SUNSHINE VARIETY CLUB :- 'The girl with the crooked smile/Bone Idle pop idol'(WHIMSICAL - ICAL1) - Press release:

The SUNSHINE VARIETY CLUB have emerged from the studio somewhere in deepest, darkest Norfolk with a couple of slices of beautifully layered apple pie pop, resulting in a tight-as-a-gnat's-bell-end debut double A single release.

What a dull & cloudy place the world would be without defiant new talent crashing into the music business, thumping their chests in victory.
How refreshing to the ears is it when a rough, but oh so ready band claw their way through the soul destroying minefields of the music industry.

You will be blessed by ‘The Girl With The Crooked Smile’ - a pleasing classic pop song with a constant ‘feel good’ tempo. This delightful comical brew has to be a back-story retold. Lyrics are humorous and sung in such ‘jolly good’ affection about a girl who’s ever so slightly imperfect in a down to earth way.
Opening in flawless and flamboyant ‘know what I’m saying’ style drumming
‘Bone Idol Pop Idol’ has an explosive intro and an appreciative depth welcome to the ear. Neil Fowler, a relative of the Hollywood icon Marlene Dietrich ,sings of impossibly annoying Fame Academy types propelled to stardom by TV and commercial audiences. Not many bands other than these Sunshine Types could write a track about pop idol blandness with such musical wit and cheer.
Let it be said, that these boys and their irresistible, ardent attraction has whipped up quite a storm in the offices of Whimsical Records.

The future’s sure looking bright for the SUNSHINE VARIETY CLUB boyz.


'The Girl With The Crooked Smile sounds little more than a pleasant jangle to begin with, but quickly this hymn to fancying an, ahem, unconventionally-attractive lass turns into a naggingly infectious tune with more colour and bounce than a Sony TV ad'. (Soundsxp)

'Sometimes a crooked smile can be an attractive feature – and judging from the result it’s certainly worth being dedicated a love song. This lovely AA single talks about an unusual kind of girl – her uniqueness responsible for unleashing tingling melodies and endearingly sweet lyrics – and of an all-too-common Will Young type created by a reality TV show.
With their fresh approach, Sunshine Variety Club’s sounds are full of different colours and atmospheres, from soaring harmonies to flamboyant indie-pop, reminding a bit of Belle and Sebastian and a bit of The Smiths, but with their own individual touch. Also worth mentioning are the cleverly written lyrics and the wit that could propel this band in the charts without the help of a cheesy TV programme'.(Glasswerk)

'It’s telling that this band
are signed to Whimsical
Records because music
doesn’t get much more
playful or capricious
than this. It’s jangly, it’s
mischievous and so very
indie that it would likely
bleed corduroy if you cut
it. Taking the geek fight
to the masses in the vein
of Jarvis Cocker, the
title track is a shuffling
track is a shuffling
summery ode in praise of
the physically imperfect.
While never exactly rocking
out, the guitars and drums
are insistent enough to
keep toes tapping. “Bone
Idle Pop Idol” attacks
the manufactured plastic
pop stars churned out
by reality TV tat and it is
clear from the musical
arrangement behind it that
the band owe much to
The Smiths - an effective
crowd sample echoes the
moody Mancunians’ Panic.
That said, this is a very
impressive debut from the
Norfolk quartet which is
sure to strike a chord with
anyone partial to Belle and
Sebastian, I Am Kloot and
Ride'. [CB] * * * *
(Is this music?)

‘Orange Juice, The Smiths, C86, Jeepster, Labrador records, you know where this is heading right? While some may refer to it as "twee-indie-pish", I simply can’t halt my infatuation with the genre. The latest in the line of these romanticised troupes are Norfolk boys Sunshine Variety club whose debut double A-side was enough to sweep me off my feet with pleasure. Particularly, opener The Girl with the Crooked Smile approaches the rockier, stompier side of the genre (think Belle & Sebastian's Le pastie de la Bourgeoisie) and is destined to become a classic.’(SKINNY magazine)

'' Inhabiting the same street in popland as Belle and Sebastian, the Sunshine Variety Club sing here about an un-named girl with a crooked smile, a craggy face and a lazy eye but a lass with such style and dress sense that they cannot help but become infatuated with her. It's a good way to sum up this record really, on one hand the SVC are complete unknowns, yet we don't really care what they look like. This is an A-side that could have been delivered by a group of Quasimodos but we'd still love them since the song is so strong (As it happens the band do not all have hunchbacks - phew!). 'Bone Idle Pop Idol' is delivered with a Roses-era Ian Brown croon lambasting the current trend for producing here today gone today pop stars, all smiling on the front covers of women's magazines, and is three and a half minutes of Crimea-style indie balladry. A very enjoyable record then, certainly raises a smile - no matter how crooked ''. (Culturedeluxe)

ALFIE KINGSTON : 'I will wait'/'Regard me 14 days' -(WHIMSICAL - ICAL2)- Press release:

This debut AA single from Bristol born Alfie Kingston leads with the kind of track that sticks in your head after the first play. I will wait is an irresistibly catchy pop song, a tale of optimism in the face of heartache. By contrast …14 days is much more sombre and reflective in tone, but equally compelling. Kingston gives an impassioned vocal performance, while the production of Paul Miro (Candy Flip, Apes, pigs and Spacemen) exudes warmth and throws in some searing Floyd-esq lead guitar, sending shivers down the spine. Both tracks are taken from Alfie’s debut album Creatures and People’s Ways.

As a compulsive and talented songwriter, Kingston draws from a range of influences whilst maintaining a distinct individuality that sets him apart from his contemporaries.
He has also established a formidable reputation as a *live performer, in recent years becoming an important part of Bristol’s thriving live music scene.

The release of this radio friendly single should ensure Alfie Kingston’s continued rise towards national acclaim. (James Buckingham)


‘Blimey, that was a bit good! It's not often that a debut single grabs you by the cojones and commands attention, but this one certainly did.
Bristolian Alfie Kingston has come up with a string drenched, hard driving, melodic slice of classic rock, crossed with seventies pop that crosses too many boundaries for its own good, but still manages to command attention.
The other track on the double A side, "Regard Me 14 Days", is more introspective and intimate, if a wall of sound production can ever be truly intimate, but props to producer Paul Miro for a bang up job. And as for the spiralling Dave (sorry David) Gilmour like guitar lead, it's heart wrenching.
This may make me a big girl for liking it, but I'll take my chances. Well done to Whimsical Records for snaffling this one up.’(Zeitgeist)

'I had to double-take when I first popped this CD in my laptop. Surely that voice belongs to Robbie Williams? But apparently not... the man sounding identical to the ex-Take That member is in fact Bristol's Alfie Kingston. This is his debut release, a double A-side digital download, and once I'd gotten over the vocal resemblance, 'I Will Wait' began to grow on me. It's power pop without a shadow of a doubt, and it is built around a riff that's not dissimilar to the Counting Crows' 'Mr. Jones'. So the voice sounds familiar, the music sounds familiar, but put the two together and you've got something completely fresh...Whimsical Records clearly have a talent on their hands and there are certainly people out there who will be highly impressed by this newcomer'.(Glasswerk)

'EXCELLENT ... timeless U.K. singer songwriter pop for all ages!!! I really pitty a world that is forced to listen to mediocre nothings like James Blunt .. pushed to the top by a marketing media hysteria that could put ANY piece of shit on top of the charts,and I MEANT IT!!. Alfie Kingston is a treasure to be discovered - great songs,melodies
the Bee Gees would have been proud of,a production that takes you away,or deep into..or .. can't praise this single enough! Great updated pop that does not lick the boots of update fashion sound'(LORD LITTER DJ -Germany)

‘I will wait is a highly polished melodic pop song with excellent dynamics and more strings and harmonies than you can shake a stick at.Regard me is the flip side of the single and this is my personal favourite of the two, an anthem like track that would make a great movie theme song.’ (Bristol Rocks)

BIG LIFE DESIRE : - Your love is (WHIMSICAL ICAL3) -Press release:

Big Life Desire’s debut single on Whimsical Records is the undefeatable Your love is – a slice of fresh English pop, written and sung by London-based Keith Harbottle.

BLD came to life via a development scheme run by ex-Tenpole Tudor member, Richard Coppen, who spotted potential in Keith’s ‘‘middle of the road but weird pop songs’’ . Numerous London gigs followed as well as recording sessions with the Sound Joint production company - 2 resulting tracks reaching the finals of the Uk Songwriting Contest.

Plans are now underway to assemble a permanent band for touring, while Keith can also be heard at various venues in the capital as an acoustic solo performer.

Described by one reviewer as ‘‘Syd Barrett meets Blur’’ and another as"Ian Dury jamming with Paul McCartney", the music is certainly very English, even though Harbottle’s early childhood was spent in Africa exposed to classical music and the theme music for the BBC World Service news. Pop music was a late but great discovery at the age of 10, which later led to Keith humming his own tunes, learning the bass, the obligatory spell in a cover versions band, then Big Life Desire.

In between songwriting, recording and gigging, Keith recently found time to train and run/part walk in the 2006 London Marathon - so the b-side In Pieces seems fitting.

'The latest release from the excellent Whimsical label comes from Keith Harbottle's Big Life Desire and, as the label's name suggests, it's another helping of twee pop - the kind to make fans of Belle and Sebastian and The Wedding Present salivate. 'Your Love Is' and 'She's Got It All' bop along smiling as they go, the former's 'analog keyboard hook' quite rightfully credited on the sleeve, while the surprising funk on 'In Pieces' comes across like an evening with the Blockheads. Certainly one for you to check out'. (CULTURE DELUXE)

'IN PIECES emerges as the standout song on offer, a relaxed funk backdrop drawing comparisons to Ian Dury and Harbottle's vocals sounding at their most enjoyable and naturalistic......The words charming and nice are the first to spring to mind on hearing YOUR LOVE IS....This is skewed English pop music that takes its cues from the lo-fi eccentricity of Baby Bird and White Town, the sideways funk of Ian Dury, not to mention the odd aside to bands as varied as Blur, The Kinks and The Beatles'.(UKMUSICSEARCH)

'We like Whimsical records. They have a postcode only one digit away from mine and have an unquenchable thirst for melody.And so it is with Keith Harbottle who has wisely moved away from his Goon like real name to trade as Big Life Desire, a name setting himself up for a fall. He's also not a very good singer, choosing to enunciate in tune instead, but it just fits with his oddly affecting pop music. There's no normal reason why this should be good - it just is. And that's one of the beauties of music. It's not supposed to make sense.One for the Robert Wyatt / Kevin Coyne fans out there, methinks.'(Zeitgeist)

'Your Love Is, is the debut single (out now on Whimsical) from one man band, Big Life Desire. Keith Harbottle is the musical genius behind the single, spotted by Richard Coppen who saw potential in his “middle of the road but weird pop songs”. Plans are afoot to recruit a permanent band for future releases and tours but in the mean time Harbottle is doing solo acoustic shows in the capital to promote the release.
Musically all three tracks on here have strong echoes of early Belle and Sebastian, while Your Love Is the lead track, either of the other two songs She’s Got It All and In Pieces could quite easily have made for a great single. The vocals are delivered with a very English tone and might be too twee for some people, but for me that just adds to it….the same things have been levelled at Damon Albarn and Ray Davies so I doubt that Harbottle will lose too much sleep over that'.(BEAT SURRENDER)

JACK BUTLER : - Velvet Prose (WHIMSICAL ICAL4) Press release:

Formed in Stirling, Scotland, in August of 2004, four piece Jack Butler introduce the UK to their unique blend of styles with the release of debut single Velvet Prose.

Since winning BBC Radio 1's Demo Derby in April, the band have gone from strength to strength, their dedication and work ethic landing them several high profile gigs during summer 2006, including an appearance at Scotland's biggest music festival
T in the Park .

The title track is a perfect example of the funk-tinged psychedelic groove which should see them fit perfectly into the UK's thriving indie scene, whilst at the same time displaying a refreshing conviction that makes their sound wholly their own. The trend continues on the B-side Candles, where swirling guitar melodies drive a frenzied and ultimately uplifting vocal performance.

The quality of these studio efforts, coupled with their growing reputation as live performers put Jack Butler in a position to scale new creative and commercial heights.


'Opening with the air-raid siren of a wailing guitar, this frenetic single from Stirling four-piece Jack Butler (don't be fooled by the name) quickly bursts into twitchy, energetic riffs. Sitting somewhere between the Arctic Monkeys and the Editors, they nonetheless retain a nugget of Dawn Of The Replicants' Scottish quirkiness. You'll be humming the chorus long after the final chords stutter out - all work and no play makes Jack a surefire hit'.(Is this music?)

'The acapella intro of 'Velvet Prose' and immediate ska-like upbeat tempo make you want to keep listening to this song and quite right too because this is very, very good. It reminded me of Editors and Boy Kill Boy and doesn't really sound like either. The song builds and builds and by the time it was halfway through I was utterly hooked. Liam Kelly's vocals are full of emotion and sound like the he is pouring every inch of his energy into them and the result is nearly pained and totally draws you into the song. The song writing is simple and beautiful and if I'm honest I have no idea what they are singing about. I didn't feel the need to dissect them in the search for anything more because I loved it so much I could just take it at face value. This is a fantastic single and it's going on my generic mp3 player, now.

The B-side 'Candles' starts with the sound of a match being lit, it's a little cheesy but it works and it ploughs right into the song with guitars so fast I felt a bit queasy, again brilliant but they chilled out just enough to let me get into the song without being distracted. This is another good track, maybe not as stand out as 'Velvet Prose' but still damn good. It clearly has so many influences that I felt dizzy trying to pinpoint them before it launched into something else. There's a 70's punk feel in it, the backing vocals sound a bit 80's rock (a definite positive - not a reference to stadium rock). The guitar based happy tempo and surging riffs are very winning and after two songs I'm starting to wonder if this band have ever written anything that didn't begged to be played at repeat and as loudly as possible.

The third and final track 'He's Got No Game' is another good 'un, although it is starting to all sound a bit samey and here lies the only real flaw I can find. There's no real variety to their music although again almost boringly, it's really good. The 'all together now' hollering reminds me of Black Wire but isn't like Black Wire. It's just more good stuff.

Unusually I listened to this single once because I loved it so much it just didn't seem necessary to listen to it again (for the purposes of the review, I'll be listening to it constantly from now on). There isn't much to say apart from this band are great, get them in your life. When the hell are they playing in Leeds? I bags the gig review'.(Leeds Music Scene)

No, it's not another singer/songwriter - 'Velvet Prose' is the debut single from Stirling-based collective Jack Butler.

It's a solid pop song, with art-rock influences mixed with more traditional indie dance rock, sounding in some places like The Smiths, and in others with a touch of Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand pop riffs. 'Velvet Prose' has a refreshing sound.

The melody is able to stay in your mind a long while after hearing it, and it's likely to make you want to dance.

With 'Velvet Prose', Jack Butler, complete with strange name for a band, have proved themselves ones to watch out for in the future.(Thisisfakediy)

'Despite having accents that can sometimes be heard almost attacking the drums and guitars, Jack Butler are on to a good thing with their upbeat sound that seems to be almost as danceable as it is listenable.

New single 'Velvet Prose' has been getting great support in their native Scotland, and it's not hard to work out why. 'Velvet Prose' is a track that along with its obvious indie roots, is veering towards the 'pop' route - a fan of Oasis or The Zutons could quite easily get in to this.

Jack Butler are a great up and coming act, who should not in any way be overlooked. With 'Velvet Prose', these boys are on track to stardom'(Clickmusic)

'Scottish four piece Jack Butler have created a simple yet complex and hugely effective blend of indie pop through their latest release Velvet Prose.

Confident, defiant, unflinching, direct and most importantly catchy as hell, Velvet Prose is a funky guitar ridden cracker of a song that exudes nothing but raw talent, self-belief and a passion to rival even the most established of bands.

Every note, riff and hook, compliments the other with a focused perfection that just cant be taught. Add a set of powerful and all consuming vocals into the mix and its all there and ready to go. England beware, Jack Butler are heading to a venue near you'. (Whisperinandhollerin)

'Proving that Scotland is still a hotbed of vital new music, Jack Butler are a four piece from that particular part of the world making exciting new indie rock sounds for your delectation.
With new single VELVET PROSE they deftly go about combining all the best bits of Franz Ferdinand, At The Drive-In and the Arctic Monkeys in one delicious three minute pop tune. With guitars making jagged little incisions, drums picking out complex patterns and frontman Liam Kelly spitting out one of the catchiest melodies since the Arctic Monkeys burst onto the scene earlier this year, VELVET PROSE is very special indeed; an inspired jazz/indie/emo/pop hybrid that practically grabs you by the ears and plants a massive kiss right on your lips. Elsewhere, Jack Butler repeat the same tricks with the perky pop of CANDLES before delivering some Afro beat guitar meets The Smiths meets emo tinged rock on the superb HE GOT NO GAME!; brilliant stuff all round.
Another of those bands that almost invite the words 'ones to watch' and 'hotly tipped', Jack Butler are all those things and more'.(UK Music search)

'Having already appeared at this years T In The Park festival, Scottish foursome Jack Butler release their debut single, the Arctic Monkeys-esque 'Velvet Prose'. Recapturing the indie vibe of Bloc Party, Boy Kill Boy et al, the band's breezy first offering is one that's sure to have your everyday Zutons fan foaming at the mouth. With it's quirky up-tempo backing playing second fiddle to Liam Kelly's distinctly unique vocals, 'Velvet Prose' is the kind of song that's bound to gain Radio 1 airplay sooner rather than later. The excellent 'Candles' acts as B-side; and with the more than listenable 'He Got No Game' acting as a third slice of this much welcomed introduction, Jack Butler may well be the next entrant to the indie fad of now'.(Rockmidgets)

'This Stirling four-piece are ploughing a path somewhere between Arctic Monkeys, The Specials and The Skids. And that's fabulous speeding soul-tinged rock'.(Daily Record)

'With a name that conjures up images of a crime fiction (rather than Christian-orientated Pullitzer Prize nominee) writer sat by his typewriter, glass of port in one hand and half-chewed cigarillo in the other, this Jack Butler couldn't be further from the logical stereotype. Or should that be these Jack Butlers, as they are actually a four piece band hailing from the musical dormitory that is Stirling.
But enough with the introductions - let's get straight down to business, as that is exactly what 'Velvet Prose' does. "She sold her soul... to the martyrs," bellows frontman Liam Kelly over an intricate guitar riff that echoes both the Postcard sound of the first wave of post-punk and the more recent work of Bloc Party, without aping either. Add a slice of funk-induced beats and you've got a serious contender for The Sunshine Underground's title as new rock/dance crossover kings.
Elsewhere, b-sides 'Candles' and 'He Got No Game!' follow a similar path, the former initially sounding like a natural follow-up to Boy Kill Boy's 'Suzie' before Kelly's voice lifts it out of the seen-with-the-scenesters ordinariness; the latter, meanwhile, is the kind of sprightly pop the likes of The Cure and The Associates churned out for fun two decades ago.
All in all, any one of these three songs could have been a single in its own right. For a debut release, it doesn't get much better than that'.(Drownedinsound)

'So, here I am beside the seaside, beside the sea, looking for something uplifting to aid my constitution. and along comes Jack Butler, in finest 'which one's Pink' fashion.
Normally, the only uplifting thing to come from Stirling is the train back to Edinburgh but, lo and behold, this is rather delightful, despite the out and out lies of the press bumph which promised me 'funk-tinged psychedelic grooves'. I actually approve of pr lies, but I've seen George Clinton live and can tell the difference between angular, skinny white boys dancing badly and the funk.
Which is to take nothing away from the intensely melodic lead track or the Talking Heads with talent vibe of "He Got No Game!" These are good things and deserve encouragement'.(Zeitgeist)

ADAM TEDDER : - It'll be soon/Eastern Girls (Whimsical ICAL5) Press release:

London based singer / songwriter Adam Tedder is releasing his debut, download only AA single It’ll Be Soon / Eastern Girls .

A prolific writer with a schizophrenic style, his inspired live performances have been compared to that of a grandiose Jeff Buckley! Adam, however, has a unique talent that combines soul searching lyrics and exquisite melodies that enter your heart, leaving you a better person.

Adam describes ‘Eastern Girls’ as “bravely, brutally but not bitterly moving on” and lead track ‘It’ll Be Soon’ as “dealing with living only in the hope of a foretold future”. Singing songs of sadness, this is music that wrings you dry. Intimate songs that sound big (the tracks were mastered at Abbey Road Studios), Adam always leaves you with a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel.

Oh, and if the name seems familiar, then you’ve spent too much time glued to the television, as Adam also works as an actor. Most recently he played the psycho Serbian war criminal goalkeeper Lazlo Vig on the ITV1 series, Mike Bassett Manager. A role far removed from his uplifting songs.



London based singer/songwriter Adam Tedder is going down the currently popular download road with 'It'll Be Soon / Eastern Girls'. Should do well, methinks!

Certainly, 'It'll Be Soon' is an uplifting sounding works that's cries quality and Tedder's performance is melodic precision personified; it's awesome production allows the listener to get to grips with the man's lyrics even allowing for the 'big' orchestral arrangement over slightly fuzzy guitar that gives this work a massive presence. 'It'll Be Soon' has the feel of a 'modern classic' about it. It's almost anthemic structure pulls the listener gently in without the use of undue force. It's a cleverly worked track to sit and enjoy.

'Eastern Girls' is almost totally juxtaposed to the first track. Much more raunchy but equally addictive it's a bit of a musical rollercoaster ride that creeps up on you without you realising it - a worker!

As a songwriter, Adam Tedder seems to have it down to a fine art. Vocally there's something very appealing in the man's voice and if the credits are anything to go by he can certainly play (piano, guitars, bass and keyboards!). A very talented all-rounder by the look of it!

It'll be interesting to see just how this pans out as a download release; it does seem that right now it's almost easier to gain recognition via the internet than it is through the 'old school' method which includes the tedium and pitfalls of promotion and almost uncontrollable rigours of hard, cash sales from retailers. Artistically, Tedder has everything nicely in place - now it's down to networking to see how it develops. Good luck is what I say!


One of those ethereal, barely in existence, download only single, thingys that occupy bytes rather than space, this is one I would make an exception for. If I didn't rather smugly have a promo CD.

When I first heard these songs a couple of months back I was rather smitten. And the intervening weeks has only raised them in my estimation.

Prepare yourself to fill up as the heartrenching melody of "It'll Be Soon" kicks in. And just when you're gulping for air, the strings kick in. Git.

"Eastern Girls" takes a different approach as the schizophrenia arrives. One part Polyphonic Spree to one part indie rock, you won't know whether you're coming or going. (Zeitgeist)

''Gorgeous balladry, equally tender and almost cosmic sounding - for fans of Keane'' (Subba-Cultcha)

Adam Tedder is a London based singer/songwriter who also works as an actor. He also designed the front sleeve artwork for this debut single. These tracks were mastered in no less than Abbey Road Studios, the mecca of the music world: impressive for a debut, download only double-A single. Is he a jack of all trades and a master of none though? 'It'll be soon' will not grab the listener's attention immediately. After a few listens though you might just be rewarded with a beautifully composed song. It's got a subtle and yet effective piano tinkling in the background throughout it accompanied by some beautiful string arrangements. The lyrics, which are obviously based on thoughts about religion/the afterlife, leave you feeling quite sad but in a kind of good way. Adam's vocals are really soothing and this is a 'lie down on your bed and listen' track. You can't stay in a contemplative mood for too long however as 'Eastern girls', the other song on this release, has a totally different vibe and subject matter. It starts out sounding slightly like 'Wuthering Heights' but soon gathers pace and turns into an indie rock track. And where the vocals were gentle in 'It'll be soon', Adam's voice in this song has more attitude, for want of a better word. His vocal performance is varied throughout this track. Mr Tedder states that 'Eastern Girls' is about 'bravely, brutally but not bitterly moving on.' The two singles make for quite an interesting contrast and after several listens to this debut release I think it will be hard for anybody to define his music, based solely on this offering. If Tedder keeps producing this kind of work he may become a master of at least one trade for a selected audience. With downloads being lovingly accepted into the arms of the music charts, he may just find recognition will come soon. (www.soundsxp.com)

London based singer/songwriter Adam Tedder is someone who certainly knows how to bang out an upbeat pop tune or two, one of those melodic types who's been raised on a diet of The Beatles and The Beach Boys by the sounds of things here.
Latest single IT'LL BE SOON finds the tuneful Londoner cranking out some bouncy piano chords, coming up with a sound somewhere between the Beatles and a happier version of Coldplay. Full of upbeat charm, IT'LL BE SOON is a song wallowing in the simple pleasures; a big chorus and plenty of sing along moments the order of the day here. Flipside EASTERN GIRLS finds Tedder attempting to meld Elton John, Rufus Wainwright and Blur; operatic vocals, melodramatic piano work and punky choruses..........''
Adam Tedder is a solid singer/songwriter turning out songs full of catchy choruses and upbeat sentiment. IT'LL BE SOON / EASTERN GIRLS is a decent enough single and a fine pop song......''


Bit part actor Adam Tedder (he once played a psycho, Serbian war criminal, goalkeeper on ITV's Mike Bassett Manager - you couldn't make this sh*t up) has decided to channel his energy into a new format: Namely his debut, downloadable only, AA single 'It'll Be Soon' and 'Eastern Girls'. 'It'll Be Soon' takes its simple lyrics and jazzes them up, with the help of a cello and piano accompaniment, which act as the perfect complement to Tedder's dulcet vocals. Reminiscent of early 90's pop act Lighthouse Family, both tracks emit a breezy atmosphere, and herald in the New Year with aplomb. Despite this, Tedder occasionally sounds like he is holding back, something which, should he dissuade, will only serve to make his next musical outing stronger.

(Rating: 4/5 by Zaineb Al Hassani www.rockmidgets.co.uk)


ELEVATE  - 21 pop and indie gems from the underground (Whimsical ICALCD1) Press release: 

Edinburgh based label Whimsical Records is proud to announce the release of Elevate – 21 pop and indie gems from the underground, a collection of the best music you’ve never heard.

A mixture of classics from days gone by and classics from days to come, you can reach into this collection and pull out a song that will live with you for the rest of your days.

Whether it’s the Steve Lamacq championed Sunshine Variety Club, the strange psychedelic folk of Guy and Vivienne or the haunting tales of Balloon Man, there is something here that will touch you in places not talked about in polite society. Looking for Beach Boys harmonies and touches of Middle Eastern folk? Then you’ll be wanting to sample the respective wonders of Lemanis and Karle Odegaard. Perhaps it’s the rather seedy tales of Joe Viglione or the tribute to Trumpton from Emporium that tickles your fancy? Maybe you just want simple songs well sung? Then Alfie Kingston and Subconscious will be your new best friends.

Take the time to explore the unexplored back roads and byways of the underground, pause to breathe in the magic you’d forgotten existed in music, and allow your soul to Elevate. (STUART HAMILTON)

'Elevate' is a twenty-one track sampler from Whimsical Records featuring a fine collection of pop and indie gems - something for everyone then eh!.
Well, actually yes! This beautifully put together album is modern pop personified. Featuring tracks from The Idea, Sunshine Variety Club, Day 44, Jack Butler, Guy And Vivienne, Row Z, Lemanis, The Harmonic Storm, Emporium, Adam Tedder, Karle Odegaard, The Westport Sunrise Sessions, Big Life Desire, Joe Viglione, Subconscious, Alan Burge, Alfie Kingston, Balloon Man and The Mandrakes, this really is packed with variety, innovation and surprise. From subtle acoustic to stonkin' indie to rockin' pop stopping at all points between, 'Elevate' showcases many of Whimsical's roster and sets the taste buds alight as it unfolds.
Like all good samplers, 'Elevate' tries to get a message across, helps to make introductions to artists you probably won't have heard of or come across before. So, it's a sales tool then! Well obviously, but the principal here is not all one sided; if Whimsical Records get a few new sales through this then so do the artists. But, more to the point, this is a publicity tool for the artists - and a pretty good one too. You'll be surprised how good these artists are and you'll be left wondering why you've not come across them before.
Since the late 60's I've always looked hard at sampler albums - they enlightened me then and they still do now. So, go on, have a look at 'Elevate', see if there's anything here you've missed out on - find something that appeals then go and seek out more of the same. Nice one Whimsical Records!''
Peter J Brown aka toxic pete (www.toxicpete.co.uk)
(Rhythm & Booze rating 9)

Delightfully countering the adage that it’s grim up north, Edinburgh based Whimsical Records trawl the length and breadth of the country to bring you 21 sparkling indie gems.

Elevate 21 is a wilfully obscure collection of indie pop gems. It proudly announces itself as a collection of the best music you’ve never heard…and they’d have been right too as long as you never heard Steve Lamacq espousing the virtues of Sunshine Variety Club when he crowned them single of the week.
The good news is that, unlike most compilations of this ilk there really isn’t any good reason why you haven’t heard these records. There are several stand out gems, with walking basslines, jangling guitars, the odd moment of folk and roots music offered up and also harmonies, yes harmonies that would make even Brian Wilson Blush.
Of the 21 songs on display here Day 44’s ‘Harold’s Bad Trip’ and Swedish troubadour Karle Odegaard’s ‘The Sad Thing Is It Is Not Sad At All’, offer up true moments of undiscovered bliss, the latter imparticular using Beach Boys harmonies to heart crushing effect.
The only draw back to such a compilation is the utter volume of new music to absorb and discover. However, it’s a genuine pleasure to note after repeated listening, there is not a track on Elevate that let’s down Whimsical’s desire to simply promote good songs''.
By Jonathan Sebire ( http://www.subba-cultcha.com/article.php?id=4550)

''Bringing together the best and the brightest of Edinburgh label Whimsical's eclectic roster, ELEVATE - 21 POP AND INDIE GEMS FROM THE UNDERGROUND is a compilation than highlights that labels particular brand of the charming and endearing.
Early highlights include the jagged pop thrills of Jack Butler, a Scottish four piece making exciting new indie rock sounds for your delectation; with W.FIRE they deftly go about combining all the best bits of Franz Ferdinand, At The Drive-In and the Arctic Monkeys in one delicious three minute pop tune. Row Z deliver one of the most twee pop tunes since Belle And Sebastian last entered a recording studio in CHLOE whilst the equally C86 sounding Lemanis deal in the same sonic territory of jangly guitars and hushed vocal melodies with the sweet LAUGHING, SMILING, JOKING. DADDY'S LITTLE PRINCESS from The Harmonic Storm is a nifty slice of neo-psychedelic garage rock while Edinburgh's Emporium give us DICE MAN and ELEVATE, songs carrying on down the charming lo-fi road, upbeat melodic pop with its heart in the charity shop but its sights on the charts. Not unlike Belle And Sebastian on a much more limited budget, this is charming and sweet stuff, Ewan McKenzie singing in a fey vocal style that suits the musical backdrop perfectly.
London based singer/songwriter Adam Tedder is someone who certainly knows how to bang out an upbeat pop tune or two, one of those melodic types who's been raised on a diet of The Beatles and The Beach Boys by the sounds of things here. EASTERN GIRLS finds him attempting to meld Elton John, Rufus Wainwright and Blur; operatic vocals, melodramatic piano work and punky choruses.
The words charming and nice are the first to spring to mind on hearing IN PIECES from Big Life Desire, skewed English pop music that takes its cues from the lo-fi eccentricity of Baby Bird and White Town, the sideways funk of Ian Dury, not to mention the odd aside to bands as varied as Blur, The Kinks and The Beatles. Dealing in the same kind of slickly crafted acoustic tinged pop thats made stars of artists like David Grey, Alfie Kingston is the latest singer/songwriter to emerge on the scene. With I WILL WAIT, Kingston delivers a mildly diverting slice of mid tempo folk pop - nothing to get that excited about, nothing to get that offended by; middle of the road stuff.
21 slices of charming lo-fi whimsy, ELEVATE - 21 POP AND INDIE GEMS FROM THE UNDERGROUND will perhaps not change your life, but is a record that at the very least will brighten your day somewhat, and sometimes in life, that's more than enough''.
Belle And Sebastian
The Fire Engines
The Vaselines
Review date: February 2007 (http://www.ukmusicsearch.co.uk/reviews/various-elevate.html)

Helping keep independent music alive are Edinburgh's Whimiscal Records and 'Elevate' is a fitting document of their output since forming to release an Emporium record in 1999, taking their name from one journalist's description of the band. Or indeed, every journalist's description of every band on the label. They're whimsical, that's what they do, and some are more whimsical than others.
After The Idea's short introductory 'Hello' is a curiosity based around a Giorgio Moroder 'double speed' bassline with various 'hello' samples. The shame is it's such a short greeting with no chance to meet Mitch Salisbury again later in the compilation. But no matter, immediately following is Sunshine Variety Club's 'The Girl With the Crooked smile'. This former Culturedeluxe number one needs no introduction and still sounds as fresh (while still dothing its cap to myriad influences) as it did when it charmed us all last year.
There are varying degrees of polish on display here though - Guy and Vivienne sound like they've recorded parts of 'After the Rain' on a cassette player in the bathroom and quite probably did. Row Z's 'Chloe' with its glorious power pop intro is only slightly let down by the fact it sounds like the theme tune to 'Revenge of the Nerds' after a fashion and Lemanis' 'Lauging, Smiling, Joking' finds Plymouth's finest sounding like The Beach Boys playing with Sonic Youth. It's an interesting combination in waltz time which nearly works. Subconcious, meanwhile, on the swirling organ pop of 'On The Streets' are essentially the Jesus & Mary Chain sounding happy in a parallel dimension.
However, special mention must go to, firstly, Day 44 with 'Harold's Bad Trip'. Based on true experiences from 1971, and sounding like it was recorded way before even then, this is exceptional psychedelic rock, produced in a fashion that they just don't do any more. The obligatory headfuck finishes things off nicely. Secondly, label founders Emporium boast beautiful harmonies, swirling soundscapes and the strongest Scottish accents since two bespectacled twins entered a Leith recording studio. The Scottish Super Furry Animals anyone?
Label compilations really are to be cherished when the label is small enough to have a certain 'sound' and this is no exception. If, like many, you find yourself lamenting the lack of twee indie pop above the surface then scuba down to the land of Whimsical where every day is jangle-day''.
www.culturedeluxe.com (7 out of 10)

Whimsical Records have been steadily releasing stuff over the last year or two that you would probably class as melodic, if a little off centre, they remind me in a lot of ways of Sarah Records who were around in the late 90’s and early 90’s, yes some of the songs may seem a little bit twee but they all have a real charm to them.
Elevate is a compilation of 21 tracks released on the label, you get absolute gems from Big Life Desire, Sunshine Variety Club, Adam Tedder and Emporium, which sit alongside less impressive outings from acts such as Row-Z and Balloon Man. Either way it’s still a nice introduction to a good little label who seem to be quietly going about their business in a pretty impressive way.The album is out now''.

"Elevate: 21 pop and indie gems from the underground"
(whimsicalrecords.com) is a comp of VARIOUS artists, mostly from across
UK, though there are the occasional others from the U.S. Whimsical states
that this is "a collection of the best music you've never heard." Well, it
certainly is diverse, but it seems most are either powerpop, psychedelic,
or folk. The quality runs from full productions to demos, but it still
manages to remains consistent. There are 21 cuts over 79 minutes, so I'll
pick and chose a few, as I'm wont to do. The Sunshine Variety Club's "The
Girl With the Crooked Smile" is a cult fave, and it's really good but not
the best thing here. Guy and Vivienne's "After the rain" is a very soft
spoken psych folk number reminiscent of "Some Velvet Morning" in feel. Row
Z's "Chloe" is fine powerpop with a "Telstar"-ish opening. In folk rock
mode is Karle Odegaard's cleverly titled "The Sad Thing is it is Not Sad
At All". Sandwiched between 2 mediocre songs is Boston-based Joe
Viglione's hook-laden psalm to the music chart gods (or possibly drug, as
he's worked as with some many who imbibed), "There's Nothing Like a Hit,"
a strong pop rock tune. Mandrake's space rock "We Will Fall" are bolstered
by some nice soaring harmonies. This is a hit and miss affair, but those
that are standouts are worth seeking out.
(Robert Barry Francos)

''The CD is fantastic - the band Subconscious have an airy track called "On The Streets", Alfie Kingston's driving "I Will Wait" collides into a lovely "Unlucky Ones" from Balloon Man. This is a TERRIFIC compilation that Ewan at Whimsical Records has put together.'' Intuition Element

''choc full of quality tunage'' Finlay Mackenzie - Musical Pharmacy - Isles FM

''a really interesting album....a really lovely mix of stuff.....one of my favourites is 'a tribute to Trumpton' from a band called Emporium'' (Janice Forsyth, BBC Radio Scotland 7/4/07)

'' ok ive listened to the album a few times now and every song is pretty good in its own way. Heres a list of the ones that i like best: in no order - girl with the crooked smile, after the rain, the prize, nothing like a hit. after the rain is probably my favourite, but as i say they are all good! '' Kenny Bell - The Harmonic Storm

''The record has some great songs on it. Most from UK bands, but some from yankee wankers like us and beyond. Good stuff and well worth the pence. Much thanks to Ewan for his support of independent music. '' Jason Broome WSS

''Chloe by Row Z is the best tune I've heard for a long time. Is it available on Itunes? Where can I get the single from please?
Also, do you have any info on the artist/band? Is it a band or a solo artist? Can I get more of their stuff?
Lucy.'' (email enquiry 20/3/07)

''My favourites so far are DAY 44 - that's well good! Also Joe Viglione. Balloon Man - that's good too. Also Mandrakes - like that. Emporium are a fucking weird band. I never know what to make of them which is good I suppose. Very hard to catagorise! '' - Gordon Burns (Subconscious)

'' Ewan, My top five 'Elevate' tracks;
1. elevate- Emporium 2. w.fire- Jack Butler 3. After the rain- Guy and Vivienne 4.Hello- The idea 5. Dice man- Emporium
Like that S.V.C. track also! Cheers, Rob'' (Sunshine Variety Club)
Well there's really little point in me adding anything as the title just about sums it up perfectly. But you'll probably get humpty if I don't say something, so here goes.

Edinburgh based Whimsical Records have been slowly maing a name for themselves via a series of utterly splendid singles and EPs. Now, they've taken the next step and released a collection of some of the best music you've never heard.

If you have any tast you'll already have experienced the understated pop of Sunshine Variety Club, Jack Butler, Emporium, Adam Tedder and Alfie Kingston, so take a wee sidespin onto the freakbeat of Day 44, the psychedelic lull of Guy & Vivienne or the sublime harmonies of Lemanis.

With nary a bum note afoot, spring some cash and open up a new world of mucial possibilities.

The booklet to this CD has brief notes about all of the tracks on this various-artists compilation, and it can be deduced that most though not all of these bands are British. But it's not really clear when these cuts were recorded, or, in most cases, where they might have been originally issued. It's likely from the sound of things, though, that most and perhaps all of the cuts were done not long before this 2007 release. As with any various-artists anthology of "pop and indie" rock, it's hard to generalize about its styles, but generally, it will appeal primarily to the fan of retro psych and pop-rock forms, principally from the 1960s and 1970s. And, as with any such record, what songs you like are going to depend very much on your individual tastes, and it's unlikely anyone's tastes are going to be so broad as to like everything here. It's inevitably an erratic disc, but as such compilations go, it's okay, with most of the artists managing good-hearted music with pleasant melodies and nicely nuanced production, if nothing earthshaking. You'll hear vocal harmonies that echo the Beach Boys and the British Invasion, guitars that both ring and chord with power pop bite, a bit of surf music, quirky yet pop-friendly singer-songwriting indicating that a few of these artists might be big Pete Townshend or Elvis Costello fans, and neo-psychedelic pop that's, in keeping with the name of the label that issued the CD, whimsical. There are odd tracks here and there that stand out as worthier than most of their surroundings, like Guy and Vivienne's "After the Rain" (with its wistfully spooky male-female folk-rock harmonies) or Balloon Man's "Unlucky Ones" (with a vocal highly reminiscent of vintage Grace Slick). But like many such samplers, it's best sampled via individual cuts on radio programs than by wading through the whole uneven mass at once. (7 out of 10)

This is a fascinating compilation of innovative tunes from the Whimsical catalogue ranging from cheery pop, mad electronica, sixties garage style dittes and bizarre, fucked up one minute long compositions such as the album's opener, "Hello" by The Idea.
And ideas aplenty leap out at you from this assortment, bringing to mind at any given time the likes of David Byrne, John Cale, Van Morrison, Squeeze and British Sea Power. All classic songwriters, you may notice, and it's great to know there are still folk out there who will lovingly craft compilations such as these. They are the true heroes of the music business and we should champion them as much as we can.

N: Independent labels can be a melting pot of young burgeoning talent, what with their variety of influences bursting from the grooves (or digital bits, firing from its slippery silver surface) making a very entertaining half time, and here is no different. Whimsical Records (love the name) have accumulated 21 artists who, from the starting blocks, fire the riff recognisable from Donna Summer's "I Feel Love" in the shape of The Idea's opening gambit. Day 44 can be found slipping on Steed's cane and bowler hat on "Harold's Bad Trip", Mrs. Peel hot on his heels. Guy and Vivienne present a somewhat kitsch duet, "After The Rain", influences follow in the shape of The Shadows clashing with Glen Tillbrook with a stylophonesque break. But all this statically charged emotion is brought back to earth as brushed drums meet The Harmonic Storm's "'Daddy's little princess'".

T: I think you get the picture anyway; this is a damn fine album, and Ewan McKenzie, the man behind this collection, should be carried on the shoulders of crowds throughout the city and cheered by the masses in unison. (9/10) http://www.atomicduster.com/spotlight/38a/index.phpwhimsical
The beauty about underground albums like 'Elevate' is that they can really surprise you. There are no preconceptions about the artists. There is no anticipation or dread. You're not bored of hearing about the artists because they fill the front pages of the tabloids or have an over-played tedious back catalogue. Their attitude and music is fresh.

So, is this album full of gems like the title suggests? The answer is simply yes. There is so much variety on the album where pop and indie meet folk, jazz, rock and psychedelic.

The two tracks that open and close the album are a lot of fun because of their samples. 'Hello' by The Idea is full of different greetings and 'Elevate' by Emporium is based around the old children's TV theme 'Camberwick Green'. In between is a fantastic collection from the archives of Whimsical Records.

'The Girl With The Crooked Smile' by Sunshine Variety Club is a typical indie song that's very catchy with a great melody. The great pop tracks on the album are 'In Pieces' and 'She's Got It All'.

Day 44 have a catchy old-school psychedelic track in 'Harold's Bad Trip'. 'Daddy's Little Princess' continues the 60's themed tunes, but the best is 'Dice Man' by Emporium that has a dreamy Brian Wilson feel to it.

The surprises and variety continue on the album with New York based band The Westport Sunrise Sessions and their song 'The Prize'. Heavily influenced by Frank Zappa the song is full of different sounds and rhythms that make you pay attention.

'After The Rain' takes a couple of listens for one to really appreciate because of its bizarre folk feel. The recording sounds low budget but it adds to the mood. It's a song that would have been lost on a slick digital production, great stuff.

What also adds to the quality of this collection is the change of moods. Joe Viglione's 80's track 'There's Nothing Like A Hit' is really dark. It's a tragic tale of his buddy and heroin addict Jimmy Miller searching the streets for a hit. While 'Laughing, Smiling, Joking' is a very peculiar song and at the other end of the spectrum. The first thing that sprung to mind was "what the f..k!" But it is good fun and fits into this collection very nicely.

The track list shows that there has been some thought put into it and all the tracks complement each other so well. So the best thing to do is invest in a copy of 'Elevate' and enjoy. http://www.leedsmusicscene.net/article/9683/ By Chris Audsley (9 out of 10)
There are at least two reasons why this compilation should be a good listen. One: I like label compilations for some geeky reason that I haven’t fathomed yet. Two: Whimsical is an indie label from Edinburgh and Scotland have got an impressive track record with this kind of stuff over the past ten, twenty years. It’s by no means a flawless collection, it would be hard for most labels to put together 21 songs and for the listener to like all of them, but label founder Ewan McKenzie has an exciting roster here of indie and folk from all over the country (And NYC), largely influenced by classic rock and pop.

Whimsical’s first ever signing The Harmonic Storm, for example, are what happens when you copy early Beatles and early Dylan at the same time. Or Lemanis, whose drifting ‘Laughing, Smiling, Joking’ is what grunge would have sounded like had it been invented by Brian Wilson and not grimy men in plaid. Joe Viglione’s jerky NYC no wave falls in between the Ramones and Sonic Youth, while Subconscious and Emporium (Two ex-Subconscious members) are Edinburgh’s answer to the Super Furry Animals but applying their own voice to playful, trippy, magpie pop.

There are some genuine originals here too, such as The Idea’s daft psychedelic journeys with Casio keyboards and the angsty folk of Karle Odegaard. ‘The Sad Thing Is It Is Sad At All’ collides two very different worlds to dazzling effect, the gritty Wild West and the exotica of the Middle East. The undeniable stars, however, are New York’s fun(ky) experimentalists the Westport Sunrise Sessions, with their weird clanging beats, falsetto harmonies and old school MCing. It’s TV On The Radio with no David Sitek production and no money.

Most likely for success though are gloomy, Editor’s style post-punks Jack Butler and Alfie Kingston’s piano driven soft rock in the mould of The Fray. They might not be the two most original artists on ‘Elevate…’, but any success for Whimsical would be well deserved. (by Stephen Eddie - Dieshellsuit.com).
Ok, so the acts aren't all Scots or even new and one is based on the theme tune to Camberwick Green, but the compilation is released on an Edinburgh indie label. There are 21 songs on the cd from the Capital's Whimsical Records, which at their heart mine the 60's psychedelic pop. Opening tune is Oxford Band The Idea's 'Hello' and includes a Bo'Selecta sample. Sunshine Variety Club's 'The girl with the crooked smile' is Belle and Sebastian without the limp wrists, while Scotland shows what it's made of with Jack Butler's arch art rock 'W.Fire'. The first of Edinburgh band Emporium's two tracks 'Dice Man' is Sixties pop and they close the album with 'Elevate', a song based on the theme to kids classic 'Camberwick Green'. 'The sad thing is it is not sad at all' is from Edinburgh based Karle Odegaard and the driving beats of Glasgow band The Mandrakes 'We will fall' tops it all off. (Rick Fulton - The Daily Record - June 27th 2008)


JACK BUTLER : - Boy vs. Beast/Surgery 1984 (WHIMSICAL ICAL6) Press release:

When Jack Butler released their debut single Velvet Prose last September, it won great acclaim from press and radio, reaching the Official UK Independent chart top 30. Their catchy, quirky guitar based pop opening people’s eyes and ears to a wealth of talent and fresh sounds.

With their second offering, Boy Vs Beast, they have upped the ante. The formula for a conventional pop song is re-written before your ears. With a unique bass and drum pattern, clever production, trademark quirky guitar riffs, and anthem-like backing vocals it simply has all the right ingredients.

Scottish music is going through a resurgence at present, and Jack Butler have to be considered as front runners for the best indie single of the year so far. Comparisons to Minus The Bear, Arctic Monkeys, Bloc Party and Franz Ferdinand (among others) only justify the high standard being produced here.

The accompanying AA track, Surgery 1984 provides the perfect flip-side to the single. From the heart monitor intro into a passionate vocal performance with powerful driving guitars, Jack Butler have persevered to produce their most accomplished track to date, featuring contrasting structural parts and a clever craftsmanship to their songwriting.

Evidently, there has been a significant progression since the band’s first single. They exude conviction, dynamism and a refreshing quality that has been lost among the plethora of new music. This summer, the potential of Jack Butler is waiting to be released…


Jack Butler are another of the great new bands hailing from Scotland and 'Boy vs Beast' is their latest, massively impressive, single release on digital download and limited edition disc.

'Boy vs Beast' is a bit of an attention grabber; it's a bright and vibrant piece that features Jack Butler's energetic but very controlled indie rock style. Utilising their trademark guitar riffs over punctuative bass and drums, Jack Butler contrive to drill home their persuasive, melodic music with infectious relish and syncopated unity. Vocally these guys also get it just right and put in some great work both in terms of lead vox and backing/harmony vox. All-in-all, Jack Butler get it just about spot on! Theirs is indeed a commercially sound and focussed indie way. 'A' side 'Boy vs Beast' sets things up beautifully before the 'AA' side 'Surgery 1984' strengthens their case and confirms the initial thoughts that this band know how to pen great pop songs and perform them with well honed professionalism.

Jack Butler have a knack of sounding friendly and familiar; a bit like when you first heard Franz Ferdinand or Kaiser Chiefs and instantly knew you'd just heard something kinda special - well, Jack Butler have that same feel about them. Maybe, just maybe Jack Butler will 'break' with their instantly likeable and recognisable sound.

I'm sure that 'Boy vs Beast' will get most of the attention but 'Surgery 1984', for me, is the most exciting piece of the two; the latter just pushes things that little bit further in terms of being 'different'. As a double 'A' side, 'Boy vs Beast' / 'Surgery 1984' is a well impressive release; Jack Butler sound as though they're ready to take on the 'leaders' with their solidly constructed songs and passionate playing.

Peter J Brown aka toxic pete (www.toxicpete.co.uk)

(Rhythm & Booze rating 9)
''With the spiralling guitars of the Razorlight, and the manic vocals of !!!, Jack Butler's onto something here…'' (www.subba-cultcha.com)


Jack Butler - Boy vs. Beast/Surgery 1984 (Whimsical Records)

The next in a long line of indie thrashers from Scotland, Jack Butler are a foursome who have enjoyed airplay from their native country's best new music station Xfm. And no wonder why.

This double A-side release which will be available via download or a limited CD release shows sign of great promise. First track Boy vs. Beast opens with a Razorlight-esque 'In The Morning' feel to it and progresses into a Franz Ferdinand covered pop song that swoops and swerves from high to low dynamically. Second track Surgery 1984, is a more musically challenging track and throws in bits of Editors shrilled heavily reverbed guitars and Interpol-ish thick vocals. This song is pretty much a hybrid of the two bands BUT, Jack Butler take that hybrid, add a sprinkling of themselves and all of a sudden the song sounds quite unique.

The double release is available from August 13 and I highly suggest that they are included in any 'top ten bands to myspace' lists in the upcoming weeks, they may just wriggle through to accomplish more mainstream radioplay in the future.

(4 stars) www.godisinthetvzine.co.uk


13 August 2007 / Whimsical / 2 Trk CD By Parker Knoll

Jack Butler reminds me somewhat of Haircut 100 and early Wham! with those choppy guitars and a poppy vocal line. It's impressive and the guitar work is definitely the selling point, but yet again like many other bands out there this jolly jaunt doesn't have a totally convincing chorus. But it's refreshing to note that the other AA Side, "Surgery 1984" points to a consistent level of quality control , again rooted to those fantastic 80's jangles. Butler and co have a lot more to come and a long way to go, but this is a damn fine start.
(3.5 OUT OF 5) (http://www.music-dash.co.uk/releases/release.asp?item=4577)


The release of Jack Butler's Velvet Prose late last year caused ripples of excitement in the Scottish music press. Smart, sharp and undeniably funky, it earned them well deserved comparisons with indie-funk gurus Franz Ferdinand. And while this double-A side was always going to be something of a disappointment in comparison, it does show the Butlers pushing their sound forward at light speed, promising bigger and better things for the future. Plus, the last two minutes of Boy vs Beast sounds uncannily like the Arctic Monkeys crossed with The Horrors; and there's not much you can say about that, is there?

(Dan Coxon - The Skinny - 3 stars)


Jack Butler - 'Boy vs Beast'
As confusingly monikered as ever, Jack Butler(they're a band not a chap)'s second single builds on the promise shown by last year's 'Velvet Prose' and owes as much to the trademark baggy fretwork as the jangle we've come to expect from our friends at Whimsical Records. Employing a rhythm section that almost sounds like a compressed house record is another nifty stroke that gives this record an unexpected dance sensibility. (Culture Deluxe)


Unleash the beast.

Once upon a time, Jack Butler lived in a small town in Scotland. Home for many bands, Jack one day thought he would try his luck at forming one fit to rank alongside past greats that have gone down in Scottish music folklore.

Well then, Jack got together with some friends and made things possible with their first single. Called 'Velvet Prose' it was a belter.

Fresh from the critical acclaim and knowing they were onto a winning commercial sound, they began work on their second single and follow-up, 'Boy Vs Beast'.

Yes, the double a-side 'Boy Vs Beast' was another classic piece of Scottish Indie rock, distinctly impressive, exciting and with a slight Bloc Party vibe to it. The reverberating jangling guitars and emphatic production gave the track a funky bonhomie stomp packed with a punch that went down well in a live setting. "Take 'em down" with their action-packed tunes, Jack Butler most certainly did.

Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack escapes the beast.

'Surgery 1984' the second a-side of the single gave an insight as to what Jack Butler did next, being an atmospheric and soaring twilight filled track, full of sweeping magic beguiling the listener. Yes, Jack Butler also sang in their own indelible accents which brought a powerful backing to the quality craftsmanship and elegant instrumentation on both these songs.

Legend has it that Jack Butler still roams the streets of Scotland marauding their way into the top gig venues playing sold-out shows everywhere to their partisan fan-base.

The decision to purchase was elementary.

And so to bed.


Hail Mary full of grace, boy versus beast, Jack Butler wins. (www.cdtimes.co.uk)


Indie-pop, indie-rock ? The creative sounds of the early 80s Scottish post-punk contingent are certainly played upon in the modern day with Jack Butler's impressive second single release Boy vs. Beast. Emerging with a sound prominent in jangly, stop-start synthesised guitar noise, tracks sit on the indie-pop/ indie-rock fence, interchanging genres at the flick of a switch. Like the by product of a marriage between 80s electro chart toppers Soft Cell and cult rockers The Smiths sounds blend to create a beautifully harmonious riot where gritty vocals, tinged with Celtic charm at times, unite with intricately worked electrical instrumentation to give an amorphous quality of sound and feeling. It's inspirational sounds are ground breaking in nature feeling almost experimental in form and ticking all the boxes with everything from synthesised siren quality rhythm guitars to charged Human League like vocals making them the break through act this year for sure. (5 stars) http://www.allgigs.co.uk/view/review/2574/Jack_Butler_Boy_Vs_Beast_Single_Re


There seems to be something of a renaissance going on north of the border at the moment as far as astoundingly good new music is concerned. Not content with giving us the varying delights of Danananaykroyd, The Low Miffs and The Twilight Sad in recent months, Stirling four-piece Jack Butler can now be added to the list of likely contenders come 2008.

Both of the tracks on this single show two completely different sides to a band who have been loosely compared to Franz Ferdinand (unsurprisingly justified) and the Arctic Monkeys (perhaps slightly more baffling).

'Boy vs. Beast', with its shimmying guitar sound and partially spoken word vocal, starts off like one of the Postcard set from the early 1980s, before erupting in a tumultuous climax that is equal parts Devo, Orange Juice and (I kid you not) Spandau Ballet.

Flipside 'Surgery 1984' meanwhile is a more downbeat affair that could be classed as Jack Butler's first diversion into ballad territory, but don't let that put you off. What stand out particularly are the chiming guitars and incisive, almost militaristic drumbeats that give a sombre, funereal edge to what could actually turn out to be the band's most celebrated three-and-a-half minutes to date.

All in all, a total contrast to their last single 'Velvet Prose', and although not quite as immediately radio-friendly, the avenues for further possibilities are never-ending, and I for one await their appearance at next month's Connect Festival with eager anticipation. (7 out of 10) DOM GOURLAY www.drownedinsound.com


Following on from a barrage of Scottish indie guitar thrashers, Jack Butler are a pleasant breathe of fresh air. True, they still thrash the life out of their guitars, lacing cracking riffs with an unapologetic pop hook that unashamedly has you tapping fingers and feet along uncontrollably in minutes but there's also a charm and darkness that instantly grabs you by the scruff of the neck as you wake up to the Scottish quartet's charm.

Making its entrance with a wash of jangling guitars and a wave of infectious drum beats, 'Boy Vs Beast' opens similar to Razorlight's 'In The Morning' before Jack Butler lets go of the reins and allows the track to sweep in and have you dancing idiotically in minutes. Throw in some chanting choruses and a bass that thumps along brilliantly and the Scottish lads immediately have an irresistibly infectious song that even Gordon Brown would find hard not to dance along to.

B side, 'Surgery 1984' may initially slow things down before melting into an Editors like slice of introspective beauty. Appealing contagious, Jack Butler tick all the right boxes and are a band you should be getting excited about.

(11 out of 13)


ALFIE KINGSTON : - 'Creatures and people's ways' - Digital download album and promo cd. (WHIMSICAL ICALDDLP2)

Before I start this I have to admit that it took me quite a while to really appreciate what Alfie Kingston was all about. Now, after hearing this excellent album, 'Creature & People's Way's', I'm a believer, I'm truly converted! Alfie Kingston shows great depth of songwriting, superbly rounded vocal qualities, fine attention to detail, musical craftsmanship of the highest order and near-tangible commitment to his cause.
As a debut album I have to say that 'Creatures & People's Ways' isn't just tasty, it's awesome. It's superbly put together, totally polished and massively unputdownable! To me, Kingston's music is an expansive form of mature 'pop' that just hints at nu-country but errs strongly on the commercial side of the genre. The use of big arrangements and the fact that there's plenty of light and shade enables Kingston to keep his songs alive and kickin' throughout this impressive album. Although three tracks ('She's Scary', 'It's Easy' and 'The Distance') have been lifted from this album to be used on a four track single release, I actually think it's extremely difficult to pick out any individual tracks for extra mention - there just aint a bad track here - they're all shit hot!! And, given good exposure I could see Alfie Kingston cruisin' his way into the album charts with this work - it won't happen on its own though, it's gonna need some hefty promotion and loads of radio plays to get the hungry hoards to latch on to the works of Alfie Kingston. He has everything he needs to start climbing that big ladder and 'Creatures & People's Ways' could just prove to be the spring-board required to get things really started.

'Creatures & People's Ways' by Alfie Kingston is an excellent album and a remarkable debut work. Alfie Kingston shows here that he's got what it takes to become a household name - I really hope he gets there - on the strength of this album, he thoroughly deserves big success. Great stuff this!!

Peter J Brown aka toxic pete (www.toxicpete.co.uk)

(Rhythm & Booze rating 10)


Alfie Kingston's debut sits on the boundary between pop and rock, folk and blues but never once sounds like it's unclear of its roots. This is clear, confident, smart music from a man (and his band) who looks set to make quite a name for himself.

Opening with the eastern tinged Speak A While, two things become clear straight away. Firstly, the production on the album is as clean and unobtrusive as possible, allowing the band to take centre stage and at the same time ensuring that they sound as good as they possibly can. Secondly, there's energy to the track, Kingston's impassioned, expressive voice driving the song along with a controlled urgency that never sounds like he's trying too hard. So Don't Disappear takes a slightly more laid back approach, replacing the rock of the first track with something a little calmer. It's Easy continues this trend, opening with just Kingston's acoustic guitar and voice and opening out into a bleak, subdued song with strong orchestral overtones.

Sometimes raises the tempo a little and to my mind, is one of the strongest tracks on the album. Revolving around a piano, Kingston's guitar, and lyrics which wryly observe how our priorities change dependant on what's going at the time, it's a humorous but affecting track reminiscent of the best Barenaked Ladies' material. Miracle Man slows things down again, whilst She's Scary sees a total departure in style. With its bouncy, echoing acoustics, and lyrics about the dangers of dealing with a particularly clingy partner, it's one of the most unusual, and best tracks on the album.

I Will Wait takes the album back to the acoustic side of things, with Kingston's voice and guitar very much to the fore. The style, including a string section and the impassioned lyrics are reminiscent of Big Country at their best and this is again, one of the strongest tracks on the album. Regard Me 14 Days is another low-key track, almost melancholic in style, and this trend continues with The Distance and the final track This I'll Shame. All three see Kingston's guitar and soulful voice coming to the fore, combining lyrical intelligence and musical confidence with an old fashioned approach that works extremely well. This isn't entirely new ground, with both Big Country and Sting producing similar material, but it's done with absolute confidence and a dedication that marks this out as something genuinely impressive.

Creatures & People's Ways is an immensely impressive debut, showing a versatility of approach and an intelligence that only promises more in the future. Kingston and his band are dedicated, talented and clearly have a passion for what they do. Fans of rock, pop or folk deserve to hear this. www.soundchecks.co.uk review by Alasdair Stuart.


Whilst Led Zep are a long way through their career, Alfie Kingston is very much at the beginning of his. He comes into it with a key lesson already learn't. When push comes to shove the beating heart of rock is the songs. "Creatures & People's Ways" is an album of ten decent songs penned by afore mentioned Mr Kingston.
He appears to be a man that likes to think about his words, the feel of the song. The lyric, the poetry are as important as the guitar phrasing and the licks and there's some pretty good licks to draw you into the words. Without wanting to sound patronising, this is thinking man's rock. If you just want power and screams you really should think about looking elsewhere.
Alfie, finds more than capable support in producer and fellow musician on the album, Paul Miro, who also did a tour of duty as part of Apes Pigs and Spacemen. He gives the album a mature sound, one that speaks to you rather than wrapping it's self in posturing. The song is the skeleton upon which the sound is built.
Alfie Kingston is a bit of a conumderum. He's obviously a talented singer/songwriter. He perfectly pitches his blend of songwriting into the rock vein, like neat bourbon. His music has an edge, at times country tinged, but always with passion. "Creatures & People's Ways" is an album that makes the mark, except, and this is the dilema, it's not a solo album. Whilst singer/songwriter is a solo name thing rock is not. He can write, sing and play, but I think that even as the Alfie Kingston Band he would find it easier to reach that wider audience.
"Creatures & People's Ways" has a lot going for it and will hopefully provide Alfie with a platform to launch himself into the wider world. * * *


I seem to recall saying very nice things about the Alfie Kingston single 'She's Scary', so am I delighted to report that a full albums worth of Alfie is just as delightful.

He veers between more introspective singery / songwritery material and big, wide open spaced classic rock, but no matter whether he's begging or blustering, he always hangs everything on to a good song and a memorable melody. A rare trick and one we should be thankful for in a world where hippity hoppers get £100k for dropping "uh-huh, uh-huhs" onto every half baked song that comes there way.

Rant over, back to Alfie, this is an album dripping with class, substance and style. My personal tastes take me more towards the darker tinged songs like 'Speak A While' and 'The Distance', which merge anger, longing and pain into three minute mini operas. Wonderful. Over in the poppier world, single 'She's Scary' remains a treat and 'So Don't Disappear' is a lightweight but worthy pop tune. Singer / songwriter fans will take to 'I Will Wait' and those of us on medication will nod mournfully to 'Regard Me 14 Days'

It's actually an album of two halves (Brian) with the weightier, darker material loaded towards the end, a place I find myself returning to more than the first, but wherever you drop the needle (laser), you're sure to find something of value. Go explore. (http://www.zeitgeist-scot.co.uk/)

ALFIE KINGSTON - 'She's Scary' - (Featured track from 'Creatures.....')

An astounding delve into the mind and music of Alfie Kingston. The lead track here is very well represented with that subject of "Scary" rehearsed well in the song's musical arrangement. The second A-side, 'A Little Nonsense' is represented well in the style lending itself toward that of a musical REM, the former I felt had more in common with the band Jazz Butcher. Certainly an artist to watch out for.

T: To me, "She's Scary" put me in mind of Crowded House on a particularly wobbly ferry, due to its slightly twisted, seasick feel, but this only adds to the fun. Track two is less emphatic but it's definitely well worth a listen and my colleague couldn't have put it better. I look forward to hearing more in the near future. 7/10 www.atomicduster.com

A Gem hidden in a pot of gold! 'She's Scary' Alfie is kin superb. This track has a hook so sharp that it could penetrate a CHAV's forehead. If you can get this track played on national radio, you will have a hit on your hands. www.bristolrock.co.uk

Somewhat spooky sounding singer songwriter, the melodies melt into a haunting production that excites me as much as it chills me… creepily wonderful stuff! www.subba-cultcha.com

Alfie Kingston is also a singer-songwriter, and single She's Scary is an interesting tune that really grabs the attention, with some great spooky keyboards and stand-up bass. www.repeatfanzine.co.uk

Hallo, it's Alfie. We liked his last record ' I Will Wait' saying Alfie "has come up with a string drenched, hard driving, melodic slice of classic rock, crossed with seventies pop that crosses too many boundaries for its own good, but still manages to command attention." In fact we were so right they use one of my lines on the press release.

Of course, if this had been rubbish I'd have been left looking like a proper fool (again) but it's a clip-cloppingly splendid pop tune which bears no resemblance to Guns n' Roses (you had to be there). It's quite dark as befits its title but still melodic.

Even better, AA side ' A Little Nonsense' goes all Barenaked Ladies on your ass and is infuriatingly addictive. Good work, fella. www.zeitgeist.co.uk

Bristol lad Alfie Kingston's latest double header single, 'She's Scary' / 'A Little Nonsense' is a superbly put together piece of British-ness - mature modern 'pop' with an acoustic leaning, featuring big arrangements, being beautifully proportioned and finally, stunningly executed. The former track having been lifted from Kingston's excellent new album, 'Creatures & People's Ways' and both tracks hinting at being low key country whilst retaining all that's great about home grown British music - well, it would be as Paul Miro (Apes Pigs And Spacemen) is heavily involved! Miro apart, Kingston has an individual style that's bright, light and pretty damn commercial. And, although very 'now' in his writing, Kingston has a slightly retro-ness in his delivery - slight hints of 60's jaunty and 70's harmonies, but never overdone.

Apart from the two main tracks Kingston has added two crackin' extras in 'It's Easy' and 'The Distance', both are taken from the 'Creatures & People's Ways' album. Good thinking Alfie - what the extra tracks bring is a better understanding of the Kingston craft. Kingston is a man who can be be dark and deep or vibrant and humorous - a man for all seasons with something for everyone. Kingston is very much his own man with his own sound, treading his own path, not following, just forging ahead - relentlessly.

'She's Scary' / 'A Little Nonsense' may not go flying up the charts but it should do very well - it's very radio friendly, instantly likeable and pleasantly different. Surely, Alfie Kingston is a bright new star of the future.

Peter J Brown aka toxic pete (www.toxicpete.co.uk)

THE SHERMANS : - Calling it worng (Platform cd single FORM1)

Press release:
The Shermans are one of Scotland’s most exciting new bands. Within a few gigs they had acquired a legion of fans across Central Scotland with their brand of catchy songs - and have recently spread their music further afield into the North of England.

The guys have also earned support slots at the Glasgow Barrowlands, played with established acts such as The Tiny Dancers and The Ronnelles, and are performing at the up and coming Live At Loch Lomond music festival.

The band are now set to release their debut single Calling It Wrong on September 10th, and hope to attract a whole new army of music enthusiasts seeking great guitar-pop once more.


The Shermans - Single - Calling It Wrong

Well, these guys certainly know how to do the catchy indie thing. 'Calling It Wrong' by The Shermans is testily tasty and irksomely infectious.

Five piece, The Shermans, err towards the poppier side of rock and the three tracks here, 'Calling It Wrong', 'Smile Has Gone' and 'Wendy', are all charmingly sing-alongable and loaded with hooks as big as fishing gaffs. As commercial as f**k and as likeable as hell, 'Calling It Wrong' and its 'B' sides get the job done without having to rely on too many gimmicks. Scotland's The Shermans have that typically British feel to them; the same sort of British-ness that Ray Davies and The Kinks had way back when and just look how influential they turned out to be!

Every song here sounds totally honest and gig-friendly - I'm sure Messrs Aitcheson (vocals), Middleton (guitar), Kerr (guitar), McDonald (bass) and Cumming (drums) could replicate these works to the absolute note in the live scenario. It's all just straightforward pop/rock done with simplistic precision, professionalism and a great underlying sense of good-time one-ness. The Shermans appear to have it all sorted, done, dusted, wrapped up and polished to a brilliant shine.

'Calling It Wrong' by The Shermans has all the potential to be a biggie for these guys - surely the start of massive things to come!!

Peter J Brown aka toxic pete (www.toxicpete.co.uk)

(Rhythm & Booze rating 8)

The name that this Stirling based indie/rock quintet go by will either plant morose images of early twentieth century tank warfare and Spielberg cinematic genius in your mind or the bell bottom swinging, family collective pop scene of the swinging 70's. The Shermans however, are infact a band of notable talent with fresh sounds which play upon the classic pop/rock of the 60's with simple melodies and danceable rhythms. 'Calling It Wrong' keeping it simple from the outset erupts with Graham Middleton and Chris Kerr united with growling guitars ablaze. Accompanied by vocals from Shaun Aitcheson, sitting somewhere between Celtic legends Rod Stewart and Fergal Sharkey, the tracks composition and highly appealing orchestration soon nudges your minds eye to the heady days of Ocean Colour Scene and modern day counterparts The Zutons. The tracks lyrics are vague to say the least, but with an arsenal of plus points this track and band are a sure fire hit for the future.
www.vivalashermans.co.uk * * * *
Matt Clutton (www.music-zine.com)( www.allgigs.co.uk) www.gigwise.com

The Sherman's Calling it wrong -Platform Records- This is a catchy song along independent guitar-pop offering. It's an honest record, from a band with an interesting take on a successful formula which appears to be currently in vogue. All three tunes have bags of energy and includes a nice harp theme on 'Wendy', a girl who appears to have missed out on most of what life has to offer. The production and performance is a little rough around the edges but this only adds to its honesty and I like it for this. Worth a few minutes of any guitar-pop fans time.

This five-piece from Stirling are creating a stir. This infectious indie/rock single has a huge singalong of a tune that's instantly likeable. It's no wonder this song has already appeared on Soccer AM. Good fun and with hooks big enough to catch a shark. A band to look out for. * * * (Avril Cadden - The Sunday Mail)

'Calling It Wrong' comes straight from the heart of Scotland via London and Liverpool. It's the sound of The Bluetones on a 60-a-day fag habbit, tossing an extra razor blade into the Vox amp and dragging Lee Mavers out of self-enforced mainstream exile to take his first tentative steps toward brushing aside the young pretenders. A rasping guitar, throaty vocal and a swinging rhythm reinvent 'Bluetonic' for a new generation, throwing in an addictive Fratelli-esque chorus stripped of the irritation factor. Amidst a squall of buskable indie toons, it's a cut above.

B-sides 'Smile Has Gone' and 'Wendy' consolidate the bands 90s Merseybeat sound whilst subtly mimicking Dirty Pretty Things, Dylan, The Pretenders and, yes it's true, Meatloaf. The Shermans; the happy sound of the underground bought to the comfort and warmth of your own.

NATASHA ENGLAND : - Iko Iko (Platform cd single FORM2)

Press Release:
Platform Records are delighted to present Iko Iko, the brilliant new single from Natasha England.

Natasha is no stranger to the charts, and in fact took this very song into the UK Top 10 in 1982. Her spirited 80's version has the distinction of being the most successful recording of the song ever, with worldwide sales approaching one million copies.

Now, to mark it's 25th anniversary, Natasha has updated this classic hit with a fresh new vocal, and plethora of remixes to suit any dancefloor. Whether it’s the out and out disco of Rikki Rok, the carnival stylings of Julian Marsh, the quirky but fun Phatt Mix, or the darker undertones of Logan, there’s bound to be a eureka mix in here for you. We've even included the Original 1982 Version, which makes it's debut on CD here. Amazingly, this is the only top 10 hit of the 80s never before released in digital format.

The song will also be featured on Natasha's retrospective collection Back From The Mists Of Time: 1979 To 1985, coming soon. This essential double album features Natasha's complete 80s catalogue for the first time on CD, including her hit album Captured. Every track has been lovingly restored and re-mastered from the original tapes. It will be followed in 2008 by an album of brand new material that further demonstrates the versatility of Natasha England.

Enjoy the party.


Yes, that "Iko Iko". And yes, it's the same Natasha England who had a Top 10 hit with it back in 1982. In fact, it was bigger hit than the rival Belle Stars version that was released at the same time, although for some reason it's always that one the gets played. Of course, you all know that it was actually written in 1954 by James "Sugar Boy" Crawford, despite the misleading writers credits and downright thievery that has went on over the years.

But back to the record which is, apparently, 'celebrating the 25th anniversary' of the 1982 release. Of course it also ties in with a forthcoming anthology of her eighties material. Pure coincidence I'm sure. Whatever, this is a pure pop record that is quite delightful and all rather innocent sounding. Although whether the seven (that's 7!) additional dance mixes add anything is open to debate.

However, I did quite like the Rikki Rok mix, and for all the eighties pop junkies out therem it does feature the original 1982 version, which is making it's debut on CD, thus ending its legendary status as the only top 10 hit of the 80s never before released in digital format. Pop pleasure of the kind you never get anymore.


I've heard hundreds of versions of 'Iko Iko' over the years but never one quite like this; Natasha England has taken this classic song and put a whole new dance spin on it. Party animals will absolutely love this one!! It surely can't fail!!

If you're into the whole re-mix thing that's so popular within the dance music genre then 'Iko Iko' will offer you great value for money with its nine mixes. What Natasha's done here is given 'Iko Iko' a quirky edge that's gonna really work for her - take any of the nine here and you can still get that inherent quirkiness - it's very clever. I can see this single having dancefloor longevity, in any of its forms it's just gonna work for Natasha England - the piece is infectious and bloody good fun and I believe it's that fun element that'll really get into peoples hearts and souls and make this single massive.

Let's remember that this aint my kinda thing but, I just sense a big one here - it's bound to be massive within the dance fraternity. It's full of massive, punchy percussive elements that'll do the biz on their own anyway. Add to that some great horns and throw in loads of other influences whilst all the time keeping the piece firmly focussed on its target audience and you can't go wrong. This is gonna be awesome in the clubs!!

Peter J Brown aka toxic pete (www.toxicpete.co.uk )

(Rhythm & Booze rating 9)

Natasha England ‘Iko Iko’ (Platform). A little bit of explaining is I feel needed with this particular release. Way back in the mists of time - well the summer of 1982 to be precise - yea summer remember those more importantly remember when we basked in their hot rays during the months when we were meant to have a summer and not like these days for a brief blink and its gone two week period in early April and late October. Darn gone and done it again haven’t I - bad news this waffle lark - anyway where were we - ah yes ‘Iko Iko’. As said way back in 1982 released in the same week where two versions of the Dixie Cups credited Mardi Gras classic ‘Iko Iko’ (those wanting a full and detailed history of the song and its roots may do well to go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iko_Iko) by the former members of the all girl Ska outfit the Bodysnatchers now resurrected as the Belle Stars and Natasha England. (England had previously been engaged behind the scenes her talent scouting laying claim to discovering acts such as the Darts and er - Chas ‘n’ Dave - which rather than chastise and throw mud in the direction of certain rags who’ve sought to have them re-invested back in our affection - I think is a thing best left unsaid - ‘Rabbit’ - do me a favour!). The ensuing battle for chart supremacy was eventually won by England, followed by a handful of minor hits and two albums a mix of personal crisis’ and lack of recognition from the media and press alike saw the music side of England’s life slowly take a back step towards the end of the 80’s. Returning momentarily in the 90’s again she was struck by a cruel blow by fate diagnosed with breast cancer - now fully recovered and currently busy writing material for a ‘comeback’ album due to see the light next year ‘iko iko’ serves as a timely reminder of what was and what still is. A ball busting 38 minute CD set featuring the 1982 original fleshed out by - count ‘em - 8 additional multi generic recalibrations by the likes of Rikki Rok, Julian Marsh, and Robert Logan, amongst here you’ll find the quick stepping calypso caressed ’power drive radio mix’ plus 12“ extended edit, the floor buzzing ’house radio mix’, the re-sprayed and trimmings equipped 2007 retread and a ‘midnight club’ which though I suspect not deliberately intended mainlines into those 80’s days of format wielding uber grooves though it has to be said our pick of the bunch is the hazy left field mechanically dislocated ’logan’s Budapest mix’ with its snake winding eastern bazaar charms - well tasty.

NATASHA ENGLAND : - Back From The Mists Of Time (Platform double cd FORMCD1)

Press Release:

Lost to the abyss of contractual nightmares and record label wrangles, Natasha England has been somewhat in a hazy musical limbo for the past two decades. She says, ''It’s been a long haul but I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel'' and the light is her new compilation Back From The Mists Of Time – a 42 track double album featuring her entire genre-spanning back catalogue for the first time. Natasha is augmented on both albums by a plethora of world class musicians* including ex-Thin Lizzy guitarist Snowy White, drummers Graham Broad (Tina Turner, Roger Waters) and Charlie Morgan (McCartney, Elton John) and ex-Mud guitarist and Kylie Minogue hit-maker Rob Davis.

Her debut record, Captured, was a top 50 album in 1982 and spawned the infectious, summer-cocktail-in-the-sun chart hit, Iko Iko. The album traverses everything from the smouldering funk of The Kinks cover All Day And All Of The Night to the bluesy smoky vibe of I Casually Strolled By to the 1980’s pop sound of Tease. The sunny Phil Spector-inspired harmonies of The Beat Goes and I Want You To Be My Baby serve well as bonus tracks on CD1.

Natasha England’s well-received sophomore effort, Don’t Walk Away features the rousing lead single Homeland, the tender, mournful balladThe Band Played On -swathed in lullaby-esque synths, and the harder rock-edged guitar/synth hybrid on Tell Me What You Want. Both albums are of huge referential scope – from the big band sounds of the 1940s right though to the cutting edge electro vibe of the 1980s – but still maintain a joyous coherence, ably assisted by numerous lone singles and b-sides, notably Breakin’ Down The Walls Of Heartache, her glorious Richard Hartley produced cover of the 60’s classic.

Since disappearing from the public eye, Natasha has continued to write and record new material – but the release of her anthology marks a cathartic turning point in her long career. This treasure trove of tracks along with an appearance at Retrofest 2008 will not only serve to satisfy original enthusiasts but will spawn a new generation of fans ready to bask in its glorious retro sound, vibe and sheen.
(Claire Gilligan)


What a massive 'compilation' this is. Yes, the press pack talks of 'Back From The Mists Of Time' as a compilation album - that's probably absolutely correct but, I'd refer to it as a Natasha England 'anthology'. I'm not sure what the difference is but the latter sure sounds cool!! Call it what you will, it's a gem no matter what descriptive moniker it's given!
'Back From The Mists Of Time' is a glorious poptastic work that takes in just about every popular music nuance imaginable; think Bananarama meets Debbie Harry meets Dido meets Phil Spector, think retro, think 'now', think unashamedly commercial and you'll be getting close to what Natasha England is giving you here!! From ballsy blues right through to pure pop, taking in all genre on the way, a positive Pandora's Box of commerciality!
'Back From The Mists Of Time' really is pop in all its glory and in all it shapes and dimensions. Beautifully 'compiled', stunningly produced and magnificently performed, 'Back From The Mists Of Time' is one of those works that seems to fit in with any occasion, any mood and any season. There are some fantastic covers, actually I'd rather think of them as re-workings, and some England originals - a great mixture, a very tasty forty-two tracks, a wonderful piece of pop escapism to just sit back and get lost in! But, if you're not in the mood to just sit back and let it happen then England will get you up and boppin' along and/or singing loud and proud along with the first lady of bop-pop!
'Back From The Mists Of Time' isn't a work that I'd normally rave about, it's all a little too poppsy for me but, big but, Natasha England just seems able to get inside yer head and mess with yer musical normality gland. 'Back From The Mists Of Time' by Natasha England is pure commercial heaven, a slick and smooth pleasure trip of epic proportions, a real blast. With something for just about everyone and all tastes, 'Back From The Mists Of Time' is indeed a wondrous work - just give this baby a chance - you'll not be disappointed!! A real piece of pop to lose yourself in - no big pretence, no deep meanings, no hidden agenda - 'Back From The Mists Of Time' by Natasha England is as honest as the day is long!! Great work, great vibe, great album!
Peter J Brown aka toxic pete (www.toxicpete.co.uk)

From the press release it seems I am not alone in recalling seeing Natasha England on Top Of The Pops in 1982. Every young (or not so young maybe) man’s dream ? Quite possibly. The song Natasha was promoting at that time was her version of ‘Iko Iko’. Now I was just old enough to remember the Dixie Cups version from the 60's and, although theirs will always be the definitive version for me, they certainly didn’t have the visual look that Natasha did ! If a fading memory serves me well then the Belle Stars also had a version of the same song out at the same time but that didn’t go as far up the charts as Natasha’s admittedly better take. Like many others I was smitten enough by the cover of the album Natasha released that year, her debut, ‘Captured’ to splash out and buy it helping to take it to about the halfway mark in the album top 100 chart. Considering the amount of dross around at that time which had a higher chart placing re-listening to ‘Captured’ now as part of this double CD compilation it really did deserve to rise much higher then.

This collection takes in that entire debut on disc one and adds remixes, extended versions and the various A and B sides Natasha released between 1981 and 1983. Disc two opens with her second album from 1985, ‘Don’t Walk Away’ with some unreleased songs and early singles issued under the banner of Natasha and the Delites and an even earlier single from 1979 issued as the Flirts. In short a complete anthology of the work of Natasha from 1979 until 1985 all neatly wrapped up in another appealing package. Time, it would appear, has done nothing to diminish the visual appeal of Natasha! With a CD of new recordings imminent we will then hopefully be able to say that Natasha still cuts it vocally as well.

Listening to the debut album, which is presented in the original running order, it has, with a few exceptions, stood the test of time remarkably well. Okay, so the production of ‘Tease’, for example, just screams 80's but in some ways that has only added to its appeal through the years. The covers of the Kinks' ‘All Day And All Of The Night’ and Sam Cooke’s ‘Bring It On Home’ still sound as good today as they did 26 years ago, the latter really showcases what a powerful voice Natasha had and how she could take in pop, soul and funk all with relative ease. Her arrangements were always interesting when it came to covers too.

With producers like Tom Newman Dave Bascombe and Richard Hartley and musicians of the calibre of Graham Broad on drums (who seemed to be a regular fixture in the drum seat for a number of chart bands back in the 80's), Phil Rambow and Snowy White on guitars and Mel Collins on saxophone just to name a few it maybe wasn’t so surprising that she sounded so good. Add in backing vocals from the likes of Bette Bright and Rita Ray and you have an A-list of 80's artists helping out on these songs.

For her second album Natasha ditched the covers and the whole album was made up of original compositions by Natasha and Geoff Sharkey. The 10 songs which comprised ‘Don’t Walk Away’ open the second disc. It shows that Natasha’s song writing had improved in the 3 years between her albums and her vocals were more assured too. ‘Hold On’ is a prime example of this; mature both in her writing and vocals it’s a considerable leap from some of the songs on ‘Captured’. ‘Stay With Me’ which was also released as a single at the time again proves that Natasha had a powerful set of lungs and could belt out a ballad like few others. Both ‘The Band Played On’ and ‘Living In My Dream’ which closed the original album were favourites then and rediscovering them now brings back some warm memories and they both sound as good now as they did then.

The 1980 single, ‘Breaking Down The Walls Of Heartache’, isn’t a patch on Johnny Johnson and The Bandwagon’s original from 1968 but Natasha makes an excellent job with the Shangri-Las ‘Give Him A Great Big Kiss’ which she recorded as the Flirts in 1979 and which is also included on the second disc.

This is an excellent double CD and the only way to get all of Natasha’s recordings to date in one place. It’s worth the price of admission for the two albums alone but all the extra singles and remixes, some of which are really hard to find now, make this an essential purchase.

BIG LIFE DESIRE : - Dribs and Drabs (Platform cd FORMCD2)

Press Release

Do not be fooled by the misleading moniker. The second release on Whimsical/Platform Records from the London one-man band, Keith Harbottle, is none other than a collection of carefully crafted and considered songs perfect for happy, lazy days and more contemplative moments.

The first single from the album, So Inclined, leads the way establishing a robust sound with a strong, defiant rhythm section and seductive guitars musing on the pressures of expectations and choosing your own path. This then relaxes effortlessly into the understated mournfulness of quirky love song, The Road Less Travelled, with its gentle 80s flavour and acoustic guitar. Piano pop track Wait would proudly fit on a Belle And Sebastian album – the breezy melody belying the insightful, often cutting lyrics while After All sounds like an updated Kinks track. The self-reflexive tone of If Success Came My Way raises smiles as Keith mockingly considers what fame would do to him over sparkling synths.

Favourable reviews following his debut single release compared Keith to a number of the music world's finest purveyors of off-kilter indie-pop – Ian Brodie, Ian Dury, Stuart Murdoch, Baby Bird – but still he has maintained a sound all of his own. Keith creates songs that trace stories and characters that all of us can relate to – awkward break-ups and moments, the friend that knows best, dealing with change – all in his own unique way with sunny harmonies, jangling melodies and despite using machines and synths to plug musical gaps, the album still has a wholesome, organic air surrounding it.

The lo-fi, almost DIY ethic of the album, akin to that of Swedish indie-pop, affords the advantage of appreciating everything, not least Keith’s plaintive, honest vocals and lyrics. The result is sharp, accessible pop songs that will make you smile, sigh, tap your feet and smile again.

(Claire Gilligan)


A very enjoyable listen. Reminds me of Black (Wonderful Life) and even Vic Godard (Subway Sect) in singing style. Melancholy, ironic quality but always interesting lyrically and each track gains one's interest very quickly. (Mark Watkins - Blast 1386)
Big Life Desire is, in exactitude, multi-talented Keith Harbottle; Harbottle does everything here except the percussion!! And, 'Dribs And Drabs' could only be a product of these fair isles of ours; any other country would've carried on refining, layering, dubbing, adding, bulking-out until all the simplistic charm had been swamped by unnecessary 'sound'. British through and through then - quirky British, innovative British, charmingly British!
So, you've probably guessed by now that 'Dribs And Drabs' is nothing but a quirky, simple work - wrong again!! What Harbottle does is he puts his charming, almost conversational poetry to equally charming and simplistic music. Yep, there's a certain British charm here, something that we do so well, something that's hard to describe but easy to recognise. Think along the lines of Pet Shop Boys as far as lyrics goes. Then take away much of the electro over-kill of the 'Boys' and put in its place some really expressive and empathetic instrumentation that's never allowed to override either words or musical emotion. Ok, are you there yet? 'Dribs And Drabs' is a gentle jaunt of modernistic musical simplicity that is probably more complex that it sounds; Harbottle has a way of execution that just sounds so unhurried, well considered, polite and yes, charming!
Now, I'm not gonna kid anybody here, I don't actually see this album being a massive seller; to me the whole Big Life Desire ethos is one of endearing nursery-crime, a cool and expressive poetic outing designed to be tangible and reflective. This isn't dark, it's not melancholic, it aint morose. But, by the same token it isn't exactly frivolous and it's not really comedic and it aint fanciful. But, it definitely is up-lifting in a weird way! 'Dribs And Drabs' has a certain way about it that's unassuming but remarkably contagious. And, it's full of melody and whistlealongability. It sort of creeps up on you and you can't help falling under its magical spell; Harbottle knows what he's doing here, he doesn't go for the jugular instead he stalks in under your guard and implants his cheeky wares inside your mind leaving you hooked and pretty much reeled in. 'Dribs And Drabs' by Big Life Desire is clever and quite compelling. Harbottle makes it all sound so easy and so every-day that you'll end up thinking 'hey, I bet I could do that' - but you'd be wrong, you couldn't! 'Dribs And Drabs' by Big Life Desire is an interesting work; as British as The Queen, as wholesome as 'bread with nowt taken out' and as infectious as the clap but less worrying! Clever stuff from a talented and shrewd one-man-band!
Peter J Brown aka toxic pete (www.toxicpete.co.uk)

More restful Britishness here from Keith (DIY) Harbottle aka Big Life Desire. 'So Inclined' is taken from Big Life Desire's succulent album 'Dribs And Drabs' as are the two accompanying tracks, 'Full Of You' and 'The Road Less Travelled'.
'So Inclined' is actually a great choice as the lead song here although it must have been quite difficult to select any particular song to 'star', such is the depth and quality of the material on the album. Anyway 'So Inclined' is the chosen one; I don't see this storming up the charts any day now but I can see it getting good sales if Harbottle and his 'team' get the promo right. Certainly air play will help launch this 'act' into the public view and the three tracks offered here are all beautifully radio-friendly, so no excuses there!
Typically British and with oodles of likeability, Big Life Desire should pull in some cultish followers and Harbottle may get some of those just desserts. What you have here is a sizeable chunk of Big Life Desire's catchy and easy on the ear album 'chunes'; typically these are engineered to perfection and demonstrate characteristic professionalism. Big Life Desire's songs are typically warm feeling, fluffy, downy, comfortable and cuddly.
'So Inclined' by Big Life Desire will need all the help it can get to become a 'hit' in the true sense of the word - alone it will probably fizzle out into obscurity but given the promo, given the air time, 'So Inclined' could pack a reasonable punch and maybe not launch exactly but lift Big Life Desire into view. 'So Inclined' by Big Life Desire is everything I'd expect from Big Life Desire - the question now is 'how are you lot out there gonna react to Big Life Desire?' This is a charming and easy to listen to single but is it good enough to really get noticed - good enough, yes, but maybe not exactly 'now' enough!
Peter J Brown aka toxic pete (www.toxicpete.co.uk)

Keith Harbottle is the one man force behind the Brit pop outfit Big Life Desire. His latest offering, "Dribs and Drabs" drops in September.

Something this British sounding is going to polarize the listeners. While some will embrace the quirky British charm, others won't be able to get past the fact that the record sounds like the Mike Myers SNL character "Simon" singing in the tub.

"Dribs and Drabs" is ideal music for chilling out. There is no question the songs are well thought out, meticulously crafted, and expertly performed. There are some pleasant harmonies, witty lyrics, and a skillful use of unorthodox sounds that blend seamlessly into the smart melodies. Standouts include "Full of You" and "Not Supposed To Make Sense". "Wait" is one of my favorites: a sparse yet gorgeous piano melody complements Keith's vocal styling most effectively on this track. "Someone is Missing" is a touching tribute to the departed, appropriately set to a haunting array of sounds not too unlike Depeche Mode.

"I don't have a good voice" is what Keith sings on "Not Supposed To Make Sense". Some will agree with him on both counts, but if you are a fan of indie-pop with a strong 80s vibe, you owe it to yourself to check out Big Life Desire. I liken the sound to Lightning Seeds or Britain's answer to The Simple Carnival.

I remember encountering Keith Harbottle, who is Big Life Desire, a couple of years back when I reckoned his music was for the Robert Wyatt and Kevin Coyne fans. Fast forward to 2008 and here's a whole album of quirky, pastoral British pop music for you to enjoy / despise (delete as applicable).

He still can't sing as I cunningly spotted the last time (and he admits it on this record), but he does have a wistful way with a tune, some of which could easily be Caravan outtakes (a good thing in case you were wondering). There are loads of purty little numbers with 'Not Supposed To Make Sense' and 'Wait' the definite highlights. It all works best when he gets wistful and melancholy, and there is oodles of both here. Mr Harbottle also has a sense of the unusual with some weird and wonderful sounds tucked away hither and thither.

A proper solo album with only the percussion not the responsibility of Mr Harbottle, there are some delightful lyric twists and turns which keep you listening even when the music threatens to disappear into a paisley patterned bale of hay.
http://www.the-rocker.co.uk/ ZEITGEIST

Big Life Desire - So Inclined (Platform) 15/09/2008
T: This reminds me of Ian Dury's "Profoundly In Love With Pandora". Either that or B.A. Robertson anyway...

N: A debut album nestles just around the corner, on the 29th of this month and from this, not exactly trail blazer, it's interesting enough to pose some questions.

T: Like "Oh, is that the time?" and "Are there any other releases?". No, to be fair, it is actually quite enjoyable in a laid back eighties retro kind of way. 7/10

Big Life Desire make well-mannered, likable music. Pop that would give up its seat for a lady and remember to send its distant cousin birthday cards. The mood is one of contemplation and regret. The new album, 'Dribs and Drabs', displays doubt, loss and disappointment. With a smidgen of daydreaming and sentiment thrown in.

Vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Keith Harbottle is Big Life Desire. Apart from drums and keyboard on two tracks, he wrote and performed the whole album alone. This feels like an individual project rather than collaboration. Perhaps ploughing such a purely pop furrow is easier without others questioning your judgement.

Much of 'Dribs and Drabs' is simple in its pleasure. Catchy melodies and well enunciated lyrics make for easy listening. There is a knowing awkwardness to many of the lyrics, deliberately eschewing vagueness or allowing much room for our interpretation. Often these are clumsy or lacking in finesse, but this works as they sound like words that people use, rather than those that have been edited and re-edited.

'Wait', a lovely ballad sung over a simple piano backing, talks of a kiss being “for another day” and that the protagonist will wait “as long as it’s not in vain, as long as we don’t waste time”. You feel that the wait is going to be in vain and he has had a lot of time wasted.

Much of the album sits on a foundation of synthesisers which could feel cheap and dated unless you buy into the overall vision of the album. The synths are often thin and remind you of TV ads done on the cheap. There is, however, a depth both in sounds and concept that belies this.

“I don’t have a good voice, I can hardly sing,” admits Harbottle in 'Not Supposed To Make Sense'. Indeed. His voice strains to breaking point at the upper reaches of his range and is rarely anything but weak. In other contexts this may just be annoying and fey, here it adds to the air of vulnerability, sensitivity and humour to the songs. We have more than enough over confident, sexually aggressive and arrogant singers around. There’s certainly room for something more human.

If Alan Bennett were to dabble in pop, he would probably come up with a ditty like 'So Say I'. Lyrics provided by Keith Harbottles’s recently deceased aunty Alma. She helpfully suggested that voice lessons may give him more confidence. I’m sure Bennett would me more than be happy to have a character called Keith Harbottle singing an album called 'Dribs and Drabs@. Some will find the album too whimsical, but anyone who likes a bit of whimsy in their life, as well as some cracking tunes, will love this.

British indie music suggests either dreary twee bedsitters or flashy posers, doesn’t it? Keith Harbottle a.k.a. Big Life Desire certainly falls under the lo-fi, D-I-Y categorization but with a steady focus on the British post-punk movement and also the Britpop scene of the 90s.
Thus, there is a heavy emphasis on synthesizers and acoustic guitars on Harbottle’s debut commercially released album. Which despite itself, is pretty relevant in 2008. But ignore the form and concentrate on the substance cos there’s a fair bit of that going on about dribs and drabs.
Marry the melodic quotient of Jeff (ELO) Lynne, the vocal stylings of Ray (the Kinks) Davies, the mod attitude of Paul (Style Council) Weller and the electronic nous of Vince (Depeche Mode, Yazoo) Clarke and you get a good sense of what Big Life Desire is trying to achieve.
Fans of the best British music of the late 70s/early 80s will definitely get a kick out of Big Life Desire. http://www.powerofpop.com/?p=398

It feels like Big Life Desire could be doing the theme tune for old school children's shows like Postman Pat. It's all a little 80'sy. This London one-man band creates a sound that is perfect for really lazy, happy days; the ideal soundtrack to do nothing to.
So Inclined, the single due for release on 15th September, is a good example of BLD and gives an insight into what sort of person Keith Harbottle is.
Letting us in on his drive to conquer fear through 'Flirt[ing] With Risk', he doesn't want to miss out on anything now does he?
All in all, it's a peaceful soundtrack to an idle day. I have been listening to the same three tracks for almost 50 minutes and I am not sick of them, this is an amazing sign!
Written By: Pennie V http://www.the-mag.me.uk/Articles/Big-Life-Desire-Drips-and-Drabs

When you get sent an album by a new band or artist to review, chances are it'll fall into one of two categories. Firstly there's the band with the five years plan: four or five earnest-looking young men or women, with fancy-looking press releases talking about the time they once nearly supported Hell is for Heroes, and ambitions to be on the cover of the NME within the year. Then there's the other group: the bedroom songwriters & DJs. The artists who know Peaches Geldof is never going to be photographed stumbling out of one of their gigs at 3am. For want of a better word, 'the amateurs'. As you've probably guessed this album, The first by London-based Keith Harbottle, falls firmly into the latter category and I should say now, (in case he's reading this) that isn't a criticism by any means. Hell, its a recommendation. This is a record which charms you as soon as the synth kicks in in a few seconds into the first track: 'Full of you'. Its 10 quirky unpretentious pop songs which win you over with their sheer sincerity. The Lightning Seeds would be a good comparison, or inexplicable late-nineties chart-toppers White Town - a mix of slightly geeky vocals and hummable tunes. You get the feeling from this record that Keith would still be making music regardless if this sold one copy or ten thousand, long after those other bands I talked about have started filling in their Tesco application forms. Andy Glynn
http://www.tastyfanzine.org.uk/albums78sep08.htm#Big Life Desire

There's a relaxed pyschedelia about 'So Inclined' which reminds me part of Supergrass's quieter moments and part of Air's noisier ones. It's slow, the vocals are fey and it stutters to an end but I definitely like its leftfield charm. SB
http://www.tastyfanzine.org.uk/singles78sep.htm#Big Life Desire

More pastoral, pixie like pop from Mr Harbottle. Taken from the album "Dribs and Drabs", which we were rather partial to, in a Canterbury scene type way, it's resolutely old fashioned and all the better for it.

This is one of those dowloady things, so it's not a proper single, more an awareness release, to try and drum up some more interest in his work. And if wistful melancholy is your thing, then you really ought to give this a listen.

I was delighted to see that my opinion remains worthless as neither of my two favourites from the album - 'Not Supposed To Make Sense' and 'Wait' - have made it as far as this EP. Which probably makes sense as my commercial nous is negligible. Hence my parlous existence. Back to the point, Keef gives good melody and is to be encouraged. So go forth, my minions and multiply his sales.


JACK BUTLER : - 'Are you a hustler?' (WHIMSICAL ICAL7) Press release:

A formidable live force - armed with post rock riffs and some of the biggest indie disco bass-lines going - JACK BUTLER release their new single ARE YOU A HUSTLER? On December 15th.

Available as a digital download and limited edition CD via Edinburgh’s Whimsical Records, ARE YOU A HUSTLER? is the perfect introduction to the world of JACK BUTLER. Metronomic guitars shimmy into a glowering verse within the space of 30 seconds! Throw in the odd athemic chorus and the result is one of the most refreshing and ‘shape inducing’ singles of 2008.

Having forged quite a reputation already with a ruck of early singles Velvet Prose and Boy vs Beast, the band have continued to develop as one of Scotland’s key indie acts. With a muscular live sound and support from the likes of XFM, 6 Music and Record Of The Day, the band have seen their stock rise ever skyward towards the release of their as yet untitled debut album, due out early 2009.


Released through the rather wonderful and generally self-describing label Whimsical (although this release can hardly be described as that), the first single from Jack Butler in a couple of years sounds as great as it does out of date.
Treading the same ground (disco meets pop meets indie on a crowded dancefloor) as Hard-Fi did to mind-numbing results before disappearing up their own arses for good and Datarock did to near perfection, the band known infuriatingly as Jack Butler (for there are four of them) add a few essential ingredients - musicianship, excitement and raw likability.
The result is a rather live sounding record full of excellent 70`s cop show hooks, a shout-a-long chorus and an engrossingly schizophrenic structure. In short, it`s the kind of great sound your favourite band used to produce before they had their soul sucked out by major label vampires!
Posted on 25 November 2008 by Richard Brown http://www.culturedeluxe.com/news_item.asp?id=5213

Jack Butler are four lads from north of the boarder who are slowly making a name for themselves across the United Kingdom with their lively brand of vibrant indie rock/pop. Having already released the enigmatic ’Velvet Prose’ and the anthemic ‘Boy vs. Beast’, their latest offering is a riotous fanfare of electrics, pulsing drum beats that punctuate the air like heavy rain on a tin roof and laced by Liam Kelly’s usual growling Celtic vocal.
There are some close similarities with the very metronomic, ’Are You A Hustler’ and previous release ‘Boy vs. Beast’ in terms of composition and melody. For some this might be a worry, particularly with the bands debut album coming out in early 2009. Thankfully b-sides on this single release and on previous releases are a good sign that the band has depth and variety in it’s writing capabilities and that the album won‘t be a monotonous affair.
Jack Butler simply are one of the most exciting bands to pop up in the last 18 months. In a nut shell they’re like Joy Division meets The Arctic Monkeys via KC And The Sunshine Band. (www.allgigs.co.uk)****

Imagine a cross between the Black Kids sparkly summer pop and the menacing brood of Tom Smiths editors and your starting to get somewhere near the kind of territory these guys call home (although keen eared listeners will even find quirk pop traces of Talking Heads in there in the yelping vocals and falsetto sections)
The band release their new single "Are You A Hustler" next month as a digital download ahead of the release of a new album sometime early in 2009. Whether said album has enough variety and depth to match the giddy expectation of this single (without falling into retread mode) is something that remains to be seen but for now this is quite some calling card.
All flailing arms and chanted choruses, the track struts its stuff like John Travolta at the start of Saturday night fever (IF John Travolta had a scottish accent and a penchant for slap bass boogie) and never relents from its boozy party mission to get your arms, firmly in the air. Available as a digital single the track also comes with an exclusive B-Side W.Fire which hits a more somber tone with an interpol tinged slice of "Factory"-esque indie matching Joy Division riffs to an ever present bouncy bassline. (The Mag)

Taking footnotes from Foals, The Automatic & The Cure; Jack Butler has created a steadfast, fool hardy mix of indie disco and sheer anthemic brute, perfect for throbbing festival masses, glow sticks at the read… (Subba-Cultcha)

See, it's all my own fault. There I was banging on about how it may as well be 1982 as far as Stirling band Jack Butler (that's band, not bloke) are concerned, what with their spiky, scratchy guitar pop nods to Josef K and their ilk. What I forgot, of course, was that in indie world, it is 1982! Fool.

Anyhow, they're back for another crack at the poptabulous world of singles, and this follow up to 'Velvet Prose' and 'Boy vs. Beast' is rather good. They've turned up the electro beats, set the speedometer to 60mph and added in some tasty falsetto harmonies to their white boy, bass driven funk routine.

It may have been a couple of years since they last peeked above the parapet but they're threatening a whole album in 2009, so the world may yet be theirs for the taking.

Jack Butler is not a man; well OK, there are probably sever thousand Jack Butler’s out there in the telephone directories of Great Britain; but this particular, plucky quartet are in fact, as previously reported here at MM, a band. From Scotland, they enjoy the 80’s disco guitar work of bands like The Higsons and Haircut 100 of course the sprightly end of the Postcard Records catalogue. “Are You A Hustler?” is a near damn a perfect indie pop song, driven by off-beat rhythms and a fresh, spring-heeled tempo. Where the lead track is a colourful chart friendly blend, back up number “W.Fire”, slips in signatures based on single note echoey guitar twangs. At times it’s a little less well honed, but all the more appealing for it. Jack Butler maintain their contemporary relevance, whilst serving up something a little more original, but more importantly catchy. An impressive follow up. MMM ½

Jack Butler release 'Are You A Hustler?' on 15th December, so you've still got a few weeks left to get yourself into a serious guitar-led disco mood so you can get down and groove to the pumping tones of this song.
This is a wonderfully crisp collision of indie and disco - not at all like the stuff where an indie band happened across a drummer who could only pump out that one beat - it's proper indie and proper disco simultaneously.
'W. Fire' continues the theme, with a bit of Bloc Party thrown in to give it more edginess than the single.
Jack Butler do this very well indeed. (8 out of 10)(The Mag)

Scottish Indie with a hearty dose of foot-stomping funk courtesy of the four piece’s maniacal rhythm section and upbeat guitars. (The Sun)

Mixing punk and funk isn't anything new, don't forget the likes of the Talking Heads and Gang Of Four where doing exactly this kind of thing back in the seventies; that's not to say the whole p-funk genre isn't still ripe for new additions.
Scottish outfit Jack Butler are a band playing to these musical conventions, injecting funk grooves to their snappy indie rock sound, something they do with aplomb on new single ARE YOU A HUSTLER?, deftly taking some of the best parts of the Talking Heads, Franz Ferdinand and the Arctic Monkeys and weaving them into something they can call their own.
Frontman Liam Kelly yelps and pulsates his way through the song, his wiry croon reminiscent of The Pop Group's Mark Stewart, catchy melodies colliding with springy guitar licks and infectious synth riffs. On the flipside, W. FIRE grooves to similar beats, but this time around Jack Butler inject a certain moody Joy Division like shimmer to proceedings with mesmeric guitar work.
Continuing to impress and evolve, Jack Butler are on top form here with ARE YOU A HUSTLER? (UKMusicReview)

A fast and furious romp with frantic guitars and tribal drums that's a glorious slice of indie pop mixed with disco. It's a bit Joy Division meets Bloc Party. Liam Kelly's shouty vocals remind of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Can't wait for the debut album from the Stirling the four-piece. AC (The Sunday Mail)

One of Scotland's most promising indie acts, four piece Jack Butler manage to turn angular and jaggy pop into music to dance to. (4 stars) (Daily Record)

The only other thing I’ve heard from Jack Butler is Velvet Prose which came out a couple of years ago on Whimsical Records, it seems though that the time away has been wisely spent as Are You A Hustler?is a cracking single release from the band.
Are You A Hustler? is everything that Bloc Party want to be but often fall down on, its got a real edge to it that is given a further kick by the bass that rattles throughout this single. It’s a floor filler if it gets enough exposure, which it probably won’t, in which case it will remain a hidden gem that I’d like on vinyl to play at some point at one of my nights! (4 stars)

Jack Butler - Are You A Hustler? (Whimsical Records) 15/12/2008
T: Almost as if Kevin Rowland has been taking speed with Fatima Mansions whilst listening to a host of classic disco records. Strangely appealing.

N: And without a Jack Butler in sight. This four piece, like Danny Wilson, have chosen the enigmatic persona to front.

T: And what do you think of the music?

N: It's retro indie dance that would be worthy of gracing any wall. 8/10 (AtomicDuster)

THE FIRM : - 'Dismal Results' (WHIMSICAL ICAL8) Press release:

Already with a firm following in their home base of London, The Firm - consisting of Ross Liddle (Voice & Guitar); Chris P Willsher (Lead Guitar and Piano); Julia Sieradzki (Bass Guitar) and Yameen Khan (Drums), release their debut single on Whimsical Records.

Produced by Matt Terry (The Enemy’s 'We'll Live And Die In These Towns'), Dismal Results is a dooming, sardonic warning layered over textured guitars. Liddle’s laconic vocals strut over Willsher's fuzzy and frenetic guitars, sneering truths that only he seems to know, while the rhythm section of Sieradzki’s bass and Khan’s unrelenting drums drive the track forward and offers a counterpoint by rooting the histrionic guitar turn. All the instruments converging lend the track an immediacy and a gleefully sinister quality. Ostensibly, the band create the sort of sonic collages that Creation bands such as Jesus & Mary Chain, House of Love and Ride used to be known for, albeit played with the style and flair of The Smiths, Suede and Verve. And while the ghosts of post-punk luminaries such as Magazine, The Sound and The Cure lurk in the belly of the track – there are sunnier references almost akin to The Kinks, and the band’s ear for a pop melody gives it a contemporary rejuvenation.

The single is backed by studio and demo versions of Round The Rim – a scuzzy, reverberating track, referencing modern day post-punk revivalists Interpol, with twitchy percussion and an impossibly epic and affirming guitar riff.

Equally influenced by the wit of Oscar Wilde, the darkness of post-punk, the intensity of shoegazing and the true spirit of punk – The Firm has created a muscular, compelling and stark sound. You won’t be able to 'look away' or turn it off – in fact, we defy you to. (Claire Gilligan)


With echoes of Echo and Siouxsie and even hints of the Durans, The Firm blast out the nu-wave pop-rock with powerful, punk tinged aggression and singalongable new-romantic finesse.
Retro no, nu-something yes! The Firm's brazen attack is led by fuzzy, distorted, scathing guitars and supported by an eternal-time-clock that is the combined rhythm section of oh-so-solid bass and metronomic drums. Atop of all this, the yearning, impassioned vocals soar and ride across the melee as they jostle for prominence with the massive sonic 'noise' of the instruments. It's a hard rather than harsh kinda vibe that The Firm give off; energetic and passionately angry whilst somehow retaining focus on the 'politics' of the job-in-hand.
The Firm's sound is not so much dense as thick-set; the guitar fills practically every available space behind the voice and provides a sort of corrosive layer that is always trying to eat its way to the fore but never quite gets through the cut and grind of the humanic outpourings. If not truly dirty, The Firm's 'noise' is certainly deeply tainted and stained with electrically derived ozone that etches its way into the midst of the electric storm to colour rather than destroy the layered natural 'tones', leaving a certain grubbiness behind.
'Dismal Results' is accompanied by 'Round The Rim' - it's here that the Duran's pop music ethic seems to cut through the more punkish roots of the 'A' side. Similarly robust and just as compelling, 'Round The Rim' demonstrates the more harmonious and pop-sided facet of this hectic sounding outfit - a great pairing resulting in a tidy and workmanlike release that'll suit several 'genre-hats' and raise The Firm's profile by several increments.
Peter J Brown aka toxic pete (www.toxicpete.co.uk)

The Firm recently came to my attention via Myspace. I am one of the more probably foolish people who do actually check every band who ask to be added. Sometimes, just sometimes, I find bands I consider worth sharing. I confess to being a lot more cynical than when I first started contributing to Rock Sellout. So, what attracted me to The Firm? To start, their well presented page immediately captured my attention. Then, the opening guitar riff off their forthcoming single “Life’s Dismal Results ” kept me long enough for the vocal to grab me. Shades of Theatre of Hate sprung to mind, though there is more than a touch of Sonic Youth about them. Anyway, the band sent me a full biography and a half decent mp3 to share, so check them out. With lots of live shows coming up, I reckon you could do worse than catch them live.

Debut single from London-based quartet The Firm offers up two tracks of straightforward rock that eschews current musical trends in favour of a more timeless sound.

A-side 'Dismal Results' is packed full of classy, assured riffs that act as a slick backdrop to Ross Liddle's likeably casual vocals. The chorus is similarly laidback, forgoing big, brash hooks, and instead relying on a very neat turn of phrase to win over the listener. Part of The Firm's appeal lies in the fact that they never seem to be trying too hard.

While this type of no frills rock has the potential to become repetitive, The Firm avoid this pitfall by picking up the pace after the midway point. They layer on the riffs, push the drumbeats to the forefront of the song and emphasise the underlying, jangly beat to ensure that 'Life's Dismal Results' doesn't just keep on delivering more of the same.

B-side 'Around The Rim (And Back To Him)' follows the formula laid down in 'Dismal Results' but has a more urgent sound, largely thanks to some insistent riffs and snappy drumbeats. 'Around The Rim...' increasingly veers more towards the heavy rock end of the spectrum, with a bridge section that delivers plenty of squealing chords, darker, brooding riffs and pounding drumbeats. This harder sound is carried over into the final quarter of the song, again ensuring that The Firm never get into the rut it'd be so easy for them to fall into.

On the downside, this song's simple but effective chorus is repeated far too many times towards the end. Although you'll initially find much to like in the choruses' slick phrasing, you'll be completely sick of it by the time 'Around The Rim...' draws to a close.

The Firm don't prescribe to any obsessively-specific musical genre, and are as such difficult to categorise. These two tracks may not drill themselves into your head like some of the more genre-specific music does but, by that virtue, The Firm's debut feels like a breath of fresh air. (4 stars) (Leeds Music Scene)

Dismal Results' is the debut single from London based psychedelic shoe gazers The Firm. The product of a culmination of a plethora of confusing juxtapositions, the band of over two years attack their music and accompanying lyrics on a number of fronts making their sound somewhat unique.
Consisting of Ross Liddle (Voice & Guitar), Chris Willsher (Lead Guitar & Piano), Julia Sieradzki (Bass Guitar) and Yameen Khan (Drums), the group combine here in the bands third year with a cruising, sometimes morbidly melancholic shard of fuzzy psychedelic rock. Produced by Matt Terry of The Enemy's 'We'll Live And Die In These Towns' fame, the bands 80's influences pulse through, instantaneously recognisable in the vocals of Ross Liddle who embodies the spirit of The Cult, Suede and The Cure. Like Morrissey's twin brother, the quivering naivety of Liddle's vocals rains through. It's a sinister, monotonic version of Ricky Wilson in play, which accompanied by the most energetic and explosive set of guitars ever witnessed by man make for good times for all. Twinned with 'Round The Rim' the singles b-side, 'Dismal Results' is surely due the reverse treatment.
Matthew Clutton (Allgigs)

Broadcasting from London, The Firm have a gloomy sound where monotone, straight line vocals perch atop the stepped descent of a few chords and some effective hooklines. In fact The Firm are good at mixing this gothic yet heartening indie with some excellent little themes. There are snippets of the Bunnymen, Chameleons and early 80’s post new wave modernism. Remarkably, “Dismal Results” isn’t that far removed from the sound of Manchester’s legendary Monomania circa 2000. There’s a live recording of the B-side “Round The Rim (and Back To Him)” in addition to the studio cut and it’s the former that provides a better sensation of the energy and impact of The Firm – and it’s all rather very good. www.manchestermusic.co.uk

MMM ½ (www.manchestermusic.co.uk)

London band The Firm’s debut single will surely stand them in good stead for future success. It’s a catchy, furious lyrical delight with a vibrant guitar line that swells in and out with glorious ease. There are moments of glossy guitarwork at the right moment just as the charismatic vocal charge from singer Ross Liddle dies down. ‘Life’s Dismal Results’ has a sharp cynical edge but an ebullient melody that sweeps you away and will stick in your head long afterwards. B-side ‘Round The Rim (And Back To Him)’ adds in some chaotic vocal harmonies, crafting layer on layer to create a lithe and lively tune that blisters with scintillating percussion and edgy guitars. The vocals and rapturous pace and irrepressible and although there’s more than a hint of bands like The Cure and Suede about this tune in particular, there’s also a fervent punk sensibility that makes what the band are doing refreshing still. The Firm certainly major in musical style, which is sure to see them gain plenty of future success. (Room Thirteen 11 out of 13)

The Firm sound from the name as if they are going to be a bad punk band from London who watched Green Street too many times and decided that they were West Ham boot boys who needed to follow in the footsteps of their heroes Sham 69 and form a band.
The truth isn’t quite as interesting as that but musically it’s a damn sight better!
As it goes they are London based, but rather than punk they find themselves landing somewhere between the doom laden humour of The Smiths and the guitar and mood of Echo And The Bunnymen on Dismal Results, the bands impressive debut single. On the b-side Round The Rim (And Back) they scuzz things up to take them into Jesus and Mary Chain territory, showing that live they could well be a bit more rock ‘n’ roll than the a-side suggested.
A promising start and I hope they build on it, the single is out now on the ever consistent Whimsical Records. (3 stars - The Beat Surrender)

It’s always a slight shock when you see yourself quoted on the press release of a band you are just about to start reviewing. Inevitable feelings of ‘was it really any good’ start to surface and you begin to wonder if your colleagues and peers who also receive this press release are laughing at your apparent lack of taste. Fortunately in this case, my taste is proven to be impeccable as The Firm following up their EP from 2007 with single ‘Dismal Results’- all swirling effects and nihilism befitting such an emotive title. There’s some Smiths influence in evidence and Ross Liddle’s terse vocals preach the word according to The Firm to the listener. ‘Release what you like, not what you should like’ say Whimsical. I couldn’t agree more.

Fantastic debut single from heavily 80's-influenced London-based band, the Firm
Have you ever heard a record and immediately realized that there are a hundred influences in there, but you can’t put your finger on one of them ? 'Dismal Results' is the debut single from London based band the Firm and is just such a record. It has a heavy slant towards 80’s indie bands like the Comsat Angels, the Chameleons, Icehouse, Southern Death Cult and the Psychedelic Furs. Having so many influences could have confused and muddied the sound and they might have ended up sounding like a copy or worse a parody of an early indie band. Thankfully 'Dismal Results' does not fall into that trap. It has a crisp and clear sound with a clear direction. Maybe because it was produced by Matt Terry who also produced 'We’ll Live And Die In These Towns' by The Enemy is the reason why.

Ross Liddle's vocals are a cross between John Lydon and the Chameleons' Marc Burgess, higher pitched that you might expect but it all fits very well into the sound. It is not easy to hear all the words that he sings, but so what ? The balance of the instruments between Chris P Willsher (guitar), Julia Sieradzki (bass)and Yameen Khan (drums) is almost identical to the sound of the Smiths. They sound nothing like the Smiths but the way all the instruments are tuned and are balanced is similar. If you want to sound like an indie band, what better place is there to start ?

I have always been a sucker for good indie bands and I like this record very much. I can see myself playing this record a lot . http://www.pennyblackmusic.co.uk

The Firm - Dismal Results (Whimsical Records) 09/03/2009

N: The band have formerly been written about, and Ross Liddle's vocals said to have veered between Moyet and Morrissey. But for me, surely this is Ian Astbury...

T: ...perhaps jamming wth Killing Joke or the Psychedelic Furs, or even Public Image Ltd?

N: After what we've listened to so far today, this is both a vibrant and exciting take on eighties New Wave.

T: I agree. Impressive debut. 9/10



THE SHERMANS : - 'Venom' (PLATFORM FORM4) Press release:

Stirling-based quintet The Shermans return with the follow up to their hugely successful debut single, Calling It Wrong, which reached number 20 in Scotland and number 23 in the UK indie charts. Released on Platform Records on April 13th, Venom is a rollicking, fast-moving, foot-stomping, soon-to-be indie anthem. Confrontational from the get-go, Shaun Aitcheson literally spits his acerbic lyrics over equally serrated guitars and pounding drums. The track blazes along while a dooming quality lurks – over the shoulder glances, whispers in the dim light of club over a relationship gone wrong. Venom is the sonic equivalent of the shifty guy you don’t want to turn around a corner and bump into.

The release is backed with You're just not getting enough - jangly,with military beats, Beach Boys harmonies and an angular guitar hook. Aitcheson’s vocals warble the ridiculously infectious refrain “and you just can’t stand still, not getting enough” - that no doubt, when performed live, will spark a lot of drinks-in-the-air-hoisting antics. Despite being a song about getting stuck in life – it’s a hopeful tune – with a warm and communal feeling.

Still paying homage to bands like Ocean Colour Scene and The Bluetones, it’s obvious with the new single that The Shermans are carving out an identity of their own and are clearly not a band to mess with. On the plus side, if you do mess with them – the result is “Venom”. (Claire Gilligan)

Well, one thing's for sure - The Shermans kick up a pretty punchy sound that's pretty distinctive and nicely instant. And, 'Venom' cuts straight to the chase here with a memorable guitar and drum intro before the impassioned vocals interrupt proceedings and 'Venom' starts to unfold.
The Shermans sound relies quite a lot on short, concise guitar riffs and fills that nestle in amongst the vocals, unerringly side-by-side making a strong and punchy statement. Add to that the military-esque percussive work and stabbin' bass and you've got a sound with heart, soul and attitude. And so it's no surprise that The Shermans' new single 'Venom' is built on those very same foundations - a robust, at times almost quirky, backbeat that at times vies with the vocals for prominence but always manages to work out just fine.
Although they hail from Stirling in Scotland, The Shermans sound is as British as Blackpool Tower; retaining a jagged rawness of feel that suggests punk roots and having a real earthy heart The Shermans' pop-rock is as solid as it is viable. 'Venom', with it's catchy 'lah lahs' and infectious air-guitar-friendly riffs is a real solid worker and gets stronger with repeat plays - radio friendly and hard-driven, 'Venom', with good DJ exposure, could very well catch on!
The Shermans 'Venom' comes in two mixes here and is supported by 'You're Just Not Getting Enough'; more staccato guitars, more metronomic drums, more lethal bass and the same enthusiastic and typically British vocals. A great 'B' side and very much an equal to its bigger brother, 'Venom'. All-in-all a really good piece of commercial rockin' work from The Shermans - and 'lang may yer lum reek' I say!
(Peter J Brown aka toxic pete)

Solid, driving Indie Rock with plenty of vigor and melody – a rousing call to arms for those missing Ocean Colour Scene… (Subba Cultcha)

The Shermans' previous single, 'Calling It Wrong' reached number twenty three in the UK indie charts, and follow up single 'Venom' is surely a strong contender for an even higher chart position, as this is maddeningly catchy indie-rock at its best.

Everything about 'Venom' is guaranteed to get stuck in your head. Bouncing along on irresistible, oomp-pa drumbeats, 'Venom' is jam-packed with wickedly sharp vocal hooks, as mainman Shaun Aitcheson always takes care to emphasise 'Venom's infectious indie-rock beats. Whether he's bouncing his vocals off angular drumbeats, or contributing smoother, poppier vocals to the more melodic sections, Shaun always hits the mark. At times, his voice is given an extra boost from barely-there backing vocals, which sees 'Venom' take on an anthemic edge, and threaten to become more than just a catchy indie hit.

As a B-side, 'You're Just Not Getting Enough' is expected to lag behind the A-side, and lag it certainly does. 'You're Just Not Getting Enough' has all the clunkiness of a live performance, with little of the energy. Built on an interestingly military, marching drumbeat, this song has a rock-solid, intriguing base that completely dominates the handful of twangy chords and Shaun's vocals. The Shermans seem to be enamoured with this unusual beat, and believe it's enough to carry the song. But, after the novelty has worn off, 'You're Just Not Getting Enough' doesn't really have much else to offer, apart from a great base beat.

The fact that the B-side isn't half as good as the A-side, isn't really that much of a surprise. 'Venom' is the main attraction here, and it's a song that should set the indie-rock charts alight. (4 stars - Jessica Thornsby - Leeds Music Scene)

Scots rockers The Shermans are currently in the midst of their ‘Venom’ tour across Scotland to promote their single of the same name, and their style is most definitely at the mainstream segment of the indie-rock market. They have made steady if unspectacular progress since their debut single ‘Calling it Wrong’ at the back end of 2007.
‘Venom’ maintains a poppy edge and yes, the guitar jangles away in every vocal break, but it is solid, tight, and unquestionably catchy. Whether it shows enough development from their previous is effort remains in question, however, as there appears to be very little deviation in style and execution from their debut, but it remains a well-executed, slick track that will please current fans and Sherman newbies alike. www.isthismusic.com

Radio-friendly Scots The Shermans have an instant indie pop appeal, with raw unaffected vocals that give a nod to their roots, and a very current 'White Lies' type sound with marching drums and staccato guitars. 'Venom' may prove to be their highest charting single yet, because like most chart bands of the moment who play it safe (Franz Ferdinand, I'm looking at you), it isn't particularly fresh or exciting, but will probably fare quite well for exactly the same reasons.

A VERY promising band from Stirling. The new single 'Venom' has all the epic posturing of The Clash or Manic Street Preachers.
Tough guitars battling each other through the speakers, a strong singer and some natty backing vocals.
It's everything The Enemy claimed they were but failed to become. If you like the bands I've mentioned or The Verve, The Shermans have something for you. And while Venom has a sting in it's tail, 'You're just not getting enough' is an upbeat toe tapper which has all the Britpop goodness of Dodgy.
It shows the band don't take themselves too seriously and are happy to have a blow out. Verve frontman Richard Ashcroft must be exhausted trying to be too cool for so long. (Rick Fulton - The DaIly Record)


JACK BUTLER : - single 'Hit it out the park,son' and debut album 'Fit the paradigm' (WHIMSICAL ICAL9 and ICALCD3) Press release:

From the startling drum roll of the opening few seconds on first track, Hit It Out The Park,Son (their new single - released April 13th) – it’s evident that Jack Butler are a discernible force to be reckoned with. The Stirling-based four-piece are set to cement their status as one of the freshest bands in Scotland with the release of their long awaited debut album Fit the Paradigm. First single, Are You A Hustler? has been paving the way for a grand reception by garnering encouraging reviews - allgigs.co.uk calling it, “a riotous fanfare of electrics and pulsing drum beats that punctuate the air like heavy rain on a tin roof”,as well as enjoying airplay on Sky TV's Soccer AM and Radio One.

Harking back to the early post-punk of the 1980s, previous single, Boy Vs Beast is a highly original slice of art-funk with infectious guitars, dynamic bass and powerful hooks. In contrast, Just Fit The Paradigm is a quirky, despairing pastiche of the generic nature of teenage life, music and consumerism layered over deeply textured guitar-work and a brass refrain. The angularity of the guitars often attracts comparisons to fellow Scots rockers Franz Ferdinand and Orange Juice but there is something far more colourful to the arrangements – He Got No Game is a shrewd, jagged-edged confrontation. Other tracks such as Velvet Prose and Let’s Testify exemplify a soulful and expressive aspect with their raw yet stirring melodies and poignant lyrics. Continuing this tone, the twinkling opening synths of Surgery 1984 (Operations I & II), together with grand and graceful guitars lend this track a poised, elegiac quality akin to the stadium-esque feel of Bloc Party, Interpol and Arcade Fire but still with its own unique twist.

Throughout this esteemed record, an electro sheen saturates many of the tracks lending them a 1980s vintage sound, but they remain firmly rooted in modernity. The album is a colourful array, bursting with full-on aural delights with something for every ear whether you’re looking for the eccentric or the anthemic. With this debut, Jack Butler make an unquestionably powerful musical statement. Impossible to ignore, it is a clear indication that the band should have a flourishing future.

(Claire Gilligan)

Scottish extreme four for the floor indie hitters Jack Butler ( a band not a boy), knock off your block with this riotous attack of coarse 1980 pop band guitar shuffling. Butler distil the early days of live indie band disco with an infectious energy that verges on the violent, as they strum with a furious friction underneath vocals that cut deeply into this vigorous display of dangerous attacking lo-fi funk. “Hit It Out The Park, Son” is maybe the first record of 2009 to really embrace the post new romantic world of Postcard Records and for once, put a proper, solid guitar wielding foot on the dancefloor. Excellent.
MMMM ½ (http://www.music-dash.co.uk/)

Jack Butler’s new song 'Hit it Out the Park, Son' is an agreeable indie tune that takes a few listens to get into but generally enjoyable. Taken from their upcoming debut album 'Fit the Paradigm', it gives us an insight into what we can expect from the rest of the L.P.

Starting off with an executioner’s drum roll, it leads into a high pitched guitar riff with a 'Rob Trujillo' sounding wah bass joining in, and then the layers of crunching rhythm guitars kick off underneath, all being upheld by a raw tribal drum beat.

The vocals come in and the whole musical introduction flows seamlessly into the verse, but the song gets a bit boring from then on. Really Jack Butler hasn’t done anything new – no boundaries are being pushed – and they seem like the kind of band who will have a couple of good songs then fade away into the gigantic pile of other bands who are currently playing the same music. After a few listens, however, it does grow on you a bit, and the subtleties of the song start to creep to the foreground: the natural sounding production and the tightness of the high energy instruments. It’s one of those songs where all instruments have their place and fit in really well.

Maybe not the best song of all time, but it’s worth a listen for their musical skill and effort.

Still irritatingly applying a single name to a quartet, Glasgow`s Jack Butler will shortly release their debut long player `Fit the Paradigm` and this track takes the sage advice of time-conscious football coaches the land over and applies it to every day life. That is, simply hoofing your problems out of the stadium of life is often the best tactic we have. Musically the band are on top form too with a heady mix of wah wah funk, disco-tinged rhythms and bellowed, call to arm vocals. It`s yet another largely undiscovered Jack Butler treat and builds on the impressive early work of previous singles `Velvet Prose` and `Are You a Hustler?`
(Richard Brown http://www.culturedeluxe.com/)

Jack Butler have only been knocking around for a couple of years and they’ve had little opportunity to get their records out. After a series of exciting singles, their debut album it seems, is worth all of the wait. From the infectious tempo of “Hit It Out The Park Son” ,the album really never fails to deliver as the snapped beats and surging sparkle of clean guitar arpeggios stand at the fore of a staggering series of bass movements. “Fit The Paradigm” is the album that really has connected us with the bookish indie of the very early 80’s, from Postcard’s Josef K to the energetic bluster of Haircut 100 and The Higsons. This the part of musical history that only British Sea Power and newer bands like Everything Everything have somehow partially captured in their repertoire. Jack Butler take things a step further with their accomplished web of guitar flourishes and amazing melodies. Their slower moments aren’t nearly as exciting, yet the album’s title track is something of an a epic, with a gothic dusting and some keen instrumental peaks. “Ostinatos” finds Jack Butler again able to spin their intricate note picking and off tempo breaks, between some positively exciting sessions of frantic beats and more outstanding guitar work.

“Fit The Paradigm” may sound to some listeners at a first glance, like a lot of other retro-indie hopefuls out there, but I guarantee you that this is something altogether different and far more radical than you’d imagine. It may even be on the border of a classic.

MMMM ½ (http://www.music-dash.co.uk/)

While their name might be more fitting for a struggling singer-songwriter than a four-piece indie band from Stirling, Jack Butler hardly set a foot wrong on this, their debut album. Pulsing with a lively rhythm that many of their peers would do well to emulate, Fit The Paradigm sounds like Vampire Weekend remixing Scottish art-rockers Franz Ferdinand – with some 80s post-punk production values thrown in for good measure.
Previous singles ‘Boy Vs Beast’ and ‘Velvet Prose’ are both present and correct, but what’s most noticeable is how far Jack Butler have come in such a short time. The reworked versions of older songs now sparkle with a fizzing energy that has always been part of their live show, while new tracks such as first single ‘Are You A Hustler?’ and the Franz-like album opener ‘Hit It Out The Park, Son’ are both instantly memorable and rewarding of further listening.
In fact what’s most remarkable about Jack Butler’s debut album is the self-confidence that infuses every soaring chorus and jagged guitar riff. When your first effort’s this good, though, that confidence looks entirely justified.
Dan Coxon (http://www.rock-n-reel.co.uk/ )(4 stars)

The art rockers from Stirling release debut album 'Fit the paradigm' on April 27th. This fast-paced guitar and bouncy beat could get Gordon Brown smiling. * * * Rick Fulton - Daily Record

Stirling four-piece Jack Butler made their first release in 2005, catching the attention of the music journalists, who drew comparisons with the Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand, amongst others. Winning the BBC Radio 1 Demo Derby in April 2006 lead to more publicity and their performing at T in the Park in the July of that year. Airplay on XFM and support slots with such notables as Glasvegas and Florence and the Machine mean they have been a busy bunch of guys recently. And so it is to their debut album release we now turn, the latest of their many achievements.
This album kicks off with 'Hit it Out the Park, Son': a mega drum roll, pulsing guitars and a funky bass. Immediately noticable is the influence fellow Scots Franz Ferdinand have had on Jack Butler, but the band have their own upbeat style and this is a great opener - catchy, cheery and thoroughly feelgood. Second track 'From Plea to Paper' has a feel of The Smiths to it but slightly less studenty. The funky bass carries the track along with a quirky guitar being picked like a good 'un in the background. There is a proliferation of lyrics, similar to 'It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)' by REM.
Track 3 is the first single to be released from this album: 'Are You a Hustler?'. It has received great reviews already from our very own allgigs.co.uk and has echoes of the 80s on it, featuring some groovy falsetto vocals which remind me of The Communards' 'Don't Leave Me This Way'. Next follows one of those intro-type tracks 'Ode'. A piano track, the perfect 15-second straight guy to the incredibly funky following track 'Boy vs Beast'. The funky bass and groovy drumming is back on this, a track which lyrically recalls the Arctic Monkeys and is infectiously danceable.
Title track 'Just Fit the Paradigm' is a tale of teenagers and peer pressure - "these kids will buy anything/drink anything/raise our glasses in toast to our peers" featuring amongst the lyrics. Following this, 'Let's Testify!' sees Jack Butler exploring a more soulful and expressive vein. Guitar sounding like that of U2 on 'Where The Streets Have No Name', and the vocals on the emotive refrain of "The time is nigh/Let's testify!" do not sound unlike the Sainted Bono himself.
A couple of tracks later are a lovely pairing of 'Bushido Codes' and 'He Got No Name!'. Both having a slightly Japanese feel to them, the guitar backing is filled with individually picked strings, giving a staccato and jagged feel to the tracks. The bass smooths this down and the hi-hat in the drumbeat is irresistible. I couldn't keep still while listening to these tracks. Opening the next track are some synths which give a more sweeping effect to the sound of the band; a less art school sound and more stadium rock feel to it. I could almost hear the screams and whoops during the twinkly quiet section towards the close of the track. Art school groove is back for the penultimate song with another Smiths-esque offering. Album closer 'Apocalypse Clocks' starts with some clanging chimes and unaccompanied guitars and moves on with pulsing beats and a plea to "replicate and populate". It comes to a rythmic climax and then calms for a string finish. Sirens can be heard over the end of the song which confused me greatly: I was listening to this in the park and thought it was on the street outside initially...
All in all, this is a promising debut and is irresistible in its cheeriness and upbeat danceability. I would strongly urge anyone who has a sense of summer on its way to go out and purchase this album!
(Caroline McCarthy Rating: 4 STARS http://www.allgigs.co.uk/)

I’ve reviewed a couple of singles in the past by Jack Butler (a group not a solo artist), so I definitely had a level of expectation around them as far as this debut album goes, even with that expectation though they have managed to take me by surprise by how good this is.
While a band producing funky off kilter art-pop isn’t in itself a new concept, they have managed to bring something fresh, raw and inventive to the table on Fit The Paradigm, which sets them well apart from 99% of their competitors.
The album opens with the irresistable recent single Hit It Out The Park Son and you think that may be a high point too soon in the album. They don’t peak with that track though, instead they continue to climb throughout, scaling new heights with the dance floor bothering Are You A Hustler?, the brilliant Boy Vs Beast and Let’s Testify which has a more reflective edge to it.
A band that so far have been massively overlooked for some reason, don’t fall into the trap of the masses, instead get on this and take this four piece and their album to your heart…and your dancing feet!
The album is out now through Whimsical Records. Beat Surrender Rating: 4 stars
Jack Butler "Fit the Paradigm"
It turns out that Jack Butler isn't a single guy but a group of funky Scottish musicians who play ska and post-punk pop. Similar to the Cure, Modest Mouse and Public Image Ltd. Highlights include "Are You A Hustler?" and "He Got No Game!"
Jack Butler - Fit The Paradigm (Whimsical) 11/05/2009
T: Wow, this sounds like Robert Smith on a crateful of speedN: I guess that's one image I briefly toyed with, but to no avail, as Robert is now really getting too old to be toying with speed, let alone a crateful. Let me start, Jack Butler, a four piece from Sterling and described as "one of the freshest bands in Scotland" not forgetting to add "at the moment", as they have a hell of a lot of competition here, take Aztec Camera (the most immediate reference), Trash Can Sinatras, or maybe Orange Juice. But one thing's for sure, these guys are not excusing their harking back to post-punk 80's vibe and who could blame them?T: They sound like a train has crashed through your ceiling and is driving around your walls flashing disco lights while all the nightporters and commuters dive out of the carriages and do little dances around your bed. Which is great when they're nice looking totty but not so good when they're heifers. Most of the time though, they're pretty damn attractive.N: And this is the over-riding thought this band conjure up?  T: Yep. 9/10
Clearly a band with a lot of fun about them, Stirling four piece Jack Butler's debut album Fit the Paradigm is a whirl of jaggy riffs, manic drum beats, harmonious vocals and well, shouting. Equip with clever hooks, catchy choruses and a quirky electro gloss their music has a refreshing quality to it that hasn't been heard from indie bands of late.
So drum roll please - the first single from the album Hit it out the park, son which, yes, starts with a drum roll is very similar to Franz Ferdinand with more of a kick with frantic guitars, rolling bass and Liam Kelly's spat-out vocals giving it a clunkiness which kind of works.
‘Velvet Prose' is a catchier track with the band layering on twitching guitars and joining in with vocals, although it does go on longer than perhaps it should. Scratchy guitar's and more chanting on ‘Are You a Hustler?' ensure it's firmly stuck in your head after even one listen with a bit more attitude than some of the other tracks. ‘Apocalypse Clocks', beginning with aptly placed clocks, starts off more atmospheric for what is a more brooding offering as Kelly tries to lower his voice. The melody is a gentler one that the twanging of the previous tracks giving the lyrics a bit more of a chance to breath and the listener can enjoy the mix of harmonies and hooks normally produced by an indie-rock band.
Not knowing what to expect on a first listen the album definitely makes for a good listen although perhaps some of it is a bit over complicated as Jack Butler try to go all out with their jumble of beats, synths and angular guitars. They have a great attitude in approach in their music though, it's not overly pretentious and their experimentation even manages to bring a bit of funk, reminiscent of Bloc Party or Foals.
Basically Jack Butler have taken the usual recipe for indie, shaken it up, flipped it upside down and turned up the volume - if that makes sense to you then so will their music.

There are numerous solo artists with names that sound like bands and, just to add to the confusion, here we have a band with a name that sounds like a solo act. Jack Butler are a Scottish four piece based in Stirling. The drum roll intro of 'Hit It Out the Park, Son' sets us up for three attention grabbing, high energy Art-Funk songs that open the album.

Track 4 - 'Ode' - starts more slowly but there's no significant let up in the breakneck for the rest of the album.

What Liam Kelly's voice lacks in subtlety he makes up for with passion but there's a sameness to his strained delivery that gets a bit wearing before you reach the 13th and final frack.

More whisperin' and less hollerin' would give most of these songs more chance to breathe and avoid the sensation that the listener is being relentlessly pummelled into submission.

Highlights include 'Plea to Paper' which has shades of Vampire Weekend's Afro-Pop meets Indie beat and an intriguingly jerky stop-start structure. It leads neatly into the highly danceable rhythms of 'Are You A Hustler?' which, not surprisingly, has been chosen as a single. On this track you half expect them to switch from singing the title line to urging us to 'do the Hustle'.

The band are at their best when they are not taking themselves too seriously, as on 'Are You A Hustler?', and on the equally party orientated - and frankly pretty silly - 'Ostinatos' which comes complete with fake foreign accents and sounds suspiciously as if the group downed a few shots of Tequilla before pressing record.

This is a dynamic and enjoyably uptempo debut album although the shouty vocals and laddish harmonies are probably more suited to a live setting.  Our Rating: 7 out of 10 http://www.whisperinandhollerin.com/reviews/review.asp?id=6291
The long awaited debut album from the Stirling four-piece has most definately been worth the wait.
Opener - new single 'Hit it out the park,son' - combines pulsing beats with funky guitar licks and infectious bass, paving the way for an album of electro post punk 80's retro sounds frog-marched into the present.  Each track has its own head-nodding, foot tapping, catchy infectiousness that defies you not to dance. Frantic drumming, furious strumming, guitar layering and a heap of reverb meet in a mash-up of pop/indie/disco/funk for tracks 'Are you a hustler?' and 'Boy V Beast', meanwhile the grandiose 'Surgery 1984' and the Mexican-tequila-filled fun of 'Ostinatos' shows the lads have a cocktail of talents to be explored.Quite simply a belter. For fans of Talking Heads, Editors, Bloc Party, The Rapture, Franz Ferdinand.
(Katy Whitelaw - Music News Scotland.)



''The Stirling-based four-piece have been attracting plenty of attention

for their inventive brand of guitar-led post-punk. And quite rightly so too.

Tracks like 'From Plea To Paper', 'Velvet Prose' and current single 'Surgery

1984' are an edgy but hooked filled re-imagining of a sound that began way

back with Echo & The Bunnymen, Teardrop Explodes and Orange Juice.

Simply fabulous.'' (* * * * Tim Barr - News of the World)  


From the tin-drum-roll opening of 'Hit It Out the Park, Son', there is a distinct energy to Jack Butler’s debut album 'Fit the Paradigm'. While some have likened this energy to early 80’s punk, I found this Stirling based four-piece band to sound more akin to Kaiser Chiefs, but with 50’s rockabilly flare.

Their music is powerful, yet superbly composed to never overwhelm Liam Kelly’s vocals, and maintains a vibrant energy throughout the album. While 'Hit It Out the Park, Son' was their debut single from this album, I found myself more taken by its follow-up,'Are You A Hustler?'.

Chris Lowdon (Guitar), Allan Conry (Bass), Greg Moodie (Drums/Percussion) all show a fine level of skill and versatility. This ensures that their music never becomes stale throughout this twelve track album, and maintains the listener's constant interest.

Although I am generally disinterested in indie-rock bands such as the Kaiser Chiefs, I found Jack Butler's energy, extraordinary talent, and impressive lyrics to make an impression. This is a great album that fans of this genre of music will love: even those that are not may appreciate this album. Give Jack Butler a chance, for you may even surprise yourself.


 Starting with 20th Century Fox-esque snare drums, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re about to be hit by something dramatic and cinematic, grandiose even. Instead, you’re nodding your head before you realise it, thinking how unlikely it is that the bastard child of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Foals should sound this good. Shades of Franz Ferdinand disco and latter-day Marmaduke Duke find their way in there throughout the album, making it irresistibly funky and danceable, the only criticism being that it never really leaves this comfort zone with any success. Hopefully, though, this is ground that will be explored in a second album sometime soon.
Written by: Niki Boyle  (3 stars)

If Jack Butler want to distance themselves from fellow Scots Franz Ferdinand, choosing a man's name for their angular indie-rock wasn't the best idea.
Shame, really, as this Stirling quartet are a far different proposition to their colleagues once you get beyond the jangling riffs and danceable bass shuffles. For a start, it's pacier and more aggressive, with Liam Kelly spitting his vocals as opposed to singing them, and there are math-rock, Foals-esque elements to 'Hit it out the park, son' and 'Velvet Prose' that enable Jack Butler to sparkle. There are no huge hits here, but plenty to get the pulse racing.
Rock Sound magazine (Mike Haydock) (7 out of 10)

We were there for the Scottish four piece’s early demos so it’s satisfying to see the band lead by singer/guitarist Liam Kelly release their debut album. The obvious bracket to put the band in are followers of Franz Ferdinand’s art pop. They like jangly guitars, tight rhythms and almost shouted vocals. But Franz followed Edinburgh-band Josef K and Jack Butler are a more distilled version of the originators. Album opener Hit It Out the Park, Son has a driving chimming guitar that must make the fingers bleed and some solid bass from Allan Conry. It’s one of the best songs from a new Scots act this year. What’s almost unique about Jack Butler is they have a sound but don’t just play the same song with each new tune. There is a depth to each of their tunes which echoes early Orange Juice in Boy Vs Beast but with the pop sensibility of Haircut 100 on He Got No Game! Or Altered Images on Let’s Testify!
There are plenty of young Scots acts hoping for their break. 2010 deserves to be Jack Bulter’s. (Rick Fulton - Daily Record)







JACK BUTLER - 'Surgery 1984'  - 2 track download single (ICAL10) - press release:

"The missing link between Minus the Bear and Arctic Monkeys". Praise from Rock Sound can barely come higher or more daunting. Jack Butler are worthy of it. Following the Top 40 indie chart track, Hit it out the Park, Son which received industry wide acclaim and obtained airtime on various nationwide radio stations including Radio 1 and Londons XFM, Jack Butler continue their success with the roaring new Single Surgery 1984. Taken from their eclectic debut LP Fit The Paradigm released earlier this year on the Whimsical Records label, with Mark Freegard (Manic Street Preachers, The Breeders) twiddling the knobs in the studio, Surgery 1984 showcases some of the Stirling four pieces most infectious sounds with an imaginatively layered song, highly contagious hooks and choruses you catch yourself singing and air drumming to long after youve listened to it. Hailed by the pioneering ‘‘BBC Introducing programme and winning the Radio 1 Demo Derby, the band have been receiving rave reviews across music websites, blogs and fanzines, with the debut album being described as "Quite simply a belter" by Music News Scotland.
s increasing fan-base are being treated to an art rock album of great proportions. This single adds another string to an increasingly impressive bow, Surgery 1984 will have you toe tapping, head bopping and reaching for that repeat button. You can guarantee this will bore its way into your head in a way that youll want it to stay there.  

(Mark McDermott)


Jack Butler continue what seems like a never-ending line of effervescent Scottish indie acts such as Franz Ferdinand, The View and The Fratellis. But look (or preferably listen) closer and youll see the subtle nuances of bravery where others have failed to tread. Jack Butler have boldly moved forward adding their own particular brand of synth pop funk to an already tight, dynamic indie sound with contagious drumming patterns and some both jangly and heavy guitar riffs reminiscent of Foals. Surgery 1984 draws you in with its beautifully reverb-laden melodic guitar licks over a wonderfully spongy bass line that gives the track its beat and funk. Liam Kellys vocals sway between pop and punk, giving it an engrossing, honest and almost grungy feel, that leads you nearly unknowingly into the powerful last half of the track. Overall the result is an invigorating energetic mix somewhere between Jack Peñate, Editors and Modest Mouse with some electro synths thrown in to glorious effect. Cutting it live with such acts as Florence and The Machine, Glasvegas & The Wombats, playing various festivals including T in the Park and currently touring Scotland, Jack Butler

Reviews : 
Sounding like The Killers have snuck into a Dredg recording session to funk it up a bit, Jack Butler’s latest single Surgery 1984 continues the infectious, foot-stomping drive of their previous effort; Hit it out the Park, Son with more subdued vocals.

Minus the shouty chorus of Hit it out... and bass dialled down a little, Surgery 1984 is a subtler, more melancholic track showing the Scottish four-piece have more strings to their guitar than many of their contemporaries.

Are they catchy enough for pop-rock, or quirky enough for alternative success? Biffy Clyro have managed to tread the line between the two and I hope Jack Butler can manage the same as they’re one of the more interesting new bands I’ve heard this year.

For: People who find Minus the Bear too low-key or Arctic Monkeys emotionally bereft.
Not for: People who are easily genre-confused.

by Ed Prior.



Stirling returns in the form of Jack Butler's Surgery 1984 (***), which steps the competition up a level via the simple method of slowly building towards a climactic explosion. It's the first great moment of the D12 so far, and herky-jerky b-side This Soul Accelerates is pretty good too.





Spiraling guitars divide and reconnect into crystalline shapes whilst what seems like an indie male choir begins to weave it’s harmonies over the thundering bass and staccato drumming – with a voice that finds itself somewhere between the Guillemots & Manic Street Preachers, given a near-hymn like quality creating something genuinely different and interesting within the indie gendarme…




Stirling quartet Jack Butler, deliver a searching example of their high reaching modern rock. In the case of "Surgery 1984" this is perhaps a less upbeat example of their work, but it’s no less noisy or impulsive, building up in layers of shimmering guitar loops before escalating into a series of soaring guitar versus bass lines, that sound a little bit too much like Interpol. The B-Side "This Soul Accelerates" delves straight into some 1980’s guitar indie, with heavy disco intentions and a drive not a million miles away from the recent experimentation of Wild Beasts, but with more of a lo-fi charge that eventually ends up sounding like very early U2.

MMM By Milton Trebuchet



Singer/songwriters are two-a-penny these days. Oh, but wait, on closer inspection Jack Butler are in fact a Scottish indie four-piece. Far removed from the conventional moniker though, there is little formulaic about their output. Title track ‘Surgery 1984’ begins innocently enough with sparkly light guitar picking and lead singer Liam Kelly’s earnest vocals before the track gains muscle with forceful basslines and frenetic, choppy guitar. Alas, if anything the track ends far too prematurely giving short shrift to some intriguingly invigorating melodies.

‘This Soul Accelerates’ continues in the same vein; straddling the gaps between the jaunty, jangly esoteric rhythms of Foals and the tight, intelligent pop sensibilities of Vampire Weekend with a heartfelt feel for sincere song writing. Infectious drumming breathes life into the track, gifting the lightweight guitar licks a welcome danceable edge comparable to Bloc Party. Both tracks hint at great things and with a little work and a few tweaks, Jack Butler could be one to watch.

Rated 10 out of 13 by Omar Soliman



Wrap your head around this one- Jack Butler isn’t some solo, chest thumping troubadour, he’s a band! Better than your average indie upstarts they combine elements of artrock, poppy hooks, and even the occasional disco drum beat (thanks Franz Ferdinand). The ‘Surgery 1984′ single calls to mind the sadly departed Rakes, the wiry guitars, the insistent rhythm section practically begging the kohl eyed lovelies down the front to dance. The melodies are pretty catchy too, sadly it’s all a bit too heavily influenced by their undoubtedly ‘diverse’ record collections. I’d go out on a limb and suggest Jack Butler likes a bit of Bloc Party, Cribs, Foals, Editors, et al. The songs are naive but their youthful exuberance is infectious, with a bit of time they could be an interesting prospect. Jack Butler assure us that, "you’ll be air drumming long after you’ve finished listening". Despite my best efforts to stop you can still see me on the back seat of the number 44 arms furiously pumping to ‘Surgery 1984′ stuck on repeat in my head. (4 stars - Jack Baxter)




Touch and Feel - 2 track download single (FORM5) on Platform

- Press Release :

Not many up and coming indie acts can claim to have the Japanese music market watching their moves. This however is an accolade which Vegas Nights can lay claim to after a sampler CD distributed by a series of online record stores earlier this year, caused a stir in the Far East. Touch And Feel / It Came As No Surprise is the band’s brand spanking new debut double A side which not only introduces us to the band, but gives us a real insight into their past influences and it’s future direction. The current penchant for throwback 80’s music has seen an increase in the synth heavy pop song, so it is rare and refreshing to see a band that manages to not only cross eras but portray them with it’s musical sounds. Hailing from Stirling originally but basing themselves musically out of Glasgow, the talented five-some thrash through evocative songs that are strongly reminiscent of the ‘Madchester’ sound that groups such as The Happy Mondays and The Stone Roses so masterfully crafted.

Touch and Feel springs to life immediately and crushes through the verse/chorus/verse approach. A precise and plucky guitar riff drives the track forward and beautifully compliments the echoey almost Smiths-esque vocals and harmonies as they plead ‘Maybe if we could touch and feel tonight/Then you would be just as satisfied’. This punchy pop track certainly leaves you satisfied, landing you somewhere between Gigolo Aunts and The Lightening  Seeds.

Vegas Nights list The Cure as one of their major influences and this is particularly evident in the second A side It Came As No Surprise whilst never taking away from its originality. A melodic and layered verse slowly opens the song up and has a slight tinge of The Beach Boys about it. The potent chorus is made more grandiose by the drudgeoning drums and crashing cymbals accompanying the ever present reverb-style vocals made so prominent throughout the Manchester scene. Guitarist John leaves his mark on the overall sound with a striking riff leaving you with a track that conjures up memories of The Housemartins ‘Happy Hour’.

With the band becoming ever more renowned on the gig scene in Scotland and Northern England, Touch and Feel / It Came As No Surprise is set to open them up to a much wider fan base. This E.P. is a really solid debut for the five-some and the beauty of Vegas Nights is that repetitive listens to these tracks will have you spotting a degree of influences from all genres. The band state that they were formed under the challenge of experimenting with old and new sounds in order to create inspiring and exciting music, this double A side single proves this to be the case and means we can look forward to an exciting future for the group.


Watch this space!      (Mark McDermott)  


Vegas Nights is not a compilation of songs from Celine Dion's recent stint playing to packed, no doubt tasteless, crowds on the strip. (Thank heavens to Betsy I hear you cry!). Nor are they a collection of dubious clips from some over exuberant frat party. They are in fact a very promising five piece from Scotland due to release their debut, for your audible delight, on October 26th.
Comin' atchya,' mercifully not like Cleopatra, but rather more like a Jack-In-A-Box on speed, 'Touch & Feel,' the first track on this double 'A' side from Stirling's finest, is a runaway train of a track, a fine piece of Indie power pop bursting with energy. Vocally despatched with just enough youthful petulance and a 'couldn't give a ---- attitude,' it's reminiscent of the Buzzcocks, and particularly Pete Shelley. From the metaphoric slap in the face you get from the opening bars the pace doesn't relent, it's carried along with harmonies and a sing along, get ready to pogo in the mosh pit, tempo.
The second of the AA's is a gentler affair, a little slower, but only just, and for me the ever so slightly better track. Again there are plenty of harmonies, a backing guitar break and accompanying vocal that come oh so close to 'Happy Hour' by The Housemartins and a nostalgic day dream towards Scotland's very finest export (No not Tizer), Jesus & Mary Chain. A little more reverb, and a bit more polish who knows.
Vegas Nights have delivered a stirring debut bristling with frantic, almost naively positive, excitement. They deserve to be heard. Keep your ears peeled. Whether it be on Round Table, or as someone's 'single of the week,' etc. Vegas Nights should get given their chance. If it's not this time around I'm sure they've got a lot more to offer, and based on this AA release, let's hope so.  Andrew Lockwood   (3 stars)


''Like the beatles going through an early 80’s indie blender…''

Traditionally popular music as a whole tends to move in cycles, an ever trundling wheel of reinvention and recycling of ideas. At this particular moment in time there seems to be a glut of bands intent on reviving the sounds of the 1980’s. As is often the case though, many of the acts involved in this resurgence tend to miss the point completely, bypassing the spirit of the music which initially made it so exciting. Instead mistaking it for being all about faux romantic posturing, silly haircuts and refusing to smile for press photos.

As such it's a relief to come across bands like Vegas Nights who imbue their influences with a sense of substance rather than style, coalescing them in to something with a bit of personality. There's a familiar mixture of inspirations certainly; The Cure, OMD, The Stone Roses. Unlike many of the other bands around at the moment though, they retain the slight experimental tendencies which initially made these bands so vital. It Came As No Surprise boasts what sounds ostensibly like a chorus without any lyrics, yet somehow manages to be insanely catchy.

Touch and Feel bounds straight into life with anthemic harmonies reminiscent of The Beach Boys with a hint of The Housemartins. As you would imagine given such references, this very much seems like a pop song. There’s a happy go lucky façade to these songs, but there’s still an underlying cynicism which at times recalls the skewed romanticism of Ian Curtis or Edwyn Collins. The latter part of the track being characterised much more of a melancholic disposition with fragile vocals and less frenetic almost languid instrumentation, which points toward an interesting ‘other side’ to their sound.

It Came As No Surprise confirms these traits with it’s instantly memorable Cure style riff and despairing lyrics. It’s a veritable snapshot of the very best periods of British pop music; a time when popular music had more of a soul, and certainly more artistic merit than is exhibited in today’s charts. Yes it was catchy, but more than anything it was born out of a feeling of discontent, of wanting something better. That cynicism was masked by the songs upbeat tones and a sense of bravado though, bands like The Smiths and Orange Juice being prime examples. It’s this apparent shared spirit which makes Vegas Nights more exciting than most of the other derivative 80’s style dross being spouted out at the moment.

This is a very promising debut from a band with the potential to make records as exciting as they are accessible, something which has been mostly lacking in the British music scene for quite some time.   (4.5 out of 5)   Chris Tapley

Vegas Nights are from Stirling ( which is the same town as Jack Butler in fact) and in some respects they’re singing from the same 20th Century song book. “Touch And Feel” is driven completely by jangled guitars, but with a little more of an influence from Brian Wilson had he perhaps been a member of the Buzzcocks. Throughout this sprinkling of scuzzy psychedelia, the vocals seem to hang on to each note with a slight charming wobble, as the band take cues from the Beatles to the Smiths with an equal amount of pop fuelled glee.

MMM    By Simon Brown    http://www.music-dash.co.uk/releases/release.asp?item=6509

 What a global paradox that five Glaswegians woo the Japanese music scene and name themselves after that American adult wonderland known as Vegas. Compared to the Happy Mondays and the Stone Roses for their emotionally-packed repertoire, Vegas Nights release their debut AA single in late October.

The band's influence by the Cure is evidenced by the first cut ‘Touch and Feel.’ Immediately effusive, it embraces perculating guitar riffs and punchy vocals. The second cut ‘It Came As No Surprise embues a solid melody and masterful vocals. Punch-drunk drums, acerbic cymbals and heavy reverb come together on the chorus - a rousting guitar riff rounds off this revelation.

The band members promised a sound that would encompass a variety of genres. They have done so and some of the guitar work by Johnny often recalls that of the Ventures. While it may take some time for them to acquire the magical chemistry of an established band like the Cure, they’ve captured the musical immediacy of the moment and look like they’re well on their way to cashing in their hard-earned casino chips.

Originally from Stirling, but now based in Glasgow, Vegas Nights show that they have some promise here on this, their debut single. They’ve been listening to a lot of different music -clearly both the Beach Boys and The Cure (good), but what they need to do is work on finding their own voice. Some good ideas here - I look forward to seeing them grow   (3 STARS)

         THE ENCIERRO  -  Be Yourself - 3 track cd single/download (FORM6) on Platform.

                                                                                 Press Release  

Few great indie rock bands are built without an enthralling story to boot. The Encierro (acronym N*C*R*O), a five piece from Stirling, Scotland are no exception. Since their impressive start in 2003 where they excelled and won the esteemed Stella Artois Battle of the Bands (astonishingly within four weeks of forming, a feat not at the grasp of many) they have crafted themselves an extraordinary tale of talented music, rapid success and sold out shows. Now, The Encierro are ready to unveil their superb first official mini EP Be Yourself, a single likely to further catapult the group. The band’s ambitious story continued when the Stella Artois achievement was rewarded with £1500 and studio time, allowing them to record their first EP ‘Idiot Rock N Roll’ at the Glasgow based Cava Studios, where prominent acts such as Mogwai and David Byrne had recorded before. The Encierro appear to have already had a stellar ride since their somewhat quirky inception in 2003 at a swimming pool in Los Christianos, but the new single only adds to this further. Souey, Janek Kanikula, Junior Bone, John Liddell and James 'shoogz' McDonald comprise the quintet and with the Be Yourself EP, really give us a taste of that journey with three tracks strong in melody, percussion and riffs that tell a story in themselves.

The Encierro’s new EP really is as accomplished a debut single as a band is likely to put out, with a level of musical maturity that really shines through. The band’s progress from past tracks such as ‘The Girls Only Go Where The Coke Is’ and ‘Broken Record’ may be attributable to settling on a line up that truly works for them, and the result is an EP that really excels. The quality of the two B-sides accompanying Be Yourself are a joy to behold in an age where the radio edit remix has taken over from the days where bands showcased unreleased material on their singles. Here The Encierro pull out all the stops. The production on the title track Be yourself is homely, merging the electric and acoustic sides of the song seamlessly. The song drifts dreamily through the chorus, with the acoustic structure complimenting Souey’s vocals perfectly leading to a strong riff driven chorus. As it develops, the track builds to a potent, percussion filled, slick guitar licked ending. An almost R.E.M. style track in its beauty and composition, with slightly more of a Britpop undertone.

There is also an unnerving quality about both the B-sides on this single, quality not usually seen on a debut EP. The first being a Manic Street Preacher-esque style rock track titled Esconde Mi Mente. An instantly catchy tune that coupled with the subtle maracas and the exquisite jangly flamenco guitar riff, gives this powerful song an intriguing Spanish twist. The second track is an equally well written if altogether more direct style indie track. Things Get Better! has a glorious electric guitar riff reminiscent of groups like The Kooks or The View. The strained vocals of Souey give the track a rough quality rarely heard since The Strokes and the tight percussion of John Liddell gives the song an upbeat air that has you moving uncontrollably.

The band’s name (literally meaning the ‘lock-up’ in Spanish) refers to the notoriously dangerous Bull Run in Pamplona, Northern Spain, a furious pace that the group can relate to. Everything about The Encierro has you listening and wanting to know more, and given the rate they are hurtling towards stardom, this is a story that doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon.

(Mark McDermott)   


FORMING in 2003 Stirling indie stalwarts The Encierro have seen it all in the local scene.

The band’s name means "lock up" in Spanish and is taken in reference to the notoriously dangerous bull run at Pamplona, Northern Spain.

After a number of line-up changes the current members Souey, Janek, Junior, Shoogs and Liddell have come together to release the band’s debut single "Be Yourself".

The result is a driving indie-pop track which brings to mind Britpop class act The Bluetones (who the band have supported in the past) and more contemporary bands such as The Enemy and One Night Only.

(Kaiya Marjoribanks, Stirling Observer)

ANOTHER debut - this time from a Stirling five-piece. Be Yourself is bouncy positive pop rock. Think Dodgy maybe or early Supergrass.

The chiming guitar through the song lifts this from just another Britpop workout to something rather more special.

Esconde Mi Mente kicks off with a film sample and sounds like Manic Street Preachers with the title being sung by James "Souey" Lafferty just like James Dean Bradfield.

However, the band again add a twist with the rhythm more like Animals-style R&B.

Third and final tune Things Get Better blends the two elements together - Lafferty adding some epic Manics vocals to a perky tune that will have the indie disco kids skipping as they go up for another cider and black.

(Rick Fulton - Daily Record)

With a name as exotic as The Encierro they should really hail from Spain, but Stirling? Regardless, the band specialise in the sort of inspiring songs that gave Britpop such gravitas. Take lead single ‘Be Yourself’ for example, with its subtle acoustic refrains and ever more delicate riffs, the track hints at the refined touch of REM combined with the melodic thoughtfulness of The Kooks. The key is in the production as the verses flow seamlessly into the chorus, gifting front man James Lafferty an imposing platform on which to deliver his impressively passionate vocals.

Thankfully, ‘Esconde Mi Mente’ does offer an expectant flamboyance with its slight flamenco guitar and Lafferty’s notably catchy vocals playing second fiddle to cunning, building acoustic riffs. Final track ‘Things Get Better!’ hints at the band’s more traditional take on indie with a gloriously simple yet effective exchange between jangly electric guitar and Lafferty’s laboured vocals granting the track a homeliness evident on the single throughout. (10 out of 13, by Omar Soliman)


And by be yourself, I presume they mean be early REM. Because it's the early jingly-jangly sounds of said Georgian chancers that The Encierro seem to be trying to emulate on this, their debut single. So, if you like that sort of thing, then you'll like this.

The B-side 'Esconde Me Mende' goes a bit more psych pop, and is all the better for it.



NATASHA ENGLAND  with LOGAN  - 11 track album 'Deeper Into Reality' (FORMCD3R) including the single 'Stop Doing Nothing' (FORM7R) on Platform.  

                                                                            Press Release

At a time when the electronic genre has come to the fore of popular music, it is rare to find an album that takes as many risks and succeeds with such aplomb as Natasha England’s new album Deeper Into Reality. Natasha’s rich and illustrious musical background makes this album all the more interesting to listen to.  After successfully cracking the UK top 10 with her single Iko Iko and the 80’s pop classic L.P Captured, Natasha immersed herself in the writing and recording of new material.


Following her collaboration with many industry notables, England came across Robert Logan - a producer and performer who skillfully reworked Natasha’s ‘Iko’ hit for a 2007 re-release, and has also worked with acts such as Faithless, Siobhan Donaghy of Sugababes and Grace Jones who he supported at the Royal Festival Hall and the Royal Albert Hall amongst others. The result of this collaboration is an intelligent, cutting edge electropop record that is bound to have you wanting to listen over and over again. A wonderfully innovative and creative album that draws on many different musical genres to create a truly great and original listening experience.


The immediate thing which stands out to the listener is that the music so effectively  merges classic synth-pop with new found electro beats and sounds. An incredibly direct, punchy album in places, yet delicately ambiental, this seems to create a perfect balance between the vocals and instrumentation, particularly evident on the track Life’s For The Living. The album also has a wonderfully haunting quality, with reverb on both vocals and keys used to quite stunning effect, outlining Logan’s wizard- like production. Lead single Stop Doing Nothing is a lyrically fascinating song on the perils of idleness. Powerful and evocative in the mould of a slow dance track, its memorable hook with electronically tweaked steel drums gives the track a beautiful vibe. The Passion is another of the albums real stand out tracks, merging a club-style tubby bass line with a more traditional electro hook not out of place on any Boys Noize or Erol Alkan track. Natasha England’s haunting vocal gives the track a great edge. Title track Deeper Into Reality ups the BPM to rave status whilst never betraying that retro feel in the vocals. This cut also brings together a great Dubstep style bass with a semi-Soca beat that really gets you moving wherever you’re listening.


Natasha England and Robert Logan, who together wrote 10 of the 11 tracks, have  created an album packed with musical gems which are lyrically fascinating to listen to and slickly produced. Throughout Deeper Into Reality there are risks being taken, but with the musical pedigree and background of both England and Logan it is no surprise to see that the results produce an album which is sure to push the boundaries of electro synth a little further.  (Mark McDermott)


Natasha England may already be a familiar name to some readers, having already had a top 10 single in the form of 'Iko Iko' in 1982.

Nearly thirty years on and Natasha is making a return with some ambient electronica.

'Stop Doing Nothing' sounds like Hayley Bennett's alter-ego Cora Corman from Music and Lyrics, with an exotic beat and eerie waves of instrumentation.

The vocals whirl in 'Darkside', which has ominous cello-esque tones with echoing mid-range notes. The vocal is hypnotic in this song, which feels a lot like a soundtrack to an avant garde thriller.

'Come' continues in a similar vein, although it has a more substantial beat behind the swirling electronica.

Final track, 'Remember Me' is a dream-like carillon that spins around and around with a gentle voice gently laid on top of the warm bell-like tones.

This record has some good moments, although I would personally like to hear some remixes that feature more of a dance beat. Importantly, the character of the songs and the vocal itself are both very strong.


Most notably commercially known from hitting the UK Top Ten in 1982 with a cover of Iko Iko, Natasha England returns to the spotlight after spending the past few decades behind the scenes writing and recording.

Having worked with Robert Logan to revamp and remaster her famous smash hit for a 2007 release, England again teams up with the producer/performer for this cutting electro-pop record that sounds as if it has been teleported straight from the decade of shoulder pads, scrunchies and happy pants. At the moment electronic-laced music is favoured within the Charts, so England should find no problem in gaining an instant new fan base with her ethereal vocals backed to a heavy new wave beat. With an alternative underground sound, 'Stop Doing Nothing' appeases all things brilliantly wicked.
Jenness Mitchell   (3 stars)

It's a couple of years now since eighties popster Natasha England reworked and reissued her big hit 'Iko Iko'. And now she's teamed up with remixer Robert Logan for an entire album of new material. This sampler highlights four of the tracks from that release, and it's pretty darn good.

Of course it helps that the eighties have been back in vogue for a wee while now, so this electro flavoured material sounds surprisingly current. There's lots of beats and swooshes to keep the kiddywinks happy, and enough nods back to the olden days for the more mature listener to enjoy. And with events like Rewind packing out theatres across the land, there's no reason why this new material won't find an audience.

As synthpop goes, this is first division material with the single, 'Stop Doing Nothing' a hook filled treat. The other tracks are no slouches either with 'Darkside', ''Come' and 'Remember Me' all being worthy of a listen. With no duds on offer, the mix of electro, synthpop, harder dance tunes and pop melodies is well worth a listen.


It’s difficult to accurately place the sound of this single. On the one hand there is a hint of the 80’s about it – England’s vocals are little reminiscent of Annie Lennox and at times verge a little on the melodramatic. But there’s also a hard underbelly to the four tracks on offer here. Strangely I’d suggest that the ‘lead’ single is the weakest, the best song being ‘Come’ as it most successfully avoids too many nods to the past and most successfully mixes up England’s ethereal vocal quality with a contemporary hard edged electro. 7/10


It’s been a long time coming, but we finally have a collection of new Natasha England songs, something many of us have been waiting to hear since the excellent compilation of Natasha’s 80's recordings,‘Back From the Mists of Time, was issued a couple of years ago. That collection of songs served as a reminder that Natasha was not only one of our best singers, but also a songwriter who was never quite given the acclaim she deserved. Few who remember 'Top of the Pops' from those days will forget seeing Natasha perform on the show but maybe, looking back, her cover of ‘Iko Iko’, which is the song that she was best known for, didn’t help her career in the long run. Natasha was very much an innovator and she has survived in this business a lot longer than most still without the recognition she warrants.

Surely with the release of ‘Deeper Into Reality’ Natasha will attract a new, young audience without alienating the fans who have been with her since the eighties. A major part of Natasha’s music has always been firmly in the electropop genre. While there are indeed various sides to her music in many ways Natasha has been a pioneer when it comes to synth-pop. The passing years have seen Natasha, now with the assistance of producer/songwriter Robert Logan, add a darker edge to her take on this genre and in doing so she has opened up a completely new era in her musical career.

The eleven songs here are all Natasha England originals, ten written with producer Logan and although the lead-off single, ‘Stop Doing Nothing’ is a stunning display of both of their talents it’s by far not the only song on the album worthy of being singled out. It’s an extremely catchy electro synth soundscape, which moves at an almost deadly pace and where Logan shows his skills with various tweaks and effects. Lyrically it’s strong as well dealing with the lethargy that surrounds us and as a whole it’s a remarkable, affecting piece of music.

Natasha and Logan have really pushed boundaries on this album, rather than take the easy route, which both artists are extremely capable of, and recording lightweight but catchy pop songs that would appeal to a much wider audience than the original sounds and textures that they have moulded into the innovative pieces that make up ‘Deeper Into Reality’. They have created a satisfying album for both the artists and listeners that consists of songs that really do throw up new surprises and sounds every time you play them. It reminds me of Depeche Mode at times, not always in the songs but in the way that both that band and Natasha started out playing pleasant synth-pop and over the years their music has developed and matured with the artist and their fan base. While not abandoning their electronic roots Depeche Mode have nurtured a darker, more adult sound to their material through the years and Natasha, along with Logan, has certainly taken a similar route.

Those who have heard little of Natasha’s work since the ‘Iko Iko’ days will no doubt have problems believing that a song as complex as ‘The Passion’ was written and performed by that same artist they witnessed brightening our television screens all those years ago. In many ways it feels like a natural progression that Natasha is making music that reflects her past achievements, while creating a sound that is more adult-orientated than anything she has recorded in the past. But these songs really are more than we had a right to expect even from an artist of Natasha’s calibre. The title track, ‘Deeper Into Reality’, is an outstanding song with Natasha’s treated vocals weaving in and out of the atmospheric wave of sound that Logan conjures up. Again there is this feeling of the duo not forsaking their musical roots but presenting them in a fresh, exciting and creative way.

Many music fans were more than happy to finally have Natasha’s back catalogue complied so thoughtfully and respectfully on CD with the release of ‘Back From The Mists Of Time’, but it’s not just Natasha’s legion of fans who should check out ‘Deeper Into Reality’. There’s a whole new generation of music lovers out there who have yet to discover what a great talent Natasha England is and ‘Deeper Into Reality’ is where they should start. It’s a very contemporary sounding album and even though it would sound great in a club Natasha proves that she can still reduce grown men to quivering wrecks with the intimacy of her vocals on the closing song, ‘Remember Me (Waterfall)’ which also proves that she has lost none of the passion she has always displayed vocally.

Not only is Natasha England back, but she’s back with arguably the best album of her career to date.

Alanis Morissete blindsided by the dark undertones of PJ. Harvey, is the initial impression given off by Natasha England, ’Darkside’. Mood implanting backing digitalism takes on a low-key and mildly harrowing stance, sitting off England’s delivery of her troubled by love lyrics. Only two tracks into this explorative electronic album and England ably assisted by the adept production of Logan, switches the tempo by adding a soulful glide and some muffled vocal distortion. Imparting shades of grey to an otherwise black and white tale of love’s ability to set you free, ‘Come’. The album then slows down and a vocal strain instils heart and longing, ‘Strange’.

A creeping, fuller bodied, yet lower key electronic steer creeps into ‘Stop Doing Nothing’, to add a more thoughtful and reflective vein to this moody full-length. England has an ability to impart her own mood into a song, almost independent from the instrumental, but still she manages to keep the songs even. This aids her ability to switch from pop to straight out electro without it appearing too laboured. ‘How Do You Like It?’ , is a rustling slow electro tilted, political nettle grasping epic, showing that electro can be slowed down to chilling effect in order to communicate your bemusement:

“There’s a young boy lying by the side of the road, an old man dying alone and cold.

A family starving on the other side: a world of corruption nothing but lies.”

‘The Passion’, ups the tempo and a jungle bound is kicked into the percussion and electro slant, as the vocals take on a more distanced stance to filter in a more ambient lag. It makes the song harrowing, yet compelling and the mood ranging really starts to take effect as the album heads towards its conclusion. England and Logan show that an electro album can contain mood building epics without them feeling too forced or fake. (DAVE ADAIR)



               VARIOUS ARTISTS - 
THE BEST OF WHIMSICAL - 21 track compilation (ICALCD4).

                                                                                                       Press Release

Ever since the emergence of the Edinburgh born Whimsical Label in 1999 and their subsequent growth spurt in 2005, their artist roster has grown to an impressive and deep quality in a short period of time. With the likes of Jack Butler, Alfie Kingston, The Encierro and Natasha England releasing incredibly strong material on Whimsical or subsidiary label Platform, it is not forthright of them to release what can be deemed as simply an excellent ‘Best Of’ LP. This record makes even more sense in light of the support the label has been receiving throughout the industry via such respected institutions as XFM, NME and BBC Radio One.

The beauty of this ‘Best Of’ is immediate. The quality and diversity of the collection showcasing some enthralling sounds, demonstrating that Whimsical supports fantastic music rather than a particular ‘look’ or genre to back up it’s existence. The amount of variety contained on this LP makes it a true pleasure to listen to.

As well as including Whimsical’s biggest and crowd pleasing releases on here that have already received rave reviews from the industry such as Jack Butler’s “Velvet Prose” and Sunshine Variety Club’s “The Girl With The Crooked Smile”, there are as one might expect some beautifully crafted tracks to be admired and enjoyed over and over again. An album which takes you from 0 to 60 and back down again as quickly as you got there, making you sit up and take note of the truly excellent music. Refreshing turns such as the jazz like breezy ramblings of Natasha England on “I Casually Strolled By” contrast the more traditional Indie musings of Vegas Nights in “It Came As No Surprise” and then again to the haunting key sounds and beautiful harmonics of Emporium’s “Mind Games”. Dig deeper, and you get to see the real secret to this compilation’s appeal - it’s diversity.

If you want 21 songs that exemplify not only the richness of new music as well as the strength of a relatively experienced independent label, then you would be incredibly hard pushed to find any collection of tracks that does so as easily and as effortlessly as this one. An album which will absorb you from start to finish and surprise you on the musical voyage it takes you through.

(Mark McDermott)


Edinburgh based Whimsical Label was launched in 1999 and the subsequent years has seen them build a diverse roster of artists, many of whom are on this 'Best of' album. Jack Butler open the album with their infectious 2008 single 'Are you a hustler?'. Jack Butler are clearly the jewel in Whimsical's crown as they not only open the album, but they have another 5 tracks including closing the album with the dark synths of 'Apocalypse Clocks'. But this is a label's best of and it isn't just about one band. Be it the smoky vocals of Natasha England, the straight to the point indie from The Shermans (who I was very impressed with), or the astounding harmonies of Emporium. I think there may be too many tracks from individual artists on this album, but they way the collection has been put together it doesn't seem to matter much. This album, with it's diverse range has got something for every taste. It is quite rare for an independent label to have such diversity rather than flying the flag of a certain genre. I have to admit I wasn't really aware of Whimsical as a label before listening to this album, but on the strength of this collection I will keep an ear out in future. (7 OUT OF 10) James Sykes


BORN in Edinburgh in 1999, Whimsical's blueprint is Glasgow's Postcard record label.
This 21-track offering - out on Monday - is filled with strident indie that takes its DNA from Orange Juice.
No more so is this apparent than with Stirling four-piece Jack Butler who kick off the album with the angular and funky Are You A Hustler? The band have five more tunes on the album proving that they are Whimsical's house band and the most fully formed act.
The tracks include the Franz Ferdinand snarl of Hit Out The Park, Son and the unsettling album closer Apocalypse Clocks, with its ticking guitars.
Eighties star of Iko Iko - Natasha England - has also found a home on Whimsical and offers the smoky I Casually Strolled By.
http://www.thefreelibrary.com/sound+check.-a0248300025 (Daily Record Feb 4th 2011)

Whimsical Records hails from Edinburgh and boasts a modest roster of indie-pop singers and bands, none of which have broken the mould, neither have they floundered in a cess-pool of dull indie-dom. This collection rounds up the more memorable releases, drawn from over ten years of existence, an admirable landmark given the recession and digital age, although most of the material here has been drawn from their second-wave of activity since 2005.

Jack Butler is the most-sampled artist on here and weighs in with jangle-disco efforts of some repute, namely the album's opener, "Are You A Hustler?" and another five similar exercises. The catchiest little tune comes from Sunshine Variety Club, a breezy little effort that wouldn't sound amiss on The Coral's best of (if they'd written it), while other notable belters include Adam Tedder's ballad "It'll Be Soon", The Firm's powerful new-wave jerk-punk anthem "Life's Dismal Results" and the slinky jazz-noir of Natasha England's "I Casually Stroll By".

Throughout the compilation however, there are signs of inconsistency amongst the stable-mates - the other England and Butler tracks are indie-by-numbers or cheesy-retro '80s pop, while The Shermans fail to get off the ground with all three of their efforts. I'll make a special mention about Vegas Nights who have gifted us with possible the worst band name since Those Naughty Lumps, Cardboard Meatnappy or Jedward, yet have recorded one of the sweetest psychedelic twee-pop songs EVER.

Overall then, Whimsical isn't that whimsical at all, but a polite and studious class of scruffy yet well-meaning student-types with a natty line in contented anger and joy that might just keep them in downloads for another decade. (3 stars)

Paul Pledger


So, it's time for a Whimsical best of, eh? Well, I have to publicly declare that I have an interest here, as I used to write press releases for them. However, they dumped me without any explanation or, indeed, a farewell pie. The bastards. So, I think it's safe to say you don't want to buy this.

However, if my pride is of little interest to you, and judging from my life so far, that would seem to be the case, I'll tell you a wee bit more. Edinburgh based Whimsical Label was launched in 1999 and have been ploughing an indie rock furrow ever since, looking back over one shoulder to them there eighties, when skinny white boys with guitars were all the rage in Scotchland. So if Josef K influenced guitar pop is your thing, read on.

Label mainstays Jack Butler manage to snag half a dozen of the 21 tracks on offer, with the best of them 'Apocalypse Clocks'. The Shermans get more than their fair share of tunes, but if you're looking for a lost gem, point yourself towards Vegas Nights, a band who should be huge, if the shuffling bagsy of 'Touch And Feel' is anything to go by. Natasha England from them there eighties made a surprise return to music via Whimsical, and her two tracks are well worth hearing.

Elsewhere, there's a mighty fine ballad in the shape of Adam Tedder's 'It'll Be Soon', and Sunshine Variety Club’s 'The Girl With The Crooked Smile' remains lost classic. Naturally, there are a few tracks that don't pass muster, but you have to admire Ewan Mckenzie's perseverance as the music business collapses all around us. Still no pie for me, though.


One you may not have heard of, Edinburgh's Whimsical label aren't an organisation whose name springs to mind whenever I've found myself compiling lists of Scots based independents, and as a former contributor (over two years) to the still lamented and also Edinburgh based Is This Music? magazine, I felt mildly irritated when confronted with this 21 track summation of the labels output over the preceding decade. Because I, and you, really should know a little more about both the label and their artistes.

Now, trends in music and awareness of them are the very bread and butter of the music scribes daily existence, and as this compilation stretches back to the late 90s, it's inescapable to note that more than half the tracks here are of the Doherty school of Mockney sneers and rattly old music hall four chord raspings, and very cleverly put together some of them are too. You hadn't any idea Edinburgh was such a hotbed of metropolitan cynicism and downright six string subversion, but none of the bands on this compilation are making what you might suppose are the 'right noises' for Scots music today eg: ropey old folk bobbins, heavily accented drunken electronics, Andy Stewart club remixes etc, and Whimsical are due belated congratulations for sticking their necks out and refusing to kowtow to the imposed cultural norms that so often bedevil musicians north of Berwick nowadays. A better album than the View's new release? Quite possibly.

This compilation has been put together to celebrate the 12th birthday of Edinburgh’s Whimsical label and, like every pre-teen, there are tracks here which show great maturity and promise, such as Emporium’s ‘Mind Games’ and there are also shades of teenage petulance in the form of Natasha England’s ‘I Casually Strolled By’.
This makes it a natural successor to that other Edinburgh indie legend, Postcard and it has all the boons and flaws of that great lost cause. You’ll find everything here, from singer-songwriters to hard rock, with a little bit of jazz in the middle, just for good measure. This is, then a real journey, with all the good bits and bad bits that phrase implies.
There are long stretches of beauty, which seem to go on forever. There are also short pit stops of frustration and boredom but, just when you think they are getting too much, along comes another wee surprise.
 Jonathan Muirhead  www.isthismusic.com


THE OK SOCIAL CLUB - 'The Shape Of Things To Come' (Platform FORM8)


'The Shape of Things to Come' is the debut single from Edinburgh's The OK Social Club, one of Scotland’s brightest young bands. Drawing from a diverse range of influences from 50's girl groups to 70's punk, The OK Social Club exhibit their writing talents in full throughout the song - it's guitar driven, with a foot stomping rhythm and unforgettable hooks. This catchy and energetic track has radio play written all over it. Backed up by two B-Sides - Twist, Learn, Kick and Scream and Twisted Young Gentlemen, this release is a strong mark in the sand from a band with a confident grasp of their own identity. "it's all about the melody - we're a pop band at the end of the day", says the band's charismatic front-man Raff. When asked why they chose The Shape Of Things To Come as their debut single, he added, "it's a good representation of what we're about, it's a new song with bags of energy and an indicator of what's to come." The band will be celebrating the launch of their first single with a gig on 24th March at Cabaret Voltaire in Edinburgh, followed by a UK tour in April. Guitarist Chris Finn says "It's been great fun recording these songs, but I've missed playing live, I can't wait to play in front of people again. Our first demos were played on local and national radio shows which led to us gigging up and down the country, hopefully this single will help us build on that." The Shape Of Things To Come is released April 2nd 2012 on Platform Records.


Edinburgh upstarts The OK Social Club may be reminiscent of the Strokes, but they manage to hang on to their Scots accent on this slice of pop brilliance. ****

The opening strains of ‘The Shape of Things To Come’ by Edinburgh’s OK Social Club tells you everything you need to know – they’re taking the happier, poppier elements of Scottish music, from Bis to Dananananaykroyd, and they’re updating them for the 21st century. The debut single from the band, there’s certainly promise on show here. It’s nothing life changing – but then again, whose debut single is these days? – but it is most certainly enjoyable fare from a young band. ‘Shape of Things To Come’ brims with energy, and even shows a nice change of pace as the song moves towards its close, with a singalong coda that should get even the most jaded of gig-goers singing along. The single is backed up by ‘Twist, Learn, Kick and Scream and ‘Twisted Young Gentlemen’. ‘Twist, Learn, Kick and Scream’ is pretty standard b-side fare, a nice song, but nothing to really take notice of. ‘Twisted Young Gentlemen’, however, is the real hidden gem of this three-track collection. An end-of-night song that bookends the single nicely – opener ‘The Shape of Things To Come’ sings: “What did I do last night/How did I end up here” whilst closer ‘Twisted Young Gentlemen’ says: “And now/All that’s left/Are photographs/And battle scars”. All in all, ‘The Shape of Things To Come’ is a decent debut single. ‘Twist, Learn, Kick and Scream’ is the only song that doesn’t leave much of an impression, but the other two songs show that there’s certainly promise, and if this is The Shape of Things To Come from The OK Social Club, then maybe it’s worth keeping an ear to the ground. http://www.isthismusic.com/ok-social-club (3.5 out of 5)

The OK Social Club - ‘The Shape Of Things To Come’/double B-side, ‘Twist, Learn, Kick and Scream’ and ‘Twisted Young Gentlemen’, Single Sunny, fresh faced, highly melodic, catchy Indie which bowls along, in well matched harmony, beautifully delicate, nimble, mellow bass, the star, supported by scrunchy, cheerfully careering guitar , energetically optimistic, sensitive drums and soulful vocal, Scottish accent appealingly apparent. Though employing familiarly engaging stock musical phrases, all three songs melodically, memorably endearing, poignant , individual touches providing unexpected pleasure, particularly the break, three quarters though 'The Shape Of Things To Come’, built around wonderfully laconic bass. Twist, Learn, Kick and Scream’ adds touch of ‘60’s Kinks style, in vocal effects and melodic construction, with hints of Bragg and Two Tone, while more contemplative ‘Twisted Young Gentlemen’ , most obviously Indie pop, infectiously anthemic. http://www.mudkiss.com/chumkimarch12.htm

Sunshine and lollipops, in the form of The OK Social Club, greet you on The Shape Of Things To Come and just like Hansel and Gretel – you’re going to gorge yourself on their gorgeous, upbeat tunes – a modern spin on REM by us, the dour faced Scots – with feel good indie anthems as the result. Opener ‘The Shape Of Things To Come’ serves as an explosive, exciting introduction to your new watering hole, fast and energetic – it’s a great way to set the tone. Next track up, the oddly titled ‘Twist, Learn, Kick And Scream’ drops the tempo, but not the optimism – the indie instrumentation showing a sharper edge, with darker, more abstract lyrics as a result. Closer ‘Twisted Young Gentlemen’ is an effective encore; simple lines, big choruses and straight grooves allow everybody to participate. It’s nice to see a band taking a smiling sideways glance at things in what’s becoming an increasingly dark world. Words: Matthew Slater http://ravechild.co.uk/2012/03/02/record-review-the-ok-social-club-the-shape-of-things-to-come-platform-records/

THE OK SOCIAL CLUB "THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME" (PLATFORM RECORDS) RELEASED? 2nd April. SOUNDS LIKE? Interesting, no sooner has Scotland got its own and superior version of Billy Joel in Michael Maclennan than they go and produce the very noises that ye olde Arctic Monkeys were supposed to be making all along. The Ok Social Club perform this neat trick by molecule mining the shafts pre-drilled by Ballboy and whacking in all those clanky basslines that Clor were supposed to save EMI with. That's the short and simple answer to the 'sounds like?' question and it's the only answer that you need because Ballboy are and Clor were damn good and The Ok Social Club are damned good IS IT ANY GOOD? Yes, it's fair to say that The Ok Social Social Club give me reason for hope. WHERE IS IT? www.platformrecords.co.ukThat's my brick... http://www.unpeeled.net/singles.html

The OK Social Club have been creating a little buzz around certain circles for a while thanks to their brilliant tight live performances of catchy guitar pop with a slightly punk edge. The band have taken their time with their debut release The Shape of Things to Come, out now on itunes and available to view on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCKSdQ1w2io A guitar riff appears out of a flurry activity before a catchy acapella vocal takes you off on a guitar-pop trip for three-and-a-half-minutes. There are echoes of The Cribs and the poppier moments from The Libertines. The main hook/chorus; You want to see us fail, you love it when we go, a little too far off the rails. is used to good effect throughout the song, turning into a terrace style chant towards the end. The band pack a lot into the 3-minutes, slowing things down, speeding things up, taking things out, adding bits in. They clearly have an ear for a hook and a melody, two things I am very fond of personally. I am a sucker for a good guitar pop song and this is a good one. I need to give the record a rating for this website, something I hate to do as it is up to people to make their own minds up. I mean what is a 5/5 record? You Set The Scene by Love, Whats Going On? by Marvin Gaye? This gets 3/5 for me. Energetic, full of hooks and melodies and promising a lot more. Having seen the band live on a couple of occasions I know they have loads of tunes up their sleeves. http://www.glasgowmusic.co.uk/ReadReview-213

Charming early summer stuff here from Edinburgh’s The Ok Social Club who seem to combine the sounds of We Were Promised Jetpacks with The Boo Radleys. 7/10 http://www.tastyfanzine.org.uk/singles121apr12.htm

Edinburgh scamps The OK Social Club’s dynamic new single is a melodious little ditty that veers from the indie rap sheet of early days Twang and parades the energy of fellow Scots The View. http://www.shout4music.com/features/this-week-in-singles-242012

THE OK SOCIAL CLUB - 'The Late 90's' (3 track download single and promo cd on Platform FORM 10)

Two-note chorus. Quirky energetic rhythms. Britpop-channeling vibe. Edinburgh’s The OK Social Club 2nd single “The Late 90s” may be a cute song but the music video is even cuter. Doesn’t take too much for me to get enthused about a UK band – just make sure the chorus is an earworm. This totally works for me… http://www.powerofpop.com/poptv-the-ok-social-club-the-late-90s

Sharp, but chunky speedo pop rocking that's breezier than a tramps underpants and that's ''The Late 90'S'' that is. The casual dismembering of the Arctic Monkeys clank pop is called ''Hey What Happened?'' and it's crisp blast is, well, a blast. ''Dirty Buzz'' is the favourite here, mainly because it's part schmaltzy glitter cabaret, part swoon pop and then it goes all late Boomtown Rats with huge slabs of well drilled math rawking, it takes a bit of class to roll that lot together. IS IT ANY GOOD? Yes. They're cute and they're clever and they bite. http://www.unpeeled.net

For a band that has only been playing together for 12 months, The OK Social Club is producing indie music of great maturity. ‘The Late 90’s’ is the second single released by the Edinburgh lads following ‘The Shape of Things to Come’ in March. The title track sounds like the Scottish equivalent of a Strokes’ hit, only with more humorous lyrics: “I used to finish your sentences… but now I don’t know what you’re on about”. “’The Shape of Things to Come’ was an introduction to what the band sound like,” explains Bassist Burn, “but ‘The Late 90’s’ shows our punk side and gives people a taste of our live energy”. B-side ‘Hey What Happened’ is a sing-along stomper with a catchy guitar riff weaving alongside the lyrics and ‘Dirty Buzz’ has clear music influence from the likes of The Arctic Monkeys. ”It’s great that people are eager to hear more from us. “We want to release new stuff as much as we can, that’s why we’re putting a couple of B-sides on each of our singles” frontman Eragona says with an appreciation for their fans. “Expectations are high and that’s a good thing, it keeps us on our toes.” Check these guys out if indie-rock is your thing or you simply need to have a head-banging season to put a smile on your dial. http://ravechild.co.uk/2012/07/11/record-review-the-ok-social-club-the-late-90s-platform

The OK Social Club are at it again – new single ‘The Late 90s’ picks up exactly where the gang left off with previous single ‘The Shape of Things To Come’, meaning more punk rhythms, and their veritable melting pot of Scottish pop music. ‘The Late 90s’ is a bit different from what’s came before though – while ‘The Shape of Things To Come’ was very much a pop song, with slick production and a very radio-friendly sound, this latest effort is a bit more rough around the edges; but don’t take that as a bad thing, because on this evidence, it works better for the band. It would have taken a fool to say there was a lack of energy on previous OK Social Club releases, but this is a different kind of energy altogether. The guitars are a bit louder, but it brims with the same energy that made ‘The Shape of Things To Come’ so damn catchy. Much like the previous single, ‘The Late 90s’ is backed by two very acceptable b-sides – both ‘Hey What’s Happened?’ and ‘Dirty Buzz’ are of similar quality to the title track. ‘Hey What’s Happened?’ slows things down a bit (even bringing about a kind of ‘end of the party’ vibe) before ‘Dirty Buzz’ blends both these qualities together, raucous, shouty choruses and slower verses to break it down. At least one thing has been cleared up about The OK Social Club – they aren’t one trick ponies, they can change it up when needs be. The real test however, will come when they release any sort of full length record. If the formula can last over an extended format, then they certainly are onto a winner. (4 stars) (Mikey Reynolds) http://www.isthismusic.com/the-ok-social-club-2

Snapping and crackling with masterful exuberance, The OK Social Club’s second single is a bolt of lightning to the heart of a dreary indie summer. The Edinburgh four-piece have spent most of their career to date honing their infectious riffs around the country, and this tightness shines through on this catchy burst of pop brillance. Straight from the off ‘The Late 90’s’ blows the majority of the competition out of the water, with it’s start/stop intro demonstrating both innovation and craft. Chris Finn’s subtly catchy guitar line and some pounding percussion build the sonic layers and channel the song beautifully towards Raff Eragona’s sugary vocals. Despite their modern sound, the song deals with the stickiness of meeting old friends and the universal feeling of having rown apart. “I used to finish your sentences/But now I don’t know what you’re on about.” Dripping in youthful nostalgia, the song spirals towards a chorus as energetic as DZ Deathrays mixed with the refinement of early-Strokes. Name checking infamous Edinburgh haunts from back in the day, the song never gets caught looking backwards but continually drives forwards on a melodic rollercoaster. And in under three minutes it’s done. Instead of simply wearing their influences on their sleeves, The OK Social Club have bent them to their will and sculpted a sound that is uniquely their own. Their music swings with a perfect ying and yang, resonating like an iron fist in a velvet glove. ‘The Late 90’s’ will lure you in with it’s honey harmonies or pin you down with its machine gun guitars – either way you’ll be having a great time. http://www.theedinburghreporter.co.uk/2012/07/review-the-ok-social-club-the-late-90s

Having reviewed their previous offering, in March, I concluded “...sunny, fresh faced, highly melodic, catchy Indie which bowls along, in well matched harmony...” Like that ‘single’, this is actually three tracks, and though they have lost some of their puppy dog poignancy and warmth, grown more brashly confident ,instrumental and vocal prowess even more honed, this single is similarly endowed, shining with inspiring Indie spirit, unpretentious, brimming with sparkling vigour and verve. None of these songs quite match ‘infectiously anthemic’ ‘Twisted Young Gentlemen’ from the first single, but all stand out in crush of Indie crowd: ‘The Late 90’s’: Starts and stops like scratched record before burbling, babbling along, thrilling throb of dew drop bass, foil for articulate guitar in conversation with zealous vocal “... I used to finish your sentences... now I don’t know what you’re on about....talk, talk, talk, talk...you talk a lot...” before rabbiting, racing off in parody, guitar skittering, sharp little riffs in hot pursuit, taking brief breath in snatch of Monkees harmony before careering off, screeching to halt. ‘Hey What Happened’: Beautifully eloquent bass, warm hearted drums, and impassioned ,yet more languid, reflective voice, “...forget what you’ve been told... does anyone even want to know...”adds poignancy to this just as sparky song, guitar shredding strum, picked, prickling in its higher register ,niggles , nags, tangles , teases, tantalising melodic counterpoint to vocal melody, coalescing in unified, defiant chant. ‘Dirty Buzz’: Guitar again in enticing conversation with cheeky, vehemently vivacious vocal, bass funky, slipping, sliding, jumping, jiving, drums careering, classic melody, new wave punk, inflected with Ska, rocked with roll, bowling vibrantly along. An effortlessly energising, melodic romp through many talents of this musically astute and versatile band, who definitely have a defiant, dirty big buzz about them. http://www.mudkiss.com/chumkiaugust12.htm

THE OK SOCIAL CLUB - 'Gezellig' (1 track download release on Clydebuilt Records / Platform FORM 12)

This four-piece indie/punk/pop band only emerged from the Edinburgh underground around 18 months ago, but they’re already making some serious headway with major radio and TV airplay on shows such as Sunday Brunch, Soccer AM and Steve Lamacq’s 6 music. ‘Gezellig’ is their third single after ‘The Shape of Things to Come’ and ‘The Late 90′s … it’s bloody brilliant! Be sure to look out early next year for debut album ‘Nothing In Common,’ along with a nationwide UK tour! http://whatshotandlivemusicshots.wordpress.com/new-single-reviews/17122012-2/

In a world of urgency, music that has been brewed over time has the power to stop you in your tracks. After spending the last year and a half honing their sound and gigging across the country, the Edinburgh four-piece’s third single comes with more than just promise. Fully formed with Fender’s firing on all cylinders, ‘Gezellig’ is the cherry on top of the charming catchiness of their first two releases. Straight to business with from the very first chord, lead singer Raff Eragona’s velvet voice sits seamlessly with the band’s upbeat indie. Continually complementing each other, ’Gezellig’ is the perfect blend of highs and lows. Chris Finn’s solos never linger longer than is needed whilst drummer Jordan Harvey’s backing is driving but never overbearing. The song’s peak comes in a few fleeting seconds of calm mid-way through, when Eragona’s voice rises above this temporary lull to assert the chorus of “Darling I was a sorry state when you found me/You shook me up and you spun me round/I will always remember that”. Perfectly in control before launching back into their freewheeling riffs – it builds not only momentum but anticipation for more. Alas, but in just over three minutes The OK Social Club manage to throw out the kind of aerodynamic, adrenalin-fuelled sunshine rock that most bands flounder about on a whole album trying to achieve. Crucially ‘Gezellig’ has an all-important intangibility about it – combining Beach Boys vocals with Dave Davies guitars to create something completely alluring. With debut album Nothing in Common out early next year and a prestigious spot at this year’s Edinburgh Hogmanay celebrations, The OK Social Club are doing more than just alright.

For the OK Social Club, 2012 has been a big year.The release of two stand out singles ‘The Shape Of Things To Come’ and ‘The Late 90s’ have opened up a whole new audience due to praise and exposure from the likes of Soccer AM and BBC Radio and to top it all they have also been announced to perform at the legendary Hogmanay Celebrations in Edinburgh. To celebrate this fact they have released a third single, ‘Gezellig’ which is also a further taster for the forthcoming album ‘Nothing in Common’ set to be released early 2013. Right from the off it’s more of the same from Edinburgh’s newest indie darlings; lead singer Raff Eragona’s unmistakable velvet tones fit seamlessly with the guitar band plan which, admittedly, has been tried and tested before, but The OK Social Club still seem to sound fresh and new. ‘Gezellig’ sounds like The Courteeners’ most pop guitar rhythm had a love child with a Fratellis singalong chorus. The solos are on reverb overload for most of the song and this only complements the undeniably addictive bounce of the rhythm guitar. The band have managed come up with a delightfully catchy pop punk song with more hooks than a Norwegian fishing boat and that’s exactly what ‘The OK Social Club’ are all about. With a celebrated spot at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay party, coupled with a debut album, the future looks much better than just OK for ‘The OK Social Club’. http://www.isthismusic.com/the-ok-social-club-3?

THE OK SOCIAL CLUB - Debut album 'Nothing In Common' (CD / Download on Platform Records FORMCD4)

The Ok Social Club formed in the summer of 2011, the 4-piece band draw from a diverse range of influences from 50′s girl groups to 70′s punk, exhibiting guitar driven foot stomping rhythms and unforgettable hooks. 2012 saw the release of the band’s first two singles The Shape Of Things To Come and The Late 90’s which won them praise and exposure via the likes of Soccer AM, BBC Radio Scotland’s Janice Forsyth show ‘Single Of The Month’, MTV, Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch, Hollyoaks, Steve Lamacq’s Rebel Playlist Winner on BBC 6 Music, and play-listing in Topshop stores worldwide including 10 weeks in the New York store. Their first Scottish tour has included sold out shows in Edinburgh and Glasgow and has helped The OK Social Club build a following all over the country. 2013 is gearing up to be an exciting year for the band, with the release of their debut album “Nothing In Common” on February 4th along with a full-scale UK tour. The OK Social Club album is an impressive debut and highly recommended for those with a love of loud, fast rock n’ roll. It’s the kind of musical recording that is also a heap of fun to listen to repeatedly. Most listeners will get pulled in by the wall of guitar sound driven by the propulsive beat provided by Jordan Harvey on drums. Once hooked, listeners will realize how crafty this band is to have come up with something that seems so simple at first, but sounds so brilliant in hindsight. Every ounce of praise this album will undoubtably receive, shall be deserved. It’s minimalistic, raw, fast, and perfect. Melodies and progressions that are simply hard to forget. Lyrics that fit perfectly and delivered gloriously by Raff Eragona on vocals. Gordy Burn pounding his bass in your left ear, and Chris Finn’s buzzing guitar in the right, this is the pop/punk-rock sound and format that has, and always will, capture the hearts of rock n’ roll youth tribes. Right from the glorious, blissfully infectious opening tune, “Getting Away With It,” the band celebrate their sheer unstoppable joy of guitar-based rock’n'roll. What follows hot on the heels of this first song, are another nine-tracks played at breathless speed and intensity, slowing down only for the penultimate tune, “Twisted Young Gentleman.” The standouts are easily discovered and savored along the way. “The Shape Of Thing To Come,” “Gezellig,” “She Said,You Said” and the aforementioned “Twisted Young Gentleman.” Before you realize it, the whole album is over, but it leaves you exhilarated, inspired and bewildered. You’ll be left with vocal chants inside your head, a buzzing in your ears and a desire to figure out a couple of chords on that old guitar you never quite got the hang of. The OK Social Club is pure aural amphetamine at work. http://jamsphere.com/reviews/the-ok-social-club-nothing-in-common-out-on-february-4th-along-with-full-scale-uk-tour

My introduction to The Ok Social Club, was through the boys at Bainbridge Music, when they posted one of their videos on Facebook. From what I had heard then, I had instantly become a fan of their music, and so, when I had an email from Music Elevator PR, with their debut album, Nothing in Common, attached I couldn’t wait to listen to it. And I have to say I wasn’t disappointed. The OK Social Club, describe themselves as an Indie, pop, rock band from Edinburgh, who are influenced by fifties and sixties girl groups right through to seventies punk rock and roll. And in their debut album, you can definitely hear these influences. The band only started playing together in the summer of 2011, and ever since have become, what can only be described as one of the hottest new bands from Edinburgh. Already in a short space of time they have had their music featured on various TV and Radio shows, including; MTV Rock, The Sunday Brunch playlist and Soccer AM. It doesn’t surprise me that they’ve been getting all this attention, as their songs have a real feel good, factor to them. In fact, listening to their music takes me back to my mid to late teens, when I used to listen to Ocean Colour Scene on constant repeat, as well as many other great indie pop rock bands that were getting aired on Top of the Pops. If I was to compare them to any band I would have to say that it is Ocean Colour Scene, that they remind me of. Especially when listening to what has to be my favourite track on the album, Twisted Young Gentleman. The song takes a slower pace to the others, and to be honest being track nine, you need that chill out time after dancing around like a looney to the other songs. The lyrics sum up what the album does to you, ‘takes me back, back to the old days.’ The songs, describe fun times, love, and remembering the good old days. But not in a woe is me kind of way, but in a get up and go, lets get drunk and have an ace time kind of way! Their foot stomping tunes, make it feel like you are back in the nineties, with blazing hot summers, chilling out in the sun, listening to great tunes. Some of their songs remind me of artists like The Hives, as well as a faster paced version of The Smiths. The songs are full of wit, and you can tell the band don’t like to take themselves too seriously. One of the songs on the album has the title Gezellig, which I feel is also the best term to use for the album. It is purely Gezellig! Gezellig being a Dutch term that is used to encompass all that is Dutch, cozy, quaint, nice. And that is what this album is, cozy, quaint and nice but with a mighty punch of fun, bouncing tunes. So if you need an album to get you through the winter blues, and bring you into the summer, then Nothing in common is the album for you. I certainly haven’t stopped listening to it since it arrived in my inbox. And as for The OK Social Club, I’d say they are ones to keep an eye on in 2013, because in all honesty if The Beatles were producing pop-rock music for the modern young listener, it would probably sound like these guys. http://secretsoundsuk.wordpress.com/2013/01/15/the-ok-social-club-nothing-in-common

There will always be room in the world for music to have a dance to – The OK Social Club seemingly had that memo in mind during the writing process of this their eagerly anticipated debut full length. Nothing In Common is packed with shiny and satirical pop sensibilities, but in place of the contemporary disposability, which so often plagues many bands within the pop-indie genre, is a bunch of exquisite hooks, which will enter your membrane and refuse to leave. The nucleus of The OK Social Club attack is based around social commentaries and ironically laced lyrics. These commentaries and enticing melodies have earned the Edinburgh quartet airplay on the likes of Soccer AM and MTV over the past twelve months, and more recently catapulted them in front of the masses at the capital’s massive Hogmanay celebrations. Praise and adulations aside, the question has always been whether this lot could sustain a solid and consistent sound to create a memorable debut album. Crucially, the band manages to produce clinical results, do not be fooled, though, there are songs on Nothing In Common, which would have been better left on the studio cutting floor. ‘Twisted Young Gentleman’ for example, exudes ideas of ballad grandeur but just fails to hit the mark – coming across slightly awkward rather than endearing. However, this is but a slight hitch, ‘Getting Away With It’ and former single ‘The Late 90s’ sound more vital and beautiful than it ever has before. Simmering with both confidence and presence the band lay the foundations to something pretty special. The main reason Nothing In Common comes across as such a charming little listen is because of the baptism of realism placed within the lyrics. ‘The Shape of Things To Come’ places together the pieces of a night out which turned out more than a little raucous, the charms coming full circle when narrated in a truly ironically fluttered fashion by vocalist Raff Eragona; “What did I do last night? How did I end up here?” he asks. If ‘The Shape of Things to Come’ is about the crime scene of the party, then ‘Gazelig’ is about redemption and apologizing for the aftermath; “darling, I was a sorry state when you found me”. It is through this track where the bands true charm is exposed; realisation that the fun is over and a need for responsibility and consolidation takes precedence over reckless occasions. The urgency of this balance is replicated through the sound of sweet jangly guitars and rhythmic drums, which both soothe and seduce magnificently. Make one thing clear, though – Nothing In Common is not a record made up of patronising and preaching tones; that would be a massive misinterpretation of what this record achieves. Bounded with undercurrents of 70s disco and with guitars that shred just as delicately as any Strokes or Cribs record – The OK Social Club have crafted a sound that is just as intelligent and intriguing as their contemporary commentary. http://ravechild.co.uk/2013/01/21/record-review-the-ok-social-club-nothing-in-common-platform

The OK Social Club are a group of lads from Edinburgh, who’ve only been together since 2011 but have already played Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, been given a nod of approval by those at This Feeling and have been played on air by Steve Lamacq and Janice Forsyth. With all this in mind, and under the promise of guitar music making its comeback in 2013, The OK Social Club have fired out their debut album Nothing In Common for us to get our lugholes around. My main qualm with this record is that it’s simply not long enough. It’s packed full of great little tunes – not one of which I would say is a bad track – but each track clocks only two to three minutes. Nothing In Common just about reaches the half-hour mark, leaving the listener hungering for more. That may be part of some genius plan however, in which case, well done to them on that one! Timing issues aside, Nothing In Common covers some interesting subject matters, and is particularly appealing to those in their early 20s who can relate to a lot of the song topics. Album opener Getting Away With It melodifies the classic problem of having a crap job, or using a job as a means to an end. What OK Social Club are getting away with is skiving and generally not getting caught at being a bad employee. The melody itself is reminiscent of early Kings of Leon, channelled via Edinburgh. Little Broken Bones references Susan Sarandon and is the bands own regaling of their glory days, interestingly named Gezellig is about a disturbed young man’s chance relationship, while Twisted Young Gentleman is the stereotypical coming-of-age tune you’d expect on a debut indie-pop album. It’s a track you would be forgiven for thinking came from The Fratellis, although that conclusion may have been drawn mostly due to singer Raff Eragona’s accent. Top tracks on the album are C’mon and The Shape of Things To Come. The latter catches ears with staccato verses and edgy harmonies. Both tell the tales of the party life, with a beat and melody making it impossible not to agree with them and want to join in. Highlight of C’mon is Eragona speaking the excellent colloquialism “sitting there miserable with your face tripping you”. The OK Social Club have created a solid first effort with Nothing In Common. Providing upbeat, catchy indie songs covering subject bases that their core audience can relate to whilst gleaning comparisons to some of the biggest indie bands of the noughties will definitely serve them well. If the only problem is that the record isn’t long enough, they don’t have much to worry about; The Strokes survived about 6 years with only 2 hours of music to their name. http://www.7bitarcade.com/music/article/2013-02-05-the-ok-social-club-nothing-in-common/

If artists want to draw like children, do bands want to sound like them? Nothing In Common comes drenched in the infectious ambition and enthusiasm of youth, buzzing with the energy that all debuts should. But the Edinburgh four-piece have old-heads on their young-shoulders after spending the last year and a half touring the UK, refining their sound and notching up three well received singles in the process. And their brand of tantalizing guitars and melt-in-your-mouth lyrics transfer well on to their first album. ‘Little Broken Bones’ has the right blend of pop sensibilities and beating emotions, with Raff Eragona’s vocals and sassy guitar throwaways adding sprinklings of wit to this indie number. ‘Diffidence Dance’ is perhaps their most out-there moment, moving through the gears from full band handbrake skids to high-octane guitar scratching with aplomb. Eragona’s vocals are again the cherry on top of this well-layered number, with you able to taste the truth when he admits “There’s always a way you can mess it all up/Then I’ll do that/And if there‘s a way you can make matters worse/I will find that”. The singles still sound as fresh as when they were but glints in the band’s eyes as well. ‘The Shape Of Things To Come’ is that familiar fumble after a heavy night out whilst ‘The Late 90s’ has guitar lines so sharp you could shave with them. Most recent release ‘Geezlig’ is the highlight of the album, providing equal measures of foot-tapping and chin-stroking for the patient listener. The OK Social Club’s debut might sit in the sunlight but dig a bit deeper and you’ll also find whisperings of the blues. Unashamedly catchy, it is the sound of the band who have perfected the art of crafting three-minute songs destined to take up rent-free residence in you head. Largely upbeat without being sugar sweet and harbouring some confessional honesty without sounding trite, Nothing In Common demonstrates why they are one of the hottest properties in Scotland right now. http://markmckinlay.wordpress.com/2013/02/06/review-the-ok-social-club-nothing-in-common

There are many amazing music scenes very far from the New York City scene that I have been part of for as long as I can remember. Luckily my position as a music writer has enabled me to discover bands from all over the world. God bless the power of the internet shrinking the musical world. Some of these bands would fit in perfectly in the lower east side of Manhattan venues that I love to frequent. The latest discovery is The OK Social Club. The band is a little young in the teeth, only officially forming in the summer of 2011. In the last year and a half the group has made huge strides and has set themselves up as one of the bands from the growing Scotland music scene that is ready to break in the rest of the world. The foursome of Raff, Chris, Gordy and Jordan combine a wide range of influences from 50’s girl groups to 70’s punk to today’s alt-rock genre. Last year The OK Social Club released their first two singles, ‘The Shape Of Things To Come’ and ‘The Late 90’s’ which grabbed the attention of many of the influential members of the Scottish music press. The band’s tour of Scotland included sold out shows in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Now The OK Social Club is ready to show off their talents to the rest of the world with the release of their debut album Nothing In Common this week on Platform Records. They also plan on a full –scale UK tour to promote the release. The album is full of quality alt-rock tracks from the opening playful pop track ‘Getting Away With It’ to the full of energy and funk ‘C’mon!’ the lead single ‘Gezellig’ is a little slowed down to let the listener focus on the quality songwriting. I had no idea what the word meant so I dove in to find out that it is a word with no translation into English. Literally, it means cozy, quaint, or nice, but can also connote time spent with loved ones, seeing a friend after a long absence, or general togetherness. What a cute little title for a cute little pop song. Don’t get me wrong, The OK Social Club is in no way trying to be an American band and they let their accents and Scottish tendencies shine through in their music. The band does give me flashes of fellow Scots Franz Ferdinand or Americans The Killers but this music is all their own. I have a feeling we will be hearing more from these guys on this side of the pond before long. http://indiebandguru.com/the-ok-social-club-wont-take-long-for-this-band-to-enter-your-alt-rock-playlist/

This is the debut album by a young Scottish band and its certainly a promising start by these Indie Kids. The band have already seen some of the songs featured on popular TV shows such as Soccer AM and Hollyoaks which is a good indicator of the wide appeal of many of the songs. The album kicks off with "Get Away with It" which has some great Britpop type lyrics, recalling the day to day struggles of the every day man. Lots of the songs are just custom made for dancing to at the local indie/student disco. Songs such as "Little Broken Bones" and "C'mon", actually have a similar sound to early Razorlight but rather than evoking the ego of Johnny Borrell, actually give the impression of a bunch of scamps having a good time. Not surprisingly, the first two singles off the album, "Shape of Things to Come" and "The Late 90's " are by far, two of the standout tracks on the album. The former begins with a great acapella opening and then it all comes together in a bouncy tune. It has a mid song break and overall provides a good element of diversity. This is something the band will need to work on as there is a tendency for some of the songs to sound a tad similar. "The Late 90's" however is another example of the band really hitting form. Its a really good song with a great chanting chorus. Its a pity that the songs have been released already because they both have the sound of a summer time hit. This success is also evident in "Everybody's at it" where there is again a hint of almost Britpop in both the sound and the lyrics. It reminds me of The Jam going really pop, which in turn is effectively Blur circa Modern Life is Rubbish. This albums is actually quite similar to another Northern based band, The Heartbreaks who released their album last year and enjoyed some good exposure via 6 music. Whilst the Heartbreaks adopted a similar indie pop sound, their album is tempered with the more depressive tone of Morrissey. This album takes a similar sound but instead it adds to it with the more upbeat sounds of the aforementioned Razorlight and Blur. The band clearly have potential and with a bit of air play this album could attract success amongst a more mainstream audience. Review by Paul Hastings http://www.mudkiss.com/februaryreviews13.htm

NA, NA, NA, NANNA NANNA NA! THE OK SOCIAL CLUB "NOTHING IN COMMON" (PLATFORM RECORDS) RELEASED? 15th April. SOUNDS LIKE? Sharp and brutal pop rock. Everything is bright and sharp, The OK Social Club mix their mixes with bravery, you can hear and pick apart every note from from every instrument, but you won't be doing that because you are a real person and, being a real a person, you will be too busy rolling around in a frenzy, noticing nothing more technical than the fucking fabness of The OK Social Club. You're right an all, this is a set that bleeds class, apart from the excellent echoes of Davey Henderson guitaring, they go right ahead and the lift the riff from Banana Splits, see under ''C'mon'' for details, like the riff. IS IT ANY GOOD? Yes, ''Nothing In Common'' is an album that follows familiar guitar, drum and bass pathways and it fits neatly into the pop/rock pigeonhole, but ''Nothing In Common'' has nothing in common with the vast, vast majority of pop/rock albums, mainly because it's a damn good one. Oh, they also appear to have the best drummer in the world. WHERE IS IT? www.platformrecords.co.uk http://www.unpeeled.net/albums.html

The Edinburgh underground scene is flurried with many young and talented bands relishing the chance to get into some mainstream success. One of the bands up there is The OK Social Club. With their new album combining The Strokes’ quick fire riffs and fellow countrymen The View’s lyrical concept of teenage angst and regular drunkenness, it has impressed bands out with Edinburgh like The Feeling. Spending months finding their sound and touring extensively in the UK has shown why their debut makes them one of the hottest Scottish acts around. Nothing in Common has its similarities to a great deal of Strokes songs. The guitar tone is extremely comparable to what Albert Hammond and Nick Valensi’s are. The sassy tone isn’t too patronising nor an exact carbon copy of The Strokes sound, but it does complement Raff Eragona’s vocals profoundly. Eragona’s vocals are essentially an Edinburgh version of what Kyle Falconer of The View’s are. Not to mention that they look awfully similar too. ‘The Shape of Things To Come’ is the song that will be used on indie dance floors in night clubs where a few dozen people will dance along to it. It captures any clubber’s nightmare of not remembering the night before; for example when Eragona says, “What did I do last night? How did I end up here?“ The album is filled to the brim of jumpy, sub-three minute indie tunes, with topics relating from alcohol and parties, to girlfriends and realisation. Perhaps the theme of drinking is overused, almost to the point where it becomes over-excessive. The band has catapulted into success that is growing substantially. Their songs have been used on Soccer AM and MTV and they were even chosen to play the Hogmanay street party celebrations in Edinburgh alongside bands like The Maccabees and Reverend + the Makers. The debut album is a delightful starting point for a indie band that couldn’t be in better position than The OK Social Club. Their palatable indie beats give any person the instantaneous feeling of wanting to jump around like a maniac. However, the over-appreciated Strokes sound and repetitive lyrical themes are a learning curve that can be develop for future songs. http://thereviewal.wordpress.com/ (7 out of 10)

It has been said that ‘best live band’ is pretty much synonymous with ‘pretty disappointing recorded band’; so off the back of their Best Live Act win at this year’s Scottish Alternative Music Awards (SAMAs) are The OK Social Club really that bad on record? The short answer is ‘Eh… naw!” as their jaunty, energetic indie rock transfers seamlessly from stage to disc. Whipping up the kind of careless vibe that rocketed fellow countrymen The Fratellis to success with their debut ‘Costello Music’ over five years ago ‘Nothing In Common’ is sterling effort. The galloping guitar on single ‘The Shape of Things to Come’ is offset against the Edinburgh drole of frontman Raff Eragona to excellent effort. Party tracks ‘Gezellig’ and ‘Diffidence Dance’ also deserve a mention, but it is not all rock ‘n’ roll on this record as the touching ‘Twisted Young Gentlemen’ demonstrates – with its solemn intro and acoustic, waltz-like sound leading to a flourishing finish. All in all, this record is undoubtedly deserving of all the ‘promising debut’ clichés and comments under the sun, now begins the long wait to see what the follow up delivers. http://www.shout4music.com/albums-eps/the-ok-social-club-nothing-in-common

The OK Social Club have a really genuine and youthful sound, a real vibrancy which comes off really well on Nothing in Common and could be the catalyst for a long and successful career for the four-piece from Edinburgh. There are plenty of things to get excited about on this little indie gem. Even the small things like the drum-roll fills on second track 'Little Broken Bones' show the band's willingness to do something different, not against the indie grain completely but trying to be their own beast. That track isn't a particularly catchy one, yet it sticks out as it has real charm, something which is quite frankly lacking with many British indie bands nowadays. 'The Shape of Things to Come' proves this band are firmly in the indie category. They've got that flimsy quality to them yet it stays endearing when usually it would become annoying. The vocal harmonies on that song work well and the chorus is continually catchy. Not all the songs are as strong, though, like 'Diffidence Dance' which is one of those songs which go absolutely nowhere and could have easily been dropped from the album as it adds nothing. However, as a whole, the album is really well-rounded. The acoustic 'Twisted Young Gentlemen' works well as a penultimate number to what is a seriously solid debut from a band who might be the next big thing to come from Scotland in terms of indie-rock. There's plenty of talent here to get to grips with and any plaudits are well deserved. http://soundblab.com/content/content/view/id/5157

DEAD SEA SOULS - Trendsetter (2 track download single and promo cd on Platform Records FORM11)

West Lothian skanking. And some very knowing lyrics about the cynicism and snobbery of the music scene, especially at the unsigned end of things. One for fans of Twin Atlantic's high-energy riffery. (THE LIST)

DEAD SEA SOULS - 'Brave' / 'The Comet' - AA download single (Platform FORM14)

Following last year’s successful LP, Dead Sea Souls have just released a double “A side” single with two fantastic tunes, “Brave” and “The Comet.” These up-beat numbers really made my day (which has not exactly been an easy one) keeping my spirits high and a bounce in my step with their brand of electro-infused power funk. Great pop rock guitar tones, tight drums and bass, crystal clear vocals, and top-notch production help Dead Sea Souls to shine like a comet. Indie musicians, do yourselves a favor. Check these cats out and pay attention! Remember that stuff they taught you in band classes – dynamics, tempo, dramatic pauses – yeah it’s in there, and a little a’capela, too! http://www.midtnmusic.com/dead-sea-souls-brave-like-the-comet-on-mid-tenn-listens/#JP6HA0FvRLUi2QEE.99

"Brave" is buzzed and droned, rising from monotone melodies to understatedly catchy choruses, with their surly attitude belied by the stolidity of the music. "Brave" by Dead Sea Souls is anthem-friendly, rich in melody and informed by current trends for pop and rock. An addictive hook, a rousing chorus, memorable lyrics, slick production, followed with a little repetition. A good tune that I could see being played at a hot festival somewhere in the mountains or maybe close to the beach? "The Comet" also gives me a feel good summer vibe with the fast plucks on the guitar, almost feels like it has a some surf rock influence in there. I really like the originality of the lyrics too, "when you crash like a comet / in to thousands of pieces / you live your life like a comet just waiting to crash / punching holes through my head like the crust of the earth". Overall the track production is nice, vocals and instruments are mastered correctly, the mix of all the instruments are blended well along with Gary Burns scottish accent. http://cargocollective.com/inhaletime/Brave-The-Comet-by-Dead-Sea-Souls

Upbeat and bouncy melodies will fill the room when you tune into Dead Sea Souls. The cool, but driven and hypnotic rhythm that Dead Sea Souls bring is unattainable by many other artists of their caliber. What separates this indie band from the many, many others out in the world is the band’s approach. The band consists of Gary Burns on bass and lead vocals, James Sweeney on guitar, David Clark on the drums, and Colin Sneddon on guitar and vocals. Each member exerts his own style into every second of the music. The most recent and most enchanting release from Dead Sea Souls, on Platform Records, is a double A-side with two tracks, titled Brave / The Comet. In the first single on the double A-side, “Brave” shows that it is a song that emits a strong and fierce attitude with gorgeous and intoxicating melodies. The song slides into an easygoing flow through the verses but then picks up flawlessly throughout the choruses. The singer’s voice resembles that of Death Cab for Cutie’s front-man with an unmistakable Scottish twist. The track is catchy, uplifting, and prizes its way into the listener’s heart rather quickly. “Be as bold as you can” is the highlight line of the entire song; these words will stick with the listener for days. “The Comet” compares to the first track with its great attitude; however, the song itself expresses a different kind of feeling. Dead Sea Souls manage to ooze positivity from what could be considered heartbreaking lyrics, while still maintaining their catchy guitar riffs and memorable rhythms. Gary Burns, who continues to sing the line of “You live life like a comet just waiting to crash,” manipulates his voice to sound as bold as it does in “Brave,” but with a light and sweeter lilt. This double A-side release may just be the perfect pair. The feeling of familiarity that surrounds you while listening to Dead Sea Souls is relieving and undoubtedly satisfying. “We now have two tracks that are completely different,” says Gary Burns, “which is awesome as we wanted to see where we could take this new batch of songs and do something you maybe wouldn’t expect from Dead Sea Souls.” As Burns states, the two tracks take on different meanings and melodies while still capturing that Dead Sea Souls flair. The double-A single is just great in all realms. It’s moving, emotional, and can pull at your heartstrings. But it’s never overly dramatic. The songs are arranged and produced in a way to give you that ‘comfortable and familiar feeling’. Normally a trait found on successful hit records. In a word, both of these upbeat and inspirational tracks take Dead Sea Souls to new heights. With undeniable positivity and proof of passion, Brave / The Comet proves to be the strongest release to come from the band yet, and could just be launching them into a new dimension. http://jamsphere.com/news/dead-sea-souls-brave-the-comet-the-double-a-single

fter the success of their 2012 EP We Were Always Electric, May sees the release of their blasting new double-A side single Brave and The Comet, released by Platform Records. Smashing back onto the scene, the new single continues the reputation of the band not only as a talented and energetic live act but also as budding recording artists, whose new work is a flourish of sound. Unable to agree on a single track, they decided to release an AA single, with the band agreeing that this is their strongest work yet. “We now have two tracks that are completely different,” shares Gary Burns (bass and vocals), “which is awesome as we wanted to see where we could take this new batch of songs and do something you maybe wouldn’t expect from Dead Sea Souls.” As a single, ‘Brave’ is a fantastic piece; melodic, exciting with inspirational lyrics. With its unassuming opening underlined with haunting guitar, Gary’s unmistakably Scottish-tinged vocals build suspense to the ambient first chorus, with drums and guitars joining to fill the sound perfectly. A song to jump around to, it’s reminiscent of bands such as The Killers and Twin Atlantic; a modern soft-rock/pop sound. An uplifting piece, its lyrics: “Be as bold as you can/There’s no room for a worried man/In this life that you lead,” are fitted perfectly with decisive drumming from David Clark and a technical accuracy in the playing of both James Sweeney and Colin Sneddon. A full sound, with breath-taking freshness; a summer tune. In contrast, ‘The Comet’ is described by the band as a “cautionary tale of a loved one’s DSS - Brave & The Comet Packshotunbridled hedonism,” it is a definitive piece and particularly impressive. The structure of the piece, with complex rhythms this piece is not only catchy but musically accomplished. With some spectacularly impressive playing from James and Colin, the piece brings the lyrics, “you live your life like a comet/Just waiting to crash/Punching holes through my head/Like the crust of the earth” to life. The piece literally punches a hole … in your soul, and as the single draws to a close your spirit longs for a repeat. Dead Sea Souls as they say do not “put their faith into coincidences”; their hard work is testament to hard-work and talented musicians. And I am “waiting [for them] to crash” on to a stage near me soon. http://secretsoundsuk.wordpress.com/2013/05/13/dead-sea-souls-aa-single-brave-the-comet/

As I write this mid-week, I am looking for something that lifts me up and helps me soldier on until Friday: ‘Brave’ by Dead Sea Souls is definitely fitting the bill. Emotive, rallying vocals that have a tender yet large quality provide the energy needed for the lyrics. The pounding drum beat and staccato bass and guitar gives the song a fun jerky feel. The lyrics are positive and uplifting with the chorus enigmatically stating ‘Be as bold as you can, there’s no room for a worried man, in this life you lead’. If you want a pick me up this is the song for you. http://www.7bitarcade.com/music/article/singles-round-up-20th-may/

KUNG FU ACADEMY - 'Super 8 Flashback' 6 TRACK EP (Download / Promo CD on Whimsical Records ICAL11)

If you are familiar with the J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg’s film Super 8, you may realise that super 8 is the name of the type of camera the children in the film were using, named due to the fact that it used 8mm film. Unlike the digital camcorders we use today, these cameras were all the rage in the 1960s and 1970s. Not only two great eras for technology, but for highly influential music. And so it seems fitting for a band that makes a clear nod to the funk sounds of the 60s and 70s, to title their six track EP, Super 8 Flashback. A fluke formation by their teacher at Napier University, putting them together for a one-off performance, the band have continued working together perfecting their style. The name, Kung Fu Academy, was inspired by an in-joke from around the time the boys parted way with their original frontman, claiming they were attending kung-fu lessons, whilst secretly rehearsing. However, even though their formation is down to a teacher putting them together, you can hear the chemistry of Bobby Osborne (Vocals/Guitar), Laurence Murray (Guitar), Duncan Robertson (Bass) and Fraser De Banzie (Drums) in their infectious funk rhythms and harmonies on the EP. Super 8 Flashback, takes you on a six track journey, through the styles of the classic 60s and 70s psychedelic funk and electric blues. When listening to it, you can hear a clear homage to the classic sounds of James Brown, Jimi Hendrix and many other great musicians of that era. Kicking off with their single and title track, Super 8 Flashback, we are straight away transported into the vintage sound of the funk style. This then leads us into the 70s disco beat of Sally. Oh yes, in this song we go from the jagged stabs of the guitar based verses, into disco ball central for the chorus. Think Flares, think roller disco, think glitter balls, and then darken the image with the edginess and dark imagery of Saturday Night Fever, and you have the sound of Sally. However, my favourite track of the EP, has to be Warpaint. This track has a more chilled acoustic approach compared to the edgy funk of the other tracks. Warpaint is very melodic and harmonic, that slowly builds to its climax with Bobby Osborne’s beautiful guitar work. It is this guitar work that feels like a true homage to Jimi Hendrix. It is a sea drifting tune, that you can listen to again and again. Kung Fu Academy has to be one of the first funk bands I’ve been introduced to since, starting up Secret Sounds, and I have to say I really like their sound. I think these guys can go far. They have really upbeat tracks, The Long Fall being a great contender for a great single. It has an easy radio play factor that makes you turn up the volume, and is a catchy tune that gets stuck in your head. All in all, Kung Fu Academy’s EP, Super 8 Flashback, is certainly something to get funky to. So get the EP, turn up the volume and get dancing round the living room! http://secretsoundsuk.wordpress.com/2013/03/20/kung-fu-academy-super-8-flashback/

SOUNDS LIKE? Oh fuck, they're good aren't they? No, really, it's clean and dirty, multi-layered, funky rock stuff that does the Supertramp thing of smuggling jazz in through the pop door and it also does the Average White Band thing of funking around with real feel. Though we should point out that Kung Fu Academy sound nothing like Supertramp or AWB, you need only twist your hips inside out to ''The Long Fall'' to realise that. IS IT ANY GOOD? Yes indeed, sharp, cute and classy noise, have some. WHERE IS IT? http://kungfuacademy.bandcamp.com/ http://www.unpeeled.net/singles.html

Now this is as tasty a jam as my grandmother’s secret recipe. Bobby (vocals/guitar), Laurence (guitar), Duncan (bass) and Fraser (drums) had no intentions of forming Kung Fu Academy. But, while studying music at Napier University, their teacher brought these four musicians together for a one-off performance. As if it was meant to be, they had a musical chemistry none could deny. So what did they do? They toured Scotland. Super 8 Flashback is the follow up to their commercially and critically acclaimed Dirty Honey EP and it is definitely the jam. Beautiful, well crafted guitar tones. Grooves that leave you no choice but to dance. And an appeal that will cater to various types of music listeners. Whether you are busting a move to the lead single Super 8 Flashback or jamming air guitar to the break in the funky, blues rock extravangza Junction, it becomes obvious this group of musicians know their music. The slower and more chill Warpaint is a refreshing pause in an onslaught of audio sensations dedicated to making you move and groove until you fall. Again, the guitar tones are so beautiful… Please hold while I play my air guitar along with the solo in Warpaint… Awesomesauce. Kung Fu Academy are a musical force that will be burning up dance floors and blowing out tube amps to a much wider audience very soon. http://www.midtnmusic.com/kung-fu-academys-super-8-flashback/

Following the release of a successful debut recording and two years of rigorous touring around Scotland’s best venues, Edinburgh’s Kung Fu Academy, returns to the fore with the dazzling Super 8 Flashback EP. A natural continuation from their commercially and critically acclaimed Dirty Honey EP, the six-track record, released via Whimsical Records, sees the quartet of Bobby Osborne (vocals/guitar), Laurence Murray (guitar), Duncan Robertson (bass) and Fraser De Banzie (drums) combine infectious funk rhythms with lush harmonies, captivating pop hooks and rollicking classic rock riffs. Produced and engineered by the band, and mixed and mastered by Fentek Audio’s Alex Fenton at Swanfield Studios, Super 8 Flashback boasts a clean, crisp, and full-bodied vintage sound that rekindles a now-bygone golden era of DIY guitar-music. There are not many bands out there in the music scene like the Kung Fu Academy; a pop group that can show it’s musical diversity with different styles, and do it flawlessly, seamlessly, and with a lot of class, soul and conviction. They combine soul, funk, pop, and rock in a sort of 60′s and 70′s retro revival. The work done here is quite remarkable! Each song uniquely captures a certain aura, a presence that fills the air with an intense deep feeling. The album is captivating, inspirational, relaxing, bitter-sweet, and uplifting, danceable, deeply honest, intelligent, and has just about every sound era in it! Straight off from the title track, Super 8 Flashback, prepares you for the rollercoaster musical voyage Kung Fu Academy have in store. We then move on to Sally. Whether to set the night on fire or just totally disorientate your listening senses, Sally dodges between soul-ska verses and Saturday-Night-Fever-styled disco choruses, before sliding into one of the better tracks on the Ep, The Long Fall. A straight and fiery alternative rock tune, that hurtles along like a runaway train. At this point we’re in the best part of the Ep, as the triad of songs that follow: “Junction,” “Warpaint” and “You’re Such A Flame,” demonstrates the absolute qualities of this Edinburgh group. Unlike many of their contemporaries, who offer up a cliched catalog of gimmicks to make their music sound ferociously intense, Kung Fu Academy rely on the old-fashioned method of engaging their instruments and working their vocal chords to the maximum. From the first thundering crescendo of the opening bars, the Ep stomps, pounds, roils and flays. The band’s amazing rhythm section remains in exhilarating lockstep throughout the album, while the two guitars do likewise. The embellishing riffs and solos derived from their playing, brilliantly serve to elevate the powerful vocals and showcase the lyrics on Super 8 Flashback. Super 8 Flashback is a solid representation of the band. The songwriting, musicianship, and unique style all come together in this chef-d’oeuvre. Kung Fu Academy delivers the goods with sophistication and focused power. Give this band a try if you’re a fan of innovative riffs and rhythms, heartfelt songs and a great big wall of bass and drums. http://jamsphere.com/reviews/kung-fu-academy-super-8-flashback-stomps-pounds-roils-and-flays

Sometimes a chance meeting or random connection can provide the needed spark in a music career. We always hear stories of musicians who never even knew each other, meeting in some haphazard way and going on to produce some of the most innovative music. The latest such product of this is the band Kung Fu Academy. The group from Scotland met when four music students were randomly put together for a one-off performance. The chemistry was evident immediately and the band was born. When we reach outside of our direct social circles we often find musical minds that are closer to ours than anyone we know personally. Kung Fu Academy found this and the dedication has pushed them to create something much bigger than the sum of its parts. They have developed a funk-based pop style with plenty of sing-along harmonies and have worked hard to expose it to the masses with constant gigging and writing new music by the boatload. They have established themselves as a remarkable live act that is building up quite the following. Last year Kung Fu Academy released the Dirty Honey EP to critical acclaim. Now they are back very quickly with their latest effort Super 8 Flashback, being released through Whimsical Records on April 15th, 2013. The 24 minute EP builds off of the retro funk-pop that KFA has become known for. The opening title track ‘Super 8 Flashback’ begins with a funky feel reminiscent of early Red Hot Chili Peppers and goes back and forth with a luscious harmonic chorus. This is a song I expect to become hugely popular at their live gigs. Enjoy it below: The next track ‘Sally’ has a dance-y disco feel that I challenge any listener to sit still through. The band jumps into more traditional retro alternative rock with the songs ‘The Long Fall’ and ‘Junction’. Kung Fu Academy shows off their softer side on ‘Warpaint,’ a mellow ballad featuring phenomenal harmonies and lovely guitar work. Although only 6 songs, this is a complete record showing that this collection of musicians can put out some extraordinary music with a variety of influences. This is ready for mainstream rock and roll. http://indiebandguru.com/kung-fu-academy-random-meeting-creates-great-alt-funk-rock-from-scotland

Kung Fu Academy definitely like to keep you on your toes. Gyrating through more genres in one song than many bands manage in their career, the Edinburgh four-piece’s latest release begins with a guitar rift that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Caribbean beach. And to throw a little more unpredictably on the fire they end it with some towering early 90s vocals. Bobby Osborne’s voice seamlessly strides on top of Kung Fu Academy’s funk-powered rhythm section throughout, not allowing the song to dawdle but instilling it with a progressive drive. Expansive without sounding overdone, ‘Super 8 Flashback‘s highpoint is undobtedly the honey-sweet harmonies spread over its chorus. Blending together like a fine cocktail, the call and response vocals of “You’re a ghost that could have been/Tragically you’ll always haunt me here/My flashback super 8/Every frame has a picture of you” comes steeped in emotional weight. And like the best things in life, Kung Fu Academy leave you wanting more. Combining finesse with enough kick to make you stand up and take notice is no easy task but one the four-piece pull off expertly. The lead single of their forthcoming EP, expect exciting things if the rest of the tracks are up to this standard. http://markmckinlay.wordpress.com/2013/04/10/review-kung-fu-academy-super-8-flashback

And now for some whimsical indie pop, courtesy of Zeitgeist homeboys, Kung Fu Academy. And it’s whimsical indie pop with a hint of dance, as they vogue on through some rather catchy material. There is some cracking bass work, a few disco shapes, and if they splash out on some singing lessons, they could be mixing it with the big boys. When they’re more straigtforward as on ‘Junction’ and ‘Warpaint’, it falls over into indie generic, so here’s hoping they stick to the more experimental vibes of the title track and ‘The Long Fall’. http://therocker65.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/singles-bar-jimmy-davis-vs-johnny-hates-jazz-vs-lemon-vs-kung-fu-academy-vs-deep-purple/

Judging only from band name and EP title, this neatly packaged piece of music is promising a whole lot of indie fun, and also quite possibly trouble. The Edinburgh four-piece that brought you Dirty Honey way back in 2011 are following up one success with another, and doing it beautifully with a kung fu kick in the face. This is the band that makes grunge funk not nearly as awful as as it sounds. The instant appeal of Dirty Honey can be traced to its obvious homemade, jamming-out-in-the-garage sort of sound. It feels hearty, handcrafted, if somewhat unpolished; or, like the polish has sure been smeared on but the edges are still untrimmed and ragged. With Super 8 Flashback it’s clear Kung Fu Academy have grown and gained both experience and confidence through the last two years of touring. Being the band that claims to have played more gigs than rehearsals, they’ve effectively made a name for themselves by having a distinct live sound that echoes well, even on record. Having the debut played through headphones could easily make it feel like you were having the band play right there in your living room. The difference with Super 8 Flashback is it now feels less like the band are jamming out just off behind you, and more like being stood in the front-row, staring them right in the face and having live sound wash over you. Super 8 Flashback is a concert happening in real time. And it sounds like, well, a bit of everything. Not exactly known for being tied down to a single genre of music, Kung Fu Academy are happily playing around with sleazy rock as well as eighties disco. It’s a juxtaposition of dirty, gritty guitars and smooth funk well beyond the band’s years, like a combination of your dad’s record collection and the sort of stuff you’ll find on an up-to-date NME mixtape. ‘Sally’ comes at you with a wall of clean, heavy guitar strokes that would make you dribble if you lacked the self control; the title track is gleaming of indie nostalgia with a new, intense depth; and timeless ‘The Long Fall’ with its air of fast-paced mystery resonating bands like Franz Ferdinand and Casual Sex bears witness that the band is destined for great things. It still sounds a bit ragged and handcrafted in places, yes, but it’s also enormously honest. Kung Fu Academy hosts an eclectic musical pallet, and they know how best to use it. Already oozing with the qualities of a classic, it’s sometimes hard to believe this is fresh off the press. It isn’t history in the making, it’s history made future. http://ravechild.co.uk/2013/07/02/record-review-kung-fu-academy-super-8-flashback-whimsical/

EMPORIUM - 'The Umbrella Shop' single and 'From Another Planet' album (Whimsical EMPS8 and EMPCD5)


*** Singles of the Week *** Sounding not unlike something that might soundtrack a TV documentary about '90s Brit-pop - St. Etienne would, of course, curate the thing - Emporium's rather gorgeous ability to craft perfectly-honed melodies is certainly not in doubt with this - it's bloody lush. "The Umbrella Shop" (26th Mar - 4.5 stars) is a little bit Pulp (early), a little bit Cherry Ghost with a slice of Cud and a topping of Super Furry Animals. And that's all good. Very good. (4.5 out of 5) http://www.allgigs.co.uk/view/review/6199/_Singles_Roundup_Featuring_Phantom_Limb_Emporium_Allo_Darlin_Tom_Williams_And_The_Boat_And_More_Singles_Review.html

BAND FAILING TO SOUND LIKE SOMEONE ELSE You have to bear in mind that Emporium are a band who've been active for fourteen years and they now sound like, well, they sound like Emporium. For the object of this particular exercise I can suggest that sounds like Alan Parsons Project and The Idle Race are in there, but 'Umbrella Shop' is really the sound of Emporium in full, shifting, tinkling, drifting, psyche guitar studded mode. IS IT ANY GOOD? It's lovely, Emporium are lovely, you are lovely, buy the lovely record. http://www.unpeeled.net/singles.html

EMPORIUM - ‘The Umbrella Shop’/ ‘She Won’t Come Out To Play’, Single Beautifully sumptuous sounds, evocative, tender piano paints prettily sparkling motif, mellow bass, steely guitar, orchestral strings and brass, storyteller, choir boy, honeyed vocal whispers warmly illuminated night time tale, washed by gentle chorus, woven seamlessly together into atmospheric epic of gas lit London. ‘She Won’t Come Out To Play’, similarly fully orchestrated and chorused, swings between sunny optimism and melancholic, despondent undertow, maudlin vocal describing sad tale of girl who just can’t face the day. Both pieces, not structured songs, more sung narrative than poetically lyrical, melodically meandering, descriptive instrumentation, drawing on Classical idioms, showcase and support the star voice and its tale, could be from a, as yet unwritten, Musical score. http://www.mudkiss.com/chumkimarch12.htm

Scottish band Emporium kept layered progressive psychedelic pop harmonies alive, releasing a a string of albums and a couple of singles that garnered them rave reviews form the cognoscenti. The trio was basically a studio band, although they did tour for a bit in 1998. The band dropped from the radar in 2007 only to surface again in 2011 with the new album Silver Brainwaves. This year year has brought two new tracks so far: Mindbender and The Umbrella Shop (which will be released a single). The 17 track collection From Another Planet - The Best Of Emporium (1998-2011) on Whimsical Records serves as handy introduction for newbies. Long time fans can plug the holes in their collection with the rare remixes and one-offs. It's hard to pigeonhole their sound, bur think the poppy songs of Pink Floyd ca. 1970 mixed with Beach Boys orchestral inklings dipped in Zombies-alike Odessey and Oracle melancholy. Lead singer Ewan McKenzie falsetto gives their songs a pastoral quality that will go down well while lounging on lazy Sunday afternoon (or any other day of the week). Best enjoyed with a bottle of good wine and a basket of tasty tidbits. http://blogger.xs4all.nl/werksman/archive/2012/03/08/744109.aspx

For some reason I started off by listening to the latest single release, “The Umbrella Shop”. Described in Scotland’s premier tabloid as “a psychedelic cross between The Small Faces and The Beach Boys”. And for a second I glanced at the calendar and clock to see if time had stopped somewhere in the 60′s. Emporium produce a retro-pop sound of sweet harmonies and melodies sung over luscious piano, string and horn arrangements, that are almost impossible to find in today’s music which is primarily constructed by loops, samples and beats. They seem to have captured the essence of world renowned pop music composer, Burt Bacharach’s timeless music pieces, which were characterized by unusual chord progressions, striking syncopated rhythmic patterns, irregular phrasing, frequent modulation, and odd, changing meters. Throw-in a vocal style which ranges from 60′s bands like the “Beach Boys” or “The Turtles” through to latter day acts like “Soft Cell” or even “OMD”. Plus add some Brit synth-pop rhythms, et voilà, ladies and gentleman you have Emporium! Album highlights include, the watercolored harmonies of “Mindbender”, the beat momentum of “Wasted” and the slower, ethereal lead vocal of “Dice Man”. My personal favorite track is the haunting “Mind Games”, while other tracks of particular note are “Elevate” and “She Won’t Come Out To Play”. Seventeen tracks, is a lot of music and I could write page after page describing it, but music needs to be listened to. Needless to say, if you’ve experienced the 60′s musical era you would need no introduction to this album at all, and only have to enjoy it’s nostalgic karma. However, if you, like many of our younger readers, belong to the new beat generation, my best suggestion would be to get over to the “EMPORIUM” website straight away and savor the sounds of their timeless melodies, set within a genre long gone by, and all but lost to modern music. If not for the stoic and solitary efforts of Scottish band EMPORIUM. http://jamsphere.com/newreleases/emporium-from-another-planet-the-best-of

A 14 year anniversary? There seems to be no suggestion for a gift between tin at ten years and crystal at 15 years – perhaps that’s why the vocals gloriously meander around like a lost sheep inside the slightly proggy, psychedelic musical musings of ‘The Umbrella Shop’. Quite strange but not totally unendearing either. 6/10 http://www.tastyfanzine.org.uk/singles120mar12.htm#Emporium

Hailing from Edinburgh, Scotland - Emporium have just released "From Another Planet - The Best Of Emporium (1998-2011)", a compilation of songs by the Scottish combo containing 17 tracks. The band has gained a great reputation in the United Kingdom (also covered in world-famous publications such as the NME) because of their very unique sound formula: beat pop (think The Small Faces and Beach Boys) with a psychedelic twist and very interesting arrangements. Since the very first opening notes, the listener is brought hand in hand into a journey through the songs - the tunes build a very peculiar and dreamy landscape with a very unique vibe that fascinates and intrigues greatly. Although the band proclaims 60s influences, an 80s touch is also intelligible, while a more modern approach to melody is part of the picture too, infusing the music with great personality. A superb testimony of over 14 years of music! http://hectorvex.blogspot.co.uk

This is like Teenage Fanclub, They Might Be Giants, and The Beach Boys, and a sprinkle of the Pet Shop Boys. I really like it. The music sort of reminds of children’s television shows, but morose. I don't know if its my aforementioned love of Scottish indie that makes me like it (although I don't think that it would work if Mumford and Sons had Scottish accents). This is good well crafted indie pop, and much better than the artwork makes it look. http://www.collective-zine.co.uk/reviews/?id=8473

Edinburgh, Scotland-based whimsical pop trio Emporium, celebrate their 14 years of being together by releasing this compilation of seventeen-songs. They also added a new track into the mix, entitled The Umbrella Shop. [Check out the music video here.] Their vintage-esque sound reminds me of a mix of a more-psychedelic version of The Sea and Cake, with hints of The Catherine Wheel, Pink Floyd and Depeche Mode. http://whisker-a-nogo.tumblr.com/post/21254678771/emporium

EMPORIUM - 'The Afterlife' (CD and Download album on Whimsical Records EMPCD6)

On listening to The Afterlife, I’m not sure whether we are in the 60′s, 80′s, 90′s or the 2000′s. Emporium draw from an enormous bucket of influences. At times I hear The Walker Brothers or Paul Weller’s Style Council, then maybe Julian Cope’s The Teardrop Explodes or The Housemartins and even traces of The Beach Boys. It’s sixties, its Britpop, its post-punk, its mod, its new romantic…the only thing for sure is, its indie. This is without a shadow of a doubt a fine album. Lyrically it holds its own, rich with feeling, and its upfront, self-confessional honesty, is inspiring and reaches elevated heights both artistically and emotionally. The songs are beautiful and the singing and harmonies on the album are superb. Standouts are the album opener “The Afterlife,” the languid ballad “Bluebell Wood,” the track “Magical Things,” “Beautiful Insanity(Don’t Fit In)” and the piano-driven “The Umbrella Shop.” Music, like all art, is a medium of communication and never has communication been more pure and enlightening than this. The lush, melodic sound of this album is so rich and entrenched that it seeps into the soul of the listener. “The Afterlife“ which is a colourful collection of largely nostalgic sounding songs, in my opinion has many surprises, curious tangents as well as both soul and beauty in abundance. Tracks that re-treat older ground with a fresh new view. Like a lot of timeless music, it sounds deceptively simple at first but hides a musical complexity which gently unfolds as much as you, the listener, let’s it. Emporium bring superlative mid-sixties pop, fast forward and straight into today. They migrate a mix of Burt Bacharach and Phil Spector sounding orchestrations into now, and throw in their swirling vocal harmonies to match. “The Afterlife” is a different kind of album, unlike most you’re currently likely to hear, and through it, Emporium transport our musical nostalgia into the future. Rick Jamm http://jamsphere.com/newreleases/emporium-upcoming-album-release-the-afterlife

Hailing from Edinburgh, Emporium started out in 1999 with their debut album "A Fine Fine Line". Going on to release several albums and numerous singles, they show no signs of slowing down as we dive into a new decade of the 21st century, crafting a brand new album, "The Afterlife". Emporium bring back their signature tunes, drenched deep into a pool of influences that encompass the past decades of music, from the gripping melodies of British invasion pop to garage rock grit and 70s psychedelic trips. Think Pink Floyd and Genesis meeting half way with the Beatles and The Zombies, and you start to have a great hint of where the sound of the band is headed, but it doesn't stop there, and this record is far from being an operation to cash in on nostalgia. The band does not only demonstrate these influences with their own unique personality, but they bring them up to date with our age, "upgrading" the vintage vibe with a massive, wide soundscape. http://www.hellhoundmusic.com/emporiums-journey-towards-the-afterlife-review-by-andrea-caccese

Edinburgh based Emporium have been on the go since the late nineties, when they put out their first album, "A Fine Fine Line". It's been a bit stop and start since then, but here there are with another fine batch of sixties tinged pop songs. It's the kind of rosy, psychedelic tinged material that delights fans of XTX and Garfields Birthday, with nods back to the harmonies of folks like the Beach Boys. In fact, it's the harmonies that really make this album as even on a couple of the lesser songs, they pull things right round. Add is some excellent arrangements and orchestrations, and it always ends up listenable. However, when the songs live up to the harmonies and the arrangements as they do on the title track, the fabulous ballad, 'Bluebell Wood' and the single, 'The Umbrella Shop', it really is a delight. They avoid most of the pitfalls of the indie scene by remembering that writing good songs and singing them well is what makes a record. http://s14.zetaboards.com/Zeitgeist/topic/6715697/1/

This is a band that isn't "happening", hip or otherwise. Longevity is the keyword here, a band carving a niche outside the mainstream with layered songs about going nuts in a gentle way (Mindbender) and being afraid to go to sleep (Magical Things). The Afterlife might not be skyscraper, but it is built to last. Emporium is waving the flag of smart pop. http://blogger.xs4all.nl/werksman/archive/2013/01/02/801734.aspx

HMM, SEMINAL ECTOPLASMPIC PUDDING EMPORIUM "THE AFTERLIFE" (WHIMSICAL RECORDS) RELEASED? Out now. SOUNDS LIKE? Is a question that has more answers than either of us would like and without being even lazier than usual, I can tell you most of what you need to know about Emporium by saying that top notch, eccentric, pop and pomp-pop and dance-pop and quirko-pop all co-exist in the weirdly coherent and consistent sound that is Emporium. Of course, Emporium would probably hate the idea of being consistent, even when placed near the word 'excellent', but screw 'em, I've already spunked a weeks worth of hypens on one sentence. IS IT ANY GOOD? Please listen to them, Emporium are very, very good, I even looked up how to spell 'seminal' and they've split up now, so even more seminal. http://www.unpeeled.net/albums.html

Scottish band Emporium, who announced their break-up in December, have left us with a final album, ‘The Afterlife’, which was put together by the band's lead singer Ewan McKenzie. The songs for the album were written and recorded between 2010 and 2012, and after they released a compilation record, 'From Another Planet - The Best of Emporium', in the spring of last year. They relive the 70’s psychedelic voyages of their past on ‘The Afterlife’, but it is immersed in a sea of other influences as well us that includes Britpop and garage rock and also throws in various 80's synthesiser melodies from decades gone by. Originally formed as a three-piece in Edinburgh in January 1998, Emporium released their first album, which was made largely from home recordings and entitled 'A Fine Fine Line' later that year, but they chose to remain studio-based for most of the years that followed that. They have released various other recordings, including critically acclaimed albums such as 'It's the Thought that Gets You High', 'Hallucinations' and 'Silver Brainwaves' On first listening, I couldn't fathom out where we were musically. Were we in the 60’s, 70’s 80’s, 90’s or noughties? The sound was so diverse, yet held together quite nicely with spatterings of Spector’s wall of sound or a smidgen of Weller or a trickle elsewhere of 80's electronic bands such as Blancmange or OMD. Wherever they gleaned their music from, it certainly takes its roots from the 60’s and Britpop, but it also had its feet wading in the New Wave and Futuristic movements. The album itself won’t break any records, but don't get me wrong here. This is an album you will keep coming back to again and again as its lyrics and themes are totally addictive. Despite all their retro influences, ‘The Afterlife’ is very much about the feelings of today. Many a time I (and perhaps you as well) have thought I was going off the path a little and starting to go a bit crazy, and the piano-driven 'Mindbender' nails that feeling for me with its lines of "Making me think/I'm trying not to break/ In case you crawl beneath my skin." The message of the synth-laden title track is brought home from the start with a distorted answer phone message at its beginning - "Welcome to the afterlife/Life has flashed before your eyes." The simple things we all suffer from time to time like suddenly wanting to just go to sleep sometimes and not knowing why is brought to life on 'Magical Things'. Other standout tracks include 'Umbrella Shop' and the short but enthralling dreamscape instrumental, ‘Return of the Lost Tribe'. While they may not break any records with ‘The Afterlife’, it should however raise a few eyebrows with the critics and pick up some more well-earned final applause for Emporium. And quite rightly too.... http://www.pennyblackmusic.co.uk/MagSitePages/Review.aspx?id=8831

LLOYD JAMES FAY - 'The Black River Chronicles' (CD and Download Album on Platform Records FORMCD5)

It is precisely his lack of sneering superiority that makes “The Black River Chronicles” such a treat. The lengthy, poem-like songs, the complex instrumental arrangements and daunting folk- pop structures could all have turned into an ego-trip gone wild. But that doesn’t happen. Instead, we are treated to a collection of songs so delicately fresh and honest; I hardly know where to start. From the sweet quietness of the opening number “Among The Reeds”, to the acoustic-guitar picking of the “Unwanted Children” that follows, you get a glimpse of what will unfold. Imagery follows tone follows place follows events, both personal and social in a seamless fashion. By the time we are through with “ Such Are Memories”, the third track, Fay has already taken us through a small symphony of experiences. The pensive mood is further enhanced with “From The Eyewall”, a love song that reflects on Fay’s first love and all the drama that went with it. If this one doesn’t make you choke a little, check your pulse as Fay draws your attention to the flaws in every heart. Each song is presented so compassionately and with such openness that it is frankly above criticism and simply becomes a part of the undeniably intense listening experience. Whatever truths and doubts Fay sings about, are absorbed almost automatically by the listener, whether or not the lyrics have been clearly understood. At every verse, bridge or chorus, you always understand what he means perfectly, by just feeling his music. I could continue endlessly, but really I would rather, that people simply listen to this album all the way through…carefully. Good headphones would be preferable for this album. To shuffle the songs or pick out a few is almost a crime; the “The Black River Chronicles” is a complete work of astonishing depth, somewhat melancholy but never depressing. It demands to be heard in sequence, in its entirety. The songs flow into one another and the work is a singular one, not a bunch of tracks assembled and released. The more you get into the lyrics on “The Black River Chronicles “, the more you want to know about the stories behind them too. Call it hypnotically engaging, because of its layer upon layer of organic sound or because of the picturesque poetry, either way Lloyd James Fay has completed an introspective voyage of immense proportions that you’ll find very hard to resist. http://jamsphere.com/newreleases/lloyd-james-fay-the-black-river-chronicles-an-introspective-voyage-of-immense-proportions

With his inspirations including Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor, Mark Kozelek as well as Nirvana (specifically Unplugged In New York), Lloyd James Fay has a wealth of talent to draw from and his music, although clearly inspired by the named artists, has a unique, soothing quality of its own. The album was recorded in 2012 at the infamous Gargleblast Studios in Hamilton with Andy Miller, whose credits includes albums by Mogwai, Arab Strap, De Rosa and Martin John Henry. Released with much praise on April 1, 2013 via Platform Records, the first single from the album ‘From The Eyewall’ is being released on 10th June 2013. The album title is a reference to the American Midwestern location of Michael Lesley’s ‘Wisconsin Death Trip’, which explores the psychological effect of life in Black River Falls through photographs and newspaper cuttings, whereas the album itself aspires to replicate the honest emotional style of Mark Kozelek (Red House Painters) with the composed minor key melodies of the talented James Taylor. As an album, Fay has produced an ambient tranquil sound, with intricate guitar playing to support well-balanced vocals. A range of other instruments soar in and out of his pieces, played by Fay himself, demonstrating his musicianship. Akin to flicking through sepia photographs or a breezy beach on a sunny day, the album is atmospheric, sending the listener through a journey of nostalgia. Described as, “an introspective reflection of his formative years, childhood stories and forlorn first loves in suburban Lanarkshire’s creaking post-steel-industry suburbs,” the album serves not only to depict Fay’s own experiences but to allow the listener to explore their own; each song is filled with contemplative sentimentality with an equanimity that steers it away from sadness. It is no wonder then that this album is already proving to be a hit with reviews exclaiming Fay’s success. Opening with two serene numbers, ‘Among the Reeds’ and ‘Unwanted Children’ are beauty distilled in music form. With unassuming yet deft playing, Fay’s voice grows throughout the songs with the moving lyrics echoing in the listeners’ emotional response to the tracks. The next tracks on the album, ‘Such are Memories’ and ‘Clouds Take Shape’, are relatively more upbeat with stronger guitar and yet still in keeping with Fay’s lulling sound. Transporting you to a solace, these two tracks are songs of yearning with poignant lyrics: “and if you want to meet again, I will gladly.” Midway through the album we hear the lead single, ‘From the Eyewall’; an intermingling of arpeggiated accompaniment and harmonious vocals, with distortion adding an extra breadth to this piece. Fay’s voice, an oxymoronic soft-growl, rings through the piece with harmonies blending stunningly. A heartfelt ballad exploring his first love, the sheer calmness of the piece and sentimental longing of the lyrics are striking; an earnest and warming piece of meditative remembrance. By this point in the album and halfway through the journey, it is striking how alike a Bildungsroman this album is with Fay exploring his own ideas, memories, experiences, flaws … the listeners learning with him as the album progresses. Packshot‘Burning Wood’ (the sixth track on the album) completely transports the listener to another place entirely, with a jazzy feel to the guitar playing. This acoustic track proves as an introduction to a new move in the album: ‘Halloween’, a darker piece with haunting; the sombre ‘Snowglobe’, written in the second person with the direct addresses leading the listener into the narrative; and ‘Palomino’ returning the album to its original equanimity. Ending the album is ‘Joy Thief’, another dexterous, beautifully sung number with a feel-good wistfulness to it. This is the climax of the album, a catharsis as Fay emotionally exposes himself to the listener. There’s an exquisite vulnerability to this song and it is a suitably thought-provoking piece to end such a well-crafted album. This is an album that explores the complexities of human emotion; a thoughtful, intelligent and contemplative collection that clearly displays Fay’s natural talent for capturing the human heart in an embrace. Congratulations to Fay for composing not only beautiful music, but an examination of emotional and spiritual lives in a modern world. http://secretsoundsuk.wordpress.com/2013/06/04/the-black-river-chronicles-by-lloyd-james-fay-album-review/

NATASHA ENGLAND - 'CAPTURED (DELUXE EDITION)' - 26 track download album (Platform FORMDDLP2)

Natasha England is ready to release her digitally mastered version of 1982′s “Captured.” Listening to the 12-track album, confirms that it has stood the test of time remarkably well. It’s pretty obvious that the production reeks strongly of the 80′s, but its exactly that retro sound, which gives the album its endearing twist, besides the passionate performances by Natasha, of course. Somewhere between Annie Lennox and Debbie Harry. On “Captured,” the diva-like Natasha, weaves an array of colors, moods and emotions. Whether she drops to a soft whisper or just plain belts it out, you’ll love every song. Like for example her interpretation of The Kinks `All Day And All Of The Night’ and Sam Cooke’s `Bring It On Home’, or my personal favorite, “Sally Go ‘Round The Roses,” the 1963 hit, first made famous by The Jaynetts and covered quite a few times down the line. Yet its not just about her interpretation of the covers, which by all means is impressive enough, but also the five tracks she either wrote or co-wrote, confirming the fact that she is a complete artist in every sense. The truth is Natasha England still sounds as good today as she did 30 years ago, and it is certainly heartening to know that any day she decides to step into the recording studio, she’ll be able to delight her fans and the world with her words and melody, as she always has done. All in all, “Captured” is a terrific release by one of the most dynamic and interesting artists from the eighties and is no less provocative than it was on its original release date, indeed some of the songs will still smack you right between the eyes with a force and power that comes from a long way back. Besides her undeniable artistic prowess, Natasha has always had the cream of the musical crop, on her crew and in her backing band. “Captured” is no exception to the rule. http://jamsphere.com/newreleases/natasha-england-captured-digitally-mastered-version-out-14th-january

SUSAN FASSBENDER and KAY RUSSELL - 'Twilight Cafe - The Demo Collection (1981-1985) - 20 track download album (Platform FORMDDLP1)

There was a time back in the early eighties when Susan Fassbender and her band seemed to be all over the television. Apart from appearances on ‘Top Of The Pops’ promoting the only one of her songs that saw any chart action, Susan also appeared on Saturday morning programmes like ‘Multi-Coloured Swap Shop’ and ‘Cheggers Plays Pop’. In reality Fassbender probably didn’t appear on television as much as the passing of time playing tricks on our memories fools us into thinking she did, but for a short while there it did feel like her band was a fixture on the kids’ programmes of the day.

Apart from the fact that the songs Fassbender wrote with her songwriting partner and guitarist Kay Russell were extremely catchy pop songs that were impossible to ignore, maybe another reason that they were regulars on the box is that they always appeared to be enjoying performing. Kay Russell’s infectious smile alone made it difficult not to stop whatever else you were doing at the time and to give the band your full attention.

Fassbender studied classical piano and clarinet from the age of thirteen, and eventually started writing songs with her friend Kay Russell. As Kay recently told Pennyblackmusic, “We were mates in Bradford, where we both lived, and both were unemployed. Once I heard Susan play the piano, I thought we could work together, so I suggested it, and then I formed a band around us.”

The first released fruit of this collaboration turned out to be the only time either Susan or Kay would trouble the (all important back then) Top 20. ‘Twilight Café’ hit the charts in January 1981 and stayed there for eight weeks, eventually peaking at number twenty-one. Strangely the single was credited solely to Fassbender. The reason why Kay was only credited as a co-writer and not a performer has been a mystery for many years now, so it’s right that Kay can shed light on why this happened.

“The record company thought ‘Fassbender’ was a memorable name, so we went with it,” Kay explained to us. “The second single ‘Stay’ came out as ‘Fassbender Russell’ but then the record company said that name sounded like kitchen equipment so we reverted to ‘Susan Fassbender’ for the third single ‘Merry Go Round’, although the sleeve also states ‘featuring the Fassbender/Russell band.”

After ‘Twilight Café’ disappeared from the charts it was followed by the no less catchy and reggae-influenced ‘Stay’, and given its good-time feel the song suited the happy image the band displayed on their television performances. It is a mystery why this song which was, and still is, the equal of ‘Twilight Café’ never made any impression on the UK charts. Again it’s classy, catchy pop music and deserved more attention.

Susan and Kay tried to recapture some of the first single’s success with ‘Merry-Go-Round’, which was even more radio-friendly and appealing than those previous two singles. Again the single failed to make any impression despite television appearances and the fact that the song was impossible to ignore. Kay wrote the music for all three singles: “We wrote inspirationally; occasionally one of us would have more input than the other-either musically or lyrically. The music for the three singles is mainly mine.”

After the chart failure of the last two singles Fassbender and Russell seemed to disappear from the music scene, but as Kay explains that wasn’t really the case. “We didn’t leave the business. The band was split up by our second manager who thought Susan would be more successful as a solo artist, with his own session musicians backing her of course!” But demos were made with a view to releasing them as an album at the time.

In these days of downloads and music being available with a single click, many people forget or just don’t understand how important chart positions were back in the eighties. There was no internet to enable musicians to build up a following and get their music out there; it was all down to the record labels. No chart action meant no releases, simple as that. So three decades after they were recorded, Platform Records have assembled a collection of fifteen songs that were intended for the Fassbender / Russell album that never was.

“The second two singles didn’t achieve enough chart success, so the proposed album never came out onto the market,” Kay reflects today. It’s taken a long time for these songs, which are presented in their original demo form, to get a general release, and it’s partly through Kay’s hard work and belief in the songs that Platform Records are releasing a download of not only the Fassbender / Russell demos but also of five Kay Russell solo tracks.

There has always been interest from fans who wanted more after those three 45s but it seemed unlikely that any more would be heard from Fassbender/Russell. Thankfully, however, the internet helped, “I investigated YouTube about two to three years ago,” remembers Kay, “and discovered the interest from fans. This motivated me to try again. I had a lot of material and had it digitally re-mastered as far as possible and sent it to a publisher in Edinburgh (Platform Songs-MC). They chose what they thought would be a good mixture, and I think they’ve made a good decision about which tracks are included and also the order in which they appear on the album.”

‘The Demo Collection 1981-1985’, kicks off with the original demo of ‘Twilight Café’ and, although obviously not as polished as the version that hit the charts, there is still no doubt as to why this song gained so much attention back then. Like most of the band’s songs the track is dominated by Susan’s keyboards and Kay’s guitar. Watching the girls on television way back then must have taken some attention away from their vocal performances. The fact is, even on a demo of this standard, both Fassbender and Russell were not given credit at the time for just how strong they were vocally.

‘Lies’, which is the second track on this compilation, shows a side to the girls that was never revealed on the singles. It is an atmospheric piece which, if released at the time of recording, would have ensured a longer and more fruitful musical career for both Susan and Kay. It is just one indication that the duo was not given the credibility they deserved. Kay’s not so sure that’s the case, “Credibility is subjective,” she says today. “I did once meet a Manic Street Preachers fan who expressed the opinion that we were before our time!”

Most of the songs on this collection obviously have a slightly dated sound to them, but it’s not as distracting as you might think. Given a contemporary production many of these songs would sound even better than they do in this form. Kay agrees with this. “I think a few could be updated or covered by other younger artists or bands,” she responded when asked if she would like to revisit or change any of these songs.

But the biggest surprise is not that a collection of thirty year old demos reveals another side to this band, or that somehow the vocals that they laid down then have only just shown that both Fassbender and Russell were exceptional singers. It is the five Kay Russell solo tracks that even most fans didn’t know existed that are worth the price of admission on their own.

‘Matter of Time’ is the first solo Russell song that we hear and, although there are obvious hints of the duo’s work in there, there is a harder, funkier edge to this song than those recorded by Fassbender and Russell together. It’s more than impressive and displays Kay’s knack of writing memorable melodies perfectly while taking her into new territory. It also includes a scorching guitar solo. While Kay’s other solo cuts here like ‘Crisis’ and ‘Too Crazy’ slot in perfectly with her work with Susan, it is ‘Matter of Time’ and ‘Yesterday’s Hero’ which stand out. The latter really could be lifted off this album and released as a single today, and be successful with barely any changes.

The collection closes with ‘Walking in Space’, another solo Kay song that once again proves that there’s much more to these girls than just catchy pop songs. Kay creates another atmospheric pop song, full of hooks but never sounding lightweight or banal.

Surely an artist who could create such affecting music must still be writing? “I have some demos which remain on cassette tape, not mastered, as yet,” explained Kay before going on to explain that she is still writing. “I definitely would release new material but would prefer some younger people to record and perform it. Not everybody wants to go back on stage at 60 years old!”

For a collection of thirty-year-old demos ‘Twilight Café’ leaves a lot of contemporary albums in the shade. It is going to appeal to a much wider audience than just those fans who remember Susan Fassbender and Kay Russell fondly from those three singles and their television appearances. The twenty songs available for download will not only attract the attention of eighties’ music fans, but of those who like their pop music, especially when sung by females, with a little more depth and edge.

Although, hopefully, we will hear more from Kay Russell in the future, it appears that this fine collection will probably be the last opportunity we will have of hearing the music that Susan Fassbender made. Susan committed suicide in 1991, but after the band broke up it appears that she did continue writing and during the time between the break-up there was contact between the two friends before Susan’s passing.

Kay explained what happen after the band folded: “Susan and I both got married. We worked separately at this time, only getting together, rarely, for a chat. I didn’t get a chance to hear what she wrote during that period, but she heard the songs I’d written alone, and with one or two other songwriters. Her favourite was ‘Walking in Space’. Around 1983, I think it was, we did compose together again in a small studio in Nottingham, but nothing much came of this, and the songs never got beyond guitar, keyboards, drum machine and vocals. ‘Now You’re Gone’ is one of the songs from this period included on the ‘Demo Collection’.”

One of the biggest surprises of the year so far, this collection of demos has a lingering quality that keeps drawing you back to listen over and over again. It is not just the immediate attraction of the three singles, but each and every one of these tracks has something to offer. Fassbender and Russell wrote and performed pop songs with substance that will still stand up in another thirty years. While the songs in this demo form at times do sound like they belong to the decade that they were recorded in, the melodies and vocals are timeless.

‘Twilight Café (The Demo Collection 1981-1985)’ is the best set of demos you are likely to hear all year. In fact forget the demo part. It is one of the best collection of songs you will hear all year. http://www.pennyblackmusic.co.uk/MagSitePages/Article.aspx?id=6451

Susan Fassbender's classic hit single 'Twilight Cafe' should have been the springboard to a successful chart career. Chock full of memorable melodic Pop Rock with superb keyboard work it bounced into the charts in February1981 and promised much for her career. Unfortunately two equally infectious follow up singles, both issued as Fassbender-Russell with her songwriting partner Kay Russell, failed to chart and a mooted album never materialised. Sadly, the Yorkshire born musician took her own life in 1991 but thanks to Kay Russell this collection of cassette tape demo's has been cleaned up and transferred to digital and remain as fresh, sparkling and easy on the ear as the day they were committed to tape ensuring that her legacy lives on. This may be on the lighter side of Rock but this does not detract from what is a fine collection of radio friendly Pop Rock. Classic Rock Society Magazine - July/August 2012

RECORD COLLECTOR Magazine review 2012: 

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