It has been well documented that second albums can be tricky to complete. For some artists, it’s a case of finding material with a rapidly advancing deadline and a record label breathing down their necks; for others, it’s more a case of real life getting in the way of art. For London-based singer-songwriter Mick Terry, the latter definitely applies. Following the release of his debut ‘The Grown Ups’ in 2009, he began making early plans for a follow up. A tentative completion date was scheduled for Easter 2012, but with a producer several thousand miles away and various other things proving a distraction, that time came and went.

By the end of 2012, a couple of songs had appeared online, but as far as a full release of any kind was concerned, there seemed to be nothing doing. Terry continued to talk about a second album, but still the years ticked by. Grey hairs were cultivated, songs were written; album names changed…Then, eventually, in the summer of 2018 – approximately eight years after a follow up to ‘The Grown Ups’ was first tentatively mentioned – the recording was finally complete and almost ready to fill the world’s collective lugholes.

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Mixing pop, acoustic singer songwriter chops, a touch of dream pop and a light country steel guitar, Sophia Marshall’s previous covers EPs have delivered at least one track apiece that’s been absolutely marvellous. She’s turned the melancholy of Blur’s ‘End of the Century’ into something even more heartfelt, while The Kinks’ ‘I Go To Sleep’ – already drenched in sadness – became even sadder, with her lilting vocal style dripping from every syllable.

Whilst previous EPs have been themed by artist (The Kinks represented via a cover of a Pretenders cover), ‘Loose Torque’ is themed by subject. The three featured tracks are all concerned with cars – and in a big surprise, there’s nothing included by Gary Numan or new wave legends The Cars. Maybe those synth heavy sounds just wouldn’t translate. Instead, Marshall has chosen three pop and rock tunes from three rather disparate artists which. when applied with her own easy style, results in something that flows very well.

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NATTERERS – Head In Threatening Attitude

Lots of bands claim to play hardcore punk, but quite often that means hardcore spliced with bits of metal and other genres that dilute the overall feel. On their 2017 EP ‘Toxic Care‘, Natterers genuinely meant hardcore, with buzzsaw riffs played at breakneck speed. Their only concession to any different style came via a few surf punk riffs, but since those were derived from the Dead Kennedys debut, even those had a shrill and unrelenting attitude that could only come from a hardcore perspective. Like a smack to the jaw, that EP was easily the best punk release of the year.

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REAL GONE GOES OUT: Smashing Pumpkins – Wembley Arena, London 16/10/2018

Some gigs come with a huge amount of pre-night excitement. The Smashing Pumpkins’ first – and only – UK date on their 2018 ‘Shiny and Oh So Bright Tour’ is one of those times. Firstly, the tour is the first in decades to feature founding guitarist James Iha. In addition, Billy Corgan has already promised “a show like [the fans] have never seen before”. To say there’s a lot riding on the night is a huge understatement. Can the rejuvenated Pumpkins pull off the near impossible? Can they make the soulless environment of the Wembley SSE Arena feel friendly and justify the cost of a hugely expensive ticket?

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