Formed in 2014 somewhere in deepest Somerset, Magpie hatched a plan to create “grown up guitar pop”. Their 2017 EP, ‘Picasso On A Log’ almost casts them as serial thieves, since their collective influences are very obvious. Still, nobody ever said that grown up pop had to be original; it’s more likely to be sounds recycled with love…and based on this recording, these black and white popsters absolutely love the sounds they serve, pilfered or otherwise.
Exploring a variety of extreme metal traits and breaking up the intensities with elements inspired by soundtracks and world music, this 2018 release from Akhenaten is very interesting. It certainly isn’t your run of the mill death metal release. But then, you should expect nothing less than a sense of adventure and a progressive attitude from an album that “explores the forgotten paths of history” and is “steeped in the mythology of Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia”.
2018 has really been a fantastic year for The Fierce And The Dead. Their third full length release ‘The Euphoric’ has received great reviews across the internet, been championed by Prog magazine and has led to the band playing higher profile gigs. In the previous six months they’ve played their biggest ever headline show and shared a bill with System 7 and Hawkwind. By now, they’ve earned the right to be genuinely considered a cult band.
Hawkwind invited the band as support for a second time in the summer. While Hawkwind fans, on the surface, seem to be the kind of people who know what they like, the band obviously feel The Fierce And The Dead are interesting enough to appeal to their loyal audience. While – as is so often the case – the venue isn’t exactly packed by the time Matt Stevens and company get ready to play, those in attendance know the next half an hour will be…interesting.
For the purposes of this studio recording, Montreal’s Pink Cocoon isn’t a band, but the work of multi-instrumentalist Zolla Marc. He’s a man who cites a fairly diverse selection of rock and blues acts among his influences, ranging from the predictable Black Sabbath and Electric Wizard, to the more unexpected – quite often, metal based performers won’t take time out to praise Robin Trower, especially when praise for Hendrix seems likely to get more attention. He also name-checks The Distillers and The Pretty Reckless among bands who’ve helped shape his playing and sound. For most stoner practitioners, the musical sphere starts with the first four Sabbath albums, moves into Hawkwind and then goes back to Sabbath’s ‘Never Say Die’…y’know, for variety, so while you’d be hard pushed to hear the influence from Brodie Dall or Taylor Momsen on this debut release, it’s still thrilling to know Zolla isn’t stuck in a musical rut.
In July 2017, Los Angeles retro rock duo KOLARS visited Ramsgate Music Hall for the second time. Expected to be a good night, the sweaty and intimate atmosphere resulted in a night that the audience would never forget. The night was made even better by the presence of Smoke Season in support.
Although Smoke Season don’t have much in common with KOLARS, their brand of electronic pop proved particularly enthralling. Backed with the kind of sophisticated pop made by Alice & The Glass Lake with flourishes of electronica and dream pop, Gabby Bianco showed real star quality and – much like the KOLARS set, it was hard to imagine such a performance translating quite as well in a bigger venue.