For every artist in the top 40, maybe even the top 100, there are a thousand artists waiting to impress us. My maths is shaky, so don’t quote those stats, but my ears I’m pretty sure are doing ok. Thomas Ashby with his latest E.P Eat My Heart/Little Us is one of the things making giving them smiles.
Thomas Ashby is my one to watch this year, and recently featured in the themusicbit.co.uk’s Welcome To 2015 series. Eat My Heart/Little Us is quite delightful, delivered by acoustic guitars, piano, bass drum and even the occasional banjo or xylophone. All of these are played by Thomas and they help Thomas Ashby to tell stories in a touching, heart-warming and intelligent way.
It all starts with Eat My Heart. Lively and warm, Eat My Heart carries you with it as it persuades your feet to stamp. Joined by an instantly memorable chorus, a well-placed breakdown keeps Eat My Heart alive in your ears as even a little banjo creeps in. Little Us changes this energy with a tender subdued opening. Gradually it grows and expands as a story grows – hitting you right in that warm thing next to your lungs. At it’s end it’s a lively and warm beast (like a squirrel?), but still with that same tenderness. Aptly, Bittersweet End closes the E.P, told via a simple acoustic guitar. Bittersweet End showcases how Thomas can re-tell our world, elements reflecting it as it is but also making it sound finer.
Thomas Ashby isn’t reinventing the wheel here. However the place it takes you to and the road you travel on make this E.P an ideal travel companion. This three track E.P, released at the close of 2014, cries out for a full live performance and sharing with an audience.
With interests that include washing lines and basements it will come as no surprize that CzechMate create exciting and raw guitar music. Fuzzed up guitars and gritty brit pop vocals slide down your ears easier than an energetic front man on a slippery stage. CzechMate are a five piece from Sittingbourne, though like all the most interesting things they are currently scattered across the country.
As you press play on CzechMate’s E.P Pipe Bombs it soon becomes obvious why the band have play venues such as The 100 Club. The E.P opener is Bus. A charged indie riff instantly captures your attention and builds anticipation. As drums and then punky brit pop vocals come in the anticipation becomes entirely verified. A hooky riff and fast pace drag you along. A powerful bass solo only helps to keep your ears trained in. Ultimately Bus not only sounds exciting and urgent, but reminds you why the back of the bus is the only place to sit.
The sense of style and swagger established by CzechMate only increases as the Pipe Bombs E.P continues with Ties and Lies as CzechMate take a swing at business culture. Short and punchy, Ties and Lies delivers it’s swing with a sharp riff, vocal harmonies and a chorus the whole band pitch in on. The drums take the stage in With Me. Fiery guitars help a drum build up to drop into another track that drips with so much indie swagger that it probably leaves a puddle, just a little heads up for you. Driven by strong drumming With Me shows a more desperate side to CzechMate as the track begs ‘Just be with me/The one for me’. Tonight ends the Pipe Bombs E.P on a similarly emotional tone. A slow and inviting riff reminiscent of Modest Mouse starts Tonight, setting the tone for the track. Warm drumming and vocals intoned with care cruise out your speakers and show CzechMate in a new light. Tonight represents a new level of relaxation from CzechMate, but they still manage to sneak in a cheeky guitar solo.
At four tracks long the Pipe Bombs E.P is too short and will leave you wanting more. All the elements of CzechMate come together perfectly to make a highly listenable and accomplished E.P. It’s no one wonder Bus was picked up by BBC Introducing Kent whilst With Me has been played by GU2 Radio and ourselves. All that’s left is for you to check it out. Find a link to CzechMate’s music with two demo tracks up for free download and related posts below.
I’d like to take the opportunity to talk to you about wildfowl. Don’t worry this isn’t a hack by the RSPB. Wildfowl are actually a Medway based band playing swagger laden blusey rock. Wildfowl formed in August and are releasing their debut, The Carousel E.P. To show off even further the E.P was recorded in just one day. What waits on it are six dirty and infectious tracks.
The first of these is Shackles. Instantly an inviting riff climbs out of whatever your using (speakers, headphones, singing squirrels, y’know). Carried along by a strong bass line your ears are then treated to the vocals. With the vocal duties shared across the Carousel E.P you’re treated first to Rory Asten Bell’s smokey warblings before Genevieve Gore joins to complete the harmony. Driven by that hooky riff and strong drumming Shackles jaunts along, setting up the sound of Wildfowl perfectly.
Influences such as Jack White and Miles Kane shine through in Wildfowl’s delivery of raw guitar driven blues. Rory’s guitar works well with the rest of the band, helping tell stories. Equally however it can take center stage and impress. Denials Your Friend shows this guitar work at it’s best as a supportive riff pulses through verses before building to hooky crescendo as the song enters it’s final minute. Always helpful in a band is the drumming, which is powerful throughout the Carousel E.P. The beats laid down by Adam Green drive the songs forward, and are at their most pounding in tracks such as Half Cut. The clarity of the recorded drum sound is also impressive. Sean Meaney’s bass creates a pervading sense of rhythm across the Carousel E.P, but particularly beasty in tracks like such as Carousel.
Stand out tracks on the E.P include You Tripped Me and Carousel. This Opens with an uncertain chime before an attention grabbing riff straight from a Bond film kicks in. You Tripped Me also shows Genevieve leading the vocal duties. Her clear vocals deliver the lyrics straight to the center of your brain and contrast the dirty (in all the best ways) music beneath them. Add a catchy chorus to that big Bond riff and raucous drumming and this song won’t leave your mind. As the raucous and energetic end approaches this track is a world away from its opening. The title track Carousel is a five minute epic with a body possessing rhythm. The song shows the band at their most versatile. It has a big and infectious sound in places. However it also has a slow vocal breakdown and a cheeky false end as more bluestastic (that’s totally thing..now) storms down your ears.
Wildfowl have started off big. The Carousel E.P is a six track blues manifestos of energy, soul and passion. Wildfowl wear their influences on their sleave but leave their originality ringing in our ears. See the band live and get a copy from iTunes.