Archive for Gutter UK

Gutter Talk : Stephen Kelly (Raglans)

Fresh from supporting The Strypes on tour, Dublin’s Raglans have recently released their self-titled debut album and are hitting gig venues across the country in the first headline tour.

We spoke exclusively to frontman, Stephen Kelly about petty criticism, illegal downloading and taking inspiration from Shane McGowan . . .

For those who don’t know, who ARE Raglans?

Raglans are a a band from Dublin, Ireland who play songs that (we hope) make you want to come to our gigs and have the best time. I play guitar. Sean plays guitar and mandolin, Rhos plays bass and Conn is on drums. We all sing.

How would you describe your sound to someone who hasn’t heard it?

Loud, positive and direct. It’s a bit indie, it’s a bit poppy, it’s a bit folky, it’s a bit fun.

Your debut album has hit the shelves, how do you feel about the response to it?

Pretty amazing! We went straight to #5 in the album charts back home! One of the reviews criticised us for having too many singles. SORRY!

You’re fresh from supporting The Strypes on tour, what did you take from that experience?

We learned what we already knew, put us in front of a crowd and everyone will have a good time. We also learned how well The Strypes look after their suits. Love those guys.

What would we find our your iPod? What type of music do you listen to?

My first Creative Zen was purchased about the time Limewire illegal downloading was all the rage so I had a lot of poorly named songs on that. “So Sally Can Wait” come on! I’ve always attached myself to songs rather than repertoires but I’m trying to listen to albums as a whole more now. It’s more satisfying. “AM” is a great album and I love a Canadian band called Said The Whale

Dubliners are certainly no strangers to the music scene, do you take inspiration from any Irish bands who have come before you?

The only Irish band I’ve ever really been passionate about is The Pogues, but half of them are English! I’ve just finished reading James Fearnleys (accordion player) autobiography “Here Comes Everybody” and I think it’s OK to consider them Irish, as they do! Shane McGowan is lightning in a bottle, a once in a generation talent. Committed to his way of life from the very start so he’s almost beyond reproach, people knew what they were dealing with. That commitment to being yourself is inspirational but maybe not the pissing yourself on stage. 

You’re currently on your debut headline tour, how has that been for you?

So good, the whole complexion of the band has changed now we have an album released. People are hearing about us and and coming to check us out, it’s a nice time. Exciting. Long may it last.

What can we expect from Raglans this year? How is the second half of 2014 shaping up?

It’s shaping up very nicely, we are booked all summer at festivals in the UK and IrelandGreat Escape and Camden Rocks in May kicking things off. It’s going to be a great summer. Come join us.

Debut album, “Raglans” is out now.





Live Review : Raglans, Nice ‘n’ Sleazy’s (12/04/14)

It’s possible to decipher a lot of the nature of a band before they’ve even taken to the stage or played a note. Taking in the visuals and asking such questions as is the kick drum logo made with black electrical tape? Does the equipment on stage include a guitar amp which looks like a fifth year high school project for woodwork class and also a mandolin? Are there more than a couple of “This is England” looking characters with Ben Sherman shirts and Paul Weller haircuts in attendance? The answer to all three in this case of Dublin’s Raglans is, yes.

Having only seen a few YouTube clips and read a couple of articles online, the first thought during the band’s opener “Roll Back The Years” is admittedly the slightly obscure reference that sonically it’s Sergeant if they were less from Fife and more from Ireland. Similar thoughts of bands from a decade ago and older continue throughout. The coincidentally titled “The Man From Glasgow” also follows in a similar vein but for what the band may lack in rhythmic variation is compensated for by songs which could have easily snuck on to The View’s “Hats Off To The Buskers”.

The mandolin is cracked out for the first track ever written by the band, “Down”; with strong harmonies and arrangements it’s the most memorable of the evening.With shades of The Coral in new track “Monday Morning” it occurs that eight years ago there would have been a real market and this venue would be far fuller, but in today’s scene it unfortunately lacks lyrics about “American Apparel underwear” to really make waves.

The second Glaswegian reference of the evening comes in the shape of the chorus “…that girl was lost to the White Lightning” whether singer, Stephen Kelly is referring to the blue bottled cheap cider or not is unclear, but it doesn’t make as big an impact as it should. For a band with only one LP they definitely deliver plenty in that it’s not a ‘seven songs and up the road’ kind of set. Another highlight of the evening is a cover of “Paper Planes/Straight To Hell”, far from the first time this mash-up has been attempted, but it still comes across really rather well. The only potential complaint being that it is heavier on the MIA side and lesser on The Clash with only one “Go straight to hell, boy” refrain with Liam Morrow taking on lead vocals and truly belting it.

Stephen resumed lead duties for the final two songs showcasing further his Luke from The Kooks like tones. The final track has the “Dancing Shoes” drum intro and swells to an almost Friendly Fires-ish samba eruption which is tight but doesn’t serves essentially as an extended bridge to drop down back to a final chorus. Although, as already mentioned, it is a down period in popularity for the chosen style of Raglans, and they may not have number ones and endorsement deals for lunch boxes and pencil cases but from this evening it would appear they don’t really care.

Debut album, “Raglans” is available now.

Album Review : “Caustic Love”, Paolo Nutini

“Caustic Love”,  after a major delay, drops today as Paolo Nutini’s follow up to 2009′s “Sunny Side Up”.

Coincidentally, within a week of Fatherson and Randolph’s Leap’s slow-baked debuts, ”I Am An Island” and “Clumsy Knot” respectively. It’s clear there is no hurry amongst Scots just now to bring out LPs, debut or otherwise, but has the extra time taken reflected in the record?

“Caustic Love” opens with lead single “Scream (Funk My Life Up)” an unsurprisingly funky number that grooves beneath sexy lines, only the second line is referring to “sexed up strawberry songs”. It’s not so polished as to sound Mark Ronson produced as the horns continue throughout. The beats are kept straight but loose, although from the previous two offerings the production quality is undoubtedly up. This is further proven in “Let Me Down Easy” with samples, horns and strings aplenty, the time spent to beef up the record shows. For the first time in any of his LPs, the drums are more electronic giving off a slightly different vibe to previous releases. “Bus Talk (Interlude)” is also sample-based and wouldn’t sound out of place as a skit on an early Kanye West album. This is certainly not more of the same from the twenty-something Paisley boy as he tries keep it sexy and fresh.

“One Day” is a smooth waltz whereby Nutini first stretches himself vocally, crooning over the five minutes plus, it climaxes sounding not entirely unlike a Bond theme. The aim here is definetly to go big; the chorus of backing vocals taking interesting twists melodically over the original chord progression of the track. Guy Garvey and Co. would be proud to have had penned it.

The distinctively Scottish titled “Numpty” is all keys and bluesy guitars, laid back and groovy. He voices his womanising strife as he struggles with “responsibility” and “eternal monogamy”, not content to be be “building a house so we can fall at the first step”. The man does indeed pass many a caustic comment about love. The second interlude is a minute something type of groove that Herbie Handcock would stretch out to an eight minute jazz/funk jam entitled “Superfly” again with another sample it doesn’t contribute a whole lot.

If “Candy” was “Sunny Side Up’s” most honest and heartfelt track, “Better Man” is this LP’s equivalent. Again, this track clocks in at just shy of five and half minutes and is an ode to “that girl who’s made me feel so much better”. The arrangement and instrumentation is kept simple with the chords, repeating throughout on an acoustic guitar and plenty space with the overdub layers. The chorus of backing vocals providing some dynamic range.

The centrepiece of the full record which added to the buzz of the lead single with an Abbey Road session video is “Iron Sky”, on which Paolo’s social conscience comes into play. It’s even a bit alt rock at times; it contributes in a big way to the diversity of the record. The next sample is recognisable from film “The Great Dictator” as he echoes feelings and views of anti-corporation and anti-establishment, his thoughts on sexual freedom and power extend to humanity it appears. Again, it’s lengthy, but as a statement track it does well to not outstay its welcome.

“Diana” has a distinctive British R ‘n’ B feel, set above a slick bassline and half time beat. He pleads with the listener “do you believe in passion and romance?” and the instrumentation is not a million miles from the last Arctic Monkeys LP.
“Fashion” nods to a more mature female and features a self-proclaiming rap passage (quelle surprise!) from Janelle Monáe; the backing in the verse is a smart fuzzy bass riff. The lady in tribute in the song is an all singing, all dancing model of sorts “strutting cool down Carnaby Street” and “on the cover from December to December”.

Then comes the back to back of “Looking For Something” and “Cherry Blossom”. It’s difficult to not feel that these could have been edited far better with nothing really worthy of dragging either track out to what they are. The latter is a slightly rockier more soulful venture but Nutini’s line “Feel like I’m doing all the same old shit just with a different beat” ironically rings true a little.

The album ends on a good note however, with the dreamy “Someone Like You”, which surprisingly, was somehow allowed as a title. Like something from Noah And The Whale’s “First Days Of Spring” it’s subtedly catchy with the backing vocal chorus on this one sounding a little more Fleet Foxes than it had done previously.

Overall, “Caustic Love” is more mature and diverse than the two predecessors, he is evidently yet to settle on a style, but it’s difficult to imagine he ever will. The increase in the length of tracks and the compensation for the two interludes results in it not being the most focussed, but the quality for the most part is there. Professing his love for the ladies (while it’s difficult to believe that all of the “she’s” he refers to are the same woman) and showing concern for humanity dominate this album; perhaps next time there may be a more set theme. Regardless, the hope is simply that it doesn’t take five years to make the next one.

“Caustic Love” is out now.

The Pierces Announce UK Tour

Alabama-born sisters, The Pierces are UK-bound this summer with a string of live dates scheduled for June.

The tour comes in support of the release of their new album, “Creation”, due to hit the shelves on 2nd June and preceded by single, “Believe In Me”, which is available now.

“Creation” is their first studio effort since 2011′s “You & I” which spawned hit singles, “You’ll Be Mine”, “Glorious” and “It Will Not Be Forgotten” and saw their melodic indie, folk tinged sound become a hit on both sides of the Atlantic, largely thanks to extensive touring across the globe and stunning festivals slots here in the UK.

Sisters, Alison and Catherine, will play live in the UK this June with dates in KOKO in London (11th June), Club Academy in Manchester (12th June) and Glasgow’s Oran Mor on 14th June 2014. Tickets are available now.

“Creation” is scheduled for release on Monday 2nd June 2014.

Gutter Talk : Siddy Bennett (Wildflowers)

Gutter HQ brought the “punk-Dolly Parton“-fronted, Wildflowers to your attention last year with the release of their debut EP, “Wild Among The Flowers”.

Fresh from a stunning debut SXSW performance, we spoke exclusively to frontwoman, Siddy Bennett about Janis Joplin, sharing the limelight with a sibling and being an English girl in America . . .

For those who don’t know, who ARE Wildflowers?

Wildflowers are a 4-piece indie, folk, rock band based in Brighton. We all sing so our songs are packed full of harmonies. We are made up of 2 girls and 2 boys and are heavily influenced by the late 60s Laurel Canyon scene, so we get a lot of comparisons to The Mamas & The Papas and Fleetwood Mac.

You have been pegged as a “punk Dolly Parton”, but who inspires you the most to get up and take on the microphone?

I definitely feel inspired to write and perform after watching the Woodstock documentary. Janis Joplin is a huge influence vocally; she has a bluesy, husky voice, too so I learned a lot from watching videos of her perform. As for more modern music, I love The Lumineers, they make me want to write songs.

Wildflowers are fresh from performing at SXSW, that must have been quite an experience . . .

That was a crazy experience! It was our first visit to America and Austin was heaving with loads of awesome bands and party people. I was really nervous about performing our songs to an American audience because their music has been such a huge influence on my songwriting. I was an English girl singing country-inspired music which is their pride and joy and I was in the south, so yeah, I freaked myself out a bit, but after we played we got a standing ovation! I’m pretty sure I shed a couple of tears!

I imagine being siblings in the same band can be tough, what are the pros and cons of sharing the limelight with your sister?

Do you know Kit (my sister) never, ever annoys me and I think (and hope) the feeling is mutual! We just have such a good time on the road. The pro’s are having someone who has your back in any situation, having a girl to talk to and being able to steal make-up! The con’s? We easily influence each other so if we are left on our own we usually get very drunk!

What type of music would we find on your iPod? What current bands have caught your attention?

You would find everything and anything! As long as the lyrics are good and it moves me, I like it! In Detroit, we’ve been hanging out with a band called My Pal Val and I’ve been to see them play live 3 times, they are seriously awesome! I have been introduced to a band called Sally Ford and Sound Outside; both female-fronted bands, both awesome! Check them out!

You have a UK tour in the pipeline, what can we expect from Wildflowers LIVE?

We have taken it up a notch this year; it’s going to be bigger and better! It’s our first headline tour, so we want to put on a show. I think people can expect to have a really good time. Normally, we have been supporting bands, so we only get around 30 minutes, but this will be a full-blown show.

There is a certain degree of pressure on female performers to look/dress a certain way, do you notice that personally?

I’ve always chosen to wear what I want to wear. I quite like fashion and love coming up with ideas for photo shoots, so it doesn’t really affect me personally.

What’s next for the band? How is the second half of 2014 shaping up?

We have our debut single, “Let It Go” coming out, then we are doing our first headliner tour in late April. We have a couple of festivals booked this summer, then we should be releasing the album fingers crossed, an American tour.

Wildflowers are LIVE in the UK this month : 23rd April in Bristol, 24th April in Manchester, 25th in Birmingham, 26th April in Glasgow, 28th April in Cambridge, 29th April in London and 30th April in Liverpool.


Happy Daze

Smile! It’s International Happiness Day!

Soundtrack your Happy Hour with our very special playlist guaranteed to make you laugh and dance . . .

“Happy” Pharrell Williams

Obviously the signature song of International Happiness Day 2014! A number smash hit for Pharrell Williams, selling over one million copies in the UK alone and featuring on the “Despicable Me 2″ soundtrack.

“Walking On Sunshine” Katrina & The Waves 

Originally released in April 1985, it has since been covered by Dolly Parton and Aly & AJ (remember them?) This song is the epitome of happiness; like a kid . . . high on fizzy juice and sugary treats . . . at Disneyland . . . the night before Christmas . . . You get the idea!

“Love Shack” The B52s

The B52s signature single was released in 1989 and went to #1 in both Australia and the US and #2 here in the UK. A fun, catchy pop song with a colourful party sequence video to match!

“Jump” Van Halen 

The lead single from their album, “1984″, it was the only Van Halen single to reach #1 on the US Billboard Chart.It has been covered by Aztec Camera and Paul Anka.

“I Don’t Feel Like Dancing” Scissor Sisters

Ironically, a song that frontman, Jake Shears penned about his struggle with anxiety and depression became an instant dancefloor hit and Scissor Sisters first UK #1. It was the lead single from their 2006 album, “Ta Dah”.

“I’m A Believer” The Monkees

Written by Neil Diamond, this infectious pop-track was released in 1966 and was named “The Biggest Selling Record” of 1967. Neil Diamond still performs it as part of his live set and a version sung by Eddie Murphy featured on “Shrek” soundtrack.

“Hey Ya!” Outkast

This rousing record was written and produced by Andre 3000 for the duo’s 2003, “Love Below” album. The equally fun video paid homage to The Beatles 1964 performance on The Ed Sullivan Show . . . cue a lot of screaming, fainting females!

“MMMBop” Hanson

Released in 1997, this poppy effort from brothers, Taylor, Zac and Issaac was as contagious as the chickenpox and became a #1 smash hit in the UK, US, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Spain, Germany, Ireland . . . it was everywhere!

“I Wanna Dance With Somebody” Whitney Houston

The lead single from the late (and very great), Whitney Houston’s second album, “Whitney” is still a dancefloor favourite 28 years later. It was her fourth consecutive #1 in the United States and her biggest selling single until she took on a Dolly Parton ballad . . .

“Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” Wham!

In the days before going solo (and driving stoned), George Michael was one-half of a duo and wrote this 1984 hit which gained Wham! their first UK and US #1 single. Westlife covered the song on their “Turnaround Tour” and it featured in an episode of hit US TV series, “Glee”.


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