SINGLES: ‘Today We’re Warriors’ – REWS / ‘Do You Love Me Yet?’ – [SKETCH]

Ed’s note…

A long time ago in a music venue far, far away…

Like much of the entertainment industry, Birmingham Review has been ‘resting’ since the end of March – when we published our last article before all that pesky pandemic malarkey.

Although we were amongst the lucky ones; the venues were closing, the gigs weren’t happening, so a surprise holiday was about the darkest cloud on our horizon. And how many times had we cried out for the ‘life pause button’… Our hats are off and our hearts go out to all the artists and venues who have been much more adversely affected.

But there was one casualty in Camp Review, our gig with REWS – originally scheduled for 21st March at the O2 Institute 3, with local punk-rocksters [SKETCH] supporting – was postponed.

Until when, we didn’t know. No one knew. And there were a lot of questions before that one that people needed answering.

But on Friday 17th July, we can once again celebrate both of these bands – and whilst we desperately still want to see them share a stage, having the same single release day is a pretty good interim measure. So welcome back one and all – and however you’ve been hit by the coronaviris crisis, we wish you all the luck and love you need to make it through x

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Words by Ed King / Profile pic by Jude Palmer

‘Today We’re Warriors’ – REWS

Someone once challenged me to name a band, any band, that continuously gets better as they get older – single after single, album after album, tour after tour… still grabbing your attention in the way they first did. Try it. It’s not as easy as it sounds. And you can’t say The Beatles.

REWS, however, are one of these bands – it’s why Birmingham Review has thrown so much page space their way. When we first saw them, they were awesome. The next time they came to Brum, they were even better. The time after that, they had taken another step up. And the story continues…

But the sword of album two was always hanging over their heads, alongside a line up change that was so unfortunately timed it could have derailed any ensemble. Old or new. Pyro was a ferocious debut, a real monster of an album, which is great… but how the f*ck are you going to pull another one of those out the bag???

Kicking off, and we use the adjective/noun deliberately, with a Shauna Tohill signature foot stomping guitar riff, ‘Today We’re Warriors’ is immediately another REWS banger (official term). Add it to the list, pour another shandy, and scream with the windows rolled down – REWS keep getting bigger and bolder.

But with maturity comes confidence, and REWS pull back on the reigns of their new single – with a pause, rim tap, and tempered vocals taking over after about 10secs in. You know that question about ‘still grabbing your attention’… yeah, well, this is how you do that.

But the ferocity we know and love REWS for is not too far behind, with the dance between IN YOUR FACE ROCK and a stripped-back-strut-inducing sound keeping this track on its toes from start to finish. If this is the taste of Warriors – REWS’s sophomore album,  set for release on 7th August – then I might just have an answer to my original question…

“Today were warriors – the song exclaims exactly what the name suggests!” explains Shauna Tohill. “Every morning we wake up, we have a choice in what kind of journey we will lead.  There are dark days where our path is unclear and blocked (some more than others) and that’s when I want to encourage everyone to keep fighting forward, to gather together in the spirit of music with those who are good in your life, to support and respect each other! 

“TODAY, we got this, we will get through this and we will keep moving forward to see a better, positive, thriving and equal future for all women, men, children from all races and backgrounds. Today, we’re warriors!”

‘Today We’re Warriors’ – REWS

‘Today We’re Warriors’ by REWS is out from Friday 17th July, released via Marshall Records. REWS sophomore album, Warriors, is set for release on Friday 7th August – to pre-order a copy, visit  www.transistormusic.com/rews

For more on REWS, visit www.rewsmusic.com

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Words by Ed King / Profile pic courtesy of [SKETCH] 

‘Do You Love Me Yet?’ – [SKETCH] 

Infectious. If I was going to review the latest single from [SKETCH] in a word, that would be it. Give me two, and I’d stick ‘seriously’ in as a prefix.

But if this new track from Birmingham’s tartan clad pop punkrocksters doesn’t ignite-the-planet’s-musical-blue-touch-paper-and-shower-down-a-sparkling-rain-of-glorious-audio-technicolour-onto-the-ears-and-mosh-pits-across-the… perhaps two words is a good limit. Seriously infectious… yep, that about sums it up. 

A love song, of sorts, ‘Do You Love Me Yet?’ is “more of an attitude” than a dedication – with [SKETCH] never shying away from using personal experience as inspiration (check out ‘My Girlfriend’s a Vampire’ and keep bear that in mind).

With immediate swagger, the tracks starts off suitably high octane – there is no escape, so you might as well surrender. Front man Foley’s vocals have just the right amount of confidence and grit, slicing through a punchy pop punk masterclass and infectious lyrics. There’s that word again. But seriously (and that one) if you can make it to the end of the chorus with singing along, whether you know the right words or not, then you’re probably dead inside.

“We like to call this an absolute stomper,” tells Matt Robinson – [SKETCH] percussionist, lyricist, general manager, and all round ambassador of the local music scene. “It’s boyish ego mixed with massive vulnerability, and it represents a wider audience… it’s a statement to them.” 

Written by Robinson and Foley, ‘Do You Love Me Yet?’ was conceived “in the rain, in a shed” – then recorded by Gavin Monaghan at his Magic Garden Studios in Wolverhampton. But the contagious little number has already travelled a lot further than up the Birmingham Road, climbing to No10 on Banks Radio Australia Top 15 UK tracks chart.

But don’t fret pet, you don’t have to circumnavigate the world to see [SKETCH] as they have recently announced a rescheduled date for their Hands Off Gretel support slot – now coming to the O2 Academy on 6th December 2020. For more details and links to online ticket sales, click here.

But if December and the idea of standing in a room full of strangers seems too far away, you can always listen to ‘Do You Love Me Yet?’ a little closer to home…

‘Do You Love Me Yet?’ – [SKETCH]

‘Do You Love Me Yet?’ Warriors’ by [SKETCH] is out from Friday 17th July, released through the band’s social media and usual suspect online streaming platforms. For more on [SKETCH], visit www.sketchband.com

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NOT NORMAL NOT OK is a campaign to encourage safety and respect within live music venues, and to combat the culture of sexual aggression in the music industry and beyond – from dance floor to dressing room, everyone deserves a safe place to play.

To learn more about the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here. To sign up and join the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here.

If you have been affected by any issues surrounding sexual violence – or if you want to report an act of sexual aggression, abuse or assault – click here for information via the ‘Help & Support’ page on the NOT NORMAL NOT OK website.

OPINION: Love in the time of Coronavirus

Words by Ed King

Last week we were counting ‘reported cases’. This week we’re counting ‘deaths’.

I was in India, a country relatively (at that point) unaffected by Coronavirus – there were pockets of contagion in the far north and south, with quick containment, and neither the virus nor the fear had spread very far – the ‘reported cases’ were just tipping 30, whereas the UK was pushing 400.

My return flight was with Air China, including a four hour layover in Beijing. So, each day began with a pot of curd, several cups of chai, and a scan of online news reports to see what airlines were affected – my biggest fear was missing my transfer and getting stuck in China, having been held up coming into Beijing because a Swiss man had lost his jacket. Over 40 minutes on the tarmac, in December, with the bus doors open. I travelled through the UAE when SARS struck and we spent hours in Doha airport being questioned and swabbed – my faith in the Civil Aviation Authority of China, who present themselves like the Ministry of Love when there isn’t a global pandemic, was limited. I needed to readdress my route home.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, from Bangalore to London City. Booked, packed, and ready to go. But by then I was stuck in the daily news cycles (a wagon I’ve been falling in and out of since leaving the world of PR agencies in 2006) and followed the Coronavirus story from CBS to Al Jazeera. Where had the virus been found, who was responding in what way? What public statements of blame and tacit panic were coming from the podiums of what countries? Europe was infighting; North America were wearing slogans on caps. China was silent. The Daily Mail even found a way to blame it on immigration. It was fascial, in my mind, and I braced myself for the circus of panic buying and ignorance that would undoubtedly greet me once I landed in London.

On Tuesday my niece was sent home from school with a fever. An old friend of mine in London is seriously ill. My mum is too afraid to hug me and every handshake I’ve had comes with an air of suspicion. Professionally, I lost near £5,000 in 24 hours and I’m in a better position than most. Every day we huddle round our iPhones to hear Uncle Johnson’s latest fireside chat and watch the doors of our social outlets close until further notice. It’s not a circus; no one is laughing or cheering. There’s no grand finale. Not a fun one, anyway. And the hubris I carried around for the first few days has turned into embarrassment and shame.

Don’t get me wrong, I still see the cracks in the story – the quiet announcements that pave the way for privatisation of our front line services, where ‘strain’ will become ‘support’ from the private sector. The selfishness of consumers and the arrogance of a designer facemask. The special measures being passed through parliament whilst we’re distracted by body counts. The contracts waiting for Big Pharma, who will be painted as ‘pioneers’ and ‘saviours’ as they make billions from a global cough. I’m still skeptical. But, curiously, now, I’m hopeful too.

There’s something else that’s palpable, aside from Google led health concerns, armchair assessments, and crumbling economies; there are other waves washing over the country I both defend and despise. Compassion. Community. A sense of mature camaraderie, that regardless of whether you’re red, blue, yellow, green (or heaven forbid even purple) in your politics this is something beyond the ballot box. And I’m not talking about taking Whitty and Vallance verbatim, which is another conversation, but more the small decisions people are making to simply support one another.

Since Monday, I’ve had conversations in two supermarkets because the men beside me wanted to know “…are you already mate?” My housemate is currently downstairs batch cooking curries for our neighbours. Professional peers are paying my invoices early, where they can, and the largest tour operator in the country has told me I can settle up whenever. I have a WhatsApp group with my family, where we’re sending my sister jokes, gifs, and memes as her household stay under quarantine – I went to bed last night after sharing a video of goats jumping on a wobbly sheet of metal. We haven’t played like this since we were children.

I’m changing too. I’m swapping the self-import analysis of the public domain for community spirit. I’m not Gandhi (Gandhi wasn’t Gandhi) and I’ll start with my own love list first, but I’m going to pitch in. I’m going to do the right things at the right tie, to plagiarism our premier. I’ll probably still go to the pub, until I’m forced not to, but I’ve shut down all my events until August and I’m watching the briefings from Downing Street with a clearer sight. I’m listening. I’m not picking them apart. Well, not as much anyway.

And whilst I will hold onto my belief that there is manipulation in the media, because there is, I’m choosing not to fight that this time. My energy is can be better spent. Rightly or wrongly, people are scared. My friends are scared. My family are scared. Part of me is scared too. And there’s only one way and one emotion I know of to fight fear.

Ed King is Editor-in-Chief of Review Publishing – you can follow Ed King on Twitter at www.twitter.com/EdKing2210

For more on Review Publishing, visit www.reviewpublishing.net/

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NOT NORMAL NOT OK is a campaign to encourage safety and respect within live music venues, and to combat the culture of sexual aggression in the music industry and beyond – from dance floor to dressing room, everyone deserves a safe place to play.

To learn more about the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here. To sign up and join the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here.

If you have been affected by any issues surrounding sexual violence – or if you want to report an act of sexual aggression, abuse or assault – click here for information via the ‘Help & Support’ page on the NOT NORMAL NOT OK website.

OPINION: The Hold Tight Sessions – Nerina Pallot

Ed’s note…

This was first published in Nerina Pallot’s newsletter, issued to her fans on 18.03.20 – we thought it was such a good idea (and such a warm piece of writing) that we asked if we could syndicate it to our readers. With all the fear in the world right now, alongside the damage to the creative and other industries, we loved seeing a silver lining.

The clue’s in the title, but watch out for Nerina Pallot’s online concerts – The Hold Tight Sessions –  streamed every Thursday at 8pm; we’re still safe to make sound, even if it’s a little further away than the traditional front row. For more on this, click here to visit the Facebook event page or click here to visit Nerina Palllot’s YouTube Channel.

And there’s a couple of sneaky peaks of Nerina live at the end of this article, please excuse the picture quality of the first one but we thought it was a good clip/representation (and please excuse Gloria Hunniford’s segue…)

Be safe and be kind to each other; now is the time for community and compassion. With love from all at Birmingham Review x

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Words by Nerina Pallot / Pics by Katja Ogrin

Before I sat down to write this newsletter, I looked for a poem with which to begin it. I rifled through the books I already have, thought ‘surely me old mucker Philip Larkin has something to say about all this business. Or Pablo Neruda. Maybe go all high falutin’ and rustle up something by that naughty Mr Marvell. Or a bit of Rilke to make us all pause for thought and look all moody like tortured teenagers.’ I spent a long time leafing. Gave up. Googled – what was I gonna Google? Poems for uncertain times? (The poems in existence didn’t bank on times as uncertain as these.) Poems for a world on lockdown? (Nope. Nada in that larder.) Poems for when we’re up a creek nobody knew existed and you have ten thousand spoons when all you need is a paddle?

Guess what. There are no poems for this, but I suspect many will be born because of it.

Tell me, if even a mere month ago somebody had come to you and said in France, if you want to leave your house, you need papers to explain where you’re going and what you’re doing you would have thought them mad. The whole notion was preposterous; a conspiracy theory cooked up by the sort of people who think juicing cures cancer and love to tell you all about it on Facebook. And yet at midday yesterday, this is what came to pass. In France. Land of la liberté, egalité et fraternité. In Italy, people are singing to each other on balconies because that is all there is to do. The world is shutting its doors to keep out an enemy it cannot see, smell or hear.

Now, some of us have waited our whole lives for state sanctioned introversion. We feel validated. We got this. A legitimate excuse to stay home in our pants and read and listen to music and draw and never have to see people? Yes please thank you very much. But now that the option to come out of ourselves has been removed it doesn’t feel good. It doesn’t feel very good at all. Perhaps we have more in common with those folk who move through the world as if it were an amusement arcade. We’re just not very good at parties. But now there aren’t any parties to go to anyway.

And suddenly, I dunno about you, but I could do with a bloody good party.

None of us have any real idea of what is about to unfold, or how long this unfolding will take. Some of us are living week to week, pay cheque to pay cheque. We may be working from home, but only for as long as the companies we work for can keep going. We may run businesses that are trickling away before our very eyes. Some of us may have seen our pensions – everything all those years of slog and sacrifice were meant to be worth it for – slip like sand through an hourglass in just a fortnight. Some of us may be ok. But if we don’t know what it is to come, how can we know for sure?

Here’s the thing. It’s a WE thing. Because for once in human history, every single one of us is affected and we are all in this together. And not in the way David Cameron meant either.

And that is a wonderful thing. I don’t mean this flippantly. Not a single one of us can come away untouched from this – not even Jeff Bezos or Vladimir Putin or Kay Burley’s hairdo. And for all the crappiness in the world – the war, the sickness, the terrorism, the poverty – we also live in a time of extraordinary progress. At the peak of scientific discovery, where right now, at this very minute, all over the planet, there are amazing men and women in white lab coats straining over microscopes and working at lightening speed to find a way to despatch this pesky virus into the biohazard dustbin of time. They will do it. They always do.

We are humans. We do some shitty things, but we also put men on the moon (like in my song sort of) and figure out that as well as making some excellent cheeses, mould can make life saving drugs. We also like to dress our cats in unicorn costumes.

Right now, as I see it, we can only control ourselves. Everything else is out of our jurisdiction – but isn’t it always that way, much as we like to convince ourselves otherwise? So with that in mind, we have to sit this out. Take care of ourselves and each other as best we can. Eat well. Brush our teeth. Get some rest. Watch the bare minimum of news. Concentrate on only each day as it comes. Add gin where necessary.

Do what we can.

What I can do is sing and play music and chat nonsense. And so that is what I’m gonna do for you in coming weeks. Every Thursday at 8PM UK time I’m going to do a little concert from my living room for you. I will happily take requests – although I may need them a day or two in advance to avoid disappointment because I have written A LOT of songs now as I’m old. If glitch free technology allows, I might be able to get some musical friends to join me from their living rooms too. We’re looking into it.

Feel free to dress up and share your photos of sartorial elegance. THIS MEANS PLEASE WEAR CLOTHING. The fancier, the better. I refuse to let you slip into the slovenly ways of the couch potato. We are going to get up every day and make an effort and put lipstick on even if the only person there to witness it is the cat.

‘Stay Lucky’ – Nerina Pallot (live from the Trades Club, Hebden Bridge)

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‘Sophia’ – Nerina Pallot (performed live on Heaven and Earth / BBC)

Nerina Pallot will be hosting a living room concert every Thursday from 8pm GMT – The Hold Tight Sessions. For more on this, click here to visit the Facebook event page – or click here to visit Nerina Pallot’s YouTube channel.

For more on Nerina Pallot, visit www.nerinapallot.com

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NOT NORMAL NOT OK is a campaign to encourage safety and respect within live music venues, and to combat the culture of sexual aggression in the music industry and beyond – from dance floor to dressing room, everyone deserves a safe place to play.

To learn more about the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here. To sign up and join the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here.

If you have been affected by any issues surrounding sexual violence – or if you want to report an act of sexual aggression, abuse or assault – click here for information via the ‘Help & Support’ page on the NOT NORMAL NOT OK website.

Q&A: [SKETCH]

Words by Ed King & [SKETCH] / Pics courtesy of [SKETCH]

On Saturday 21st March, [SKETCH] will be playing at the O2 Institute 3 – alongside Louise Bartle’s Bloc Party splinter group, NOVACUB, supporting the alt-rock powerhouse REWS as they come to Birmingham on The Phoenix Tour.

Minimum age of entry to gig is 14 years old, with doors open from 6pm. Tickets are priced at £10 (+ booking fee) – as promoted by Metropolis Music and Birmingham Review.

For more gig info and links to online ticket sales, click here to visit the Facebook event page. Or for a direct link to online ticket sales, visit: www.reviewpublishing.net/product/rews-novacub-sketch-o2-institute-21-03-20

[SKETCH] are Birmingham’s own tartan clad rock/punkers, currently promoting their latest single ‘Do You Love Me Yet?’ – set for release later this spring. Birmingham Review caught up with them for a small cranium crunch, ahead of their gig supporting REWS at the O2 Institute on Saturday 21st March:

BR: Hi [SKETCH], thanks for agreeing to a quick fire Q&A on the run up to next Saturday’s show supporting REWS – we’ve got a good feeling about this gig… any butterflies in [SKETCH] stomachs?

[SKETCH]: Hi, we have a good feeling about this show too. Wouldn’t say there’s butterflies just a nice excitement brewing as tickets start to sell and our Setlist was decided this week so we just can’t wait to get on stage.

BR: You’ve played the O2 Academy before, as part of the Catapult Club showcases there – but is this your first time at its sister venue across town?

[SKETCH]: Yeah, we played a few times with the Catapult Club when starting out as a band, it’s a great beginning circuit for any local acts. This isn’t our first show at the O2 Institute, we’ve headlined the Institute 3 a few times and had a gig in the bigger O2 Institute 2 as well; it’s a great venue with some good pedigree and we always enjoy playing there.

BR: On the run up to the REWS gig, we’ve been referring to you as ‘Birmingham’s own tartan clad rock/punksters’ – but geography aside (we know Matt comes from Stratford) how close to the mark are we musically?

[SKETCH]: To be honest pretty close. Whilst Foley would marry the very un-brummie Sid Vicious if he could and Joe adores the likes of Slash, Black Sabbath has played a part in all of our lives at some point and Foley and Matt both love the pioneering work Jaykae is doing in the grime scene and have followed him from his really early days. We think we carry that seemingly Birmingham (definitely nothing to do with Peaky Blinders) attitude of ‘work hard, play hard’, and it’s an attitude we have great pride in showcasing in our music.

BR: Individually, you embrace a wide spectrum of genres and styles – you’re all rock fans, sure, but Matt likes his hip hop and Foley started out playing the trumpet. How does this factor into your song writing?

[SKETCH]: Oh god, please don’t tell us Matt has asked you to beatbox whilst he ‘spits some bars!’ Yeah, we all come from different music backgrounds which helps massively when song writing. Matt and Foley do the majority of the composing before Joe and Sam put the needed icing on the cake.

BR: Who writes the lyrics? We’ve got a song about your girlfriend being a vampire in our minds…

[SKETCH]: It’s usually Matt who writes the lyrics. That song was actually about a couple of lovebirds in his class at college. It was the kind of relationship where one person was into it way too deep and despite all the warning signs they never learnt the lesson, so Matt imagined one night about being that person and how it must have been easier to think of your girlfriend as a vampire because she’s always out at night and smells of others rather than the seemingly bitter truth.

BR: And where did the tartan come from? It’s not a look everyone can pull off…

[SKETCH]: Have you spoken to our ex-girlfriends? They’re usually the ones who say we can’t pull the look off! It’s a look that Foley has triumphed since the beginning of the band and then Matt had the idea of everyone wearing a different colour of Tartan, almost like a teenage drink fuelled punk rock Power Rangers.

BR: We last saw you at The Sunflower Lounge, when you were smashing it wall to ceiling packed with The Pagans S.O.H and Kioko – great to see the show sold out, but how was that gig for you on stage?

[SKETCH]: Yeah, the last show at The Sunflower was a great one, especially to have the Pagans and Kioko on the bill to make it a jam packed night. It was a great show to play, very sweaty as all of our shows seem to be and if we remember correct one of the only days that week where it didn’t rain so someone up there was looking for us to have a good night.

BR: You’re playing with The Pagans S.O.H again on 30th May, this time at Muthers Studio. Was this after the success of The Sunflower Lounge show or are you just professionally stalking them?

[SKETCH]: We love that term, ‘professional stalking’. We’ve played with the Pagans a couple of times now and we love their energy. This gig came from conversations following the Sunflower Lounge show and it’s a show that we think will sell out quickly (we’ll be sure to invite you guys along!)

BR: But before that you’re supporting Barnsley alt rockers Hands Off Gretel, when they come to the O2 Academy on 7th ​May – a band with a pretty big online audience, over 22k Instagram and 25K Facebook followers. We heard you got that gig after sending them a copy of ‘Do You Love Me Yet?’

[SKETCH]: Yeah, we sent through ‘Do You Love Me Yet?’ to the band and they passed us onto their agent who liked the track. It’s a show we’re really excited about and a band that are making some great music. It’s nice that this next track is getting some early recognition pre-release and hopefully it will do well for us.

BR: Any other bands you’re itching to support, you never know who might be coming to Birmingham…?

[SKETCH]: There are too many bands we would love to support! Anyone travelling with a great sound and who you could go for a pint with they’re usually the kind of people we get on best with. If we had to name names of bands we reckon we’d rock a stage with SWMRS, Muse, The Libertines, that kind of sound and attitude.

BR: ‘Do You Love Me?’ is an absurdly addictive track though, it certainly grabbed our attention. Again, with some great lyrics (‘Got rosy cheeks ‘cos I’m running from cop’ is our personal favourite). What’s next on the [SKETCH] release schedule?

[SKETCH]: ‘Do You Love Me Yet?’ is next to release in April. We can exclusively let you guys know that we’ve been recording the music video for the song and we hope it’s a goodun.

BR: Will it be back to The Magic Garden, getting Gavin Monaghan in again as producer?

[SKETCH]: The recording of ‘Do You Love Me Yet?’ was the first time we’ve worked with Gavin and we had a great time in the studio so assuming dates can be matched we’d love to work with Gavin in The Magic Garden again shortly.

BR: And we have to ask, because it’s been ‘eagerly awaited’ for some time, but how is the debut album looking…? And why is it a problem when you’re cooking under the influence?

[SKETCH]: I think our parents are most eagerly awaiting an album so we can set up a direct debit and start paying them back for all of the equipment we’ve broke over the years! We have a couple of plans in place to release music a little differently to what the usual industry expects and we hope it’s a move that can really make a difference. One thing is for certain and that’s music is coming from April onwards!

In answer to the second part of the question, we decided to call our first EP Don’t Cook Drunk as a nod for the first time we all were in a room together (which was at a party).  The line-up was a little different back then and after the said party Matt decided to cook some chicken nuggets for the band but didn’t turn the oven on so after 20 minutes when he (with oven gloves) removed them from the oven, our then guitarist Charlie got through about 6 or 7 before we realised they were raw and he was ill for a few months. Matt hasn’t been seen cooking since…

[SKETCH] play at the O2 Institute 3 on Saturday 21st March, performing alongside NOVACUB and supporting REWS on The Phoenix Tour. For more gig info and links to online ticket sales, click here to visit the Facebook event page.

**Birmingham Review will donate £1 from all tickets sold through Review Publishing to the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign – click here for tickets: www.reviewpublishing.net/product/rews-novacub-sketch-o2-institute-21-03-20

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For more on [SKETCH], visit www.sketchband.com 

For more on NOVACUB, visit www.wearenovacub.com
For more on REWS, visit www.rewsmusic.com

For more on the O2 Institute, including venue details and further event listings, visit www.academymusicgroup.com/o2institutebirmingham

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NOT NORMAL NOT OK is a campaign to encourage safety and respect within live music venues, and to combat the culture of sexual aggression in the music industry and beyond – from dance floor to dressing room, everyone deserves a safe place to play.

To learn more about the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here. To sign up and join the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here.

If you have been affected by any issues surrounding sexual violence – or if you want to report an act of sexual aggression, abuse or assault – click here for information via the ‘Help & Support’ page on the NOT NORMAL NOT OK website.

EP: Brain Food – Brain Food 13.03.20

Words by Ed King / Pics by Radek Kubiszyn (Psychedelic Eye)

‘According to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina, an estimated 17 to 21 million people in the United States are affected by a fear of this day, making it the most feared day and date in history.’

I was Googling ‘Friday the 13th’ to come up with some witty framing technique, as Birmingham’s psych rockers, Brain Food, have ear marked this notorious end of the week to release their self-titled sophomore EP. But in the wake of a bulbous buffoon with his finger on the button and the grip of fear the world’s most popular sneeze has on half the planet…

A five track kaleidoscope of echoing psychedelia, Brain Food EP by Brain Food is indeed a tasty cranium treat – opening with ‘Poseidon’ and a surprisingly dirty riff, which had me fish hooked from the off, Liam McKeown’s perfectly lost vocals soon slide across the track.

An almost perfect front man for a band covered in the glow of a hyperactive lava lamp, McKeown sets the tone perfectly on the EP’s opener – sitting somewhere between a rock star joie de vivre and an introspective blotter acid trip in the dark corners of a Velvet Underground after party. Works for me.

But this is prog-something-psych-something-rock-something else… so, a small noodling siren is sounded as ‘Canyon Crawler’ sends seven minutes of blissed out guitar waves over a slowly marching tempo. It drags a little, to me. Today. If I was a younger man with a bit more mind left I’d probably be finding ways to lose it in this, but after about five minutes I’ll admit I’m swimming to the shore.

Then, as if my silent selfish prayer was answered, ‘That Feeling’ draws a sweet line down the middle of this Brain Food EP – in a surprisingly short (under four minutes??) foray into a more melody led track. It might be a bit too accessible for the prog purists, and you could be forgiven for thinking if psych rock was ever going to be radio friendly this is probably the closest it is going to get, but it’s still a damn fine few minutes.

‘Cosmic Jones’ takes us down the other side of the hill – opening with a cheeky little wah wah and keeping us cheerily on our toes for just over five minutes of soft crescendos and pretty nifty fretwork. Before the swan song of ‘Forbidden Tongue’ closes the show, which you can check out below instead of reading me try to be funny.

Which reminds me, where was I with that framing technique…

I’m not sure how many registered voters this EP will keep safe on its auspicious release day, but the idea (and to quote another LSD soaked ensemble) of encouraging the hope barren masses to ‘feed your head’ instead of panic buying toilet paper couldn’t be better placed.

And Brain Food by Brain Food seems to sum it up quite nicely this Friday the 13th… so, put that in your literary trope and smoke it.

‘Forbidden Tongue’ – by Brain Food

On Friday 13th March 2020, Brain Food release their self-titled second EP, Brain Food. For more on Brain Food, both the band and the extended play, visit www.facebook.com/brainfoodofficial

Brain Food are also hosting an EP launch party at The Night Owl on Saturday 14th March, with Cave Girl and Exhaler supporting. For more gig info and links to online ticket sales, click here to visit the Facebook event page.

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To learn more about the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here. To sign up and join the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here.

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