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
A romance between story and stunning sound, Jonathan Cilia Faro’s forthcoming album‘From Now On’ offers a collection of elating tracks that consume the listener with true cinematic intensity. With some of the songs previously pitched to the likes of Bocelli and Josh Groban, the comparison of Jonathan to the operatic greats is easily understood after listening to his music.
Taking on careers as a minister, soldier, freemason, busker and restaurateur, Jonathan’s life is an extraordinary account of talent, persistence and bravery – qualities that were most tried during his battle with cancer at the age of 25. Causing him to not only lose his voice, but to lose his passion for music as well, Jonathan’s bout of cancer saw him struggle both mentally and physically as life and death hung in the balance.
Now recovered, Jonathan has returned to what he loves most – music. With his latest project ‘From Now On’, Jonathan provides an album that offers escapism and hope in life’s darkest moments. Dividing his time between London and America as an entertainer, Jonathan combines opera with his own comedic performances and tales of his remarkable life. Having already started to make his mark by performing for the likes of The Pope and Jay Leno, Jonathan is set to broaden the limits of what can be achieved through opera with his album release on April 26th.
Following her iconic release ‘Rebuild This Land’ that reflected on rebuilding the unity of countries after the Brexit decision, PachYa continues to enforce this message through her music with the release of ‘Kind of Different Human’.
Having lived in the UK for 10 years PachYa was settled with her child and surrounded by friends, however when the referendum signaled that Britain planned to leave the European Union it was as if opinions changed over night and PachYa subsequently felt that it was necessary for her to move back to Poland.
Now using her music to “unite” people in a time of divide, PachYa echoes the electronic beats and dance rhythms of Alan Walker and INNA and combines them with her crisp vocals to create tracks that elicit the universal joy of dance.
Singing in Italian, Polish and English Language, PachYa reinforces the need to rebuild bridges and to concentrate on what binds us together as people, not what divides us.
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.
Jasper’s Riddle is a new musical concept from Lukas Zeickner, a Manchester based medical student, who calls this project his ‘acoustic storybook’. After beginning his studies to become a brain surgeon, and switching to his current vocation, that of a heart surgeon, Jasper’s Riddle’s debut release reflects an artist’s own chameleon-like ability to shift between a multitude of artistic talents – an acoustic singer-songwriter, a classical composer, an artist and a novelist, to produce ‘The River‘ – a collection of self contained stories that combine to make his storybook.
“I would say the most interesting aspect is the versatility. All of my songs are quite different and you never know what to expect next. This applies to my classical music as well.” – Jasper’s Riddle
Influenced by beacons of talent from across the world, from Aretha Franklin to Fela Kuti to Estas Tonne, and an overarching love of Schubert, his fascination for science as well as the Arts has led to Lukas performing and producing all his own music, not to mention creating the accompanying artwork.
“I see art as simply one thing in itself – free and ever changing. There’s no difference whether its music, or a drawing, or a poem.” – Jasper’s Riddle
One of his earliest recollections is learning lessons in the ‘freedom of expression’. Growing up, he mentions that he never really understood the notion of music genres and as a result he ended up listening to anything and everything.The most immediate comparison would be that of a Jeff Buckley inspired sound (watch his cover of ‘Grace‘ here). He describes his sound as acoustic rock, with influences from neo-soul and blues to progressive rock and flamenco. With his heritage stemming from Nigeria, he feels a strong connection with his Nigerian-British heritage and sings songs in Edo as well as English, and also Spanish as a third language.
As a 22 year old classical composer and multi-instrumentalist (pianist/ guitar and singer), Jasper’s Riddle offers something really interesting in the way that people can engage with the music. The concept originates from a love of Schubert’s Lieders, which he describes as ‘truly beautiful’, through the way in which he would incorporate aspects of the story/poem into the song itself. An example of this in ‘The River‘ there are multiple moments where the guitar finger-picking imitates the sound of waves and rushing water, and also his classical piece ‘Jack in the Box’ also features an intro piano passage which imitates the sound of a jack in the box toy.
Emanating from Ukraine is the refreshingly modern and exquisite voice of DIYÂ, launching her international career to bring to life a refreshingly honest take on her innermost feelings and experiences. DIYÂ started her journey towards becoming an artist at an early age. From playing piano from the age of 5, she quickly found that an accompanying musical talent was to be realised through her voice. So it was to be that after school she went on to study at the Kiev Municipal Academy of Variety and Circus Arts as a vocalist. Despite an enjoyable experience in a local cover band, there was always a lingering inner sense that she was destined to become a star in her own right:
“My musicians were much older than me – they were like old rockers who were comfortable to perform with such a young lady in sparkly glamour clothes, because it does not matter what I look like. I can feel the songs I’m singing and the range of my voice gave me a lot of options to sing anything from girly songs to cool hard rock songs. When all the people were jumping and dancing near the stage, I felt so cool in those moments, but sad at the same time because I felt that I must sing my own songs, and it was my dream that people would also enjoy to listen to them” – DIYÂ
This is a journey that is universally relatable and comes from a standpoint which is much further rooted in sharing her own views than it is about selling records. With the story behind the tracks focusing on different pivot points of her life, there is something inherently personal on offer with becoming a part of the experience. Sometimes thrilling, but occasionally shattering, each song has been meticulously crafted to accommodate the inner expression of her state of mind within that given moment.
She has spoken openly about whether her parents gave her enough support to pursue her dream, but her own determination to succeed has made her a lot stronger since then, and this is something they look back and laugh about now. There’s always something to be said for music that taps in to that spiritual centre within you and causes those beams of happiness to pierce the skin. In an world saturated with all kinds of external forces competing for your attention, what we have here is an ambience that cuts through the clutter to reach your inner voice and find peace.
In some aspects, Mark Shepherd’s musical career may appear to be in reverse. For those whom ‘The Grand Scheme of Things‘ EP (produced/engineered by Chris Pepper at Saltwell Studios) is their first introduction to Mark Shepherd’s work will soon understand the depth and emotion which impact on both his music and his lyrics. Through his original brand of thought provoking indie-folk, his strong and distinctive vocal style is complimented by powerful and melodic guitar, through which listeners will quickly understand the depth of emotion that has reckoning on his work lyrically and musically.
Having had been handed a record contract with Lamborghini Records at the age of 18, progress unfortunately stagnated when the company went bust. While venturing along a ‘normal’, but successful, trajectory in his working life, a longing to encourage his undoubted musical and creative talent has driven things full circle. What ensued was a heartfelt determination to push things forward from the triumphs of his previous EP ‘Bad Man‘ (produced by Pete Brazier at Vertical Rooms). As well as featuring on Cambridgeshire’s BBC Introducing and a host of community and online radio, he also has an impressive resume of playing famous venues in London, Manchester and New York.
The EP offers the listener two distinct paths, with both electric and acoustic versions of each of the four tracks, the perfect choice for an artist whose music is all about mood and story-telling. While the overriding subject matter of the tracks touch upon themes of regret, loss and aspects of a more troubling nature, he has stated that his lyrics left intentionally ambiguous in order to allow his audience to apply their own interpretation. Opening with the title track – a song which brings together elements of Paul Weller’s strongest solo work and the more introspective songs of Tom Petty, this is a look at the culmination of someone’s life and questions and what it means to have made a difference – asking if making a positive impact on a small number of people isn’t just as worthwhile as grander gestures.
Steele may hail from the fertile pop landscape of Sweden, but she’s not your typical star.
Having recently recovered from a life-threatening bout of meningitis which left her with epilepsy, Sara Steele has made some serious lifestyle and career adjustments. Aside from waving goodbye to smoking and drinking, the singer pledged to follow her instincts when it came to music…
When would happen if you took classical music and mixed it with something as niche darkwave? The answer could be in Michaela Polakova and Natalie Kocab’s latest collaboration.
Both hailing from the Czech Republic; Singer & lyricist Natalie Kocab and composer Michaela Polakova join forces in a testament to experimentation, which also features a helping hand from The Verve’s guitarist Nick McCabe and Lou Reed bassist Fernando Saunders.
The album consists of ten tracks and provide a variety of tones and textures, with influences from Patti Smith to Nick Cave, all the way to My Bloody Valentine and The Cure.
The album opens with one of three lead singles ‘Underwater’ which does an excellent job of setting the tone for the rest of the album, providing a strong opening and a strong vocal performance accompanied with poetic lyricism from Natalie which remains consistent throughout the rest of the album. The song features an atmospheric soundscape with a jarring middle eight, comparable to albums such as Pornography by The Cure.
The album then follows into ‘Kiev’, which changes from a soundscape-like structure into something more post-rock influence, with what sounds like a slight oriental twist to the composition. The song follows through with a crescendo; a big finish maintaining that post-rock attribute.
‘These Years’ which is the second lead single changes the atmosphere a bit, the orchestral side to Michaela’s compositions are more apparent here followed by opening with a 90’s or early 2000’s pop melody showcasing its contemporary elements; though like a facade this changes a minute into the track where the melody completely juxtaposes and becomes jarring, maintaining the authenticity to the album.
The album is a collective of melancholic and jarring pop tracks followed by experimental, post punk influenced tracks, Nick McCabe’s guitars compliment the classical compositions and just like Kevin Shields and Patti Smith’s collaboration in 2005 and 2006, vocalizes the instrument.
Tracks that follow such as the title track; ‘Ellis Island’ and the third lead track ‘Social Affair’ are more of a radio friendly take on the sound that Michaela & Natalie have crafted, contemporary structures whilst maintaining a certain melancholy that is not too drastic or dissonant, ‘Social Affair’ features a more alternative rock take on their sound.
‘Zadnej Kod’, which is performed in Czech is again a more orchestral track, which features haunting tonality, the track picks up and features almost an operatic rock dynamic to it.
I do feel however, following Zadnej Kod that ‘Feeling Falls’ and ‘Carry On’ could have been positioned differently on the album, ‘Feeling Falls’ feels very similar melody-wise and Carry On feels slightly anti-climatic in its positioning. And whilst ‘Feeling Falls’ does well in its minimalist, spacious approach it’s light dynamics into a crescendo came too soon after ‘Zadnej Kod’.
The album concludes with the track ‘Backstabbers’ which unlike the aforementioned two tracks is positioned well and conclude the album perfectly, whilst yet another pop oriented track among the final three, the dynamic changes with acoustic guitars at the forefront mixed with the whirling, wall of sound like tonalities of the electric guitars, the song also features lounge-like spoken word vocals, which adds a nice, conclusive shift from the powerful vocal performance which remained consistent, to something that tones down the album.
Whilst the album features a plethora of musical styles and experimentation, it does not sound messy one bit, Michaela’s work on the compositions make the album sound consistent and authentic whilst making the album interesting throughout, the album does not go off on a tangent nor does it become monotonous: It’s a fresh and relevant take on experimentation that rivals the likes of recent contemporaries.
Natalie Kocab’s vocals are personally one of the biggest highlights of the album, the overall vocal performance was powerful and suited the music that was accompanying them,.
Overall, the album genuinely offers something for everyone, a welcoming form of experimentation that is not to alien to the average listener yet interesting enough to keep die-hard alternative music fans listening throughout.
Ellis Island is out now, you can purchase the album from this link; https://wmcz.lnk.to/ellisisland
To keep up to date with Michaela Polakova and Natalie Kocab, you can follow their social networks below;
It would be unfair to describe Pink Milk’s debut album as simply a ten track Shoegaze album, but rather as whole; a menacing, ethereal soundscape.
Pink Milk are preparing for the October release of their debut album Purple, and with it the group have successfully encapsulated a wide range of influences, offering something for fans of everything alternative and beyond.
The album does not cut around any corners, the album is introduced with an instrumental titled River Phoenix which sets the foundation as to what to expect from the rest of the album. Instantly greeting the listener with sounds reminiscent of The Cure (a la Disintegration & Pornography).
What the album does very well is that it keeps a consistent balance between the dream pop ethereal sounds of aforementioned influence and the noisier & hectic sounds, following influence from artists such as Mogwai & Low, known for creating soundscapes.
However, what differentiates Pink Milk’s Purple from their influences is it’s contemporary feel and it doesn’t rely too much on classic influences of familiarity; it comes across authentic & artistic in that sense.
Tracks such as ‘Muscles’ present the listener with ethereal, dreamlike soundscapes – these tracks paint a picture and are filled with effective tension, with an almost tribal-like dynamic. Whilst tracks such as ‘Detroit’ and ‘Awakening of Laura’ follow a more upbeat feel and are examples of the kind of “proto-gaze” sound you would hear from artists such as The Jesus & Mary Chain.
A personal favorite on this album is ‘Drömmens skepp’, a brooding piece deriving from Swedish songwriter Staffan Percy. The track is unforgiving, as is the rest of the album and stays true to itself throughout.
The album concludes with a Foreigner cover of ‘I want to know what love is’, it’s a very appealing conclusion to the album and Pink Milk maintain the authenticity of the tune and keep it recognizable yet add their own flavor, in a tasteful way.
The album encapsulates the art-rock format and the avant-garde that is noise music and keeps it original, Purple does not follow a formula, and that’s what makes it appealing on first listen, just like the first listen of Psychocandy – it offers something different yet attractive.
However, where Purple flaws is with the linearity of the tracks themselves, whilst the pacing of the album of itself is consistent and enough to keep the listeners interested, the tracks themselves stay very linear for the entire two and a half minute average. Tracks such as ‘Muscles’ can be forgiven, the linearity adds to the context of the piece, yet songs such as Detroit attempt to crescendo and are let down when the drum pattern is exactly the same throughout.
This sort of linearity will only keep the most hardcore of noise-rock fans interested, working out what effects they are using in their compositions to replicate the “wall of sound” aesthetic, but I felt after listening to a minute of each track, I could easily anticipate or guess what the latter minute or two of the track will sound like – it didn’t leave much of a surprise to keep me continuously interested.
All in all however, Purple by Pink Milk felt satisfying for what it is. A ten track soundscape of dark alternative music, reminiscing about abrasive artists such as Low – whilst being original enough to keep me interested. The linearity does become apparent after the first couple of tracks, yet it’s original aesthetic is enough to draw fans of similar artists in.
Purple by Pink Milk is out on the 20th of October, you can keep up with the band on their social networks below;