Review: Singles Round-Up

Another week, another fresh batch of hot new singles ticking all the boxes here at DGM Towers. Here are a few examples of what we have been listening to over the last few days; as usual, click on the artist’s name in bold and follow the link to the YouTube video/social media page.

A new release from Bristolian chanteuse Elles Bailey is always cause to celebrate, but a brand new-new track, and the first from a new studio album?…that’s the equivalent of an ATM giving you an extra £20 by mistake, buying a scratchie, and winning the jackpot. Lifted from the forthcoming third album ‘Shining in the Half Light’ (due 2022), ‘Cheats & Liars’ sees Elles putting the government firmly in her crosshairs over the “retraining” campaign, and giving them both barrels (metaphorically of course – big brother is listening in after all). Played at a slow-burning pace, and packing a killer Ry Cooder-like guitar tone, this is a gorgeous slice of bluesy Americana from one of the fastest rising stars of the UK Americana-influenced scene. The vocals from Elles are, of course, the main selling point, and are as on-point as always, but the main difference between Elles and several young vocalists around today is that she deals in restraint. She never overreaches, or oversings, and knows exactly what each particular track needs, which in the case of ‘Cheats & Liars’, is control. Elles Bailey will be playing the live music pandemic hokey-cokey later this year with an extensive UK tour, get along to the show and discover why Elles is picking up so many richly deserved plaudits.

Easily the strongest track that Bastette has released from the forthcoming ‘Bastette Exposed’ EP (and arguably their strongest to date), new single ‘Rollercoaster’ showcases the staggering growth in the songwriting department that Blackburn-based Bastette has developed over a short period of time. Not a hundred miles away from Halestorm’s epic ‘Familiar Taste Of Poison’ it’s a fantastic lesson in not being in a rush, and allowing the song to grow at its own pace. ‘Rollercoaster’ is a widescreen cinematic experience rather than a quick peek at Netflix on your phone, and that’s just the track itself, the promo video also works well, and enhances the dark, brooding atmosphere of the music. Lyrically, it’s also very strong with perhaps one of the standout lines of the year so far…”I don’t smoke but I do start fires”. With ‘Rollercoaster’, Bastette vocalist, lyricist and founding member Caroline Kenyon has created something a little special, find out for yourself when Bastette plays Rockin The Bowl in Sheffield in mid-September, which is perfect timing for the release of ‘Bastette Exposed’ EP on September 17th.

Swedish/Italian quartet Donna Cannone might be a new name on the block, but their pedigree as a band should not be sniffed at. For, as well as a few ex-members of Thundermother, the band also includes current Soilwork/The Nightflight Orchestra main man Bjorn ‘Speed’ Strid. Donna Cannone sounds nothing like any of the bands mentioned above, and with the golden-throated vocals from Luca D’Andria front and centre on the new single ‘Nothing To Do’, think more of a Cheap Trick power-pop influence than anything else. The follow-up to debut single ‘Cross the Line’, ‘Nothing To Do’ is a bright and breezy song that ticks all the necessary boxes required to make it a Summer anthem (obviously Summer is almost over…but you get the idea). Fantastic melodies, and vocal hooks to die for, ‘Nothing To Do’ works better the louder that it gets. It’s a song to fill the room and the chorus is so infectious that masks are mandatory. Cheap Trick obviously springs to mind, but you might find a sneaky suggestion of a Slade influence here and there, especially on the bovver-booted, hand-clapping back end of the track. These guys would be an absolute knockout opening for The Wildhearts.

Devon-based modern rockers Firekind constantly impress on each outing, and latest release ‘No Stone Unturned’ is no exception. Quieter and more reflective than previous release ‘Cry For Help’, ‘No Stone Unturned’ serves as a timely reminder that perhaps Firekind are the UK’s best-kept secret. Constantly thinking out of the box, and eschewing the influence of more traditional rock acts such as Led Zeppelin, Free, or Deep Purple, Firekind plays with more of a Muse influence and at times; a modern prog influence. So much so, that ‘No Stone Unturned’ wouldn’t sound out of place on a Kscope or Inside Out release bearing the Steven Wilson, or Riverside name. The gentle intro ebbs and flows with the heartfelt vocals of Jas Morris, gorgeous acoustic arrangements, and one almighty big-ass bass rumble from Jas’s sibling Dan Morris. Over the following three minutes plus, ‘No Stone Unturned’ takes the listener on a sweeping, majestic journey that proves that a track doesn’t have to be played at 100mph to pack a punch. One of those moments that inspires repeat play after repeat play. Catch Firekind at an exclusive headline show in their hometown of Newton Abbot South Devon on Saturday, August 21.

So you’ve made it to the middle of the month without punching a co-worker in the back of the head. The mid-month big blue funk has well and truly set in. Fear not though for the finishing line is in sight, and it’s almost the end of the month and the holy grail (aka payday) awaits; helping make the last few weeks of the month more bearable is the Texan Troubadour himself Ryan Hamilton and his goddam magnificent new track ‘Permanent Holiday’. Released as part of his ‘1221’ project, ‘Permanent Holiday’ sees Hamilton at his most playful and the end result is a track that twists and turns with surprises behind every corner. The opening minute or so is light in a Monkees-meets-Lloyd Webber vibe, and it is futile resisting the urge to either tap thy feet or break into some air-piano in a John Candy ‘Planes Trains, and Automobiles’-like kind of way. Just as the listener is settling down and thinks that they have ‘Permanent Holiday’ all figured out, Hamilton pulls the rug out from under their feet on 01:18 minutes with a staggering, and rousing explosion of sound that sparks a brief MCR ‘Black Parade’ flashback. After the shock wears off, here comes that infectious piano again for more of the same, and before you know it, you are smiling like a loon and caring not a jot that the last day of August falls one day after the bank holiday, meaning payday seems further away than before.

Bristol blues-punk noise merchants Mother Vulture self-describe as: “Hectic Blues Punk with a live show so chaotic it will leave you with horrific injuries”, and judging by the images from the bands’ recent performance at The Yard in Cornwall, it is a very apt description. Feast your eyes on our shots of Mother Vulture here…and if those images don’t make you yearn for that moment when the house music dips and the intro music kicks in, then check your pulse, because you might just be on your last legs, my friend. A band seemingly born not just for the stage, but for everything in a square-mile radius of said stage. New single ‘Rabbit Hole’ proves that the “chaos is good” attitude is not merely reserved for a Mother Vulture live show and also transfers well to a studio setting; although it is hard to imagine these guys sitting still in a studio. Gorgeous gospel-tinged vocal harmonies on the intro might suggest that a Rival Sons-like vibe is about to unfold, but what follows is anything but West Coast of America retro rock. Vocalist Georgi Valentine has an incredible range (love the harsh screams towards the end of the song), and mixed with the big-assed fuzzy riffs from our new favourite guitar-hero-in-the-making Brodie Maguire, ‘Rabbit Hole’ is quite an unexpected explosion of sound and colour. Had Mother Vulture come from Brighton rather than Bristol, then NME (yes, sadly they are still a thing) and BBC Radio might just be falling over each other to lavish praise on these lovely young chaps. Catch the band on the road next month: file under “Not to be missed”.

It’s been a busy few weeks for Staffordshire quartet The Howling Tides. After a lengthy period of inactivity due to you-know-what, the band has appeared at Steelhouse Festival, Pentrich Rock and Blues Custom Show, and just the other weekend, the hallowed turf at Catton Park for Bloodstock. Add the release of the first new music in three years, and it’s fair to say that after 18 months of killing time – The Howling Tides are back. The aforementioned new music is the rather stonking new single ‘Thalia’ (mixed and mastered by Raveneye’s Oli Brown no less), and it is the sound of four guys buzzing about getting back to what they do best: creating music. Oli Brown is a great fit actually, for there are a lot of similarities with Raveneye on display here: both acts are blues-influenced but stray away from what you might class as traditional blues-rock and go for more of a hard rock sound, both acts pack a punch, and are not afraid to unleash the guitar fireworks – in the ‘Tides case it is Rob Baynes lighting the blue touch paper. Full of meaty riffs (and wah-wah), and big-ass beats, ‘Thalia’ is quite an instant track, and hooks the listener in from the opening beats. The vocals from Baynes are, gritty and full of menace, it is the guitar work though that takes winner’s place on the podium – crank this sucker up.

No one outwith of the band truly saw the implosion of The Temperance Movement, and the subsequent reality of vocalist Phil Campbell walking away was a tough pill to swallow. But, that’s exactly what happened and it’s been all quiet on the TTM front for a few years now; until word spread of a few forthcoming posthumous releases. Unofficial social media posts were quickly deleted, and then finally official word came through that yes indeed Earache Records and TTM founding member Paul Sayer were releasing a new collection called ‘Covers & Rarities’. The TTM army was mobilised and pre-orders began to rack up, so much so that Earache posted that the deep purple coloured vinyl was 70% sold out in just two days, proving that there is still a lot of love in the room for the band. Ironically, the news of the release was accompanied by a new promo video of one of the tracks featured on the album; the Deep Purple classic ‘You Fool No One’, which just happens to feature a certain Ian Paice guesting on drums. Within seconds of pressing play and hearing the sublime, warm vocals (and insane dancing) from Phil Campbell, all the heartache from the split came back. Damn, this breakup still hurt. Full of incendiary guitar interplay from Paul Sayer and fellow six-stringer Matt White, as well as a stunning drum-off between original TTM drummer Damon Wilson and Paice, this is, in all honesty, what a jam is supposed to sound like. It’s organic, authentic, and right-there-right-now. Equally as joyous and life-affirming as it is heartbreaking and tinged with sadness, with this one, the music does the talking.

One of the most pleasing (and heart-warming) aspects of the year so far has been the emergence of Charlotte Wessels as a solo artist of some standing. Contributors to her Patreon page don’t quite know what to expect when her “Song of the month” drops in their inbox, and it is a genuine thrill when the 13th comes around each month and the email appears. Wessels will release a collection of these songs in September (on gorgeous vinyl no less) and every now and then a new live video appears on Youtube; the latest being ‘Afkicken’ which was recorded live with fellow ex-Delainer Timo Somers at Tim Tronckoe’s Studio 23 earlier this year. Recorded in her native Dutch, ‘Afkicken’ is a mind-blowing example of what happens when Alison Goldfrapp and Matt Bellamy get together at Trent Reznor’s house and decide to jam. Some industrial touches here and there, a modern-prog hint to the guitars, and an overriding sense that the song is going to explode to life at any moment: and when it does, what a glorious noise it makes. Somers puts his own stamp on a track that started out a touch more electronic, and he conjures up some glorious guitar tones that help bring a thumping, stomping vibe to the track. The money shot though is Wessels and her mesmerising vocals which further enhance her reputation as one of the leading lights in the genre – and an artist that is constantly evolving at every turn. Simply delightful.

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