VIRGIL HOWE DJ

With his dark eyes, long hair and thick moustache and goatee, Virgil Howe is unmistakably the son of renowned guitarist Steve Howe (from Yes) and a child of the world of progressive rock. Immersed in his father’s world from a young age, it is only logical that he would start improvising some music notes on his Moog Synth at the age of 4. Today, after successively drumming for The Killer Meters, Little Barrie and Dirty Feel, Howe is based in London and is focusing on producing and releasing singles and mixtapes on Scenario Records – a major label in UK underground hip-hop music.

Browsing his Soundcloud, it is evident that his style has considerably changed in two years.  His latest work is more mature and it seems that he is gradually defining himself in a unique musical style.  His mixes are refreshingly new in a world where electro music essentially consists of adding a repetitive melody to vaguely sophisticated beats. The influence of different styles is very strong in his recent mixes, ranging from disco to electronic, through “bootyshakin” and “spacefunk”. He excels in taking songs that belong to a very specific genre of music and twisting them around to produce an entirely different sound. For example, Snoop Dogg’s, Drop It Like It’s Hot becomes Kiss It Like It’s Hot, as it is tastefully brightened up with lazy lounge beats and slow soul notes.

Virgil Howe has character and his music is reflective of that. His unusual focus on disco-funk and his massive use of unknown vocalists seem like bold moves in the ultra-competitive sphere of London music, but by giving personality to his songs certainly pays off. Ease Back Mama, Stolen Moments, Afroway: Howe is certainly successful in imposing rhythmic afro beats as his trademark and he says himself that he stands as “as spokesperson for the outer worlds”. Certainly his family background encouraged him to find a place in the world of music, but his increasing popularity can only be explained by the fact that his style is one step ahead.

To know more about him, you can check out his Soundcloud, follow him on Twitter or like his Facebook page!

The Monty Hall Problem

Glasgow-based band The Monty Hall Problem have been making music for two years now. Having met at school, Lewis, Mark, Ryan, and Timmy quickly developed a great musical repore. Now, with an album coming out early next year that they have funded themselves, a record deal is on the horizon for the four piece combo.

From the formative stages in Glasgow, the boys are now steadily going their separate ways. They now bridge their hometown and Edinburgh, and play most of their gigs in these two cities. They make it work with a combination of hot talent and fierce dedication.

Music is the ultimate goal for all four: their indie, rock n’ roll vibe hones in on the sound of a younger generation, of which they, crucially, are a part. They write all of their own music, testament to outstanding creative powers, and the inspirational use of brass and keyboards gives a profoundly emotive tone to their songs. Their influences include the likes of Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, Glasvegas, and the Vaccines. They draw a lot of comparisons with these last – tapping into that same young indie vibe, but putting a uniquely Glaswegian crunch on the lyrics and riffs.

Future plans include the promotion of their first album, entitled ‘Is This a Dream or Am I This Lucky’ after a track on the album. Under the tutelage of producer Roger Shephard, it will be out in early 2013. What follows is anyone’s guess, but there are whisperings of a UK tour. For now, check out upcoming gigs on their facebook page, or email that at themontyhallproblem@live.co.uk.

Come see The Monty Hall Problem play in Edinburgh next November 27th for the Scottish stint of the Born in Britain Creative Showcase. Details on the facebook event page.

Marvellous Medicine

If you’ve been searching for the new groove: look no further. How happy I was to be introduced to Oxford-based Marvellous Medicine: very much a mash of jazz and folk, ska and rap, most of their melodies obviously fall into a reggae mood. They say that ‘this is a consistent feature, but you can hear Brecker-inspired funk in our song Colour, klezmer music in Streets and Avenues, and Spice Girls (!) in Girl Back Home.’

Marvellous Medicine met whilst studying at St. Peter’s College, Oxford, (the informal, arty kind of college) and it was the initial efforts of Rob – bass, Piers – keys, Jake – sax, and George – cello/djembe that founded the band. A year later, they were joined by Jamie and Holly, playing the guitar and drums respectively, and together formed MM, the six man wonder-band they are today.

Hailing from all over the UK, their backgrounds are an equally mixed bag when it comes to music. Rob, former member of a thrash metal band, cites a particular love of Bruce Springsteen, which proved of great influence in the song Homecoming. George has had classical training his whole life, and is now a formidable cellist, whilst Piers studied jazz and classical piano in Cardiff. The others are equally enthusiastic about their work, and have all been from an early age. But they do stress that this is foremostly a collaborative effort  – all members of the band sing, and they fondly consider themselves to be ‘a colorful set of personalities, but the music that comes out puts a smile on our faces’. Ours too.

So what’s next for MM? They have just released a four track EP, available on soundcloud here. They intend to continue making music together for the foreseeable future, with the ultimate intention of touring ‘Planet Earth’. I for one cannot wait; this band’s unique and soulful sound is well worth a listen. Catch them on their facebook page: facebook.com/MarvellousMedicine.

bare pale

It’s amazing where a little bit of tech know how can get you, and for young London based band Bare Pale, it looks like infinity and beyond. About a year ago, Matthew (guitar and lead vocals) made tentative steps onto soundcloud. Following an early onslaught of praise and recognition from a slew of music bloggers, the band compounded into what it is today.

Matthew was joined by childhood friends Harry (drums) and Joe C (bass and vocals) to form a holy trinity. Their music comes together somewhat naturally, and has to fit in around already busy schedules. However, after a year of gigging and jamming, bare pale are finally set to release an EP towards the end of this year.

It’s difficult to put a finger on Bare Pale’s sound. Messy riffs and catchy beats bolster the delicate and melodious lyrics: the kind of music you hope is played at the end of the evening, and is often pulled into soundtracks for big-budget indie films. This melancholic slush is remarkably easy listening, filling the gap for weekend afternoon sounds. They quote Bloody Valentine, Dinosaur Jr., and Pavement as inspiration, but their novel out-of-this-world sound is unlike any other, likened by one blog to ‘the xx played through a marshmallow’.

This particular brand of ‘fuzz’ is currently based in Harry’s basement; bare pale are currently looking to broaden their horizons by stepping out of Londontown and going a little further afield, available for gigs in the UK. Their tracks are currently available for download here, and make sure to follow them via their facebook page.