CLIMBING ALICE – Living EP

At the beginning of 2016, Wakefield’s Climbing Alice sounded like a force to be reckoned with on their ‘Melt Yourself Up‘ EP. Mixing alt-rock, goth and shoegaze noises, the four piece band created a great listen via a wealth of influences. There wasn’t so much in the way of immediate hooks or catchy melodies, but if it were a riff or six you craved, the EP – and band – came up winning pretty much every time.

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KATE MICK – Undertow

A singer songwriter from Rhode Island, Kate Mick loves the banjo. In fact, she loves it so much, it’s the only instrument featured on her 2016 full length ‘Undertow’. The idea of voice and banjo alone has probably sent a few people running for the hills, but given time to adjust, there’s actually something about such a simple concept that works: not only is Mick adept with her chosen instrument, but she’s a fine songwriter. Recorded live in an otherwise empty theatre on one night, this album’s ten songs take a voyage into a land of extremely haunting Americanaville; a land populated by broken shacks, gas lamps and a real focus on introspection. It should be a much tougher listen than it actually is, but Kate has one of those voices that just lifts everything…a voice that’s steeped in sadness and yet still has the ability to woo.

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JUSTINE AND THE UNCLEAN – Get Unclean

Combining members of Tom Baker’s Snakes, Upper Crust and Malachite, Justine and The Unclean already have a Boston bar band pedigree. The release of their debut single, the double a-sided ‘Love Got Me Into This Mess’/’Passive Aggressive Baby’ in the summer of ’17 represented some of the best female fronted pop-punk sounds in a long while, but there’s more to this nine song debut LP shows off more than that punky taster ever suggested.

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DARKFLIGHT – The Hereafter

Darkflight first took form in 2000 with a mission to create harsh, doomy sounds. Over the course of various DIY releases combining heavy as hell riffery with fantasy themed lyrics, they carved themselves a space in the world of Eastern European extreme metal. By the time of 2008’s ‘Perfectly Calm’, their atmospheres had grown to include elements of medieval folk metal, but generally speaking, their main concerns leant very much towards the heavy.

Fast forward to 2017’s ‘The Hereafter’ and Darkflight is just the product of two men: multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Ivo Iliev and bassist/clean vocalist Milen Todorov. The apparent lack of full band has had no impact on either Darkflight’s sense of vision or their abilities to absolutely crush with a riff, although Milen’s contributions of clean and gothy vocals certainly go a long way towards making this album as enjoyable as it is.

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THE VICE RAGS – The Vice Rags

Two old friends. Two older friends. Many previous bands between them.

That’s how New Jersey garage rockers The Vice Rags choose to introduce themselves, playing up the fact that making cool music should often have a feeling of camaraderie and also, that unless you’re the spoilt talentless son of a media mogul or know the Arctic Monkeys in person, there’s no such thing as overnight success. Both guitarist/vocalist Paul Rosevear and Gay Elvis (bass) are members of the on/off garage rock/power pop trio Readymade Breakup; Elv also played with punkers Kid With No Head, who opened for The Offspring, blink-182 and the mighty Bad Religion; drummer Joe Chyb has links with The Anderson Council and guitarist Jack Roberts played with Prunella Scales, a much overlooked band fronted by Skid Row’s Rachel Bolan, as well as having been a long-serving member of Mars Needs Women, with whom he shared a stage with Cheap Trick. With all that behind them, you could say that The Vice Rags have something of a cult pedigree.

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