Emperors is the persona of gender-fluid drag king/queen Stephen/Cassandra, who aims to break the binary of electro-pop in “untraditional dada-esque fashion.” Their rallying call of a release, ‘We Are The Emperors’, seeks to do just that.
The production immediately chirps into life. Porter Robinson-style vocalisations echo out over rising synths before dropping away as Emperors arrives. What pipes up is a smooth, sultry baritone – like a more assured John Grant. It’s a striking delivery that drips like butter over the rolling, bassy verses and cries power on the triumphant, punchy chorus.
In fact, the choruses punctuate this track with moments of catharsis. The drum fills punch boldly in New Order fashion while white-hot riffs streak by. The bold, brilliant positivity is perfect for the sing-a-long lyrics. It’s anthemic.
Across the verses, Emperors urges the listener to take pride in themselves in a series of bizarre similes, “living lives as art/golden new nobility”. Regardless, the intention cuts through. ‘Go, and be golden’, says Emperors to everyone and no one simultaneously. It’s a timeless, passionate piece of pop we could all learn to live by.
The power of pop is taking the emotions, thoughts, fears and hopes of the moment and packaging them into something catchy an audience can latch onto and vibe with.
Zach Hurst is proving to be an expert at this. He pens his tracks with the struggles of the last 18 months fresh in his mind. His last last hit, ‘2020’, was a cheeky attack on the year we’d rather forget. Now, he’s back with a more sensitive take on ‘Falling In Love On My Own’.
Even if you’ve run the gauntlet of online dating and found someone special to chat with, it just hasn’t been the same recently. Kept apart, a special spark is missing. The magic of falling for someone is a totally virtual experience. Zac taps into this odd frustration with pop balladry, creating a tune that’s sincere, delicate and (most importantly) catchy.
He’s helped on by soft synth pulses on the chorus, snappy strumming on the bridges and sticking rigidly to a tried and true song structure.
Writing songs for the self-isolating generation should be easy for Zac. He’s made the most of being stuck at home, live streaming with Tom Grennan and Sam Harvey in an effort to give fans the authentic experience. This track is just another example of connecting with audiences over the problems of the here and now – and at least giving them something sweet to listen to.
Anders Helmerson is keen to relate his latest arrangement – iScherzo – to futurism, noting, “My music is conceived in an iworld”. I can see the comparison with its speed and momentum, but I’ve always considered that form too angular and abrasive to feel comfortable relating it to this piece.
Bold piano runs paint broad strokes across the canvas, as a grand picture takes shape from these three base elements. Admittedly, the colour runs a little outside the lines, but that’s alright. For, Anders stretches but never snaps – moments of near-madness on the improvisations always right their course back to the delightful, recurring, ‘la-di-dah melody.
Lukaz Chyla’s walking bass grooves go on a similar roundabout journey. He sometimes disappears from view, but even in those moments, you can still make out the muddy rumbling under the radar. His always-progressing strumming fills in the foreground as Anders does the sky.
If they are our painters, then drummer Juan Meija is our frame – sturdy and reliable. He rides the crashes a little too much for my liking, but all of his strikes hit clean and with cause. His comfort in moving around the kit also aids this track’s graceful forward momentum.
They create a beautiful sound, which while shifting and complex, never causes stress. It’s incredible that this elaborate and elegant arrangement could be performed remotely, as seen in the music video.
The arrangement of drums, keys and bass, played intensely (with moves from outside the jazz playbook), makes a comparison to BADBADNOTGOOD necessary – especially to their 2014 offering ‘III’. But the constant progression and honed performance lets the Anders Helmerson Trio stand on its own merits. I look forward to more.
iScherzo is the first single from the coming LP ‘Opus i’. To hear more from the trio, follow them at the links below:
Listening to Que Bonita’s intro, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d started the wrong song. For half a minute, we’re given a solo performance from vocalist Amy Gill, paired fleetingly with guitarist Juan Carmona’s flamenco licks.
It’s a trick Kanye West goes back to again and again. Shine the spotlight on your songs’ standout elements, show them the respect they deserve, then slowly fold them into the rest of the track.
Particularly in the case of Carmona, his plucking is enveloped into a rolling tapestry of groove. He continues to join in playfully under the main beat, a contrasting texture to the rubbery, strutting bass, sun-soaked synth and endless layers of percussion.
In fact, I’ve heard it said that there’s no such thing as a passive audience during a Flamenco performance – a sentiment this track certainly shares. Organic claps, kicks and bubbling background chatter lace the tune, leaving you feeling like you’re already on the dancefloor.
Amy’s voice shines through all of it. She joins the long line of women who completely elevate dance tracks with superb performances. Her timbre (but maybe more so her lyrics) shares a lot with Jessie Ware on last year’s ‘What’s Your Pleasure’. Both sigh seductively over dappled synths, delivering commanding – if understated – performances.
But the DNA of ‘Que Bonita’ is more Balearic beat than disco bop, and since we won’t be dancing on Ibiza’s shores for at least another year, it’s pure escapism. Nevertheless, True Religion has cooked up something deliciously danceable, and we’re here for it.
If you want to stay locked into the groove, you can find True Faith at the links below:
An aptronym is a name that suits it’s owner like a glove – Usian Bolt, Olympic sprinter. While Steady Rollin got to choose theirs, they did choose well.
They write music you can cruise to, and it’s tracks like the newest release, ‘¿Dónde Te Has Metido?’, that makes floating down the river of life so easy.
It might be the first time you’ve heard them, but Steady Rollin has had the people of their native El Salvador swooning. Their carefree sound, built on Americana stylings is a hit across Latin America and singer Fernando Poma is a champion of the local scene in San Salvador.
Bringing up the rest of the band is bassist Gerardo Pardo and drummer/backing vocalist Benjamin Andrade (who holds one of the best job titles I’ve come across – Yamaha Music’s official drumming representative for El Salvador).
A lot of the instrumentation finds its roots in classic rock, especially that blues-fused era of the 70s which sprang ‘J.J. Cale’ and the ‘Allman Brothers Band’. Falling riffs flow into a sweeping solo, while groovy piano accompaniment runs rife.
The addition of accordion on the chorus works to highlight the track’s jam-band feel. By adding in a timeless, folk instrument it’s like we’re hearing this age-old, romantic story.
It’s a reminiscent sound for a reminiscing song. Love and longing weave through the lyrics. It does well to capture that special moment in relationships where you’re, “captivated by how much ‘life’ is in someone” – as Benjamin puts it.
And, like the name suggests, Steady Rollin have an easy, optimistic outlook. A lot of Latin Americana seems to have that tinge to it, always deeply emotional while deeply cathartic. It leads to a lovely tune that is well worth your time.
¿Dónde Te Has Metido? is the first track from Steady Rollin’s upcoming LP Stories. You can stay locked into their grooves at the links below:
“Taking their listeners on an otherworldly experience from start to finish, Punt guns’ daring nature and sense of originality never cease to amaze”
Neanderthal Cyber Rock formed by Godlike beings across the Balkans, Russia, China, and the sweeping plains of Mongolia – welcome to the world of Punt Guns. Based in London, Punt Guns are a twin attack of baritone guitar, six-string bass, and a whirlwind of cinematic atmospherics and industrial depth charges thrown in for good measure. Gearing up to release a brand-new album, the first glimpse of pure-spun gold on the horizon is Nemesis, an astonishing journey through dark corridors and forbidden zones with an accompanying video that will make your blow your mind and make your eyes melt. Forget everything you’ve ever heard – Punt Guns are the real deal.
Punt Guns were formed in 2017 by Marek Bero (bass/lead vocals) and Giampaolo Guarnieri (guitar/unearthly sounds) and have allied themselves with producers Andy Wright and Gavin Goldberg, whose credits include the likes of KLF, Jeff Beck, Simple Minds, and Massive Attack. The first stunning results were documented on their debut album, a mix of skewed pop melodies, violent rock riffs, and alien orchestras but this only hints at the glories to be heard on their forthcoming release. Now augmented by drummer, Dan Western and guitarist, synth maestro, and producer Jiri Novotny, their sound is derived from a sonic stew of classical, baroque, Balkan and Slavic music, soaked up by the band as their lives took them around the world. They’ve travelled for years and spent time in such disparate locales as Mongolia, Slovakia, Italy, the Himalayas and Lebanon. The band are influenced by the vast global array of music, but also influenced by the likes of maverick sportsmen (Giampaolo travelled the world as an extreme skier in a previous life) and film, with transgressive directors like Argento, Godard, Vadim and Bava all casting their shadows on their work.
Marek came up with the name “Punt Guns”. Long forgotten and then banned, this absurd gun with a gigantic, long canon was used to hunt fowls, leading to the angry duck that represents the band, as well as the ‘quacks’ which drown out any naughty words in the radio edit of Nemesis Esteban Ron in Buenos Aires arrived at the logo by using an angry picture of Donald Duck and reducing it to the band’s own Punt Guns duckling. You’ll have to wait until later in the year to hear the new album in full, with work currently underway at the legendary Rockfield Studios (Queen; Pixies; Royal Blood) in Wales but the first single, Nemesis is introduced by the band themselves:
“The main riff and harmonies of the verse came after a coaching session Giampaolo had with Jean-Marc Belkadi during which they worked on Ashkenazi and Russian chords and harmonies. Giampaolo translated such ideas from a standard tuning guitar to his baritone guitar. He played the tune to Jean-Marc who said that it was a “dark & unpredictable” vibe that reminded him of UK gangster style movies. This led Giampaolo to use part of the quote by Alan Ford defining Nemesis in the movie Snatch and use a voice-over actress, Sophie, to narrate it. Jiri started to create hooky electronic elements to the initial draft and Dan recorded drums for the chorus. Marek then laid down a huge bass line and a sick, slapping bass solo together with magical hooky lyrics that worked as a quasi-dialogue with Sophie’s narration. This track offers the “rock pedigree approach” of the band and then climbs to an electronic world reminiscent of the likes of Justice, Goose or Aaron”.
2020 was an eventful year for the artist Aurelia Dey. She has used the pandemic period to create new dancehall and afrobeat music as well as curate a newly produced concert experience and a new web series. Aurelia Dey describes herself as a black womanist and wants to entertain, enlighten and show the world her Ghanaian-Swede heritage. Through dance, music, acting, and dialog she is constantly finding new ways of expression. Her new track ‘Huntress’ was released on the 23rd of April and it is as captivating as it is powerful; a testament to female empowerment and the power of femininity.
This song is a perfect boost of female empowerment, it’s all about and breaking down stereotypes and being a huntress – brave and ambitious. Creating a boundary-pushing track that exudes liberal feminism; fighting against gender norms and gender associations. It addresses reclaiming your space and taking back command, not just in a relationship, but in any area of life. The dancehall beats enhance the amusingly metaphoric yet sensual references to the feeling that “I’m in charge”. Dey clearly wants to inspire her listeners to feel and embrace these feelings.
With her musical influences ranging from the likes of Aaliyah, All Saints, and En Vogue and her artistic comparisons noted as Nina Simone and Spice, it is no wonder that Aurelia Dey’s essence of female empowerment and depth shine through her artistic endeavors. Spirited by her connection to mental health, anti-racism, and a female warrior archetype, she has successfully managed to intertwine her dedication to influential change among listeners with a modern dancehall and afrobeat twist. She has worked closely with both Partillo productions and Lance-a-lot productions, as well as performing with Syster Sol and Cleo.
She describes “Huntress” as a way of acknowledging a new level of liberal feminism whilst cultivating a profound connection to diversity. Her lyrics read; “Yes you can call me Katniss or Xena warrior princess, if you don’t come over here, I will hunt you down with the spear, grown woman have no fear”. This example alone holy articulates the quintessence of the unshakable female power that she exhibits.
Aurelia Dey shows an abundance of intrigue, whether it be in relation to her exciting Nordic and Ghanaian identity, the addition of dancers on stage as part of her live shows, or her use of mixing Afro Punk with a sense of Royalty. Her work continues to be filled with elements of nature and depth which perfectly tie in with her aim to be represented as down-to-earth, fierce, and most importantly, human.
‘“Nellie Gale” is quirky, funky, groovy, and has such a deliciously jazzy under slurp. It is naughty but very nice…very comical and somehow also slightly sad, especially with the wah-wahing trumpet mockingly laughing at the live tableau depicted — a great number.’
”Beyond the theatrics of make-up that’s just a little extra; peacock-feather ‘n’ tie dye shirts and a rainbow emitting disco ball lies a voice with the call of the sirens and a hot handle on the blues” –
– Debbie Bourke, jazz journalist
As heard on Jazz FM
The Fabulous Red Diesel wowed audiences and critics alike with their last single, Butterfly Mind, being playlist by Jazz FM for six weeks running and their new single, Nellie Gale, looks set to grab even more attention, telling the tale of the titular character – one of the first nude dancers in the West End! Nellie Gale was the great grandmother of Fabulous Red Diesel matriarch and singer, Ms Kitty, and, so the family legend goes, was a Windmill Girl – a performer at the Windmill Theatre, the revue theatre in London which took inspiration from the Moulin Rouge and brought censor-baiting nude art to the masses! Cheeky, fascinating and irresistible, Nellie Gale is the human embodiment of Fabulous Red Diesel’s wonderful world!
“The video is a very cheeky black and white romp through the story,with a host of very colourful characters including ‘’Squiffy Oglespink; Will-I Juan; Sir Everard Squiffy QC’; Lord Pedro Handlebar as well as Miss Nellie Gale herself played by myself, her great grand-daughter, Kat Lee-Ryan!”
A husband and wife on vocals and drums; a transgender trumpeter and double-bassist; and a synth player and guitarist named Rabbi Jaffa Delicious ,The Fabulous Red Diesel are a band like no other. Ms Kitty (Kat Lee-Ryan) on vocals, keys and flute; Duke Boom (husband, Will Lee-Ryan) on drums; Miss Bea-Have (Beatrice Gullick) on double bass, tuba and trumpet and Rabbi Jaffa Delicious (Simon Dobell) on guitar and trumpet. Based in Hastings, they have built up a loyal fanbase, not only through their live shows which have seen them supporting and playing alongside the likes of The James Taylor Quartet, Skunk Anansie and Jeff Buckley but also their unique sound, fusing classic 60s soul with jazz arrangements and a rhythm section which can skip from hip-hop beats to Latin to funk. The Queensbury House Sessions is their new album, sixteen extraordinary tracks, each recorded in just one take at a disused office block (called, yes, Queensbury House) to truly capture their live sound.
Although defiantly upbeat and circus-like in their approach to entertaining audiences, Kat’s own life has been touched by tragedy, her sister taking her own life in 2006. As part of the grieving process, she wrote and developed a stage show called Sparkly Bird which has gone on to sell out theatres as well as educate audiences about mental health at universities and for the NHS. With songs written by Ms. Kitty and the music, of course, performed by The Fabulous Red Diesel (and with aerial performances, a narrator, and dance), it’s yet another side of a collective who mix their ideas and personalities with real passion, flair, and invention. The Queensbury House Sessions are mixed and mastered by Nick Endcott Gibb. A specially filmed presentation of Sparkly Bird can be experienced at this year’s Brighton Fringe, the largest festival of its kind outside of Edinburgh.
‘JC Stormz has been bringing out some big music lately, He’s been working a lot’.
DJ Roesh on BBC Music Introducing Manchester on 20/03/2021
With heavy support already from BBC Introducing Manchester, JC Stormz has released his new track, Why We Do, helping to reinforce his reputation as one of the rising stars of UK Rap, despite his unlikely base – the Isle of Man. With a population of only 80,000 and with no Rap or Grime scene to speak of, JC has attracted the attention of radio stations around the UK through sheer determination and talent, with his fluid wordplay matched to a stunning re-working of The Game and 50 Cent’s“How We Do” by one of Manchester’s most in-demand Grime producers, Dyno.
JC Stormz originally hails from Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire but now lives on the Isle of Man – not the most obvious place for one of the most exciting talents in UK rap but one from which he has received support from the likes of BBC Introducing and Reprezent. Whilst studyingfor a degree in music production in Manchester, JC Stormz formed a strong bond with the music community, linking up with some of the city’s up-and-coming artists as he honed his craft, including Dyno, as well as gaining the support of the BBC. A self-confessed perfectionist, he balances his music career with running a business promoting a plant-based diet, something which not only inspires him in life but also crosses over into how he works as an artist:
“I strongly believe in the law of attraction and positive thinking, I promote healthy eating in my community by promoting a plant-based diet. I do my best to inspire others by showing them no matter what circumstances and place you find yourself in, you can always reach your goals if you work hard and dedicate yourself”.
Future releases look to continue to see JC Stormz taking classic hip-hop and R&B tracks and reinventing them with his stunning rhythm and flow, his thought-provoking lyrics based on his real-life experiences that set him apart from the pack.
Bloom is the new single by Kyiv-based rock band In Signs that introduces a much darker-edged sound and looks to build on the worldwide airplay of their previous single, Knock Knock. Having recently expanded their number to include a full-time drummer, In Signs have also moved to a new studio and the changes to their sound are evident on Bloom, which shimmers with tension amongst shadowy atmospheric synths and guitars before exploding into a yearning chorus.
“The song Bloom was created and finalised a few months ago when the most-strict lockdown was in Kyiv. ‘Bloom’ is a little bit darker than the others and this will be a reminder of that time for us.
‘I wrote the song a few years ago but now it’s time to release it. I didn’t change the lyrics but somehow they feel in the right place now. This song was written long ago, before the quarantine but it now feels like “Bloom’ is about covid. I wrote it in bad times, I felt so empty that I just can’t have a normal conversation with friends. I faced misunderstanding and lies. I was very angry and I wrote ‘Bloom’ in a very short time. This song is very emotional to me and I hope that In Signs can carry across the idea of it.”