Monday 29 April 2013

Richie Ashwin

RICHIE ASHWIN 1Richie Ashwin is an emerging South-East  recording artist and producer who’s currently building a name within the UK R&B scene.  He combines his natural audio skills with a keen visual eye that see's him shoot and direct his own music videos.

After some much needed self-reflection and artistic honing over the past year Richie Ashwin has returned to introduce to us his fresh, new musical identity.  

His take on urban music is pieced together with his commentary on social mores.  Tales of dreams, love, lust and heartbreak which are delivered in his seemingly casual but actually acute writing style combined with atmospheric videos that should see him emerge as a force in 2013.  Case in point is the new single 'Hold Your Breath' which will also be the lead track on his forthcoming EP.

His soft, soulful almost plaintive vocal accompanied by simple but effective guitar tell a harrowing and hopeful story.  What sets it apart from his contemporaries is the gritty flow he launches into in the final third of the song which is nicely mirrored in the moody self-directed video.

This single should see him come to the fore in the near future with its almost cross genre feel and hey...the girlies are gonna love Richie Ashwin!

Last Minute Glory

With so many new bands trying to make a name for themselves in Edinburgh just now Last Minute Glory are sticking their heads above the rest with their debut EP 'Take Time'.  It's a light and airy Scots poptastic a la View, so to show they're ready to make a name for themselves they set up an EP launch party in Cabaret Voltaire and Ralph's man in Scotland Malcolm Parry was there to catch the show.

On first listening they've put together three indie-pop anthems which have all the hallmarks of being destined for airplay.  Malcolm had first listen to the EP and here's his take on the shiny bright young things - Michael Byrne,  Chris Karpacz, Lee Brown and Daniel Shearer - that are Last Minute Glory.

With the lead track 'Take Time' we get bass notes intro and chiming guitar riffs, all tight indie-pop, sounding to me like The View's 'Grace'.  Their lead singer has a broad Scottish instilled vocal delivery.  The short sharp to the point catchy chorus - 'Take time, your not in love' -  slowing things down and sounding almost Paulo Nutini but in a good way.  At just over 3 minutes this will be destined for radio play.  A good start.

'Strange To See Your Face' has short bursts of Arctic Monkeys - 'Brianstorm' style intro and The Libertines trade off vocals, still quite a strong chorus and nifty little guitar solo. The lads bring it down to shout 'Go home, Go home' before picking it back up into the almost punky like chorus. 

'I'm Going My Own Way' has very infectious guitar melodies, a harder edge in the vocal, not so poppy in the chorus.  More guitar driven, especially the last section of the song where we are treated to a full on rock guitar solo to fade.  My favorite tune out of the three and A promising first EP from these Edinburgh lads. One to watch.

Last Minute Glory Live Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh, 10/04/13

First Support - Younger

Glaswegian 4-piece. Nice mellow vibe, lead man looking uncannily like The Libertines- Carl Barat, a shame he doesn't have a voice to match.  The other musicians are talented, maybe  the front man needs to hone his vocal skills, reminded me of Hope of the States lead man who wasn’t great live as well.  Sorry guys.  Having said that, the young audience seemed to enjoy, so what do I know!

Second support - The Rahs

East Lothian 4-Piece.  A good feeling for these lad's, having already released an EP last year and an album in the pipeline. First tune of their set I hear a bit of Stone Roses/Kasabian and with lead man's Liam Gallagher style vocal delivery reminded me of Oasis - 'Hindu Times'.  A touch Psychedelic.  Nice start.

Into the set we get scuzzy guitars, more latter day Oasis sounding anthems and Arctic Monkeys riffs.  Lead man asking the audience - “Everybody happy tonight?” - the crowd roar back.  A very busy turnout and all look very happy indeed.  Next tune I feel a bit of 'garage' rock and a Brian Molko in the vocal style.  Things pick up for the last track, a Rage against the Machine rampage tune without the angry vocals but the grungy guitar's.  A nice finish.

Headliners - Last Minute Glory 

Last Minute Glory are band  everyone is here to see as it's their 'Take Time' EP launch night.  The crowd moved forward to the soundtrack of The Chemical Brothers 'Block Rocking Beats' so this reviewer takes stage left to get a better view and vibe.  They fire into the third tune off the EP, a track called 'I'm Going My Own Way'.  Like a rhino stampede the band surging into driving indie, the crowd now pressed up against the barrier, those who can still breath attempt a mosh. 

We begin with The Libertines-esque vibe and end the song with a rock solo crescendo.  Excellent start, the young audience agree.  I'm feeling a huge buzz for the boys.  Chris Karpacz on leave from The Dons plays Lead guitar, bassist Lee Brown looking remarkably like The Horrors 'Faris Badwan' also on loan from The Merrylees. Lead man Micheal Byrne, leather jacket clad reminding me of Supergrass lead man Gaz Coombes.  Strangely I felt the same vibe that night as I did catching a young Supergrass at T in The Park in 1995.

We hear - “Let's go” - shouted at us from the front man and cans of Red Stripe fly all over the place, in the air and on the floor, like a Jamaican Riot.  They sing 'You Left (I Changed)' all punchy indie pop and nifty tight riffs.

Track three on tonight’s set we get 'She Never Knew'  and the young singer starts a crowd chant to the backing of Arctic Monkeys/Supergrass type riffs.

During 'Shine On You' the band hold off with a short hesitation so the crowd (obviously fans) can sing the line's back to them.  The Dons drummer Luke Paxton who's stood next to me tells me the band wrote this when they were 15.  The drum beat from wee man Daniel Shearer (who's loving every minute of the gig) kicks back in to rapturous applause from the mainly teenager audience and it's an obvious crowd favorite.

Time for another tune from their EP - 'Strange To See You' - with it's Arctic Monkey's 'Teddy Picker' short sharp outbursts, catchy melodies and chorus “Go Home” - not yet, were not ready!  In between tracks we get “L.M.G” football chants all in unison from the kids, and maybe a few adults (me included).

'Fape' moves along nicely, ends and they leave the stage.  The crowd wants more, a flag of the band is released behind the Drum kit.  Their heroes return all ready to give this 'motley crue' the title tune off the E.P 'Take Time'.  They fire in, the surging begins and The Rahs lead man rushes past me and stage dives into the unsuspecting crowd while the band sing an infectious pop tune.  All stop-start chorus and catchy vocals. They leave the crowd all fired up and wanting more.  A tight little group, hopefully with their increasing fan-base and proving their worth live, a good year ahead for them.  Next - an album?

Saturday 27 April 2013

Ralph's Chart 27.4.13

OK bands you know the score.....

the more hits your blog gets by the fans, the higher you go.....

So tweet it, Facebook it.....

and generally expose yourself.....

Now Mr Snuggles and me have been sitting with our heads down counting the hits on each bands blog to see who's got which place.  

So here it is.....

The Top Ten Blogged Band Chart .....

No 1..... The 23's

Ralph's just had the heads up from his man in Scotland, Malcolm Parry about an up and coming young band from Edinburgh called The 23's.  Malcolm caught their recent gig at Edinburgh's Electric Circus supported by Lethalise and The Dons who Ralph blogged recently.  The 23's are Blair Ramsey - vocals, Scott McPherson - guitar, ben Clark - rhythm, guitar Keiran Smith - bass guitar and Michael Ferguson - drums. 

No 2..... Culann

Culann have made no secret of the fact that they want to make 2013 their year and they made a great start by winning the 'Best Rock/Alternative' category of The Scottish Alternative Music Award earlier this month.  Comprised of PJ Kelly - Vocals/Guitar, Sean Kelly - Drums/Vocals, Greg Irish- Guitar, Ross McCluskie- Keys and Calum Davis-Bass, Culann are making rousing folk/rock anthems (sometimes with a hint of prog rock like - 'Beat Your Chest') with almost alarming regularity.

No 3 ..... The Fireflys 

Ralph's search for North West bands continues and who better to look at next than Runcorn based The Fireflys.  The current line up is the result of a number of line-up changes, much soul searching and angst but the band have come through the stronger for it.  The current line up is founding member, guitar/vocalist Lee Wylding, Stephen Roberts on bass and Andrea Packer on drums.  They feel they've found the right mix to drive forward and build on the success of last years critically acclaimed 'Cathedral For Your Ashes' album

No 4..... tohaveistohold

last year when Ralph joined The Online Festival one of the first tracks he came across was 'Pull Out The Lappy And Type It' by Chris Hallam AKA To Have Is To Hold and it's been a favourite tune ever since.  It was just a simple lyrical flow accompanied by a ukuelele, but so striking in it's simplicity and humour it stuck like glue.  At that time Chris was just starting out on his musical journey with a view to developing new material and producing an EP under the nom de plume To Have Is To Hold.  Well he's done just that and Ralph had a word with him about his new EP '#Acoustic Flows'.

No 5..... Cheyenne Doll

One of the advantages of having a radio show with Radio KC playing unsigned UK acts that's based in France is that it can be a two way street and heading in our direction is sultry French singer/songwriter Cheyenne Doll.  She's recently released a five track EP 'Carmen' to great critical acclaim in France and now Ralph brings it to the attention of the UK.

No 6..... Wullae Wright

Everybody likes to make a comparison about artistes and Ralph's old man is no exception. He heard Wullae Wright's 'Halo Effect' playing on my laptop and next thing he was wiping the dust of his collection of vinyl, dug out Led Zeppelin I and stuck it under my nose muttering....."Babe I'm Gonna Leave You".  Chance would be a fine thing some would say, however I had a listen and low and behold Wullae Wright is capturing the same raw intensity of vocals that an early Robert Plant did. 

No 7..... Universal Thee

Edinburgh based five piece Universal Thee comprise of James Russell (guitar and vocals), the recently added (ex-Caravan Club) Lisa Russell (vocals) Robin Spivey (guitar) Sean Macdonald (bass) and Kevin Haddow (drummer) are known for their infectious sound.

No 8..... Plum

Back in July last year I acquired a taste for fine female voices after listening to Kathryn Marsh so I turned my nose in the direction of Plum, the alter ego of Edinburgh based Shona Maguire.

So what's the latest...well she's just been and gone and won the Best Electronic category of The Scottish Alternative Music Awards 2013.....

No 9..... Rival Sons

Rival Sons are a proper rock 'n' roll band from Long Beach CA comprised of Robin Everhart, Scott Holiday, Mike Miley and Jay Buchanan and they formed in 2008.  They signed with Atlantic but quickly left and self-released their first album 'Battle Before The Fire' in 2009.  Live review of their Edinburgh gig in the blog.

No 10..... Jess Harwood

With a new EP out in May and some great gigs in the offing Jess Harwood is starting to make a real impact on the music scene.  Jess is a 20 year old singer-songwriter from Blackpool and has been writing and singing her own songs since her early teens.  She's a self taught guitarist whose songs have already been played on Radio Lancashire, All FM and BBC Radio 6 to name but a few (yes, Ralph's played her on Radio KC too).

Wednesday 24 April 2013

Jess Harwood

With a new EP out in May and some great gigs in the offing Jess Harwood is starting to make a real impact on the music scene.  Jess is a 20 year old singer-songwriter from Blackpool and has been writing and singing her own songs since her early teens.  She's a self taught guitarist whose songs have already been played on Radio Lancashire, All FM and BBC Radio 6 to name but a few (yes, Ralph's played her on Radio KC too).  Her music has a wide appeal  and the catchy melodies in her songs linger in your memory so it's fair to say Jess’ abilities as a musician, songwriter and singer and will leave you wanting more.

There's a video currently being shot for her track 'Every Little Thing'.  Her crystal clear vocals suit this wistful, soulful and melodious track.  Her guitar playing belies the fact that the first time she actually picked up an instrument was just over two years ago!

Her songwriting shows a subtlety, sincerity and emotion that you'd expect from more established performers.  Up until recently Jess was mainly playing open mic nights but her ability has led to more established gigs and a headline spot.  With her increasing confidence and ambition and the new EP and video on the way I'm certain we'll be hearing and seeing a lot more of this Blackpool lass!

Upcoming shows.....


24th April - Thirsty Scholar, Manchester -  7pm

25th April - The BeachHouse, Blackpool -  7pm with Karima Francis  

28th April - A Slice of Nice, Blackdog Ballroom, Manchester NQ

This thursday I am playing at The BeachHouse on Blackpool Promenade! Alongside some AMAZING artist. You should really get down if you can, its definitely one not to miss!Doors open @ 6pm. First act is on @ 6.30pm. £5 on the door :-) See you there XXMAY

26th May - Portobello Market, London 12 midday.


6th June - The Pavilion Sessions, Ashley Cricket Club, Altrincham - 7pm.

12th June - Styles Bar, Ormskirk - 8pm.

More to be confirmed

Electric Wonderland

Ralph's been a long time fan of Scottish Alternative Music Award Best Electronic award winner Plum so news that she's been teamed up with Fiona Soe Paing and Elbi for a night in the Electric Circus, Edinburgh meant sending in Malcolm Parry who's also promoting the gig to have a word with them prior to the night.  First up was Plum.....

Q: Where are you just now?
Plum: I'm in Brighton mixing and mastering part 1 of my next album "Betsy Thunder"

Q: A big year so far, since winning Best Electro at the SAMA awards what doors have opened for you?
Plum: I've had a lot more live gig bookings since winning the SAMA, hoping for more outside of Scotland too.

Q: How's the E.P :Betsy Thunder shaping up?
Plum: I've decided to extend the EP to be a two part album. It's going really well. Having a great time in the studio, and I've been enjoying working with some great artists from the Scottish electronic scene (TeKlo and Roman Nose).

Q: Dave Gahan or Vince Clarke?
Plum: Very tough choice!  Vince Clark has actually been in touch via Twitter, and he's brilliant! But I love Depeche Mode too.  I think I have to go with Vince Clark though! 

Q: What's your favorite tech toy you have?
Plum: My MPD24.

Q: Upcoming gigs/festivals?
Plum: Looking forward to playing Electric Circus on 2nd May with Fiona Soe Paing and Elbi, both fantastic acts. I'm playing a festival in Stow on 11th May, and running a workshop which will be fun. Then there's Aberdeen (Drummonds) on 24th May with Fridge Magnets and Dundee on 26th May. Should be an excellent month of music! Q: Which venue in Scotland would you like to play that you haven't already? Plum: Princes Street Gardens at Hogmanay Q: If you could work with any Electronic artist or producer, who? Plum: Tricky, Roman Nose, Vince Clark, Crystal Castles, Chemical Brothers - it's endless!

Next up for the third degree was Fiona Soe Paing who Ralph featured earlier this year. 

Q:So this year seems to be picking up for you, what's been happening in your world?
Fiona: I've been getting great feedback on the last EP release,'Tower of Babel' both from blogs and press, and from some top artists who I really admire, so that has been a real positive boost!  I've done a couple of gigs trying out the new songs with the visuals, which was pretty scary and amazing.  I've also been recording a new single, 'Heartbeat' which I am getting really excited about as it's the first vaguely commercial sounding track I've written and has an amazing animation by Zen Borg, who also makes all the visuals for the live set.  Over the next few months I'm working on more  material for the new set which I hope to tour around September. 

Q:Any gig's /festival dates you can tell me about?  
Fiona: As well as the Electric Wonderland gig coming up which I am really excited about,  I am really looking forward to playing in Aberdeen again, supporting Public Service Broadcasting at the Lemon Tree, then I have a break till September. 
Q:If you could play one Electronic festival, which one?
Fiona: I'd love to play at Mutek in Barcelona - it's more intimate and less mainstream than Sonar, and has a focus on more experimental artists and it would also be nice to go somewhere a wee bit warmer in the middle of the Scottish winter! 

Q:Any planned collaborations with other artists ?  
Fiona: I've had a few collaborations on the back-burner for a while, including doing something with Bearsuit records and a label in Norway.  I've been busy focusing on my own new material for now though and I hope to have some more time later in the year.
Q:If you had 3 wishes, what would they be?
Fiona: Oh my word, that's a bit of a big ask!  But since this is a music blog, I reckon I'll keep my answers music related!  One wish is that there were more female electronic artists getting the exposure they deserve.  Another is that it was easier for independent musicians to make a sustainable living from their work and that Aberdeen was not so far away from most of the interesting things going on in music!  Oh, yes, I have a fourth...a new Boards of Canada album!

Q:You sing in a Burmese dialect, though you have sung in Scottish on other tracks, which do you prefer?  
Fiona: I don't really have a preference, it all depends on the mood of the song I am trying to put across.  SometimesI feel a bit self-conscious singing 'Scottish' - I don't talk with a strong Scottish accent, and sometimes a slight Scottish accent can sound like a fake American pop drawl when you are singing!  I don't even pretend that my Burmese accent is authentic though, as the only words I know are from a phrase book I bought when I went to visit family there a few years ago, but I use the words more as just abstract sounds and can use my voice in different ways.

Q:What other Scottish Electronic artists should we be checking out?
Fiona: As well as the fantastic Plum who I am supporting at the Electric Circus gig coming up,I love Daojia, Yoin from Aberdeen and Ela Orleans is great - another lady, doing innovative, interesting electronic stuff - oh and Conquering Animal Sound, too, but more folks know about them, eh. 
Q:Erasure or Yazoo?  
Fiona: It would have to be Yazoo, as I really love Alison Moyet's voice, it's so soulful.

Finally it's French musician Elbi who's based in Edinburgh until September 2013. Elbi finishes a Masters degree before heading back to France to make as much music as possible.  Singing since she was a child  music is her number one passion and it certainly shows when you hear her songs. There’s a jazz influence mixed with an electronic beat sound, and live looped samples as she sings easily accompanied by her confident guitar playing.

Q:This year things seem to be taking off for you, getting more gigs and more likes on face-book, and now your on twitter?
Elbi: Edinburgh has been very welcoming! It was quite hard in the first few months but as soon as I got my first gigs, I had other propositions. 
It's amazing to see that more and more people seem to like what I do. I don't know if it is the French thing, but it seems to work quite well :) 
About Facebook and Twitter, I try to make the most of it as it is a good way to reach people. The Twitter @Elbi_Music is quite recent and I'm still not used to it, but I'm not giving up!
Q:So what are your plans for the rest of the year? Will you be recording an EP? Any live dates/festivals you have bookings for and looking forward to?
Elbi: The most urgent is to produce the Mambo Mambo EP and make a proper video. It's taking time, as songs are still in the evolution stage and I'm constantly changing my mind. In the meantime, I am also really excited about a house project with my brother (DJ Lowerbay).  

Until then, I'm really looking forward to playing at the Electric Circus on the 2nd of May with Plum and Fiona Soe Paing. I also have gigs on the 11th and 18th in my hometown, with Art By Friends, an artists collection. I haven't played there in ages and it's full of people I know: so much pressure! So if I make any mistake, this is gonna follow me forever!
Q:Favorite venue's to play in Edinburgh?
Elbi: The Electric Circus for the sound (and engineers) staff and design, Sneaky Pete's for the atmosphere and Jazz Bar for the red velvet.

Q:Who are you listening to at the moment, any Scottish artists?
Elbi: I listen to a lot of female vocalists from Jazz to HipHop, New Soul or Electro (Melodie Gardot, Lauryn Hill, Fatima, Erykah Badu, Jessie Ware, Dani Siciliano). Recently, I can't get enough of Hiatus Kaiyote, Kimbra, or the Brighton based female electronica artist Yumi and the Weather. 
I also try to listen as much house and rap as I can. But it's hard to keep up!
Regarding Scottish artists, I heard GingerbeardMen play at SneakyPete's a week ago, and had an amazing time. 

Q:Can you recommend another French Electro artist we should be listening to?
Elbi: C2C are already massive in France, but you can still get the chance to see them in the UK without ruining your budget, and they are amazing!

Q:Eiffel tower or The Louvre?
Elbi: Eiffel tower. To try to get as much 'fresh' air as you can in Paris. 

Q:Serge Gainsbourg- 'Je t'aime' or Vanessa Paradis - 'Joe le taxi'?
Elbi: Gainsbourg for sure! The tone, phrasing, rhymes, nose - everything! 

Q: A small glass of Kronenbourg or a large glass of Bordeaux?
Elbi: If you pay for it, Bordeaux s'il vous plait!

So there you have it, three of the best female electronic influenced artistes in Scotland brought together for your delectation and delight on The 2nd of May 2013 in The Electric Circus, Edinburgh.  Miss it at your peril and you can buy tickets in advance by clicking here.

Tickets for the night can be bought in advance by clicking on this link