JATK – Shut Up And Be The Light

Since the release of their 2019 EP, JATK – a band featuring Matt Jatkola and a revolving cast of friends – has slowly built a solid online following. A series of digital singles released throughout the lockdowns of 2020 and ’21 showcased some great and fuzzy, retro rock music, but also seemed unafraid to throw a few pop influences into the mix. This showed a band who were keen to avoid easy labelling; a band starting out on an adventurous path, and a band who had the potential to deliver a rich and varied full length release somewhere down the track. Simply put, JATK quickly marked themselves out as a very cool collective.

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GENTLEMEN ROGUES – Francy / I’ve Got A Match

As a particularly troubled 2020 began to draw to a close, US retro rockers Gentlemen Rogues released ‘Do The Resurrection!’, a brilliant single that blended various 90s rock influences with a few Thin Lizzy-esque guitar parts, creating an almost timeless number that was massive on both riffs and hooks. Having reeled in various listeners, its flip side was arguably even better. By mixing elements of Lemonheads, Superdrag and My Bloody Valentine tracks, ‘Bloody Rudderless In Ursa Major’ raised the bar in terms of how to construct a brilliant and inventive medley. It was definitely the kind of release that left listeners wanting more…but the band appeared to go into hiding, and 2021 came and went without even a whisper from the Rogues’ camp.

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DAS KAPITANS – That’ll Do Pig! / Council Pop

In February 2022, Das Kapitans released their double A-sided single ‘Big Muff’/’MTV’. This was the first new material from the UK noise rock/indie punkers since winding up their ambitious twelve albums in twelve months project, but the new tracks showed anything but a slowing down in terms of creativity. ‘Big Muff’, in particular, showed more than enough evidence that the band would be bringing even weightier riffs in the near future.

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RYAN ALLEN – I’m Not Mean (Four By Ryan Allen) EP

When it comes to a Ryan Allen release, it’s never immediately obvious what you’ll get. His brilliant ‘Up Here’ EP from 2019 presented some brilliant punk-edged power pop via a song cycle regarding his divorce; the first of his 2021 releases, ‘What A Rip’ was a guided tour of his various poppier influences, and that year’s second venture, ‘Digital Hiss’, was an exploration of lo-fi, noisier work. That was also cool, but not necessarily what lovers of ‘What A Rip’ would’ve expected…or maybe even wanted.

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KEELEY – Echo Everywhere EP

Keeley’s debut EP ‘Brave Warrior’ proved that it was possible for a band to have a retro sound without sounding like a complete throwback to the past. Its four songs had a 90s electronica/dreampop heart, but there was enough about its feel and song writing that felt very contemporary. In terms of alternative pop, it was broad in its appeal, and the praise gained from high profile industry faces like Stuart Maconie and Steve Lamacq was more than deserved.

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