SINGLE: ‘Tommy’ – P.E.T 04.05.18

Words by Ed King

On Friday 4th May, P.E.T unleash their debut single ‘Tommy’ – available for free, gratis, nada, NOTHING, through iTunes, Spotify and other online streaming platforms. Bless their altruistic socks… it’s like Christmas without the snow. So, like Christmas.

‘Tommy’ is the first release from P.E.T since they formed back in October 2017. It’s somewhat of a rubber stamp of authority too, from a band who quite simply mean business.

Described as ‘Birmingham’s rising punk balloon’, P.E.T are now firmly at the forefront of Birmingham’s live music scene – with an endearing on and off stage persona, as well as some ball kickingly good live shows in their shadow. Intelligent, ferocious, absurdly funny, with a set list that pulls people into the stage like Pinhead hurling around a bunch of fish hooks on Hensley chains, P.E.T have spent the past 6 months or so kicking audiences into touch across the city.

Birmingham Review was lucky to snag P.E.T to support Rews at the Hare & Hounds on 22nd March, a mere week after they tore The Sunflower Lounge a new orifice whilst opening for The Cosmics. Throwing speaker stacks of energy at you no matter where or with whom they seem to play, P.E.T are a band who work hard, deliver on stage, and are experiencing a frighteningly promising (yet well deserved) nascent in the local music secen. And they’re just, frickin’, awesome to watch live.

But now they’re recording/releasing as well, striking two off the holy trinity of ‘ones to watch’. A strong festival season or a high-profile support tour, before you ask. So, what’s this ‘ere ‘Tommy’ ruckus all about then..?

As you’d expect, the track wastes little time declaring itself – opening with a brutally strong guitar riff and bassline, from Molly MacDonald and Rosie Jones respectively, that reminds me of bands from before these punk proteges were even conceived. Literally.

Kris Szulecki’s rolling punch drums then build up to an immediate crescendo and introduce a slight key change; ‘Tommy’ hooks you from the off, then nipple twists a small surprise to keep you interested. You get the feeling very quickly this is a winner.

Absurdly together, the production values shine immediately – laying a confident base to the ferocity of Abi Whistance’s piercing vocals. Then this is where another ‘golden marker’ (as my friend used to call them) appears. P.E.T aren’t just making noise, even if it’s well structured and delivered noise, they have something to say.Abi screaming at... / Eleanor Sutcliffe And whilst ‘Tommy’ isn’t a dissertation of the nuances of shifting global trade and foreign policy, it is a sly attack. Inspired by the on-stage antics of another local punk band, who may or may not have more than cider in their system, ‘Tommy’ is a loving dig at the drug addled culture and purported bravado of exuberance.

Whistance is in your face, with the intelligence to get that close and away with it, preaching her lyrics on a background of tight musicianship. Being all church choir and tofu growing up I wouldn’t know precisely what they’re talking about, but the sense of urgency and intent on ‘Tommy’ is unassailable. I’d even be a little bit proud if it was focused at me.

The downside, for there is always a downside, is this recording is arguably too polished. There’s a slight but exciting lull, if that’s even the right word, at around the 1:45min mark where I began looking for TV sets to jettison and windows high enough to do the job properly. On stage you could imagine this actually happening, or a least a chair or two finding it’s wings. But on the recording you are left to smash screens in your mind. Which feels, for this band, like a bit of a loss of the overall P.E.T experience.

P.E.T @ Get the Fear (Digbeth) 12.05.18 / Free partyThere is a solution though, in fact there are two coming up – P.E.T are playing at The Sunflower Lounge on Friday 4th May, supporting Bad Girlfriend, and then headlining their own free party at Get the Fear on Saturday 12th May. And if this is in anyway your cup of snakebite, I strongly suggest you go and check them out live.

But if you can’t, then ‘Tommy’ is not a bad place to start – a punk decadent calling card from a band caught in the rising light of a seriously bright horizon. Awesome stuff. Now where’s my packet of silver Rizlas and wrap of toffee apple gone…

On Friday 4th May, P.E.T release their debut single ‘Tommy’ – available through iTunes, Spotify and other online streaming platforms. For more on P.E.T, including streaming links and gig listings, visit 

P.E.T are supporting Bad Girlfriend at The Sunflower Lounge on Friday 4th May. For direct event information, including venue details and online ticket sales, visit

P.E.T will also be headlining a gig at Get the Fear in Digbeth on 12th May – with support from Dead Summers, Solsara + DJ Jacky P. For direct event information, including venue details and online ticket sales, visit

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

*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.

ALBUM: Wake Up Now – Nick Mulvey 08.09.17

Wake Up Now – Nick Mulvey 08.09.17

Words by James Attwood

Following the success of his Mercury nominated 2015 debut, First Mind –  the album that spawned his breakthrough track ‘Cucurucu’ and earned him support slots with the likes of London Grammar, Nick Mulvey is back with a second offering of world music tinged indie-folk masterpieces.

Entitled Wake Up Now, the album, which is set for release on the 8th September 2017 through Fiction Records, is a reflection upon the current world that we live in – a world that is changing by the day. Here Mulvey is inspired by real world issues such as the refugee crisis and his recent fatherhood, which sit at the core of the album and informed the choice to comment on the world which his newborn son will be part of.

With this fresh inspiration and desire to voice these issues within song, Mulvey set about enlisting the help of a small group of individuals that included his close friends and band mates, producer Ethan Johns, alongside Bowie’s Blackstar engineer Kevin Killen. Recorded at Peter Gabriel’s Real World studios, Wake Up Now further featured writing sessions with Brian Eno before being sent for finishing touches at friend and long time collaborator Dan Carey’s studio in London.

'Unconditional' (from Wake Up Now) – Nick Mulvey 08.09.17Initial single ‘Unconditional’ opens up the album. Driven by strummed flamenco Guitars, offbeat rhythms and subtle flourishes of electronics, the track is typically Nick Mulvey and picks up exactly where First Mind left off with it’s simple and infectious chorus. I could imagine that the track would be every bit as captivating as an instrumental, with its tribal harmonies and horn hooks.

‘Transform Your Game (We Remain)’, takes on a similar instrumental texture to ‘Unconditional’, with Mulvey‘s trademark Spanish guitars, along with a bass groove and layered rhythmic parts. What’s interesting is the attention Mulvey pays toward rhythm within his music, layering up drums with bongos and other instruments in a nod to his world music influence. The chorus captures the community between Mulvey and his band perfectly, a carnival of backing voices, horns and multiple rhythmic elements.

‘Imogen’ sees Nick Mulvey take the listener away to a darker place, more reflective place than the two previous tracks and is indicative of the album’s inspiration, accentuated by weeping violins and a chorus of gospel backing vocals that sing the chorus, “It ain’t over now”.

Recent release ‘Myela’ is a blend of organic and electronic elements and sees Mulvey emphasize with and tell stories of the refugees that the track is inspired by. Frantic flurries of synthesizer resemble the panic of those he sings about, “please help me find a way to stay and give a future to the child I, carry inside”. He fully immerses himself within the culture of the refugees, using eastern melody and instrumentation to create the atmosphere of their motherland before closing the track with a celebratory chorus of “I am your neighbor, you are my neighbor”, showing his unity with those he sings about.Wake Up Now – Nick Mulvey 08.09.17

Following track ‘We Are Never Apart’, sees Mulvey continue to serenade the character of Myela, “Oh Myela my love, can you hear, can you still hear the sirens moan, calling you home again?”. ‘We Are Never Apart’ sees Mulvey explore the issue of fracking on the Dakota Oil pipeline, a decision made by our very own government.

‘Remembering’ however rekindles the atmosphere of the initial two tracks, with Nick Mulvey‘s trademark vibrant, tribal rhythms that create images of the lands that they are inspired by. The chorus is as simple as the title insinuates, as is the case for the majority of the album, leaving room for the musicianship of Mulvey to shine through.

It is apparent by the time we hear seventh track ‘Mountain to Move’ the tone of the album, as is the case for next track ‘When the Body is Gone’. By this point I was searching for something that I hadn’t already heard on the album. Both are still beautiful, downbeat songs filled with vocal melody and beauty, as well as well thought out instrumentation.

‘Lullaby’ is a short, nifty outtake of ‘Unconditional’, one that features the pre-chorus melody and an angelic scat like vocal – linking ‘When the Body is Gone’ with the album’s penultimate track, ‘In Your Hands’. The track is a comfortable listen, one that I would have preferred earlier in the album. With its Ben Howard style instrumentation, the track sees Mulvey and a female vocal sing in call and response fashion to one another. I would definitely deem this as one of the stronger album tracks, effective in bringing the journey of the album to a close.

Album closer ‘Infinite Trees’ is mood music and is centered around the raw connection between Nick Mulvey and his skillful guitar ability, as well as the connection he is able to make vocally with other individuals within his close knit band.

As a new listener to Nick Mulvey, I approached this album with fresh ears and very much enjoyed ‘Unconditional’ as well as the several initial tracks that followed it. However, once well into the album I began to find it predictable, having heard much of the instrumentation already.

Perhaps this was the choice of track listing, or the fact that there seemed to be two voices to the album – one extremely downbeat, the other it’s polar opposite, upbeat, vibrant and busy, containing very little tracks that fell in between such as ‘Unconditional’.

‘Unconditional’ – Nick Mulvey

Nick Mulvey releases Wake Up Now on 8th September, out via Fiction Records. For more on Nick Mulvey, including online purchase points, visit

For more from Fiction Records, visit