If The Killers had been New Wave they would have been The Scholars.
I’m not suggesting that this Banbury-based band dons bejewelled pirate attire, nor that they wear more make-up than Pete Burns, but their sound is undeniably reminiscent of the bass-baritones and electro-atmospheric modulation of the Japan’s and the Blancmange’s. That said, The Scholars are still a very current act. Their music is engagingly atypical with subtle hooks and a confidently modern balance of driving synth and guitar all culminating in a proficiently-produced bundle of alt-rock potential.
Christian Gillet, Adrian Banks and Leigh Taylor have unleashed a number of original tracks under the The Scholars mantle with their intelligently diverse debut EP “Arrival/Departure” launching in Spring of 2011 and a string of single releases since following in its attention-grabbing wake. They continue to be vigorously supported by the BBC Introducing programme and have secured supporting spots for artists like Two Door Cinema Club and The Boxer Rebellion.
Amidst all this tipping of future top-spot status and BBC romantics The Scholars have emerged with another original offering set to further cement their critic favour.
Neon Sky (Stars) bears The Scholars’ signature easy-cool with its airy synth, infectious power riffs and confidently unique vocals. The clever, slightly abstract lyrics and that almost anthemic chorus of “Watch me as I fall from this neon sky” makes this track both enjoyable to listen to and to sing along to, and it doesn’t take a big stretch of the imagination to see it chanted back from a large festival crowd. There is a markedly polished feel to this latest release in terms of production quality and musical construction which really communicates The Scholars’ commitment to their work and the potential that so many industry professionals have already realised.
Neon Sky (Stars) is available to pre-order on iTunes with the release date set for 30th September. Whilst you’re there check out their other work; this is a band that is rapidly evolving from strength to strength and it’s really great to be able to experience this transition listening through their back catalogue. Click here to touch the Neon Sky (Stars)
Writing all of these features on talented singers and musicians has forced me to confront the fact that I can carry a tune about as well as I can say no to a chocolate digestive – it’s simply not in my skill-set. Whilst it is nice to maybe have an explanation as to why cars erratically pull over when I’m singing my way down the road with my window open… also as to why the shopping centre had to be evacuated when I was browsing in HMV that time… I can’t help but feel a little sad that it’s highly unlikely someone will be writing about my vocal prowess any time soon. What is admirable about the really great artists, however, is that regardless of your own talent (or lack thereof) they inspire you to entertain the idea of packed audiences and critical acclaim, even if just for a short while. They incite hope in the hopeless and, whilst that may be rather dangerous in my case, encouraging creativity and self-expression in people is an incredibly worthwhile pursuit.
The artist inspiring me to practice my banshee babble this week is Charlotte Ashdown.
Charlotte Ashdown-Aint That Kinda Girl
Hard to pin to one definitive genre, Ashdown’s music embodies the silky ease of soul, the impulsive groove of funk and the accessibility of pop, creating a sound that is musically accomplished yet effortless for the ear. It’s eclectic and engaging with inventive keyboard riffs and a vocal bursting with personality. The whole set-up was assembled as recently as last year, yet Ashdown and her band have managed to create a unique and considered style that really sets them apart from the crowd. The potential is vast and as she continues to define and grow into her sound I think the soul singers of the charts will glance behind themselves ever more anxiously.
There is a quiet power to her voice which she unleashes just enough to impress without needing to win her audience over with the prolonged belting blasts you know she’s capable of (check out her Beyonce-Listen cover!) Her range is extensive and natural in execution as it dances over the ambient guitar and mellow keys; vocal and instrumental accompaniment are as suited to one and other as socks and feet. Outside of her own style her tone has an noticeably cool affinity with chillstep and electro music, making her potential as a recording artist even more obvious. This particular track she worked on with OjO is a great example and such a good track. I’ve been listening to it somewhat obsessively.
OjO-Down The Road (Feat. Charlotte Ashdown)
The musical maturity of Charlotte Ashdown’s original sound is wonderfully contrasted by the contemporary lyrics penned by the artist herself and inspired by her own personal experiences. Her writing style brings a strong current relevance to the more traditionally-influenced aspects of the music. Her clear diction and confident vocal projection communicate lyrics of the irritation of shallow propositions and freedom from past relationship hangups in an almost conversational manner, making her a very congenial artist . Also, after watching her various videos on YouTube it is clear that Ashdown is as accessible and endearing off record as she is on.
It is very refreshing to see young musicians embrace different styles of music and use their influences to create an informed individual style of their own. This particular musician matches originality with charming likeability so effectively that you can’t help but enjoy her work. She is an invigorating talent and her debut tracks relay exciting promise of things to come. I am in no doubt that we’ll soon be hearing Charlotte Ashdown’s dulcet tones and that infectious laugh much louder and much more frequently.
If you’ve read the About STX page you will have some idea of why I started this site. If you’re toying between a unnatural fixation on faces and a passion for underrated artists then I can assure you it’s the latter; faces are lovely and all that but I think they have their own time and place. Stopped in Trax is my excuse to hunt around for those special artists who may be just starting out in their career or have otherwise been sadly overlooked for the Miley’s and the One Directions. These artists continue to baffle and amaze me; the thought that there are people out there somewhere making exceptional music that simply doesn’t reach a fraction of the ears it deserves to is curious to say the least. If I am able to bump up the numbers for even one hidden talent then my hours hunched over my desk are rewarded tenfold, on top of the reward already afforded me by the music itself. Stopped in Trax is indebted to the “unfamiliar faces” and acts like Red Crow continue to be immeasurably site-affirming.
Red Crow is a 5-piece band from Banbury, flying largely under the radar, making some of the most interesting and enjoyable music I have had the pleasure of listening to. Their tracks are musical events in their own right, each taking on a form transcendent of structure and composition to produce a unique and multifarious experience in which you are drawn to lose yourself.There is a rich depth screamingly indicative of detailed and thoughtful construction, which serves not to tame their raw authenticity, but rather to harness it and use it to hit you around the head with greater accuracy and perhaps less bruising. They refuse to be background noise to even the most engaging activity, demanding attention without even needing to ask; Red Crow makes music you listen to, rather than hear.
Red Crow-City Riser
Lead vocalist, Patrick Currier, has a unique tone to his voice which embodies multiple styles of music and affords Red Crow’s sound a diverse appeal outside of the respective confines of alternative folk, rock, or any of the other genres to which it may be objectively assigned. It is earnest and full of personality, contrasting gentle breaks and clear power in one breath. At this juncture I often might comment on the level of control the vocalist exerts over their voice, however I’m not entirely sure of the actual existence of conscious regulation in Currier’s vocal. I think he simply sings and his voice naturally carves its own path through the melody. This freedom is reflective of the musical aplomb of Red Crow as a wider collective – they make their own music their own way.
Originally Currier’s solo project, Red Crow has evolved and taken on a life of its own, drawing in the formidable musical prowess of Christopher Robin, Matt Watson, James Stevenson and Fred Whatmore, to become the band as it stands today. The risk when bringing together individual artists is always that they will remain as such, playing their own gig and not producing a cohesive sound under the band umbrella; Red Crow is what happens when you bring together individual artists that were always meant to play together. Entirely united, the instrumental isn’t merely a support to the lead vocals, but the harmonic extension of the lyrics. It just works so well.
Dripping with clever wordplay and attentive fluency, the words to Red Crow’s songs call out so directly you often find you have completely paused just to listen more intently (it has taken me so long to write this feature… ) The music has the style and the substance to back it, with equal impact both in and outside of any mastering and mixing. This acoustic take of their track, “Love is Strange Currency” affords a beautiful resonance to its lyrics and is rapidly becoming one of my favourite songs the more I listen to it.
Red Crow-Love is Strange Currency
Press have likened Red Crow to Mumford and Sons and, whilst admittedly this is a comparison I have justifiably made full use of in the past, I would like to suggest that in this instance it is somewhat misplaced. Mumford and Sons seem to be the measure of all folk-related acts emerging onto today’s alternative circuit and a comparison is definitely an accolade of high regard, however Red Crow are something different, something special. To compare Red Crow to Mumford and Sons would be to put them in the arena of folk ambiguity. Red Crow are Red Crow and they embody all it means to be a measure in their own right. Let their own hopeful comparisons commence.
In my Hearts Under Fire review a few weeks ago I touched on how important I think it is for women in rock music to elect to be ambassadors for the female cause rather than to have the title thrust upon them the second they pick up a guitar. Whilst HUF are pointedly for the music rather than for the girls, some bands do choose to pick up the torch for the feminism movement and use their music as a vehicle to express their womanly pride. This is not to suggest that feminism entirely defines all of these bands however; some just enjoy making music and advocating self-celebration of the female being and sexuality is simply a part of how they construct themselves as musicians.
Deap Vally is doing both it for the music and for the girls.
Deap Vally-Baby I Call Hell
The immense sound of this LA rock duo is generated by the compact arrangement of vocals, a guitar and a drum kit. It has all the grunt of rock n roll at its synoptic root but this is commissioned by the empowered reclamation of female sexuality. Deap Vally define themselves as a ‘post-post-post feminist band’. They pay tribute to those who have advocated the cause before them whilst creating their own new interpretation of feminism based on a playful attitude to femininity and sexuality, with emphasis on the universal transcendence of really great music.
There is something inherently primal about the Deap Vally sound. It takes you by the soul and shakes you. Hard. Not maliciously but rather with the desire to evoke from you a visceral reaction whilst outwardly it hits you at the optimum frequency for making your face fold in on itself. Deap Vally’s music is certainly not a spectator’s sport – participation is encouraged or otherwise kidnapped.
The driving guitar riffs are filthy and the drums are high tempo and diverse. From the instrumentals alone you could easily recognise this band but the addition of that seductively bluesy-rock vocal puts Deap Vally in a class of its own. Lyndsey Troy has an incredibly raw and unrestricted tone to her voice yet maintains a level of control that keeps the vocal on course without hindering its natural freedom; it’s almost organised anarchy. You get the impression that no two performances from Deap Vally will be quite the same and such creative spontaneity is defining of the rock n roll genre. When Julie Edwards lends her own vocals to the mix, the sound becomes quite anthemic. The two artists are perfectly suited to one and other and together they make an incredibly streamlined outfit.
There is something innately sexy about Deap Vally and it extends beyond the fact that they are obviously attractive women; their self-confidence and belief in their work is hugely appealing, as is their attitude to life in general. Their recently released album, “Sistrionix”, is bursting with amazing original tracks written with their signature humorous and stylish left-field personality. When discussing one of these songs, “Walk of Shame”, the duo offer the logic: “Why is a walk of shame shameful? Have fun!”. They are, with intentional disregard of eloquence, effing awesome.
I have often been accused of being unobservant. A couple of months ago I found a rather pretty lampshade in my hallway. I immediately used this as an opportunity to lovingly compliment my father on his interior decorating prowess; I was greeted with ridicule. Apparently the lampshade had been accenting our hallway for over 8 years… I say pictures or it didn’t happen. Once recovered, I again attempted to be a thoughtful daughter and this time compliment my father on the new cross-detailing in our windows; again I was snubbed. This time neglect was delivered under the guise that this was in fact on the house when we purchased it ten years ago – a ridiculous suggestion.
Excuse me if I look at the world with the wondrous eyes of a child. Surely I can be forgiven for initially missing hugely obvious things? Hugely obvious like parts of my house or Rachel Kerr’s talent…
Rachel Kerr-Hold My Hand
This London-based singer/songwriter has quite simply blown me away. Her sound hearkens back to the hay days of the Arethas and the Dionnes, with the brilliantly tailored addition of urban London flavour. I struggle to find a proficient adjective to describe her vocal range and control so, in lieu of stunning and gobsmacking’s love-child, I will have to make do with ‘exceptional’. What is particularly impressive about Kerr’s vocal ability is that the tremendous runs and riffs, the trills and the adlibs all come from such a composed place. She smiles as she defies logic, performing the tightest of vocal acrobatics at unfathomable speed. She has the inherent knack of making effort look effortless, a quality indicative of an artist who’s future as a singer was pre-determined at birth.
A hugely enjoyable performer to watch, she consistently has even her support band grinning and shaking their heads with a mixture of admiration and disbelief. The stage is her home and her easy rhythm is the perfect accompaniment to her music. Kerr looks so confident in her live performances that it negates the need for the word entirely – she simply is the live performance. I particularly enjoy watching her unleash her powerhouse vocals on the unsuspecting patrons of “Village Underground” in New York, it makes me smile every time. Go on, Rachel!
Rachel Kerr-Proud Mary
Off-stage Kerr reads as an immensely real and authentic person who passionately cares about music, not just her own work. In interviews she is a very natural and endearing presence, speaking honestly about herself and the views on and relationship to the wider music community. She also completed a schools’ tour across secondary schools in London this Summer during which she visibily engaged and inspired children with her approachability and passion. Her substantial talent is equally matched by her humility making her entirely deserving of role-model status, a rarity in today’s music society.
Both a formidable vocalist and a gifted songwriter, Kerr is one of the UK’s biggest potentials. She has already received high acclaim in the music industry, attaining a 2012 MOBO Award and even securing a performance singing for Bill Clinton, however her talent still remains entirely disproportionate to her status. She has recently released the heartfelt original track, “I Will Love Me”, and is set to release a much-anticipated EP in September which I hope will storm the charts, as is its right to do so.
In recent years the music industry has belonged to the British female vocalist and as we slip alarmingly into the old boy-band saturated culture, Rachel Kerr is exactly what we need to help keep music on the right track.
Social networking sites are brilliant for finding new artists or even finding new listeners. I really can’t get to grips with Twitter, hence why there may be a noticeable favouritism towards the STX Facebook page, but I must say it does seem to be the better option for finding new listeners if you’re a music artist. I’ve had numerous bands follow the Twitter account in the last couple of weeks and I’m so glad they have because it’s given me some really exciting new acts to listen to. It’s important to go out and get your audience in the music industry and one band that has definitely gone out and gotten me is Mr Tom. Thanks Mr Tom.
Mr Tom-Feet Hit The Floor
Mr Tom’s electro-driven indie sound is strikingly current and immensely enjoyable, blending raw underground charm with the easy finesse of a commercial sensation. Their tracks have all the frankness and vigour of youth with unabashed lyrics and beats that incite rhythm out your head and a foot at minimum. Full of energy and brimming with personality, they make an immediate and indelible impression on the ear. The band have been playing together for four years and appear to have developed a tenacious bond which really translates into their music and into their performances. They clearly enjoy each other’s company and enjoy their work and this instantly makes an act more likeable for me; how can an audience be expected to enjoy music the artist hasn’t enjoyed creating? Young but driven, Mr Tom are fun without the frivolity.
The four lads from the South define their sound as ‘Indie Banger Pop’, a hybrid entirely put into context by tracks like “Feet Hit The Floor” with its irresistibly catchy choruses and guitar riffs you can sink your top-buttoned shirt into. Lead singer Nick’s boldly British vocals fit the feel of the band perfectly with just the right mix of talent and bravado whilst band-mates Donny, Steve and Leeroy ensure Mr Tom walks the walk as well as talks the talk with their confident musicianship. They have a flair for writing simple but well-executed music and this really shines in their stripped-back acoustic performances. This unplugged rendition of the title track to their soon-to-be-released EP “King and Queen” is especially nice (a clip of the EP version plays at the end).
Mr Tom-King & Queen (LAF Films Acoustic Session)
Mr Tom is a band set to turn heads in the music world, already making its presence known with outside interest leading to promo work with a clothing brand alongside artists like Maverick Sabre and Deadmau5, and even to a synch gig with British film, Piggy. The lads do appear to realise that there is no such thing as a free deal in the music industry, touring and playing festivals relentlessly to get their music heard (not negating the importance of access to a free bar, of course…)
Mr Tom’s third EP is released on the 1st of September ahead of their Bestival set and features some brilliantly original and catchy tracks – get it in your life. I really really like this band. Normal lads with an abnormal sound.
[NB 03/06/2014: Mr Tom unfortunately announced their disbanding on 13th February 2014]
Remember that old story about the guy who walked down the street without any clothes on? No, not “Naked Harold Goes To Market”, I’m referring to the lesser-known tale from Hans Christian Andersen, “The Emperor’s New Clothes”. An ostentatious Emperor is duped by two swindlers into thinking he was adorned by fantastic robes woven of a fabric invisible to those either unfit for their position or just hopelessly stupid. He immediately parades his new attire through his empire and, although obviously starkers, is met with unanimous praise and admiration from subjects ironically choosing to uphold the farce for fear of ridicule and ostracism.
Invisible robes are the cash cow of the music industry. Dubious faces form an endless public precession and we are expected to dutifully accept higher assurances of musical authenticity and value. Talent is a label stamped so indiscriminately that it loses all objective meaning amongst the buzzwords and media-speak, reduced to a facilitator of style over substance sales and counterfeit credibility.
This industry drip-feeding has always existed in an environment where restricted access to content allowed it to thrive unchallenged. In the new digital era the tables have turned; new media has put the power to define talent in the consumers hands’, outside of the supervision of marketing departments. We are now enabled to subjectively attribute musical value, deciding which artists we feel deserving of success and collectively demand the attention of the industry. As empowered consumers, we can not only decide the fate of fresh artists but to also to correct the past decisions that were made for us; the artists that were deemed to be inappropriate for, or overstaying of, marketing favour. With this in mind I (re-)present to you Beverley Craven, one of the most underrated talents of our time.
Beverley Craven-Promise Me
Craven was a successful recording artist in the 90’s with a double platinum selling debut album and the 1992 Brit-Award for Best British Newcomer, to mention but a few achievements. Unfortunately the 1999 release and promotion of her third studio album “Mixed Emotions” was handled rather poorly by her label, Epic Records. The album received much critical acclaim but for reasons unfathomable to myself they refused to release the lead track “I Miss You” as a commercial single. Shortly after a small promotional tour Craven and Epic Records parted company, with the former deciding to semi-retire from the industry that had managed her immense talent so inadequately and instead concentrate on raising her family.
Her debut single “Promise Me” is quite simply a musical masterpiece and easily my favourite song of all time. It is tender and vulnerable with an exquisite vocal performance from Craven; the soft breathy whisper accenting her ethereal tone breaks on those mesmerising high notes sending shivers up your spine and causing you to lose your eyebrows to your hairline. Her voice rises and falls with such masterful control, seamlessly meeting the progression of the song and guiding you through the story of the lyrics so adeptly that you lose yourself for 3.5 minutes. There are no gimmicks to her music, no theatrical flairs, just incredible compositions with incredible instrumental and vocal performances. Beverley Craven is the quintessential musician.
Listening to her albums you can’t help but notice a signature song-writing style with Craven drawing upon personal thought and experience to create an engaged conversation between artist and audience. I greatly admire writers who use their work as an expression of their own self, personally believing that true creativity is born from subjective experience rather than the pursuit of objective expectation. She consistently delivers natural and authentic lyrics, phrasing her thoughts with simple eloquence and beautiful resonance.
After a decade away from the music scene, Craven released an independent studio album “Close To Home” in 2009. The composition of this new material is testament to her infallible talent. Her vocals are just as breathtaking as they were a decade ago whilst her lyrics remain as pertinently authentic as always. The lead single “Rainbows” is a charming track referencing a renewed vigour for life and music which leaves you with a smile on your face and a firm assurance that Craven is back and ready to do it her way. As a fan of her earlier work I find her new musical freedom very exciting and can’t wait to hear more of what she has to say.
Beverley Craven is a world-class musician. She is entirely deserving of recognition parallel to that of the Carol Kings and the Adeles and we are now informed adequately enough to ensure she receives such accreditation. As she enters the modern market those of us who recognise her from her initial success have the opportunity to do a great service to those who do not; I know I am incredibly grateful to my father for introducing me to her music.
In our capacity as empowered consumers we are no longer governed by farce. New media places us in the position to tell the difference between invisible robes and the real deal, to believe our own eyes and ears and not accept the industry’s definition of talent. You only have to listen to Beverley Craven to realise that she is the real deal.
Genres are defined as “categories of artistic works based on form, style, or subject matter into which artistic works of all kinds can be divided”*. This sort of absolute classification makes me feel a tad uneasy; the thought of something as creatively subjective as a musical composition having a class awaiting upon conception negates much of the individuality for me. Granted this is a view founded on the strictest interpretation of the word, however there does beg the question: how many hyphenations and inflections before a sub-genre becomes representative of one single artist? This is a thought that re-occurred to me with some force whilst listening to the work of singer/songwriter Maddie Jones and consequently I found this a difficult review to write, not for lack of praise but rather for lack of precedent.
Maddie Jones makes no secret of her genre-ambiguity, both personally and in her music, requesting that listeners measure her music against itself as opposed to against any archetype of musical classification – a fair request in my opinion. It is true that her work is hard to pin down to one consummate genre, with noticeable inflections administered by many, however this approach is made entirely redundant by the overwhelming evidence suggesting Jones is creating a hybrid of her own. If I had extend a guess I would suggest the presence of words akin to “like it or shove it” in its title.
Maddie Jones-Me Myself and I
Maddie Jones quite simply makes the music she wants to make. Her sound is refreshingly original and she remains exclusively in control of which aspect of her creative personality we are acquainted with next; her multi-facetedness is her calling card. She is the personification of swagger (before the hipsters hi-jacked it) during her live performances, fully immersing herself in the music and playing her guitar adeptly enough to be mistaken for an extension of her arm. Highly charismatic, she’s the sort of act that makes the corner of your mouth instinctively twitch up into a smile.
Jones’ endearing Welsh charm radiates through her vocals adding even more depth to her already unique tone. Not that I’m biased or anything, being Welsh myself, but we just do it a little differently; not better… I didn’t say that, you did. Her range is impressive, extending to the high and the low, the simple and the acrobatic, the clear and the gruff. She is not afraid to squawk or yell if it fits the progression of the song nor vocally ad-lib a kazoo solo if the need should arise. Maddie Jones is a true performer.
Maddie Jones-Green & Blue
Persona and stage-presence aside the Welsh artist is a gifted composer with a natural dexterity for fluent and relatable lyrics and intricate yet unpretentious arrangements. Having firmly stamped her work with her signature refined quirk I don’t see how any other artist could successfully embark upon a cover. Already with one excellent EP under her belt she is currently working on a new collection entitled “Mr Walrus”, which is set to be released this Summer. Personally I think Maddie Jones could make big waves on the music scene. Her timeless sound certainly carves its own niche.
I have two guitars: one acoustic and one electric. The former is a beautiful shade of dust and the latter is tucked out of sight in complete disarray after a fit of DIY artistry and attempt to replace parts that were not broken. I don’t want to talk about it. It’s like that monster-child insane movie parents lock up in the attic and feed fish-heads through a crack in the door. The condition of these guitars is entirely irrelevant however, as I can’t play more than 4 chords on either of them. The only instrument I can play, my midi keyboard, is lost forever in the adverse planes of my garage and so alas, I stick to writing words.
In summary I have 3 instruments. Some people have more than 10. High House have more than 10. I hope they maintain their impressive quota because I for one am in no position to pick up the slack. I do not want to have to drag Guitargor out of the attic…
High House-Cold Hearts, Machine Parts
I try to refrain from comparing artists to one and other however High House’s likeness to folk heavyweights, Mumford and Sons, is one comparison which cannot and should not be avoided. Personally I feel the two are noticeably matched in talent and musicianship, equally serving as infallible ambassadors of the alternative folk genre. Their authentic and beautifully refined sound makes High House entirely deserving of a similar level of success. Wake up, folk!
Fluent in banjo, accordion, glockenspiel, xylophone and more, the six-piece Staffordshire band are an impressive sight and an even more impressive sound. As masterful of their voices as they are of their instruments, High House mould a synonym of their alliterative brother ‘harmony’ as they make the seamless blending of their individual voices both look and sound effortless. It’s hardly believable that the six musicians have only been playing together for a couple of years! The extent of their commitment to their craft is obvious and upon reaching the end of an individual track you are left feeling as though you’ve heard the product of many late-night studio sessions and countless tweaks and tuning. All of their hard work definitely pays off – the proof is in the pieces.
[This is easily one of my favourite songs from any artist – beautiful]
High House are veterans to the stage with countless performances under their collective belt and have already received much critical acclaim in the unsigned folk circuit. I have yet to see them play live but from what I’ve seen on YouTube and read in various music reviews it sounds like an experience not to be missed, hardly an unexpected consensus – simply listening to their audio tracks makes me want to fashion a tambourine out of the guinea pig cage and some polo mints. This is an inclination only set for more enthusiasm as High House prepare to record their first EP next month.
There really is something undeniably special about this band. They manage to balance polished professionalism with raw folk vigour, leaving none who hear their music in the dark as to their sheer talent. I think there are very exciting things ahead for High House and I’m sure the launch of their EP will kick-start proceedings. I would be very surprised, and very disappointed, if they aren’t on the festival circuit next Summer. This band is the most appropriate subject for the “one to watch” cliché I’ve heard for a while, so watch out!
[Special thanks to my best-friend Edith for this discovery]
I’m not one for championing the radical feminist movement, I will swoon at a scantily clad Megan Fox as much as the next human, but I do love to see women holding their own in predominately male genres of music. Unfortunately all too often this appreciation leads to their pigeon-holing as ambassadors for the female cause when the majority simply want to be ambassadors for music. I don’t negate the need for female role models in the more gender-biased of music cultures but rather believe this should be an elective assignment with those artists wanting to be judged solely on their musical merit being viewed as gender neutral.
One such band not doing it for the girls but rather doing it for the music is punk-rock act Hearts Under Fire.
Hearts Under Fire-It’s Not Me, It’s You
Their distinct raw sound makes them instantly recognisable and their infectious personality promises you a friendly punch in the face. Once you’ve heard them you don’t forget them, as lead vocalist Mary O’Reagan interjects her powerful clean vocals with the occasional growling reminder that you’re listening to a solid rock act (as if you needed it). Their musicianship is impressive and I personally think Hearts Under Fire are well on their way to rectifying the shortage of credible all-female bands at the top.
No stranger to the industry the band has an impressive touring CV with sets at Download, Sonisphere, T in the Park and more. It’s always nice to see artists who take pride in their work and are willing to put in immense effort to achieve their vision for the future of their music. Despite obvious confidence in their own abilities as artists, the four women come across as natural and entirely authentic as individuals in their own right. It’s instantly apparent that they thoroughly enjoy what they do and this passion translates effortlessly through their music.
Hearts Under Fire-We’ve Come Too Far to Live in the Past (Acoustic)
Hearts Under Fire have just released their second EP, titled “We’ve Come Too Far to Live in the Past”, featuring 5 original tracks with eloquently written lyrics contrasting anthemic riffs with darker, more melodic sounds. Be sure to check it out along with their first EP “Letters”, which I have been playing relentlessly since its release! Such quality music releases, and that formidable touring experience, makes Hearts Under Fire’s obvious potential even more unavoidable; I’m very excited to see them infiltrate and dominate the punk-rock mainstage at their signature break-neck speed.