Track Review: Help Me Anytime You Want // Paul Holden

Paul Holden has a fascinating backstory. As well as previously fronting The Talkabouts, he has played shows with The Bluetones, The Pretenders, and China Crisis. He covered ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon in front of 10,000 people at the M & S arena as part of The Number One Project for charity. There is an air of mystery around Paul’s journey because he suffers from a rare muscle condition called Nemaline Myopathy. But that hasn’t stopped him from releasing a new song, ‘Help Me Anytime You Want’, which is out now on all available streaming platforms.

Paul wears his influences on his sleeve. On ‘Help Me Anytime You Want’, he brings out a baggy bassy sound that recalls The Farm and Happy Mondays. The stomping drums give way to a Britpop-style guitar that makes the song uplifting. The swirling synth dominates the song, adding an air of psychedelia, and this compliments Paul’s beautiful dulcet tones.

‘Help Me Any Time You Want’ is a stunning track that is a perfect warm-up for his new EP Say It to the Sun, which comes out on 19th August.

Words by Ermis Madikopoulos

Track review: Lost // Azu Yeché

Azu Yeché is a rising talent with an incredible voice. What is also great about him is how much melody he puts in his songs as well. They remind you of summer, and have an easy going nature that a lot of people can relate to. He releases his brand new song ‘Lost’ on Friday 8th July, and it is another beautiful effort.

The track starts off with a chilled out drumbeat and them morphs into a relaxing summery banger. The piano and trumpet are beautiful because they bring a calm feeling to the listener. Listening to the song makes you think of the beach and putting your troubles behind you.

When Yeche sings: “I don’t wanna be lost”, it shows that there is anxiety that a lot of people face. This is very understandable because when you’ve been locked away for so long, the idea of facing a large group of people can be overwhelming in itself. So this lyric is very relevant in more ways than one. The songwriting is top notch and is an example of what Azu Yeché can achieve in the future.

Words by Ermis Madikopoulos

Educ’aid Africa organises live stream concerts to open their first music school

Educ’aid Africa is a community interest company that aims to develop music education and support schools in need in Benin. The charity was started by Isa Bell, a social entrepreneur and singer songwriter who wants to give every child in Benin access to musical education. She started the initiative before the pandemic, organising concerts consisting of artists performing. The concerts helped raise money to fund a new school canteen in a primary school in need.

During the pandemic, musicians were hit the hardest. Gigs and venues were closed, and many bands turned to live streaming. Educ’aid Africa are launching a series of live streaming shows and events to open the first music school in Benin.

One of their upcoming events is on Saturday 17th April featuring singer Mary Cross.  From smooth Jazz to Classic Soul & RNB her voice takes you on a journey. She will be performing with her band in support.

Music is not part of the education system in Benin like in most African countries so only a very small percentage of the children population can afford to go to the few private music schools the country has to offer. Educ’aid Africa believes that music education is a powerful tool for attaining children’s full intellectual, social and creative potential and is on their mission to offer this opportunity to Beninese youth.

For more information, visit this link:

https://www.aid-africa.org/

Check out all their upcoming events @EducaidAfrica

https://www.linkedin.com/company/educaidafrica

https://www.facebook.com/EducAidAfrica

https://www.instagram.com/educaidafrica/

To reserve your place for Mary Cross live stream, follow this link. This is a free event, donations are welcome.

https://www.creativexchange.io/live-stream/singing-for-educaid-africa-mary-cross164

To make a donation:

https://www.aid-africa.org/donate

Paypal.me/EducaidAfrica

Album Review: The Other Side of Nowhere // Middlemist Red

Middlemist Red are inspired by psych-rock and synth wave. Their new album, ‘The Other Side of Nowhere’ is inspired by the Wild West and has a soundtrack to match. It brings in Hungarian Folk sounds and tribal elements, which work very well to create a massive sound. The album was written during the pandemic and then recorded into Ableton.

It is clear to me that a lot of thought has gone into the album. ‘Grip of the Sun’ has an addictive guitar riff which takes the listener on a journey as they’re riding through the sun. ‘Don’t Let the Sunlight Catch You Cryin’ reminds me of Arcade Fire because the guitars create a beautiful wall of sound. ‘Blue Moon’ is the best song on the album because the passionate vocals and guitars in the background make the listener feel alive. I love the guitar solo because it adds character and energy.

‘Get Back’ is another very good song, with a psychedelic guitar solo working very nicely with the distorted bass. This works very well because it shows that even in dark times, the protagonist can still move forward. It sums up the positive vibes on this album.

I like this record because it reminds me of a film score. It makes the listener feel solidarity and resilience, ready to tackle any situation.

Words by Ermis Madikopoulos

Track review: Josie proto – champagne fizzles

I’ve been a fan of Josie Proto since I heard ‘Pub Songs Vol:1’ earlier this year. I think she is very good at creating upbeat music that will make you dance. Her songs can brighten anyone’s day, while her lyrics are relatable to  a lot of people.

However in comparison “champagne fizzles” is stripped back. I love how folky the chords are because they match the introspective lyrics. The song could be  about how Proto longs to see someone who is close to her, but it could also apply to anyone in lockdown. It’s a very relatable song which shows off her talent and versatility.

Words by Ermis Madikopoulos

Track review: Ed Staal – 3am

You know when you’re up late at night in deep contemplation? As much as sleep is important, there’s something about staying up and collecting your jumbled thoughts on paper. Or even just being in your own space.

3am by Ed Staal is the perfect soundtrack for this. It talks about drinking in a bar till 3am, allowing the protagonists thoughts to take hold. The song is backed with hazy synths and beautiful guitars to put you in a dream like state.

Track review: What good will it do // All Runs Red

I love diversity in band members. because it shows off a wide range of influences. This is true for All Runs Red. The collective have members from Belgium, Italy, and they keep the continental vibe flowing by getting a lead singer from a different country.

On their new single “what good will it do” they brought in Mike Murphy from New Zealand. His vocals channel Nothing But Thieves and this works very well alongside the uplifting post hardcore guitars. It’s a song that has longevity. It’s a very catchy bit of songwriting that will bring them an even bigger fan base.

EP Review: fix you // Claudia balla

The album is Claudia’s love letter to her teenage self.

I really like the mix of styles on this EP. Ball’s vocals on ‘Hush’ are very strong and powerful. They work very well with the pop-rock guitars. It’s a song about having the confidence to be free and ‘live your life in solitude.’ It makes the listener feel uplifted and shows that if you focus on yourself, good things will happen.

“Fix you” is beautiful. It’s about trying to save a lost love. I think the violin adds to the song because it helps bring out the emotional impact. As well as this, the vocal melody is top notch.

I also really like the last song, “Broken Heart.’ the acoustic guitar eases you in then once the drums kick in, it becomes abthemic and uplifting. It shows off her versatility very nicely, rounding off a wonderful EP.

Track Review: Keeping Faith in Something // Nervous Twitch

Nervous Twitch made an impression on me when they opened Indietracks 2016. Their sound is a cocktail of Bis and riot grrrl, is captivating. It left They’re back with a brand new song called ‘Keeping Faith in Something.’ The song is the band’s first new music since signing with Reckless Yes.

I love how they’ve turned up the fuzz on ‘Keeping Faith in Something.’ Driving the track forward is an addictive synth melody. It keeps the listener hooked because they don’t know what will come next.

I think that everything about this song is catchy with plenty of attitude. I can’t wait to hear what Nervous Twitch have up their sleeve next.

Words by Ermis Madikopoulos

Album Review: Departures // Inego

Inego are an up and coming band from Manchester. Their sound is described as “retro yet modern”, with influences ranging from New Order and James to Fleetwood Mac. Their debut album ‘Departures’ came out this week on their own Fight the Power Records label.

On ‘Departures’ Inego have a strong ear for a melody. ‘Realise It’s You’ is full of funk and the clean production is very satisfying to listen to because it makes the listener feel happy. ‘We’re Coming Up’ is a huge disco banger. The upbeat guitars combine well with the horns because it creates a fast flowing melody that makes me want to dance.

I think the horns add something to Inego’s sound. They work on their faster songs and also on ‘Beyond Starlight.’. There is a break in the middle where the bass tone is similar to post punk, while the dance and dub influences from the horns combine gloriously to create a sound I haven’t heard before. I didn’t think all those sounds could work well together, but they do.

I really like ‘Somewhere in the Stars.’ It is reminiscent of Oasis’ tender moments, taking  a positive outlook on life. The vocals are strong and take the listener on a journey where they can float in space.

‘Departures’ is a very optimistic album that will make you feel better in these tough and challenging times. It takes influence from the classic Manchester bands, while also adding Inego’s unique sound. It shows that they are ones to look out for in the future.

Words by Ermis Madikopoulos