|BILL RYDER JONES
A Bad Wind Blows In My Heart is the debut album proper by Bill Ryder-Jones. Warmly melodic, majestically textured and bravely intimate, it is the most fully-realised and deeply personal collection of songs yet from a songwriter and musician who has been quietly but seriously staking claim as one of his generation’s most gifted for over a decade. We last heard from Ryder-Jones with 2011’s much-lauded If – a stirringly original ‘imaginary film-score’ project inspired by avant-garde Italian author Italo Calvino’s postmodernist landmark ‘If On A Winter Night A Traveller.’ Taking its cues from the idiosyncratic soundtrack work of the likes of Abel Korzeniowski, Michael Galasso and Clint Mansell, that masterful record added the accolade of prodigiously talented composer and arranger to Ryder-Jones’s flair as a songwriter and guitarist of the highest order, incubated and developed in his time with The Coral and recognised by the likes of admirers and collaborators Alex Turner, Graham Coxon and Noel Gallagher. A Bad Wind Blows In My Heart is such a successful endeavour because it represents a perfect union of those two disparate, but equally beautiful strands of Ryder-Jones’s artistic vision thus far – it’s a collection of capital-S songs that will more than sate the appetite of those that so appreciate his long-established, effortless knack for heart-swelling melody and painterly eye for lyrical detail but, at the same time, is blessed with a serious compositional touch belying Ryder-Jones’s still modest years. The remarkable thing, for a record so immaculately considered and emphatically delivered, is that it happened almost by chance. Following the successful experiment of If, Ryder-Jones had considered soundtrack scoring and arrangement to be the direction he wished to follow his ever-restless muse in – the allure of more traditional songwriting having faded somewhat for a moment. Slowly and surely, however, the cathartic, achingly honest songs that make up A Bad Wind Blows In My Heart started to push themselves out of the subconscious and onto the fret-board and keys as something extraordinarily special began to come together. “I sat down at home and started to write a song in the manner of Euros Childs and it just seemed to feel right,” describes Ryder-Jones of ‘Hanging Song’, the record’s elegiac opener that began life as a playful homage to long-standing inspiration Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci and unwittingly became the catalyst for an entire record of sweeping beauty and a perfect next step in an already remarkable artistic journey. Next came the record’s title track, adding a sombre organ tone to the glistening guitars and delicate piano that are the cornerstone of Ryder-Jones’s sonic palate and further developing the patient elegance and poetic storytelling of its predecessor. The record now had its direction. “I wrote those two songs and everything sort of started to come”, says Ryder-Jones. “I knew that I wanted the record to be really personal – to be humble and honest. The bedroom feel of those first two recordings were perfect for that, brittle and simple sounding, and once they were in place I decided not to stray too far from those ideas.” Indeed, over the next year or so, Ryder-Jones bolted himself away in his home in The Wirral and conjured up another nine songs of equally affecting sentiment and quiet but assured grandeur. Produced and mixed with James Ford, the result, far from being samey, has a wonderful coherence and narrative sense – like a short story writer exploring a theme, or themes, across a series of vignettes, Ryder-Jones sensitively and intuitively pulls apart the age-old notions of love, belonging, home and the pursuit of happiness from a unique series of perspectives that never feel anything but completely sincere and lived. “Every song bar one on the album is a true story, based on real situations”, confirms Ryder-Jones, “It was quite painful and laborious to make at the time but now I can see it was cathartic to dig away at those things.” Spending time with the record, as everyone should, it is easy to ascertain that an incredible amount of emotional energy has been spent on its creation – big hearts ache more and A Bad Wind… is a record with an extremely large heart indeed. Sometimes it can be almost uncomfortably open-hearted, Ryder-Jones pulling no punches when it comes to dealing with heavier matters such as depression and the effect that can have on a person’s relationship (“I tipped a table over on your promises, I threw a candle at you” Ryder-Jones sings on ‘You’re Getting Like Your Sister’) but a marvellously keen eye for sweet, funny, very British detail means it never finds itself mired in one dimensional self-indulgence. Likewise, whilst delicate and brittle, the arrangements across the record never slip into claustrophobic misery either, songs frequently starting in sobering fashion before bursting into jubilant sunshine in a revelatory way that recalls finest moments of Elliott Smith’s more baroque work. Back to that word – ‘Honest’ – that Ryder-Jones most frequently uses to describe his aims in the making of this record. A Bad Wind Blows In My Heart is a record that succeeds in being just that because it neither denies the difficulties of life nor revels in them. It certainly has its fair share of eviscerating darkness and alienation – perhaps best summed up by the memorably despairing observation of “no-one ever says the things they’re thinking, no-one ever shares the thoughts they’re fearing, nothing ever shifts the sinking feeling”, on ‘He Took You In His Arms’ but it’s also one of great compassion and love. Be it reminiscing, resentment-free about the more content days of a since abandoned relationship on the gloriously galloping ‘Wild Swans’ or offering a troubled friend comfort and shelter in the string-laden ballad ‘Lemon Trees’, there’s a real emotional maturity and directness to Ryder-Jones’s songwriting that makes him an extremely rare talent and A Bad Wind Blows In My Heart a record to truly believe in and treasure.
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Retaining the atmosphere and dark heart of their early EPs, and combining this with melodic hooks, stark lyrical imagery and intensely-layered soundscapes, the band utilised instruments such as harp and theremin to add to their unique sound. With instruments recorded in a church and vocals recorded in darkness, BIRD have carefully honed this collection of songs to tell stories of the soul through the sounds within. The band will be on tour with Rodriguez in March and will be announcing a full UK tour shortly. The band in recent weeks have been featured on Lauren Laverne , Janice Long, Stuart Maconie, John Kennedy, XFM, Jen Long from Radio 1 and Amazing Radio. They have also been featured in Q and The line of the best fit.
|BY THE SEA
By The Sea have been quietly and carefully developing an impassioned following in their hometown of Liverpool and beyond. Formed on the Wirral in late 2010, the mysterious 5-piece released a series of sold-out 7″ singles on London-based Great Pop Supplement before it was even established who they were. An LP arrived shortly after. Recorded with friend and collaborator Bill Ryder-Jones, the album, ‘By The Sea’ is an instinctive, lo-fi record which showcases the bands ability to capture and redefine influence from the past without creating a pastiche. The album was a critical success. Positive responses came from NME, Shortlist, Q, Uncut, This is fake DIY, The Line of Best Fit, Under The Radar and Prefixmag. The band also enjoyed radio play from Gideon Coe, Janice Long, Tom Ravenscroft and Huw Stephens. A publishing deal with Domino Records soon followed, and the band set about creating the follow-up in Liverpool’s prestigious Parr Street Studios. The album, titled ‘Endless Days, Crystal Sky’ is the band’s defining statement to date. From the sharp, entwining riffs of album opener ‘Endless Days’, to the anthemic nostalgia of ‘Wild September’, via the lazy, smoky pop of ‘These Days Fall’, the album encapsulates and presents a band plainly aware of their surroundings. It is a confident, measured and ambitious record. Across the album’s 10 tracks, you will find references to the classic British 1980s indie sound that helped inspire it. Echo and the Bunnymen to The Wake, New Order to Felt. But this is not revivalism, this is a re-imagination, a revaluation. The next piece in the puzzle.
Drawing inspiration from the Beat Generation, twisted with a dose of the darker side of the 70’s, North London based Dazes, electrify with their lo-fi Californian dipped psyche, gritty rock and harmonies.
| DEATH MASKS
Formerly the vessel for one man’s grief-pop canticles, Death Masks has now evolved into a 5-piece dreampop machine,blending elements of late-80’s shoegaze with playful pop melodies and expansive psychedelic breakdowns. Their debut single ‘Left A Message’ was self-released in May 2012 and received airplay from Steve Lamacq and John Kennedy. A split CD with Tear Talk followed on Liverpool’s Edils Recordings in March 2013, along with an exclusive Bill Ryder-Jones produced track, ‘From A Distance’ recorded at Parr St. Studios for Red Bull Studios in conjunction with Liverpool Sound City. They are currently readying a new EP.
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| DOMINIC DUNN
Dominic Dunn’s punchy, innovative songs are evolving into a genre of their own. The 17 year old lad from Kirkdale in Liverpool is a hard working musician whose extensive gigging in Liverpool and London has garnered interest from many. Guardian journalist Sachin Nakrani recently tweeted, ‘Dominic is the Coutinho of music, young gifted and from Liverpool.’ Named as Liverpool Echo’s One to Watch for 2013, his recent successes include playing at the Liverpool Music Awards and the London Olympics. He has shared stages with Miles Hunt & Erica Nockalls of The Wonderstuff, Daniel Bedingfield, Ian Prowse and Zappa guitarist Denny Walley and supported Luka Bloom and Damien Dempsey as part of the Liverpool Irish Festival. The official video for his song ‘Keep Them Tight’ was debuted on international TV on Steve Bunce’s Box Nation and was featured as ‘Video of the Day’ by BBC Radio 6’s Tom Robinson on Fresh on the Net. Tom described the song as ‘an assured debut’ and said Dominic is ‘one to watch’. He has been named as one of the Liverpool Echo One’s To Watch for 2014 by both Jade Wright and Peter Guy in Liverpool Echo Music. Dominic has also been selected by Merseyside Arts Foundation as one of the region’s top 12 young artists
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| FILTER DISTORTION
Filter Distortion specialize in their own unique brand of upbeat electronic music and they have self-produced and released a number of songs digitally, all of which are available on iTunes. Their debut shows saw them as main support for Crystal Fighters. Taking inspiration from various diverse artists, Filter Distortion’s eclectic electronic taste in music has resulted in an output of invigorating sound.With their music featured on CH4, International radio and LFC TV, Filter Distortion are set to go from strength to strength and are not to be missed live. They are currently in the studio completing their new long player due for release this summer on vinyl and iTunes.
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| GHOSTCHANT feat.LAPSLEY
GhostChant aka Joe Cornwell is one of the UK’s most prominent up and coming producers and remixers.GhostChant has recently received radio play from Rob Da Bank on BBC Radio1 and Evolution, East Village Radio in New York, BBC 6 Music, KCRW (Los Angeles), and Rinse FM. His excellent live show has saw him opening up for Four Tet in Hong Kong’s Clockenflap Festival, supporting Gold Panda and Submotion Orchestra, to add to eclectic DJ sets alongside heavyweights Zed Bias, XXXY and Paleman. His music is inspired by the sounds of Burial, Bonobo, and MJ Cole to create richly textured sonic ambient and atmospheric backdrops. GhostChant will be joined on stage by teenage vocal and production sensation Lapsley who has attracted a huge buzz through her online demos including Station and videos for a very special Astral Coast collaboration
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| MECURY 13
Described as “one of the best bands to come out of the city in years”, Mercury 13 have been taking venues and festivals by storm with their unique blend of anthemic, soul-stomping, well-fashioned pop to become one of the most talked about bands in Merseyside. Their debut single “Searchlight”, released last year became an instant, cult classic, gaining lots of radio airplay and leading to support slots with the likes of ‘I Am Kloot” and “Field Music.” The band have gigged extensibly all over the UK and are rightly classed as a “subcultural pillar” of the Merseyside music scene. Look out for their next single “Cities and Satellites” to be released very soon. This should be the year that M13 become recognised as one of the best new bands in the country.
| OXYGEN THIEVES
OXYGEN THIEVES MAKE MUSIC THAT COULD ONLY BE MADE HIDDEN AWAY IN A SECLUDED ROOM IN AN OLD SPARK PLUG FACTORY. THEY EMBRACE THEIR SURROUNDINGS FROM THE CITY TO THE HILLS CREATING SOUNDS FILLED WITH INTENSE, DARK UNCERTAINTY. FORMED BY BROTHERS, ALEX FEWTRELL AND ROB FEWTRELL, THEY TELL STORIES EXPOSING THE IDLE, FOOLHARDY AND IMMODEST. OXYGEN THIEVES ARE ALEX FEWTRELL – RHYTHM GUITAR AND VOCALS, ROB FEWTRELL – LEAD GUITAR, SOUNDS AND VOCALS, DANIEL TILLING – DRUMS AND ALEX ROSE – BASS AND VOCALS.
Formed in late 2010 the four musicians would nurture their sound over the coming years before adding Keys to their expansive Psychedelic Blues sound in 2013. The formative years were spent in the practice room before 2012 saw a place secured on the local Roscoe Youth Music Project. Out of which a single ‘Siren Song’ was released by local Vinyl label, Eighties Vinyl Records. A manager was secured and gigs began to fill the diary. A Liverpool Sound City debut sharing the stage with Reverend and the Makers was soon followed by support slots locally for The Enemy, Tea Street Band, Pins, Deap Valley, Wicked Whispers, The Mystery Jets, Night Beats and in the coming weeks Toy, Bite The Buffalo and The Merrylees. A Limited Edition 10″ EP of four tracks with a sleeve by iconic designer John Van Hamersveld [Beatles, Stones, Dylan etc] was released in Dec, Selling out in 24 hrs. This year the band will be spending time in the studio plus playing the odd gig as they build the foundations of an Album to be recorded in award winning Parr Street studios in October.
| TEA STREET BAND
The Tea Street Band have made many friends in 2013. Their recent single Lost For Words made the playlist at XFM and was chosen by Huw Stephens as BBC Intro Single of the week. These plaudits are richly deserved for this five piece from Liverpool. Recent shows have been ticket only and have caused twitter storms and sweaty dancefloors. This year has seen the band touring with Inspiral Carpets and playing shows with The Charlatans. They have also played the main stage at Festivals and are now geared up to release their first self titled album in 2014. Twitter has been key to the band communicating with their fans. Along the way the lads have received praise from Lennox Lewis and seen their videos played on Channel 4. All from the magic of the bands relentless conversations! The band are Timo Tierney, Nick Otaegui, James Albertina, Lee Smith and Dom Allen. Together they have toured the world this year. Their shows in New York, Sydney, Melbourne and the Republic of Ireland have seen them build a fanbase across the globe. Now the band are ready to extensively tour the UK in 2014. They are building fans across the way from Janice Long on Radio 2 to John Kennedy of XFM. They have picked up plays along the way from Dave Monks, Jo Good, Clint Boon and Rob Da Bank. The Tea Street Band cross over genres and have the spirit of the dancefloor. Some of their songs are becoming anthems across Merseyside and perhaps only a matter of time before the ears of the rest will be singing their songs…
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| TEMPLE SONGS
2013 was an exciting introduction from Temple Songs. Having released two storming singles; ‘Passed Caring’ and ‘I Cant Look After You’, both through RIP Records. The band have gained some notable accolades from the likes of NME, This Is Fake DIY, The Line Of Best Fit and The Independent to name but a few. Zane Lowe also regularly championed the group on his BBC Radio One show as well as numerous plays from BBC 6 Music shows such as Lauren Laverne and Radcliffe & Macconie. Temple Songs is the brainchild of the prolific front man and writer Jolan Lewis (23), who released a confusing amount of music last year under several different guises. After being thrown out of London’s Toe-Rag Studios, the group headed back to Manchester so that Lewis could produce the track in his own studio, crafting his own unique vision of the track. “Point Of Origin” maintains Temple Songs’ penchant for instantly catchy pop melodies reminiscent of early Beatles material, however Lewis’ unique style of production takes them in a direction much more at home with the current lo-fi scene of home town Manchester. The band will be supporting the release with a small national tour across the UK before returning back to Manchester to finish off work on their debut album, to be released later this year. Temple Songs are: Jolan Lewis (guitar vocals) Dave Hardy (bass) Jean Hughes (guitar) Andrew Richardson (drums).
| THE LUCID DREAM
Whilst continuing to work on their second album, The Lucid Dream have released brand new 7″ single. ‘Moonstruck’ b/w ‘The Emptiest Place’, released on 24th February 2014 via Too Pure, as part of their singles club. The Lucid Dream were formed in Carlisle, Cumbria, in 2008. On the back of ‘Erbistock Mill’ EP, and 3 sold-out 7″ single releases (‘Love In My Veins’ ‘Heartbreak Girl’ ‘Hits Me Like I’m Stoned’), the band gained acclaim from the likes of NME, Q, Frank Skinner (Absolute Radio), Steve Lamacq (BBC Radio 2 ‘Listeners Tip of the Week’), and major support from BBC 6 Music (Nemone ‘Record of the Weekend’, Lauren Laverne, Gideon Coe, Tom Robinson). Following on from this, The Lucid Dream were selected as full UK tour support to A Place To Bury Strangers, and in turn supported Death In Vegas, one of the main modern day influences upon the band. This was on the back of supports to Spectrum, Crocodiles, Captain Beefheart’s ‘The Magic Band’, and The Aliens, to name a few. The Lucid Dream have also established themselves as a live force across Europe, covering 14 countries within the last 12 months. The long-awaited debut album, ‘Songs Of Lies and Deceit’, was released on 5th August 2013 (on CD/download via Holy Are You Recordings, and on limited vinyl via The Great Pop Supplement, who have released the likes of Wooden Shjips, MGMT, Martin Rev (Suicide), Spacemen 3, Spectrum). The initial vinyl pressing of 500 copies sold out within 3 days. Critical acclaim for the album was received from Uncut, Q, Clash, The Quietus, The Skinny, leading French magazine ‘Les Inrocks’, and Stuart Maconie’s ‘Freak Zone’ on BBC 6 Music, to name a few. The album coincided with shows at the likes of Jodrell Bank Live (to an audience of 5,000), a hugely successful slot at the Liverpool International Festival Of Psychedelia, and a headline tour throughout Europe.’Moonstruck’ b/w ‘The Emptiest Place’ was released on 24th February 2014, on 7″ coloured vinyl, via Too Pure. The single sold out on pre-orders a month before release, in turn becoming the fastest selling Too Pure Singles Club release yet. The single picked up radio support from BBC Radio 2 (Huey Morgan), BBC 6 Music (Lauren Laverne, Steve Lamacq, Marc Riley (and session), The Tom Robinson Show and 6 Music Recommends)
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| THE SUNDOWNERS
Two girls from a seaside town on the Wirral bonding over a mutual love of psychedelic drugs and west coast harmonies. A friendship that sees them nurturing each other’s musical talents, with Niamh Rowe teaching FionaSkelly how to play guitar, and Fiona teaching Niamh to sing. It’s the start of Sundowners’ story. Meanwhile, halfway across the world Fiona’s brother Alfie’s formative years are spent touring and working with band’s like The Coral, Arctic Monkeys, and Oasis. Surrounded by some of Britain’s best songwriters &musicians from the age of 16, it’s an inspirational time,one that moulds his ambitions. In-between tours and back in Hoylake, he informally adopts both Niamh and Fiona who instantly become the group’s front women, the talented trio then go in search of the missing pieces,bassist Tim Cunningham, and drummer Jim Sharrock. Alfie, Fiona and Niamh continued to develop and hone their songwriting skills, gathering a melting pot of influences such as the Velvet Underground, The Byrds, The Bangles, Air and The White Stripes. Which Leads to successful support slots with The Coral and Cat’s Eyes, plus an appearance at All Tomorrow’s Parties Festival which helps them add to an ever growing fanbase. As their live reputation builds they clinch a coveted Glastonbury Festival 2013 slot on the BBC Introducing Stage, and NME name them as one of the Top 20 new bands to watch at the festival. They spend the winter holed away in a Liverpool studio perfecting their infectious blend of rock & roll and psychedelic folk-rock, sounding like Melody Echo Chamber jamming with The Black Keys. With the new Medicine EP ready to go, an album in tow,and a label that believes they’re the most exciting young band to come out of Liverpool since days of the Bandwagon. Sundowners are ready to take the year by storm.
| THE WILD EYES
The Wild Eyes are rock n’ roll weirdos. Hailing from North Wales, now based in Liverpool, the trio released their debut 7”, ‘I Look Good On You’, in 2012. This blazing nugget of garage rock delirium was backed with the hypnotic, krautrock inflected grooves of ‘Too Much’. Both sides received radio play on BBC Radio Wales and Merseyside, and led to acclaimed appearances at Liverpool Psych Fest, Focus Wales, Liverpool Sound City and the Liverpool International Music Festival. An outbreak of gigs across the country saw the band earn a fierce live reputation, as they bared their awe at the still potent power of rock n’ roll, burning with an intensity born in the small towns of their youth. Sharing bills with acts as diverse as Deap Vally, Night Beats, Stealing Sheep and label-mates The Lucid Dream, the group made allies and won fans far and wide in their pursuit of aural transcendence. The Wild Eyes are drenched in reverb, mystery and sweat. In late 2013 the band expanded into a four piece and entered the studio with local weird-pop heroes Clinic to commence work on their debut LP. An experiment in telepathy and alchemy, the result is due to be released in 2014. In preparation for its unveiling, the band are due to embark on a series of gigs across the UK, with festival appearances being scheduled for the summer. Call it psych, call it art-rock, call it rock n’ roll, all petty fuss is eschewed by this band of obsessives, in love and enthralled with the purity and noise of pop music. The Wild Eyes are: Huw Roberts (vocals, guitar), Neal Johnson (bass), Paul Craven (synth) and Sam Gill (drums).
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VEYU’s music has been described as -melodic waves awash with colourful flushes of ambiance, sprees of intricate rhythm that climb and crash, disarmingly intimate, yet profoundly epic. It is somewhere to escape to, a hiding place, and at the very heart, a desire to connect.
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| VIOLA BEACH
Viola Beach are a 4 piece Indie Pop band from Warrington. Their music has been described as ‘feel-good, dreamy, shoegaze pop’.
| WE ARE CATCHERS
There’s over five thousand miles between Liverpool and Los Angeles. One vast expanse of ocean and no direct flights. Land wise, there’s Ireland, Newfoundland and then a continent’s worth of cities, towns, lakes, rivers and rocks. A chaos of wi-fi connections and errant mobile signals; weather systems and colloquial differences. On one side, Big Sur. The Pacific Coast Highway. On the other, Crosby Beach. The M62. The similarities aren’t immediately obvious. Yet…Listen as the piano starts. The notes roll in gently like waves lapping at soft sand. A voice sighs from somewhere along the Water’s Edge… “From the sky, I can see the birds fly…” It’s transportational. It’s a trip. It’s the sound of the Mersey opening out into the Pacific Ocean. We Are Catchers is Peter Jackson (vocals and piano). The album was recorded with a little help from Bill Ryder-Jones, Austin Murphy, Richard Formby & Henry Broadhead. It was recorded in Eve Studios and in Peter’s house and produced by Peter, Bill Ryder-Jones and Darren Jones.
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| WET PELICAN
If Gary Cooper met John Wayne in a showdown in a sheriffless town, in a world where vultures are as common as pigeons, in a land where cacti creep out of the cracks in the sandy floor, then Wet Pelican would provide the soundtrack Wet Pelican are a six piece band from Liverpool/Manchester. They have been together for just under two years. They have a unique sound which infuses all there influences from Pink Floyd, The Beatles and The Specials to Captain Beefheart, Tame Impala and Steely Dan and nearly everything in between. Their musical sound has been described as skiffle-flavoured magpie indie with folky flavours. Wet Pelican are reminiscent of The Bees’ rowdier version of the sound. The band are in the midst of booking a bunch of new gigs so keep your eyes peeled. The band will be back in the studio in the forthcoming weeks to record a new ep.