American Smile, British Teeth Album Review Chas Palmer-Williams

Chas Palmer-Williams, the former singer of successful seven-piece ska punk band, Lightyear has released his debut solo album American Smile, British Teeth.

So what can we expect? Lets cast our minds back to the turn of the 21st century, Lightyear were touring their 2001 album Call of the Weasel Clan, playing around 300 gigs a year, hitting Reading Festival, joining Steve-O from Jackass on a sell out tour of the UK.

Releasing their second album Chris Gentleman’s Hairdresser and a Railway Book Shop in 2003, it felt like the band was really hitting its stride, the influences that so clearly shaped their debut album, be it Less Than Jake or Reel Big Fish, were left by the wayside, and the band developed their own unique sound, taking their music into darker, more introspective territory, while still maintaining their rawkus energy.

Stepping out from the seven-man creative process that produced Lightyear’s albums, Chas was faced with the daunting task of filling the silence of an empty page all by himself.

On Track 5, ‘Recite It, you Scum,’ Chas sings “Someone once asked me, what I really do for a living,” “I was in a mildly successful 90s ska punk band, where ya been man, where ya been?” This snippet of conversation puts Chas’s reckless time with Lightyear way in the past placing it as an almost unrecognisable far away memory. The glamour, fame and rock and roll lifestyle is replaced by a more realistic and relatable image of the life of a musician: “An open mics done, pay for flights out, look to be queueing in an EasyJet queue” and “I’ve heard the word pension, I’ve heard the word retire.”

Chas’s outlook isn’t the only thing that has changed, American Smile, British Teeth, gives the impression of a live performance throughout. Stripped down and personal, Chas dons an acoustic guitar for the majority of the tracks, taking on the singer-songwriter persona. “You’d Worry a Nest of Rats,” shows that Chas isn’t afraid to punctuate his music with pauses and empty space as he sings “She sits on a bench with a thirst to quench, whisky’s what she cries”.

Chas’s influences seem to be taken more from the likes of My Morning Jacket over any ska punk act. ‘Jager for you, for me for maldehyde,” among others, sees Chas joined by his band while WWGTDWDAD places Chas at the piano, where a pedal note is held underneath Chas’s vocals, “My short term memory is left in tatters, I’m starting to pay attention to mortgage matters.” and “Nights out, more earplugs than drugs.”

Stripping down his sound has allowed Chas’s lyrical prowess to shine through, stringing together images and situations from touring, sometimes addressing himself deprecatingly under his own breathe “You’re still OK, I’m a musician, in the loosest sense of the word,” and taking on the persona of a payphone in ‘Absolutely some regrets.’

Chas’s debut solo album is an unexpected gem. Maturity, responsibilities, paying rent, slowing down metabolisms, American Smile, British Teeth refuses to hide behind a glossy and half-assed facade.

Written by Josh Budd

Obsession Transgression EP Review Millie Manders

Bringing a powerhouse of sass to British music, London-born Millie Manders releases her EP Obsession Transgression on the 20th November 2015 after having toured nationwide and gathering up a terrific volley of fans.

Following a successful pledge campaign in which Millie parted gifts with fans such as t-shirts, mugs and even her precious signed ukulele; the band set forth to record the album with gusto, energy and a whole lot of attitude.

Obsession Transgression bursts open with a determined punchy brass hook, giving an insight into the energy and pace of what is to come. With an offload of tension, the meter changes and the horns extend a rich chord progression out for the chorus. Millie invites us to meet her powerful vocals with a catchy melody, decorated with smart lyrics – a suggestion that she’s not just a big voice. The middle eight drops into an unmistakable soup of ska, four tight bars of syncopated brass groove before they drop you back in time for the chorus.

After a pacey and vibrant first song, the EP races on to its second title with a punky guitar intro – Teddy makes its way onto the stage. Toying with the motif of multiple crescendos and riot-girl lyrics, Millie Manders explores a contrast of theatrical vocal styles, ranging from the seductive to the psychotic, demonstrating her versatility in her music. With choppy rhythms and electric charisma, is it by no question that this would be the most popular track amongst fans when played live.

Kicking off with a grungy guitar riff, the next title brings a hint of wit and theatre to the EP. Bacchus is an ode to the all-too regrettable memories of a night out in town. Like the relentlessness of a nightclub, Millie slurs the hook “so you have another drink” throughout the song, which not only indicates her adaptability as a writer but also the strong influence of societal woes on her lyrics.  With cleverly placed drum parts, to pair in with a sleepy bass line – the instrumental parts are well put together creating a fantastic ensemble, further instigating the feeling of a frenzied night out.

After a whirlwind three tracks, the EP finishes with Long Gone. A chilled out, groovy hit which has all the strut and power of the rest of the album. With a riptide of funky guitar in the introduction and an epic chorus, the EP is brought to a triumphant close.

Throughout the EP, Manders demonstrates the control and power of her vocals without fully unveiling their potential. It seems as though Millie is aware of her singing capabilities, but to write “pretty” tunes simply wouldn’t be the point of her music and the strength is behind her lyrics and character.

Millie Manders brings life and soul into the ska pop punk scene. With such a fragrant and brave array of tracks, Obsession Transgression delves into a variety of style, breaking the mould and refreshing what can be an all-too-samey genre. The EP is well rounded, with dynamic explorative tracks sandwiched between two great hits. The musicians worked well together, combining well written parts that not only sounded resolute, but also creative and original.

Millie Manders will be heading to stages across the UK following the release of her EP Obsession Transgression. While adding the EP to my playlist of “up and coming London”, I look forward to a bright and colourful future for Miss Manders.

Written By Molly Hills

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Positive Songs For Negative People Album Review Frank Turner



We can consider Frank Turner’s 2013 album, Tape Deck Heart, as the break-up album, an intimate glance into the unraveling of a long term relationship, his Fleetwood Mac – Rumours or his Bob Dylan –  Blood on the Tracks, if you will.

Frank’s recent venture, Positive Songs for Negative People, is about picking up the pieces and making a fresh start. Frank manages just that: he delivers a freshness, to Positive Songs… taking his sound in a new direction, focusing his inspiration on different subject matter, while looking forward to a new beginning.

“By the waters of the Thames, I resolve to start again,” Frank sings on ‘The Angel Islington,’ the finger-picked bedroom ballad that opens the album.

The theme of a fresh start continues into the thumping snare and punctuated vocals of ‘Get Better’ with Frank singing “I got me a future, I’m not stuck on the past.” and “We can get better, because we’re not dead yet.”

A new attitude isn’t all that has changed in the former hardcore singer from Hampshire’s new album. Frank has proven that his music can fill stadiums, as his performance at the Olympic opening ceremony in 2012 aptly proved. Frank certainly brought a stadium-filling vocal performance to Positive Songs… with the elated finale of “The Next Storm” being one of the finest on the album, as he almost screams “Rejoice, rebuild, the storm has passed.”

Frank turns to snappier percussion, layered backing vocals and soaring synth and guitar melodies such as on “Josephine.” Little remains of the sombre, introspective and tortured voice of Tape Deck Heart.

It was this introspection that made Tape Deck Heart such a brilliant album, and Frank’s appeal as a songwriter and a performer, is his unabashed way of laying himself bare to his audience, with his heart on his sleeve. Yet Positive songs… sees Frank draw upon other wells of inspiration.

‘Silent Key’ puts the listener within the Challenger space shuttle, which exploded shortly after launch, killing it’s seven crew members. Playing on the myth that crew member Christa McAuliffe, survived the crash. Frank sings: ‘She called out the truth on a broken radio: “I’m alive, I’m alive, I’m alive.”’

The perspective then shifts to the four-year-old radio operator, Frank Turner, in his Hampshire family home, listening to Christa’s long-lost transmission. ‘Silent Key’ echoes the sentiment of ‘Get Better’ in calling out to the listener “I am not dead yet,” but more significantly, it demonstrates Frank’s ability to capture remote and abstract content matter and endow it with a fresh and complex meaning.

Frank Turner is defiantly ‘staring down the barrel of his fourth decade’ and declaring “I am not dead yet.” Picking up the pieces and going back to basics, Positive Songs for Negative People is rowdy, strong-spirited and punchy yet still somehow manages to feel entirely heartfelt and most importantly, human.

Written by Josh Budd

Sleaze and Grit album review Killaflaw

sleaze and grit

Killaflaw are an enigma and one that deserves to be broken down and delved into in great detail. You could be mistaken for thinking that this is a DJ / Rock ‘one off’ collaboration, the kind that we saw so many of in the NU-Metal hay day. Quite frankly, you would be mistaken a Killaflaw are something much more special.

This unlikely partnership is a perfect storm if Led Zepplin inspired rock with big bass and beats that come together to slap you in the face from the moment you put the album on. It’s like The Chemical Brothers had the bastard son of Rage Against The Machine and Dan Auerbach from the Black Keys has agreed to sing on top.

Sleaze and Grit opens with ‘’Already Dead’’ a hard hitting tune that is so big it is actually softened by the gravelly tone of lead singer Benn Helm, as face paced lyrics are growled at us behind Andy Paton’s epic beats.

Sleaze and Grit refuses to let you take a breath before “Revolution (15 EQ)” starts with an intro that is reminiscent of the Prodigy’s 1007 album Fat Of The Land. However as I mentioned before Killaflaw are a partnership, and as the tune drops out to let the vocal line hit home you are immediately reminded how smart this album really is.

“Own Way”, the first single from Sleaze and Grit speaks for itself as a testament to the bands ethos of being exactly what they want to be, not fitting into any genre’s box and you can like it or……….. Go you Own Way.

This album is perfect for today’s eclectic mix of music lovers and listeners. No longer are there goths that keep a punk CD at the back of their sock draw or an EDM fan has to hide the rock album in his car for fear of ridicule… people like what they like and the bridge the gaps in-between genre’s without thinking and that is what this album does.  It is both a Rock and EDM album at the same time, it can be played to either party or anyone in the middle and they will all understand true magic this album carries with it.

While writing this review I have had Sleaze and Grit playing pretty much consistently and have watched hard core metallers nod their heads and shakes their asses like the most seasoned club goer and vice versa seen the faces of EDM fans crease at just how dirty the drop on this album are –  in fact the only thing I haven’t seen is someone not enjoying their introduction to Killaflaw.

My personal favourites come later in the album, “Glass of Water” has one of the most aggressive chorus’ you will hear this year, Benn’s vocal range on full show with harrowing low end during the verse and balls to the wall near screaming during the chorus. The production that Andy has put together for “Milk and Whiskey” is nothing short of inspired. A massive half time beat with augmented bass, sounding like the biggest distorted guitar on any metal album you have heard. Letting the ride symbol that the lead on the rhythm in the chorus makes this feel like a huge stadium live act tearing a hole in the audience below.

This album really shows that partnerships between two people who are like minded but coming from completely different places can work in perfect unison. It brings something new and fills a gap in the market that we didn’t know existed, this album is as rocking as you could ask for and will have you dancing you ass off without realising. In short this is an album well worth buying and playing again and again….

Monogamy Album review The 150 Friends Club


I’m not going to talk about the genesis of the band’s name, Dunbar’s theory or previous David Goo projects (although I could go on about any one of these for pages)……….. this is an album review after all so let’s get into it.  Monogamy is an album that is completely sure of itself and the message it is trying to convey. It pulls no punches and yet doesn’t come across as preachy or arrogant.

Opening with ‘’Lonesome’’ a track that is uncomfortably void of too much music and uses silence in a way rarely heard on an opening track. The lyrics repeat themselves without being over used and reminds you of times when you have been on your own and said out loud ‘’I am SO lonely’’. Snapshots of the sounds of the city are used to punctuate the lonesome man in a crowd feeling. Over all this is such a different way to open an album it grabs and makes you sit up and pay attention.

At this point I was forced to pick up the CD and take a second look and to my surprise I saw that the album had been split into two sides. A stroke of genius and shows an attention to how the album is not only put together but also gives you a blue print of how the album ‘should’ be listened to, reminding us of the near forgotten experience of sitting and listening to an album from start to finish.

The almost haunting harmonies on ‘’Variation On Atheists’’ are strangely up lifting, while song has shades of acoustic D&B and effortlessly dissolves into rock riffs and slips back to a single acoustic guitar and vocal. For a song which essentially has 3 lines of lyrics it carries a powerful message; happiness doesn’t need to be an epic and dramatic experience but finding someone to spend your life with can be a simple, satisfying and ultimately far more dramatic experience in itself.

Mariya Brachkova, the female vocalist fills the record with a sense of understanding from both sides of the males / female divide. The addition of her vocals gives a secondary point of view, for instance ‘’Human AKA Man’s Lot’’ which has lines ‘Now I I understand, you’re a person, a person, nothing to look up to’ this doesn’t feel like a self-deprecating line from a man who is just learning to not put the other sex on a pedestal –  instead it feels like a statement shared by both man and woman alike.
This isnt an album about one man’s realisations of love, life and the fairer sex, this is an equal sided study of relationship. It is humble and fair on both sides, you hear Mariya takes the lead vocal line on ‘’Variations on Variations on Atheists’’ and the questions and Answer between David and Mariya on ‘’Weird Kinda Luv’’ makes for a collaboration of the sexes.

The rhythm section are in no way random and faceless members of the band and they do a fantastic job of providing the back bone to each tune, the hard hitting drums Oliver Dacombe plays on ‘’Ego Bus’’ are a great example as they get your head nodding without control. The bass is played By Charlie Coulson-Smith throughout the album with a simple elegance and funky brilliance and reinforces the guitar lines perfectly even when they are lacking in complexity.
This really is an album without low points, the latter half of the album (Monogamy) feels more up beat and almost more sure of its self and settled in its own skin (much like a man in a relationship), however it isn’t gushy and soppy. ‘’Domestic Dispute in Song Format’’ reminds us all that relationships are not all wine and roses and people argue and say the worst things that they can to each other in the heat of the moment.
Finishing with ‘’The 150 Friends Club Theme Tune’’ is an inspired idea. As soon as this album finished I hit play and listened to it again and was amazed at the difference in tone between the first and last tunes, especially since i didn’t notice this shift while listening to it through. This is a well-crafted record from a artist who knows exactly what he wants to say with a band who is intent on making sure it sounds as great as it possibly can.

You can buy Monogamy from the links below and personally I suggest that you so this sooner rather than later as if you don’t have this album – you ARE missing out.