James Leese

The Hotelier – Manchester – 23/01/2017

The Hotelier this year have come round on their Goodness tour, which is supporting their latest album. The Hotelier have come over to the UK with support Crying for a string of shows which have been filled to the brim with words being shouted back and some Gameboy samples.

Kicking off the night in Manchester was a local act called Grotbags, the quartet seemed to not fit in with the night when they first took the stage as a few words were shared between members, but in reality the band truly brought an air of levity to the evening. After a few passing jokes which got a good laugh from those who understood and related to what they four were saying they quickly jumped in to what they labelled as their theme song Grotbags Theme it was very evident that not only did these guys know how to play but the crowd were in for a treat. Following on from this the band powered through tracks such as Cute, Muscle Touch and Fried Egg which all were interesting to say the least mixing some interesting and at times intricate riffs together with fun lyrics and a good on stage presence.

After a brief break to crack some jokes the band yet again powered through more of their original material such as Alarm Clock, which was a true highlight of Grotbags set, Yabba Dabba Boo and Trigger Warning which  were filled with yet more intricate riffs which allowed them to provide the crowd present to see what this band are capable and will be capable of in the near future, if they ever get the chance to catch them again. Unfortunately despite playing well there was still something about this band that didn’t truly make them feel like the perfect choice for the night that lay ahead. However, at the same time when the band said they only had two songs left, it felt like their set was short lived.Yet this brought the band to Kisses which yet again was filled with interesting riffs and well orchestrated vocal melodies and backing beats. Ending Grotbags set was Dinner Men a song which after a small request was filled with strobe lights and gold lighting and was a moment that many wouldn’t forget too soon. [6/10]

Next on during the evening was Crying and after a brief introduction the band kicked in with Premonitory Dream, it was clear from the off that this band were coming in strong and wished to make an impression on the Manchester crowd during this first trip to the UK. Following swiftly on from Premonitory Dream was Wool In The Wash, which not only got the room moving with Elaiza Santos’ flawless vocal delivery but also Ryan Galloway’s impressive technical skills on guitar which blended beautifully with the tours stand in drummer but also the electronic undertones that many fans of Crying know all too well.

Following was Patriot, another track off the bands latest album Through The Fleeting Gales from which a majority of the bands set came from. Yet again the band were impressive with some beautifully crafted technique and instrumentation, through out most of the set and particularly in this moment the band showed how well they play together. Coming next was a track from Second Wind, the first of three track tracks from their older EP’s, which brought along the heavy and well crafted chiptune that the band became so well known for in 2014, it was in this moment the band truly showed how well they play live getting the entire room bobbing along with the tight instrumentation and electronic backing that laced this track.

After a quick rally that featured Through The Fleeting Gales highlights Revive and Well and Spring the band found themselves at one of their greatest songs that came from the bands first EP Get Olde, ES. With the intricate samples and simple instrumentation there was something special about hearing this track being played in person, not only due to the well orchestrated performance from the band on stage but also through the tight presentation of all the parts that come together for that track. After a near perfect rendition of Easy Flight which yet again helped leave an impression on everyone in the room the band quickly jumped in to their track A Sudden Gust, a song which provided a great insight in to Santos’ beautifully crafted lyrics and the entire bands amazingly tight composition. Following on from this the band move on in to There Was A Door which ended their set, but this where one issue lied, this set felt short, in a sense too short. However they still provided the crowd in Manchester with a near flawless set from start to finish not only in terms of Santos’ vocal performance but also in terms of their well orchestrated instrumentation. [8/10]

After a short few minutes the lights went down and The Hotelier took to the stage with an explosive opening which fitted well with the track An Introduction To The Album, and just like last time the band took to UK stages they didn’t disappoint with the entire crowd yelling back words and getting involved with every second of the bands strong opening. Following quickly on from this the band moved in to The Scope of All This Rebuilding which yet again showed the bands musical prowess and tight instrumentation as Christian Holden’s vocals echoed through the venue. After a brief instrumental the band then jumped in to two tracks of their latest album Goodness with Two Deliverances and Piano Player. It was in this moment the band made a minor mistake but soon continued as if it never occurred which not only showed their ability to recover quickly but also continue despite these minor slip ups that may stumble a band with less experience.

Following on from this the band swiftly moved in to Among The Wildflowers, which yet again went down a storm with not a single voice being left out from the crowd as everyone sang back words to the quartet. The Hotelier’s musical prowess was clear through not only how the held themselves upon the stage but through the tight instrumentation presented through this track and the entirety of the bands set. After Life in Drag, Soft Animal and Sun the band seemed to be powering through their set but soon after a few passing words to the crowd the band landed firmly at the start of Your Deep Rest. A song which truly was the highlight of their set not only due to this being the best song of the entire night but also through the emotion which was conveyed through Christian’s vocals and the voices of the crowd alike.  Following on from this The Hotelier moved swiftly through Weathered and You In This Light which yet again passed by in the blink of an eye but truly cemented the fact that this show was not going to be soon forgotten by the crowd. However, this is where The Hotelier hit a snag with a broken bass string there was alot of fumbling on stage and swapping of instruments for the band preparing to play what was meant to be the final song Goodness PT.2 but after being what Christian Holden labelled as patient the band decided to play a few more tracks.

During Goodness Pt.2 there was no bass evident which truly was a shame considering the mass role it plays in the songs composition. But soon the band came in to full swing, after a re-string, in to Dendron which was beautifully executed as the band began the wind down toward the end of their set. During Dendron it was clear that The Hotelier were yet again wishing to show off their skill in terms of their instrumentation and vocal delivery. This brought The Hotelier to the end of their set with a heart felt rendition of Opening Mail For My Grandmother which echoed through the entire room and left a lasting impression on many people in the room long after the show was over. Through this track alone it was evident of how important all of the songs they had played during the night meant to the band but also in a sense to the rest of the room. Overall The Hotelier truly provided the crowd in Manchester with a brilliant performance and yet again with very minimal mistakes played almost flawlessly from start to finish [9/10]

Modern Baseball’s Brendan Won’t Be On Tour

Modern Baseball’s upcoming EU and UK tour labelled Touroupe will not be featuring singer and guitarist Brendan Lukens. Today Brendan posted a heartfelt message apologizing for his absence on the tour. His statement said as follows:

“Hello fam – Bren here,
I have some unexpected news. I will not be joining Modern Baseball on the upcoming Europe / UK tour. I am okay — but I need this time at home to focus on my mental and physical health. The band will continue on with the tour thanks to help from mega friends Thins Lips, Superweaks and all the MOBO crew.”

All of us here at Musicology and fans alike wish Brendan well whilst he stays at home on this upcoming tour.

John Garcia – The Coyote Who Spoke In Tongues – Review

John Garcia who many claim to be the embodiment of ‘stoner rock’ is set to release his sophomore record The Coyote Who Spoke In Tongues on the 27th of January. This follows on three years from his debut album John Garcia, although this solo venture isn’t his only musical endeavor having hailed from bands such as Kyuss and Slo Burn. One thing does clearly stick out between the debut solo album and this new record, that being the fact that it is a completely acoustic album. Without further ado let’s break down this Sophomore album.

Opening up this record by John Garcia is Kylie and with a blistering introduction of instrumentation that feels like it has been ripped straight out of a spaghetti western film it does give a great feeling to this album from the off set. Then after a few moments Garcia’s vocal performance kicks in and at first it feels to cut through abruptly but soon feels to bring a new level of roughness to the track which is needed before the song drops off to its slower middle section. As a first track it does show a lot of promise for the rest of the album but does in comparison to the rest of the album feel like the weakest track on this release.

Following on are the tracks Green Machine and Give Me 250ML which do help the album from not sinking in to too deep water. First off with Green Machine, with it’s slower instrumentation and calmer vocals there is a sense of more peace along with this acoustic project, and with the more plucked accompaniment to Garcia’s voice there is a greater overall composition that goes with the track. This soon is changed with the intro to Give Me 250ML as the riff that intros the song it soon gets the head bobbing but then again come in the abrupt vocals that cut through the track. This also isn’t to say the track is bad as there are times these two combine beautifully and create a few moments of brilliance.

Following is a rally of three tracks. The Hollingsworth Session, Space Cadet and Gardenia. Starting off this trio is The Hollingsworth Session which is a very well constructed song in terms of both instrumentation and vocals, and with the beautifully orchestrated acoustic composition it is a track which is nice to listen to with it’s small intricate notes and well presented vocal performance. Following is what is truly the strongest track on this release, Space Cadet, during this number it is clear in terms of both instrumentation and vocal performance that everything has come together perfectly, despite it taking this long in to the album it is a great moment to just listen to as both vocals and instrumentation work seamlessly well together.

The final act in this trio is Gardenia. It’s a close contender for being the strongest song, but does miss something that Space Cadet had. This song is one of the slowest on the album and with subtle musical additions, like the minimal triangle and piano the song does show itself to have many different levels before it moves swiftly on to its final quarter in which we get this banjo and guitar outro.

El Rodeo and Argleben II follow on as the album starts towards it’s close. With El Rodeo there is this opening motif of stringed instruments hitting singular notes in quick succession which oddly feels dis-connected to the song completely, which is a shame as the addition would have been interesting to listen to, but soon the song kicks in to full swing and yet again shows itself to be of a higher caliber than what is situated before this.  As the song powers through with yet more well crafted acoustic instrumentation the song seems to almost end out of nowhere. This brings John Garcia’s album to Argleben II which is a great start to the albums ending as it is ending strong in both vocal performance from John Garcia himself but also instrumentally as the intricate riffs that sit in the overall composition work well together and with more subtle additions like the piano there is a great sense that everything is coming together beautifully for a powerful closer.

This brings the album to it’s close with the final track Court Order which is a great juxtaposition to the opener on this sophomore record, as with it’s slower instrumentation and lack of vocals it is the first songs complete polar opposite and is truly possibly one of the strongest moments on the record as with it’s well crafted and presented instrumental structure the switch between riffs and tone halfway through are easy to listen to. The only thing bringing this particular track down is the run time, there could have been more to offer with this track which does seem to end too soon.

Overall this album is a good listen, with some well constructed acoustic instrumentation and moments of vocal brilliance there are many highlights that can be found for fans of acoustic and psychedelic rock alike. However for what has been a three year wait for many John Garcia fans there doesn’t always seem to be enough on The Coyote Who Spoke In Tongues to help warrant more than a couple of spins, despite the pleasant instrumentation and occasional flourishes of vocal prowess this album still does fall short.

Sorority Noise Release New Song

After a haunting EP and a beautifully crafted split last year, Sorority Noise aren’t missing a beat with their new album You’re Not As ____ As You Think being released in March. Today the band have dropped the first single No Halo which is hot off the upcoming album. No Halo is great indicator for what is in store on this album. With the flawless vocal delivery of Cam Boucher and excellent instrumentation it is definitely a track worth checking out. You can find No Halo by Sorority Noise below.

Gorillaz Release New Track

After The Fall which released in 2011, fans have been waiting for the Gorillaz to release something new. Following the buzz the band had created toward the tail end of last year, Gorillaz have today released their first track since The Fall, which features the beautiful voice of Benjamin Clementine. Hallelujah Money is a great comeback for the band and although it is a change of pace, it is a welcomed one. Although there is still no confirmed news for any new album fans are willing to wait patiently for the next project from the animated band of Jamie Hewlett and Damon Albarn. Check out their new track below.

Coast To Coast Announce Tour

Following on from two explosive tours at the tail end of 2016, Coast of Coast are set to take to the road again for another string of dates with Oxford based Better Than Never and Pine. Alongside this tour Coast To Coast have teased the first single off of their highly anticipated new EP, the single is set to drop this Wednesday and is guaranteed to be something to keep an eye out for. Check out the tour poster below.

Get tickets to a show HERE.

The Imaginary Family – Puppet Karaoke EP – Review

The Imaginary Family are a duo from Cheltenham and are very muss branching under this Experimental branch of Rock whilst dragging influences from Math and Jazz. This being said their debut EP Puppet Karaoke which was released on the 4th of January this year. But without further ado let’s break down this debut EP.

Opening up Puppet Karaoke is the track El Classico which is great introduction not only to this EP but also the band as a whole. With the very Jazz influenced instrumentation the song starts off strong and travels along at a steady pace. This is when the vocals of James Chuter cut through and add an extra element to the already interesting track. With both parts now complimenting each other nicely the track shows more of this Math Rock influence as the timings, although appearing off show the bands knowledge and ability to construct a track so cleverly. As El Classico starts to move towards it ending the duo display even more of the heavy Jazz influences that are so prevalent in this EP alomng with a bit more of this more simplistic Math Rock bridging over the top the track soon hits its end and flows in to the second song on this debut EP.

Following on from El Classico is the Counting Fingers which yet again shows the duo in a very positive light only from a vocal stand point but also from an instrumental stance also as the overtly Jazz and undertones flow through this track also but then are cleverly juxtaposed by the off timing vocal introductions which although can be disorientating show the understanding of both Genres that influence The Imaginary Family. Just after the main body of the song we get this moment of calm where the track slows down before being picked back up again and moving the track briskly to its conclusion.

Ending off this three tack debut is The Future, Again and it starts off very differently to the different tracks feeling almost like an uptempo pop track but quickly flips that image and becomes a far more slow track with these interesting and simplistic riffs as James Chuter sings and harmonises on top. However it is long until the track moves back in to this opening riff and then drops in to a more Math Rock influenced section, which not only shows the duos versatility but ability to move from one musical motif to the next. Now although this feels like the weakest track on this debut that by no means is bad as this is still a great track to listen to not only for the instrumentation present but also the vocal performance.

Overall The Imaginary Family have not only started off the year strong with Puppet Karaoke but also started off the year strong musically, especially against all the other EP’s and albums that have dropped already. Despite them needing a little bit of work there is a lot of potential and enjoyment that can be found in this EP not only through the well constructed songs but also through the interesting vocal melodies that are present on the top of each track,  and if you are a fan of Jazz and Math Rock then there is definitely something in this for you. [8/10]

Eric Gales Announces New Album

Middle Of The Road is the new album by legendary guitarist Eric Gales. The guitarist’s new album is set for release in February of next year and is said to resemble Gales at his most expressive and connects with him on a deeply personal note.

Eric Gales has spoken about the album saying “It’s about being fully focused and centered in the middle of the road. If you’re on the wrong side and in the gravel you’re not too good and if you’re on the median strip that’s not too good either, so being in the middle of the road is the best place to be.”

Alongside the announcement of this album Eric Gales has released the first track to come off of the record Carry Yourself. Check out the track below.

YES Being Inducted in to The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame

Founded in 1968 Rock and Roll group YES are set to in inducted in to the legendary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017. The group who have been responsible for tracks like Closer To The Edge, Roundabout and Starship Trooper are another name in a long line of influential bands to be graced with this honor.

Guitarist Steve Howe spoke about the induction saying “What an honor this is for us and all involved with the history of this band, We thank all the Yes fans who have been so passionate over the decades, and helped us to keep the flag flying. It is the fans who have constantly demanded our inclusion. They have been heard.

Steven Battelle – Exit Brain Left – Review

The debut album by LostAlone frontman Steven Battelle has been out for a little while now since it’s release on the 2nd of December, and coming off of a band like LostAlone who were praised not only by critics but fans alike there is a lot riding on this to prove that Steven Battelle can make it on his own. But without a moments hesitation let’s break down this debut album Exit Brain Left.

Kicking off this debut is the track Powers Of Denial and is a great opener to this debut and truly strikes and impressive note leaving not only a lasting impression but also setting the bar very high for what is remaining on this album. However focusing solely on this track not only through the very simple instrumental construction but also powerful vocal performance there are many positives to this tune. Throughout the run time of this track one thing does become apparent and that is the fact that the ending vocal part does truly exemplify the range that may continually be used throughout this record, and it is something that instantly impresses about this debut solo venture.

Moving on from this are the songs The Jump and the track named after himself Steven Battelle which allow him to show something that does run throughout this entire record and that is the sense that there isn’t one definitive style. Although sometimes that works, especially when flowing between these two tracks; with the Orchestral undertones of The Jump and far more pop based and electronic influenced Steven Battelle, it isn’t something that always sticks on this album as there are times where this experimentation feels forced. But in terms of these two tracks the fact that this orchestral undertone is here truly brings an extra level to the track and by comparison around the 3:08 mark in his self-titled track the instrumental break not only shows the musical prowess of Battelle but also how well constructed these songs are.

A quick rally of three songs follows and they truly do move by quickly and depending on where you are in these three is either a good thing or a bad thing. As during the first of these three Christmas Cartel, there are many high points from the very blatant change to straight electronica to the subtle holiday themed additions like the sleigh bells during the start of the song. However as the track drags on with it’s very powerful vocal performance the instrumentation becomes somewhat of a mess and it is hard to pick out which part is causing the issue, as individually there are most likely amazing highlights of each part.

Then with Last Night On Earth the heavier instrumentation truly bring s a new dynamic to the album and is something that could have continued on past the tracks very short run time, short being comparative to the other lengths that sit on this album. And then we get The Ocean Chorus, a track which feels like it could slip easily in to a David Bowie album, yet possibly a budget version. As although there are massive highlights to the track not only through the vocal melodies and again simple instrumentation there is also through the lyricism that truly make this track one which should have been replicated more on this debut album.

Police and Thank You then graces the album, which is possibly the strongest track on the album, with an amazing sample of Marv from Home Alone gracing the track there is quite a bit of charm to the track which not only pleases instrumentally with a strong construction which sings grandeur, which although is a consistent idea is perfectly implemented here. Alongside an almost flawless vocal performance there is not much if anything wrong with this track, and truly does show how far Steven Battelle could go on his own due to the fact that his musicianship shows that he knows what he is doing. Alongside this fact, the underlying factor that he is polarizing the usual first solo venture of a man or woman with a guitar Battelle is showing he has the potential to go very far.

Two more tracks move in to the foreground which although are solid and have their individual highlights are nothing special as Nine Miles of Light and Silent Movie Scream simply just sit in the ether with not much about them. However there is something that does truly stick in the mind from both of these tracks and that is the fact that one amazing track could have been made from the two, with the instrumentation from one and the vocal presentation from the other there is so much power that goes in to these two tracks but together they would make a one perfect track, but sadly this ins’t the case.

But then we reach Absent Magic Part II, one of the most beautiful moments on this album. As Battelle sings about the passing of Bowie. Overall this track is one of great instrumentation and possibly the best vocal performance on the album with the introduction of the choir that perfectly compliments the instrumental of the track as Battelle’s voice soars on top and truly creates a moment which could be played time and again by any perspn who is simply listening to this for the first time or someone who is revisiting it for the hundredth time

Coming off the end of a track which is packed with emotion is a tune which really misses the mark in comparison to the rest of what is sitting on this debut as it is weak. Violent Voices truly does bring this album down as although there are points where this track could be amazing it never hits that next level and ends up being a lack luster display on this debut album, even with its individual highlights.

This brings the album then to a close with I’m Still Finding Out What I’m Going To Be, which does bring this debut of highs and lows to a tight and concise ending despite the ending of the track feeling like quite a mess as it doesn’t have an apparent reason for some of the samples that sit on the tracks tail end. However that isn’t to say the track is bad, as with it’s beautiful instrumentation and perfectly constructed vocal melody the track does hit with quite a lot of power and prove the fact that Steven Battelle has a lot to offer in the future as a solo artist.

Overall, this album is interesting, despite it being a solid debut album which will allow Steven Battelle to solidify himself as a good solo artist there is nothing that truly makes this album stand out. Although you has great tracks like Absent Magic Part II and Police and Thank You it almost feels as Batelle is like a budget Bowie and after having an album by the sadly departed great at the start of this year, it seems to pale in comparison. However if Steven Battelle continues to work on the ideas, instrumentation and vocal performances that are present on Exit Brain Left then there is a chance for him to truly make it big on his own.