I Just Don’t Deserve To Be Loved – Luke Rainsford [EP]

I Just Don’t Deserve To Be Loved is the latest EP from acoustic superstar Luke Rainsford, following the release of his second album I Feel At Home With You early last year, and is the second record to be released since signing with Scylla Records. The EP is due for release on 6th April.

The first track, Looking For Your Ghost, explores differences in dynamic, both in the instruments and the vocals. Rainsford provides soft singing, angry shouting and deadpan speaking all in one track. Second track I Can’t Keep My Promises is a short one, opening with a beautiful acoustic melody and using the lyrics “I’m looking for your ghost”, tying the previous track in. The listener just gets into the track, enjoying the long pause before An Open Letter suddenly begins with the words “Fuck this I wanna go home”. This track uses different guitar techniques not often seen on acoustic performances, such as palm mutes. The vocal harmonies in the bridge are very rarely used by other similar artists, setting Rainsford apart from the crowd.

Sweet Briar is, or so the listener thinks, the token cheerful track on the EP, and the lead single, and is available to listen to now via Spotify. It’s reminiscent of early Yellowcard if they were acoustic, talking about teenage years, and using phrases such as “I never needed a father figure” and “I spent the best part of my late teens/in all the places where I thought I’d be free”

The reverb kicks into higher gear in What I Can’t Believe, making the track sound as though it was recorded in an old church hall. This fits well for the theme of the song, which talks about struggling with feelings of letting people you care about down, which most people with probably empathise with. This theme follows into the final track, What I Hide Beneath, although this is much more upbeat and the reverb effects have been dialed down to normal levels.

Although Rainsford is an acoustic artist, he makes full use of his guitar, creating multiple lines and filling out the sound with drums, as well as perfectly harmonising his vocals to really enhance the natural talent he has. As usual he’s produced a high quality record that will leave a lasting impact on the listener, especially if they aren’t already a fan of his work.

Sleeping With Sirens – Live & Acoustic from NYC – Review

Lots has happened in the Sleeping With Sirens camp in the last few months. Just before announcing their place on the Slam Dunk 2018 line-up on Wednesday (15th November), out came a three-track Live and Acoustic from NYC EP at the end of October, which compliments September’s fifth studio full-length album release Gossip.

Is the EP any good? Sure, for the neutral listener it’s clear weather and for those more familiar with their style, it’s got many staples of what we’ve long come to expect from the Florida act’s acoustic side: fluid vocals propped up with solid guitar in great dovetail action, held together by unimposing percussive touches in the background. In fact, it gives some tracks from Gossip a second chance to shine having not received the reception that Sirens probably wanted from it’s fan base.

Live and Acoustic from NYC, consisting of stripped down versions of Legends, Gossip and One Man Army, certainly gives the band’s most recognisable asset – Kellin Quinn’s twisting vocals – licence to fly and therefore it does feel more authentic than their full band versions – but it does all just seem to be lacking the vigour that characterised Sirens at their inception and launched them into stardom.

Middle-track Gossip translates over the best, a bit more friction in the guitar work and just a bit more give on those vocals. Bookends Legends and One Man Army seem to blur together a little, both originally quite generic tracks in the first place and the acoustic renditions don’t do enough to shift that impression – but removing all the electronic debris from these tracks does make them more accessible. I’d have probably preferred an acoustic cameo of The Chase to feature from the 2017 record to inject a bit of life into this release though.

In it’s own right, it’s a decent listen but not one that lives long in the memory. When you compare it against the past acoustic releases – most notably 2012’s towering (mostly) acoustic EP If You Were A Movie, This Would Be Your Soundtrack – it pales in comparison. Perhaps it’s an unfair comparison, it’s still not the standard that older fans are used to: [5/10].

Check out the before…

… and after.

Safest Spaces – Safest Spaces – REVIEW

Safest Spaces are an up and coming duo from Milton Keynes who dropped their Second EP of the year on the 4th of November, this new EP under the same name promises to be a great insight for what is to come from the two in the future. Now without furtherado let’s break down this self-titled EP from Safest Spaces

Opening up the EP is Clarity, a song which featured as a demo on their first EP of 2017 Staying In // Freezing To Death which the duo dropped in the beginning half of this year. As an EP opener, this track brings the EP in well, with the powerful and well crafted vocal delivery that Dru Lintott and Jake Taylor produce. Alongside this the instrumentation that the duo present on this track is beautiful and well crafted. Showing not only some musical dynamics but also just what they are capable of. The lyricism on this track is vivid, allowing for a great picture to be painted whilst also allowing for some exploration in the different range of vocal types Dru is able to provide. Overall this first track is a great opener that sets the groundwork for what will be a powerful and great three track EP.

The middle cut on this self-titled release is Thumbs. Again it is clear in this track just how well the duo construct their tracks and especially their lyrical content. However, it is clear through this track what the EP, as a whole, is missing and that is some form of drum to provide it with an extra something. Although this doesn’t detract from the quality of the musical construction and the powerful vocals that lay on this track and throughout, it feels like that extra element will elevate it to a new height.

Closing off this EP is The Death of Crater Face which is possibly the strongest song on this short release from Safest Spaces. The track encompasses all the abilities that the duo bring to the table. With this fast paced guitar work whilst also managing to maintain the crisp vocal delivery that is on the majority of this EP. As the track powers through the mix of clean and shouted vocals is well crafted and provides balanced mix to the song. As this song continues it is clear through the vocal delivery that the words spoken throughout are meant with sincerity, with the track acting as some form of send off to Dru’s solo venture Craterface and almost using this EP as a whole to connote some progression personally and musically. As this track reaches its close the simple stripped back moments truly drive home the song, allowing for a heartfelt and well rounded end to the short EP.

Overall this EP is a beautiful whistlestop tour of what Safest Spaces will provide in the future. The construction from start to finish is second to none and show the abilities that this duo have in creating what are some hauntingly beautiful songs that please both instrumentally and vocally. This being their second venture this year it is great sign that these two show no signs of slowing down just yet. The only true downside of this EP is the length. It feels to end as quickly as it starts. However, each of these tracks are highly replayable, with each listening allowing for another small detail to be recognised. So due to that, even if the length of this EP is short, the songs allow for some lyrics to be learnt for live shows. If there is an EP to listen to the end of this year, then this is definitely the one. [8.5/10]

Better Than Never

Live: Better Than Never – The Black Heart, Camden 14/8/17

Taking to the stage first was Midlands acoustic man Luke Rainsford who brought in a fair crowd considering he was first up and had come a long way. Opening with Home Safe, Luke played through material from both of his full length albums with aplomb as he always does, blowing away both fans and first timers alike with his honest lyrics and catchy hooks. Closing with his personal favourite track FrameLuke looked as though he was going to cry as he screamed out “I know that I’ll never learn” to an already emotional crowd as the cathartic close to a set that always seems to short from his restrictions – just about the only criticism that can be made about his live shows. [9/10]

Better Than Never

ICYMI took to the stage in the difficult situation of following Rainsford, but the energy and vocal ability of frontwoman Elin Allan stood them in good stead for the set to follow. Playing through their tracks proved to be fairly hit and miss up to their cover of NSYNC‘s Bye Bye Bye (yes, really) which turned the whole set around. The version featured heavy guitars and the attitude of Allan shining through to sweeten the crowd up before finishing with their single Get Out to finish off the set. The band have big things coming towards the end of this year, so keep an eye out – they’re one for the future. [7/10]

Better Than Never

As the only local band of the night, pop punkers All These Years took to the stage. It appeared throughout that the band weren’t particularly well known among the onlookers but pretty quickly gained some fans with their more punk-influenced tracks as they hopped about the stage being generally offensive in the best possible way. Playing through the material from both EPs and latest single What Was Left UnsaidAll These Years put life into what was previously a fairly still crowd, perfectly filling their role as a support for the show. [8/10]

Better Than Never

Coming off the back of their debut EP release a couple of weeks ago, touring newcomers Maypine were absolutely filled with confidence hitting the Camden attic’s stage. They played through the EP’s five tracks with a couple of additional originals, but the real gem in the set was their emo rendition of Fix You by Coldplay which they released back in July (if you’re curious, listen here). The set was filled with enthusiasm, talent and hope – qualities that can are lacking in a lot of new touring bands, which are virtually never captured in the same capacity as Maypine have them. [9/10]

Better Than Never

Finishing up the night came Better Than Never who, surprisingly, drew less of a crowd than Maypine though the remaining audience were the rowdiest of the night by some margin. Blasting through both EPs, frontman James Harris bounced around with no visible intention of slowing down as he hyped up the crowd. Later, some growls mid-song produced a few looks of confusion from those not fully aware of Forty Eight from the band’s latest collection Head Under Water as they expected more pop punk tracks, but that didn’t subtract from any enjoyment on anyone’s faces. Towards the end of the set, Luke Rainsford was floating around the front of the crowd making gestures before he (somewhat unsurprisingly) made another appearance to duet Panama with Harris. A good performance to round off the night. [8/10]

Better Than Never  

Owen Announced To Support American Football

American Football are set to head out on a string of UK dates soon. Today the band have announced that their very own Mike Kinsella will be performing solo as OwenOwen is the project that Kinsella took on post American Football’s hiatus. However, Owen will not only be performing at these UK dates, as the solo act is set to perform alongside the main band during their Dublin date at the Button Factory. This string of dates is definitely not one to miss out on. For tickets click HERE, and check out a song from Owen’s last album The King of Whys below.

Vola release acoustic EP ‘October Session’

Danish group Vola have released their acoustic EP October Session worldwide through all digital channels. October Session contains two acoustic performances of Gutter Moon and Stray The Skies. The original, electric versions of both songs were featured on the band’s critically acclaimed 2016 label debut Inmazes. Until now, both October Session tracks were only available on the vinyl version of Inmazes.

 

Garin Fitter – Miss Me? – REVIEW

Garin Fitter is a singer-songwriter from Cardiff who has been creating music since late 2014, this year he released his debut album Miss Me? an album which tells a story of transformation, and with his acoustic pop style it promises to be a great album. But without further ado let’s break down Garin Fitter’s Miss Me?

Opening Miss Me? is Hey Mary. A song which starts with this simple yet well orchestrated instrumentation, the acoustic guitar sits well on top of the track with the subsequent instruments supporting the acoustic guitar and vocals. Soon Garin Fitter’s vocals come in to the track which add another layer to this opening number, the well delivered and constructed vocal melodies are well accompanied by the subtle yet effective vocal harmonies that are present on the song. As the song progresses the track takes a brief moment to show some dynamic change in which the track breaks down to a singular guitar and vocals which is a nice touch. Overall Hey Mary is a great opening track which opens up Miss Me? well.

Coming next from this album is a duo of tracks which starts with King Of The Jungle, similarly to this albums opener the track has this simple yet effective instrumentation which is powered along by the acoustic guitar and Garin’s vocal melodies. Whilst having the same instrumental make-up as the track before the song feels inherently different which is something that seems to come more with acoustic albums in which each track can be completely different. The second half of this duo is What Do You Do? a track which not only shows a shift in terms of dynamics but also presents a time signature change, both of these aspects are welcomed to the track and well executed not only through the far simpler orchestration but also through the simple yet careful vocal presentation.

The shortest cut off this album comes in the form of Far from This Town which boils down to Garin Fitter and an acoustic guitar. Far from This Town allows for a clear look at Garin’s vocals as they are the prominent feature of this cut, as the vocals and harmonies power on top of the track. Despite a well choreographed guitar part it feels lack luster in comparison to the fuller sound which exists on the tracks before.

Following from this fully acoustic cut is a trio of tracks which show a lot of dynamic difference. Starting off this trio is Dreaming Of Neverland, a song which has this slow and interesting guitar part which drags the song along this slow journey whilst Garin sings gently atop the track. This song similarly to Far from This Town is a simple acoustic cut however in comparison to the track which comes before the picked pattern adds to the track and allows for a far more interesting listen as the number continues.

The middle partition of this trio is Smile, a song which has a brisk tempo and instrumentation which feels closer to a soundtrack with the piano and drums driving the song whilst the vocals simply lay on top of what is an interesting track instrumentally. However, the vocals which sit on top of the track do fully tie the piece together as the elongated vocal notes add not only to the songs overall make-up but also atmosphere. The final part of this trio is Drained, this track despite the fuller sound is a little bit underwhelming. Despite the well orchestrated instrumentation the track seems to be missing something that is present on the tracks which come before on the record.

As Miss Me? starts to draw towards it close there is another duo of tracks. Sometimes Things Don’t Quite Work Out the Way You Thought They Would is the first of this duo and is unfortunately reminiscent of this track as despite well constructed vocal melodies, clever lyrics and moments of strong instrumentation there are moments where things start to feel a little messy and less cohesive as the could be. Despite this being the weakest cut off of the record it is in no way a bad track as it still does have positives.

The latter of of this duo is Quicksand which is the strongest cut track on the record as the instrumentation that carries the song is interesting and truly adds an extra layer to the overall make-up of the song, alongside this the vocals that are present on the song are not only well orchestrated but show a great amount of range. Quicksand also exhibits Garin Fitter’s ability to write what is a very cohesive and catchy track.

Rounding off this album by Garin Fitter is Portobello Road. This track is a great closer to this album due to it’s ability to encompass all the dynamics which are present from start to finish on this record. However it also allows for a few new ideas to be played with. Whether it be the gang vocals or the solo thast ends of the track Garin Fitter is still presenting new ideas even as the song draws to its close. Overall Portobello Road is a a strong track and rivals Quicksand for being the strongest cut on this record, as yet again the strength in not only vocals but also instrumentation is clearly present on this number.

Overall this album Miss Me? is a worthwhile listen, whether it be simply because you are in need of a new acoustic album or if you just want a great album to stick on front to back. Despite a few moments where the instrumentation is,  for lack of a better term, ‘samey’ this album by Garin Fitter is a well written and orchestrated album which not only is ripe with well organised vocal performances but is also loaded with strong instrumentation. However knowing  and taking in to account that this is his debut album it bodes well for what is to come. [7/10]

As Lions drop Rag’N’Bone Man cover, announce huge UK tour

UK alt-rock five piece As Lions have unveiled a special acoustic performance of the current hit single ‘Skin’ by Rag ‘n’ Bone Man, but as well as this, the band will be back in the UK for their first ever headline tour, playing a run of 17 dates in September.

You can check out the cover and list of dates below!

Sept 9th – Bridgend, Hobo’s
Sept 10th – Milton Keynes, Crauford Arms
Sept 12th – Nottingham, Rock City Basement
Sept 13th – Bristol, Louisiana
Sept 14th – Tunbridge Wells, Forum
Sept 15th – Norwich, Waterfront
Sept 17th – Chester, Live Rooms
Sept 18th – Birmingham, Flapper
Sept 20th – Leeds, Key Club
Sept 21st – Newcastle, Jumpin Jacks
Sept 22nd – Glasgow, Garage Attic
Sept 23rd – Stoke, Sugarmill
Sept 25th – Manchester, Rebellion
Sept 26th – Dover, Booking Hall
Sept 27th – Bournemouth, Anvil
Sept 28th – Southampton, Joiners
Sept 29th – Leicester, Firebug
Sept 30th – London, Old Blue Last