Reviews – Albums

Little Steven – Soulfire

Sunday 14th May 2017

Track Listing:

1. Soulfire
2. I’m Coming Back
3. Blues Is My Business
4. I Saw The Light
5. Some Things Just Don’t Change
6. Love On The Wrong Side of Town
7. The City Weeps Tonight
8. Down and Out In New York City
9. Standing In The Line of Fire
10. Saint Valentines Day
11. I Don’t Want To Go Home
12. Ride The Night Away

In my house we always pen ‘Classic Rock Sundays’ in to our weekly routine where we listen to nothing but classic rock for the whole day.  It’s the one day of the week we can always guarantee to be in the house and having the opportunity to listen to music from dawn ’til dusk.  I have always been a big rock music enthusiast, but when I met my other half quickly realised how lacking my knowledge was of classic rock.  Sure I knew my AC/DC from my Def Leppard to my Deep Purple, but there were still many gaps to fill.  So with every Sunday that passes I’m certain to add something new to my collection.

So when I was given the new release from Little Steven to review I was very excited.  I started playing it and from the other side of the room I hear a voice “that sounds like Bruce Springsteen”.  And sure enough here I am being educated about another extremely important artist, with such a huge repertoire and back catalogue.  Whilst he’s not busy touring with Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, Little Steven is here with his first solo release in almost 2 decades, ‘Soulfire’ which is due for release on the 19th May, and the album features a personal collection of tracks that have been revisted from the length of his career.

“I’ve always been very thematic with my work, very conceptual. I need a big picture, I can’t just do a collection of songs, that doesn’t work for me. In this case the concept became me. Who am I? I’m kind of my own genre at this point. So I tried to pick material that when you add it all up, really represented me. So there are a couple of covers, a couple of new songs, and some of what I feel are the best songs I’ve written and co-written over the years. This record is me doing me.”

Back in February Little Steven announced via social media that a new album was coming, and sure enough he released his first track from the album ‘Saint Valentines Day’ which was originally written for Nancy Sinatra.  Unfortunately the session never came off and the track became a hit for The Cocktail Slippers, and now we’re presented with his own take on the track where a horn line has been added to give it more of a soul feel.  This was a huge hit for The Cocktail Slippers, but I have to say I’m really enjoying this version just that little bit more.

If you’re a fan of the work that Steven Van Zandt has done with Southside Johnny and the Asbury Dukes then you’re in for a treat as there are a handful of tracks that you should recognise. Heading back to 1977 with LP ‘This Time It’s For Real’ he has taken the successful Motown track ‘Some Things Just Don’t Change’ which he wrote alongside David Ruffin with The Temptations in mind, and taken a turn from the deep soulfulness of the original and given it a more rock and roll vibe. ‘Love On The Wrong Side Of Town’ was co-written with Bruce Springsteen, and being such a definative song was more of a challenge to add his own personal spin.  He did after all write, arrange and produce the original version (I do love that piano intro) but he’s been able to find opportunities to change it up slightly.

Alongside the recognisable tracks there are also unheard songs such as ‘I Saw The Light’ which was half written for Richie Sambora & Orianthi, but the next time they met Richie had already written a further 40 songs so this one went unfinished.  That was until now when Steven decided to finish the song for himself.  Also, ‘The City Weeps Tonight’ was going to be the first song on his first solo album but has remained three-quarters finished all these years until now.

Speaking about his solo career, Steven explains “I felt a bit guilty about having walked away from Little Steven the artist. I left that part of myself behind and I shouldn’t have done that. I let the material down by not continuing to perform it, I betrayed the work and I want to fix that. I didn’t give up on the material – there was a lot of other factors – but I do have a sense of wanting some redemption for it.”

Music discovery for me isn’t just about finding emerging artists, but being introduced to music that has been around for a very long time and becoming aquainted with it.  So whilst Little Steven is currently on his own musical journey I am pleased to have found him along the way, because not only do I now have something to introduce my husband to on ‘Classic Rock Sundays’ but ‘Soulfire’ has provided me with a plethora of music from a key era, which includes not only Little Steven himself but the raft of artists he has also worked with.

Connect with Little Steven via his Website, Facebook and Twitter.


True Moon – Debut Album

Tuesday 25th April 2017

Track Listing:

1. Voodoo
2. Our Own Darkness
3. True Moon
4. Sugar
5. Just Like Smoke
6. Guns
7. Run Run Run
8. In the Dead of the Night
9. Things I Use To Tell You
10. Honey
11. Guns RMX

It would be cliché to say that Friday is the best day of the week, bringing that great feeling of knowing that you’re only hours away from the weekend. But for me it’s all about the new music releases, especially those that steer away from the wave of the mainstream. Sitting down and following my usual morning routine of tuning myself in to something to get me through the working day, I decided today I wanted to discover something new. Then I remembered about the album promo that I received for Swedish dark-pop rockers True Moon.

Admittedly this one had been sitting in my mailbox for a while, but I was far from ignoring it. Every so often I would stream a handful of the tracks and then come away from it, because there is something about it that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Was I suffering with writers block, or maybe I had been given something a little out of my comfort zone? With the release date of the 28th April looming I decided to really give this one its dues, because once I really had time to take in the lyrical content and process exactly what this album is showcasing, it was a light bulb moment.

Inspiration for the album came from the experimental and challenging post-punk scene of the 70’s and 80’s, and it’s quick to draw on artists such as Joy Division, Siouxsie, Cure, and Sisters of Mercy. True Moon are fronted by Karolina Engdahl, who completed all her vocals for the recording in just 90 minutes, and along with the slightly unrefined sound the album presents a debut release that isn’t sugar coated. The powerful expressions of the emotions that are presented really draw in to the honesty of reaching in to those darker depths and pulling back out a pure untainted vision of what’s real.

Speaking about the album, guitarist Tommy Tilt explains, “We wanted an old school raw, unpolished feel to the production. When you listen to the Joy Division records, Martin Hannet’s production is totally integral to how the songs come across: if you hear a Joy Division song on the radio or in a club it only takes one second to recognise who it is because that studio sound is so distinctive. We wanted that kind of immediacy and impact.”

Track ‘Our Own Darkness’ is a perfect example of this, sounding like a rough cut but quickly forming in to something quite haunting yet rousing. This is followed through in self-titled track ‘True Moon’ but with a much deeper electronic vibe and poignant lyrics telling a tale of heartbreak. ‘Sugar’ is the first release from the album, and in my opinion although a good track I have found it to be a bit repetitive after a few spins. However, for anyone just discovering the duo this is a comfortable place to start.

Personal favourites include opening track ‘Voodoo’ which lures you in to the album perfectly and is extremely catchy with its arousing bass and raw but powerful vocals from Karolina; alongside ‘Guns’ with its punchy drumming intro and feral tones that give it a dystopian feel – my mind spins just listening to it.

Wondering what it was that kept drawing me back to the album, I realised that I was completely reeled in by the brutal sound and honesty that has been pushed through every track. With something that was familiar but from an era that I’d not discovered for a long time, being reminded of artists such as Joy Division, Blondie, and more recently the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Pretty Reckless it became addictive and that’s what kept pulling me in.

Connect with True Moon via Facebook.

Halflives – Empty Rooms

Tuesday 21st March 2017

Track Listing:

1. Lone Wolf
2. Mayday
3. Burn
4. Echo
5. The Sickness
6. Half Alive
7. Empty Room
8. Collide

The first time I heard Halflives was during the release of their sterling single ‘Mayday’.  They were also being championed by another band that I was introduced to at the same time, Courage My Love who they will be heading out on tour with for a handful of dates in May and June.  It pleases me greatly that six months later the band have announced the release of their debut album ‘Empty Rooms’.  This is a band that I instantly connected with from the start and I was quickly drawn in by their already accomplished sound and Linda’s stirring vocals.

It has taken the band 18 months to complete the album, along with a substantial amount of crowdfunding.  They managed to reach double the amount they had set out to fund in only a month, and the result is a punchy 8-track release that is very tightly polished.

Linda explains the decision behind which tracks made the final cut, saying: “we decided to keep just 8 of the very best tracks in this album to let people feel our real essence and we can’t wait to present it to you all.”

Fans have recently been treated another release from Halflives which comes in the form of their second single ‘Burn’ and for anyone wondering what can be expected from the album, this completely sets the tone.  Tracks such as ‘Echo’ and ‘The Sickness’ are packed with feelings, and you really feel the emotion being expressed through the lyrics.  Another stand out track is ‘Empty Room’ which I would pin as being one of my favourite tracks, because the sound brings an elation within a song that shouts out about a niggling feeling deep down inside.

“’Empty Rooms’ is the result of a long period of work and introspection. I was finding myself in a really dark place when writing these songs and I used the feelings I was carrying with me to give birth to something new, something deeper from everything that was written before. The inspiration came from different pieces of my life, including things I’ve seen on tour, things I’ve felt even by just staring outside of the ferry approaching to the white cliffs of Dover under the rain. Each song is a different empty room where I’ve let my feelings flow, you can visit them all and find a piece of us in each of them, a story, in each of them.”

With emotive lyrics and a project of self-expression, this release is something to be proud of and really showcases what Halflives are about.  It’s clear they have the capabilities to push forward and make something of the band, and I hope this is the start of something much bigger to come.

Due for release on the 14th April, pre-orders are available here.

UK Tour Dates:

31st May – Southampton, Talking Heads
1st June – Bristol, The Exchange
2nd June – Bridgewater, Cobblestones
3rd June – London, Camden Rocks Festival
4th June – Manchester, Rebellion

Connect with Halflives via their Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Vukovi – Debut Album

Monday 20th February 2017

Track Listing:

1. La Di Da
2. And He Lost His Mind
3. Weirdo
4. Target Practice
5. Prey
6. Bouncy Castle
7. Wander
8. I’m Wired
9. Animal
10. Boy George
11. He Wants Me Not
12. Colour Me In


I was introduced to Vukovi back in May last year following the release of their single ‘Animal’ and I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of their debut album ever since.  From the moment I saw the video for the single I was completely captured by the sheer energy this band radiates.  You’re immediately pulled right in and taken on a journey that’s a whilwhind of chaos and then left standing wide eyed and wanting more.

But don’t just take my word for it.  Go check out the video below for lead single ‘La Di Da’ that’s most recently been released.  Oh, and keep an eye out for Honey, a 6ft Boa Contrictor who also makes a slithering appearance.  This should give you an idea of just how quirky Vukovi are, with their bold lyrics and dizzying perspectives that hypnotise your subconscious, Vukovi are simply mesmerising.

Partly inspired by the Joker and Harley Quinn relationship Janine was obsessed with as a comic book loving teen, “The song portrays an abusive relationship unbeknown to the victim. There are a lot of emotions throughout the song. There’s vulnerability, and there’s resistance. It took time to come together, and it had to live on the back burner for a while. But one night I gave in to the niggling that kept demanding I go back to it. I remember the moment it came together; me and Hamish (Reilly, guitars) in my flat drinking pretentious cocktails, laptop, tiny amp, guitar…”

Vukovi have been likened to Florence Welch, Nothing But Thieves, and Enter Shikari, which I can agree with but for me I’m very much reminded of fellow Scottish rockers Garbage.  With slightly dark and experimental elements, mixed in with bold and lucid lyrics, anthemic hooks, trippy camera work and an electric performance, to me it just screams Shirley Manson.

Those who are aquainted with the band should already have a good idea of how this album will sound, as tracks ‘Bouncy Castle’ and ‘Boy George’ were actually released back in 2015, along with ‘Animal’ and ‘La Di Da’ in 2016, so I can imagine there are many fans chomping at the bit wanting to get their mits on this release.  But for those who are looking for some reassurance, what can I say?  It’s an absolute stormer and you will not be dissapointed.

As I work my way through the album it’s clear there are influences from personal experiences.  With tracks such as ‘Weirdo’ telling a relateable story of not wanting to be part of the in-crowd and refusing to be anything but yourself, this is a song many will connect with.  The dark and haunting track ‘Prey’ was written by Janine about a previous relationship, explaining that “it’s about a time in my life where I thought I’d met my knight in shining armor – but he fucked me up even more.”

Personal favourites include ‘And He Lost His Mind’ because it has that tantalising and excentric sound that draws me to Vukovi, along with ‘Target Practice’ with its thrilling intro and serious hooks pulsating through each chorus.  This album is serious and means business.  You won’t find no debut album playing it safe here, this is straight up dedicated and assertive, and you need to listen up!

Due for release on the 10th March, pre-orders are now available here.

Tour Dates:

10th March – Glasgow, King Tut’s
11th March – Leeds, Key Club
13th March – Manchester, Sound Control
14th March – Bristol, The Louisiana
16th March – London, Boston Music Room
18th March – Nottingham, Rock City Basement
19th March – Aberdeen, Tunnels

Connect with Vukovi via their Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Calling Apollo – The Great Depression Act 1

Wednesday 28th July 2016

Since we stumbled upon Calling Apollo back in March, and being lucky enough to interview the guys, we’ve been patiently waiting for the release of their new EP. It’s with great excitement we can now give you a sneak peak of what to expect from the release, as we grasp ‘The Great Depression Act 1’ with both hands and can confirm that the music machines were most certainly ‘set to stun’.

Reviewed for The Junction UK.

Track Listing:

1. Light The Way
2. Clone City
3. Obelisk
4. The Wars
5. Act 1: House of Cards
6. … and The High Plateau

Calling Apollo press shot

The first release from the album has come in the form of track ‘Clone City’ which has already received rave reviews since its premiere with Upset Magazine, and was picked up by Andrew Shay and featured on Scuzz TV. It was most definately something to write home about and tell the grandkids, and set a prescident for a stellar album release.

When we caught up with the guys about what to expect from the album they said we could expect a theme but a different track to the last, and with that said there is a noticeable progressiveness which can be heard throughout. Opening track ‘Light The Way’ gives an arousing yet chilling start before belting straight in to a more vigorous pace, but there is no slowing down as Obelisk provides those anthemic hooks.

‘The Wars’ takes a turn into something more ambient and slightly theatrical, a mid-set cooldown some might say, but not for too long as ‘Act 1: House of Cards’ punches straight through in to premium riffage and more aggressive vocals. There is the perfect addition of the piano too, and whilst listening keep thinking of how amazing this would be performed in an arena – I’m thinking that the likes of Muse’s creative team could work wonders with this!

‘… and The High Plateau’ is the final track and starts to play out the album on an acoustic note, before again picking up to give an electrifying ending, and also provides the opportunity to hear and really connect with Christian’s malleable vocals.

Releasing a two-part record is something the band have always wanted to do, and their style and alt-rock sound really lends itself to the idea. The band have taken a genre and really turned it in to their own having drawn on each others ideas and interests, and produced an eclectic yet defining release.

Connect with Calling Apollo on Facebook and Twitter.

Charlyn – Self Titled EP

Friday 22nd July 2016

Track Listing:

1. Marylise
2. Dive
3. The Last Dance
4. Eventually
5. Eventually (Instrumental Version)

I’m currently sat in my office wondering what to delve in to for this week’s ‘New Music Friday’ when I remember that the new EP by Charlyn arrived in my inbox a couple of days ago.  I plug in my earphones and give it a listen whilst I potter round organising my day ahead, drinking tea and before I know it I’ve had the EP on repeat 4-times over.  To sum up the EP would be to simply call it beautiful.

‘Marylise’ is the extremely promising first release from the debut EP, and Charlyn has such sweet vocals that you’re drawn in to an easy listening indie-pop bubble.  Accompanied by a fun but uplifting sound gives the song something to boast about, and makes for productive listening on a breezy summers day.

When interviewed about the single, Charlyn described it as “a summery pop song, telling the story of a woman pretending to have ‘the perfect life’, however wanting to escape and live the life of someone else.”

When hearing tracks ‘Dive’ and ‘The Last Dance’ I can’t help but feel as though these would make great soundtracks to a film.  The melodic sound and sincere lyrics certainly lend themselves to a romantic chick-flick.  There are also elements of 80s pop to be heard and ‘Eventually’ really pulls that through with its synth-strewn beat throughout the intro and choruses.

Feeling fortunate to have been introduced to the sounds of Charlyn, I’ll be keeping a closer ear on where she is heading.  With tour dates already penned for London, Paris and Switzerland it won’t be too long before we hear much more, and here’s hoping we have a full album release in the near future.

Connect with Charlyn on Facebook and Twitter.

As Sirens Fall – The Hospital Party

Saturday 18th June 2016

Track Listing:Screen shot 2016-06-18 at 11.53.53
1. Where You Are
2. Lonely Tomorrow
3. Smoke
4. State Of The Artist
5. Last Goodbye

Mikey Lord – Vocals
Adam Doveston – Guitar
Ben Aldham – Guitar/ Vocals
Jason Doveston – Bass
Robbie Hutchinson – Drums

We had the absolute pleasure of chatting to Yorkshire rockers As Sirens Fall last month for The Junction UK, and we’ve been waiting patiently for their debut EP to land on our doorstep ever since hearing the brilliant first single ‘Where You Are’.

Since the announcement of the new EP, the band have also penned in a number of dates for the release, but if you were at Download Festival last weekend, we hope you were lucky enough to catch these fellas playing in the Camping Village. Since launching themselves in to the scene in 2015 they have performed at over 100 shows, won the Soundwave Music Competition, and worked extremely hard to complete their EP, which we can confirm has been worth the wait.

What instantly strikes me about the EP is that it doesn’t feel like a debut release. The sound is so polished that you’re expecting a full album; I barely had time to finish my cuppa before it ended. It’s easy to see why these guys are winning competitions and already being piped for festival slots.

‘Where You Are’ is a great opener and one that’s certain to be a fan favourite at live shows. With anthemic hooks it has a more pop-rock sound to it, but this certainly doesn’t follow through the EP as ‘State Of The Artist’ has a much heavier sound to it, with a nice long riff opening it up and screaming vocals to boot. Aptly named ‘Last Goodbyes’ plays out the EP and wraps everything up perfectly, but is just as strong as the first track and makes you want play it all over again.

Chatting to the band last month we asked what their biggest challenges were in putting the EP together, to which they responded “I think the biggest challenge was making the songs on the EP work together. Each song sounds very different to the last, and that’s always the band that we’ve been. We’ve never liked the idea of sticking to any single genre or getting pigeonholed, and we wanted this EP to scream that.”

As Sirens Fall Tour

Connect with As Sirens Fall via their Website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.