Track Review: Askari // Phantom

Askari have some serious talent. Their social commentary of life in London is very refreshing because you can see the anger in their sound. It contains elements of grime, metal, and garage.

The band consists of Asher Baker (vocals), James Routh (Baritone/Trombone), Aiden Baldwin (drums/samples), Liam Carroll (guitar), and Archi Troko (keys). Askari have a crushing sound with lyrics about growing up on an estate where the only choice is stabbings or joining a gang. They wrote ‘Progress’, a song released last year, about these experiences. The more you hear it, the harder it hits because you realise that if you work hard, anything is possible.

The band’s latest single, ‘Phantom’ contains influences from drum n’ bass’. The production is murky, with a descending, spacey synth, while The dark drums complete the confrontational atmosphere. They are a wake-up call to pay attention to the lyrics. The lyrics are about Asher’s life. This includes: being kicked out of a gang, dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, and his mum’s loss to cancer. It’s about making the best of what you’ve got. I think it’s a banger because it makes me want to groove, and the lyrics are very inspiring.

Words by Ermis Madikopoulos

Half Decent shows diversity on ‘Made Of’ and ‘Every Single Moment’

I love rap music because when I hear a rappers lyrics, I can understand what goes on in their mind. I love finding out where they get their references from, and every rapper has a unique story to tell.

Lately, I’ve really been enjoying Half Decent. Influenced by The Streets and Kano, he talks about his upbringing and ambitions. He talks about memories of when he was younger on ‘Every Single Moment.’ This song has an acoustic guitar, which is apt because it’s an autobiographical reflection on his life. It works with the thought-provoking lyrics because although he feels lost, there are moments of hope: “Be yourself don’t follow all what the herd do / make the most of every minute in your curfew.”

As for ‘Made Of’, the production is completely different. A gritty synth and distorted drums dominate the track. It works well with his aggressive delivery. His use of metaphors will make you think. “I think we have a problem, Houston / We have a conscious human running around provoking thoughts / How in the hell did he get in here, there are no more open doors.”

Half Decent’s motivational lyrics are introspective, while the diverse production shows that he’s got a wide pool of influences. I think more people should listen to him because his lyrics will make you think deeper.

Words by Ermis Madikopoulos

Track review: There Must Be More To Life Than This // Hegarty

Hegarty are a band who make me really happy. The band, consisting of David, Waka, Chris, Igga, and Alex, have been gaining a loyal following around Liverpool. They play honest country-rock with a strong Merseybeat influence. They’re going to release a new single, ‘ There Must Be More To Life Than This.’

I feel like every song they release they get better and better. The harmonies in the background work well because they bring a positive atmosphere into the track. They go perfectly with the dreamy chord changes.

The lyrics are delivered with a warm, introspective feel.  They capture the dreamy atmosphere because they make me think about how I can improve myself.

I really hope that more people listen to Hegarty.  Their sound is beautiful, and I feel their lyrics resonate with a wide audience.

Words by Ermis Madikopoulos

Track Review: When the Lights Go Out // Bugeye

It’s refreshing to hear some upbeat music in these difficult times. Bugeye are a band who are heading for big things. As well as getting extensive radio airplay, they are signed to one of my favourite labels, Reckless Yes. I’m also excited to find out they’ve got a podcast, ‘Bugeye’s Rock, Pop Rambles’, a relaxing fun conversational podcast about music.

The band consists of Angela Martin (Vox/guitar), Paula Snow (bass), Kerrie Smith (drums), and Grace Healey (keyboard). Their sound is very exciting, especially on their new single ‘When the Lights Go Out.’

‘When the Lights Go Out’ is full of hooks and wonderful melodies. It makes me want to dance and go crazy. The keyboards work well with the upbeat indie pop guitars because they remind me of Bis at their best. The chorusis one of the most fun things I’ve heard this week: “Take me out, take me take me out / when the lights go out, when the lights go out.” It’s simple, but effective and will get stuck in your head. 

Bugeye want you to have a good time and they’re not afraid to show it. Their confident disco punk and bubblegum lyrics are relatable, injecting some happiness into your day.

Words by Ermis Madikopoulos

Track Review: Chances // The Tonalities

The Tonalities are an up and coming band from Sunderland. They’ve gained a lot of attention including a headline slot at Independent in Sunderland. Their sound is a blend of catchy upbeat rock with a mainstream appeal. I love their new single Chances because it packs a strong punch.

‘Chances’ is a rock track with driving guitar riffs, however, the vocals are extremely melodic. I think its impressive that it was recorded in a day because there’s so many melodic funky overdubs that help The Tonalities stand apart. The reflective lyrics go well in a minor key because it captures the downbeat mood.

‘Chances’ is a brilliant song, and I look forward to hearing more of The Tonalities very soon.

Words by Ermis Madikopoulos

Track Review: My Girl From Liverpool // The Gulps

I love The Gulps. I’ve seen them twice live, at Camden Rocks and supporting Weekend Recovery in London. What blew me away was their swagger and their love for Britpop and the spirit of the 60s. ‘My Girl From Liverpool’ is from their recent EP, ‘In the King’s House’. I love it because it’s a soaring power-pop anthem with beautiful lyrics.

The song is a nostalgic ode to what we no longer have and lost memories. I think the gritty guitars boost the impact of the song because they represent the band’s punk attitude. As a result, they capture energy when you see them live. The drums pound with a sense of urgency that makes you want to jump. The vocals are captivating. The song has an attitude that makes you want to listen over and over.

Feature Image credit: Xandru Zahra

Words by Ermis Madikopoulos

Francis of Delirium get introspective on new single ‘Circles’

Newcomers Francis of Delirium released their latest track ‘Circles’ this week. The band combine 90s grunge with a DIY ethic. As a result, it works effortlessly because it combines melody and angst.

The bands previous single ‘Quit Fucking Around’ was brilliant because it combined an addictive power-pop riff. What helped it stand out was its huge chorus, which reminds me of Veruca Salt at their best.

‘Circles’, however, is more downbeat. It is about a romantic relationship that is just finishing. The ethereal guitars work very well with Jana Bahrichs emotional vocals because you can feel the passion. It feels like she is in an enclosed space, before the weightless guitars give way in the chorus.

My favourite bit in the song is when it gathers pace towards the end. I can hear Jana’s emotion be released as she sings: “My head’s not going under but I’m still sad it’s over.” It gives her hope that she will get through this tough time, pulling herself out of the circle.

Give ‘Circles’ a listen, because it could also give you hope in these uncertain times.

Words by Ermis Madikopoulos

Track Review: Mantra // Yard Arms

Yard Arms offer a combination of late noughties euphoria and melancholic indie pop. Their second EP, ‘A Glossary of Broken Humans and Beating Hearts’ was dark and emotional. ‘Mantra’ is the band’s latest release, taken from their new EP.

The band recorded ‘Mantra’ with producer Josh Gallop on Mantra. Gallop worked with them on ‘AGOBHABH’, adding a dark undertone to their music. I love the clean guitar tone because it shows the band aren’t afraid to experiment. However, the shoegaze-influenced chorus is dreamy and hypnotic. I can see it resonating with a lot of people because it puts the listener in a better mood.

There is a playful nature to ‘Mantra.’ It’s a pulsating track that demonstrates Yard Arms promise. I think it will set them on the way to bigger things.

Words by Ermis Madikopoulos

Track Review: Resist // Capulus

Capulus are an upcoming rock band from Bournemouth. They play very energetic post-hardcore with a confident swagger. Their sound is huge, and this is evident on new single ‘Resist.’

‘Resist’ is a song about standing up for yourself when you feel silenced, which in these uncertain times remain relevant more than ever. I love how defiant and angry the lyrics are, while the guitar work is big and chunky. The reverb gives weight to the vocals because it makes them sound bigger.

I think ‘Resist’ is a fun track with memorable hooks. I think it’s great how they conjure a spirit of togetherness, and it will surely win them new fans.

Words by Ermis Madikopoulos

Track Review: In the Dark // The Brave Faces

Influenced by shoegaze and post-punk, The Brave Faces have a captivating sound. But you wouldnt think that their new single ‘In the Dark’ is their debut. The band worked with Dave ‘Izumi’ Lynch (Toploader, Jake Bugg) and the result is a dark track with a haunting guitar riff.

For me, the thing that stands out is the vocals, especially the falsetto in the chorus: “in the dark, night and day.” It reminds me of The Vaccines at their darkest, but the band have their own identity which is refreshing.

The song is about someone who keeps trying to make things right through re-hashed excuses. It is a great listen because you can hear The Brave Faces passion and emotional delivery. The band will release two more songs across 2020, and if they’re anything as good as ‘In the Dark’, then you’re in for a treat.

Words by Ermis Madikopoulos