingham-based Indie act Dumb at The Box, so much so selling physical tickets for the event! They would also play at The Shed in Leicester which would become a favourite venue for them outside of Burton.

Though it’s not from The Shed, here’s a performance clip of theirs of a track called Dissonance. Appropriate given the video quality!

Come 2014 (we’re already in the current year? Jayzus!!), they were ready to unveil their material in recorded form for the launch of their debut EP Bad Llama. It took place at The Shed, appropriate given the great reception they had the last time they performed their, with support from Swad band Genziani’s Jukebox.

With performances at the Musician in Leicester and further performances at the Whistle alongside The Arcadians, they gained a bit more online attention when reviewer Theguywithastick posted a positive write-up about their EP and the band in general.

They have recently done another gig at The Shed alongside French rock act Eyes of Verona hosted by Dreaming in Colour Productions and encouraged fans to vote for them to be a part of Slam Dunk Festival hosted by Kerrang. Best of luck to them for then, but for now, that’s about it. The history of Wet Lettuce and the Magik Bean everyone!

Huzzah! Here's an anthropomorphic bikini-clad llama for your troubles!

Huzzah! Here’s an anthropomorphic bikini-clad llama for your troubles!

Despite the short history, there’s still the music to listen out for. So, how does THAT fare? Originally, I didn’t think much of these guys, what with them having formed through a college music project and all, but with time I’ve come to appreciate their performances seeing what they can do with more than just one music genre.

Wet Lettuce are an act with an eclectic inspiration ranging from the likes of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jane’s Addiction and Biffy Clyro and show that they aren’t willing to be seen as just one style, though still classed as alternative.

The music itself can show no-nonsense aggression (Bad Llama title track), psychedelic clashes of harmonies (Dissonance, oddly enough!) or laid back funk (Translation) which vocalist Jordan adapts to pretty well, either by a smooth croon or a Max Raptor-like scream!

A prime example of this and recommended number is Take Wing. Starting off with brisk drum beats and dirty guitar riffs that are reminiscent of the beginning of The Strokes‘ track The Modern Age, the track leaps from your headphones and looks to give you a sense of what the band has to offer in terms of musical merit.

It shows that they have a knack for a hook if they push for it, since they had to make do without a vocalist originally and be an instrumental act to start off with the main riff mentioned earlier giving the song an almost menacing and sneaky texture.

Lyrically, the song seems to suggest a free and easy lifestyle, whether that involve going out and looking for a wild night out or just doing whatever the guy wants to, with the title alluding to flying away from it all.

Maybe I will, maybe I won’t…

I guess I can tell, I’m under your spell

Cos it’s a situation I’m not willing to sell

Whether it be about sex (the band name, come on!) or having a hedonistic time with your mates, it gives off the ‘don’t give a damn’ vibe that we’ve come to expect with rock n roll music, which they pull off quite well.

It is just a taste of their discography, seeing how they have only been around since 2012 and a lot of that time was moving on from just being a college project to being a legitimate band. But it’s a sweet taste for now!

Below is the studio EP version if you found the live version above a bit rough, so I suggest checking it out for yourself as I always suggest seeing how I could always be talking a load of bull!

To finish, Wet Lettuce and the Magik Bean could prove to be dark horses in the Burton music scene. Though starting off from the classroom, their new material has proved they can perform alongside the bigger acts and carve out their own unique identity. Watch out for them, Leicester certainly has anyway!

But from Burton, this is Brewtown Music serving you another fine brew of Midlands tunes!

The Bean’s stuff

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WetLettuceandTheMagicBean

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/wet-lettuce-magik-bean

Reverbnation: http://www.reverbnation.com/wetlettuceandthemagikbean

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClldCchMUgT4XCrZBQwOncw

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Magik_Bean

Wet Lettuce

What Else Is Out There? #6: The Fontana Instincts

Four with nature from left to right: Widdop, Campbell, Komorowska and Kelly

Four with nature from left to right: Widdop, Campbell, Komorowska and Kelly

Back to Derby for our next order of What Else Is Out There with an Americana act that is 3/4 British Midland and 1/4 Polish! Fractions are nothing here though as we’re going with our Fontana Instincts!

Tom Campbell (guitar, lead vocals), Jim Widdop (lead guitar, backing vocals), Magdalena Komorowska (bass) and Alex Kelly (drums) make up this Derby-based four piece that definitely don’t sound like a band that would come from this area of the country, or even this country in general!

From their start at the end of the noughties to their current incarnation that has been on a brief hiatus of late, The Fontana Instincts have been bringing their sound to the rest of the UK that brings you their sound which reflects the best in Americana.

Maybe not THAT 'Murican, but something!

Maybe not THAT ‘Murican, but something!

To start, Campbell was doing the whole singer-songwriter routine for a few years before meeting Widdop in 2008, each of them performing with different acts at the time. Widdop playing dobro and steel pedal in particular caught Campbell’s attention and both of them hit it off very well which resulted in them having a good ole’ jam!

After that jam and a subsequent six months of gigging starting from December 2008, they started working on an EP which would be known as The Chilka Sessions, but they weren’t satisfied with it so it never saw an official release.

The EP contained five tracks, some of which would end up on a certain future release such as Miss Muldoon, Night and Day and Millie Come and Get Me although later on it would be shortened down to just Millie.

Here’s Miss Muldoon as a primer.

The genesis of Fontana came about in 2009 with two more people added to the mix. The first was Tom Kitchen, a former bassist of heavy rock act LostAlone also knew how to play drums and was brought in after meeting Campbell at the Rockhouse in Derby and Luke Wynne, a good mate of Campbell’s who filled in the position of bassist for a few gigs.

After this new quartet met up with Birmingham musicians and producers Brian Nordhoff and Rob Cimarosti, they recorded four songs in one 16 hour session in a Moseley studio. The result was four good takes and Nordhoff encouraged Campbell to carry on writing and he would help them record an album in the future.

During the Summer of 2010, Campbell busked around Australia for inspiration and the wallabies no doubt, before being put in touch with a Polish girl who Kitchen knew (Komorowska) and wanted to join a band. A few drinks and a joyful jam later, the group was whole again.

Want more band sex appeal? Woman with bass guitar...BOOM!

Want more band sex appeal? Woman with bass guitar…BOOM!

Their first performance as a group was on the Main Stage at the 2010 Out the Box Festival in August but their first booked gig was in September at the Grapes bar in Sheffield. They would continue to perform for four months before going to back to Birmingham to start recording an album.

The recording process would start at the start of 2011 and would continue throughout the year. One of the gigs to stem the tides till then was a gig in April at the reliant Wetmore Whistle on the card with Tilted Smile and Lady and the Tramp.

Another big April gig came at the Bodega Social in Nottingham supporting Glasgow-based alternative rock act Kassidy who went on to tour with Lana del Rey in 2013!

Still, let us remember the REAL stars now!

In May, they were announced by BBC Introducing that they would be playing on the Allotment stage at YNot of that year! That particular stage would be headlined by beatboxing extraordinaire Beardyman and the festival as a whole would host big names like Maximo Park and local names like Max Raptor (cos we didn’t hear ENOUGH about them being at YNot!)

After a return to Out The Box Festival, the first Burtfest at Burton Rugby Club and their stint at YNot, they brought Benjamin Edmonds, formerly of Tilted Smile and Son of Eagle in to the studio to provide backing vocals as the finishing touch to their album.

Two big Midlands gigs came in October with a headliner at the Derby Assembly Rooms as part of the Evolution Derby College Talent Showcase and Burton promoter Loaded’s launch night at the Star and Garter.

Prizes for guessing what the hell the words are!

Two more great gigs for them that closed out the year were a support slot for Riding the Low at Sheffield’s Leadmill in October and being on the card with Son on Eagle and Boat to Row for a sold out show at the Derby Guildhall in December.

A rousing goodbye started off 2012 with the Fontana brigade supporting veteran power pop four piece The Souvenirs at the Victoria Inn to another sold out crowd.

Act who would support them in the coming months would be 5 Days of November and Lucida Scroll in Burton and at Derby’s Ryan’s Bar with London psych rock band West of the Sun and Exile84 big shot Andy Crowe.

Well THIS guy thinks he is anyway!

Well THIS guy thinks he is anyway!

Huge news came in April as they would be announced they would be supporting American alternative giants The Lemonheads (known for their hit cover of Mrs Robinson) on their ‘Shame about Ray’ tour at the Venue in Derby!

More big news to follow as they announced in May that they would release their long-awaited debut album Carousel which was set to be released on July 2nd and to hype up interest, they released a video for their song Our David on May 2nd.

In June, they rounded off the huge Burtfest weekend at the Arch Creations stage on Sunday 17th. Sure enough, this hyped up more interest, at least in Burton, for the album release, sure enough on July 2nd.

Ooo shiny!

Ooo shiny!

A member departure came in August when Kitchen left the group amicably for university which left the band without a drummer for Osfest in Longford. Campbell also did a solo outing at YNot to stem the tide before a new drummer could be brought in.

On summer transfer deadline day, or August 31st, the band did find their new drummer Alex Kelly formerly of Midlands Brit rockers The Iron Door Club who have supported the likes of Pete Doherty and Underground Heroes.

After a huge Liverpool O2 Academy performance, they returned to Burton twice at the end of the year with one even being Exile84‘s first hometown gig in November at the Whistle and also playing at the Tower Brewery for a Christmassy gig in December.

More Exile84...oh puh-lease!

More Exile84…this is OUR blog post matey!

2013 was the last year we saw of the guys for a while but still, they made the most of it, with six of the year’s gigs being throughout February and March including a supporting slot for Turin Brakes at the Venue and a Jam Café performance in Nottingham.

Though not on the card for it, Campbell helped out with the sound and stage set-up for The Sunni Mae Festival in Willington, an event to raise money for cancer charity and in aid of Lily Mae Morrison, a young girl diagnosed with stage 4 Neuroblastoma.

A return to OsFest in July and their last gig (for now) at the Flowerpot in Derby supported by Tilted Smile and West of the Sun rounded off a brief summer for the guys and have since been on hiatus.

Still though, savour the last show...SAVOUR IT!!

Still though, savour the last show…SAVOUR IT!!

Now though, let’s savour and look at the music. Like I said at the start, for a band that is made up of three lads from the British Midlands and a Polish woman, the Americana sound rings true in their music, sometimes doing it better than American bands!

The country-folk influences are strong in their tunes with songs ranging from calm country ballads (Room For Me), to rousing stompers (Forgotten Almost) that can transport you to the Snakeskin Inn in Georgia listening to them (I am SO sorry for that!)

Campbell’s smoky voice and Komorowska’s backing give each song a Brit rock spin on these Americana songs and Widdop’s ever-reliant guitar playing whether on a regular axe or a steel pedal gives these songs their uniquely sturdy American-British charm (would you expect anymore from a guy who had his head bloodied before a show but still carried on?)

Two songs I’ll give attention to are Carousel favourites Our David and Miss Muldoon. The first of which showing a good deal of their upbeat side to a story that doesn’t sound as upbeat, in fact it almost sounds quite distressing!

It tells the story of a man (called David I assume) who’s family members are worried about him being out for so long and just want him to get home safely. Aww!

The twang in the guitar and southern drawl vocals from Campbell are very much present in this song and while it won’t make you wanna go “Yee-haw!”, it will probably get you up dancing and singing along to the chorus.

If our David isn’t home

We will never be alone…

…We will stand to watch the phone until we

know that everything’s OK…OK!

Secondly, Miss Muldoon provides that same up-tempo feel as Our David, but feels much raunchier with it’s subject matter of just wanting to impress that one woman that you’re eyeing up, but are just to intoxicated by pressure or drugs possibly to do so.

More specifically, the woman (who I assume is one Miss Millie Muldoon) is seen just browsing the merchandise at the record shop when the singer’s character is trying to go with the flow and ask her out, but is just not able to get the words out due to…whatever circumstances or certain substances!

Musically, it sounds like that dirty hard rock sound that you’d hear later on in the night at the Snakeskin when everyone’s had one too many whisky shots! Interested in dirty bar rock? Check this out!

MISS MULDOON

In conclusion, The Fontana Instincts give a Western take on Brit rock that is very much welcomed. Derby have definitely struck gold with these guys so to speak and it would be nice to see some new material from them. Until we see that triumphant return, a rip-roaring serving of Brewtown tunes to you, from Burton and beyond!

Fontana Instincts’ stuff

Official Website (currently down): http://fontanainstincts.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fontanainstincts

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/fontanainstincts

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCW4KiP_fT1lnw0rcw5PnxTQ

Tumblr: http://thefontanainstincts.tumblr.com/

FI logo

fontana_instincts happy

 

What Else Is Out There #5: Just James

Just jamming from left to right: Kerridge, Anthony, Reeves, Child, Young and Mehew

Just jamming from left to right: Kerridge, Anthony, Reeves, Child, Young and Mehew

For the fifth edition of What Else Is Out There, we’re off to Nottingham to greet a dance act who aren’t entirely what you’d expect from the genre, especially when performing live! Though there’s six of them, it’s Just James.

Alex ‘Motormouf’ Young (rapping vocals), Ella Reeves (singing vocals), Ben Kerridge (guitar), James Child (bass), Jake Mehew (keys) and Joseph Anthony (drums) form what is quite a unique combination; the sounds of live rock music and house/drum n bass tunes brought together to make a storming impact on the Midlands music scene.

Since their own formation in 2010, they have stopped by Burton a number of times to deliver their brand of electronic/dubstep/rock/hip-hop/soul/zydeco/leetcore/whatever the hell else music (they dubbed themselves ‘science fiction rock and roll’ if that’s easier) and that is why they are featured on Brewtown Music!

That and Motormouf's pits here give Jack Poxon's a run for his money!

That and Motormouf’s pits here give Jack Poxon’s a run for their money!

But the tale here begins before all that though, we have to go back to 2008, where the public performing days of a young lad called Alex Young began and developed into being an instrumental (pardon the pun) part of the urban music scene of Nottingham with his style of human beatboxing that was looking to emulate the likes of Beardyman and Dub FX.

His main inspiration though was American beatboxer Rahzel, former member of The Roots and known for his vocal work on SSX and SSX Tricky. So much like a lot of musicians, Young’s beatboxing was self-taught…not that I know of many beatbox teachers anyway!

The big solo highlight came when Young entered into the Midlands heat of the Vauxhall UK Beatbox Championships in 2010 where, after some very impressive and funny beatboxing, got to the heat final but unfortunately lost to LucasTheBeatbox. I think my thoughts on his loss are summed up here.

Oh well, 3:42 will let that news go down easier!

Towards the end of that year, Young was invited to watch his college buddy’s (Child) band Just James play at a Christmas party in the Stealth club in Nottingham. He was very impressed with the band’s unique sound and after Anthony invited him for a jam to see what it would sound like to have a rapper in the group, he impressed so much that they decided to have him on as the sixth member of the band.

Just James themselves formed in October 2010 and Young had his first gig with them in April 2011 (the same month as a gig at the  after a shining first few months of performing that earned them a spot on the shortlist for the 2011 YNot Festival (Dammit how many more times do we have to hear about that one?!). Unfortunately though, they didn’t make the final cut.

After a good few months of recording, the band put out their first EP Keep Calm and Rave On Vol 1 on June 24th which they would promote at festivals they were performing at that Summer which were Ripley Music Festival in June and the Nottingham Waterfront in August.

Keep Calm and Rave On: Zack Ryder approved!

Keep Calm and Rave On Vol 1: Zack Ryder approved!

In September, they would headline at The Maze music bar in Nottingham with Notts ska giants The Breadchasers and post punk indie band Tribal Suns. Being a Nottingham based act, they would be frequent performers at The Maze throughout their run as an act with their first gig there being in May.

In October, they had two very important gigs, in the context of this article of course, as they performed at battle of the bands competition in Derby for a chance at a record deal and their very first gig in Burton at the good ole Wetmore Whistle! Everyone goes there!

Just as a way to plug another Midlands music lover, Nottingham live music promoters Nusic had the band on their show also in October to promote them as well as perform an Invaders Must Die-like number called The Bassment.

We are the Just James!

The band began 2012 with some very good news. Through their shows in Derby and their battle of the bands competition, they were signed to Belper-based independent record label and music production team Sound Hub! Other bands signed to this label are Derby-based independent rock acts Whitemoor and James Warner Prophecies.

Two more notable gigs in Spring included a charity performance for Oxfam that also included Derby MC Eyez in April that raised £430 and a big performance at the Nottingham Royal Concert Hall on June 1st for the Queen’s Jubilee that was more of a play on the word queen for a Gay Pride concert!

But in a major highlight in June, they became a part of the 2012 Burtfest (redundancy is redundant I know!) performing on the Arch Stage on Saturday 16th June that also featured Great Scott, The Vibe and Riding the Low.

But we all know who the stars are…the band nobody there had heard of!

They would end up returning to Burton, to the Star and Garter specifically, later in the month to attempt to save the Wetmore Whistle after Burtfest left the former Whistle owner Ben Brettell in massive debt with a fundraising gig along with The Vibe, Get Cubs and Kitten Pyramid.

To build towards an album release, they released a single on July 16th called Red Light Means Go which is notable for climbing all the way to #11 on the iTunes Electronic charts! That’s not like Reverbnation’s country/county divisions either, that’s official!

Arguably, one of the biggest crowds they have ever played to came towards the end of July with their performance at the Nottingham Pride Festival where they played on the main stage in front of 20,000 people and supported Basshunter of all people!

Suddenly Burtfest feels pretty small right now!

Suddenly Burtfest feels pretty small right now!

Two more big gigs in November closed out 2012 for them with the first on Nov 2nd at Nottingham Rock City supporting Follow You Home and Sonic Boom Six and on Nov 22nd headlining at the Nottingham Bodega along with support from Great Scott and The Afterdark Movement. These also promoted a new free downloadable song See It Through released on the 27th.

2013 gave them a mini-festival at the Derby Assembly Rooms in January that had House of Thieves and Kitten Pyramid on the card…but due to heavy snow, it was re-scheduled for March 23rd where Jamie Joseph and Get Cubs were added to the mix! It even snowed THAT day too but it didn’t deter the willing!

On April 14th, they released their new single Limitless which when released also made a pretty good push up the iTunes Electronic Chart making it #29 this time and had it’s own music video released on the 21st.

Wherever they are, The Prodigy are not far behind, or in front...eh whatever!

Wherever they are, The Prodigy are not far behind, or in front…eh!

After performing again at the Whistle with The Sixth Letter at the start of June, they ended the month being a part of XStatic Festival in Swadlincote which also featured Get Cubs, Raptorial and We Were Ghosts.

But that was not the biggest festival announcement they had, as their already exciting announcement of them performing at Strawberry Fields Festival wasn’t big enough, they were told they would be opening the Festival on Friday on the Main Stage! Get Cubs were at this festival too as well as more mainstream acts The View and The Enemy.

After a big summer of festivals, they were set to perform what they said was their ‘biggest gig of the year’ at the OxJam Soiree set for 29th October which was promoted with a humorous little Youtube ad.

Though I don’t know what gave me more whiplash, the camera pans or Young’s line delivery!

With new songs in the pipeline, a gig supporting the legendary Dub Mafia at the Maze and a summer festival season announcement of Bearded Theory to come, who knows what else is set for Just James in 2014?

Buggered if I know, so let’s just look at the music itself now! Midlands Music Maniacs described them as the ‘Who needs class A’s when you’ve got these lot’ lot! Yep, I’d say that sounds about right!

Just James‘s sound has a massive presence whether being performed on stage or simply being blasted through your headphones. With influences from The Prodigy (of course!) and Pendulum spurring their sound on, their music commands your attention whether it be the rock base sound, the electronica buzzings, Young’s lyrical drops or Reeves’ soulful singing.

One song to listen to is their first single Red Light Means Go which already seems like something the high guy meme would say and that contradiction forms a good basis for song and immediately hits you full-on with the bass blares at Young’s furious rhymes!

Young’s lyrics, which I’m not even going to list they’re going by so fast, are delivered in a way that makes you think that this guy is not going to let anyone tell him to stop what he’s doing since he’s going by at such a pace, it’d be like an OAP kindly asking a truck from Maximum Overdrive to slow down!

The instrumentation is just as hard as the vocal performance from Young, but Reeves’ singing give it an almost calming quality despite the fury still remaining!

I can lose half my beard to this!

I can lose half my beard to this!

Another track to look at is Limitless which judging by that title is already going to be as ‘full-on’ as the previous track and the JJ lot don’t disappoint! Drum and bass are officially approved on Brewtown Music!

The keys riff at the start provides a steady flow to the energy to follow which the band provides in spades and can be seen done in the music video. Dan Lowe, the producer and mixer at SoundHub also needs recognition for providing their music as well as this one with great care and consideration to make the most hard-hitting track possible!

With Young’s flawless flow providing the verses and Reeves’ chorus line of “To know no bounds, is a merry-go-round”, the vocal work does give the band’s rock/dance sound it’s own unique identity and prove that EDM is not the only option for those who want to mosh to dance music! Still though, check them out and judge for yourself!

In closing, Just James give rock and dance another great union and have graced Burton with their presence a good number of times along the way! With more tracks and big festivals on the way, they’ll be sure to get everyone moving and opportunities could be limitless! A hardcore serving of Brewtown tunes to you, from Burton and beyond!

 

Just James’ Stuff

Official Website: http://www.wearejustjames.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WeAreJustJames

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/wearejustjames

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/WeAreJustJames

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WeAreJustJames

Just James logo

BREWTOWN 20th POST: MAX RAPTOR

Wot you lookin' at from left to right: Winnington, Stevenson, Ray and Reisner

Wot you lookin’ at from left to right: Winnington, Stevenson, Ray and Reisner

So here we are with another multiple of 10 milestone article! To mark this momentous occasion that I’m making it out to be, let’s look and listen to one of the most nationally known and popular acts to come out of Burton-on-Trent in recent memory. British cousin of Ego, it’s Max Raptor!

Wil ‘Ray’ Raybould (vocals), Ben Winnington (guitar), Matt Stevenson (bass) and Pete Reisner (drums) form this hard rock quartet who have been one of the bigger national success stories to come out of Brewtown.

Their alt-punk style mixed with their widespread reputation has landed them massive support slots alongside the likes of Billy Talent and The Stranglers believe it or not!

The right look for that announcement possible! Happy but keeping up the punk image at the same time!

The right look for that announcement possible! Happy but keeping up the punk image at the same time!

Not to spoil too much right away of course, since there’s a lot to cover here! Let’s start off with the origin of the band, which stems back to 2006 from a humble academy in Barton-under-Needwood called John Taylor High School. Ray and Stevenson were friends at JT along with another gentleman called Tom Garrett (brother of Sam Garrett).

Stevenson phoned up Ray one day whilst being at uni and asked him if he’d like to have a jam. They all agreed to it along with Garrett and an old friend of Stevenson called JB Wilcox was brought in to play guitar along with Ray on vocals, Garrett on bass and the current bass Stevenson on drums.

John Taylor, along with three of the original members of MR and Reisner, has a decent alumni of future Brewtown staples such as Roz Bruce, Sam Garrett and Christian Taylor of Get Cubs just to name a few.

ROCK AND ROLL THROUGH AND THROUGH!!

ROCK AND ROLL THROUGH AND THROUGH!!

Although they formed in 2006, they sent music to each other over the Internet to prepare until March 2007 when they had their first official gig at the Victoria Inn in Derby. Ah, what a history that place has! Little did those people watching know that they witnessed the first time one of the biggest Brewtown bands performed live. Their first ever gig was apparently at a Christian Farmer’s BBQ which isn’t quite as spectacular!

Spreading the word over social media such as Myspace (yep, THIS was 2007!), they performed not just locally, but all around the country including a gig at the Joiners Arms in Southampton where the likes of Oasis, Muse and Enter Shikari have played amongst many other now mainstream acts.

Through these humble yet promising set of gigs in their first year, they started off 2008 with MR sending a rough EP over to Kerrang! Radio which, surprise surprise, was given a slot on their unsigned show for six weeks! This would not be the last time that MR had anything to do with Kerrang though!

Birmingham Festibull 2008 backed by Kerrang! Apologies for the audio, people still recorded with potatoes back then!

As well as Festibull, they performed at Cockermouth (admit it, you snickered!), a much smaller YNot and Heartfest in Barton, their old stomping ground. Other highlights alongside the festivals in 2008 included supporting Johnny Panic at The Old Bell and being set to record a new EP with Sam Bell who has worked with the likes of Snow Patrol, Bloc Party, Editors and REM!

With this amount of backing behind them, MR could only go from strength to strength. From playing Club NME and HMV showcases with the likes of Mystery Jets, Hot Club de Paris, Black Sabbath‘s Tony Iommi and Biffy Clyro, how could they not?!

But it was in June 2009 that the Raptors had their biggest break and fangasm from how it all went down! Their ‘GREAT AND THE GOOD’ tour saw them supporting not just Calvin Harris and The Zutons, but also their idols and main inspiration. Canadian punk rockers Billy Talent!

That shoe brush should have it's OWN support slot!

That shoe brush should have it’s OWN support slot!

The dates of 9th-10th June will live on in Raptor memory as they opened for Billy Talent (who discovered MR through their Myspace and invited them to open for them) to very appreciative crowds at the Newcastle o2 Academy and the Camden Underworld. It didn’t hurt that they returned to YNot as headliners and the Cock Rock Festival too (what is their obsession with cocks?….sorry).

At this point, with their profile given a massive boost through their tour and their dates with BT, they had four record labels approaching to sign them which had to have been flattering. But after much deliberation, they signed with Salisbury-based Naim Label who they have remained with to this day.

2010 saw more great things happen for the Raptors which saw single releases from Naim, another opportunity to tour with another established punk act and to perform at one of the biggest festivals in the country! Or at least, the first of quite a few big festival slots for them!

Download? Oh, how passé!

I’ll tell you what’s not passé though. Playing 23 tour dates with The god damn Stranglers! From February to March, the Raptors toured all round the country opening for the veteran British punk act. The biggest date for them came on 19th March when they played at the Hammersmith Apollo of all places, a venue they always wanted to play at.

Whilst they were performing with The Stranglers, they gave the public a pre-emptive stream of their first single The Great And The Good which was released as a single download from iTunes, Amazon etc. on April 26th under the Naim label.

They started off the year with a supporting tour, so why not have their own headline tour? From 20th-31st July, they went on a UK headlining tour starting at the Flapper and Firkin in Birmingham and finishing up at a pretty familiar place, YNot Festival 2010.

If we place this festival ONE MORE TIME...(foreshadowing FTW)

If we place this festival ONE MORE TIME…(foreshadowing FTW)

As said earlier and shown through the video above, they were also on the card of the 2010 Download Festival performing on the Red Bull Bedroom Jam stage on the 13th June where Enemo J also played that same day.

Do you believe in Deja vu? They announced a second headline UK tour for September to promote their second single release of the year Ghosts which started at The Well in Leeds on 11th September and finished at The Wig & Pen in Truro on 9th October.

After a slot at the London Freeze Festival towards the end of October, MR made a big step towards the release of their first album being guided and produced by former SixTh guitarist Dan Weller.

With co-producer Skeletor!

With co-producer Skeletor!

To harken in 2011 and to prepare for the release of their first album, they put out an EP featuring songs like Sparks, The Great and the Good, Ghosts and Conversations with Death along with an announcement that the album would be called Portraits.

They would also have a support slot with American hardcore band Attack Attack! in Wales in March to further promote Portraits and later in the month, they put it up for pre-order on Amazon.

Portraits was released for all the public to buy on April 11th which was met with great reception from both fans and critics. The critics in particular drew comparisons to The Clash and King of Blues and Kerrang magazine gave them an impressive 4K rating (out of 5 of course).

Meanwhile, everyone thinks Dave McPherson is racist!

Meanwhile, everyone thinks Dave McPherson is racist!

To further promote Portraits, they went on an another tour of the UK from May 3rd-21st which started at the Camden Barfly in London and ended at the Moho (now the Northern Quarter) in Manchester.

The band added another famous act to their CV by supporting The Darkness for three gigs in June to start off a massive Summer campaign which included Leopallooza in Cornwall, Boardmasters Festival in Newquay, Hevy Festival in Folkestone and another return to YNot.

Just after these tour dates, they released their first music video on Youtube (The Alarm was just footage from Nosferatu so it doesn’t count) for their first post-album release single The King is Dead that racked up over 1500 views in the first three days. It also has it’s own ‘making of’ video that was released a month after and was played on TV on channels like MTV, Kerrang and Scuzz!

Post-punk hard rockers in tons of make-up…seems legit!

Quite a heart-warming story rounded off the year for the Raptors as James Halstead of The Metal Hammer Podcast’s Gill and Beez show spearheaded a Facebook campaign to get Max Raptor to perform in the bedroom of a fan called Barney Hall who had written into Kerrang! magazine to state that his new favourite album was MR’s Portraits.

Sure enough, after some involvement from Kerrang! and Rock Sound, the campaign got so many likes and had spread so wide over the Internet (spawning the meme ‘We Are All Barney Hall’) that MR did a live stream of their performance in Hall’s bedroom on 18th December, an early Christmas present if there ever was one! (Listen to the audio here)

With 2012 came a major line-up change with Wilcox and Garrett departing (Wilcox had a child and Garrett pursued other music) to  former Blakfish and SOS member Reisner on drums and Chris Gilbert on guitar! Even more widespread appeal came and some of it didn’t come from a single gig/festival! In February, to coincide with the release of their second post-album single release Carolina, they went on…you guessed it…another UK tour!

EAT, SLEEP, TOUR, REPEAT!

EAT, SLEEP, TOUR, REPEAT!

Towards the end of the tour (the Portland Arms gig date on the 19th to be exact), they released their second official music video for Carolina directed by well-known music portrait photographer Tom Barnes who also directed the video for The King is Dead. The video soon received TV airplay on Scuzz much like their previous effort.

In between working on a second album in Bristol this time, they were nominated for Best Punk for the American Independent Music Awards! That was nice of them! They didn’t win the judge’s award, but they did win the Vox Populi (voice of the people) award which was the award based on the fan’s choice. The people have spoken!

Not only that, but they got more national attention when video game developers Codemasters decided to not only feature The King is Dead in the soundtrack of their game DiRT Showdown, but also had the song play over the official international trailer for the game!

It’s not Forza, but it’ll have to do!

And yet they still missed the scent of home! After festivals in Brighton on the same card as Maximo Park, they returned to Burton-on-Trent to be a part of Burtfest, playing to a moshin’ main stage crowd on June 16th! Bet you never thought you’d hear that festival’s name again did you? MUAHAHA!!!

After performing twice at the 2000 Trees Festival in July and ANOTHER YNot, they had massive news to deliver. Said news was that they would be playing at the appropriately massive Reading and Leeds Festival in August!

Not only were they playing at the festival, they also played on the BBC Introducing stage (them again!) in a set that brought a whole festival’s load of new fans with them and were the subject of a ‘cock-rockumentary’ filmed and edited by Stalbridge-based photographer Marianne Harris.

Gilbert sums it all up best!

Happy Raptor!

Towards the end of August, they released their third single Patron Saint of Nothing which was also the last single from Portraits they released in order to give that last hurrah to the first album before moving onto new material which they would play at gigs for the rest of the year.

Onwards to 2013 as MR were right at work developing the sound for their second album and announcing the year’s tour dates on social media which would include Hit the Deck in Bristol, Takedown in Southampton, TRUCK in Oxford (the Uni’s brilliant minds at work!) and a SIXTH SUCCESSIVE YNOT! They are to YNot what Arcade Fire are to…every festival!

In between these festivals, they released their first single Breakers from their then upcoming second album which was played on Zane Lowe’s Radio 1 show in June as well as having a music video.

Your visual aneurysm for the day!

Also in between the festival performances, they would gain two support slots with well-known punk acts (Of course!) with one being a 14 date tour with DINOSAUR PILE-UP and the other being with Alkaline Trio at the Islington O2 Academy.

September saw the second single release England Breathes on the 2nd and a free digital download of Grace and Favours on the 29th before the album itself Mother’s Ruin was brought out on the 30th to some damn good reception from fans and critics again!

This was just in time for another line-up change in October which saw Gilbert replaced by Winnington which was described by the Burton Mail as a ‘Doctor Who-like regeneration’!

Hopefully it wasn't this frightening!

Hopefully it wasn’t this frightening!

With a memorable performance at the UK Vans Warped Tour in London and having Radio 1 airplay once again in November (Must Work Harder was played), they announced two co-headliner tours with one in December with Attention Thieves and We Are Fiction and the other in January 2014 with Fort Hope.

Speaking of, with 2014 having rolled right around and with the festival announcements of Camden Rocks and goddamn Sonisphere being on MR’s minds along with new material, only time will tell how much more will come their way!

NOW! After all that, the gigs all over the country with many well-established acts and a whole nation of fans accrued, I bet you’re wondering how Brewtown Music thinks the music itself holds up? Well…………..

Property of Orion Studios and Warner Bros. Standard copyright procedure, sorry!

Alright, alright! I think that these four lads (seven if you count all members past and present) have made for some damn exciting press for the Brewtown scene and rightly so! With a band name inspired by the Guatemalan god of drinking and smoking and a dinosaur, you think they’d make a big impression wouldn’t you?

With crashing chords and thunderous vocals, Max Raptor have a hard rock/punk sound that is all their own and doesn’t come across at all whiny or petulant unlike some other bands who try to pull this style off. Each song has the potential to stick with you and have you screaming and chanting along with them, though there are some softer songs thrown in to calm you down (Heavy Hearts).

The lyrics of their song paint vivid pictures whether they be of domestic violence and broken families (Carolina) to painting a pretty cynical view of life in Britain (a good chunk of their discography)! If I were to choose two of these to check out, I’d go with The King is Dead and England Breathes.

The first of these selected tracks The King is Dead is a great primer for those who want to get into MR’s sound as it gives you a raw, visceral and blaring sound that is sure to give you the impetus to want to punch the guy moshing next to you in the face! (Seriously though, don’t do that. Use the nearest wall instead)

Ray gives you a pretty good idea of what to expect vocally with guttural conviction to what he’s singing and can lead you in unison to chant along the chorus of a song which gives you a taste of that Max Raptor brand cynicism and anger. The backing harmonies for the bridge only egg you on to join in further!

It paints, or should I say hammers on the canvas, a picture of a successful man’s life falling apart with the video above helping that image along (yay bondage!). Towards the end of the song, anger management is attempted with cool calm winter seas being the calming image in place which does no good in this scenario as we get right back to the anger. Definitely one for those down on their luck and wanting an empathetic release!

When the horse jumps it’s jump and it falls at the fence

You’re the first man to know.

What a joke that it is, there’s a time and a place

For this hole in the floor…

THE KING IS DEAD! THE KING IS DEAD!

Second out of the two, England Breathes sounds like a pretty patriotic number, but if you know the irony that permeates through punk music, you’ll know it’s got quite a sarcastic and biting side to it. The heavy guitar work, rumbling bass, pounding drums and passionate vocals are all there but it’s the lyrics that make it stand out.

The chorus in particular sums up a sincerely straight-forward attitude that is displayed by many English people who just want to get on with things and live their lives. It’s personal pride, not patriotic pride.

That’s not saying it as a local music fanboy, that’s the overall music fan in me wanting to scream “England breathes as it does, in and out and get over it!” because it gives me something to feel at least happy or content with the country I live in that it takes a Midlands band to produce a response like this! Still though, check it out for yourself. Don’t just take my word for it!

Whew! In closing, it’s been a long and epic journey for Max Raptor who have served as one of the biggest examples of Brewtown’s scene hitting the big time and leaving a massive dent in it! I can’t do their work justice, even with this massive post dedicated to them, so do yourself a favour and experience their stuff! It’s the 20 Brewtown brew, come on!! Either way, this has been Brewtown Music, serving you a big helping of Midlands tunes!

Max Raptor’s stuff

Official Website: http://maxraptor.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/maxraptor

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Max Raptor 2

Brewtown #19: thedistancing

Going the Distancing from left to right: Kendrick, Sarah Lawrence, Keri Lawrence, Brindley, Jones

Going the Distancing from left to right: Kendrick, Sarah Lawrence, Keri Lawrence, Brindley, Jones

On the 19th Brewtown post and 2nd edition of Throwback Thursday, we’ll look at a band who broke up early last year, but whose four years together as a band showcased an array of talent, including the ‘Voice of Burton’! Be prepared to go The Distancing.

Jonathon Brindley (vocals), Tom Kendrick (lead guitar), Keri Lawrence (bass), Sarah Lawrence (drums), Jay Jones (guitar) and Tim Kenyon (former guitar until 2012) made up this alt rock group who gained the love and respect of many in Burton on Trent and around with their hard-sounding, but enjoyable tunes backed up by a big lead vocal.

Describing their music as (pardonnez mois francais) “huge shit-hot alternative rock tunes”, The Distancing became a go-to band for any venue in Burton that needed a loud, high-energy show.

And that's just from Lawrence's mohawk!

And that’s just from Kendrick’s mohawk!

Keri and Sarah, being brother and sister, has obviously met long before the band began! Their first musical project Garter, named after the Star and Garter pub which has hosted many gigs in Burton for years, only fuelled their own love of the local music scene and being a part of it so the time had come to expand bringing in a few more members.

Enter Jonny Brindley, the ‘Voice of Burton’ and frontman of other Brewtown bands such as Six Weeks Falling and These Things Exist which also featured Kitten Pyramid‘s Mark Hamon on bass. Having known Brindley for years and with SWF being a long-term break at this point, Keri brought him in to see how it would all work out.

To complete the band (at least for then), Keri looked to travelling guitarist/drummer Tim Kenyon who has been part of many orchestras through drumming and a few bands through drumming and guitar work. For this occasion, Kenyon became the main guitar player in the band and thus, The Distancing had come into being.

And THIS happens right away for them! Lucky shmucks!

And THIS happens right away for them! Lucky shmucks!

Summer of 2010 was a good starting point for them as they had their first ever gig at The Appleby as part of Geekfest in July. The poster above shows they were received so well that they were put on the card to support Midlands metal veterans Enemo J in August! They would also support EJ’s album launch at The Old Bell in Derby come December.

In between all these first few months of gigs, they would be recording for their first album at Arch Recordings Studios having written and worked on their material since 2009. Although some of the material was based on songs that wouldn’t gel with SWF’s style like Sorry and Love Song.

They did gel very well with the style of The Distancing though and eventually made into onto the self-titled album. The album they set out to do was to make sure that their songs were all diverse rock songs that didn’t have two songs that sounded the same, displaying this through their gigs which mainly took place in Burton and Derby at pubs like the The Royal Oak and The Wetmore Whistle.

To demonstrate, here’s them performing a cover! Still though, it’s an interesting take, particularly in the vocals.

To start 2011, the band set their sights high by auditioning for that year’s Glastonbudget festival at the Wetmore Whistle set up by local music initiative WIRED. Despite a well-received set, they didn’t make the cut, but Roz Bruce did so at least some local talent got through!

Regardless of not getting into Glastonbudget, they soldiered on and kept gigging and recording for their album with gigs including their first headliner at the Whistle hosted by Arch Presents, another support slot for Enemo J at the Old Bell in June and a Battle of the Bands competition hosted by The Star Foundation in July which also featured Great Scott, Lucida Scroll and the eventual winners Buried From Below.

Arch Creations would be good to The Distancing as it would with most of the local talent as they would feature at many other Arch gigs including the Royal Oak launch night that took place in November which also featured Great Scott and Star From Ivy.

But not our broccoli overlord! From this picture's date, he comes later!

But not our broccoli overlord! From this picture’s date, he comes later!

And by later, I mean 2012! In Feburary, The Distancing amongst many other local artists and bands were given the opportunity for their music to be choices for the public to create their own ‘Arch Presents mix tape’ which would allow them to pick four songs from a list that featured The Distancing‘s songs The World Turns and Revenge.

A line-up change came in March though, with Kendrick deputising on guitar with Kenyon before eventually replacing him full-time as Kenyon pursued other musical interests in a more classical persuasion again.

In June, the band were featured on the 100+ band card of Burtfest 2012 (yes THAT festival again!) performing a set on the Arch Creations stage on the same day that Riding The Low would headline that stage that night!

Maybe Paddy could have used his Hollywood status to bring Lonely Island in to cameo on this! How could they not? (Damn Youtube blocking the title to kill that joke!)

Another line-up addition came in August with Jones (formerly of Lady and the Tramp and Fantastik 4) deputising on guitar with Kendrick this time. Hold on, didn’t the band have an album in the works for about two years?

Well I’m glad you asked that question me, because after nearly three years of writing songs and recording, they finally released their eleven track self-titled album in October.

Sadly though, due to work and other musical commitments, the band decided to call it a day on February 2013 playing their final headlining gig at the Star and Garter with Lucida Scroll, Frank Hunter and Quinn Lam supporting. Only time will tell if their post-album material will be released one day on an EP as originally intended…

But for now, savour the memories.

But for now, savour the memories.

Regardless, how does the material fare? Their first album definitely shows off their capacity to rock and makes for a diverse listen and their latest material makes for an interesting ‘what could be’ situation as well.

While there are many voices in the Brewtown scene, ‘The Voice of Burton’ is a title that Brindley has earned with his vocals ranging from smooth balladeer to wailing rocker, all done effortlessly with impressive projection and charisma. The rest of the band of course provide a great backdrop for Brindley to sing to with each of them showing influence from many different styles including Manic Street Preachers to Pearl Jam particularly with the often Eddie Vedder approach of their frontman.

Two songs I will give a quick look at as a recommendation for you will be Leaving Singapore and The World Turns, both of which are the sixth and eleventh (also final) track of their self-titled album.

LEAVING SINGAPORE

Right off the bat, Leaving Singapore has a great four chord opener leading into a rousing and passionate sing-along track that each of the band members brings their gusto to in droves. I personally have a soft spot for sing-along, raise your beer glasses belters being into singing myself so the way this song is put together is right up my alley!

The song was originally intended for Brindley’s old group Brackenwood who formed way back in 2004 and with that band being described as ‘energetic’, in transitioned very well into The Distancing‘s style with the brisk drums and roaring guitars.

The point of view of the song seems to be told from a man who goes from buzzing from a night of intoxicated frivolity in another country with a beautiful woman to feeling sad that he has left and wishes to be with her again. Typical heartbreak holidays eh?

In Singapore, I was higher than I’ve been before

And the scene was so right, city shining lights and

The most beautiful thing I’d ever seen

And I confessed to you, nothing compares to you

How can you sleep without me, how can you dream without me?

How can you sleep when I’m not there?

If that’s a bit too depressing to be your sing-along, then The World Turns will be a bit more of a joyous, if destructive option for you! By destructive I don’t mean that it’ll make you want to break things, it’s just the type of world-beating vibe it gives off!

While this song does start off a bit down in the dumps, with the person in the song feeling lonely and broken on a weekend just trying to find something to do or cling to, but as the verse swells into the chorus, the guy takes a slightly more triumphant approach and says “What the hell, I’ll try to enjoy myself!” as everything else feels like it’s crashing down on him.

We’re singing love songs while the world blows to bits

We’re taking nothing and I can’t get over it…

Lights come down as the world turns round, I’m unbelievable.

This is a song that really calls for the Voice of Brewtown which he really does sounding as world-beating as the lyrics show him to be feeling. Give it a listen and see what you personally make of it.

In closing, The Distancing were a great act to have around in the Midlands music scene, mixing many styles of rock to create a powerhouse performance for every gig and a good body of work to show for it. Here’s to a possible return, or at least a reminder of the joy they brought to those who heard them. This has been Brewtown Music serving you a fine vintage Midland tune brew.

The Distancing’s stuff

Official Website: http://thedistancing.bigcartel.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheDistancing

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/the_distancing

Reverbnation: http://www.reverbnation.com/TheDistancing

Distancing 3