THE RAFT – Orion EP

There have been several albums and EPs released by The Raft since 2003, but few have sounded quite as much like a glorious love letter to the 90s as 2017’s ‘Orion EP’. Its four songs of haze and jangle pull influences from the usual suspects in shoegaze and dreampop – you’ll hear a dose of The Cranes here; a pinch of The Sundays there – but no matter what the ingredients, this musical recipe serves up a consistently feel good sound.

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CHARLOTTE CARPENTER – Shelter EP

Charlotte Carpenter’s 2016 release ‘How Are We Ever To Know?‘ was a deeply personal selection of songs that showed the British singer-songwriter unashamedly exorcising some emotional demons. The nature of the material didn’t always make it an entirely comfortable listen, but it was more than obvious Carpenter had a huge talent. The following year’s ‘Shelter’ brings more personal issues to the table, but tempers the hurt with more of a varied musical style.

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SHANDA & THE HOWLERS – Trouble

Mixing the cool of old soul 45s and a dusting of various rock ‘n’ roll revival meetings, Shanda & The Howlers are the sound of trouble walkin’. With a twang and a howl, their debut full length more than proves that you don’t always need originality to make a hell of an impression – you just need tightness, guts and a whole lot of conviction. It may so often be reminiscent of many a talent from a pre-Beatle era, but the band’s debut release ‘Trouble’ is a driven and fun affair that’s sure to thrill those who love Sharon Jones and maybe even impress those who dig a few late 50s throwbacks. Simply put, ‘Trouble’ is a really classy rock ‘n’ soul revue.

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STRANGE MAJIK – Deep In The Shadows EP

In the first half of 2017, Strange Majik released the ‘Soul Crisis‘ EP. It’s four songs melded the typical Strange Majik funk, rock and soul sounds with a less typical anger. Donald Trump had just become one of the most powerful men in the world with a mandate that would drag the US backwards at a frightening rate. No wonder Strange Majik’s head honcho David Pattillo was in a foul mood. Several months down the line, very little has changed with the state of the world. Trump has increasingly made America a laughing stock, but people aren’t taking it lying down…or letting it stifle their voices or creativity.

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THE 1957 TAIL-FIN FIASCO – Not For Everyone

It’s May 2017. We’re approaching the halfway point of the year and supposedly knee-deep in a UK springtime. Not that you’d especially spot that by taking any more than a cursory look. For the better part of the past five months, the sky has decided to settle upon the lightly cloudy, with only occasional flashes of blue daring to break up what is otherwise a heavy, milky blanket. It’s also bloody cold; you might even dare call it wintry. In fact, on the surface, pretty much everything looks and feels more like a standard late October than a time that’s laying the groundwork for sun and optimism.

The slightly disappointing weather seems to have had an impact on The 1957 Tail Fin Fiasco too. Once a band guaranteed to bring some westcoast American sunshine despite working from a semi-secret location somewhere in the south east of England, their second full length release is somewhat moodier than expected. There are scraps of Steely Dan and remnants of The Doobie Brothers scattered throughout the ten tracks, except this time around, they’ve cast the net of inspiration far wider and come up with a record that’s steeped in loss and the feelings of what could have been.

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