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Hollie April is a twenty-two year singer-songwriter who originally hails from Gibraltar, she first start writing songs at a young age and since those formative years has become an undergraduate at Leeds college of music where she represented the conservatoire at showcases for the likes of Sony, Island Records and Steinway. From there Hollie tasted the festival circuit, opening the mainstage of the Gibralter Music Festival as well as appearing at the Gibralter Jazz Festival.

Hollie released her debut EP, Marionette to great praise, with the track The Sun And The Sea being noted for particular praise from the likes of Soundcloud among others.

Together Alone is the follow-up single which see Hollie gain more support and plaudits, the track is a stunning near six-minute alternative folk epic that opens with Hollie’s mesmeric vocals and acoustic guitar, before developing with added dramatic drums, soaring melodies and Hollie showcasing that jaw dropping vocal range to the full. Hollie’s vocal ability is simply incredible, her voice oozes and simmers with emotion before lifting to a powerful crescendo, whilst the musical accompaniment augments the vocals to dazzling effect.

If the passion and delivery of Together Alone is anything to judge on Hollie April is destined for big things in the alternative folk field and beyond, personally I can’t wait to hear more from this young singer-songwriter.

Rhythm & Booze Rating 10

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In essence Teenage Wildlife is the work of Shoreditch based John Wright, a renowned film maker and photographer who has worked on films for numerous fashion labels such as Dior and Louis Vuitton as well Vanity Fair and more recently GQ magazine among others.

John has been writing and recording music for numerous years with his material being used as part of the various aforementioned campaigns among others. John was encouraged to create the Teenage Wildlife persona as a means to release his musical output after working with numerous names in the music industry otffered him support. Most Beautiful Thing/The Last Great Love Affair is the first release under the Teenage Wildlife monicker and serves as an interesting starting point.

Both tracks sees multi-instrumentalist John create an intriguing combination of electro soul using synths, keyboards, loops and beats, Most Beautiful Thing also features an unknown yet recognisible female singer delivering a glorious soulful vocal that John loops over a glitchy dub inspired mix to create a lovely slice of modern R&B. The Last Great Love Affair is a little more jumbled, with beats obscuring the delicate vocals a little and yet it’s still an intriguing number (though I’d prefer it stripped back a little).

As starting points go this two-track single is a welcoming opening gambit from an obviously talented artist, it’ll be interesting to hear where John Wright takes the Teenage Wildlife project next.

Rhythm & Booze Rating 7

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Band Of Holy Joy are London based practitioners of the gutter lament, evocative chanson like ballads that bring to mind the likes of Divine Comedy or the criminally underrated Costeau, a band (that like the aforementioned) that create slow burning odes to the human condition that weave an undeniable mesmeric spell with their compelling mix instrumentation and Johny Brown’s brooding croon.

In recent times the author Irvine Welsh proclaimed Band Of Holy Joy’s album Easy Listening to be his “favourite album of the year so far” whilst the likes of Mojo, The Mirror and The Wire all agreed, with favourable reviews of the album.

Band Of Holy Joy’s follow up the acclaimed album with a brand new single, entitled A Place To Call Home, a track that explores living in the inner city and a song that also goes some way to showcase the timeless sound of the

The track is a moody provocative piece that casts a magical spell, the slow, precise structure draws the listener in, before Johny delivers that sensational darkened soulful croon, lyrically the track is captivating, original and inventive, whilst musically the instrumentation draws you in.

There are very few acts that have the same draw as Band Of Holy Joy, few can create such an atmospheric sound whilst even less have a frontman with same aching voice of Johny Brown, if you’ve not heard the band yet, I urge you track down, at the very least this single and prepare yourself to be seduced by the brooding sounds of the human condition.

Rhythm & Booze Rating 9

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Blind River Scare are a South Wales based four-piece that play a combination of original Americana and alternative country. The band have been playing live around the area whilst honing their sound.

Point Of No Return is a six track self-released EP that showcases their brand of back-porch roots, combining acoustic guitars with Pedal and Lap steel to create a warm and inviting sound, whilst frontman, Tim Manning delivers a fine country-tinged drawl that instantly grabs the attention, whilst his lyrics draw the listener further into their evocative mix.

The EP opens with the title track and instantly showcases the band’s alternative country credentials with an instantly infectious rolling rhythm and that aforementioned delightful combination of lap steel and acoustic guitar. The track moves along at a fair old pace and hints at the dusty Texan border with it’s almost Calexico like use of drum and bass, whilst the story compels and encourages the listener onwards.

Whether you enjoy the follow up track, Could I Be A Different Man would be down to personal taste, I’m not a big traditional country fan so to be honest despite a decent vocal and some nice harmonies, the track leaves me a little cold, as it’s all a little to slow and safe for my liking. Third track Gideon appeals a great deal more, with it’s (for the most part) solo acoustic guitar and weathered vocals, whilst the lyrics again capture the imagination and when the twanging pedal steel joins it peppers the track as opposed to dragging it down that tried and tested traditional route.

No Remorse, Guilt Or Shame sees the band at their most musically muscular with loads of tasty finger plucking complimenting the strummed acoustic wonderfully, whilst Damage Is Done begins as a stripped down affair complete with a wonderful warm and weary vocal, a harmony enriched chorus and a welcome change of pace during a short yet infectious middle section.

Overall Point Of No Return is an interesting and often contagious showcase of Blind River Scare, Tim’s vocals and lyrics are for the most part slow burning, rich and welcoming whilst the band create a tasteful country backing, if you want something raw and ragged look elsewhere but if you want to hear well played inviting roots you’ll find a great deal to admire about Blind River Scare.

Rhythm & Booze Rating 7

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j mascis

To date J Mascis is perhaps best known as frontman of abrasive alternative rockers Dinosaur Jr, who alongside the likes of Sebadoh and Pavement helped shape the alternative rock sound of the 90′s, however with the release of the dazzling, mainly acoustic solo album, Tied To A Star that could all be about to change.

J Mascis has stripped everything down to reveal a stunning alternative folk element, whilst still managing to appeal to his previous fan-base with the occasional burst of electric guitar, compelling lyrics and mesmeric song structures.

Me Again opens proceedings and instantly sets out the albums intentions, acoustic guitar blends with delicate piano and a beautiful vocal croon that at times hits a wondrous falsetto, hinting at a previous unheard vocal range. Every Morning follows with a pacy acoustic strum and the odd burst of electric guitar, a gorgeous vocal hook and an instantly memorable melody that’ll have you feet tapping from the opening spin. Heal The Star has a world weary vocal, a hint of feedback and a brilliant, middle section of plucked guitar and pattered percussion that live you could imagine turning into a wonderful elongated jam.

Wide Awake features a rather understated, yet welcome appearance by Chan Marshall (Cat Power) on harmonies, whilst Ken Maiuri (Young@Heart Chorus) on piano further peppers the track with a subtle accompaniment.

Other highlights include the shimmering, majestic And Then with again a delightful combination of guitar (both acoustic and electric), piano and bewitching vocal harmonies between J Mascis and Mark Mulcahy (Miracle Legion) and the acoustic (more that pattered percussion) dessert blues instrumental of Drifter, where Mascis really lets loose on that six string of his.

Tied To A Star could be the beginning of a new and exciting phase of the career of J Mascis, the stripped down, acoustic nature really seems to suit J Mascis, the songs seem to have space to breathe and blossom, whilst his voice has never sounded better.

I could continue to try to convey just how impressive this majestic ten-track affair truly is but I’m fast running out of superlatives, plus I should leave something for you to discover, but I shall sum up by saying whether you like alternative rock, indie, folk or whatever I truly can’t recommend this album enough, like music love J Mascis.

Rhythm & Booze Rating 10

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