Sleaford Mods have been, in my opinion, probably the most refreshing act to come out of the U.K. in recent years. Full of working class rage, swagger, minimalist punk arrangements, rapid fire lyrics, and pure political passion; this duo from Nottingham has always been able to cut through bullshit in this dismal world.
The band has a very recognizable sound, with Jason Williamson shouting into his mic while Andrew Fearn creates looping beats and grooves with a stripped-down approach. As the group has gone through various albums, it became clear that they have been looking for a new direction in some ways with regards to their sound.
Enter their newest release English Tapas. The album has trademark Mods style, but you can quickly sense there are new influences at work. You hear not just punk, but glitch, trip-hop, hip-hop, and numerous other elements in their instrumentals. Andrew Fearn has really pushed himself on this record to create sounds that open up new avenues for Williamson to explore his vocals over.
Jason is at his most melodic on this record without a doubt. There is plenty of ranting at the system, and with Westminster fucking everyone over this is justified completely, but there are so many more melodic layers than on previous records.
There is enough for the longtime Sleaford Mods fans like me to love on English Tapas, but there is plenty for the newbies too. This is the record that the working class and poor living in a post-Brexit world need.
The Right Now is a pop/soul band out of Chi-Town consisting of Stefanie Berecz (vocals), Brendan O’Connell (keyboards), Chris Corsale (guitar), Jim Schram (tenor sax), Lucas Gillan (drums), Greg Nergaard (bass) and Caleb Mitchell (trumpet). In their most recent record Starlight they have sought to push “out from their traditional soul-revivalist mode” that they have become known for.
The soul roots are undoubtedly a part of the sound on this record, especially in the vocals of Berecz and the grooves of the rhythm section. There is, however, a contemporary sound that leaves you feeling the need to dance. There is such pure joy coming from the speakers as I write this, and it is great to find bands that have such an uplifting sound.
This is not a naive record, however, as a lot of the lyrical inspiration serves as a counterpoint to the current sociopolitical climate in the United States. As their press release states, The Right Now made songs “of a wider scope” with “politics and social issues, addiction and recovery” all interlocking with the infectious grooves and great melodic hooks.
The key thing to remember when listening to Starlight is that the name is indicitive of, as lead vocalist Stefanie Berecz puts it, “something that connects and unifies everyone on this planet, regardless of all the perceived differences that we may have.”
It helps when you made a great record to bond with your fellow humans over.
Get Starlight at https://www.therightnow.com/store?category=Starlight
The Philly-based indie group Seldom Family is comprised of Patrick Norris (vocals, guitar) and Chris Caulder (drums, bass, lap steel, guitar). The best way I can described self-titled is that it is a beautiful, grooving, ambient, soaring work of art. The bare-bones nature of the instrumentation with the heavy reverb washing over you gives a very current vibe with a nod to the past.
Every song is powerful lyrically and melodically. The voice of Patrick Norris, who sounds honestly like a mix between Bono and Lou Reed, draws you in with a magnetic pull. It longingly cries out over simple, yet brilliant, instrumentals. The album is subtle and also explosive. In it, there are countless seemingly opposing parts that work in synergy for a common goal. That goal is, quite simply, fantastic music.
Get self-titled at https://seldomfamily.bandcamp.com/album/self-titled
I’ve featured Suffolk-based Jake Aldridge’s music numerous times here before. This newest single may very well be his best yet. It’s absolutely brilliant guys, from the melodies to the verses, I mean it :).
Ambient music comes in many flavors, but it is often most associated with a pleasurable dream-like state. I love this type of ambient as much as anyone, but I also love when people explore the darker potential that this music has.
Enter Iranian composer Mehdi Mahmoudabadi and his EP Time is Addictive. In this record, we see the looping minimalism that ambient music is well-known for, but there is a massive twist. The tones, samples, instruments, vocals, melodies, rhythms, and harmonies all give off an experimental and dark vibe.
Try to imagine Trent Reznor in his Downward Spiral period making a record with Brian Eno and you get an idea what this record sounds like. The fact that Mehdi is so young (20 years old) and able to make music that has this much unique character is a real testament to his talent.
Time is Addictive can be found at https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/time-is-addictive-ep/id1174937966
“Keep an eye out for Kennedy, he’s a man going places” – BBC Radio 1
Radio 1 in this case knows what they are talking about. As I listened to Welshman James Kennedy’s upcoming record Home, it became clear that he was a man with a strong artistic vision. Central to this record is the powerful nature of the song structure. The choruses soar and the verses are tinged with a driving force that calls you to listen intently.
Incidentally the core inspiration behind this record is, as Kennedy’s PR agency told me, his exploration of depression and utilizing the music as therapy. As a fellow sufferer of severe depression, I totally get this. And this understanding is helpful in looking at the record as more than just a collection of great songs.
The songs are powerful and can only come from a place that understands what darkness truly looks like. James Kennedy’s vocals are modern, refreshing, and ultimately an amalgamation of numerous stylistic influences (rock, soul, blues and pop). For me, James may very well be the Welsh Jeff Buckley, as his songwriting reminds me so much of the late, great performer.
Home is an uplifting journey for the listener and it reminds you to dust yourself off and keep pushing on in a hostile world.
Home can be pre-ordered at https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/home/id1182038899
James Kennedy can be found at:
I don’t know how often I’ve said this on my site, but I consider Van Halen to be one of my all-time greatest musical influences. Those of you who know Van Halen likely know the reputation of the band to be rather notorious for having numerous lead singers.
Officially these singers are David Lee Roth, Sammy Hagar, and Gary Cherone. There is another singer that I only discovered recently, however, thanks to the beauty of YouTube. After listening to a demo from the Van Halen III sessions, I was recommended a video for a song called “It’s The Right Time” that was recorded by a brilliant singer named Mitch Malloy.
I was blown away that I had never, in all my years of being obsessed with this band, known of this guy! After Sammy was booted out of the band, Mitch was actually the guy on point to do a new record with the band. For various reasons, which are detailed in the video below, Mitch chose to leave the project.
After some correspondence with Mitch, who is a super chill dude, I decided to review his most recent record Making Noise. I gotta tell you folks, the first thing that comes to mind when listening to this album is KICK ASS. The songs are pure, high-adrenaline hard rock that have soaring melodies and brilliant musicianship.
The central point of the record is Mitch’s powerful voice. It’s no wonder why Eddie Van Halen told Mitch that he was the “best fucking singer” he’d ever heard. Malloy’s tone is pristine and also aggressive, and his range is simply mind-blowing.
The songs themselves leave you in a state of euphoria that good rock n’ roll should always create. You can hear the meticulous work that Mitch put into writing Making Noise and his attention to detail shows. The production is top notch and the instruments sound fantastic.
This record is so much more than simply Making Noise. It is a proclamation that rock is still alive and well, no matter what the radio DJs (or Gene Simmons) might be saying. You are left at the end of the album feeling so damn good and it is a high that only the best rock can give you.
Get this record if you value true rock n’ roll, you won’t be disappointed.
Get Making Noise at http://www.mitchmalloy.com