Yoshika Colwell

Known to everyone as Yoshi, Yoshika Colwell is an undergraduate at the University of York and everyone who knows her know about her voice.

Singing live gigs across the city at various cabaret and jazz nights, Yoshi wows audiences wherever she sings with her beautiful smooth tone and alternative covers. She has a range of covers on Youtube under the title ‘Live in the Living Room’ where she re-discovers well known songs in a simple, yet beautiful style. Listening to them, you wouldn’t know she hadn’t written them herself. My personal favourite is her cover of Bob Marley’s ‘Soul Rebel’ – believe me, it’s nothing like you’ve heard that song before!

As well as her beautiful covers, Yoshi also provides the vocal track for the radio drama Trimble, produced by URY (University Radio York) and written by Edward Greenwood. The show is currently nominated in the Best Online or Non-Broadcast Audio drama catagory in the BBC Audio Drama Awards 2014.

I thoroughly recommend listening to Yoshi and checking out her music. Not just because she’s a lovely person, but also because she’s an incredibly talented musician. Her soundcloud has a lot of good examples of her music – https://soundcloud.com/yoshikacolwell – but check out that aforementioned Bob Marley cover – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqzxYuV_Pwc

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!

CALLUM BEATTIE

Prepare your lighters: if you’re lucky enough to live in Edinburgh, you cannot miss another one of Callum Beattie’s performances, which are regularly organized in the heart of Old Town, at Malone’s Irish Bar. Be ready to succumb to the irresistible charisma of his Scottish accent as he will carry you away at the sound of his slightly melancholy music. And don’t wait too long before doing this, because one thing is certain; it will not be long before Beattie fills up larger concert halls and you lose the connection you definitely felt with him in the intimacy of a small Scottish pub.

Callum Beattie is an Edinburgh-based, incredibly talented composer and songwriter, who has already been spotted by influential music critics like Jamie Cullum (who described him as “a natural songwriter”), and is just starting to make a name for himself on the European indie music scene. Despite only being 24 years old, he has already made several appearances on British television and participated in hundreds of gigs over the UK and Europe. His collaboration with the Scottish music producer Al James started in 2011 and resulted in a very promising first album, This Time This Place, that was released in September 2012 and is downloadable on Itunes. Beyond any doubt, he is an up-and-coming talent that is clearly worth keeping a sharp eye on.

Strongly inspired by James Morrison, Oasis and David Gray, he excels in his own style, combining tranquil instrumentals with a magnetic voice. There are nostalgic aspects to his songs but they remain the kind of songs you can listen to in any situation, from doing your washing-up to cruising on a road-trip with friends. His music is balanced and harmonious, with sonorities that are at times indie and at times closer to alternative rock. As such he surely is a considerable asset for Scottish music – and the legitimate successor of Paolo Nutini. ‘Salamander Street’ is one of his finest and most impressive tunes, especially given that it was composed and written when he was 17 it will take you on a journey into the streets of Edinburgh through the touching story of a sad young woman; as Al James says himself to disliking Youtubers, “it’ll be a long time before you meet a 17 year old songwriter (…), who writes a song with the maturity of this lyric”. Youtuber: 0; Callum Beattie: 1.

To be informed of his latest gigs, tunes and other events, you can follow Callum Beattie on Twitter or on Facebook, but ideally come and see him live in Edinburgh at Malone’s or Studio 24!

Leah Mason

There are great guitarists who have a shot at singing, and great singers who pass with a guitar. Unpretentious blues rock singer/songwriter Leah Mason is exceptional at both – how rare. Initially taking up the guitar self-taught, Leah took on the six strings like a child conquering the jungle gym in a sonic playground. Whilst all the other children squabbled for the limelight, Leah walked nonchalantly strumming past them all: an unaffected, organic talent.

Not dissimilar to powerhouse Joss Stone, Leah takes the plump and glossy quality of soul music and gives it an edge – and yet despite the punch she is so likeably laid back. Inspired by Janis Joplin, Patti Smith and Bonnie Raitt, Leah said “I don’t want to get caught up in comparisons to other girls with guitars who are out at the minute. I’m into Alison Mosshart, Janis Joplin, Courtney Love; essentially women who aren’t scared to show they don’t give a f***.”

Leah’s effortlessly potent flavour is brought to light in her track ‘Waiting On a Good Day’. The power rock energy brings a helping of guts laced with 80s The Clash-esque punk nostalgia. In a touch of roughed-up femininity her vocal range soars casually over the horizon; for an artist so nonchalant Leah has some pipes on her.

Similarly, in ‘Never Can Tell’ Leah’s voice cascades skybound as if falling up a waterfall. Combine this with shimmying maracas and polished chord progressions and the result hits you from inside: an afferent summertime high.

A strong recommendation, especially for those with a weakness for acoustic covers, is Leah’s live acoustic performance of ‘Toes’ on Mahogany Sessions at Lounge on the Farm. Whether you’re a savvy music follower or someone who enjoys it for pure pleasure, dare you not to gasp at the mega vocal range and dextrous guitar skill. Building through layers of quick finger picking, a fiery chorus and a rocky break, this breathes a welcome breath of summer festival season – catch it on Youtube.

For blues fans, ‘Is There A Man’ is another powerful track seeped in longing and vulnerability. The ballard-esque chorus implores, fervent and velvety, before rolling into an accomplished guitar solo that reminds us we’re looking at real ‘no frills’ talent. On a livelier tip, ‘San Antoine’ is a bip-bopping taste of country/folk rock that screams ‘shake a tail feather’.

Leah Mason is one of those artists you boast to your friends about discovering now, before everyone else catches wind. The horizon is bright. Although still an independent artist, in mid-2013 Leah toured with Nashville-born singer/songwriter Brendon Benson – incidentally also one of the founding members of the Raconteurs. Their forthcoming material together is something for any keen music follower’s radar. As she begins to really burst onto the stage, it’s clear that Leah is an artist who has taken careful time to hone-in her sound – a sound that shows off her talent as one of Britain’s best female vocalists and guitarists at the moment.

Find Leah Mason on Youtube, Facebook and Twitter.

TRAAMS

The legend has it that TRAAMS, a grungey three-piece hailing from Chichester, consumed thirty-three pizzas during the recording session which produced their last batch of songs. The culinery dilatoriness may have been caused by the lengthy krautrock jam sessions the band was working through whilst recording (one of their singles ‘Klaus’ clocks in at an intimidating seven minutes and the length varies from live set to set!).

TRAAMS’ bass and drums lock in well together allowing for the lead vocals to roam which ever way they please. Standout single ‘Mexico’ sees lead guitarist and vocalist Stu Hopkins synchronise his licks with the vocal melody like B.B King, though that is where the similarity ends (I don’t see B.B. being featured on a German skate video).

Having recently signed to Fat Cat records, TRAAMS are looking to release their first record ‘Grin’ in the near future. TRAAMS will be playing at the Tramlines Festival next month (uncanny billing eh?). Not one to miss!

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September Sky

This week I caught up with a fantastic young band, who have been working hard to develop their unique style. Hertfordshire based September Sky are an extremely talented group with both songwriting talent and awesome performance ability. With a string of upcoming shows the band are becoming more well known, with their talents continuing to develop. Definitely one to watch! Their music is deep, memorable and very catchy. I highly recommend you check them out, and definitely make it to one of their gigs if your in the hertfordshire, london area! With all great bands you haven’t fully experienced them, until you’ve seen them live. I caught up with the guys to ask them a few questions:

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Tell me a bit about your musical style as a band

Our style is one we like to say we found on our own. It is based around a pop punk/Alternative style with some post hardcore mixed in.

What influences and inspires you most, when creating your music?

I think we all have different influences, but that’s where our sound comes from. By each of us having our own we create something new. Mostly alternative bands like Paramore and Fightstar to Interpol, Coheed and Cambria, Evanescence and many others.

As a group, have you found if difficult to establish your style, or has it just come naturally?

We feel it came quite naturally, we enjoy what we play and we all seem to write music in a very similar style to each other so there’s not really much of a struggle to fit each other into one style, especially considering the diversity of music we listen to. Sometimes difficulties can come along for us when writing but once the ball gets rolling things come a lot easier.

What are your thoughts on the british music scene of today?

Different. Very different! It’s funny to see just how much music changes over the years and we think that if you go looking for them, there are hundreds of fantastic bands around, no matter what style or genre you prefer. We’ve played with such a huge range of bands and most nights we’ve found something we’ve really enjoyed and gotten into. There is so much creativity around where as, probably due to restrictions on freedom, some big signed bands can be lacking in something sometimes, but all n all the British scene is good

Finally where can our readers see more of you guys in the future? Do you have any up and coming shows or projects?

You can check out our Facebook page and our twitter

A few of our songs can be found on youtube and on our band page. 

And we have a video in the works so keep an eye out for us

The gigs we got coming up are 
20th July Bridgehouse, London
19th October Asylum Chelmsford
We hope to see you all there 

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I hope you enjoyed that guys! Be sure to check out the band online to be the first to hear about new songs and upcoming shows!

Twitter

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Youtube

 

John J Presley

John J Presley’s musical talent lives up to his famous last name- in a mysterious rock, alt noir kind of way. To summaries the sound of this unique Brummy and his band, I would say his rock/ blues/ folk noir is similar to the infamous Jack White, mixed with The Kills, Tom Waits and Nick Cave. John J Presley adds something enticing and intriguing to the music world, through his distinct guitar, bass lines, use of a Fender Rhodes, and his husky and somewhat dark vocals. The mood of Presley’s singing, combined with his lyrics in his song ‘Sweet Sister’ takes me into an enchanting dark atmosphere, where I feel like I should be in Nashville sipping a whisky on ice. I thought I would get the man himself to answer what he thinks his great sound is like ; “This is always such a hard question to answer; you spend years perfecting your sound, through many different influences. It makes it hard to think outside the box. The music industry likes to pigeon hole, it makes things easier for them. But with my arm twisted, I would say Nick Cave meets Josh T Pearson with a bit of Duke Garwood….”

It always interests me as to why people try to enter such a competitive and over-populated industry. I wanted to know what made Mr Presley  want to make music. I asked John, if there a pinnacle moment in his life where he knew he wanted to make music? “I might sound a bit cliché but the moment I picked up an instrument. I found it the most amazing thing to create sound, I was very uninterested in playing the music of other people, I just wanted to make my own sounds. I wasn’t interested in the right technique. I find there is no wrong way to play an instrument, as long as it sounds good to you. Theory is a complete sponge for a creative mind. There is no wrong answer.”   

2012 and 2013 have been two very busy years for John J Presley and his band. During last couple of years Presley & Co. have been establishing their name in the music industry with tours and lives shows. Having been on the road touring with The Jim Jones Revue, and performing at shows with Band of Skulls, Joe Gideon & The Shark, and The Brute Chorus, Mr. Presley has been flat out. Not only has Presley been touring his socks off, but Presley and his band have also been in the studio recording their debut album over the past few months. Presley comments, “we are putting the final touches to our album. It’s up to the big guns as to when it will be released. As for now we have a summer of festivals to play, which I’m looking forward to.” [I can safely say, we too are looking forward to your festival performances!]

John J Presley has not gone unnoticed in the rock world, with Karrang! Radio host Alex Baker calling Presley as “without [a] doubt one of the most interesting, talented musicians out there at the moment.” It’s MusicNTing’s blog that really captures the sound and talent of Presley and his band; “The vocals remind you of Tom Waits or Johnny Cash, while the guitars have the same drive, as Jack White’s or the Black Keys do, only much dirtier. Plus there is a very strong folk element to it, which makes it just that much more intriguing and a bit poetic, whilst never losing its energy.”

This summer you will find this man playing at the main stage at 2000 Trees, on July 12th, and appearing at Tramlines Festival 2013, on July 21st. Go check this talented man out and see him live;

http://www.johnjpresley.com 

https://soundcloud.com/john-j-presley

Death at Sea

Great music never fails to come out of Liverpool, and Death at Sea is no exception. Death at Sea is a new rock, pop and alt band, consisting of five talented Liverpudlians. Describing themselves as the “new noise from Liverpool”, their sound is similar to Sonic Youth, mixed with The Strokes, mixed with the Pixies, mixed with The Clash ( i.e. a great concoction). Coming from the monumental musical city, Death at Sea uniquely draws influence from lofi 80’s and 90’s guitar bands. Their songs are heavily dominated with great guitar solos, and you can clearly hear the guitar influence of bands such as The Smashing Pumpkins and Dinosaur Jr.- producing some great and modern rock ‘n’ roll.

This band has only been around for a year, kicking their musical career off in January 2012. Although they are new, they have already toured with the likes of the Palma Violets, Savages, Splashh, and the indie-pop trio of sisters HAIM (accompanying them at their sold out concerts across the UK and Germany). Death at Sea has also caught the music world’s attention, with the likes of NME and Zane Lowe praising the boys for their guitar sound. Mr Lowe has already named their song ‘Drag’ as his ‘hottest record in the world’. This is especially impressive when you hear that these talents wrote the single in their living room, and recorded the hit then and there. This DIY band have also produced a limited edition cassette and vinyl of their rock song ‘Drag’, taking it back to their 80s and 90s roots, (although they admit that the cassette tape idea was so that they could play it in their old-school car).

Go and check out this hot up-and-coming band! Head to;

Their official website: http://www.deathatseaofficial.com/

Their SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/death-at-sea

And their Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DEATHATSEA

Neverstar

Recently I had the pleasure of getting to know a fantastic new band, Neverstar. The incredible rock/metal band from Hertfordshire have hit the ground running, and have been churning out one awesome song after another. With a strong style they have developed over time, the band offer something different to the british music scene of today. The band themselves are all incredibly talented individuals, something that is rare in bands today. This of course helps them to create songs that are both well written, and performed, but also refreshing to listen to. I urge you to give them a try. Here’s what they had to say:

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Tell me a bit about your musical style as a band

We play a mixture of modern rock and symphonic metal. Musically we like to experiment and come up with something a little different.

What influences and inspires you most, when creating your music?

It can really be anything from a guitar riff, something on the news or even personal experiences.

As a group, have you found if difficult to establish your style, or has it just come naturally?

In the beginning we played around with various things, and it did take some time to find what feels authentically Neverstar. It definitely took some work to get to where we are today.

What are your thoughts on the British music scene of today?

It’s an exciting time, as there’s so many interesting new bands using influences from all kinds of genres. 

Do you have any advice for young musicians?

Perfect your craft, give it everything you’ve got and don’t give up.

Finally where can our readers see more of you guys in the future? Do you have any up and coming shows or projects?

We are working on new songs as we always do, and hope to get a second album out in a year or so. Gig wise, we’ll be playing in Southampton on 14 July and in Welwyn Garden City on 30 August.

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If you want to see more of Neverstar, or want to find out when you can see then live, then head over to their website now, they won’t disappoint you!

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Twitter

Gabriella Jones

Now you may have come across Gabriella Jones recently in the media, as her music has caught the attention of some pretty famous singers, shall we say. Gabriella is not the usual teenager, who is up all night trying to score tickets to see Beyoncé live, she does the next best thing; she supports Beyoncé on her Mrs. Carter world tour.

Gabriella Jones is an eighteen-year-old Blues/Pop/Rock Brummy singer songwriter. Currently studying an English and Philosophy degree at Birmingham University, Gabriella somehow manages to juggle recording amazing tunes, and being on a world tour, with my musical heroine Beyoncé. Gabriella unsurprisingly has caught the attention of musical legends because of her unique style and tone. Gabriella has worked with some of the ‘greats’, such as the guitar genius John McLaughlin, to create some amazing music. Her voice has a husky Rock and Blues feel, with a sound similar to Paramore’s Hayley Williams and Joan Jett. You can hear Gabriella’s musical influences of Led Zeppelin, Paul Rodgers, and Etta James in her voice, taking these influences to create a new sound. As the song ‘Blue Hills and Purple Butterflies’ exemplifies, Gabriella’s lyrics are powerful poetry. To hear this beautiful blues song click here: https://soundcloud.com/gabriellajonesmusic/blue-hills-and-purple.

This lady has already kicked off her career in a way that will make anyone feel inadequate. Gabriella has not only played at festivals such as Hard Rock Calling in Hyde Park, the Isle of Wight Festival and the Wireless Festival, she has supported the likes of Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams, The Killers, Slash, and has opened for the legend that is Jay-Z. Gabriella is clearly an extremely musically talented young lady and I’m sure we will be hearing more from her in the days to come.

To check out this eighteen-year-old prodigy go to,

http://www.myspace.com/gabriellajonesmusic

https://soundcloud.com/gabriellajonesmusic

Archie Smith

Beethoven started playing the piano aged four, Mozart at three. Even Chris Martin, frontman of legendary pop/rock band Coldplay, dipped his toe in the acoustic pool pre-puberty. So when Archie Smith tells me he was hitting the piano before he could speak, I know we are onto a winner.

Aged 20, from a rurality outside of Bath, Archie had somewhat of a classical beginning to his musical education. At school, he sung in choirs and in musical theatre most of the way through. Pop and rock soon followed, and he started his first band, ‘The Aviators’, aged 12. A slew of other groups, in different incarnations, came and went throughout school, until a year ago when Archie decided to go solo.

As is the case with most of the artists showcased as part of the ‘Born in Britain’ programme, Archie does all of his creative work alongside his studies. In just the past months, he has performed with the likes of Gabrielle Aplin (also on the Born in Britain site here), Lewis Watson, Luke Concannon, Josh Record, and many other talented, young musicians. He was also a part of the late BBC Introducing programme in Wiltshire, and has subsequently moved to BBC Introducing South. It’s amazing then, to weight these accomplishments along with all of the other commitments he has, but it’s done through hard graft and a natural flair.

His first CD, entitled ‘Out of the Ashes’, was recorded and released in 2012. After the physical editions sold out, Archie turned to his next project, which was to be the ‘I Will Love You’ EP. A magical and touching ballad (which I feel the music industry is hard pressed to come by nowadays) explores themes of love and loss. Taken as a piece on it’s own, it’s extremely easy listening, and receptive to the ideas of the writer. Accompanied by a short film, that Archie tells me really came about by a chance encounter whilst busking, the result is a deeply moving piece of musical cinema. Elrose Media have successfully conveyed the core meaning of the song through a plot that ebbs to an overwhelming conclusion.

What is clear is the artistry is at the core of Archie’s sound. Never one to rush his work, the writing process is always organic, and his inspiration comes from the heart of artistic endeavour. In true New-Romantic fashion, galleries and theatres hold much to be enjoyed, especially dance, for as Archie says ‘there isn’t much that is more captivating than watching people move to music’. Musically speaking, Coldplay is a tangible influence: mellow chords and robust lyrics melt together to create something of an echo. The protegee isn’t hollow though, bolstered by other contemporary classical notes to the tune of Eric Whitacre, The Beatles, Cat Stevens, and Andy Williams. The list is endless: but the sights are high.

In relying on classical tones, his contemporary sound is given a starting point from which age old concerns meld with those that are perhaps more modern. From his first CD ‘The First Days of Love’ is a standout track. Subtle and creative, it’s a gentle tune with a heartfelt message that most of us can associate with. Stripping back the angst of young adulthood, Archie gives us a refreshing taste of honest upset and, in turn, elation. A young Chris Martin? Perhaps – but Archie Smith will no doubt soon be a household name of it’s own.

www.archiesmithuk.com

Frances Szweda

“Clicking play on a screen does the job but there’s nothing like the anticipation of owning, opening and listening to music…” Who can argue with that? Milton Keynes’ Frances Szweda has conveyed her advocacy for the ‘survival of vinyl’ by creating this series of creative sleeves. Focusing on the Mercury Prize 2012 Nominess as a case study for the project, the London College of Communication Illustration student highlights the shift towards digital purchasing of audio, that relentlessly steers away from the traditional forms of tangible music packaging that arguably helped define the musics intentions in a visual format.

The beauty of album art can be lost in the blurry rush of increased download speeds and the general digitised lust for more music in ever-expanding quantities. Szweda strikes a more serious tone in an otherwise fruitful and humorous portfolio by challenging the vinyl format. Misconceived as archaic or lacking contemporary, her project, entitled ‘A Case For Vinyl’ aimed to utilize the Mercury prize’s popularity as an anchor to convey the “lost appeal of owning a physical object.”

In-keeping with the uplifting attitudes of institutions such as Rough Trade Records, Frances’ work reaffirms our shared attitudes towards keeping the colourful world of music spinning, and highlighting the desire for vinyl to continue with spinning with it.