The Clash

My summer listening has been eclectic and an exciting mix of old and new recordings. Some of the music was mesmerizing and played over and over. Some albums barely made it through the first listen. Some music was part of my project of listening to my record collection front to back, every record, even the not-so-good ones. Many events in my life also impaired my writing. Some were good. Some not so good. Some were a little in column A and a little in column B. Sometimes, I visited a dry well. As of today, August 16, I am so far behind I think I’m winning.

As a consolation for the music that I have intended to write about but never got around to, I will give a short, hopefully sweet, compilation of what I have been spending my summer listening to. I’ll start with the vinyl slabs.

Over the time span of about two weeks, I listened to my collection of The Clash on vinyl. They released six studio albums over the tumultuous six years they were a band. In chronological order, I listened to these.

The Clash (1977)

Give ‘Em Enough Rope (1978)

London Calling (1979)

Sandinista! (1980)

Combat Rock (1982)

Cut the Crap (1985)

The Clash is a band that I have been listening to consistently since the early 80s and still enjoy throwing on the platter these days. Their self-titled first release, The Clash, has a fascinating history. This is a copy and paste from Wikipedia: “The album was not released in the US until 1979, making it their second US release. The US version also included a significantly different track listing, changing the track order and swapping out several songs for non-album tracks recorded in the interim.”

This release mish-mash is why I own multiple copies of this album, and it makes listening to all the variants necessary due to the different tracks. I prefer the original UK release, but they are all good.

November 1978 saw the release of the second album from The ClashGive ‘Em Enough Rope, their first release in the good ol’ US or A. Their second album, Give ‘Em Enough Rope, is interesting because it feels crushed between the two heavy albums sandwiching it, The Clash and London Calling. I liked this album, and it received good press and many accolades. It has held up well over the years and can still hold its own. It maintains the punk ethos that The Clash were initially identified as a part of, especially in their live shows where they were in-your-face punk all the way.

Joe Strummer

The album marked the first album appearance of drummer Topper Headon, who joined the band shortly after the recording of their first album. Most of the tracks, as with the prior album, were written by guitarists Joe Strummer and Mick Jones with the exception of English Civil War is a traditional song derived from an American Civil War song, “When Johnny Comes Marching Home,” written by Irish-born Massachusetts Unionist Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore. It was popular on both sides of the conflict.

Mick Jones

“Julie’s Been Working for the Drug Squad” (known as “Julie’s in the Drug Squad” on the original American release). I can put this song on repeat on Apple Music and listen to it a dozen times without getting tired of it.

“All the Young Punks (New Boots and Contracts)” (known as “That’s No Way to Spend Your Youth” on original American release). Every time I hear this song, I hear a nod to David Bowie and Mott The Hoople with their song All the Young Dudes. It also makes a synapse connection to New Boots and Panties by Ian Dury, another good album you should give a listen to.

Moving along, we come to the album that most people would associate with The ClashLondon Calling. I even heard the song London Calling on Muzak, for Pete’s sake. Is nothing sacred? I think this is the album that got me listening to The Clash. A band that I was a minor member of played our interpretation of the song London Calling. I am still trying to nail down the lead guitar parts. London Calling is a double album that gave The Clash plenty of room to develop their music in new and exciting ways. They moved away from the Punk movement they most strongly identified with in their first two albums and their live music. In London Calling, we can hear the band playing around with rockabilly, pop, reggae, and hard rock. With Mick Jones composing and arranging much of the music and Joe Strummer writing most of the lyrics, they started addressing social issues, including racial conflict, drug use, and the responsibilities of adulthood, such as having steady employment and paying the bills. The more I listen to London Calling, the more I appreciate the artistry of this recording.

If a double record release wasn’t enough, the next album from The Clash is the triple album Sandinista! This album took The Clash and their fans in a whole new direction. Sandinista! is not a punk rock album. It has funk, reggae, jazz, gospel, rockabilly, folk, dub, rhythm and blues, calypso, disco, rap and even punk. Your favourite genre doesn’t matter; it will get some air time on Sandinista!

Topper Headon

It gave artistic freedom to all the band members. A generic credit for The Clash replaced the band’s traditional songwriting credits of Strummer and Jones for the first time. Sandinista! is the only Clash album on which all four members have a lead vocal. Drummer Topper Headon made a unique lead vocal contribution on the song “Ivan Meets G.I. Joe,” and Paul Simonon sings lead on “The Crooked Beat.”

Sandinista! is an album that never gets old for me. Mick Jones said, “I always saw it as a record for people who were on oil rigs. Or Arctic stations. People that weren’t able to get to the record shops regularly.” I can get to the record shops, but I can’t afford to buy records anymore, so I listen to the ones I have, and Sandinista! is a deserted island album.

It is always difficult to follow a fantastic recording with another equally amazing. Very few bands or artists can pull that feat off. Pink Floyd did it more than once. They moved from their breakthrough album, The Dark Side of the Moon (1973), to Wish You Were Here (1975), followed by Animals (1977) and closing with The Wall (1979). The Clash did it with Sandinista! Following on the heels of London Calling and leading us into Combat Rock. That’s ten sides of vinyl that nail it. Nineteen songs that give us 1 hour and five minutes on London CallingSandinista! gives us 36 songs and 2 hours and 25 minutes of listening time. Hot on their heels, we have a third stellar album, Combat Rock. The Clash are clocking in at 46 minutes over an additional 12 songs. If my math is correct, they give us three outstanding albums containing 67 songs and 4 hours and 16 minutes of listening time. That’s a pretty solid lineup.

Paul Simonon

And then the wheels fall off. The train derails. The shit hits the fan. Cut The Crap is the dying gasp of what remained of The ClashCut the Crap did not receive an excellent reception, with most reviews being in the lacklustre 2 out of 5 on the charts. I think Mike Laye sums up the consensus—a writer, photographer and Clash insider—said the band should “just drop the ‘Cut’ from the title because to me this [is] Crap. iWow! That was a lot of music and time well spent; for the most part, even Cut the Crap had its moments. Onward to some more of my summer listening with bands that I got to listen to through some wonderful folks who sent their music to me.

Aerodrome Motel

BIG STIR RECORDS and NICK FRATER invite you to check in to AERODROME MOTEL, the new album from the acclaimed Croydon, England-based singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer. The record, featuring the lead single/focus track “Dancing With A Gertrude”, sees release August 19 on record store shelves (as a CD) and streaming platforms worldwide, and is available for pre-order at and other online outlets now. Frater‘s tenth album overall and his third with Big StirAERODROME MOTEL builds on the success of last year’s acclaimed Earworms and marks yet another stride forward for the ever-creatively-restless, always-impeccably-tuneful Renaissance man.

Nick Frater stands out on a modern pop landscape populated by innumerable prolific self-professed polymaths by virtue of not having to profess anything about himself at all. The critics and tastemakers of the indie-pop world are more than happy to do it for him: Earworms was 2021’s Album of the Year at Powerpopaholic. The previous year’s Fast & Loose won Frater a five-star review, and a citation as a “pop tunesmith par excellence,” in Britain’s revered Shindig! Magazine. And 2019’s Full Fathom Freight-Trainearned the Album of The Year honor from International Pop Overthrow, with all three adorning countless other Year’s Best lists worldwide: Earworms alone ranked in the Top 20 with pop scene influencers in the US, UK, Canada, Italy, Sweden and Argentina. 

That acknowledged consistency of sheer quality is why a new Nick Frater album is always something special, but each record is also unique… he simply doesn’t repeat himself. Frater’s songwriting has drawn frequent comparisons to Bacharach, and Aerodrome Motel sees him  continuing his quest for new catchy hooks and melodies. But he’s also chosen to take a few risks on this album and explore some broader subject matter too. We’re treated the usual rock song territory of love and loss, but also endangered baby names (on the undeniably catchy single “Dancing With A Gertrude”), wave machines (on the title track with its mutual echoes of Elliot Smith and the Fab Four) and even the graffiti from a toilet door set to music (the horn-driven, Elton John-inflected “Rough & Tumble”)!

Frater tells us: “The last few albums have felt like some big steps forward for my songwriting. More and more I’ve enjoyed writing purely from the voice. Frequently you’ll find me being that person singing at the bus stop or while walking around the supermarket, recording ideas in to my phone. I get a few funny looks, but I’m convinced this technique is helping capture some catchy tunes. Having started songwriting by trying to find surprising and complicated chords – and I still love those songs! – I also love the idea that a pop song could translate to a Salvation Army band, or panpipe trio, or 8bit chip tune. Could this song survive being played by kids with a recorder? I never ever want to hear the answer to that question, but I find it helps focus my melody writing!”

By the time those supermarket melodies have been refined, paired with dollops of a trademark lyrical wit, immaculately produced and performed by Nick and a sterling guest cast, they’ve become irresistible earworms that anyone might catch themselves humming in public. Frater lives in a land of 60s/70s sophisticated-pop, a self-confessed obsession with vintage recording techniques, and a ‘more is more’ approach to production. AERODROME MOTEL, named for the long-abandoned London airport near Frater‘s home, hits the tarmac in exactly that mode, with “The Pleasure Is Mine” bringing to mind Steely Dan. It then dives into a pair of rockers – “Love Heist” and “Stuck In My Ways” – sporting the kinds of radio-perfect choruses and soaring harmonies that have made Frater so beloved among power pop aficionados worldwide. 

Those hooks are all over the record, of course – it is a Nick Frater album, after all! – but there’s texture aplenty, and wry observations and introspection alike informing the lyrics. “Dear Modern Times” is a scathing look at the death of nuance in today’s social discourse, in a musical setting Frater calls “The Zombies meet Billy Joel.” Elsewhere, “American Expressways” brings Brian Wilson-style studio savvy to an examination of the befuddled ambivalence of a soldier returning from the front. There’s also the character-study ballad “No Hard Feelings,” which brings together haunting mellotron strings, a Twin Peaks baritone guitar, backwards tape, and harmonium against sparse drums, creating an almost cinematic scale to the song balanced against an intimate and heartfelt vocal. 

The album closes with another character study, “White Courtesy Phone,” a blissed-out psychedelic country-waltz with haunting pedal steel and French horn framing a portrait of a traveler who never seems to arrive anywhere. It hearkens back to the title track, inspired by the artwork of the 1960s motel matchboxes gorgeously echoed on the album artwork by frequent collaborator Adam Mallett. And that’s the framework of the record’s traveling themes, with Frater bringing his love of West Coast American mythology and his very British sensibilities together… with side trips exploring adult male mental health, finding oneself gagged and bound in the back of a getaway car, and just plain rude-sounding but intoxicating glam rock stomp. 

AERODROME MOTEL is far more than a simple layover or road stop on Nick Frater‘s ever-ascending career path, and it’s thrilling to hear his melodic and lyrical inventions continue to take flight. Open yourself to Nick‘s way of blending wit and melody and you’ll likely laugh, cry, and pause to see the world around you in a new light… often in the space of the same song. Check in on August 19 and stay as long as you like… just leave the wave machine where you found it, for the next guests.

Small Wonders vie Starry Skies

Small Wonders, album was an enjoyable listen to from front to back, top to bottom, left to right, and start to finish. Are there any other ways to listen to the album that I missed? I was tempted to say that I listened to the vinyl record from the first groove to the last, but then I woke up, had a cup of joe, put my brain in gear and avoided that mistake. You may be asking yourself why that was a mistake. You will need to read through this blog to find the answer to that question.

I was also tempted to say that I liked this album very much with a half dozen very’s. I also avoided that blunder and can honestly say that I thoroughly enjoyed this recording. So, why did I find this album such a good listening experience? The answer to that question has more than one answer, but I will try to explain it as concisely as possible.

Small Wonders

Right off the start, I like the album cover. It is minimalist and conveys the information we need to know in a pleasantly neat package but remains artistic and lovely to peruse. Art is often challenging to put into words, and that applies to this album cover. I like it just because I like it.

The music? Yeah, I like it as much, if not more than I like the album cover. The reason I like it is equally difficult to explain as the cover art was. The musicianship is top-notch and flows from soft folk-influenced music, as heard on the opening track, Smile Through The Dark, to in-your-face rock, as heard on I Don’t Want To Be That Kind Of Guy

Starry Skies display their mastery over their musical instruments without being ostentatious. Warren McIntyre plays guitar, sings lead vocals, writes lyrics and answers emails from people like me. Johnny Rooney is on lead guitar, and Jenny Lunan is on Cello/Vocals. Heather Phillips on violin adds her vocals to the wonder of Small Wonders. Sophie Pragnell is on viola/vocals/percussion, Adam Scott on bass, and Mike Harrison plays drums. Mike is also the head of sound for Snarky Puppy

Heather and Warren

I found the lyrics right up my alley; they tell short stories, and I like that. My favourite book is a collection of short stories, and Starry Skies tell short stories with aplomb. A great example of their storytelling is Spitfire Susie, a song about Warren’s neighbour Miss Susie Ross who died in 2021, aged 99. They became friends when she offered her empty garage to park his 1967 Vauxhall Victor. He started to drive her to visit her best friend in a care home and do her daily shopping. The song, Spitfire Susie, was released on what would have been her 100th birthday, and it was played at her funeral. That, my friends, is a great story song.

One more example of lyrics that jumped out at me. I Don’t Wanna Be That Kinda Guy is the song.

“Played the drums in a rock n roll band
Shy boy trying not to reveal
All the weakness and fear inside
And I learned how to never feel

I don’t wanna be that kinda guy…”

Songs that speak to our souls are special. Songs that speak to my soul get my attention and this one sure did.

Warren McIntyre comments on the lyrics. “This record is intended to celebrate the small wonders that are all around us if we open our eyes to see them. The songs were written during 2021, when we were all really grateful for small things like being able to go for a walk with a friend. But, as a collection, they ended up a bit of a mish-mash of lyrical-led protest songs, some folk-pop with cello, viola and violin, a beautiful, sparse piano ballad and even a couple of punky indie dance floor fillers,”.

I could go on and on about the lyrics and the music accompanying those words, but I want to encourage you to listen and discover the stories yourself. I have a saying for listening closely to music, listening intentionally. It is listening to hear what each instrument adds to the final mix. Listening to vocal inflections, does it go up as an indication of interest or hope? Or do they go down to imply seriousness, hopelessness or sorrow? Yeah, that’s what I do; I listen intently. Small Wonders is an excellent album to mine for the details.

The Small Wonders album is currently available for pre-order. As of August 12, it will be available everywhere, including Apple Music, Spotify and Bandcamp, and on CD and sky-blue vinyl. It can be ordered from record shops or purchased directly from Last Night From Glasgow. The album is distributed through Proper Distribution in the UK and Redeye in the USA.

‘Smile Through The Dark’

Album order 


‘Kind Hearted People’

‘Spitfire Susie’


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A vinyl record has one groove that spirals from the edge towards the centre.

All Welcome On Planet Ree-Vo

You go boom. I go boom. We Go Boom. It is inevitable, so don’t fight it; Groove With It. Grab your Spacebox and the mix tapes. Put on your Combat camo jacket. We are not in the old armageddon. We are in the Nu End Of The World, and it is a Strange Noise, but I like it. So I will take my Protein pill, put my helmet on a let the Dirty Secret out of the Spacebox. So everyone can Groove With It.

The bit of fun above is the set list of the new album, All Welcome On Planet Ree-Vo, from Ree-Vo, the electro-dub duo Andy Spaceland (AKA Andy Jenks) and T. Relly. ALBUM TRACKLIST 1) We Go 2) Boom 3) Groove With It 4) Spacebox 5) Combat 6) Nu 7) End Of The World 8) Strange Noise 9) Protein 10) Dirty Secret

I confess that I don’t listen to a great deal of rap or hip-hop so it has to be something special for me to not only listen to the album start to finish, but to listen to the whole album more than once. All Welcome On Planet Ree-Vo is special. I appreciate the amount of work that goes into making a piece of art such as this, kudos to Andy Spaceland and T. Relly. This album is not only listenable but also contains relevant lyrics, it’s more than just throwing together a bunch of words that rhyme.

Recorded, produced and mixed by Andy at Bristol’s Christchurch Studios, known as the home of ‘Mezzanine’-era Massive Attack, this album was tweaked and fine-tuned during the summer of 2020. 

Ree-Vo adds more fun through the video for ‘Spacebox,’ a hook-laden track that will keep your party rocking.

“Liftoff, blast off, shirt off, dance off! Naked in the dancehall SPACE BOX!” is the beamed mantra, Relly transmitting to all occupants of the galaxy. We wanted to make a hedonistic and colourful dancehall track, a bold response to the suppressive circumstances of the last two years,” says Andy Spaceland

This project could only have formed in one city, steeped as it is in Bristol‘s decades of hip hop and bass music. This music project, All Welcome To Planet Ree-Vo, was influenced by the local scene and artists synonymous with hip-hop and reggae’s cultural and social commentary, such as the Bug and Flowdan, Nas, Kojey Radical, Rob Smith, Massive Attack, Big Cat Burns and Mantronix

Andy Spaceland got involved in bass music after art school (where Brian Eno was his examiner). Bristol’s Static Sound System and a collaborative 12″ with Rudy Tambala (AR Kane) as Sugarboat Vs Sufi was accomplished before Andy Spaceland’s band Alpha signed to Massive Attack’s Melankolic label. He became their tour DJ. He has collaborated with Smith and Mighty, Horace Andy, Elizabeth Fraser, and Madonna, and Andy has released music on Dj Die‘s label Gutterfunk as White Bully. Andy is also part of 5 Billion in Diamonds with LA producer Butch Vig (Nirvana, Garbage). To keep his calendar full, Andy is working on new material with Mark Stewart (The Pop Group) and Adrian Sherwood.

T. Relly is Bristol hip-hop royalty – known in the community variously for his links to all of the city’s major club nights, his passion and support for the most disadvantaged (through his work with the youth and prison leavers), through to compering stages at St Paul’s Carnival and his seminal 2018 album with DJ Rogue ‘Let Them Know. He collaborates with many crews, including Innalife and Killer Crab Men.

“Our sound has the lifeblood of sound-system bass culture carried through veins of hip-hop and rave. I describe it like that BCuz it’s a live and living thing, not just a sound, though essentially it is Bristol Dirt. Both me and Andy, as individuals, have very different sounds, but as a duo, the sound for me is totally of one, which is rare throughout collaborations. The sound just fits. It’s edgy, consciously upbeat and fun yet seriousness throughout – such as life,” says T. Relly

“This release has been a long time coming. Me and Andy met through a mutual friend and instantly became friends; when that shit happens, the universe has already decided on something great happening. With that, we never gave up on Ree-Vo throughout multiple frustrations, let downs and genre life getting in the way.”

On July 29th, the album was released on turquoise-blue gatefold vinyl, CD and digitally via Dell’Orso Records and Southern Record Distributors (SRD). Upon purchasing the album, folks will receive the orange vinyl 10″ (in limited quantity) featuring four remixes and collaborations involving The Bug, Object, NØISE and Dälek. All Welcome On Planet Ree-Vo can be purchased at

Keep up with Ree-Vo 



Album order (all formats) 


Spotify S


‘Protein (The Bug remix)’

‘Groove With It’

‘Spacebox (NØISE remix)’


‘Dial R for Ree-Vo’ remix LP


‘Combat (Surgeon Remix)’

‘Protein (Rob Smith remix)’

‘Groove With It (Dälek Remix)’ 

‘Spacebox (Batbirds remix)’

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Grace Solero

Grace Solero presents ‘Love and Addiction’, featured on their new album ‘Metamorphosis, a power-packed labour of love that is raw, grungy, dreamy and atmospheric all at the same time.

“Love and Addiction is a powerful representation of love in all forms and across all genres. It’s an intense journey bridging unruly passion and the yearning for clarity and stability,” says Grace Solero.

“When I came up with the first few lines of the melody and a few lyrics of the verse it was clear enough that a dark broody Pandora’s box had been opened. I felt like a surge of thick honey was running through my throat.”

High energy and highly dynamic, Solero’s mercurial voice is of astounding range and a powerful stage presence. Conveying deep emotions with alternating darkness and light, her songwriting shies away from the ordinary. Sonically, apart from their guitar-based sound, the band uses less conventional instruments, such as the cello, Hammond B3 organ, psaltery and even singing bowls.

Mixed by Chris Brown (Radiohead, Muse, Ride, INXS, Gary Moore, The Waterboys) and, this 9-track offering was mastered by Andy ‘Hippy’ Baldwin (The Who, Interpol, Oasis, Blur, UB40, Stormzy) at London’s Metropolis Studio.

Recorded and engineered by Jon Clayton (The Monochrome Set, Vic Godard And Subway Sect) at One Cat Studio in London, the band members themselves arranged and produced this collection. Solero is accompanied by Californian lead guitarist / vocalist Dan Beaulaurier, Swedish bassist Bjorn Zetterlund and Welsh multi-instrumentalist Dave Guy on drums and percussion.

Not long ago, the band previewed the title track ‘Metamorphosis’ on the trail of super-charged melodic singles ‘Orange Sky’,‘Awake’ and ‘Lucid Dream’, the latter of which has recently gained support via BBC 6 Music.

“This album represents a turning point, the need to break free from things that kept us stuck in the past. It’s a deep journey through the transformative power of love leading to emotional freedom. Each song’s emotion feeds the next song and creates a beautiful soundscape. From yearning to change, from unhealthy passion to mystical love, from emotional apocalypse to taking risks, from melancholy to healing and being reborn,” says Grace Solero.

The ‘Metamorphosis’ LP is out now and is available on CD from the artist’s store or digitally via BandcampSpotify and Apple Music

Recorded & engineered by Jonathan Clayton at One Cat Studio, London
Arranged & produced by the Grace Solero band
Mixed by Chris Brown
Mastered by Andy Baldwin (Hippy) at Metropolis, London
Grace Solero – vocals, guitar, psaltery
Dan Beaulaurier – guitar, backing vocals
Bjorn Zetterlund – bass, singing bowl
Dave Guy – drums, percussion, glockenspiel
Jonathan Clayton – cello, Hammond B3 organ
All lyrics written by Grace Solero
‘Orange Sky’ and ‘Ocean Star’ written by Grace Solero
‘Lucid Dream’, ‘Metamorphosis’, ‘Love and Addiction’, ‘Shaman’ written by Grace Solero, Dan Beaulaurier, Bjorn Zetterlund, Dave Guy
‘Time Waits For No One’ written by Grace Solero and Dan Beaulaurier
‘Till You Return’ written by Grace Solero and Dave Guy
Copyright © Wohone Records. Published by ℗ Grace Solero

Director: Grace Solero
Editor/Post production: Amir Khan 
Cameraman: Richard Ellington
Band: Grace Solero (Vocals/Guitar) Dan Beaulaurier (Lead Guitar) Bjorn Zetterlund (Bass) Dave Guy (Drums)
Visual backgrounds: Julie Bloom
Make-up / hair: Luna Viola

Keep up with Grace Solero
Website | Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram | Twitter | Soundcloud | YouTube | Spotify | Apple Music | Press contact

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Izzy S.O.

 Izzy S.O. came charging out of my computer speakers, aimed directly at the part of my brain that stores sticky music, conveniently located next door to my auditory cortex, the place that holds musical memory. Izzy S.O. makes music that is very listener-friendly, memorable and guaranteed to generate Involuntary Musical Imagery.

West Midlands native singer-songwriter Izzy S.O. delivers music with a style that one would expect from a recording veteran, this is her debut, and it is a keeper. Captivating listeners with her anthemic tone and lyrical originality, the London-based artist is building a reputation for her signature poetic lyricism. With a voice loaded with emotion and power, Izzy S.O. plays on heavy guitar rhythms and soft melodies that will fill you to your core. She has released her debut single, Flirting With Strangers, accompanied by live performances at some of London’s staple venues. Izzy S.O.’s debut EP ‘Can You Hear Me’ comes out on 29th June 2022 via Silent Kid Records, accompanied by a launch party at Strongroom Studios in Shoreditch on 28th June.

Izzy S.O. delivers emotionally drenched lyrics that feel so very real. They are relatable and honest, sometimes hard to hear but so relevant that I can’t stop listening. It is a bit deceptive to hear her singing a pop-oriented song until you realize that the message is more profound than the sound would suggest. It takes repeated listens to get where the music is taking the lyrics.

Speaking of the music, it is good, VG+. Piano threads its way through guitar and dances with sublime percussion. The percussion is so good it can often get lost in the mix, which it does excellently. BTW, I think Flirting With Strangers is the best track. The lyrics are deep, and the music moves the lyrics forward and drives the song home with a punch. 

The up-and-coming artist sheds light on mental health issues and the complex emotions attached to growing up while moving listeners through heartfelt tunes that give off a comforting sense of familiarity and warmth. Izzy S.O. explains creating her debut EP: “It started with me and [my producer] Dustin Doole talking at a party and promising to have a session together. I was apprehensive as although I’d left school to do music when I was young, the pressure of it had gotten too much, and I ended up backing off from it and focusing on acting.

In our first session, we worked on Lost The Feeling, and I came away re-energized and excited with a new belief that I could bring something unique to the table. The idea for Can You Hear Me came to me the night after working with Dustin on that first song, and I remember the first verse being in my head as I reached the end of a lockdown walk. We sat down for about three hours, talking about inspirations and creating a playlist which included artists such as the Pixies, Hole, Nirvana, Bush and Radiohead. I’d also made a Pinterest board, and by the end of it, we felt like it all made sense. We then restarted Can You Hear Me, and that really led the way for the rest of the EP. 

In between these sessions, I had written Laughing in my Sleep – I had been having a tough time with my OCD with the January/February Lockdown, and I remember making porridge one morning and feeling so overwhelmed. The energy was weird in the house I was living in because mine and my housemates’ individual anxieties were triggering each other – she had just left the house, and I sat at the table and sang Laughing in My Sleep into a voice note. By the time we had finished re-working on Can you Hear Me, we had gotten quite drunk, and Dustin started playing a guitar riff – I started singing Laughing In My Sleep to fit what he was playing, and within an hour, we had the full demo. 

Again Flirting with Strangers started as a voice note; I brought in the first verse to Tadhg Daly one evening, and we sat outside at Strongroom in Shoreditch discussing what the song was about and when we got back inside, we wrote the rest of the song within forty minutes, a few lines flew into my brain from old poems of mine, and it all just fell together in one quick lyrical mess that somehow made sense.”

Good job, Izzy S.O., a great EP. I look forward to more music from you. I heard Can You Hear Me loud and clear and want to hear more.

Izzy S.O.’s debut EP ‘Can You Hear Me’ comes out on 29th June 2022 via Silent Kid Records, accompanied by a launch party at Strongroom Studios in Shoreditch on 28th June.


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The Caughtery

From the first notes of 99 MPH, the lead track from the debut EP of The Austin-based Americana-rock duo The Caughtery, I thought I had some excellent listening coming my way. Those tempting notes came from the talented David Gayler, multi-instrumentalist, producer, songwriter and studio owner based in Spicewood, Texas. And the vocals were supplied by Lisa Tingle. Her resume is impressive, to say the least,

These two talented people came from the east and the west, David in New York and Lisa in California, to meet in Austin, Texas and test the musical atmosphere in that city. Hailing from opposite coasts, Tingle and Gayler grew up in musical families. Lisa and David’s shared diverse musical loves (rock, indie, fusion, jazz, blues and R&B) sparked a creative connection that led to the creation of this most excellent EP of original music.

This EP features contributions by Ricky Phillips (of Styx and previously with Coverdale/Page, Bad English, The Babys, Angel), bassist Brian Lippman and drummer Tom Brechtlein, who has performed with Chick Corea, Kenny Loggins, Eric Johnson, Robben Ford, Al DiMeola, Jean-Luc Ponty and Rickie Lee Jones.

“After two years of being sequestered, we are finally able to release our 5-song EP to the world. With a common thread throughout the EP and the support from our fellow musicians, each song has its own musical place and we hope you enjoy listening to them,” says David Gayler.

Ahead of their new Americana-rock focus track ’99MPH’, the duo teased two powerhouse singles – ‘Fragile’ and ‘The Uninvited.’

“The song 99MPH is about how you can control love just about as well as you can control the weather… YOU CAN’T! And how the one you fall in love with can affect you in a multitude of unexpected ways… Often times you are like a ship tossed about on the ocean, in a hurricane,” says Lisa Tingle.

Two musical soul-searchers originally hailing from opposite coasts, Tingle and Gayler both grew up in musical families. Lisa and David’s shared diverse musical loves (rock, indie, fusion, jazz, blues and R&B) sparked a genuine connection, their mutual addiction for creating unique music ultimately moving their storytelling note by note.

The duo originated in 2020 when David called Lisa to record a song that fit her vibe. What started as a one-off collaboration ultimately became this full EP of material under The Caughtery. On this debut EP, Lisa’s lyrics explore such themes as relationships, new and old, the passing of friends and the state of our world today.

Described as a mix of Robert Plant, Janis Joplin and Aretha Franklin, Tingle has received multiple honours at the Austin Music Awards (Female Vocalist of the Year, Band of the Year, Best Song, Musician of the Year, Album of the Year0. She’s also toured and performed with many legends, including Etta James, Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Double Trouble, Eric Johnson, Stephen Bruton, Monte Montgomery and Marcia Ball.

Check them out. The Caughtery make music that is easy on the ears. They do not make cut and paste music; they are treading new musical paths worth taking the time to get to know.

‘The Caughtery’ EP order
‘The Uninvited’ video
‘Fragile’ video

Even When I’m Happy I Listen To Sad Music

I love that album title. Even When I’m Happy I Listen To Sad Music. Magic, there should be an award for the best album title, song title and best album art (which would need a few sub-categories).

This title comes from the fertile mind of music maker Ollie, aka Ollie Raps. I’ll go with Ollie because while it is true that some of his songs sound like rap, I hear spoken word and some parts that come dangerously close to singing. Either way, Ollie delivers the goods with confidence and skill. Mystic Sons delivers the album to us via popular music streaming platforms.

Ollie is a gifted music creator from the rural hinterlands of Ontario, making street-legal urban music. I correct myself. I only know that he lives in a small town not far from Toronto, and I think his music would play well on Yonge Street or Marsville.

Speaking about the new album, Ollie said, “This project has been something I’ve been working on for over a year with the release date being delayed twice already. This goes without saying, but these songs are very close to my heart and represent everything that I am. Throughout my past, like most, I’ve experienced my fair share of pain, some of it a direct cause from my own actions. Let’s just say if I could go back in time, there are a few situations that I would like to change, unfortunately that isn’t possible. I struggle sometimes with that reality, regardless of my shortcomings have ultimately led me here. This is where music comes into play, I’m not a very emotional person and typically withhold a lot of my feelings. But somehow music has the ability to extract all of that from within me without my egotistical conscience realizing, it’s an emotional heist guised in melodies. Some of my biggest self realizations have come from this, I see another perspective, sometimes the exact one I wish I couldn’t. Life and ultimately God has a funny way of showing us what we don’t want to see, simply put, nobody is perfect. Each of our stories is a combination of good times and bad times, beauty and chaos, success and failure. The balance of these two realities shape who we are, give us purpose and help us understand and appreciate the opposite. So, even when I’m happy I listen to sad music.”

Ollie starts this album with two slow songs backed with only an acoustic guitar. Gutsy move, Ollie. There is no place to hide with this simple but effective arrangement. The first song is Only You and sets the tone for the remainder of the album with these lyrics:

“These melodies

They’re stories

They’re sadness

It’s comforting.”

That tone is honesty. Ollie is laying all the cards out on the table. He is telling us a story accompanied by melodies. And these stories are both sad and comforting. Wow! That’s a lot to take in, and I can’t wait to hear those stories and the music that carries them along.

In track two, Ollie sings of rain falling on the roof in a lightning storm. I can spend hours watching a lightning storm disperse its majestic power. That past time alone can do wonders for clearing the depression in my head.

Ollie builds the album around being alone in his head. In a recovery group, there was a saying about this idea that I liked. “Our heads are a scary place to be alone.” 

Throughout the album, Ollie shifts between rap, spoken word and singing and the use of backing singers (and occasionally sharing the song with backup singing). The Rolling Stones sang about Dead Flowers, and Ollie narrows that down to Dead Roses. I wonder what happened to the other flowers in the trash bin. The floral industry is weird. We buy something that isn’t cheap, knowing full well that it will dry up and be in the compost bin within a week. We have flowers growing in our backyard and inside the house. If we want flowers, we buy ones that last, either the growing season or longer.

I am skipping ahead over a few songs that deal with the topic of broken relationships. We then come to “Where Do We All Go,” which I like due to a couple of lines:

“Somedays, things get overwhelming.

Not because of what you’re currently experiencing, but

Because of the realization that you have no control over so much of your future

Certain feelings are inevitable, inescapable, and unpredictable

They’re what make us human

And without them, without the need for adversity, who would we be?

Difficult choices create character

And character is how we’re remembered

I can promise you you’re not the first person to go through what you’re going through

And you won’t be the last.

Have faith that everything you experience in life is for a purpose

It just might not be clear yet what that purpose is”

Some more boy loses girl songs, albeit well done, lost love songs. I love the song Home; I think it is about living with arthritis, “I feel aches in my bones.” Ollie then closes the album with More Than Music IV, another song with some deep philosophical questions and a dash of Christianity.

“Guess the closest to your heart can deal you the worst cuts.” That line can be read backwards and still be dead-on accurate. You can deal the worst cuts to the ones closest to your heart.

“Start to question my existence.” That is deep, man, real deep. Who am I? What am I? Why do I exist? The list goes on and on. That is a question that philosophers have been kicking around for as long as people could contemplate their existence.

“What if I dropped a song and no one relates to me in the end?” That is a great question that I have contemplated myself. What if I wrote a blog about an album, and no one read it?

I will close this blog with a lengthy cut and paste from the song More Than Music IV.

“This ain’t what I planned, not even close to what I was hoping

But there’s beauty in the struggle, something I’d come to find

God tests His strongest soldiers to keep ’em present in mind

And in mine, would you stay? Never leave from my side?

‘Cause in Christ, you strengthen me, I’m so powerful I could fly

But I stumble often, I’m not as perfect as I seem

All this anger in my chest I keep hidden behind the scenes

Along a journey and my growth, I’m only a human being

More Than music is precisely what all of these lyrics mean

It means I’m incomplete, broken, often misunderstood

On this lonely road we walk, never gave up when others would

Found in a lost place, done everything that I should

Just ’cause there’s darkness in my past; it doesn’t mean I’m not good.”

Everything Must Change

I enjoy music. Specifically, listening to music. I attempt to strangle my guitar now and then. I don’t know how the gods of music from Aiode to Väinämöinen feel about my feeble excuse for playing the guitar. I was blissfully unaware of how many gods are devoted to music. A quick Google found over fifty of them, and there are probably more. With that many gods, I think they would be more proactive in giving me the ability to play the guitar like Jeff Beck without the hassle of practicing.

Stepping away from that random thread of useless information, I like listening to music. I think there is something magical about music, how a bunch of noise gets transformed into an emotional response from the listener. Now and then, something extra special happens and a bit of music will transform into fireworks in my head and a quickening of my soul. I like when that happens.

It takes an extraordinary piece of music to happen; it is the exception, not the norm. Sometimes it is an immediate rush of blood to the brain, and I know I am listening to something special.

That happened to me over the weekend. A neat little bouncing back and forth from the first strains of music led to the lyrics, and I knew this was special, and I wanted to move to Montecito. I was listening to the new album from Rich JacquesEverything Must Change, and the first track is Montecito. I’ve got a California theme in the music I’m listening to this week; coincidentally, the temperature was a balmy 27c today.

The title track, Everything Must Change, laments that everything changes when we long for the familiar and the necessity for change to keep everything moving forward.

Track three, Can You See It, immediately caught my attention with the first two lines,

“I remember last July

 Lying underneath a starry sky.”

My son and I love driving out into the country and spending hours watching the starry sky. This song moves along with an almost sleepy feel of being somewhere comforting and reassuring.

“Even in the worst of times

We could always Seem to find

Everything we needed.”

These lyrics brought to mind a saying that a coworker of mine used to say, “Every day is a good day, just some are better than others.”

If only we could see it. When the going gets tough, it can be challenging to see past “the voices in our minds, if only we could see it.”

“Can you see it?”

Burn Me Down, track four, has a lovely pan flute sound going on with a synth bass line weaving between the words and lilting strings. And then, a way into the song, there are synthesized clapping hands. I love this song for the music; it is absolute magic to my ears. Just now, I put the song on repeat. I listened to it four times while I wrote this paragraph; good stuff, man, good stuff.

I am glad I didn’t just leave it on repeat for Burn Me Down, or I wouldn’t have heard the next track, New Design. I can’t tell you what is happening in this track. It blows my mind. There is so much happening, and some of it is so discrete that it takes more than one listen to sort it out. Then there are the multi-tracked vocals that are a bit disconnected. It leaves me a bit disconnected, “everything’s fine.

 I just had to invite it in .”

The closing track, The Stars Above, has some commentary on the state of the world. For example, “Any words that we say

 can be twisted in so many ways.” In the age of alternate truth, this rings true. It is not what sets this track aside for me. It is the sentiment that we don’t need what the world offers. 

“someday, we may live like kings.

Be nice to have the finer things,

but right now, I just need your love

the firelight and the stars above.”

I don’t need the things of this world to be happy.

I just need your love

and the worlds made of gold,

but all that shines can’t compare to the hold

that you have on my heart.”

Beautiful words set to compelling and exciting music that demands a second and a third listen to catch all that is going on between the words. I am at a loss for what else I can say. Magic, Everything Must Change is magic. I don’t know how Rich Jacque made the magic happen, and a magician never tells, so sit back with your beverage of choice and take the time to really listen to this music. Pay attention to the lyrics; if needed, read along on Apple music. Put down your phone, turn off the television, and tell your spouse that you don’t want to be disturbed for the next half hour. Let his music wash over you, and the words speak to your spirit. This album is magic.


As of July 8, the ‘Everything Must Change‘ EP was released via Cousteau Records, available digitally across the net, including Apple Music and Spotify.

‘Everything Music Change’ EP order Spotify ‘Everything Must Change’ video ‘New Design’ video

 ‘Can You See It’ video




There is a band in California making some music that I think you would enjoy hearing. They are called Maple Mars, and I would like to know how that name stuck to them. The people behind that name are as follows—Rick Hromadka on lead vocals, guitar, piano and keyboards. Steve Berns is the guitar slinger and adds his vocal noises. On drums, we have Ron Pak, who adds more vocals. And holding everything together on bass, we are entertained by Joe Giddings, and guess what, more vocals. I am always impressed when a band can sing together; think CSN&Y.

Pop Muzik” is a 1979 song by M, a project by English musician Robin Scott. It gives me an earworm with the refrain, “Pop, pop music.” It apparently got trapped in a lot of people’s ear wax because it charted very well, reaching number one on Billboard’s Hot 100.

1979 was ages ago, and I think we are ready for another pop music earworm. I nominate Maple Mars‘s new album, Someone’s Got To Listen. Someone, that’s you, needs to hear Useless Information, the lead track. This song is the perfect foil for the “Words and tangled webs” in our age of information overload and dubious new sources. This song charges out of the starting gate. It ploughs a path through the dregs of the world wide web, touching on some of our favourite nemeses, scammers, aggressive advertising, pointless chatter, twisted truths and “too much useless information.”

A couple of tracks into this album of sunshine, we have the track Goodbye CaliforniaRick Hromadka tells us that he wrote this song “about my love-hate relationship with the Golden State. Including the good, bad and the ugly. I also mention how I arrived here on the day of my 21st birthday, which is true.” This little ditty will get you humming along and wishing you were driving there yourself. I am immediately attracted to this tune because I drove into LA when I was 21. I left before it fell into the sea, but it is a good memory seared into my brain folds. I am enamoured with the orchestral quality that this song delivers.

I won’t go into detail on every song, they are all good, but I will close this blog with a tip of the hat to Silver Craft; the sci-fi nerd in me can’t let this one slip by without a comment.

Crooked Smile is a sentimental favourite of mine. I played a song called Rachel Delevoryas years ago that has a similar feel and tugs at our heartstrings for the people with crooked awkward smiles.

From start to finish, Someone’s Got To Listen is an excellent earworm generator. The future of modern pop music is in good hands, the hands of Maple Mars. Presented to us through our good friends at Big Stir Records.