Archive | February, 2020

Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent 2020 – Acts to Impress so far

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Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent 2020 – Acts to Impress so far

Posted on 14 February 2020 by Joe

Once again I’m spending February helping the Glastonbury Festival organisers unearth some new talent, as one of a number of music writer judges involved in the Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Competition.


Over this month I’ll be sifting through around 200 tracks and video clips to find three acts to put through to the next stage in the competition – a place on a 90-strong long list.

This will then be whittled down further to a short list of eight acts, who will compete at a live final at Pilton Working Men’s Club in April to win the top prize of a main stage slot at this year’s festival.

Last year one of my long list acts Roma Palace made it through to the final eight. I’ll be hoping this year’s selection can achieve the same feat.

The winner also receives a £5,000 PRS for Music Foundation Talent Development prize to help develop their career and two runners up will receive £2,500 from PRS.

As with the previous three years I like to focus on some of the acts that have caught my ear so far during judging.

After hitting the half way point today this seemed a good time to showcase some of the competition entries that have grabbed my attention so far.

I’m looking forward to watching and listening to the remaining tracks as well, as my judging continues.


Looking back on my notes this is what I wrote about Maphe. “Nice production. Builds up well. Good song. Good live clip. Can’t find anything to dislike” . Looking back again I find something else to like – her delivery of tongue in cheek meanness sung with a smile. Her Facebook biography tells me little only that she is a “small mammal in a world of reptiles”. Intriguing.


Cut them and they bleed indie. Their track Top Drawer delivers with a punch. They look like they can handle a Glastonbury Festival crowd too. Based in Manchester they list Nirvana and The Killers among their influences.

The Bloom

A cut above most other indie rock acts thanks to a nice link up with drums and bass and strong vocals from singer Luke Kordyl. While based in London The Bloom are originally from Fremantle in Western Australia.

The Curious

I’m a sucker for a good guitar delay peddle. Step forward The Curious with If She Only Knew. This London based act list David Bowie, Johnny Marr and The Beatles among their influences which immediately warms them to me. Shouty vocals from singer Dominic Smith is another plus.

My Crooked Teeth

A song about parenthood always appeals, especially when sung well with a great Americana backing band. Oxford based My Crooked Teeth is the moniker of songwriter Jack Olchawski. His biography tells me that he’s shared a stage with Lemonheads frontman Evan Dando, which impresses us after seeing that seminal punk band many times live.

The Borgias

And within seconds I was transported back to the 1990s thanks to Sweet Sound from Birmingham’s The Borgias. Primal Scream and The Charlatans are among their influences and it shows. Strong vocals from KaYc Mundee help.

Jessie Dipper

Great voice and knows her way around a loop or two. This Birmingham singer songwriter describes herself as Folk Grunge and equipped with “pedal board and passion”.

By Joe Lepper


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Eyelids – The Accidental Falls

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Eyelids – The Accidental Falls

Posted on 13 February 2020 by Dorian

The first time I listened to the Accidental Falls, Eyelid’s 3rd full album, I wasn’t immediately taken. Their first two grabbed me immediately, and have remained firm favourites, but this one felt different. I’m lucky enough to get access to some albums early, and my first listens were just before Christmas, and I put the album to one side knowing I had until February to make my critical assessment.

In January I started to listen to the album again, and after a couple more plays it clicked. Really clicked. It made perfect sense (if an album can make sense) and I went from lack of surety to certainty, this was a great album, as good as the first two. So, it seems, Eyelids have delivered their first “grower”.

Eyelids - Accidental Falls

The album differs from their previous releases in that the lyrics were written by Tim Buckley collaborator Larry Beckett, with the band providing the musical contributions. The effect of this is that the album sounds more 60s and 70s influenced than even their previous recordings. Not in a tired or pastiche way, more in a general mood and tone.

Opener ‘Dream’ is a beautiful languid piece built around a simple but captivating guitar line. Eyelids have always been built around the intricate guitar interplay and it is clear from song one that The Accidental Falls isn’t looking to deviate from that pattern.

The band can also rock pretty well and the title track ups the volume nicely. It is another great piece of melody with pounding drums and some big guitars.

The album has a great balance throughout of quiet tunes and more rocking numbers that you know will sound even better live. Special mention has to go to ‘Found At The Scene Of A Rendezvous That Failed’, simply one of the best songs on the album. It is probably the most self-consciously retro production on the album (and is a previously unrecorded Buckley and Beckett composition), you wouldn’t be at all surprised if you had heard the song on a lost Beatles demo. Mermaid Blues also deserves a mention with one of the nicest guitar lines you’ll likely hear all year.

I asked Eyelid’s own Chris Slusarenko whether producing an album based on someone else’s lyrics had changed how they approached the record.

“I think we were not really sure what would happen once we sat down with Larry’s lyrics.  That first creative get together with Larry was maybe a bit sheepish on our end.  He’s a total legend and I think we thought maybe we’d get a really special 7″ or EP out of it.  And since writing our own lyrics is such an important part of what we do I think we weren’t sure how the process would work.  But I went home with his giant stack of lyrics (ranging from the 60s to now) and wrote River.   John went home that same night and wrote insomnia.  We were off to the races really.  I sounded like we wrote those lyrics–it came from inside us.  After that the process ranged from sending songs for Larry to write lyrics to (At Sea, Dream) to a Goethe translation (The Accidental Falls–which is the most rocking Goethe translation of all time!  ha!) to one song that Larry  & Tim Buckley wrote together in 1966 (Found At The Scene…).   We just became it but really it feels like Eyelids.  I guess that’s why Larry was so good with Tim Buckley (and other artists).  You can’t even imagine that Tim didn’t write the lyrics because they were SO him!  I think the same can be said for Eyelids.  It just feels like us and the songs melted through us.”

The album definitely sounds different to previous Eyelids recordings, the response to the lyrics must have made a difference, but it loses none of the melodic brilliance that has made the band a Neon Filler favourite since they formed.

It is also nice to see the album getting press (and very favourable press) this side of the Atlantic. Hopefully some sales will follow, and we’ll see the band doing a UK tour later this year.

The album gets a valentine’s day release and is highly recommended for fans of the band or anyone looking for a great guitar pop album.


By Dorian Rogers 


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Sam Baker – The Cold Store, Nottingham (February 2, 2020)

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Sam Baker – The Cold Store, Nottingham (February 2, 2020)

Posted on 04 February 2020 by John Haylock

Thirty four years ago Sam Baker found himself on a Peruvian train on his way to the ruins of Machu Picchu completely unaware that his life was about to change, irrevocably and terribly.

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As he sat in his carriage a terrorist bomb planted in the luggage rack by the  The Shining Path terrorist group exploded, it killed the occupants and Sam barely survived the carnage.

Suffering brain injuries, hearing loss he also requiried extensive reconstructive surgery and for years suffered from PTSD. He is the living embodiment of human survival.

“I went through so many surgeries, and I was around so many people who were in such terrible pain and in worse shape than I was,” he said.

“Yeah, something changed. One thing that changed was the sense that all suffering is universal. That we suffer, you suffer, that we all do … me, especially what I learned was empathy, and the faith that I got was the faith in us as a group, as humans.”

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In all my years of attending gigs this was a truly unique experience, Sam Baker posesses a most compulsive stage presence with his slow sometimes imperceptably quiet vocals telling perfectly precise stories that are rivetting in their delivery.

On this tour he is accompanied by the immensely talented and classically trained Radoslav Lorkovic, a big, bearded beefcake of a man with the most dextrous touch on the keyboard. When  combined with Sam Baker’s almost spoken word delivery, and his featherlight almost imperceptable electric guitar playing, it amounted to something almost spiritual.

It was a mammoth (by contemporary standards) set broken into two halves. Standout tracks were numerous but special mention must be made for the sadly almost always relevant Migrants and the joyful Isn’t Love Great.

Sam Baker 1

Tattooed Woman was rivetting and Thursday was so moving. He finished with Broken Fingers and his signature tune, the glorious Go In Peace.

When I hear this I always think it’s akin to John Martyn’s May you Never .

Sam Baker is an island of warmth and hope in dangerous times.

Words by John Haylock,, pictures by Arthur Hughes


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Felice Brothers  – Brudenell Club, Leeds ( January 25, 2020)

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Felice Brothers – Brudenell Club, Leeds ( January 25, 2020)

Posted on 03 February 2020 by John Haylock

The Felice Brothers, Simone, Ian and James have been spoiling us with quality Americana for almost two decades now.

Their distinctive dark and literate folk rock remains as potent today as when they first dropped Through These Reins and Gone, their debut album in 2006.

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Simone left a few years ago and pursues a fabulously creative solo career so the current band comprises of James and Ian. These days they are supplemented by the inclusion of relatively new members Jesske Humme on bass and Will Lawrence on drums.

It’s the coldest night of the year so far.  But inside the Brudenell we’re as warm as toast thanks to the near capacity turnout for the Felice Brothers. We generate the heat, the band generate just the greatest amalgam of Byrds meets The Band sounds and vibes.

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The new album Undress seems pretty familiar to most of the crowd. We devour its many fine songs such as Saving up to be the President, Salvation Army Girl and TV Mama.

With nine albums worth of material to choose from there are lots of favourites aired tonight. This includes Days of the Years, Whiskey in my Whiskey, Ballad of Lou the Welterweight. All such fantastic compositions

The band are eminantly watchable. Jesske concentrating hard and looking mean until all of a sudden cracks a great big grin when the fancy takes her.

Will is a seriously intense drummer never missing a beat. James is the joker of the pack –  ebulliant, constantly wise cracking and joshing with the audience. He’s also a man posessed when playing the accordian.


Ian is the complete opposite, very focussed whilst delivering those majestic lyrics of his and on another plane when in full flow guitar solo mode.
Special mention for Carson McHone who bravely supported tonight.  She’s charming with some seriously good songs and coming back over to the UK in the Spring. (With XXL tour T shirts !).

Words by John Haylock, Pictures by Arthur Hughes


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John Howard –It’s Not All Over Yet


John Howard –It’s Not All Over Yet

Posted on 03 February 2020 by Joe

John Howard has passed on his new single and as ever we are impressed.

It’s cover version this time from the 1970s singer songwriter who rebooted himself at the turn of the 21st century with a string of impressive albums ever since.

This time its It’s Not All Over Yet by his You are the Cosmos label mate Daniel McGeever, a track I wasn’t familier with until now.

The track  is from McGeever’s album Cross the Water (2017) and written for his father who died just a few days before it was recorded. This is particularly poignant for Howard, whose own father was poorly around the same time and passed away in 2018.

Here it break downs the original to its bearest bones. Piano accompaniment and vocals. It’s a lovely song and another great choice from Howard as he champions emerging and less well known tracks.

Among the best of these in recent year’s has been his cover of Alex Highton’s beautiful Song For Someone, which deserves far more attention.

Hearing this also made me immediately check out McGeever, who like Highton and, indeed Howard himself, is certainly deserving of more coverage.

It’s Not All Over Yet can be ordered from Amazon or iTunes.


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