THE QUIET ROOM – Manuscript

In 2015, singer songwriter Matt Cahill took a break from his main band Evoletah to experiment with multi-instrumentalist Andrew Muecke and create something that would be so different from everything he’d recorded before. There’s no point in having side projects if they end up being too similar to your regular band, of course, but with The Quiet Room’s ‘All The Frozen Horses’, it’s unlikely that many Evoletah fans expected anything close to the sounds that materialised. Instead of atmospheric, guitar driven rock, The Quiet Room were all about keyboards, space and a cold spookiness.

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DOOMSTRESS – Sleep Among The Dead

After releasing a pair of 7”s in 2016 and ’17 respectively and then honing their talents with a seemingly endless string of live dates, it seemed only natural that Texan doom/stoner metal band Doomstress would eventually get around to recording a long-awaited full length album. It’s every stoner band’s dream to create something that pays homage to either a Rodger Bain production of the early 70s or recycle that warm and fuzzy goodness as per the early Fu Manchu records and this debut from Doomstress does a fine job of capturing both aspects. Despite the studio often dulling the power in a performance, this album shows off a very natural sound, throughout, which of course is just perfect for the style in hand.

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STEVE HEWITT – Bigger Than Words

Steve Hewitt is a singer-songwriter from Kent whose previous works have gained some very positive reviews from singer-songwriter, folk and Americana fans, with particular praise for carrying such an American sound considering his very English roots.

His first full length album ‘Bigger Than Words’ presents a far more intimate sound than his 2015 EP release ‘Life Stories’. Lots of the poppier elements have been cast aside in a move for the better. With Hewitt baring his soul in a more stripped back fashion, the album largely works around a finely played acoustic six string and a big voice, although a few other embellishments help to give his personal songs a much fuller feel without losing any of the subtleties. …And even a couple of forays into adult pop are far more professional sounding than anything Steve has released previously.

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THE MORNING LINE – North

Combining the talents of singer-songwriter Stephen Smith and Bellyachers guitarist Brian Mello, The Morning Line are a jangling power pop/melodic alt-rock band heavily indebted to 90s sounds. They claim to appeal to fans of Ted Leo, Teenage Fanclub and a whole bunch of stuff in between and just one listen to their 2019 album ‘North’ is all it takes to realise that not only do they recycle a lot of influences with love, but every so often, they’re more than capable of hitting the listener with a very catchy chorus.

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KUROKUMA – Sheffield’s Best Metal Bands Vol. 1

Kurokuma’s second release, 2018’s ‘Dope Rider’ EP presented the perfect mix of heavy riffs and branded artwork in a small but intensive package that was pretty much guaranteed to thrill fans of extreme metal and comic books. A release that really cemented the band’s wondrously sludgy sound, it would be a certainly hard act to follow.

2019’s ‘Sheffield’s Best Metal Bands, Vol. 1’ (a title referring to its being the first in a series from Off Me Nut Records as opposed to any psychosis within Kurokuma itself) brings fans another full compliment of obtrusive and sludgy riffs stretched across three lengthy tracks…and it’s a release that dishes out more extreme heaviness per inch than most listeners will handle.

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