When you consider that Rocketsmith’s roots trace back to the rural town of Pickering – which, per head, probably has one of the most vibrant music scenes in the UK – the formation of a band of this ilk makes perfect sense. In a place where there’s little else to do other than go to the pub, play music and be in bands (in this case, all three!), they embody the very nature of reet-good rock’n’roll. A fact that is reflected in the title of the EP ‘Balancing Act‘, which nods to balancing their hectic work lives with their desire to perform.
Collectively they are consummate performers both live and in the studio but strip away the rock’n’roll and you’ll find that Andy is an egg farmer, Hank is a painter and decorator, Anth is a tiler and Matt is an electrical engineer. Between them, they’ve played in countless bands over the years, but have always known of their desire to step out of the shadows with their own original material. A family friendly bunch, led with the track ‘Give Love‘, which stands as a resounding proclamation of all people really need to give to one another – Be it a smile, a laugh, a hug or any simple gesture that can change someone’s life for the better.
Andy has commented how, on a personal level, Rocketsmith helped him through a trough of depression and elevated his sense of self-worth and confidence. In the true essence of what forming a band is all about, that love for meeting new people and that feeling of winning over a crowd are in equal parts overwhelming.
The EP ‘Balancing Act‘ (Out Now) was written over the autumn of 2018 and early 2019, incorporating two previously recorded tracks ‘Hope in the Beat‘ and Give Love backing up Jenny, Chasing Ghosts, Beautiful Soul and Real Life – six songs that the band feel are the strongest material they’ve recorded to date.
See Rocketsmith Live
July 13th – Rocking All Over the Wold, Easingwold
August 18th – Rocketsmith live at Tribfest! Tribfest, Driffield
On 22nd October this year, Troxy Theatre in London will host a special ‘one night only’ performance of Romanian playwright Tibor Molnar’s rock opera Cruel. In the tale of an almost impossible love affair between a married man and a libertine girl dying of cancer, the audience will explore the emotional universe of four characters in a journey through their thoughts, doubts and temptations, with an acute focus on their psyche and inner turmoil.
Musically staged combining a church organ with a full rock band, a string quartet and four of Transylvania’s top rock vocalists, Tibor Molnar’s original script will be brought to life through the vision of artistic director Cezar Ghioca – the only Romanian theatre director specialising in musicals having studied in the United States while also holding a Ph.D in theatre from the Bucharest National University of Theatre Arts and Film. Ahead of the performance, he has already laid out some of his overall guidelines for how the performance will be orchestrated.
Drawing on influences ranging from Schubert to death-metal, the performance is largely staged as a rock concert – visible scaffolding, lights, smoke and projections, but, as a play, less importance is given to the narrative plot with a larger focus on the overall explorative process of the themes being portrayed. In utilising a small cast of characters, this affords the Mise-en-scène greater potential for exploring their emotional universe. The staging will employ similar-bodied dancers to project the alter-egos of the characters through their choreography, further emphasised utilising video-wall projections as either a subjective mirror, to convey personal memories or simply to heighten the illusion of a ‘dream space’.
Aural and visual factors will have equal and fluid importance. At any time – the band, the projections, the singers or the dancers can take precedent in what will be constructed as a surreal narrative. Theoretically, this is envisioned to harmoniously bring about a variety to the performance and flesh out the same organically created world.
The show promises a high degree of originality. With little to no experience or tradition in musical theatre coming from Romania, and therefore this, in turn, extends itself to the highly ambitious nature of the project. Cruel is set to be a stage experience that no-one will forget.
Sometimes, it’s circumstances completely beyond our control can affect the way we approach songwriting. Although Aditya Virmani (the creative force behind Indian Industrial rock band Nivid) has rarely lacked for creative vision or direction, it was a sudden circumstance that forcibly dictated a choice that would shape his musical output forever.
Prior to Nivid, Virmani had been playing with Pinnochio’s Moment of Clarity – a progressive rock band from Mumbai. The group eventually ran it’s course as they decided to go their separate ways before he then enrolled in Vancouver Film School to study Sound Design. Naturally, being based in Canada, the majority of people there spoke English and Virmani found himself more and more attracted to the prospect of writing music in his native Hindi tongue. Upon his return to Gurgaon, Virmani founded a boutique new media audio design studio – Barren Sound, where he would often work late into the evening working on his passion for writing music in Hindi. As things progressed, however, he then suffered a tragic bike accident. Breaking his collarbone, his injuries severely limited his abilities in playing the guitar for a time. Determined in his attitude, Virmani learnt to adapt his craft and he began to favour synthesisers and computer technology, writing 2 EPs and take huge strides towards the sound he is becoming well known for.
For his current project Nivid, Virmani is considered as the creative force in an evolving concept where he is the only constant member. Acting as singer, producer and multi-instrumentalist, Nivid are fluid in their adaptability when playing live in shows which are highly regarded as a sight to behold. With a sound that taken influence and inspiration from Nine Inch Nails, the stage is well set for an atmosphere that is heavily enhanced with dynamic light shows and thematic visual elements.
Lyrically, Virmani writes about a character who is clearly an aggressor in the beginning but, while riding the tide of nationalism, he comes to the realisation that his extreme behaviour that is causing polarisation in society – in turn causing his belief system to crumble. Through this kind of narrative, he is able to portray a variety of ‘voices’ in this society – the voice of the aggressor, the voice of the repressed, the voice of the enlightened etc… The release of Nivid’s ‘The World Around Me (Infinite Support)‘ speaks of a musical embodiment of anger felt by those who are bearing the brunt of this turmoil.
With a never-more-timely single “Keep The Euro, Keep The Pound”, James Day has become is a spokesperson for both sides of the Brexit war through the best way he knows how – song. Representing ‘the voice of the people’ Day issues a rallying cry for neither Leavers nor Remainers but for both to unite in the common goal of simply getting on with it!
A protest song which is on the side of everyone in the country, the song cries out for the nation to come together and help the country move forward before power struggles break it apart.
Armed with a blend of prog rock riffs, rustic vocals and a catchy chorus, Day sings “see the gathering crowd, why don’t we give ’em some sound? They all got choices, they all got voices, and they can make their country’s proud.”
Produced by legendary producer and engineer, Stuart Epps (Elton John; Led Zeppelin; Oasis), the trackechoes the likes of Paul Weller and The Clash in its style, with the kind of rousing, sing-along chorus which would keep football crowds satisfied for many a season.
Rather like the situation the UK has found itself in, the track has found that by looking to successes in times-past, the route to the future becomes much clearer. What unites us is stronger than anything which divides us.
Having emerged onto the music scene as the songwriter behind Carmen Grey – one of Finland’s biggest ever rock bands, Tommi Tikka has partnered with fellow lyricist Antti Autio to form The Impersonators, a two-man project journeying away from the generic production that’s typical of producing music while signed to a major label. From a period of having been signed to Sony/BMG came a longing to have complete artistic control over the final product, and thus gave rise to a duo which masquerades as a full band, born of the living room instead of the studio. In utilising all of his ability as a competent instrumentalist, Tommi notes that he feels like he’s impersonating all of the members in his imaginary rock group.
Speaking ahead of their forthcoming EP ‘Sad Cafe‘, released 22nd March this year, Tommi discusses their journey up to this point:
“The reason why The Impersonators took the shape it did was that I wanted to have complete artistic control over how my songs were produced. Writing and recording for major labels was awesome and I am so grateful for everything they did but at the same time, I wasn’t always happy with the sounds and the final product. My goal was to avoid the sterile production typical of modern pop/rock.”
From the perspective of style, The Impersonators’ goal is to nurture and cultivate the creativity, spirit and warmth that graced the pop records of yesteryears – realised through poignant lyrics, emotive music and sixties-flavoured vocal harmonies. Partnered with their producer – Janne Saska, The Impersonators are a group of two songwriters, whose inspiration is inherently true to life.
“If you start with the lyrics and the story, it’s somehow easier to find the right mood musically. I like to write autobiographical songs that reflect what’s happening either to me or around me in real life. I dislike ‘cool’ love songs. I don’t think there’s anything cool about being in love – so much of it is actually difficult and unnerving. Love make you vulnerable and aimless in so many ways. It’s trusting the other person with your happiness and ultimately, with your life.”
Previous outfit Carmen Grey had enjoyed no less than 8 top-ten hits, including Tommi’s proudest feat ‘Gates of Loneliness’, which stood as the most played song in his native Finland during 2010. However, outside of the security of the ready-built music machine which generates both hype and distribution, it’s of little surprise that The Impersonators had struggled to take the first steps towards success in their own right:
“I pestered a few local labels trying to get them to sign us, but it was a real challenge getting them to listen to our stuff. One guy said to me that he’ll listen to the CD if I bring it to him dressed as Santa Claus (Christmas was just around the corner) and give everyone at the office a small present. I surprised him when I showed up with a sack of candy canes and, obviously, a CD.
You can just imagine his surprise when he realised it was me. He did listen to the CD, and although he didn’t sign us, he gave us a few names that turned out to be very valuable for us. It was a fun afternoon all in all and as the two absolutely gorgeous secretaries wanted to sit on Santa’s lap, I consider it an out-an-out success.”
He also reflects on his past with Carmen Grey detailing some crazy stories and experiences such as supergluing their manager’s door shut during a stint in Berlin:
“We cut the phone cord and stole the battery from his mobile phone, so he couldn’t call for help. It was a prank and we were supposed to let him out after an hour or so, but then we received the news that our song was #1 in Finland and forgot all about him. That evening at the airport we realised he was missing. Obviously, all it took was a quick call to the hotel and the help of the local fire department to get him out. He was pissed off but calmed down after a huge bouquet of flowers and a very, very expensive bottle of cognac.”
Tommi explained that his approach to life, music and everything in between has long since been in accordance with one of Abe Lincoln’s most famous quotes: “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count; it’s the life in your years.” Musically, this EP is etched in subtlety. Stylistically reminiscent of the bejewelled power-pop of The Go-Betweens, the effortless song-writing genius of Matthew Street and the immediacy and worldliness of early R.E.M., ‘Sad Cafe‘ succeeds in delivering timeless studio-based alt-pop melodies.
”A fluid, loose, almost drunken drawl that you can imagine playing in the background of one of those misty bar scenes in Twin Peaks” – Wonderland
Hailing from the far north and east of Sweden and offering a treat for fans of bands like My Bloody Valentine and Cocteau Twins, duo Pink Milk are back with their new single Heart of Fire – a track that exceeds the high expectations anticipated following the release of their critically acclaimed 2017 album ‘Purple’.
Known for their captivating use of guitars and bass and Maria’s spacey, transcending vocals, Heart of Fire comes as a devastatingly powerful shoegaze ballad with heaps of cinematic soundscape and a towering magnitude of noise. Lyrically the song is fueled with emotion, written for Maria’s recently born first child their latest track comes with a tenderness that isn’t always displayed in songs of rock genre.
With the past year presenting Pink Milk with nominations for best rock / metal of the year in the prestigious P3 Gold-award, Album of the Year and Breakthrough of the Year in Gaffa, WOW of the Year in Rockskallen Music Awards and Shoegaze album of the Year on the US radio channel DKFM the duo are set for a good year ahead.
Taking precedent from the likes of Big Mama Thornton and Sister Rosetta Tharpe before her, Rasha Jay is an artist who’s not afraid to stride beyond convention and make music that’s true to herself. This is music that harks back to a previous time where blues and rock bounced in tandem, and women wailed with no apology. Her raw soul vocals and songwriting ability combined with blues based alt-rock – as seen in her forthcoming EP ‘High Dive‘, she has managed to take rock back its roots while also managing to keep her sound simultaneously fresh and urgent.
Thinking figuratively about how a person protects themselves from love, the underlying themes emanating through lead track ‘Red Coat‘ have been meticulously crafted to bring out elements that show just how dark, murky and conflicted love can be. Speaking about the record as a whole, she explains: “The EP ‘High Dive’, is a continuation of that exploration, the tangled mess of relating to each other, if and when to dive in, jump out, and the audience that’s always waiting to see what happens.”
Rasha’s mantra stems from one of looking to encourage all artists who are unsure of their own writing ability, or those who are lacking the confidence to write anything at all. From her own heart comes a raw, thunderous love for performing. To her, singing is like another language where you use the same words differently – it’s like learning to speak all over again, and once learnt there’s no turning back.
In order to typify the feeling Rasha is endeavouring to portray, everything is enveloped in a raw state. Her voice, the music – all the elements are kept as simple as possible with the sole aim of getting the message across. Furthering this, Rasha offers some insight on her lyrics: “I am in love with words, how they sound, nerdy things like syllable counts, inflection and assonance. But that adoration comes through in my songs, I hope.”
Away from the limelight, Rasha Jay has also been an active member of her community – volunteering for various non-profit organisations as either a mentor or helping homeless young adults. Her passion for words also extends to reading. Coupled with her love for using her voice, she’s also spent time reading to children at story time and in various other settings and has also notably stepped neatly into a voice-over role having narrated Talk Show Wendy Williams‘ audiobook ‘Hold me in Contempt‘, back in 2014.
Rasha Jay typifies a very niche selective of African-American alt-rock artists. She has not gone on record to say that she is looking to break down walls or to change anyone’s perceptions of the genre, this is merely the style that feels most appropriate and true to herself, and from that foundation she will endeavour to sing her heart out.
Seemingly having emerged from a deep sleep since the early part of the 1970’s, Wailing Recluse – a Sabbathian resurrection from the musical mind of Richard Terris, is channelling the legendary pipes of Robert Plant, Paul Rodgers and Ian Gillan to re-capture the essence of an iron-forged heritage, while also reflecting a cathartic edge carved from personal experience. With a sound etched from the obelisk of the vintage stalwarts of Blues and Heavy Rock, comparisons with the likes of Cream, Free and Led Zeppelin are inescapable but fall short of the resurgent energy and excitement the self-titled record brings to a modern audience.
Though shouldering a firm belief that the best art comes from a dark place, this record harnesses these emotions as a means of stirring up creative energy. Despite several line-up changes, an uncompromising single mindedness dragged this project to life. With a framework in place to emphasise a sound that’s close to his heart, Terris utilised the experience of session musicians to record the album. And with the initial ideas he laid out suitably enriched throughout the process, Wailing Recluse took formation with a sound that may have sprung from a dark place, but will resonate with audiences in the truest and most honest fashion for it.
In a similar vain to Led Zeppelin, Wailing Recluse adopts an creative philosophy that evokes the finished product of the album should be considered the complete package, as opposed to cherry-picking singles to give listeners a flavour of what’s to come. In true 70’s tradition, the Wailing Recluse record pivots around the “mid-gig experience”, 2 acoustic tracks which bring a different ambience to the record when viewed from afar and help accentuate the high and lows of the journey being undertaken.
LOVE GHOST embody a time-tested formula of writing about what they know –channelling their own personal struggles and experiences to ensure an honest and personal feel to their sound. Throughout their formative years, each of the trio have undergone a degree of individual trauma, which has in turn contributed to the thematic content of the record. Stories that echo experiences of; struggling with the stigma of being mis-diagnosed with autism, being thrown out of school, and sour relationships in an undercurrent of social isolation, all contribute to a stance of sitting on the periphery of society. However, if you were to consider that they do a great deal of work for the homeless community in LA – preparing and serving food on Skid Row on a monthly basis, they’re set for an admirable doctrine of championing the cast-outs.
Primarily, while forging a sound that is comparable to early 90’s alternative rock (echoing the likes of Alice in Chains and Smashing Pumpkins), the sheer diversity of the band’s own personal tastes have all contributed to something subtly different entirely. In formation alongside Finnegan Bell up-front, is violist Mya Greene – donning in essence a pseudo lead-guitar role, a heavy metal bassist in Ryan Stevens and drummer Samson Young with his jazz background, a unique fusion of pieces culminate together in a sound that really works. With each band member having overcome both mental health and social issues, they have combined both to find solace in their music as well as providing a platform to help others seek the help they need.
The Californian quartet have received a degree of notoriety from their previous album which they decided to deliver as a visual work. Releasing each track with an accompanying animated video, these were then entered in several international film festivals and received awards and accolades at every hurdle.
Taking their music to the world stage for the first time, straddling the end of this year and the start of the next, sees them on tour in Ireland bringing their neo-grunge stylings across the Atlantic:
The raw emotive value that any kind of music can bring forward has a healing quality in itself. Scotland’s own Charlie Rees is an interesting architect for evolving emotional experiences from his own life into a medium, by which, catharsis enables both the artist and listener to share in a moving experience that dissolves its topicality, and transcends its meaning. Through dissection of the upcoming single ‘Hourglass’, we can see how this process came to life.
Exploration of this kind of inward analysis has given rise to a confident assertion of his trauma through healthier means. By the Rees’ own admission, the song was written at a time when he was in a very bad place:
“I was in a toxic relationship…slipping down into previous depression that I thought I had recovered from… When I decided to look back on my relationships with others… I had to come to terms with the facts…it’s better that we part ways before we become more hurt than we already are, so we can move on and help better ourselves and our lives.”
‘Hourglass’ offers a more introspective look than previous single ‘Bitter Taste’, which was crafted with a much more confrontational attitude in mind. The opening notes of the track hit you square on with a summation of the core themes that comprise the feeling of the record. There is a real sense of an arc through the track, of overcoming personal strife to reach salvation through reflection. By the time the chorus reprises there is an overwhelming sense of a comforting hand reaching out to you to lift you from something darker in tone.
Having first earned his stripes as a musician as the vocalist for Oceans Collide, Rees then went on to drum for Cerberon before taking steps to release this solo project.
Exposing and confronting old wounds are a challenge that most of us will come across in life and by challenging his melancholy, Rees has found a means by which his desire to inspire and help people has found tangible form.