Track Review: Daddy (No Way) // Up the Bug

It’s not too often you hear some batshit new music. Up the Bug are this band- but they’re also fighting a good cause. Beneath their unreal ska bangers, they’ve also released a new EP, which raised money for the NHS. Now, as a key worker myself, I think it’s great that bands are supporting the NHS during this critical time, and very inspiring.  The band also released their new song ‘Daddy (No Way)’ which is a fun listen.

I love this song because it is upbeat and has a strong energy. But in comparison, the lyrics are angry. The protagonist doesn’t like how his lover has treated him like shit. But he isn’t going to back down to her tactics: “Na na na na na no way / won’t play na na na your games.” The “na na” bits are interesting because they already encourage a singalong and bring a big vibe.

I’d love to hear more from Up the Bug because their songs make me feel really happy and positive.

Words by Ermis Madikopoulos

Track Review: Want to Believe // Post Rome

Post Rome have been cutting their teeth in the North East gigging scene. The Sunderland three piece have made a splash both in their hometown and Newcastle, playing sold-out shows. I like their song ‘Different Kids’ because it takes influence from the 80s, but has their own refreshing sound, which helps them stand apart.  They’ve got a new song called ‘Want to Believe’, which comes out on the 24th May.

‘Want to Believe’ has big production which reminds me of The 1975. I think the big guitar work works well with the synths because it shows their ambition to be massive. I like how they overdubbed over ten vocal tracks, because each one of them has their own flavour. When live music has its resurgence, I can see this track being played in much bigger venues.

If ‘Want to Believe’ is anything to go by, Post Rome are heading onto bigger things. Anyone who is into either The 1975 or Pale Waves is gonna love their colossal sound.

Words by Ermis Madikopoulos

EP Review: Split Damage // SINthetik Messiah

SINthetik Messiah is the brainchild of Cajun Songwriter Bug Gigabyte. His latest EP ‘Split Damage’ is influenced by downtempo and ambient music. It features two tracks which create a captivating atmosphere.

I like the first track ‘Languish because the drums are colossal. The pounding bass drum and the distorted synth brings insane energy because you can feel the impact in your chest. There are influences here from 90s trip-hop such as Tricky and Massive Attack. An example of this is the snare which has a lot of reverb. I think this is brilliant because it adds a new layer of intensity to go with the emotional lyrics.

The second track, ‘Emotional Therapy’ is also great because it builds on the atmospheric style. I love the drum production because it captures the feel of a therapy session.  The drums are like a heartbeat, while the repetitive synth could represent the protagonist thinking about what they’re going to say to the therapist.

Both songs are very powerful and add to Bug’s extensive sound palette. They’re trip-hop songs with a hard edge. I think they offer something refreshing to the listener and I’m sure they will broaden his audience.

Words by Ermis Madikopoulos

Album Review: Dream Analog // Grace Gravity

In an era where most records are produced digitally on software such as Logic or Pro Tools, it’s refreshing to hear a record such as ‘Dream Analog’ by Grace Gravity. I produce ambient music on Logic, and I use compression on my tracks. But sometimes, I find that if I use too much, it takes away the original warmth. But that’s beside the point.

Analogue recordings are brilliant because it keeps the ambience and warmth that was intended. ‘Dream Analog’ was recorded completely analog. I love how the album cover represents the peaceful tree, but the psychedelic colours create a big atmosphere.

Listening to it on big speakers, it’s a dream because it captures every instrument as it was intended, leaving a beautiful sound reminiscent of the late 60s. ‘Song of the Satelite’ tugs at the emotions because the vocals are achingly beautiful, working very well with the trumpet and the synths. I think there’s a lot of clarity in these instruments that make the first half of the record a peaceful listen. The stunning ‘Go Ahead and Shine’ demonstrates Teri Hilt’s beautiful vocals because they soar in the chorus and the build-up.

I find that Teri’s voice works better on the slower songs because here, the delivery is very emotional. On ‘Nothing to Break that Fall’, the way Teri controls the pitch is satisfying to listen to. The piano and the raw guitars create a relaxing atmosphere.

I think that Grace Gravity have created an ambitious record, but it captures the atmosphere extremely well. The vocals are on point, and every instrument has space to breathe. A great listen.

Words by Ermis Madikopoulos

Track Review: Lonely // Naipia

Naipia’s new single ‘Lonely’ was actually written last year on Valentines Day. But it could be easily applied to this current lockdown, where so many people are staying indoors. I think it’s great that it is a celebration of loneliness because it shows you can be happy in your own company

I like the song’s positive message. When George sings “take each step, a  step at a time” it shows that we can get through this. His vocals are incredible because the way he controls the pitch is mind-blowing. The guitars are also very uplifting and summery. The backing vocals in the chorus towards the end soar out of your speakers. 

Over the next few weeks, Naipia are working with venues and brands to speak about how to get through this period. It shows their determination to forge a community spirit. Judging by this song, they’re going to win loads of new fans in the process.

Words by Ermis Madikopoulos

EP Review: The Mandolin Tapes // Jake Kelly

I love the power a mandolin can give, especially when in the hands of a talented singer-songwriter. This is true with Irish singer-songwriter Jake Kelly. His new EP, ‘The Mandolin Tapes’, creates a beautiful atmosphere and a minimalist approach.

There are some cultural points on the EP that I really like. For instance, the harmonies on ‘Here We Are, Lost Again’ are really beautiful. I love them because, along with the tabla, they show that he draws influence from world music. It’s really refreshing because he’s got a determination to explore new sounds.

The EP covers Jake’s transition in moving from Ireland to Germany. It was hard for him, falling into severe depression and drinking problems.  ‘Peaks and Valleys’ encapsulates these feelings because you can feel the emotions in Jake’s voice. You can hear his determination to get out of this rut, and when listening to it, you believe that he can.

I thoroughly enjoyed ‘The Mandolin Tapes’ because it shows Jake Kelly’s promise and undeniable talent. I’m sure we’ll be hearing more from him soon.

 Words by Ermis Madikopoulos

Track Review: Stayed // Bethany Ferrie

Bethany Ferrie’s music career started when she sent voice notes to friends as a teen. Since then, she’s come a long way, with her vocal style containing influences from Taylor Swift and Lewis Capaldi. She released her latest single ‘Stayed’ earlier this year.

I love ‘Stayed’ because I think Bethany’s voice is stunning. It’s got a tinge of country, but enough to help her stand out. The atmospheric synths and the minimalist guitars help give the vocals space to breathe. The acoustic guitar is beautiful because it reflects the isolation theme of the track.

‘Stayed’ is a beautiful pop song. The introspective lyrics and the sparse instrumentation flow seamlessly, and I love how this gives the song character.

Listen to ‘Stayed’ here:

Words by Ermis Madikopoulos

Track Review: Summer Hit // Enjoyable Listens

Enjoyable Listens excite me. Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of 80s music, like Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, and The Style Council. One of Enjoyable Listens’ previous songs, ‘Fixed Emotions’, captures that atmosphere perfectly with dark vocals and addictive synths. The band will release a new song, ‘Summer Hit’.

Like its title, ‘Summer Hit’ has a blissful atmosphere. It’s incredible that all the guitar sounds are from the acoustic guitar. The reverb gives them a lot of character because it adds a darker element to the song. It contains a very catchy bassline and the passionate vocals transport you to another world.

Enjoyable Listens have a bright future ahead of them, and I can’t wait to hear more music from them in the future.

Words by Ermis Madikopoulos

Track Review: Insecurities // Harina

Influenced by Ariana Grande, Harina is a German- born London based singer who has burst on the scene in recent months. Her first single Nothing is an aggressive no holds barred track about the music industry’s false promises. It is a track that I instantly loved, and she has since released a follow up, ‘Insecurities.’

What stands out about Harina is her vocal performance. On ‘Insecurities’, I love the delivery because its passionate and full of emotion. The hooks, especially the chorus, are so memorable and catchy. The layered vocals work very nicely, and I can see this played on the radio. The production is incredibly clean and minimalistic. This works because it allows the vocals to breathe. I can see Harina being huge in the future because her lyrics are honest and relatable, while her songwriting is top notch.

Words by Ermis Madikopoulos

Track Review: Moura/Blessed Land // Good Weather For an Airstrike/Signal Hill

Good Weather For an Airstrike and Signal Hill have teamed up to release a limited edition split single, ‘Moura/Blessed.’

The single will be Signal Hills’ first new music in three years. The band have been together for over 15 years and their members hail from New York, Los Angeles, and London. Their influences range from jazz to punk rock, while their music sees them build on big sonic landscapes and bring out strong emotions. ‘Blessed’ was written in three seperate cities, and you can hear the influence. The guitars drift in different directions, taking the listener on a long relaxing journey. The instruments tie in very well together, setting of an explosion of beautiful clean noise.

Good Weather For an Airstrike is the musical project of Tom Honey, who suffers from tinnitus. As a response to this, he creates ambient post-rock to help with sleeping. ‘Moura’ is named after Tottenham Hotspur’s underrated right-winger Lucas Moura, who produced a string of mesmerising performances on the way to their Champions League Final run last season. The track incorporates beautiful clean guitars. But things really take off when the drums and bass kick in because they bring a pulsating rhythm that drives the track forward. Furthermore, the tremolo effect on the guitar stands out because it gives off a calm and ambient atmosphere.

Both tracks are superb because they bring their own ambient flavour to post-rock music. They both complment each other very nicely because they make the listener feel like they are floating towards a state of bliss.

Words by Ermis Madikopoulos