Button and the Bandit-Five and Dime

Button and the Bandit are a self-proclaimed bothersome band from Birmingham, Alabama (already this post has enough alliteration to excite any self-respecting English teacher or children’s poet!). Although their initial talents lay in the art that is the film industry, in which they are both heavily qualified and experienced I might add, Michaela Walton (Button) and Clint Buckner (The Bandit) have clearly proved that their skill sets are anything but narrow. Meeting through their work; work which is exciting enough to satisfy most people’s dreams, the pair have been writing and recording melodic country for the masses ever since. ‘Five and Dime’ is one of their most recently released songs, and hopefully will deliver exactly the same service as previous tracks ‘Bandits Are on Their Way’ and ‘Scattered Amongst the Stars’.

Whilst we have heard a ukelele led style before (Clint is a talented multi-instrumentalist, excelling in guitar, ukelele, piano, bass and banjo), this work features guitar and hand-clap prominence, overlaid with Michaela’s angelic vocal melodies. Whilst most country music fails to include me as one of its fans, Button and the Bandit’s music breaches common ideas of genre; containing just enough of the common country connotations without overwhelming you. The slight American twang present in the vocal line is recognisable enough to add the feeling of the deep south without being too strong, which would detract from the piece’s musicality. With this music a happy medium is achieved; that fine line between the harmony and delicate feeling of regular acoustic artists, and the strong emotion of country, making it appeal to a wider variety of people.

The more cute (as a a button) and cuddly version of Bonnie and Clyde, Button and the Bandit travel the USA as fictional outlaws, delivering their soft and more endearing take on country music wherever they go. Practising wherever possible; from idyllic settings such as by rivers, in national parks and on mountains, to…well, less idyllic surroundings such as a military barracks, this band would be perfect as the basis for a film. On the run, but aided and loved by everyone, the pair would fight evil anywhere they came across it, but would never use violent means; similar to those children’s action programs you used to watch. In aesthetic, music and attitude Button and the Bandit have got it nailed; all they require now is the success they deserve. It is very rare that I have come across such lovely people, and I wholeheartedly hope that they can achieve even the wildest of their ambitions.

Listen to ‘Five and Dime’ along with all the rest of Button and the Bandit’s tracks on their soundcloud page.

Otherkin-The New Vice EP

If Otherkin can stop jumping around after the Republic of Ireland’s recent last-gasp progression from the Euro’s group stages long enough to take stock of their current situation, I’m sure they would be extremely pleased. Fresh from releasing the hugely successful EP ‘The New Vice’, and on the brink of a jam-packed festival season which is very likely to spread their name even further, things are looking good for this Dublin-based band. Another member of the Flying Vinyl new breed taking the world by storm, Otherkin have managed to nail a sound somewhere in-between punk and The Strokes. ‘The New Vice’ is a fresh batch of three minute hell-raisers for avid listeners to get their teeth sunk into, lets take a look…

We are immediately hit with previously heard single ‘I Was Born’; a song which, despite leading to comparisons being drawn to the styles of Julian Casablancas and Albert Hammond Jr, is said (by Luke Reilly; vocalist and guitarist) to have been inspired, at least in part, by the work of REM. Although ‘I Was Born’ has transformed through several incarnations since the original demo, this final product is sure to be the greatest of the track’s versions. Vital first line ‘I was born and I will die’ is possibly the bands most effective lyric; an extremely poignant statement; giving a simple look on life as a whole. ‘I Was Born’ is great both through earphones and (I would expect) live, and is a statement of intent for Otherkin, as it shows exactly what they’re about.

If you thought you couldn’t get any more ‘Otherkin’ than ‘I Was Born’, ‘Yeah I Know’ is there to prove you wrong. Short, to the point and driven by punchy drums and simplistic guitar riffs, ‘Yeah I Know’ even has the ‘oh-ay-oh’s that we have so far come to expect. That is not to say that this familiarity is in any way negative. Otherkin are a band who know their area of expertise and continue to produce music from within this field, ensuring success from the very beginning. So far we have seen ‘The New Vice’ cement the features of Otherkin’s music which have made them such a hit, it will be interesting to see if the latter half of the EP furthers this effect to an even greater extent.

‘Howling’, the penultimate track, tends to align itself more with the fun-loving, garage rock side of the band’s repertoire. The ‘ay-oh’s are back again in force, and full-throttle drum rhythms are once again the order of the day. Less gritty than ‘Yeah I Know’, and with more forward thrust than ‘I Was Born’, ‘Howling’ could attract Circa Waves listeners who seek a power and substance seen in the Summer favourite’s live performance, but which can be lacking through over production when listening at home. For all of you out there, Otherkin are here and ready to provide.

Finally, ‘White Heat’ closes off the EP in style. For such a short song, a cut out which reduces the song to its’ bare bones before bringing other elements back in is executed well.’White Heat’ is more content to sit back on itself, floating along at a natural pace-not dragging, but equally not rushing. An advert for the benefits of walking bass and few chords-‘White Heat’ is the final colour added to ‘The New Vice’ canvas; nothing outlandish, nothing wildly different, just good music.

This Summer could very well be a turning point in Otherkin’s career. Festivals have that kind of power-just look at the unprecedented rocket which was Royal Blood’s career a couple of years back. What next? A new and exciting single?? A follow-up EP??? Or even an album?!?!?!? We’ll have to wait and see, but surely this wait won’t be long, as creative minds such as are possessed by these talented young lads are very hard to suppress.

Spring King-Tell Me If You Like To

About a month ago, when we discovered that we were to be treated with an album from one of the most promising acts around, I was immensely excited. Poster boys for how a nice group of lads, combined with a DIY work ethic and a natural skill for creating good music; Spring King are a band whom everyone want to succeed. Championed by the likes of Zane Lowe (his airplay of ‘City’ on Beats 1 radio is widely accredited with attracting well-deserved label interest) Tarek, Andy, Pete and James have managed to achieve that holy grail of gaining both critics’ and people’s support. ‘Tell Me If You Like To’ has the potential of being one of the greatest albums of 2016,let alone debut albums, and could launch Spring King up into the spotlight of the music scene.

Now, usually when someone reviews an album it is customary for them to select a few highlights in order to create a summary of the album as a whole. Never before has this been so difficult for me, as the quality is immediate and maintained throughout. Beginning with ‘City’, the album starts as it means to go on. The fast paced single previously heard on EP ‘They’re Coming After You’, ‘City’ is Spring King at their raucous best, and is often a highlight of their famous live show.

A brilliant mix of simplistic, repeating chord patterns and flowing melodies, ‘Detroit’; the band’s most recently released single and personal highlight of mine, is a perfect example of how the band’s sound has matured. Moving on past the fleeting saxophone of ‘Who Are You?’-an old favourite, and ‘It’s So Dark’, a subdued and echoing new track, we arrive at ‘Take Me Away’; another exclusive for the album which showcases how Spring King’s sound has developed from those early bathroom recordings.

More live hits follow,with previous releases ‘Demons’ and ‘Rectifier’ this time providing the driving rhythms and roaring melodies. Title track ‘Tell Me If You Like To’ is possibly the strongest of the band’s previously unheard songs, and is what most people associate with the band. Bass and chord heavy with ever-energetic drums, ‘Tell Me If You Like To’ leaves it to lead and backing vocals to provide the harmonies which transform it into a superb listen.

Penultimate track ‘The Summer’ is a welcome addition to the bands repertoire,and will surely help them conquer this festival season with its sing-along choruses and laid-back approach. The album closes with ‘Heaven’; a slow-paced rumbling track carried along by the rock steady timekeeping of strummed guitar chords and the ever present snare drum, over which Tarek Musa’s vocal melodies are left to drift.

One of the few bands whose YouTube comment section isn’t flooded with fifty-somethings saying modern music is nowhere near as good as it was in their day, Spring King are having a massive impact on UK music. Despite being alongside the highlights of the band’s music so far, the new tracks are not overshadowed on this album, and if it can help them maintain the meteoric rise they have experienced in recent years, they will be sure to climb up festival posters in years to come, spearheading a new wave of indie bands.

Yak-Alas Salvation

Rock bands of late have been unexciting to me, and many others, and so it has been necessary to edge towards the experimental fringes of the genre in order to discover anything interesting enough to occupy your earphones for more than a week. However, Yak manage to tap into what has established rock as one of the most powerful genres around, but also manage to let certain aspects go, giving the sense that, unlike others, they perhaps don’t just wish they were born in the 70s or 80s. Yak look to cement what success they have gained so far with the great milestone of debut album-‘Alas Salvation’ released on Friday 13th May (hopefully no bad luck there).

With ferocious live bands, it is often the case that much of the magic is left un-harnessed on record through over-production, but in this case producer Steve Mackey (of Pulp bassist fame and now an accomplished producer) has managed to capture the intensity and threat with just enough refinery to create a listen-able studio version. ‘Alas Salvation’ seems to delve deep into the hazy depths of the bands unconscious, and, piercing its way through the ever present fuzz, riff-heavy bass and guitar rhythms reign supreme. Oliver Burslem’s vocals range from an echoing, cool swagger as heard on ‘Smile’ to full-blown, frantic punk snarling on lead track ‘Victorious(National Anthem)’. ‘Alas Salvation’ is an album to be listened to as a single entity-each track seeps into the next seamlessly through the continuing sludgy background noise; a canvas of sound on which the album is based.

Bass heavy and dripping with fuzz, ‘Alas Salvation’ is perfect homage to the live show which has been one of the main foundations for Yak’s success. At this point it would be easy to shoehorn in a classic cliché about how Yak are keeping rock alive, but instead I wish to forget what has come before and look to the future, where Yak are proving that you can ignore everyone else and forge your own path; just doing what you want to do. Leading a new wave of bands operating by this ethos, buoyed by the success of what is surely one of the greatest debuts of 2016 so far, Yak are sure to make it big, and make it big fast.

Local Band of the Month-The Indigo Project

Making my way back to my friends at Wolf Alice in Leeds, covered in blood (my nose had connected with a much bigger and much meatier shoulder and hadn’t been able to take it), I found them stood with Joe Spink, lead singer of one of the most promising new bands to emerge from Leeds; The Indigo Project. Although I had previously heard of the band, I had never actually got round to actually listening to them. This soon changed. Releasing an EP in early April, and since then playing several triumphant home town gigs at the Key Club and during Live at Leeds, The Indigo Project have gone from strength to strength. In the first of a regular feature, I choose The Indigo Project as local band of the month for May.I spoke to Joe, lead singer of The Indigo Project, to find out more about the band.

First off, what was it like to play Live at Leeds 2016?

It was a brilliant experience, playing to a packed Faversham was awesome, we loved it! We were very well received!

What is your favourite thing about the music scene in Leeds?

The brilliant network that is set up, it is good for climbing up the scene, working with Futuresound (the main promoter in Leeds) and having the chance to play some huge gigs.

Which other upcoming band would you most like to receive widespread success?

That’s a difficult one, we have lots of good friends in bands, but I think the band who deserve it the most would be King No-One.

How difficult is it to get a band going at such a young age?

Difficult, it’s hard to get in with the promoters, and the industry in general, never mind being able to afford your gear.

Which artists do you think inspire the band the most?

Catfish and the Bottlemen, Foo Fighters, King No-One, Arctic Monkeys and Circa Waves.

Where did the inspiration come from for your EP artwork?

It was inspired by the second track; Wise Man.

Which song are you most proud of on the EP?

We’d have to say the main single; ‘Taste It’.

I’ve had ‘Wise man’ stuck in my head since I heard it, what song has been on your earphones/in your head most at the moment?

Wolves of Winter by Biffy Clyro.

Have you got any plans for new music?

Indeed we do, we are recording our next single over the summer with legendary Leeds producer; Ed Heaton. We will be releasing it later this year, with a huge launch show.

And finally, have you got any gigs coming up?

We’re playing the O2 academy in Leeds for the centre stage final on 27th July.

The centre stage final will see The Indigo Project go into competition with many other great local acts for the chance to perform at Leeds festival, in aid of Martin House Children’s Hospice. It would be a great opportunity to see brilliant live music, and support a local charity, so get down there if you can.

You can visit The Indigo Project’s Soundcloud to hear tracks ‘Wise Man’ and ‘Taste It’ from the EP.

Thanks so much to Joe for talking to me and I hope to see The Indigo Project rising up through the indie music scene.

Black Honey-Headspin

The cloak of secrecy removed, Black Honey storm to another nostalgia soaked victory with their new EP-‘Headspin’. Although they have said that they wish to stay far from the mainstream, they are going the wrong way about it; surely it is impossible to avoid recognition when you release such good music. ‘Headspin’ is no different as each song is as brilliant as the last, surely propelling the Brighton-rockers into widespread recognition. After reviewing a teaser of this EP in my Flying Vinyl-April review, my excitement for this release has been sky-high, and, after listening to the EP solidly since it came out, I can now provide a more in-depth review.

‘All My Pride’ is the Black Honey we all know and love; driven by a punchy, rock-steady drum-beat throughout, it is sure to be the pinnacle of their live show. Izzy B Phillips’ woozy vocals overlay solid bass and guitar chords, which contrast perfectly, giving the essence that the song could have a melancholy message. However, as the song progresses, it develops into a more triumphant mood, confidently assuring all the doubters that Black Honey have nothing they need to prove.

The title track, ‘Headspin’ tones back on the grunge-feel, instead choosing to emit a more reminiscent feel. A late night bus journey, staring out of the window at the world, deep in thought, as ‘Headspin’ slowly builds in the background is what immediately comes to mind. Beginning with just guitar and vocals, the layering builds continuously, including tasteful bass and drums, before launching into a full-blown instrumental crescendo, led by fills around the drum-kit and soft bass, accompanied by single chords on guitar. Izzy’s haunting wordless vocals beseech the audience in the background as roles reverse and the guitar begins soloing, taking the forefront. The music fades into the distance.

Confidence returns with ‘On Your Time’; the bass-snare led drums are back, alongside the American-esque guitars which have been such a trademark of black honey on their previous releases. You know that every time the guitar cuts out to leave only the drum rhythm that a crescendo is sure to follow into a sing-along chorus, which is sure to get the crowd swaying. A short and sweet testimony that Black Honey can still do what they do best-make captivating indie rock.

Finally, we delve into the hazy and mysterious depths of Black Honey’s musical repertoire with ‘Mocking Swing’. Eerie guitar picking is ever present and I found myself making a surprising comparison between the vocals and that of the verses in ‘Supremacy’ by Muse-you are always unsure where this is going next. Izzy’s under the breath whisperings of ‘One, two, three, four’ leave you half expecting a thundering chorus, but this is never present; you never leave the edge of your seat. You may think that the barely audible birdsong towards the end would be comforting, but in fact it just adds to the suspense, the suspense of not knowing what musical direction Black Honey will take next.

‘Headspin’ is their second EP, and picks up from where their debut left off two years ago. It sounds like a continuation of the same movie soundtrack, joining the action at its climax with ‘All My Pride’ before reaching a slower pace through the falling action with ‘Headspin’ and ‘On Your Time’ and finally finishing with the denouement of ‘Mocking Swing’. Black Honey are definitely ready for an album (which they have said is already written), and their future looks as interesting as the life of their mascot-Jerry the flamingo.

PARTYBABY-I Don’t Wanna Wait

So here it is, my first proper blog post. And oh, what a coincidence, as soon as I decide to get this up and running, one of my favourite up and coming bands-PARTYBABY, decide to release new music. How convenient…

Noah Gersh and Jamie Schefman are PARTYBABY. Formed little over a year ago across the water in Los Angeles, PARTYBABY was the vessel in which they attempted to reinstill their faith in the music industry. And oh how they succeeded. Surprisingly quickly, they managed to come up with two of the best punk songs of recent years in ‘Your Old Man’ and Everything’s All right’. But they are so much more than just regurgitated punk, reminiscent of everything else that has been seen from America in recent years. The musical variation in both tracks, ‘Everything’s All right’ in particular, is spectacular. Changing pace between raucous Cali punk to rival that of FIDLAR, to sinister moans of “I feel good when you feel bad / I won’t be happy until you’re dead” before finally evolving once more to leave you wondering whether this is the same song, ‘Everything’s All Right’ is anything but boring. This looks promising for their new music then doesn’t it.

‘I Don’t Wanna Wait’ lacks the sinister overtones of ‘Everything’s All Right’ but this is just credit to how varied the produce of this American export is. ‘I Don’t Wanna Wait’ takes no time in getting started, exploding into your ears just to make sure you’re still awake to hear this. The verse builds up perfectly, drums cutting out for an instant, emphasising the power of the chorus through your earphones. We do see hints of the ominous in the subdued build up following the chorus through the tortured vocals and minimalist guitar-just enough to threaten but not enough to overwhelm. ‘I Don’t Wanna Wait’ is three short and sweet minutes long, concise, to the point, and brilliant.

I’m sure I speak for many when I say (avoiding the obvious song-title pun) that I look forward to hearing more from these guys.

Even better, PARTYBABY are making their first trip to the UK later this year so if you want to see them live here are the dates:

MAY-21 THE GREAT ESCAPE (BRIGHTON)

MAY-23 LOCK TAVERN (LONDON)

MAY-24 THE VICTORIA, DALSTON (SUPPORTING DIET CIG) (LONDON)

MAY-27 RFB CLUB NIGHT, THE FINSBURY (SUPPORTING DREAM WIFE) (LONDON)

Just a word for next time, you know we like you in the North of England too?