EP: Fighting Our Corner – Black Bear Kiss

Black Bear Kiss

Words by Charlie Culverhouse

Fighting Our Corner is the latest EP alt-rock unit Black Bear Kiss, and features 5 new riff-heavy rock songs: ‘Cutting Corners’, ‘Hooks’, ‘Follow Me’, ‘Fighting Our Corner’ and ‘Secret Side’. Throughout the EP it’s as clear as day that the vocalist, Chris Leech, takes hefty inspiration from the likes of Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Kasabian – mixing pronunciations similar to those of Anthony Kiedis with the nasal tone of Tom Meighan to create an interesting and easily recognisable sound.

The third song on the EP, ‘Follow Me’, features rapper Leo Golden Child, but I can’t help and feel he’s misplaced in the song. The collaboration comes across as notably forced, at times almost as if they’ve thrown in a rapper just for the sake of it rather than to add any musical value. Listening to this track makes me cringe; a lot like when Maroon 5 collaborated with Cardi B and created ‘Girls Like You’, this song haunts me.

I listened to Fighting Our Corner for three days straight and I still could not tell you a single lyric that has stuck with me. There is no passion behind the words Leech sings, it doesn’t leave me feeling any kind of emotion and it certainly doesn’t make me think deeply about what he’s saying.

And at the end of the day, isn’t that supposed to be the whole point of music in the first place?

There doesn’t seem to be any kind of sentiment at all, everything sounding ice cold. When I listen to music, I want to hear passion behind every part of the song – what’s the point of playing music if it seems like even you, the musicians, don’t enjoy it?

The stand-out song of the EP is ‘Hooks’, which also happens to be the first single they released as a band. The song teases a more powerful vocal and shows off their writing capabilities. The most fleshed out song on this EP, ‘Hooks’ gives you the sense that this is the song that the band spent the most time perfecting (even though the track is still compiled of relatively simple patterns). Yet it pains me to say that delving deeper into the musical components of ‘Hooks’ just led me to dead ends where I find nothing in particular to comment on; it’s easy to listen to and there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just not what I’m into.

What the band describes as ‘catchy riffs’ do sometimes come off as a little too repetitive, especially in EP opener ‘Cutting Corners’. But you can tell that all the members of Black Bear Kiss are talented; that’s why I want to hear something more from them. I want to see more imagination in their music and hear them challenge themselves musically, using more intricate and powerful sounds rather than the simple chord patterns that dominate their songs.

‘Hooks’ – Black Bear Kiss

Black Bear Kiss released their Fighting Out Corner EP on 1st March 2019, available online via the usual outlets. For more on Black Bear Kiss, visit www.facebook.com/blackbearkissband

Black Bear Kiss will also be performing on the Fox Stage at Gigfest in Oswestry on Saturday 6th July – for more on Gigfest, including the full festival line up and links to online ticket sales, visit https://www.facebook.com/gigfestmusicfestival/ 


NOT NORMAL NOT OK is a campaign to encourage safety and respect within live music venues, and to combat the culture of sexual assault and aggression – from dance floor to dressing room.

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 of the 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.

BREVIEW: Rosie Tee – launch of Chambers EP @ The Edge 28.03.19

Words by Emily Doyle / Pics by Jessica H Ingram

The Edge is tucked away on Cheapside, arguably one of the less inviting corners of Digbeth. On entry, however, it’s decked out like a disco in a greenhouse.

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The space is awash with green lights and spacey projections, and houseplants occupy every corner. The stage is draped with vines and tinsel, and the DJ is playing a laid-back mix of ambient, jazzy electronica. It could be this reviewer’s imagination, but the room even seems to smell like a garden – although that may be the cocktail bar in the corner, where cucumber margaritas and beetroot G&T’s are being garnished with violets and sprigs of rosemary.

The venue is quite full, so experimental theatre group L Y N N E B E C manage to weave themselves into the crowd without anyone really noticing. However, the four performers soon make their presence known, launching into a performance that quickly has the talkative crowd hushed and watching.

Full of acrobatic lifts and captivating freestyle, L Y N N E B E C’s dance performance is devised to a mix of electronic music put together by Rosie Tee herself. Tracks from the likes of Natureboy Flako and Photay are threaded together with snippets of Tee’s new EP, Chambers. By the end of the performance the dancefloor is scatted with leaves and petals that have fallen from the performer’s costumes during the piece – each dancer is pulling members of the crowd out to dance with them, most of whom are more than happy to oblige. As well as an endearing end to the display, it’s a great way to break down the ‘inevitable semi-circle’ that crowds tend to form around the front of the stage, just in time for Tee’s set.

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Rosie Tee and her band make themselves at home on the stage, bathed in the psychedelic projections. It’s the eve of the release Chambers and a stack of copies are already on the merch table. There’s an air of anticipation in the audience, from the crowd stood at the front to the people occupying the tired armchairs and Chesterfields dotted around the space. Within minutes of the band beginning, Tee has the room under her spell.

‘Wax & Wane’ is one of the first tracks from Chambers to make an appearance. Tee’s swaying vocal carries the song, gently conducting the rest of the band with the odd flick of the wrist. Skittering jazz drums from Kai Chareunsy and wobbling bass from Dan Cippico are a sturdy foundation for the glittering keys of Tom Harris, not to mention the ringing punctuation of Tee’s glockenspiel, which she stands poised over like a sequined automaton.

Tee is every bit a host as well as a performer. Between her jazz-pop compositions she shares insights into her writing process, introduces the band – proudly announcing that Cippicolay produced the new EP – and takes the time to thank everyone involved, from the sound team to the bar staff.

New songs ‘Watersong’ and ‘Siren’ close the set just as they close the new EP. The former sees Tee scat singing through a grin, while the shivering rhythm of the latter draws the performance to an uptempo close. Rosie Tee and her ensemble take a bow, but it’s only a few minutes before Harris and Chareunsy are back on stage with their own band, Trampette – who keep the room dancing with high energy grooves late into the night.

Rosie Tee – launch of Chambers EP @ The Edge 28.03.19 / Jessica H Ingram

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For more on Rosie Tee, visit www.rosietee.uk

For more on L Y N N E B E C, visit www.facebook.com/lynnebec

For more on Trampette, visit www.facebook.com/trampetteband

For more from Friction Arts and The Edge, visit www.frictionarts.com


NOT NORMAL – NOT OK is a campaign to encourage safety and respect within live music venues, and to combat the culture of sexual assault and aggression – from dance floor to dressing room.

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 of the issues raised in this feature – 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.

BPREVIEW: Mutes @ Hare & Hounds 13.03.19

Words by Ed King

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On Wednesday 13th March, Mutes headline at the Hare & Hounds – with support from Robert Craig Oulton. Sofa King were originally scheduled to perform but had to pull out of the gig – so look out for someone possibly filling in.

Doors open at 7:30pm, with tickets available for £6 (advance +booking fee) – as presented by FOMA. For direct gig information, including links to online ticket sales, click here.

There’s probably a music journalist handbook out there that would help me with genres and comparisons, one that is updated every year to keep the lexicon cutting edge. I mean, seriously, who coined ‘trap’ music…?

But one of the joys to this job is the constant evolution, especially when it comes from an arena of intelligence and not some attention/chart grabbing pretender.

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Enter Mutes, closely followed by a list that will include My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth, a couple of curveballs and an apologetic recognition as to the list itself. Sprinkle some clever metaphors, make a reference to Sub-Pop, throw in an opiate analogy and – if you’re feeling brave – a joke about revolving doors and band members. Mwah…. we mean it with love.

But it’s been just shy of two years since the James Brown led ghost in the music machine (…stir in some existential philosophy) released No Desire, the somewhat bold and beautiful debut album from Mutes. And now they’re back with Round Two. The as-of-yet unnamed new album (in the public domain at least) is set for release sometime soon, we think, we hope, but there is one single already dangling like the proverbial carrot – check out ‘Swallowing Light’ below, being performed live at the Hare & Hounds back in July 2016.

Now the more observant of you will note this is nearly a year before Mutes’ ‘dichotomy of extremes’ debut album came out, sans ‘Swallowing Light’ – so questions, questions, questions…

Now if we were to jump a gun or two, heaven forbid, it could mean that the ambient swirls and prolonged rabbit holes of No Desire have been set aside for the simple ball kicking grunge rock that Brown & Co can deliver so well. Which would be no bad thing. Or it could mean the sophomore LP is a reworking of some tried, tested, loved and live tracks from the Mutes back catalogue – with some new nuggets thrown in. Or it’s a coincidence, or an accident. Or it’s all a ruse and the rest of album two is a spoken word diatribe about penguins.

But with an album promoting gig at the Hare & Hounds on Wednesday 13th March, you’ll probably get a sneaky peak and hopefully some clarity soon enough. Or not. But you might. In the meantime, I’m going to dust down my Roget’s Thesaurus and frayed copies of DIY, so I can be rhetoric ready for when the album does arrive.

The rest of you can keep yourselves busy with the link below, or click here to check out what happened when we danced this dance before – including an interview with James Brown about what brought No Desire to the table. Enjoy. And save some mental space for the next Mutes album, coming soon on FOMA Records. TBC…

‘Swallowing Light’ – Mutes

Mutes headline at the Hare & Hounds on Wednesday 13th March, with support from Robert Craig Oulton. For more direct gig information and links to online ticket sales, click here.

For more on Mutes, visit www.mutesuk.bandcamp.com

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For more on Robert Craig Oulton, visit www.facebook.com/RobertCraigOulton

For more from FOMA, visit www.wearefoma.bigcartel.com

For more from the Hare & Hounds, including full event listings and venue details, visit www.hareandhoundskingsheath.co.uk


NOT NORMAL – NOT OK is a campaign to encourage safety and respect within live music venues, and to combat the culture of sexual assault and aggression – from dance floor to dressing room.

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 of the issues raised in this feature – 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: Five Songs – Youth Man 29.06.18

Five Songs – Youth Man 29.06.18

Words by Emily Doyle / Pics courtesy of Youth Man

When asked to review Youth Man’s newest release, Five Songs EP, I was apprehensive.

I’ve been a fan of Birmingham’s premier sex-punk outfit since my uni days. I mean, a turn up to every show wearing the t-shirt kind of a fan. Since I first heard them, they’ve toured with Sacramento’s Trash Talk. They’ve appeared on festival bills both home and away, and are set to play Afropunk Brooklyn 2018 this summer alongside Janelle Monae, Tyler The Creator, and Erykah Badu.

Youth Man‘s previous Venn Records release, Wax, went down in the Midland’s heavy history, along with its ode to Jeremy Corbyn. They even got the director of The Prodigy’s ‘Nasty’ music video, Oliver Jones, to animate the stop motion short for ‘Look/Wait’, which sees the then-trio abducted by aliens. (This inspired some clumsy questioning from Drowned In Sound’s International Women’s Day 2017 Round Table, resulting in guitarist Kaila Whyte telling them she wished she had “suction pads attached to (her) extremities.”)

I’ve also been impatient for the new EP, but my gut feeling was that I’d struggle to be a balanced, impartial listener. I mulled it over. If I review Five Songs I get my hands on it before the release date…

Five Songs begins with ‘Mainland’. Considering both Youth Man’s blistering live reputation, and the fact that this EP clocks a duration of under fifteen minutes, you’d expect them to come in all guns blazing. The opening melody of ‘Mainland’ is disarmingly fragile. It’s not long before Marcus Perks kicks in with a metallic beat on the drums, though. Familiar growling bass underpins Whyte’s vocals, which progress to a Gothic wail.

The majority of Five Songs was thoroughly road-tested, so anyone who’s seen Youth Man live in the last six months or so will recognise ‘Valley Girl’ as soon as they hear its frantic, one note guitar line. Dissonant as it may be, tracks like this showcase the group’s appreciation for a good old fashioned hook.

Stuttering, sing-a-long choruses, hand claps, and a committed middle-eight breakdown hold your hand through the textured math rock sound. The record’s lead single ‘I Don’t Know’ takes a similar approach. Doo-woppy backing vocals triumph over fuzzed out guitar to make this their most accessible track to date.

Five Songs represents a crystallisation of the Youth Man sound. Hardcore-punk snobs could be forgiven for thinking this means they’ve softened with age, but the heft behind their music is present as ever. ‘Constantly’ is one minute forty of primal ¾ noise that echoes the density of their 2013 Bad Weather EP, while the capricious ‘Statuesque’ seems to close the record with less of a exclamation point and more of an interrobang.

Youth Man have expanded their musical horizons; Five Songs is less abrasive than their back catalogue, but every bit as outspoken. It may feature gospel flavoured backing vocals and the odd homemade percussion instrument, but each track on the EP still twitches with punk rock venom.

‘I Don’t Know’ – Youth Man (from Five Songs EP) 











Five Songs EP by Youth Man is out on 29th June, released via Alcopop! Records. To order a copy direct from the label, visit  www.ilovealcopop.awesomedistro.com/products/youth-man-five-songs 

For more on Youth Man, visit www.youthman.bandcamp.com

For more on Alcopop! Records, visit www.ilovealcopop.awesomedistro.com

RELEASE: Tough Crowd EP – You Dirty Blue

Tough Crowd EP – You Dirty Blue / Out from 15th December Words by Ed King

On 15th December, a shrewd week and a half before ‘the big day’, You Dirty Blue release their sophomore Tough Crowd EP.

Out via the band’s own online know how and social media, Tough Crowd is all yours for the minimal fixed price of £3 – for direct info and online sales, click here.

A condensed follow up to the band’s somewhat monstrous debut, Tough Crowd is a three track skid through the raw grit we’re beginning to expect from the Tamworth twosome. Opening with the short and punchy ‘Nonsensical’, You Dirty Blue lull us into a false sense of something with a sneakily detached riff from Messer James, before… well, throwing short punches, across a two and half minute barrage of blues rock, duel vocals, and an ending that is gloriously unapologetic. I’m a cynic, but if this opening track doesn’t compel you to buy a TV, book a hotel room, and then do what every respecting human with a heart should do you might as well just stop breathing. A solid introduction, one you just know it’s going to destroy a venue near you soon.

Round Two begins with pace setting drums, courtesy of Messer Reynolds, and rolls through the altogether more melodic yet fast paced ‘Sharp Left Story’. Not quite as much fun Samsung suicide from the top floor of a Premier Inn, but just the right flavor for Radio 6. And comparisons be damned, but about two minutes in and I’ve got ‘Made of Stone’, ‘Peace Frog’ and ‘In Bloom’ all arguing over the last line in my head. Make of that what you will.

Another set up from Reynolds and we’re off towards the end, with the EP’s longest proffering – a radio play fuck you that “can’t please everyone” and will die trying not to. Careering into the grunge fast lane, ‘Gallow Dancer’ is a five and a half minute reason why you should go and see You Dirty Blue play live – raw and raucous, yet somehow packed with melody and sly little hooks. Again, I can’t help but think of another grunge band you could count the out members with less than one hand.

You Dirty BlueSo, time for the negative. Hang on. Wait. Wait. It’s coming… nope. Tough Crowd does exactly what you’d want it to do, and precisely what You Dirty Blue are building their well earned momentum for delivering live. Without posturing or pretence, this second EP from a band who quite simply stick to their guns is job done, as far as this reviewer is concerned at least.

I could challenge the rough edges or the live sound, but that would be defeating the DIY object of the point here; if you’re a fan of alt-J production or James Bay laments then Tough Crowd is going to really piss on your chips. Other than cutting six tracks to three, or that the band clearly hate having their promo photo taken, those are about the only legitimate counterpoints I can come up with.

But if you don’t like it, if Tough Crowd isn’t going to be on your secular wish list this December, if your take away spuds are a little warm and salty whilst you cry alone into your pillow, then please email me something wittier to say. Otherwise go and ‘support your local music scene’ for about the price of a pint.

You Dirty Blue release their Tough Crowd EP on Friday 15th December. For more on You Dirty Blue, plus online purchase points for Tough Crowd, visit www.youdirtyblue.com

*You Dirty Blue will be playing at The Dark Horse at the Killer Wave End of Year Blowout on Wednesday 20th December. For direct gig info and online ticket sales, click here.