With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

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

“Only Human” – The Receivers August 26, 2020


Those dashing, dapper, debonair, daring, discerning, dynamic, dynamite, devil-may-care dudes the Receivers are back with a bang. Well in fact they are back with a banger in the shape of their new single “Only Human”. From the opening riffage you are lifted into the world of a band that is very much at the top of their game. This song is made for freaking out and going somewhat slightly mental to in a muddy festival field.

Probably the best vocal performance yet from lead singer and guitarist Nick. Meanwhile the rhythm section formed by Harry’s thunderous bass boom and Louis’ mountainous drumming purrs like a nicely run in Rolls Royce engine. On top of that add the sublime riffs and licks performed by lead guitarist Alex. The Receivers are coming out of the other side of COVID fully fit and ready to fight their way to the top. They might be only human but this is a single with super powers! These lads eat Kryptonite for breakfast!

You only have a couple of days to wait for “Only Human” to hit the streets, it is out on 28th August. But if you want to pre order it click here for the bands website. There is a fabulous 7 inch vinyl version from Vinyl Eddie Records available and that is the one I am hoping to get!

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With Just A Hint Of Mayhem – Singles Round-Up 2020 Part 11 August 24, 2020


Here we are with our eleventh singles round-up of 2020. This one features seven great tunes, which found their way into the world over the past few weeks. This roundup carries on the guest reviewer approach kicked off when Simon Pattinson, Head Honcho of Northern Radar joined me to review a batch of singles in the 10th Roundup. This time I was joined joined for another Zoom listening extravaganza by Rusty Green, singer and guitarist with Lost Trends, one of York’s finest bands. If the weather is good and COVID-19 infection rates are low I hope to see those Lost Trends boys playing live again on 30th August, in a socially distanced setting, obviously!

These seven tracks feature another great selection of bands and singers from Long Island, Delaware, Glasgow, Whittingham Asylum, Brighton, Los Angeles and North East UK. All of these acts are new to With Just A Hint Of Mayhem except Moodbay and I am sure that they will all feature again sometime in the future. Play them all now, that’s an order!

“Small World”Gamblers

Bill – I love the jaunty funk and Billy Whizz guitar licks. Great harmonies and at times Nick Heywardesque. A really cool summer vibe.

Rusty – MGMT style vocals with classy harmonies reminiscent of Empire Of The Sun. Funky pop with a great funk bass line. A bright tune that contrasts with some very dark lyrics

“Checkered Vans” – Reece Ratliff

Rusty – A very mature voice. Probably not my kind of area, but a catchy, synth driven, bright pop tune. It kept me interested, was that a vocoder in there?

Bill – A love song about shoes, surely there aren’t many of those around? It made me think that I need to buy me some of the Bowie Vans. This is a great song with an excellent hook. It is really all about lost love, not just shoes, and it made me smile. Simply a perfect pop tune.

“Cosmopolis” – Pleasure Heads

Bill – Very clever lyrics that are stylistically reminiscent of the Arctic Monkeys for me. This is a great slice of masterful post punk pop that reeled me in immediately. At times it reminded me of Cast and the Zutons. Did that lyric couplet say “voyeuristic wank”? 🙂

Rusty – Vocally it sounds like the Courteeners, I am definitely a fan of the Pleasure Heads now. The distorted bass roughed it up a bit and made it much rockier. The pre chorus was really cool.

“Imago” – Ward XVI

Rusty – Like a heavy White Stripes. A great vocal and I like the way they used the synth. That reminded me of the Horrors and Mr Bungle. The heavier synth notes suggested a bit of Nine Inch Nails. The whole tune showed some great variation of styles.

Bill – Heavy, deep and masterful riffage. I love the vocals. Apparently this is a part of a concept album about being in an asylum. I am really looking forward to the album after hearing this.

“Current” – Phoria

Bill – Very soundtrackesque, like something from the sad part/ death scene of a David Lynch film. But it is also very chilled with a classical element. No real vocal, but there is a great use of overdubbed voices as an instrument. It made me think of Mogwai while on a post speed come down. Also some rather eery and odd scratchy samples used.

Rusty – definitely my favourite so far, fantastically produced. I really love the chord change from major to minor. Personally I would love to create and record a soundtrack one day.

“Karmic Lemonade” – Velvet Starlings

Rusty – The drop into the chorus was truly brilliant. It suggests classic Primal Scream or the Rolling Stones at the height of their powers.

Bill – Like the heavy side of Brit Pop and yet it strangely reminded me of Kula Shaker as a 60s garage band. I sense a real influence from the classic rock of the 60s and 70s. Great rock vocalist and a tight, talented band. I loved the feedback heavy ending.

“Like Nobody Else” – Moodbay

Bill – Classic 80s style synth pop, but clearly with a 21st century sheen. Like some of the best of the Human League or Depeche Mode but with Oakey and Gahan replaced by a, Anna Stephens a supremely talented vocalist. Great hooks with a middle eight that sounded like the Pet Shop Boys at their best.

Rusty – Pop is not a dirty word and this really is great pop. Catchy and yet very dark at times. Gorgeous vocals and I like that they left the ‘click’ on for the chorus.

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“Comfort Me” – Witch Of The East August 22, 2020

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 10:29 pm
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I know that there is a dearth of female artists on festival bills and I hope that will change over time. However there is no shortage of great female artists out there, just take a look around people. Artists like Lauren Tate, the Tuts, My Wonderful Daze, Laura Kindelan are just a few of my favourites along with the stupendous Witch Of The East. Aeris Houlihan is the supreme talent behind Witch Of The East and on the new single “Comfort Me” she proves just how gifted she is. If you thought her 2019 album ‘Queen Of Insecurity’ was great then you will absolutely love this. If Aeris didn’t exist there is no way you could invent her. She is a one off and not many come close to her smart lyrics and sassy attitude. But it is not just the music either, the video for “Comfort Me” is very cleverly put together in a highly effective and inspiring original way.

Aeris shares vocals on the song with Zera Tonin from Arch Femmesis. The song was inspired by a horrible experience involving a few weeks in prison in Eastern Europe. Aeris confronted a sexist arsehole in a bar who clearly did not like being called out by a trans woman. He used his connections to have Aeris jailed. Thankfully she came through the experience stronger and began creating “Comfort Me” while in prison. It is a full on psych banger which gets into your head on first listen. This is a fabulous song and suggests that the next Witch Of The East album will be equally as good if not better than the last. To close I would like to add that Aeris Houlihan is one of the nicest and most interesting people I encounter regularly on social media.

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‘Staring At The Sun’ – Decay

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 8:04 am
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Decay are a post-hardcore band from Liverpool with a strong emo influence. They number Basement and Title Fight amongst their prime influences. The title track kicks things off and is a good leadoff single. “September 27th” has a slower more ballad feel, great vocals, and strong melodies. “Empty Feelings” has a panoramic sound with some big guitar sounds. “Hold On” has a menacing bass line leading to a passionate vocal. “Misery” features ringing guitars and a raw vocal. “Endless Silence” has an ambient opening and is a short piece. “10.23” is just guitar and vocals. This track shows the true depth of this band. This is a strong anthemic ending and is beautifully balanced and well-executed. The melody is very strong and this is a very satisfying closer to this confident debut from this young and exciting band. More of the same, please!

Written by Paul Bamlett.

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‘We Want Blood’ EP – Mandown

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 7:59 am
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Mandown reference Rage against the Machine and the Prodigy. Certainly they bring the sound and attitude of both of these bands to what they do.
Vocalist Ian Turner and drummer Lawrence Arnold are just the kind of intense and committed musicians we need right now. “Try or Die” leads off with big monster riffing. The RATM influence is writ big but this is no bad thing. “We Want Blood” is a big confrontational song with demanding vocals over big boomy riffage. These tracks are short, intense and mesmerising and this is a stirring call to arms. This EP is 12 minutes of monstrously good riffs and epic melodic vocals so I say never mind we want blood, we want more Mandown!
Written by Paul Bamlett

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With Just A Hint Of Mayhem – Singles Round-Up 2020 Part 10 August 20, 2020


Here we are with our tenth singles round-up of 2020. This one features six rather spiffing tracks, which appeared in recent weeks. This roundup is a little different to all the previous ones though as the reviews are from not just me, but also a special guest. I was joined for this online listening party by one of the most well liked people on the York music scene. He presents radio shows, he is a talented gig promoter under his Northern Radar banner and above all that he has excellent taste in music. Let me introduce you to Simon Pattinson!

These six tracks feature another eclectic mix of bands and singers from Newcastle, Bristol, Wales and three from London and all of these acts are new to With Just A Hint Of Mayhem except Cat Ryan and I am sure that they will all feature again sometime in the future. Fill your ears with them now!

“Blessed Through The TV” Cat Ryan

Bill – I liked the kind of eastern sounding guitar and drums with a very prominent bass line holding it together. Catchy and percussive, this will be a great live song.

Simon – I found it enchanting with a sound like South American pan pipes (similar to the pan pipe buskers who play in York sometimes). I would definitely be keen to book Cat Ryan for a future gig.

“Bee Cage” – Japanese Television

Simon – This is very different and perhaps out of my comfort zone. But I love the energy, especially from the build up to the middle.

Bill – Like the Flaming Lips on speed. I think I will use this for intro music to my radio show when I get around to doing one.

“Resonate” – Tomos

Bill – This is really chilled and relaxed night music and it reminds me at times of the Beloved. A dub mix of this on a great sound system would be awesome.

Simon – This reminds me of James Blake, supremely mellow. The perfect track for sitting down with a bottle of wine and a great book.

“Music Shall Live” – Denise Sherwood featuring Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry

Simon – I like this one a lot, perhaps a contender for a huge Ibiza summer tune, back in those pre COVID-19 days. This is a track that would get you in the mood for a good night out. It reminds me a little of early Chase & Status.

Bill – This is Adrian Sherwood’s daughter and her Dad gets a credit on the track too. I love the production and vocally Denise reminded me of Neneh Cherry. It has a vibe similar to the Groove Corporation or Gary Clail.

“Sunken Boy” – YOWL

Bill – Superb vocal range, it is rooted in mid 90s Brit Pop but gets much heavier towards the end before easing down again. The lyrics are bleak, angry and very much about real life. I definitely want to hear more from this band. I also think they would work incredibly well on the same bill as Avalanche Party.

Simon – I am already a YOWL fan. Most of their tracks are quite long and this one is even a little hillbilly in parts. The angry break catches you a little off guard at the end and the still from the video looks quite creepy.

“I’m Healed” – Indigos

Simon – This is groovy and haunting in equal parts. I was expecting it to change up a gear but it didn’t, although that is no criticism. I was reminded of early Wolf Alice and Sonic Youth.

Bill – I love the vocals, it felt like a cross between a softer grunge sound and classic hook laden pop. I agree with Simon on the Sonic Youth link too.

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‘Documentaries’ – EP – The Long Faces August 19, 2020

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 10:49 am
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Referencing the early incarnation of Soft Machine in their publicity this band include Prog, Psychedelia, contemporary jazz and choral music in their armoury. Melodic purity and harmonic surprise are key . First track “Sail Away” has an innovative opening with distinctive vocals and great guitar parts. An intriguing rhythm and a hint of Orange Juice. “Documentaries” has a good soundscape opening and a distinctive jazz feel. The vocals are strong with lovely falsetto. “And Where Have You Gone, Mr. Wolf?” has a more prog opening with wonderful melody and a superb bass breakdown. This is the strongest track here for me with fabulous harmonies. What the Long Faces present here are a multiplicity of potential musical futures. The dilemma will be which one to choose . Whatever their decision you can guarantee that the results will be fascinating.

Written by Paul Bamlett.

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‘5 Songs’ EP – DITZ

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 8:27 am
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DITZ have been championed by Idles and Slaves and their music certainly fits the bill for these endorsements. This EP has excellent sound with spoken word and some great melodic interludes. It all kicks off with “Role Model”, the rising tension in the vocal is reminiscent of Slaves and harks back to early Wire and the Members. “Seeking Arrangements” is more full-on Hard core Punk with a great guitar sound full of energy and menace.
“Fuck The Pain Away”, which is a Peaches cover has a gritty full on sound and feel and a touch of the Stranglers at times. The scary noise and full on punk chord thrash make this EP an interesting ride. DITZ are exciting enough on record, live I imagine they are a whole other ball of fury!

Written by Paul Bamlett.

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‘Wrong Way Up’ – Brian Eno/John Cale and ‘Spinner’ – Brian Eno/Jah Wobble (Reissues)


‘Wrong Way Up’

In an expression of purest irony, the collaborative efforts of two of the most experimental musicians of the 20th century has led to some of the most accessible & radio friendly music of either artist’s career. Personally, I was expecting something along the lines of droning noise music of ‘The Weight Of History/Only Once Away My Son’, Eno’s recent collaboration with My Bloody Valentine mastermind Kevin Shields. All ambient soundscapes and abrasive, distorted violas. Instead, ‘Wrong Way Up’ is a collection of upbeat, optimistically melodic Synth Pop music.

Eno and Cale had collaborated previously (Eno had produced Cale’s 1974 album ‘Fear’ and Cale played Viola on a couple of tunes on Eno’s 1975 album ‘Another Green World’) but ‘Wrong Way Up’ was the first album they recorded as a collaboration. Recorded in the dying days of the Soviet Union, the dawning of what Francis Fukuyama called ‘the end of history,’ there are certainly elements of nostalgia and retrophilia in the futuristic sonic landscapes. “I scramble in the dust of a failing nation,” Eno sings on opening track “Lay My Love”. Eno said they expected the album to turn out “quite stark and sort of, industrial.” In light of the upbeat, almost optimistic nature of this album, this contributes to the sense of irony I mention above.

In the most part, the songs are built around looping synthesised chord sequences and arpeggios, but there’s something organic and jam-like about many of the compositions. This is likely due to the array of interesting instruments used (Shinto Bell, Little Nigerian Organ) and an impressive array of guest musicians involved. Are there ghostly slivers of Eastern European folk melody embedded in the lush soundscapes of arpeggiated synths and drum machine loops? The ensemble of “non-standard” (for Rock and Pop music) percussion instruments like dumbeks, tablas and Indian Drums probably contributes to this atmosphere. These heavily processed acoustic instruments mix with the looped soundscapes and drum machine loops fantastically.

The bonus tracks added to the new rerelease, “Grandfather’s House” and “Palanquin”, are much more organic and traditional sounding than the parent album. “Grandfather’s House” is a mournful ballad sung over a folkish drone. Bursts of noisy viola, warm synth pads and reverb soaked piano notes create a cinematic soundscape for John Cale’s solemn, hymn like vocal. “Palanquin” is similarly downbeat but way more minimal. A simple Piano composition, instrumental, played with a huge amount of reverb, creating ghostly swirls of warm, immersive sound.

‘Spinner’

Like ‘Wrong Way Up’, ‘Spinner’ was a collaboration with a key member of a pioneering and genre-defining band. Jah Wobble famously the original bass player in John Lydon’s post-Pistols, Post Punk group Public Image Ltd. However, this is probably not a useful starting point when approaching ‘Spinner’. Originally conceived as the soundtrack to Derek Jarman’s film ‘Glitterbug’. As such, ‘Spinner’ is a much more experimental and instrumental album than ‘Wrong Way Up’, consisting of immersive dronescapes, hypnotic rhythms and discrete background noise.

Another major way in which ‘Spinner’ differs from ‘Wrong Way Up’ is in its production methods. Whereas the former album was a controlled, in-studio endeavour with both John Cale and Brian Eno working together to write and record everything, the latter was produced as a result of Eno passing partial tracks to Jah Wobble and allowing him to embellish upon them as he saw fit. This would have been quite unusual in the mid-‘90’s but is fairly commonplace today. The democratisation of music production, the ease of digital communication and the standardisation of digital audio file formats allow this kind of “file swapping” collaboration to prosper. This is just another way in which Brian Eno set the templates for the way the music industry works today.

Much of ‘Spinner’ is built around the kinds of Ambient minimalism we’ve come to expect from Eno over the years, the twinkling arpeggiation and glitched out machine noises of “Space Diary 1” or the droning synths of “Where We Lived” are one side of this unique album, but not the whole picture. The expressive bass playing in tracks like “Like Organza” lift the soundscaping up into a completely different place and, when coupled with the excellent drumming of Jaki Liebezeit (of Krautrock pioneers Can) we get to hear some of the most immersive and hypnotic music on the album. “Steam” is all sampled strings, swirling synths, dub-influenced bass riffs and the kind of motorik drums that define Krautrock. There’s a sense of building atmosphere which is truly engaging. “Marine Radio” is the place where Post-Punk and Dub collide, creating a kind of maritime Trip Hop sound. The menacing syncopation and digital vibrations of the title track create a sinister, action-packed centrepiece of the album, preparing us for the 8-minute epic, “Transmitter And Trumpet”. Marimbas and excellent drumming form a backdrop to some of the most Dub-like bass lines on the album, submerged in the Eno Wall of Sound. The effect is trancelike, hypnotic in the extreme and later on it descends into swirling swathes of noise, swooping around the stereo-field like a dive bomber.

Of the two bonus tracks added to the release, one is an original Brian Eno piece (from the ‘Glitterbug’ soundtrack) while the other is an original Jah Wobble piece. Eno’s “Stravinsky” is a classical inspired exercise in looping, improvisational orchestral sounds. High register violins duelling over lower tones reminiscent of oboes and cellos. Knowing Eno, they could be either live recorded and heavily processed or synthesised/sampled. They’d sound equally as good, either way. Wobble’s “Lockdown” is a semi-funky bass workout over sampled brass and motorik drum machine rhythms. It’s moody and atmospheric like the best material on ‘Spinner’. Pitchshifted vocals echo spectrally around the soundscape.

‘Wrong Way Up’ and ‘Spinner’ are released on 21st August on All Saints Records. It will be the first time physical media of the two albums have been available in fifteen years.

Written by Tom Ray.

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‘The Other Side’ – Ionne August 18, 2020

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 8:42 pm
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Ionne is a new and refreshing talent in the world of electronica. ‘The Other Side’ starts with a Tangerine Dream style opening which moves into a soundscape. This artist has a beautiful voice and this is real singing with a wonderful falsetto set over a fabulous dance track which features some excellent melodic touches. Track 2 is a remix of “The Other Side” which points up the exquisite idiosyncratic vocals and melancholic lyrics. “Distance” is a mesmerising synth instrumental . This is good thinking music, melodically uncomplicated but deeply interesting. The remix of “Distance” features soulful vocal harmonies and is a completely different take on the track.

Something More Than Love” features a very strong melody. This is a thoughtful song and for me the strongest song on the recording. There is a hint of Erasure here which makes it even more interesting . This track has huge commercial appeal. The remix of this track has a more Depeche Mode feel. There is a more experimental touch and the mix really plays with the track to great effect. This is a very strong collection of well developed and constructed tracks from Ionne and I have no doubt that we will hear a great deal more from this undoubtedly talented and skilful artist.

Written by Paul Bamlett.

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