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These Reigning Days are a three-piece hailing from Devon, over the past couple of years the band have been busy honing their craft and playing up and down the country taking in numerous high profile support slots (Metronomy, Echo And The Bunneymen, etc) and festivals along the way (Glastonbury, Hop Farm, Liverpool Sound City, etc). This year has also seen the band venture abroad performing in front of 60,000 fans at the San Siro in Milan as well as playing in Eastern Russia (Vladivostock Rocks), Mumbai, Dehli and Bangalore in support of their debut album Opera Of Love.

The band have also found favour with the likes of BBC Introducing, Janice Long (Radio 2) and the Daily Mirror among others to the sing the band’s praises.

So has all the hard work paid off? The opening track Stand Down quickly answers with a resounding yes, the track begins with Dan Steer’s vocals ringing clear before a marching beat and shimmering guitars join the mix before pulsating synths join the mix around the two minute mark to create a dazzling indie-electro crossover, all topped with a vocal hook that’ll keep nagging you to the point of submission.

Changes continues the electro peppered indie as the band layer infectious synths over a barrage of riffs, beats and vocal croons creating a brooding epic in the process. Too Late, was an early pick for a single and it’s easy to hear why, a hand-crafted indie club floor filler where swaggering urgent riffs and urgent drums collide with a big hook-laden chorus. In direct contrast I Need Time sees the band strip their sound back for a stunning reflective number featuring Jazmyn Mary sharing lead cooing duties with Dan, showcasing a sensitive and more restrained side to the bands craft (further showcased on the piano led closer In The End). Further album highlights include the future stadium rock classic Fishbowl and the mesmeric Living It Up, a track that starts slowly before exploding into a dazzling indie classic, with it’s stomping riffs and killer chorus encapsulating the band’s impressive use of rise and fall to captivate the listener.

Opera Of Love is an incredible statement of intent from a band very much on the cusp of a wave, the clever use of light and shade throughout the album’s duration is intoxicating, whilst the combination of epic towering indie riffs with simmering shards of synth and Dan Steer’s instantly infectious deliver should see band destined for big things in the very near future.

Rhythm & Booze Rating 8

www.thesereigningdays.co.uk

 

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Ever song a love song to your favourite garment? you know one of those made up laments about how much you love that comfortable, shapeless jumper that you should have cast out years ago, but you just can’t bring yourself to chuck, or those garish leggings you once wore when you were into hair rock all those many years ago? No? well maybe you don’t need that jumper or whatever quite as much as you think you do.

You see Biscuithead & The Biscuit Badgers know exactly how to tread their threads and in this case a tweed jacket, the singer serenades that jacket, knowing just how damn cool he looks and just how versatile that jacket is, not only does he croon his love for the jacket, he then asks his mates to play a combination of tuba, drums and twanging guitar in a 50’s style to create a swaying lament that really conveys his love .

By now you may have come to conclusion that Biscuithead and the boys may not be the most serious of artists, but I think you might be missing the point, you see jacket (or anything other garment for that matter) love is a serious subject and only a band like the Biscuit Badgers can really convey that message of love.

If you love your jacket, partial to a bit of 50’s music hall jazz and enjoy a good old croon I suggest like me you become a friend of the Biscuit Badgers and that enigmatic crooner and well attired young man Biscuithead and sing out about those tattered old white jeans hidden away in your wardrobe.

Rhythm & Booze Rating 8

www.biscuithead.co.uk

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Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)

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Shadow Lad (also known as fifteen year old Eve Privitera) is a singer-songwriter hailing from Worcester who is taking her first steps into the world of music. I first encountered the project after reading a facebook message asking for advice on how to get started, having already written an eleven track debut album and so I offered to cast my ears over the album.

The album in question, Still Point Of Turning World is an intriguing debut that showcases a songwriter who pens lyrics way beyond her years, the self-reflective lyrics, instantly capture the imagination and will resonate with anyone looking for their place in life, the lyrics are often reflective and introspective yet at times almost bordering on quirky whilst musically, Eve has a stripped down almost primal sound, an acoustic guitar strummed, plucked and beaten into submission complimenting her already world weary voice.

The album opens with Idiot, a wonderful introduction to Eve’s sound with a short yet infectious number complete with a simplistic yet affecting riff and a drawled vocal, whilst showcasing those introspective lyrics that Eve seems to pull out of the hat at ease.

The album continues in much the same vein, acoustic guitar, catchy melodies and biting lyrics, musically Eve, hints at a folk influence, whilst the barbed wire, close to the bone lyrics hint at the 90’s grunge scene or perhaps even Ani Difranco, Eve pulls no punches on the likes of How Can I Be Worse she wishes someone dead and talks about the cancer in their brain, whilst Flesh is an anguished tale of loss and despair, Lying Is An Art features the somewhat shocking couplet of “the angels say if I cut out my tongue, I could still get into heaven” over a machine gun strummed guitar, whilst Loss, Grace And Acceptance is a suitably mournful yet lament as one might imagine.

The eleven tracks on here are raw and demo like in quality and yet the unpolished production suits Eve’s delivery, each of the songs on here are short and concise with not time for embellished thrills and sound all the better for it. As first forays go Still Point Of Turning World is an impressive debut full of promise, it’ll be interesting to hear what she comes up with next, after some heavy gigging, Shadow Lad (or as I prefer Eve) is definitely one to watch for the future.

Rhythm & Booze Rating 7

www.facebook.com/theshadowlad

 

Album Artwork by Oscar Boyle

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Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Stompin’ On Spiders are a three-piece hailing from in and around hte Malvern area, the foundations of the band first formed back in 2009 and since then the band have become main stays of the Worcester music scene as well as regularly venturting out of the counties boundaries, during the band’s life span they’ve previously released a couple of well received albums, whilst individual members of the band have also been seen treading the boards with the likes of Highway 5, Stripped Down Bluies and The Cowley Cowboys among others.

Blacklisted, the band’s third album sees the band expand their number and indeed, with the addition of Mark Miletech on double bass and Debbie Robinson, who adds some celtic harp on a bluesy mellow track during the album.

Now before I delve into the music itself, I must quickly mention hte packaging of the new album, the release itself found it’s way to me as a wonderfully presented credit card like USB that features the album, a video and a promo pic, all complimented by a nice looking booklet that features an introduction to the band, lyrics and song explanations, etc. The format is innovative and very welcome in my book, it’s really nice to see a band push the boundaries with presentation of an album and it activally encourages interest, as opposed to the standard CD format (or worse the dreaded MP3), so for that alone Stompin’ On Spiders should be commended.

The album itself is a little hit and miss to be honest, it opens with the mellow folky blues of Schizophrenic City, which is a decent enough opener without really grabbing you by the lapels, the combination of strummed acoustics and bluesy electric riffs works nicely, but the song never really hooks you in, then from there the band kind of jump around a little from engaging blues to mellow and meandering 60’s influenced folk.

The album features a number of tracks that do make you sit up and take notice, Blacklist Blues is a prime example, a darker, brooding number, with stomping blues riffs and pattered percussion backing perhaps the most convincing vocal on the album, whilst the likes of Cloud Seeding and the energetic and restless blues of Katie Shoot The Gun also deserve merit, whilst the instrumental jam during The Great Divide proves the band to be more than able musicians.

However the more refrained numbers, such as Angry Again and Charlie’s Smile lack a little bite, the vocals are a bit weak to carry the tune and don’t really engage the listener, whilst musically they meander without ever reaching the desired destination and the vocal restrain on the otherwise impressive album closer, Ten Thousand Miles is completely uneccesary and a little cheesy.

I think Stompin’ On Spiders have got a decent blues album in their locker somewhere and I’d like to hear them perhaps pursue the sound of the aforementioned Blacklist Blues a little more but at the moment the band frustrate, I like roots and folk as much as the next man (actually probably more) however a stripped down sound does expose any weaknesses and unfortunately a few of the track on here do just that.

Rhythm & Booze Rating 6

 

 

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The Mercy Alliance is a Washington DC based band led by talented singer-songwriter Joe Rathbone, whose latest album, Some Kind Of Beautiful Story, sees him collaborate with producer Thomas Johansen, along with drummer Steve Bowmen (ex Counting Crows) and bassist Brad Jones among others to create an emotive take on rootsy indie rock.

The album opens with a beautiful ode to Joe’s native Washington (called aptly enough Washington) that instantly showcases a dreamy melodic indie sound complete with shimmering guitars and woozy harmony enriched vocals, hinting at a 60’s psychedelic influence that again rears its head on the follow-up, Angel Of Mercy which again washes over  the listener with layers of swirling guitar and keyboard, whilst Joe’s delicately refrained vocals seduce the listener further into the hypnotic sound of The Mercy Alliance.

All For The Love Of You changes direction slightly with fuzzy driven guitars replacing the aforementioned sedated swirls, bringing in a shoegaze influence that’s compounded with the synth undercurrent and chugging bassline. Whilst both This Is How They Know and I Can’t Do It, are both different again with Joe’s melodic vocals being joined by strings and twinkling keyboards further peppering his glorious vision, with the latter majestically swelling to a near orchestral finish.

Libertine is perhaps the most aggressive track on here, with Joe delivering a raw, gritty baritone, whilst the band kick up a storm of stomping beats and stabbing guitars, proving that The Mercy Alliance are equally adapt at traditional indie rock fodder as they are creating trance like epics.

Some Kind Of Beautiful Story is a varied, compelling and contagious album that covers a wide range of melodic indie from a hypnotic songwriter very much on the top of his game, if you’re looking for an inventive take on an otherwise stale sound, I highly recommend the mesmeric sounds of The Mercy Alliance

Rhythm & Booze Rating 8

www.themercyalliance.net

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Rating: 10.0/10 (3 votes cast)

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