Archive for the ‘Uncategorised’ Category

SIMON SAYS: EP Review: Christian Darby – A New Age

Posted on: October 10th, 2017

Christian Darby is a solo musician based in Middlesbrough.  I’d only seen Christian perform once before, at Regent Live festival, and I liked what I saw so I was intrigued to hear how he sounds from a studio point of view. That intrigue immediately turned to excitement when I heard the studio in question was Jampott Recordings, because many a well-produced set of songs has come out of there.

Christian’s four-track EP opens with See You On The Other Side; a confident, guitar-driven rock song. There seems to be a heavy influence of 90’s brit-pop throughout the track, and it does feel like this could be a lost archive song from any of those heavyweights from that era.

City Lights starts as if it’s already in the middle of the song, giving you no time to warm up to anything, which is the general feel of the whole EP really. The attitude of ‘don’t care what ya doing, stop and listen to this!’ in-yer-face confidence is rarely seen/heard of these days, and many up and coming musicians would do well to listen to how Christian has delivered this explosion of songs. City Lights is a bit more grittier than the rest, with lyrics that are easy to follow and sing along to. This is one for the festivals!

Not My Type is the third track, and probably my favourite on the EP. A superb guitar riff starts off a song with excellent rock tempo and lyrics that had me singing along within seconds. The only bit I would like to hear an improvement on is the clarity of the words, they’re a bit fuzzy.

The final track, Early Days, is a foot-stomping anthem complete with a “la-la-la” to sing along to. An ideal song to put on when driving your convertible with the top down and your mates in the car. In fact, the whole EP is perfect for that scenario – stick it on whatever device you’ve got when friends are round and the beers are in and you’ll have everyone singing along with you, maybe even the neighbours too!

A New Age is a great release in the promising career of Christian Darby. I, for one, can’t wait to hear these tracks played live but for now they’re going straight onto my Shower Playlist so I can pretend I’m a cool rock star. You all know what I’m talking about there and don’t deny you do it too. These songs give you licence to do it!

A New Age is out Friday 13th October, available as a digital download on Spotify, Google Play Store, and Amazon, and you can pre-order on iTunes. CD’s will be available too.
For more info on Christian Darby and the EP click here:  https://www.facebook.com/ChristianDarbyMusic/

https://soundcloud.com/christiandarbymusic

SIMON SAYS – Venue Review: Whole Latte Love Cafe Bar, Stockton

Posted on: October 4th, 2017

 

Stockton-on-Tees is teeming with live music venues right now and it’s a great time to be a live music fan there. So when I heard about a new gig venue opening up with an accomplished musician running it, and Head Of Light Entertainment were playing, I just had to be at the Grand Opening.

Whole Latte Love is on Bridge Street, just at the end of Stockton’s insanely long High Street (yes, directly opposite that Wetherspoons pub) and it looks to me like an ideal location for a gig venue. There’s easy access by public transport, Thornaby train station is literally down the road and the bus service stops on Bridge Street, and if you’re driving there’s car parking within a couple of minutes walk from the venue.

Whole Latte Love belongs to Andy Brewster, a superb local musician and one half of the much-loved Heavily Brothers. He’s been virtually living in the building for the last few months getting it ready to accommodate coffee drinkers of all persuasions, bands of all genres, and superfans of live music. I arrived in Stockton High Street for the opening night confident that his hard work won’t go to waste.

As any live music fan will tell you, steamy windows is a good thing. I’m not talking about the Tina Turner song (although that is a belter!) or certain night time activities of couples in cars, even though they’re having a good time too. At a gig venue it means there’s a lot of people in a good mood, which means a good atmosphere. So when I rolled up to Bridge Street in Stockton and saw the windows of Whole Latte Love misted before 9pm I knew it was a good start.

The first thing that impressed me when I went through the doors is the layout of the venue. It’s something overlooked by so many owners and promoters but it’s one of the most important things for the longevity of any venue. In Whole Latte Love it’s pretty darn good. Straight in front of you as you walk in is the bar. There’s space for about six queues, with around five people in each, at peak times. When I queued I was served in less than three minutes, which is not bad considering the venue was around three quarters full already. The two barmaids and the manager, Sam, were working hard to master that skill of smiling whilst being rushed off your feet. The prices were about normal; £3.50 for a pint of lager, which is good business sense I think. Make them too cheap and all the scum comes flocking in. Make them too dear and you alienate all but the elite.

Pint in hand I wandered around taking in the surroundings. The blue-grey paint covers all walls with quotes from musicians and song lyrics expertly written in black here and there. There’s the odd curio added in to make it even more interesting to look at, such as lion-head door knockers along the coving. It’s very open plan in a H-shape, which means there’s two performance areas at opposite sides of the venue. The floor is made up of beautiful mosaic tiles which make you want to take your shoes off before you go in so you don’t get it mucky. The whole feel of the place is like you’ve come to a house party at a mega-rich celebrity friends house, but not a celebrity that has too much of an ego problem and so it doesn’t make you feel inferior.

I eventually sat down with some friends at the back of the right-hand side of the H, if you know what I mean. All chairs were taken so I perched myself on the surprisingly comfortable built-in wooden benches edging the wall.

Andy got up onstage to give us his welcome speech and introduce Head Of Light Entertainment to warm and enthusiastic applause and cheers, and by the time HOLE had finished their excellent set we were roaring with delight and I found myself dancing on the benches (sorry Sam and Andy!).

The night was finished off with a live music bonus as Andy and his partner in rhyme Jim Blenkhorn set up an acoustic set in the other side of the H, playing classic cover songs for the baying crowd.

There’s been much discussion recently in the Superfan community about the many new gig venues popping up around Teesside. It could be seen as, potentially, a good and bad thing. Good from the view that it’s easier for people to catch a live gig more often. Bad from the view that too many venues means too much choice and a “watering down” of good quality live music. Everyone has their own opinion of course, but I think if the venue is good and ticks all the right boxes then it will survive, no matter how much competition it has. That’s certainly the case with Whole Latte Love; great decor, excellent staff, ideal gig-viewing space, and it’s kicked off it’s roster with one of the best bands around in Head Of Light Entertainment. I’ve got a whole lot of love for Whole Latte Love.

SIMON SAYS: Gig Review – Regent Live! Festival – 27/8/17

Posted on: September 6th, 2017

What better way to spend a sunny bank holiday Sunday in Stockton than at an all-day music festival?! Actually, when it’s 25 bands/musicians across three venues for a fiver I wouldn’t have given a toss if it was hail, snow, and thunder all at the same time! I’d been looking forward to this gigasm for weeks, especially with there being four of my Top Ten Favourites playing too.

Before I go on about how damn good the live music was though, let me tell you about the interview I managed to get with the founder of Regent Live, Matt Speight. He was kind enough to find time amongst running up and down Regent Street checking on everything and everyone to sit down with me in the cool micro-pub DR.INKS and chat. I tell you what, this guy LOVES doing this; his eyes lit up brighter than those huge fluorescent street lamps in Stockton High Street whilst we talked, and his answers to my questions were full of passion and pride.

I started by asking him why he chose the three venues (The Vault, Thirsty Souls, The Looking Glass), especially when there’s already established music venues all around Stockton: “Well that’s easy. I work for the company that runs them, so I’ve been incredibly lucky to be able to go to my boss with the idea for this and get given three venues all within a hundred yards of each other. I really wanted this to happen for Stockton because I feel there’s definitely a gap for it. Stockton Calling is amazing, but apart from that we don’t have anything similar happening for the rest of the year. There’s loads of gigs around Stockton every week, of course, but in terms of one-day festivals with loads of original music bands I felt we needed at least one more.”

And he’s right, of course. There’s soooo many music venues around Stockton now, which is a great thing, so there should be more music festivals.

Matt was in full flow at this point, so I wanted to see if his enthusiasm could be dented by asking him what his biggest challenges were in organising Regent Live. It couldn’t. “Having two main bands drop out, after being booked for months, would have been a big setback. Luckily we have a wealth of talent on Teesside so I was able to fill those slots easily with world class bands Be Quiet. Shout Loud! and Serinette.” I quickly pointed out that the replacements are far better than those replaced, which of course shall remain nameless. Having failed to dent his enthusiasm, thankfully, I asked him what plans he has for Regent Live next year.

“Actually, we’re planning on the next one being this coming December! I’m talking to other venues and promoters within Regent Street about hosting bands and everyone is really positive. There’s definitely that kind of atmosphere around all of Stockton these days. Everyone wants to work together to put Stockton on the map in a huge way.” Matt then points out, literally, the new developments happening just in Regent Street alone that will provide even more venues for live music. We finish the interview just in time for one of his team to come along and ask him something technical which I don’t understand, but he finds a second to shake my hand and leave with that huge infectious grin. This is a man who will definitely succeed at organising live music and not because he’s doing it for the money or notoriety but because he’s doing it for the bigger picture; for the sake of the town, for established and new bands, and most importantly for the people. We need more Matt Speights if Teesside is ever going to be noticed as a top music destination in the country.

 

Armed with my pad and pen, I made my way to The Vault for the first act of the day, Christian Darby. I was in good company, too. The legendary producer and musician Jamie Donnelly joined me on The Vault’s all too comfortable sofa. We had time to talk about how Regent Live is unofficially The Jamie Donnelly Festival, because he either has produced or is playing guitar in at least six of the acts on show today, including the one I’m there to see, Christian Darby. I’d not seen Christian perform before, but I wish I had. He has a superb, clear tone to his voice which I enjoyed. He played a couple of songs from his upcoming EP, which will be good because as well as his talent the man sat next to me is putting his golden touches on it too. Christian’s stage presence is somewhat timid though, which I’m sure will naturally improve with time and experience.

After his set I made my way out of The Vault and made the very short trip to Thirsty Souls for Steve McCormick’s set. It was my first time in this micro-pub and I found it very strange. The decor is a mish-mash of corrugated metal, red pipes and wood, and they have a wall of self-serve taps. Basically, the idea is that you get a plastic card from the bar, top it up with money and insert the card in the slot above the desired drink. The selection available was okay, and I like the idea of self-serve, but in practice it was a nightmare trying to get a pint without it being 90% froth. I thought it was just me, but a lovely friend of mine who’s an experienced barmaid assured me it wasn’t just my ineptness. On the plus side, the sound in Thirsty Souls was brilliant. I could hear Steve’s superb set from right at the back of the room and it sounded like he was next to me. Steve is the most consistent performer around right now and he gives the same energy and care to his set now as he did when I first saw him nearly ten years ago.

Speaking of time-served solo acts, I saw that Johnny Phage was playing twenty yards away in The Looking Glass so I hopped in there just in time to hear him start my favourite Phage song, Nothing Is Quite What It Seems. Johnny has been performing solo alongside his fine band work for some years now, and his songs are unrepentant in taking multiple jibes at corrupt governments and society failings. When they’re delivered in Johnny’s angst-like voice and confident electro-acoustic guitar picking they seem more relevant now in these troubled times than they were when he first started.

I loved the decor in The Looking Glass; a whole wall dedicated to mirrors of all shapes and sizes, mounted animal skulls, and old road signs makes it interesting to look at. I couldn’t find anything remotely appealing in the drinks selection though, which seems to be the common denominator in micro-pubs, for me at least.

By this point I already felt I’d seen more than my money’s worth of musicians I already love, so I thought I’d gamble on seeing an act I’d not seen before. Punk Buddha had just started in Thirsty Souls so I positioned myself among the ever-growing crowd to get a good look. This band consists of a lead vocalist with acoustic guitar alongside a percussion duo playing a tiny keyboard and a huge djembe drum. Their songs were mostly lo-fi atmospheric folk songs. Very enjoyable and perfect for that size of venue.

I made my way out of there quickly after though, not just because I didn’t want to make a twat of myself at the self-serve, but also The Dale Husband Band were just about to start at The Vault. I’ve seen Dale play quite a few times both on his own and with various players added on and his music is always good so I’d been looking forward to this set-up. On the stage I found Dale with his guitar and a lady called Paz with a violin. This worried me because Dale’s voice is delicately quiet when he delivers the powerful songs he’s written and I didn’t want to not be able to hear him. Very quickly into the set I had to shove my worries up my bum because the combination was brilliant!! She made playing the violin look easy and her timing with Dale’s lyrics and guitar work was perfect. I didn’t think Dale’s songs could have any more “wow factor” to them, but this pairing upgrades it to the point where there were songs that I don’t think I breathed out when listening to them. Easily my favourite new act of the day, The Dale Husband Band should be on every venue’s bill right now, if not in my front room!

If the day had stopped there, I would’ve been a happy man. Thankfully there were a few more treats to come. Stu Blackburn playing in Thirsty Souls was definitely not one to miss, and I wasn’t the only one that thought so. The place was heaving as I wedged myself through the door, anyone would think The Purnells were playing!

Stu admitted to me just before playing that he was nervous, but as the entire crowd of Thirsty Souls sang along and danced to each song I thought that apprehension was either total bollocks or he’s the master of performing onstage and making it look easy. I’ll go with the latter. His own take on cover songs was a treat, and he even managed to fit in a brand new original song he’s working on. Whether Stu decides to carry on solo or form another band, he’s proved that enjoying yourself onstage is paramount to fans enjoying the set.

On the theme of performers enjoying themselves onstage, few bands do this better than Head Of Light Entertainment. These masters of the alternative pop genre were far and away the best band to grace the Thirsty Souls stage. They played songs from their excellent new album, Drool, as well as the delightful ditties we all know and love. Their music might not appeal to an Oasis-worshipping audience (not that the band care) but thankfully those people weren’t present. Instead each HOLE song was met with a cacophony of cheering and applause, and rightly so.

Onto The Vault next, where I would spend the remainder of the festival because we had Sam Durnan Band, Serinette, and Be Quiet, Shout Loud! playing consecutively, which is a perfect way to round off any festival!

The Sam Durnan Band seemed to fly through their set with unrivalled gracefulness. They’re so tight playing together it feels like they’ve been together for years. Sam herself is living proof that a solo artiste making the decision to form a band around themselves is a great decision, especially with songs like my favourite, Heartbeat. They’re surely destined for great things, so if you haven’t seen them yet look them up on Facebook and get to their next gig!
Serinette up next, and they once again showed everyone how pop-rock should be done. Because they enjoyed themselves so much on The Vault stage, it wasn’t long before I found myself jumping around with the best of them at the front. If I genuinely had three wishes one of them would be that my dear Serinette never ever call it a day. You can rely on this band to at least put a smile on your face every single time, if not sharpen your dance skills.

Our headliners for tonight were Be Quiet Shout Loud! (there’s a sentence that isn’t seen enough!!) and it’s a good job no bands were playing after them, because they completely owned the stage and blew the roof off with their poptastic energy. They opened with one of my favourites, Jesus Is Coming, and it just got better from there. Their new songs are the same but better than the golden oldies. Seeing them tonight made it feel like I was on a computer and had just been prompted with the message “Would you like to upgrade to BQSL 2.0?” and I’ve slammed the YES button with glee! The fairly recent addition of Jamie Donnelly on lead guitar is perfect, both in terms of skills and presentation. When you see BQSL live, it’s not a case of whether or not you fall in love with them, because you’re already there in the first song. Instead it’s a case of how you’re going to explain to your other half at home!

It was as they finished their set that I realised how sweaty, exhausted, and happy I was. Which is how I think everyone should be after a gig, whether you’re in the crowd or onstage. I headed home with a grin that will take a long time to clear, so a massive THANK YOU to Matt Speight and all the crew, to every single performer on every stage, and especially to everyone that bought a ticket because these gigasms cant happen without you!

SIMON SAYS: Single Review – I Only Dream (in Black and White)

Posted on: July 19th, 2017

This is the début single from Liverpudlian band Hegarty. They’re an acoustic rock band, which usually means they’ve got a tonne of songs just waiting to be unleashed on us. I hope so because this first one is a beauty!

The simplicity and flow of this song proves that you don’t have to be loud and brash these days to produce a winner of a track. There’s a lot of instruments involved here (acoustic guitar, bass guitar, lead guitar, harmonica, keyboards, drums), but they don’t clash or override each other and the simple strum of the acoustic guitar remains the strongest. David is on lead vocals and his voice is perfect for this type of song, with the occasional back up vocals from the band members adding a welcome light harmony.

The accompanying video reflects the song well – it’s just the five members of the band playing the song, with occasional amateur video shots of their fans dancing along to it at live gigs. Everybody having a great time dancing to a good song, which is what we all want in life, isn’t it?!

Buy this song because you need it; whether it’s for playing in the car on the way home after a hard day at work, or the perfect accompaniment to your summer BBQ, you’ll be glad you’ve got it.

I Only Dream (in Black and White) is out now on all major platforms to download.

For more info on Hegarty and to buy the single, click here: https://www.facebook.com/Hegarty2014/

 

SIMON SAYS: The gigs to be right at the front of this week!

Posted on: July 18th, 2017

THURSDAY 20TH

 

WHIRLING DERVISH – CEILING DEMONS/CULT FIGURE/STICKY PEARLS

TSONE BAR, MIDDLESBROUGH

Whirly D are hitting the alternative genre this week, so you have three bands that can offer something a little bit different. Which is reason enough to go, but add to that free entry and cheap drinks and it’s a must!

 

 

FRIDAY 21ST

 

LIVE WIRE PROMOTIONS presents OF ALLIES/FAILED TO IGNITE/THE NORGAARDS

MUSIC LOUNGE, STOCKTON

I’ve been listening to Of Allies for a while now and they never fail to rock my socks off! You should go just for them, let alone two other bands are playing that just might become your next favourite rock band.

 

 

ACOUSTIC SESSIONS: JOE RAMSEY/CHARLEA B/JAMES LEWIS MOCKETT

SKINS&NEEDLES BAR, MIDDLESBROUGH

Another fine trio hit the cool Skins & Needles bar on Linthorpe Road. I’ve seen two out of three of these and they’re excellent. Not telling you which two though!

 

 

 

SATURDAY 22ND

 

FAMOUS LAST WORDS presents NARCS/PLASTIC

MIDDLESBROUGH EMPIRE

This will be the last ever gig for NARCS, one of the north’s most prolific bands, with one of the newest bands, Plastic, in support. It’ll be an emotional farewell for band and audience because NARCS have built up a big fan base over the years due to their furious indie sound.

Doors 11pm

SIMON SAYS: Gig review – Whirling Dervish 2nd Birthday Celebration

Posted on: July 17th, 2017

WHIRLING DERVISH 2ND BIRTHDAY GIG

Mr Bigfoot/SWEARS/Allusondrugs

I try and make sure I go to Whirling Dervish at TS One Bar in Boro every Thursday. Not just because its a nice looking bar and it feels like I’m in the front room of a Baron or Baroness, and not just because of the diversity of people in there every week whom are always friendly and create a great atmoshphere (I just misspelled that, but I’m going to leave it because that new word I’ve made perfectly describes a good gig atmosphere!). All of these are good enough reasons, but I go mainly because the trio of bands put on each week surprises me and pleases my ears and soul.

So it was with a bit of extra excitement when it was announced that Whirling Dervish was celebrating its 2nd birthday on 13th July. The line-up was Mr Bigfoot, followed by SWEARS, and none other than Allusondrugs headlining. That’s perfect gig planning; a local band gaining popularity faster than Trump can tweet, a brand new local supergroup, topped off with a Yorkshire band that have already gigged multiple times around Teesside as well as Leeds & Reading Festival, Glastonbury et al and are rising into the upper stratospheres.

Being the brown-nosing superfan that I am, I bought a birthday card, complete with badge, to present to Joel, the organiser of ‘Whirly D’. It wasn’t long before the card was filled completely with signatures from loyal attendees to newcomers and plenty of band members. Joel looked righteously proud when I gave it to him and he read everyones best wishes.

As I was there early, I took the chance to have a sit down and chat with Jason, the lead singer of Allusondrugs. After bribing him with cigarettes I got him talking and asked him if there’s a process to their songwriting and how a song is born:

“It’s not really a process as such. I get inspired by everything and anything. The most random thing will become a song and the boys will do their stuff on top. It’s very spontaneous.”

We then talked about their previous Teesside gigs in years gone past, and I asked him if he had any advice for bands that are just starting out:

“You’ve got to do it all the time. Seven days a week if you can. Be rehearsing and writing and gigging instead of going clubbing or pissing it up the wall or whatever and you’ll get the rewards. Any band that hasn’t got an all or nothing attitude to this can’t complain about not getting to the next level.”

I finished our chat by trying to get some exclusive news about Allusondrugs, and I nearly got it!

“There’s some really amazing things happening soon, but you can’t print any of it! We’ve got meetings coming up with extremely good people that will raise us up at least a couple of levels from where we are now, but I can’t give you specifics, I’m sorry.”
I was going to push it but I didn’t. Mainly because Jason is such a nice guy that I didn’t want to jeapordize what promises to be a blindingly bright future for him and the band, but also the first band, Mr Bigfoot were just starting.

Mr Bigfoot are really tight as a band, but they play with enough anarchy to let us fans lose ourselves in their music. They’re best summed up by their song Me And You – belting lyrics, guitars that crash together beautifully but are also capable of delicate mini-solos. Mr Bigfoot are as good as anything you’ll see on Kerrang TV and other similar places. In fact, better than most of it.

SWEARS were up next, with only their second gig as a Teesside supergroup. When you get a combination of Idle Violets, Bi:Lingual, and FOOL, you can probably guess how good it would be. You’d be wrong though – it’s way better! Their set was a brilliant mix of slow verses with ‘rocking-out’ choruses, which is perfect for moshing. Although they were a support act tonight, I can easily imagine them headlining and taking the roof off any venue.

And so to finish off the birthday celebrations with the masters of alt-rock, Allusondrugs. We are very lucky on Teesside to have such a good relationship with this band, and we certainly don’t take them for granted. The banter between each member and the regular gig-goers here is becoming something legendary. A prime example of this is that at their last visit to our fair land, Jason playfully rubbished our treasured dish, The Parmo. So imagine everyone’s delight when regular gigster and videographer David Hayhoe presented Jason with a fresh parmo as they started their set! The hilarity was punctuated by Jason’s remark of “Its very creamy!”

As with all things we enjoy, the dozen songs that they bestowed on us seemed to go too quickly. We heard brand new songs as well as old favourites like Sunset Yellow and I’m Your Man. The addition of a chap called Blue Thorne on electronic percussion added an extra dimension to their work, and every member of the band reminded us how damn clever they are with their individual instrument to create a collectively gorgeous sound.

My advice to any band of any genre starting out right now who wants to make something of themselves is to see Allusondrugs live. The passion and dedication is obvious to all who have ears and eyes, and their sets are a masterclass on originality in music.

 

All in all, it was the perfect celebration of live music. And definitely the best 2 year old birthday party I’ve ever been to!

SIMON SAYS: EP Review – Wolf Machine by Saint Apache

Posted on: July 17th, 2017

 

Saint Apache are a four piece alt-rock outfit from Eastbourne, made up of Thom on lead vocals, Leo on lead guitar, Luis on bass guitar, and Adam on drums.

Wolf Machine is their second EP and consists of four monstrous rock songs that get in your face about standing up to our corrupt government (wolf) and the system that runs our lives (machine). It’s unapologetically hard rock with a punk influence.

The EP starts with the fast-paced You’re Not A Slave, which slows down halfway through to give room for Thom’s uncompromising vocals with lyrics about people rising up and being heard. Of course, the vocals can be heard all the way through, but the pause has a good effect of ramming home the point.

Next up is The Story Doesn’t End Here. This one is probably my favourite song on the EP; it’s so well arranged and timed and gives a lot more space to the guitars and drums. If this was a single I reckon it would be a best seller. I’d love to be in the mosh pit when this song is played live! There’s a new video for this song here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4psNzw4jCg

The repetitive guitar riffs on Half Way Dead should please the more mainstream rock audience, and the song keeps its alternative edge with the creative vocals being lengthened and really showing a good range of Thom’s voice.

Wolf Machine is the song that perfectly sums up this EP, and maybe Saint Apache too. Lyrics that urge us to “bring down the wolf machine” are well placed along with brilliant guitar work and creative keyboarding.

With the style and words that Saint Apache have, it would be easy to compare them to another certain famous rock band. But that should never be done because this isn’t them it’s Saint Apache, and these four lads from Eastbourne play it harder and better anyway.

The fact that they’ve only been together as a band since 2015 and they’re already this good should inspire young musicians everywhere.

Wolf Machine is out 21st July 2017 on all major platforms, so buy it and blast it loud outside 10 Downing Street!

SIMONS SAYS: Single Review – Higher by Hannah Renton

Posted on: July 11th, 2017

Higher is the new single from Brighton-based vocalist Hannah Renton.

It’s a fantastic summer song! Play it on those few days where we actually get some sunshine in the UK. In fact, play it even when it’s not sunny outside, because it’s that good it will make you believe it’s glorious sunshine out there!

The production is well crafted, with the electronic beats providing enough of a beat to dance to without overdoing it. That gives enough room for Hannah’s excellent voice to come through loud and clear, proclaiming her upbeat positive lyrics like “Brighten up my world, I’m tired of the grey”.

The only thing I didn’t like with this track is that it’s not long enough. It feels like a lot more could be done with the tune itself, and I’m sure Hannah could easily add another verse into it.

Chuck all the other CD’s out of your car this summer and put Higher on repeat!

 

Higher is out now on all major music platforms, you can get it here:

https://www.facebook.com/hannahrentonmusic/

SIMON SAYS: The gigs to be right at the front of this week!

Posted on: July 11th, 2017

THURSDAY 13TH

WHIRLING DERVISH: 2ND BIRTHDAY SPECIAL

TS ONE BAR, MIDDLESBROUGH

This free-entry weekly tri-band gig celebrates its second year this week with a helluva line-up! Allusondrugs are a long-time favourite of Teessiders and one of Yorkshire’s finest exports. They headline along with brand new band SWEARS and Mr Bigfoot.

https://www.facebook.com/whirlingdervish.music/

 

FRIDAY 14TH – SUNDAY 16TH

VOLKSPOWER FESTIVAL, REDCAR RUGBY CLUB

A two day family festival celebrating those glorious VW vans, along with traders, stands, camping, and most importantly live music. A visit to the Tent Of Quirk is a must!

http://www.volkspower.co.uk/

 

FRIDAY 14TH

FRIDAY UNPLUGGED: ANDY BREWSTER & McCORMICK

STORYTELLERS, STOCKTON

A double treat for lovers of acoustic pop and rock. Expect sing-alongs, beautiful ballads, and voracious banter from two of Teesside’s finest!

Free entry.

 

FRIDAY 14TH

ZEITGEIST 77 + BE QUIET SHOUT LOUD! + LOGOZ

BILLINGHAM SYNTHONIA

A special charity gig with a great selection of three local pop-punk bands. A great opportunity to let your hair down and do something good for someone else.

£5 entry

https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/event/ELHLLD

https://www.gofundme.com/hope4nell-coast-to-coast-challenge?r=65274

 

 

SATURDAY 15TH+SUNDAY 16TH

MIDDLESBROUGH MELA

CENTRE SQUARE, MIDDLESBROUGH

This annual multi-cultural celebration is always good. Great food, cool music, excellent live performances on stage from local and international artistes and groups.

Free entry!

 

As always there are loads of other gigs happening not just in Teesside but across the north-east, so get out there and see them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

SIMON SAYS: Album review: Between The Lines

Posted on: July 11th, 2017

Between The Lines are a heavy rock band from Galway, Ireland, consisting of Mac on lead vocals, Conor on lead guitar/vocals, Eoghan on bass and Adrian on drums. This is their self-titled debut album.

 

The first track is Rumour, which builds up slowly but confidently into a crescendo of heavy guitars, slick drumming and powerful vocals, clearly announcing the concurrent theme for the album.

The second song, All Free, has a repetitive but addictive riff through it, which I think will be one of the crowd favourites to mosh/sing along to.

Sands Of Time is a slightly slower tune with some really creative guitar touches. The members of the band really get a chance to show off their individual skills on this one.

For Your Sanity is one of the longest tracks on the album. A very atmospheric tune, it would fit perfectly in a film or tv series such as The Walking Dead or Sons Of Anarchy because it has that story-telling, commentating vibe to it. I feel this is the weakest track on the album, mainly because it doesn’t flow as easily as the rest and it’s unpredictable in it’s speed and timing.

Southern Steel is a bass-driven beauty of a song that raised the hairs on my arms more than anything else. The varied production on the vocals is superb, and the synchronicity between guitars and drums will make other bands jaws drop. If I was ever lucky enough to see Between The Lines live, this is the song I would beg them for, but I have no doubt it’s already in their usual set, if not opening it.

Shellshock is the shortest song on the album but it packs so much into those three and a half minutes. Commanding vocals, speedy guitar solo, drum wizadry, and a good use of changing tempo.

Sleep is the final track which, appropriately enough, starts with slow chanting and guitars, then builds nicely into the chorus, with the last two or three minutes of the song turns into what sounds like an awesome jam session, which is a great way to sign off the album.

 

Overall, this is a must-have album for rock fans. To the band this album must feel like passing your driving test first time; not a lot of bands get it right first time, which is normal, so to produce an album of this quality at first go is something to pump a fist to. Speaking of celebratory body actions, I wish I had long hair purely just to headbang authentically.

I implore all gig venues throughout the UK to at least try and get Between The Lines on your bill, because if the album is this good then the live performance will challenge any other band you’re putting on to raise their game sginificantly.

That shout-out is especially for my local area of Teesside. Surely if we can get The Answer at Middlesbrough Empire, we can get Between The Lines to play too!

Between The Lines is available on bandcamp: https://betweenthelines1.bandcamp.com/

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

Email: betweenthelinesgroup@gmail.com

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