We’ve been trying to come up with an appropriate beverage to accompany an evening listening to Nej!Las (her name is a semi-reversal of her given name of Jen Sal), an American techno artist creating complex sonic vistas with magical machines. It’s hypnotic, slightly sinister and utterly overwhelming stuff and requires multiple listens to really get to grips with it…in a good way, it’s music that just keeps on giving. We recommend your Washout listening sessions to be accompanied by an appropriate brew which not only inspires but also numbs and and causes mild delirium. Please enjoy your tot of everclear responsibly – the music is chilling enough without setting yourself on fire.
We’re delighted to add grappa to our list of beverages to enjoy music to, not least because it gives us the opportunity to push Johann Sebastian Punk into the spotlight.
Since 2013, Johann has been aggravating the Italian music scene cognoscenti (and anyone else in his way) as he embarked on a determined campaign to bring his remarkable personae and music to an audience being spoon-fed plastic sound. It wasn’t an immediate success. In fact, it wasn’t much of a success even after the immediate lack of action had passed. Although supported by a loyal band of fans in his home country, there was no way the Italian media were going to stand for his unconventional look and sound, both of which apparently change with the weather – often during the same day.
So, he was launched his latest album, Phoney Music Entertainment, to a much larger audience, specifically targeting the UK, a place renowned for taking rebels, waifs and strays under its wing and nurturing their wayward talent. We’re not sure if Johann needs nurturing, his album sounding so robustly confident, that if anything it’s us that need gentle encouragement. Although portraying himself as something of a court jester, Johann is actually on a serious mission to get audiences to demand more of their “pop stars”, both in terms of material and as artists. We readily accept appalling music as either a joke or a trivial annoyance, but in truth, it’s grating and mood-adjusting for us and depriving musicians of genuine talent and worth the airtime and platform they desperately crave.
Phoney Music Entertainment sees Johann honing his technique (this is his second release) yet drifting from the shoulder-shrugging classic pop of “Tragedy” to the quasi-disco squelch of “The Quintessential” – none of it should really work together but it does – primarily because we’re programmed to accept rock/ballad/rock as a template that has to be stuck to. It’s a quite marvellous record, full of joy but at the same time making us feel somewhat gloomy that this is but a sparkling raindrop in a somewhat sorry puddle. But the album and do your bit.
Steampunk Record Label tour is now fully underway and there’s still chance to catch a huge array of cyber Victorian talent near you. Drawing on influences as varied as cabaret, classical, punk and, most especially, the exploding Steampunk scene, their live shows are a maelstrom of sonic and visual drama, with audiences as likely to be turning heads as much as the band themselves.
Headliners (and indeed, featuring the label head honcho) BB Blackdog has over 600 gigs, 76 original songs, showcases at everywhere from Berlin to Los Angeles to London and countless festival appearances, including, Bearded Theory, Sonic Rock Solstice, Whitby Goth festival, under their collective belt. BB BlackDog have become a live band not to miss – determinedly using no overdubs, they thrive on playing simple catchy music whilst remaining fiercely independent
Feline and Strange
Feline & Strange has embraced the Victorian/Futuristic fashion ethic and infused it into not only their appearance but also their sound. The alien troubadours, masquerading as dapper Berliners to human eyes, combine ear-chilling vocals with an electronic collapsible cello to deliver dizzying supernatural sounds and otherworldly goings-on. Having toured extensively around the world, including, inevitably, the Steampunk World Fair. Their latest album, Out, will be accompanied by a UK-exclusive box-set in September.
Skeletal gutter-blues three-piece The Wattingers take their inspiration from the American Gothic simmer of films like Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Night of the Hunter; the surreal and oozing worlds of Alejandro Jodorowsky; and the unhinged brutality of bands like The Birthday Party and The Butthole Surfers, whilst retaining the wry humour of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
The Dark Design
The Dark Design occupy a musical space somewhere between Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds and the Sisters of Mercy, combing rock-opera, theatre and murky secret societies, though that still tells only part of the story. Many of the Dark Design’s members are actually fully-functioning automata including the self-propelled autoglock, and their robotic drum-kit. They also play a variety of weird and esoteric instruments including hurdy-gurdy and the tubitar – yep, that’s a hybrid of a guitar and a tuba.
…and not forgetting, the vivacious compère, Jezebel Steele
Encouraging their fans to dress in similar Steampunk attire to themselves, this is the first glimpse of the Steampunk musical onslaught. Remember to raid their merchandise stall for musical treats too!
Also appearing on the tour will be: Sweet liquorice; The Big Fibbers; Automotone;
; Return to Chaos
The Pavillion, Llangollen – 30th Sept
The Lab, Northampton – 6th Oct
Musician, Leicester – 7th Oct
The George, Belper – 13th Oct
MEN, Heanor – 14th Oct
The Roadhouse, Birmingham – 15th Oct
Museum of Water and Power, Brentford -20th Oct
The Albert, Brighton – 22nd Oct
As the track opens with a palm muted guitar sound, which flicks between a heavy punch of the full bands force, it slides into the boys rockin’ the main riff, full band.
Lead vocalist Trevor Marc’s voice pierces into the verse and blends beautifully yet with attack, opening with “I don’t wanna be the million reasons why you didn’t stay that long”. The band have stated that the “Track ‘Fight’ and the whole of the EP is very much about splitting up, cheating and divorce”. This giving a real idea of the anger that this song possesses, however when you get to the chorus, you really start to see the fighting spirit that is being conveyed, through lines such as “Bring your everything, Fight, I’ll dodge every swing”.
This is an anthem for the fighters inside of all of us. Backed with the playing from guitarist James Mattocks, with his Slash like solo, and Bassist, DC, providing the beefy tone as the spine of the song.
This is a heavy, thrilling and head-banging anthem!
Dead Days-Fight: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Ja7OmJaJqo
It’s at times like these you realise how forgiving you’ve been of singles which have come through for review. Why did I find it acceptable that a 6 minute track which had no discernible melody, rhythm, focus or point of interest was worthy of a carefully thought out appraisal? Albino have nailed exactly what a single should be: their new track ‘Belinda’ is catchy, fresh, yet at the same time redolent of some classic bands you’d forgotten you were madly in love with; but at the same time leaving you clawing at your ears that it only lasts for 2 and a bit minutes.
There’s the well told story from Paul McCartney about the creation of ‘Yesterday’ wherby having written down the song, he convinced himself for the following month that all he had in fact done was to plagiarise an already existing wunder-hit. I almost have the same feeling here: ‘Belinda’ sounds naggingly familiar, yet having listened to it a few more times, I’m confident it is a completely original modern classic.
Yes, there are obvious reference points- the kaleidoscopically drooling organ sound is immediately all things The Doors/The Animals/Brian Auger; the structure is the gutter-garage-blues of The Beasts of Bourbon and early Nick Cave. Although Albino are London based, more specifically, London pub-based, their beer mat agenda is being fully understood by both band and audience alike. This as much tomorrow’s sound as yesterday’s – the hangover comes for free.
Considering the band’s claim that they more or less run on whiskey, it’s got to be a fine single malt. Or simply anything alcoholic…
With a name like Furnace and the Fundamentals, it should be a cast-iron, nailed on the wall, skewered into the core of the Earth given that said band is as blood-boilingly elemental as they suggest. If only we had a pound for every time we were led along this merry path, only to be disappointed. Prepare yourselves – it actually happened. On an unassuming evening in Cambridge’s famed Portland Arms, the go-to venue for anyone who’s actually ANY GOOD, there was the quasi-religious spectacle of a band living up to their name. Bless everyone involved.
Party band? Weddings and bar mitzvahs? Soggy sausage rolls? None of it. Furnace and the Fundamentals is an almost perversely talented, energetic, musically-muscular volcano of a band which just happens to play cover versions. Forget your covers of Bon Jovi’s Total Eclipse of the Heart; forget even Bon Jovi’s own version of Total Eclipse of the Heart, and revel in the glory of 6 Australian-based go-getters in glittery red suits shaking you silly.
If you’re after a toilet break during the slow number, you’re in for a troublesome time (or at least the person stood next to you is). Furious from the off, Furnace and his cohorts don’t give you a second to collect your thoughts, powering through song after song without so much as a care for the audience’s collective cardio-vascular system. Half way through you realize you’re jigging along to songs you always thought you hated.
Never having thought myself how easy it would be to segue from KISS’s I Was Made For Lovin’ You to a wallpaper-peeling medley of Adele hits, Furnace make us all the eager students to their tartrazine-fuelled headmaster. Blurred Lines becomes Billie Jean; Ginuwine’s Pony becomes Bohemian Rhapsody. It seems obvious when Furnace and the Fundamentals rearrange what you ever thought of some of the most recognisable sounds from across the decades. We’d show you the setlist but with nods sometimes as brief as a couple of lines, we’d be here all day writing it down and our fingers simply wouldn’t stand it.
A packed crowd, who were clearly already savvy to the allure of the band, were joined by the performers on the floor as they did the conga through the crowd and keyboard master, Lachlan Nicholson, knocked out a killer keytar solo. Whilst drummer, Mike Solo, was confined to the corner of the stage, he still managed to add his two cents to the performance antics with stick spins, cross-handed drumming and some ingenious trills and transitions that hold the mash-ups together like superglue.
In some ways, it seemed like The Portland didn’t do justice to the quality musicianship and performance on show, with it struggling to keep a lid on the seemingly unlimited supplies of energy from every member of the band. These guys deserve to be playing bigger venues, packing out tour dates, day in, day out – because if everyone knew that cover bands could be like this, there wouldn’t be the stigma that is usually associated with them. Nonetheless, the lucky Cambridge crowd was treated to an intimate, no-holds-barred performance that proved that Furnace and the Fundamentals are the ultimate party starters – full stop.
It was all pretty revelatory stuff – the band come with a reputation for full-throttle, Olympic-standard party shows, complete with glitter cannons and can-can girls (possibly) but it still comes as quite a shock in the flesh. I really can’t recommend highly enough, one of the most (ahem) incendiary gigs in Cambridge this year. Toto? Check. The Darkness? Check. Beyonce? Check. Paul Simon? Check. How long have you got?
Scottish singer songwriter has already written himself into the history books, being one of the only modern day curators of protest songs, but now he is back with ‘Land of Hope’- a song inspired by the refugee crisis which has seen so much exposure in the media of late.
Beldon started off his career back in the 80s playing in a number of bands such as Mikifin and Boxing Clever, but after taking a long break from music, he returned to his passion with a vengeance – penning a protest song about Donald Trump after a dream gave him the inspiration.
However, ‘Land of Hope’ depicts all the feeling and sentiment that you would expect from a song that was written after Beldon saw the famous photo of Alan Kurdi, a 3 year old Syrian boy, who drowned and was washed up on the beach after his family tried to cross into Europe.
Despite the severe nature of what Beldon is addressing in his music, ‘Land of Hope’ is actually a very upbeat song, and whilst some may find this odd, or even disrespectful – those people would be missing the most important word here: ‘hope’. This is a jovial, upbeat song because it needs to be; after all, it’s aim is to get people really thinking and acting on the atrocities they see on the news.
What drink to accompany ‘Land of Hope’?
It doesn’t seem right that we pair an intoxicating beverage with a song of such seriousness and relevance but if anything, perhaps a strong coffee might propel you from your sofa into becoming an activist against the refugee crisis. It might happen. You never know.
‘Shredded Jeans’ is one of the latest singles from Belgian singer-songwriter Mark L. Oakes’ new album, Call Me The Moon. The record is a must listen for lovers of folk and americana who enjoy that classic throwback sound.
This isn’t to say that Oakes’ music is dated by any means; he has adopted an older sound akin to the likes of Neil Young and Van Morrison, but adapted and fine-tuned it through quality production to create a more modern version of music from this genre.
Mark states Neil Young as one of his main influences and the pair actually share a very similar vocal tone that’s both warm and emotive. As well as Young, Oakes looks up to the likes of Tucker Zimmerman, Ryan Adams and Tom Petty for musical inspiration.
‘Shredded Jeans’ is a beautifully piano-led track that builds from gentle chords and humming-organs to a chorus that really gives you goosebumps, in the best way possible – it must be the powerful combination of Mark’s voice and the screaming harmonica.
Mark himself has labelled Call Me The Moon the ideal soundtrack for a ‘karmic road trip’ and listening to the music immediately explains why. There is a very cinematic quality to his sound that would be easy to pair up with the visuals of a classic road trip film. The emotion is so strong, particularly in tracks like ‘Shredded Jeans’ and ‘Aloof Again’, that Mark’s music might just make you smile, or even cry.
The album was recorded at Mark’s home studio in the Ardennes with the help of cellist, Ben Trigg, and was mastered by Grammy award winner, Gavin Lurssen. Mark is a keen traveller, often voyaging between Europe and the US with a number of musical projects, but he believes that Call Me The Moon is a ‘silver thread out of the vague existential maze’.
The relaxing and easy-listening vibes at play within Mark’s music call for a quality single-malt with which you can begin to contemplate the ‘vague existential maze’ that is life.
Find out more on Mark L Oakes here:
Alonestar is the musical moniker by which artist and producer, Jethro Sheeran, otherwise goes, and before you ask, yes, he is related to Ed – they’re cousins. However, this should by no means diminish Jethro’s work just because his cousin is a world-wide superstar.
In fact, upon listening to Jethro’s music, it is easy to see how Ed has been influenced by his rap style. Nonetheless, Alonestar has returned with his latest single ‘Lovelorn’, which also features the talented vocals of singer, Rosie Ribbons.
The pair wrote the track together with their past experiences and relationships in mind which provided fuel for the context of this addictive track. Combating themes of unrequited love and heartbreak, Jethro explains that ‘Lovelorn’ “is the strongest and most powerful song I have written & produced to date, it reflects my new sound and style. It’s something fresh and different to anything else out there at the moment. I dug deep to exercise the darkness in this track, and fell into the depths of my soul when coming up with the concept.”
A powerful and resonant beat underpins the whole track, adding a sense of seriousness that’s comparable to some of Eminem’s best work. Alonestar’s lyrics are fast, clever and witty, exuding attitude and emotion from every word. With his signature rap style, Jethro paves the way for the super-catchy and emotive chorus sung through the crystal clear vocals of Ribbons. There is a strong contrast between the two in terms of how they sing, but this only adds to the quality production of the track, exemplifying Jethro’s own talents.
‘Lovelorn’ was produced by Sheeran himself with the help of Massive Attack’s guitarist, Angelo Bruschini, and drummer Damon Reece.
You can imagine this one being played in the club so why not accompany it with a vodka and coke, or lemonade- your call!
Check out more on Alonestar here:
Having shared stages with the likes of Black Star and David Byrne, Buddhist musician Marilyn Carino has hit us with her second solo album Leaves, Sadness, Science. Also, featuring the talents of Mike Mills (bassist of R.E.M), the record is a unique fusion of electronic, hip-hop and soul vibes.
Carino’s vocals have been labelled, “powerful to the point of bringing you to tears” and it is easy to see why when listening to her music. The Brooklyn native wrote, recorded, mixed and performed all of Leaves, Sadness, Science – a collection of head-space grooves formed from layered, Moog-y synths and potent beats. Her long time practice of Nichiren Buddhism is the force that forms her songs into gripping monologues that explore themes of sex and radical self-expression.
Carino recorded her first album at Neil Young’s studio with Crazy Horse bassist Billy Talbot acting as producer. She then took a one-way ticket to London where she landed a job as an engineer in reggae recording studios. Upon returning to the U.S. she co-founded the vintage electronic group Mudville, producing three critically acclaimed albums and wrote lyrics for the great producers Sly and Robbie (Grace Jones, Simply Red). Mudville’s song ‘Wicked’ went on to win the 2008 Independent Music Award for Best Song. She recorded and produced her first solo album ‘Little Genius’ in 2011, and recently contributed vocals and lyrics to the Words Hurt indie hip hop collective’s ‘Fuck That Pretty Boy Shit’, featuring Samuel T. Herring, vocalist of Future Islands.
Consequently, you can see the experience that Marilyn has at her disposal as a musician and her latest album exhibits this perfectly. Certainly worth checking out if you fancy something a little different.
The craftsmanship in Marilyn’s music calls for something equally well made, like a cocktail- I’d suggest a manhattan.