The Music Mag: Unsigned UK Music News, Reviews & Promotion
Gumshen began back in the mid 2000s out of a garage in North Seatle under the name Menthol James. Since then they recorded an E.P in 2007, changed their name and gone from strength to strength and have recently released ‘Progtronica‘.
Guitarist Jan Ciganik escaped from Communist Czechoslovakia in the 80′s, found success in the 90′s Seattle grunge scene playing with the acclaimed band Ventilator produced by John Cale. Eventually he met up with drummer Dennis McCoy and others to form Menthol James. After a few line-up changes they were joined on bass by actor/musician Ron Hippe (broadway theatrical credits, Northern Exposure, Caspar Babypants with Chris Ballew).
Listen to “Not everyone of us” below:
Sharing similar styles to the likes of Franz Ferdinand and Phoenix, along with influences of the legendary Pink Floyd, Gumshen offer a polished sound. The title of their new album ‘Progtronica’ actually sums up the sounds pretty well: imagine a progressive electronic rock and you have Progtronica!
The MonaLisa Twins are set to release their new album ‘MonaLisa Twins play Beatles & More’ on MArch 28, 2014. The dynamic artists are one of the few modern bands to write original songs in the 60′s beat tradition, including a modern twist on the genre to offer a fresh rock n roll sound. Inspired by the likes of The Beatles, Bob Dylan and Simon & Garfunkel. Their signature features are polyphonic harmonies and a wiry, bright guitar sound. The even mix of fun and depth in their music and lyrics brings back the spirit of this time and therefore speaks to a wide range of international audiences.
Originally from Austria, they traveled extensively, performing in the USA, Australia and UK in their teens. They started out with cover songs on YouTube and released two CD’s with covers in 2007 and 2008. At 16 they decided to go for a professional music career and began to record their debut album “When We’re Together”, which was released in 2012. Since then they’ve played lots of live shows in small to medium-sized venues and festivals in Continental Europe and UK.
Their new album “MonaLisa Twins play Beatles & more”, a fan-requested compilation of first-class live and studio cover recordings is due for release March 28, 2014. Moving forward through 2014, Mona and Lisa are dedicated to work on releasing more music videos and writing new songs.
Since Sonisphere festival’s cancellation in 2012, the UK festival rock scene has been dominated by the ever-present Download Festival.
But 2014 sees the re-emergence of Sonisphere and boy do they have some big names announced. The headliners are The Prodigy, Iron Maiden and Metallica (by request). Compare these to the headliners of Download Festvial – Avenged Sevenfold, Linkin Park and Aerosmith – it seems that for rock and metal fans that Sonisphere has the edge.
Download Festvial 2014: A different approach?
Sonisphere Festival 2014: Big names!
But there is more to a festival than just headliners (and beer), and this is where Download Festival has been trying to fight back. Whilst not every metal fan will agree, Download has a decent list of support bands:
DOWNLOAD SUPPORT BANDS:
Fall Out Boy,
Black Label Society,
They may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but nevertheless there are some good names in there and some top bands. Personally Volbeat are on of the best bands I’ve seen live in the past few years and are worth going to see alone – and with Sunday shaping up as Steel Panther, Alter Bridge and Aerosmith, it’s a very good day for the slightly softer rock fans.
Sonisphere have just announced more support acts, so lets now take a look at what they have to offer:
SONISPHERE SUPPORT BANDS:
Alice in Chains,
Just by looking at the lineups of both festivals it almost looks as if Download Festival has accepted that this year they’re not going to be able to compete with Sonisphere in terms of the huge names in metal, so they’ve taken a different route. Also how many times can one festival rinse and repeat the likes of Metallica, Maiden, Alice in Chains, Slayer, etc?
I think Download have taken the right approach this year. Sonisphere has pulled out the big guns with it’s top headliners and whilst Download’s aren’t as strong, Aerosmith is a big statement of moving in a different direction, as is going with a lesser name (but a favourited band) in Avenged Sevenfold.
The problem lies in the lack of rock bands breaking through to the big time in this country. There have been a few recently that have promised a lot (Bullet to my Valentine come in to mind), but have failed to deliver. However, Sevenfold have been given the nod this year after a number one album and sell out tour, and hopefully it will help them to cement themselves as festival headliners for the next 10 years to come.
In Europe Other bands who could be given a chance to headline in the near future are the likes of Volbeat, Airbourne, Black Label Society and Alter Bridge (to name a few).
So overall for metal fans the headliners offered by Sonisphere will most likely gain your hard earned dollar, and it should do! But at the same time I do say well done to Download for trying to mix it up and keep things fresh and if you’re a fan of rock over metal, then Download is looking pretty good as well.
Zack Fay, based in Denver, Colorado, is about to release his eagerly anticipated single ‘VIP’ on iTunes on the 14th February 2014.
As a new artist, Zack has managed to develop a look, alongside explicit lyrics which will definitely entice certain sections of the music scene to have a listen.
The lyrics in ‘VIP’ feature Zack sharing his delight at becoming a member of the high life. The song is catchy, but some of the song could use a little bit of tightening. The lyrics are well written and up to date with modern day pop, with short repetitive sound bites, but the vocals and the backing track in the chorus need a bit more power behind them to make the song really stand out.
Following in a long line of prestigious Future Music winners, Heidi Browne from Market Drayton, Shropshire has been named as the winner of the national Open Mic UK competition at The NEC in Birmingham!
Heidi was crowned champion in front of a capacity crowd at The NEC in Birmingham on Saturday night taking home a recording and development deal. Her own original song G.I.R.L.F.R.I.E.N.D won over the judges making her the winner of the 21 and over age category and the overall winner of Open Mic UK 2014.
The competition is brought to you by Future Music – the company behind the discovery of artists such as Jacob Banks, Warner Music’s Birdy, Columbia Record’s Lucy Spraggan, Union J’s Jaymi Hensley and Jahmene Douglas, both of which are now signed to Sony Music, and last year’s TeenStar winner Luke Friend!
After impressing the judging panel at auditions from against more than 9,000 acts who signed up to Open Mic UK this year across the UK, they went on to perform in the Open Mic UK live showcases, battling through both Regional and Area final heats.
The judging panel for the Grand Final included record label representatives from Sony, Warner and Universal with names such as four time Ivor Novello Award winner Mark Hill, Birdy’s producer Gareth Henderson, Alex Baker from Kerrang Radio plus DJs who work for BBC introducing and Capital FM radio, along with Head of Future Music Chris Grayston. Also picked by the judging panel as winners were Natalie Shay from New Southgate in London, who won the under 16’s age category, and Wildwood Kin from Torquay in Devon who took home the title for the 17-20 year old age category.
This year’s winner Heidi, says on the Open Mic UK competition experience; ‘’I entered the competition for a bit of exposure. I never thought I’d be successful as a quirky singer-songwriter! Winning the competition has restored my faith in what I’ve been doing for so long and I’ve been overwhelmed by the support of my fans, friends and family.’
Heidi has now won a comprehensive consultation package including social marketing, image and branding with Future Music, an initial extensive winner’s publicity package, a Lewitt microphone courtesy of John Hornby Skewes & Co. and an amazing £5,000 to spend on the development of her music.
A 2Tone ska sound might seem like a strange choice in the summer of 1995 when Umbrella Bed first assembled. After all the 2Tone ska sound was shortlived around 15 years prior and the ‘third wave’ genre of ska creates a much edgier ska sound.
Thirdwave ska is seen as a ska wih a more punk/grunge influence and has moved the sound away from the original 2Tone pop roots. But the short led lifespan of the genre has left a lot of room to explore – enter Umbrella Bed.
Five full length releases, hundreds of shows and two European tours later, the band who formed almost 20 years ago have sold out shows in France, supported the likes of The Skatalities, The Specials, English Beat and many others.
Umbrella Bed established a solid reputation both nationally and internationally and released their first full length album in 1996 called ‘King Size’. They followed it up with ‘Monkey’s and Rivets’, ‘Last Band Standing’, ‘On Small Skank’ and ‘Go’ – the last of which coming in 2008.
Kadia’s original style is a take on acoustic and contemporary folk. The band was created by Chris Bailey, and along with Lee Cuff and David Hoyland, Kadia have been going strong since January 2013. The Bournemouth based folk trio also like to involve other musicians in their music such as Hannah Claridge, Amy Tedwin-Roberts, Glen Shepherd and Steve Beck.
The vision for the band is to create original folk inspired acoustic-guitar-based music with a contemporary twist, to share around the country at gigs and festivals, with a view to support local bands and nationally recognised acts.
The E.P opener ‘Beacon Fires’ is available to listen to above. It features a nice mix of Irish folk and modern acoustic, not to mention very catchy and well-thought out lyrics.
The band came together from different musical backgrounds and have meshed their ideas to form a really strong folk sound. The differences in background seems to spur Kadia on, especially in their songwriting – making sure that the individual eclecticism shines through.
Chris has drawn his influence from the sounds of the acoustic guitarists signed to the CandyRat label and has a latin/jazz background. Lee is a classically trained musician, also self-taught, who specialises in a number of stringed instruments, including cello and lute and favours the baroque era. David, is the percussion genius, is the most recent addition to the group and lends his experience on a variety of percussion instruments; Drums, cajon, tabla, bongo, djembe and other percussion.
Turn the volume way, way up, press play and back the hell away from your computer, because here are The Lockhearts.
If you take a whole bunch of guitar shredding, add in a little bit of insane vocal screeching and mix it all up with a dollop of drum blasting, that might give you a sense of what The Lockhearts stand for with their music. Not to mention that they are one of the most charismatic, fun and wacky bands out there, it’s all good.
It all began when singer Tim Meaco joined forces with the guitarist Age Vella in 2012 stating “I dream big. I needed to find a band who could dream equally as big”. And he did. The pair were soon joined by Jameel Majam on bass and Brenton James on drums.
Taking inspiration from rock legends ranging from Queen, The Clash and Foo Fighters, they created a mesh of sounds which stands out as their own. After hitting the recording studio the band filmed their debut video with film director Tanzeal Rahim, which peaked at number 2 in the MTV music charts.
The energy intheir performances is quite something and the single ‘FREAKSHOW’ features a very catchy Andrew WK-esque melody with classic rock vocals with a modern twist. It is definitely one hell of a tune.
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Not since Will Smith has a rapper been able to captivate listeners whilst moving away from degrading or corny lyrics. Goliath PAW combines his love of alternative rock and pop and adds his own style of rapping to the mix. Nicknamed ‘Mr. Rock, Pop and Hip Hop’ Goliath PAW sets himself apart from others by fusing new age Hip Hop fashion with a rock star look. He is extremely confident on stage, mixing hip hop swagger and the confidence of a rock and roll front man, creating an unforgettable performance.
‘Pawtners’ (fans of Goliath PAW) will be pleased to hear that his first EP is set for release in February 2014. Entitled ‘Canary in a Coal Mine’ encompassed with a Canadian tour, it’s definitely one of the albums to look out for this year.
‘Higher’ is the new single from Goliath PAW and can be listened to above.
The lyrics are clever and powerful, the song itself is catchy, and perhaps most importantly the fusion of hiphop and rock is fresh. Credit should also be given to the producer Superstar 0 for helping put together a clean track that is up there with anything that Sony can churn out.
‘Higher’ could easily top the mainstream pop charts and I don’t see it taking Goliath PAW very long to continue to climb and hit the peaks that his talent deserve.
Goliath PAW sees himself as an innovator of new school hip hop, and if his breed is anything to go by then the fusion of genres that he offers is definitely something that the majority of music fans around Canada, around the UK, and around the world will enjoy. As a rock fan myself I wasn’t expecting to like ‘Higher’ as much as I do, but it’s up there with the best tracks I’ve heard so far this year.