alive in theory scrollerThis combined effort from singer Kirsty Mac, multi-instrumentalists Paul Ayre and Tony Draper, known collectively as Alive in Theory, has a lot going for it. There’s some great playing, the vocal performances are pretty powerful and the songs are mostly pretty strong, so where do we start? At the very beginning, it’s a very good place apparently. Actually the opening song “Alive in Theory” isn’t a bad summary of the album; it’s full of drama, it has a wide dynamic range and a sense of menace. The intro has a feel of “Radio Gaga” and, strangely enough, there’s a little guitar fill which is pure early seventies Brian May. The vocals across the album hint at a Gothic Kate Bush, with maybe a little hint of Kim Carnes in there as well (the eighties drums and brooding synths of “Lightning” have a strong feel of “Bette Davis Eyes”). Now that wasn’t too bad for you was it? But it’s not the whole story because there are a few reservations.

Musically, “Unconditional”, isn’t bad but it demonstrates a few of the album’s downsides. The lyric has a feel of a rhyming exercise that doesn’t convey too much meaning, the vocal is a bit melodramatic and it follows a format that’s repeated through the album of a gradual layer-by-layer build-up of songs. It’s not that any of these things make it a bad album, more that without them, it could have been a better album. Glad we got that out of the way.

On the upside, the driving power of “Bethany” and the combination of distorted guitars and synth sequences works well and would fit in well in a vampire TV series while using an apocalypse as metaphor for a broken relationship in “We Are All Alone” is fairly effective. The album’s closer “The Other Side” stays just the right side of the bombastic line with channel-hopping synths, pumping bass, some Doors-style piano and a final dramatic held vocal note. If you like a bit of drama, musically and lyrically, you’re in the right place.

“Abandon” is released on Friday March 3 on Ultraviolet Records (ULTRA001-2017).

Soap Girls ScrollerHow about something nice and mellow to ease everyone into a new week? I think you may have come to the wrong place, because what we’ve got here is the latest single from The Soap Girls and the song’s title tells you almost everything you need to know. The Soap Girls are sisters Mille and Mie from Cape Town and they’re punchy, savvy and full of attitude. “Bad Bitch” is a raucous mix of stripped-down punk and rock with big drums, a simple riff and the message that no-one messes with The Soap Girls.

But it’s not just about making a glorious noise, The Soap Girls know all about marketing their songs. The whole package is aimed at young men, and that’s not a criticism; Mille and Mie understand that you need to sell more than just the songs in the twenty-first century and they’ve created an image that suggests availability with an element of transgression that’s just about spot-on for their plan for world domination. The video has strong Gothic elements (using a colour palette of black, white and red) and cuts rapidly between costume changes mixed with lots of blood and darkness, but the cartoon violence and self-parody suggest that maybe they’re not taking it too seriously. Why not have a look for yourself:

 

They’re touring the UK and Europe at the moment, so why not go along and see what all the fuss is about.

kakkmaddafakka[1]It’s a sunny Friday afternoon and it’s about time for a quick single review. Kakkmaddafakka are from Bergen in Norway and the single “Young You” is a taster for their debut album “KMF”, due to be released on June 1st. The interesting mix of slowed-down Italo house piano, an ethereal, fragile indie vocal and a bubbling bassline evokes the era of the first dance/indie crossovers when bands like Primal Scream and The Soup Dragons first jumped on to the Ibiza remix bandwagon. This is one of the songs that’s going to sound great at festivals in the sunshine (not Glastonbury then); who knows, maybe it’s the beginning of the third summer of love. And, yes, we do get the EMF reference.

Here’s the video for the single:

GIULIA ScrollerIt would be a little bit too easy to dismiss Giulia’s musical career as a vanity project but give this single an open-minded listen and you’ll probably change your mind. You’ll realise that she has an interesting voice with just enough of a raw edge to make it stand out against the background of the identically-schooled pop voices that you hear every time you turn on the radio. The combination of her songwriting and voice has managed to snag her a deal with M:89 records to release an album later this year and the single “Road Trip” this month.

The song is a rock-pop hybrid bouncing along on a wave of tribal drums, acoustic guitars and a Celtic-sounding keyboard hook which gets all the way to the chorus before the pulsing bass pushes it firmly into contemporary radio territory. It works as a pop tune, and it’s an intriguing taster for the album “Raze Me to the Ground” which is scheduled for late May release.

Don’t take our word for it. Have a look and listen for yourself:

 

My Psychosis titleOK, just to give a bit of a heads up, if Noel Gallagher had been influenced by the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (™) instead of The Beatles this is probably what Oasis would have sounded like. You know from the kick-off that Righteous Reprobates aren’t doing subtlety here; “My Psychosis” storms in with a noisy Les Paul riff and Charlie Kenny’s pounding floor tom and kick drum while the lead guitar gently feeds back before crashing in alongside Jack Collier’s bass and Rob White’s vocals. It’s melodic, it’s fast, a little bit noir and the band seem to have thrown everything they can into four minutes to grab your attention, including a sixteen-bar solo from Jack Griffiths which runs through most of the range of rock solo techniques, including the obligatory fret-tapping and whammy bar abuse.

Go on, just crank it all the way up, jump about and wind up the neighbours; that’s the kind of song it is.

“My Psychosis” is out on December 7th. Meanwhile, here’s the video: