Single Review: Andrew Combs – Blood Hunters

andrew-combs

Released: 3rd March 2017
Label: Loose (Europe)

He’s become known as the ‘modern, east Nashville Troubadour’; Andrew Combs is fast becoming the new face and sound of the Country/ Americana scene in the UK and the States.

The new single Blood Hunters is the leading track from his forthcoming album Canyons Of My Mind released April 2017 and is an insight into his finely crafted brand of alternative country.

Blood Hunters is a song about losing your mind. It is subtly dark in its lyrics but melodic and catchy in its delivery; an interesting and effective juxtaposition, which makes the sentiment all the more effective.

Combs said: “It came out in a haze of post tour blues; this being the 24-72 hours after you get home from tour in which you find yourself restless and somewhat deranged. The 180 degree flip in movement, conditions, and sleep patterns does this to me every time. Anyways, I lost it during one of these episodes. I thought everyone and their mother was out to get me, including myself.”

The accompanying video is a glorious short film set to Combs’ music… a sci-fi inspired tale with echoes of Stranger Things and War Of The Worlds. Directed by Ry Cox, the beautifully shot piece has a grand cinematic feel to it and delivers a brilliant twist at the end.

You could say that it’s the full package; thought-provoking songwriting, easy to digest with gripping visuals.

Combs is due to start his US tour in April and UK tour in May. Here’s a chance to catch this burgeoning songwriter at the start of what will be a very promising career.

– Charlie Barker

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Review: Coloquix, Phantom Limbs Opening Night, 12/12/16

It was a dark and cold winter’s evening at the start of December, in one of Sheffield’s newest cafe/ art spaces.

The Holt, situated behind Arundel Gate is central enough to access easily but tucked away enough to have a quaint and quirky atmosphere and it was the latest venue to host Sheffield street artist, Coloquix’s new art exhibition.

Arriving early before opening, I am greeted at the venue entrance by a large, new signature black and white lady with wings and bright red, orange and yellow colours. A permanent feature now for all those passing to see.

As ever the man, Coloquix himself is nervously preparing and waiting for people to arrive and soon enough the place is full, pieces are being sold and there’s a hefty queue at the bar.

This year, the artwork has seen a progression in different themes and style, the famous black and white lady has become more animated in her depiction, with different actions, settings and features. There’s a darker theme working it’s way throughout the pieces, the halo, the skulls, the black raven and the ouija board making appearances.

It’s not just the style that has evolved, the medium has too featuring some smaller watercolour pieces as well as the spray can crafted pieces that the artist has become well known for.

It’s truly surpassed all expectations, showing the great skill and time taken to create all there is on offer.

Coloquix’s Phantom Limbs exhibition is on until Saturday 24th December at The Holt, Arundel Street, Sheffield.

– Charlie Barker

View full set of event images: click here.

Live Review: The Answer and The Dead Daisies in Sheffield, 14/11/16

Date: 14th November 2016
Venue: Corporation

Rock fans came out in their hoards to a packed Corporation in Sheffield to see the unusual combination of one of Ireland’s prominent blues rock bands and American/ Australian rock super-group, The Dead Daisies.

The double-header concert started with Cormac The Answer taking to the stage opening with the title track from their latest album Solas. Lead singer, Cormac Neeson’s voice soared high above the gritty blues undercurrent creating a haunting atmosphere throughout the venue.

Continuing with the powerful rock ballad, Beautiful World, there was no mistaking it, the boys were back.

Whilst most of this tour focused on their latest release, the band threw in New Horizon from 2013’s album of the same name and Waste Your Tears from the Revival record. The audience appreciated the nostalgia.

After a spell of pure driven rock in their set, the band swapped their overdriven, electric guitars for bouzoukis and mandolins for an impromptu, chilled out, acoustic set.

In This Land and Thief of Light really showed a different side to the band, their variety as musicians and strength as writers with beautiful close harmony and stripped down arrangements. A real hit with fans who sang along at the tops of their voices.

It wasn’t long before the volume and pace picked up with inviting special guest vocalist Lynne Jackaman to the stage for a duet, as per the original recording on Nowhere Freeway.

The boys finished up with a rousing rendition of Battle Cry, leaving the audience shouting out for more as singer Neeson remembered his last gig in Sheffield.

He recalled that he had been in a bad place personally on the last tour with family illness taking it’s toll, but said he felt he had made so many new friends on this visit.

It was certainly a hard act to follow, though rockers The Dead Daisies were the men for the job. Entering to a screams and cries from the audience as one by one, Doug Aldrich, Brian Tichy, David Lowy, Marco Mendoza and John Corabi arrived and kicked off their set with Long Way To Go.

Made up of previous band members of Mötley Crüe, Whitesnake, Thin Lizzy, Dio and Foreigner to name a few, their musical CV reads like something out of rock n roll history. There have been many band member changes including the introduction of Corabi in 2015 and most recently lead guitarist, Aldrich.

This tour is promoting their latest release Make Some Noise and the title track of that album sure enough features right at the beginning of their set. In true classic rock style, it packed a punch but it was not treading new ground for the band.

Covers of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Fortunate Son, The Who’s Join Together, The Beatles’ Helter Skelter and Midnight Moses from The Sensational Alex Harvey Band. All great covers, which saw the crowd joining in from the first note to the last chord.

As entertainers, you can’t fault these guys. They’ve earned their stripes with some of the most prolific rock groups in the business. Their musicianship is reflected in the plethora of flamboyant, intricate solos, yet somehow musically I felt a longing for a variety in pace, to see something more musically exposed.

An unusual mixture, but nonetheless the crowd left exhausted having sung along and danced all night. It had been energetic and impressive evening from some of rock’s finest musicians.

– Charlie Barker

View full set of live gig images: click here.

Live Review: Good Lovelies in Sheffield, 25/06/15

Date: 25th June 2015
Venue: The Backroom, Greystones

Canadian songbirds, the Good Lovelies stopped by Sheffield’s intimate, The Backroom venue on the second night of their UK leg of their European Tour, playing to a full house much to their surprise.

As Canadian Folk Music award and Juno award winners, the delightful trio appears to be surprised and overwhelmed they can bring their own brand of roots music to another country and receive such a warm welcome. Sitting in the audience it’s not hard to see why they’ve made friends around the world.

The night is opened up by Rutland’s musical answer to Jack Dee. Paul McClure warms up the audience with his dry, witty humor. Not adverse to self-deprecating humor, McClure wins over the audience joking about his slow-tempo material; categorizing himself as a miserable country/ folk singer.

He delivers an entertaining set of his own material, telling stories through his songs, dedicating one in particular to his wife and another with an anecdote of how he became known as the ‘Rutland Troubadour’. What better way to start the night?

They’ve come a long way from home, having played previously around Western Europe before reaching the UK. Caroline Brooks, Kerri Ough and Sue Passmore take to the stage fresh faced and overwhelmed by their enthusiastic audience, also accompanied by their touring double bassist.

Burn The Plan is the new album and after a couple of years in the making the record is ready to unveil, with lots of new tracks airing tonight with several favorites thrown in for good measure.

Instantly reminiscent of the Dixie Chicks, their close three-part harmony is blows you away with precision and such beautiful timbre. Whilst they hold their own as modern folk/ country musicians, there are hints of old tradition in there too, with some lines and harmonies with a hint of the Andrews Sisters.

Fans may have had to wait for their latest release, but it was well worth it. Performances of Into The Dark, a song about jumping into the challenge of parenthood, gained lots of audience participation joining in with the catchy hook.

The upbeat, electronic feel of In The Morning was a definite parting of ways from their more traditional material, but executed in a subtle manner it successfully blended their core sound with something new. Kerri also brought out the Autoharp, a very traditional instrument used to give beautiful flourishes throughout the song.

As the band seamlessly switched instruments it was evident that their unique sound was homegrown, demonstrated on the track Waiting For You. Sue swapped her mandolin for a series of percussive instruments to give this track a crucial extra boost, replicating the sound on their latest recording.

When The City Settles, was a soothing interlude featuring rich lead vocals from Sue, with Kerri and Caroline providing the soulful and sweet close harmony.

Whilst the audience, were enjoying the new material, we were treated to an unaccompanied song, where instruments were left on the stage whilst the trio stepped down to the front row and delivered a Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris number.

Rounding up the night the band left the stage following a two-song encore, performing another unaccompanied, foot-stomping version of Johnny Cash’s God’s Gonna Cut You Down and Mrs T, a song written for an ex Mother-in-Law, who was loved more than her son!

The Good Lovelies could have carried on all night, the audience still wanted more. What a comeback and what a great new sound. We’ll eagerly await their next UK visit!

– Charlie Barker

View full set of live gig images: click here.

Single Review: ALA.NI – Suddenly

Released: 6th July 2015 (Physical)
Label: No Format Records

With her mesmerising, gentle voice and whimsical chord sequences London’s ALA.NI captured the hearts (and ears) of the country when she appeared on the season finale of Jools Holland’s early 2015 series.

Now following her resounding success she is set to release her forthcoming E.P. You & I: Summer in July with the single Suddenly leading the way.

Her vocals and songwriting at first listen could place her firmly in a bygone era, with a likeness to Billie Holliday or Ella Fitzgerald, with the musicality and melodies similar to Gershwin. There’s a pure and clean approach to the production, ALA.NI needs no whistles and bells and the stripped down feel to the arrangement showcases her beautiful vocal tones.

Having achieved critical success within the last 6 months, ALA.NI is set to be the stand out artist of 2015.

– Charlie Barker

EP Review: Red Trees – Spring EP4

Red Trees EP4Red Trees are Sheffield-based duo Chris Beckett and Lou Richards. These songs, which were written in the Spring of 2014, conclude their four-EP Seasons project, and what a lovely project it has been.

Both Chris and Lou sing and play guitar, and all of the songs are their own compositions. Electric guitars are delicately finger-picked, and voices are restrained, and in beautiful harmony, creating a dreamy, ethereal sound. There is simplicity and spirituality to this music, and intimacy and introspection in the lyrics.

Of the five songs on the EP, Dove is possibly the stand-out track: it is longer, and, featuring a spoken word passage, and leavened by acoustic piano, it feels like it takes the listener on a little journey.

Chris and Lou’s voices are often not high in the mix, so primarily they provide melody, yet if you listen closely there are some beautiful words and sentiments, such as “I watched as the Autumn set fire to the trees”, and “I wrote your name as if there were no other words”. There are many references to seasons in this concluding work of the project, and to the natural world (flowers, fauna, landscape, weather), and in this way, they are perhaps Romantics in the old sense of the word.

This EP is available either online, or as a limited edition 3″ mini-CD, which somehow seems to fit with the duo’s minimalist DIY ethos. You can listen to them at redtrees.bandcamp.com, or buy the EP from searecords.co.uk.

– Simon Benton