With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

Music trivia, useless info, extra added random stuff and the odd rant from me

“So much hate in your movements” August 1, 2020


One thing that a crisis usually throws up is usually great protests and great protest songs. This pandemic is no exception, but with artists in lockdown and restricted like all of us it has had to be very different. Some bands and singers have used live streaming sessions to introduce new songs or covers of the greats. There are way too many protest songs to mention in this post, although feel free to contribute your favourites in the comments below. I will include three here, one very much from the current generation, one from my generation and another from the generation from before me, well kind of, the latter at 74 is 13 years older than me 🙂 The three tunes cover Black Lives Matter, the UK government and the Orange Moron in the White House.

First up is British singer Jorja Smith who had her first hit back in 2016. Her song, “By Any Means” is the first single from an upcoming Roc Nation Records compilation that collects together other great protest songs focussed on a social justice theme. Jorja said this about the song “It really came from going to the Black Lives Matter protest and leaving thinking, what can I do to keep this conversation going? It’s not just a post on social media, its life.” The music is a sparse and dark take on modern R & B which fits Jorja’s exquisite vocals and powerful lyrics perfectly.

Second it is the turn of West Yorkshire Superheroes Percy, one of my favourite current bands. “Rubbernecking In The UK” is the third single to be taken from their rather spiffing album ‘Seaside Donkeys’. The song is perhaps more of a protest about modern life, misogyny and voyeurism. However the video, produced by Hot Frog Animations, no doubt with lots of input from the band takes it to another level. The portrayal of UK Government Tsar Dominic Cummings and his cuckold Boris Johnson is funny and scary (because of the reality of where the UK is) in equal measure. The song is an infectious driving slice of post punk perfection.

Finally the older generation is represented by Neil Young. This is not a new song but an acoustic reworking of “Lookin’ For A Leader” from his 2006 album ‘Living With War’. But he hasn’t just given it an acoustic makeover, Mr Young has rewritten the lyrics to point a finger directly at Moron in Chief Donald Trump, a man who makes Dubya look like a genius. I always loved this song in it’s original guise and the new take is perfect for these times.

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With Just A Hint Of Mayhem – Singles Round-Up 2020 Part 9 July 30, 2020


Nearly August and maybe that is a small light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel. Which makes it time for our ninth singles round-up of 2020. This one features six cracking tunes, whiche have all found their way into the world over the last few weeks, and I bloody love them!

These six tracks feature another amazing and eclectic mix of bands and singers from Sweden, London, Dallas, Philadelphia, Birmingham (UK) and . All of these acts are new to With Just A Hint Of Mayhem except Nia Wynn and I reckon they will all feature again sometime in the future. Get on them now! That’s an order!

“Konkret Musik” –  Gösta Berlings Saga

Swedish instrumentalists Gösta Berlings Saga released their sixth studio album on July 24th via InsideOutMusic. The title track “Konkret Music” is the second single from the LP after the highly acclaimed “Basement Traps”. The track is dark, atmospheric with a kind of hard prog rock influence. The band describe the tune (and to a degree the album) as, ” Being partly a play of words with the term “Musique concrète” – a compositional tradition of modifying recorded sounds to create new sound identities” The video is rather excellent as it is filmed in a Karaoke setting with a bloke doing the kind of dancing that I excel at! Well worth checking this band out.

“Atlantis/ Ghosted” –  Nia Wyn

We reviewed Nia’s single “Who Asked You” back in April and we had some very good things to say about that tune. This time around she has issued a brace of new singles in “Atlantis” and “Ghosted”. Once again this pair of great modern R & B tunes showcase Nia’s fine vocals and exquisite lyrics. I can still feel the Amy Winehouse influence, but Ms. Wynn is a true talent in her own right. “Atlantis” seems to be about starting over while “Ghosted” appears to look with dealing with anxiety and the shallowness of modern relationships conducted using social media. I am most definitely a fan of Nia Wynn. I really want to see her live, and maybe that opportunity will arise in her support slot on Paul Weller’s rescheduled tour in March 2021

“Animals Haunted By Love” –  Welcome Center

“Animals Haunted By Love” is a single from Welcome Center’s new EP ‘ ‘This House Will Be Filled With _‘. It is a bright, breezy and highly infectious slab of electro pop perfection. If you like electronic music or maybe if you’re a fan of Arcade Fire you will love this. Welcome Center formed in 2017 and consists of Jesse Smith and Aaron Sternick. I will definitely be listening to more from this bunch!

“Man On The Bridge” –  The Novus

On their FaceBook profile the Novus describe themselves as “Black Sabbath’s art-raged Grandchildren” and that is a pretty good description. Although there is more of a pure pop strand here than Ozzy’s gang ever mustered. There is a wider influence too from the Move, to the Kinks, via Blur and maybe even Pulp. “Man On The Bridge” is pleasantly and amusingly weird and takes residence in your head pretty quickly. This is a band that could well go a long way. I reckon as a live act they will become pretty bloody special!

Travesties From Closure –  Rithiya Khiev

This instrumental is brimming over with emotion from a relatively mellow bluesy start reminiscent of Peter Green era Fleetwood Mac through to a full on Iron Maiden style metal onslaught from around the three minute mark. Khiev’s playing is impeccable perfection personified and his sonic influenec may come from the likes of Joe Satriani. This is a truly uplifting piece of music.

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‘Baikal’ – Asian Death Crustacean

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 12:34 pm
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The opening to this  fascinating album is very interesting. Ringing guitars and straightforward rhythms. The music is heavy but very melodic and well developed. The synth sounds have an ambient feel with hints of melody. There is a more riffy feel places. Doomy guitars are plentiful but beautifully crafted melodic passages are never far away whether suggested or overt. The album is a clever mix of differing though not conflicting ideas. There is intensely heavy riffing of a Sabbath , Metallica style. In places there are reminders of ‘In Absentia’ era Porcupine Tree. The album concludes with ambient drone and bassy thrum. I really enjoyed listening to this but have one suggestion for this clearly talented group of musicians, change the name? I know people will say what’s in a name (look at the Beatles!) But I think it could help. Whatever , I hope to hear more from this band, whatever they are called. 

Written by Paul Bamlett. 

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‘Sudden Fictions’ – Bo Ningen

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 12:13 pm
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Bo Ningen means Stick Man in Japanese and this band are a Japanese alt rock band (never really know what alt rock means). The album is produced by Drew Brown who has done desk duty for Beck and Atoms for Peace so the pedigree is good here. Any album that begins with a track called “You Make A Mark Like A Calf Branding” will be at the very least interesting. This track features a minimalist feel with spoken word and a simple rhythm. “AKA-Fuller” has a brilliant bass sound and a full on rhythm with intriguing vocals and lyrical ideas. “Silenced” has a simple rhythm with ringing instrumental ideas and a great poly rhythmic backing. “Zankoku” is all sonic experimentation , a little reminiscent of Hawkwind or Primal Scream at their experimental best.

“Minimal” has a more commercial feel and features Bobby Gillespie from the aforementioned Primals on spoken word and some vocals. This is the standout track of the album. “Kyukai” takes us back to the more experimental feel with whining guitars over a loping beat . Great insistent guitar interplay. “Kuzurenai” has a keyboard opening which draws you in . With a shifting beat and phased vocals this has slight feel of Yellow Magic Orchestra. “BC” has an interesting opening which makes you want to delve further . The songs main rhythm kicks in late. The final track “Riff” has an insistent rhythm and a multiplicity of guitars leading to a more basic rhythm. This band remind me in places of Can for some reason. A questing , fascinating group of musicians aiming to find new sounds and approaches while injecting everything they do with exciting rhythm and melodic finesse.

Written by Paul Bamlett. 

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‘F.L.Y.’ EP – Manelik July 25, 2020

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 6:49 am
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Manelik is an alt.rock artist influenced by Imagine Dragons and Coldplay. This captivating EP opens on the title track which features an intriguing introduction and an epic anthemic sound. With its excellent vocal harmonies and pulsating synth backing there is more than a touch.
“Be As You Are” has a more funky dance feel with supremely good backing vocals. There is also the added bonus of a well balanced mixture of spoken word and singing. “Stars” has an interesting bass line with a great melody and penetrating vocals . This song also features one of the many great hooks which abound on this recording.
“Twisted Life” is more of a ballad with an introspective feel . Interesting lines and thought provoking lyrics. “Insomnia” is once again very dance orientated and funky with a catchy melody . The track bounces along on a great hooky bass line and strong drums. This track also features a fabulous central funk breakdown. This a very impressive EP which hopefully acts as a curtain raiser for more great music.

Written by Paul Bamlett.

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‘Toronto’ EP – Jamws

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 6:49 am
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This EP opens with “See The World”. A synth opening leads into ethereal vocals backed up with interesting rhythms. “Playing For Keeps” features a slower eighties type of groove coupled with a big drum sound and a smooth feel plus a cool guitar riff. Next up is “I’ll Be Fine” which takes us back to the synth sounds and has some excellent falsetto vocals . Once again interesting rhythms are used.
Title track “Toronto” is a bitter sweet love song with a slower more contemporary feel with intriguing guitar work. This intriguing EP comes to a close with “Catalina”, which features a fabulous keyboard intro and has a lovely light pop feel to it. This EP gives a very clear and strong impression of the artist and also tells us that we will be hearing more from this very talented musician.

Written by Paul Bamlett.

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“Phase IV” – The last Of The Fallen Angels July 18, 2020

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 6:49 am
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The Last Of The Fallen Angels are born out of lockdown. The band formed a few weeks into the UK COVID-19 shutdown in May 2020. It is a collaboration project of CMQ. He has worked remotely with singers and artists from across the globe. The plan is to release a series of three singles and the first one is with us now, it is called “Phase IV”. The track obviously features CMQ, but with great input from Mark D of Sapien Trace and Victoria O of north east electro champs AXLS. The song was written by CMQ and Mark D. Sapien Trace and AXLS have featured on With Just A Hint Of Mayhem previously.

Apparently Mike Bennett, a producer who has been around the block a few times with some great artists from Toyah and Hazel O’Connor to Ian Brown and the Specials to name just a few of the stellar acts he has worked with. Bennett will be releasing the track on his Paraffin Alien record label on 28th August.

“Phase IV” was produced by Simon Ellis, maybe not the man you would associate with this darker electro vibe given his pure pop credentials working with, among others, the Spice Girls, Britney Spears and S Club 7. But he really nails it with this tune. The whole recording and writing process was conducted via email and messenger, given the restrictions of lockdown. None of the musicians, singers or producers met during the recording process. It was the same for the making of the rather spiffing video which was filmed using mobile phones.

The song is a chilled ambient piece of music with almost an electro dub vibe in the instrumentation. At some points it reminded me of The Beloved’s 1989 hit, “The Sun Rising”. The vocals are a perfect match for the music and are at times ethereal. Victoria O’s singing is heavenly in the guise of a beautiful ghost. This has definitely whetted my appetite for the next two releases in the series. Check it out and let us know what you think. There is a teaser video below, that will have to keep you satisfied until the wonderful full track is unleashed to the world next month!

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With Just A Hint Of Mayhem – Singles Round-Up 2020 Part 8 July 9, 2020


Into July and slowly, very slowly seeing a small light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel. Which I reckon means time for our eighth singles round-up of 2020. This one features five cracking tunes, I love them!

These five tracks feature another incredible and eclectic mix of bands and singers from the Netherlands, California, Besançon (France), Russia and New York City. All of these acts are new to With Just A Hint Of Mayhem and I reckon they will all feature again sometime in the future. Get into them now!

“Text Your Ex” – Richard Spitzer

“Text Your Ex” is a lightly funky pop rock tune which quickly takes up residence in your head and refuses to believe. At times it feels like a more acoustic Weezer with some input from Jonathan Richman and is that a syn drum in there? The song is accompanied by a very amusing video, keep an eye on all the text messages, especially those from the little girl. It is also worth noting that in response to the COVID-19 health and economic crisis, all bandcamp proceeds from this song will be donated to the Bronx Conservatory Of Music. Download sales will go directly to subsidize lessons for students whose parents lost work or tragically lost their lives. Click here to download and contribute.

“Better Than Wine”Stemin

This is a sublime slab of funky and jazzy modern R & B from Netherlands based Stemin. It follows hot on the heels of his earlier single, the fabulous “Closer” It is taken from his new album ‘Tell Your Heart’ which is scheduled for release in September. I can here influences from Anderson Paak and on the instrumentation, perhaps 70s Stevie Wonder. Stemin speaks five languages, in fact it is probably six as he has a great understanding of the universal language of music.

“Planet Chaos” – Carcariass

Carcariass are a metal band from France with elements of death metal right through to heavy metal and, I sense a small dose of prog in their sound too. “Planet Chaos” is the title track to their new album and this eight minute instrumental beast rocks like a violently angry Great White Shark. It should sound like that too, given that the band’s name Carcharodon Carcharias, the Greek name of the great white shark. This will be a total headbanger in a live environment. If they carry on like this they’re gonna need a bigger boat venue!

“Songs” – Pinkshinyultrablast

This band are a Russian shoegaze band and this epic fifteen minute song is stunningly good. I was left not so much gazing at my shoes but watching my feet make them dance for most of the track. Even at this length the tune does not outstay its welcome. Vocalist Lyubov Soloveva moved to LA some months ago so the band became adept at working remotely before the COVID-19 lockdown hit. They might fit into the same box, or at least the same shelf, as bands like Ringo Deathstarr and Mogwai. I will definitely be listening to more from Pinkshinyultrablast, you should too!

“That Girl Is Trouble” – John O’Brien

O’Brien’s new single is a very catchy, upbeat piece of modern country rock. It has a real 70s vibe and is reminiscent of Smokie in their prime. “That Girl Is Trouble” has encouraged me to check out his latest album ‘The Love You Need’ and it is pretty good.

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‘Rough And Rowdy Ways’ – Bob Dylan July 2, 2020

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 10:37 pm
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“Today and tomorrow and yesterday, too
The flowers are dying like all things do”

Thus begins Bob Dylan’s 39th studio album. His first of new material since 2012.

Bob is in a biblical mood on ‘Rough And Rowdy Ways’. He comes across like some kind of preacher. Each song an atmospheric sermon delivered over a melancholically minimalist sonic architecture. That minimalism is the main theme here, sonically. Many tunes eschew percussion completely, leaving a kind of softly strummed, string-drenched soundscape. Structurally, ‘Rough And Rowdy Ways’, seems to straddle two genres in the main: Blues and a kind of spiritual gospel, which fits perfectly the preacher/sermon comparisons.

Lyrically, this is a radically different album for Dylan. Where his past works wove an entirely original literary landscape (or universe) of fictional characters with roots in American folklore, ‘Rough And Rowdy Ways’ features real people and their literary creations. Gone are the Jokers, thieves and Sad Eyed Ladies Of The Lowlands. In their place you’ll find Anne Frank, Indiana Jones, JFK and all manner of other significant personalities from the last 60 years of Western culture. “I Contain Multitudes” is named for a line in Walt Whitman poem, for example.

Dylan of old was awash with metaphors and similes. Abstract imagery and far out concepts which Dylan absorbed from the worlds of art, music and literature. When he talked about “Ezra Pound & T.S. Eliot fighting in the captain’s tower” in “Desolation Row”, this was obviously used as a metaphor for the differences between their styles and for a young Bob Dylan to signal his literary love and knowledge. When he sings, on “Mother Of Muses”: “Sing of Sherman, Montgomery, and Scott/And of Zhukov, and Patton, and the battles they fought/who cleared the path for Presley to sing/who carved the path for Martin Luther King,” he really means, literally, to thank these generals and that Elvis and MLK couldn’t have done what they did without them. There’s no artifice or alternative interpretation. On ‘Rough And Rowdy Ways’, Bob says exactly what he means and means exactly what he says.

I don’t know if anyone would agree with this interpretation, but I get a feeling of encroaching mortality and tying up of loose ends from ‘Rough And Rowdy Ways’. It’s fair to say that Dylan is no spring chicken, and he’s not getting any younger, so I think it would be more surprising if he didn’t think about his own mortality. I already wrote, in my review of “Murder Most Foul”, that I thought Dylan was singing about things which had been occupying his thoughts for some time. I imagine when JFK was assassinated, Dylan thought to himself: ”I should write about that.” “Murder Most Foul” was, in my interpretation of the Dylan mythology, the old man finally achieving the ambitions of the young man.

This review has taken me longer than it should have because I have a had a hard time getting my thoughts in order about it, but in a display of serendipity, ‘Rough And Rowdy Ways’ made the news today, Friday 26th June, one week on from release. Today the BBC reported that Dylan has broken/set the record for oldest artist to have a number one album in the UK. This only a couple of short months on from Murder Most Foul becoming his first Billboard chart number one. We might all be having a rough year, but Bob Dylan seems to be having a great year. Career-wise. And where serendipity comes into this: if I had being able to write this review quicker, I would have missed this incredibly exciting news. <and if I had published it quicker you, dear reader, would have been reading this excellent piece from Tom in June! – Bill -Editor>

Written by Tom Ray.

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‘This Land Is Your Landfill’ – The Homeless Gospel Choir


Homeless Gospel Choir provide big bold anthemic guitars and vocals alternating with an alt country feel on some tracks. The Homeless Gospel Choir is in fact Derek Zanetti from Pennsylvania. His guitar and voice combine to make a pop punk sound. He has an individual vocal style and his lyrics are political in nature. Those lyrics are sometimes pretty cynical and are communicated with some pretty harmonies. This is especially true on the track “You Never Know”.

“Global Warming” opens the album with a flourish. There is a hint and even a mention of Green Day. “Don’t Compare” features some nice Guitar lines. “Social Real Estate” is rowdy and “in yer face” with a liberal sprinkling of knowing references to religion coupled with some great warped melodies. Album closer “Punk As Fuck” does exactly what it says on the tin. A much heavier feel than other tracks, while “Art Punk” uses a children’s chorus approach with an anthemic feel. Much of the music here has a flavour of early REM and the combination of laid back off kilter country alongside the big shouty punk style works really well. It would be great to hear from this artist in the near future.

Written by Paul Bamlett.

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