College Elite – Next Semester

There’s a brand new single out from this Californian pop-punk group. It’s a bit Bowling For Soup, a bit Simple Plan, a bit New Found Glory, and it’s called ‘Next Semester’ by College Elite. Ok, I lie. College Elite aren’t Californian, they’re actually from Manchester, England, and the DIY solo project of songwriter Joshua Williams, but you’d be forgiven for mistaking this two and a half minutes of powerpop for real deal US college dorm rock.

Commencing with spoken clips of a girl from an american teen movie, ‘Next Semester’ is pure high energy, fizzy, buzzsaw guitars and fuzzy vocals. It tells the protagonist’s story of coming home from his first semester at college to find his now ex-girlfriend has thrown out his X-Files DVD boxset – and, fair play, that would be pretty damn unforgiveable.

Next Semester was recorded at Mad Fox Studio with producer Tayte Nickols, who incidentally also produced the brilliant Supera Morza. The track was released last Friday, 28th January, and you can see the lyric video below:

Vona Vella – Go Outside Forever EP

Leicestershire duo Vona Vella are Izzy Davis and Dan Cunningham, both musicians and singers with distinctive vocal styles in their own right, together making a sheer, auspicious musical force. On debut EP ‘Go Outside Forever’ the couple create a whole world to slip inside of and escape in to within the space of six songs. A record of driving off to a better climate away from woes, breaking and repairing relationships, carefree sun-drenched beach days and rainy days of sad heartache and longing, lyrically beatific and occasionally barbed.

Izzy and Dan are individually capable artists but as Vona Vella their talents compliment each other with Cunningham’s deep, raspy croon working alongside Davis’s tender, blissful voice. They explore this arrangement over the course of the EP with upbeat, echoey, Jack Johnson escapism in ‘Driving To L.A‘ and ‘Sun‘, and the reflective, downcast ‘Threading Needles‘ and ‘Rainy Days‘, each member taking their turn at the fore.

Title song ‘Go Outside Forever‘ launches the group into a dreamier, ethereal stratosphere as Izzy takes the lead, with haunting piano parts, driving drum line and handclaps as the singer compares the end of a familiar relationship to uncertain, shelterless exile. ‘Fool In Love With Me‘ is a deceptively cutting waltz as the couple take turns in berating, seemingly not each other but some anonymous soul who seems to be head over heels, over a slight acoustic strum with swooning backing coos.

Having released their first song Sun in 2020 and swiftly getting a Morcheeba remix before creating this record with Strap Originals, Vona Vella’s trajectory has been a speedy one. Go Outside Forever is a majorly accomplished debut EP, creating a soundscape to lose yourself inside, and acts a more than solid springboard to whatever their career may bring.

Find the hypnotic video for Go Outside Forever below and find the EP on all the streaming services now:

Camp Cope – Running With The Hurricane

Australian alternative rock trio Camp Cope’s new single, the title track from forthcoming third LP ‘Running With The Hurricane’, sees the group in empowering form. Lifting the song’s name from the 1986 record by singer/songwriter/guitarist Georgia Maq’s dad’s band Redgum, the band take the blustery persistence of the title’s sentiment, imbuing it with their folk-punk spirit, “Started painting my face/running with the hurricane/I push through the pain/running with the hurricane” and a fantastically superior bassline.

Running With The Hurricane‘ – the LP is released on 25th March 2022 through Run For Cover records. You can pre-order it on ltd edition neon violet vinyl over at their bandcamp by clicking here.

Hear ‘Running With The Hurricane’ on YouTube below:

The Others – 20th Anniversary Show announced

To mark the 20 year anniversary of their formation, the original London urchin-rockers are finally treading the boards again. Having formed in the hype and celebration of the early 2000s New Rock Revolution garage band scene, The Others elbowed their way onto the cover of the NME with a stockpile of punchy working class blues-punk compositions, while pioneering the guerilla gig concept with performances ambushing the Circle Line tube, BBC foyer and Abbey Road zebra crossing.

Self-titled debut LP ‘The Others’ found a home on Alan McGee’s Poptones label spawning three top 40 singles, with second album ‘Inward Parts’ following on Lime Records. After four years of hell-raising, full time touring, releases and over-indulgence the group went on hiatus until 2013, getting back together for a handful of shows and to give away third album ‘Songs For The Disillusioned’ to their ‘853’ community online for free.

Rumour has it the one-off 20th Anniversary gig will feature a hefty number of songs from all three albums, plus a handful of newbies. The band have confirmed there will be a fourth album on it’s way soon as well. Our fingers are painfully crossed in the hope we won’t have to wait too long.

The show is happening on Saturday 30th April 2022 at The Grace, Highbury, London. Tickets go on sale at 10:00am on Friday 28th January. Click here from Friday to buy some.

If the band’s past gigging history is anything to go by these songs may not get another outing for a few more years, so tickets are well worth snapping up!

As a little refresher, here are a couple of The Others vids – This Is For The Poor and The Truth That Hurts:

Yard Act – The Overload

What would it have sounded like if Mark E Smith had fronted Blur? The answer is: Yard Act. The Leeds four piece have put together a snapshot of the UK using a caustically humorous cast of invented, or possibly borrowed from real life, characters – all typifying gobby Brexit Britain and a tight collection of faultless pub-punk anthems.

Where the britpop bands, or acts like The Libertines, celebrated what it meant to wave a Union Jack during the New Labour boom years, to be able to consider lauding Britishness in a post-Nigel Farage, post-credit crunch, isolated island of Mail Online readers in 2022, wound up and angsty after 12 years of Tory rule, frontman James Smith has to insert himself into the minds of a host of money hungry entrepreneurs (‘Rich’), chancers (‘Payday’) and no win – no fee ambulance chasers (‘Witness (Can I Get A)’), a gaggle of folk looking to take all they can get away with, drily jocular narratives told over a raft of industrial basslines and post-punk guitar.

When one of their most direct punk peers, Idles, confrontationally interrogate their listeners moral integrity, Yard Act shine a simple light on Joe Public’s values by deconstructing a northern suburb, reminding the listener of the dodgy opinions and beliefs that exist and get bandied about in neighbouring cul-de-sacs and industrial estates of every town and city.

Wearied by the time we get to ‘Tall Poppies’, the curtain slips and the band reveal they’re actually totally compos mentis here, telling a fond hearted, big fish in a small pond tale, the flimsy bravado of a man who dies having never left his village. There’s sympathy and understanding there which serves to heighten the tragedy.

With ‘100% Endurance’, the cocky and conceited characters have all been booted off the stage and we’re left listening to a band, woken up hungover, considering humdrum, unremarkable life beyond these isles and way off into the stars, who find no value in seedy capitalism, who think the rat race is a farce and who have overcome the existential angst bogging down whole swathes of the nation. “It’s hippy bullshit – but it’s true.” Yard Act want the same for even the most paranoid ex-UKIP voter, and what better way of exposing an ugly scene than painting a perfectly detailed picture of it?

Yard Act’s debut album ‘The Overload’ was released through Island Records on 21st January 2022. You can buy it in a dazzling array of limited edition formats by clicking here. Also check out their site for a whole load of approaching tour dates. And watch the video for Rich below:

Swim Deep & Hatchie – World’s Unluckiest Guy

Birmingham’s Swim Deep have teamed up with Australian singer-songwriter Hatchie for a sun-drenched and dreamily upbeat slice of indie-electronica, a bittersweet ode to some admired individual who doesn’t seem to think that much of their self.

The midlands lads usually have a propensity for shoegaze but the Aussie songstress weaves her hazy-pop magic deep into ‘Worlds Unluckiest Guy’, blissing out the track’s texture a little further than Swim Deep’s standard.

‘World’s Unluckiest Guy’ is the latest missive from the band’s self-released forthcoming collaborative EP ‘Familiarise Yourself With The Nearest Exit’. Currently without a release date, the collection will include previous single ‘On The Floor’ featuring Phoebe Green, along with as-yet-unannounced songs recorded with Thai group Dept and frontman Austin Williams’ fiancée Nell Power.

Hear ‘World’s Unluckiest Guy’ on Spotify below:

Peter Doherty & Frédéric Lo – You Can’t Keep It From Me Forever

Photo credit: Nicolas Despis

With shades of early-Beatles whimsy or Morrissey in his late 1980’s first twee solo exploration throes, ‘You Can’t Keep It From Me Forever’ feels a breezy, light-hearted, innocent affair, capturing the most seemingly straight forward lyrical effort of Peter Doherty’s career to date, backed with a gloriously gleeful 60’s guitar pop strum from Frédéric Lo.

As stated in the NME, it turns out the words are actually about Doherty’s initial yearning for malicious substances in the first few weeks of his drug-free life but, with a couple of years distance and Lo’s spirited chords, the record becomes a response to The Beatles ‘You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away’ or The Smiths ‘I Keep Mine Hidden’ and rather than a yearning for narcotics the yearning is for an undefined withheld object or person, lethal or not.

You can watch the atmospheric video for ‘You Can’t Keep It From Me Forever’ below:

The Libertines, Babyshambles and Puta Madres’ frontman and French singer/songwriter/guitarist/producer Frederic Lo release new album ‘The Fantasy Life Of Poetry & Crime’ on 18th March. You can pre-order the album here.

You can see the full tracklist below:
‘The Fantasy Life of Poetry & Crime’
‘The Epidemiologist’
‘The Ballad Of.’
‘You Can’t Keep It From Me Forever’
‘Yes I Wear A Mask’
‘Rock & Roll Alchemy’
‘The Monster’
‘The Glassblower’
‘Keeping Me On File’
‘Abe Wassenstein’
‘Far From The Madding Crowd’

dexter – Paper Cup / Different

South London singer-producer dexter follows in the footsteps of Arlo Parks with serene bedroom-dance tune ‘Paper Cup’. The 18 year old songwriting newcomer manages to miraculously merge together lo-fi indie with the kind of tune you’d hope to hear playing at the start of the night when you’re walking into a club and sings about being so crazy in messy love to the level of not being able to do normal stuff like fill up a paper cup.

Second track ‘Different’ begins as a confessional, delicate acoustic love song, pleading to a partner not to leave, and then out of nowhere develops a whole other texture of deep resonant beats as singer Charmaine unloads a bunch more heartbreak as no-one seems to live up to the former beau.

dexter has put out a video for Paper Cup that you can watch below, with the artist taking in London’s nightlife from the middle backseat of a car:

Richard Ashcroft feat. Liam Gallagher – C’Mon People (We’re Making It Now)

I had to double check myself before writing up a review for this song. The production is pristinely polished, the track sounds flawlessly clean and it gets B-List airplay on Radio 2 – does it really fit aside everything else we talk about on this site? But then, after a handful of listens, the answer was obvious.

Two veteran lights of modern alternative rock have joined together to upgrade the Verve singer’s original 2000 single, itself a glow up of The Four Tops Motown classic ‘Reach Out (I’ll Be There)’, both Ashcroft and Gallagher sounding energetic, at the top of their game and you know the frontmen-cum-solo singers are having ecstatic levels of fun. Side by side, it’s alarming how similar both voices are whilst remaining some of the most distinctive. The lyrics’ sentiments and the song’s delivery sound absolutely uplifting and life-affirming, right up to the rambunctious rolling end where the duo beckon the listener right into the heart of their melodic, bouncing, sweetly gratifying party of a tune with an inviting call of “If only you could be with us!”.

‘C’Mon People (We’re Making It Now)’ may not be either artist’s most pioneering effort but if their goal is to spread good cheer and put a smile on our apathetic chops then, my god, they’ve succeeded.

Richard Ashcroft’s ‘Acoustic Hymns Vol. 1’ has been out since last year, is available on all streaming sites and you can buy a snazzy yellow vinyl here. Watch the lyric video for the new single below:

Muse – Won’t Stand Down

Written by Laura Day

Muse are a band that have defied their own boundaries time and time again. Forged in the crucible of uncertainty over the last two years, ‘Won’t Stand Down‘ is a testament to their determination to transcend musical expectations.

With a juggernaut bassline that pulses through the bones, Bellamy spins a heavy-metal riff before breaking into his renowned melodic wails that hark back to the days of ‘Hysteria‘. However, long gone are the lustful poems about being held hostage by desire. Instead, we’re at the mercy of a devout proclamation that they’re ‘owned no longer’, before pushing forth a tsunami of noise that echoes the frustration we haven’t heard since ‘Citizen Erased‘. 

If anything, ‘Won’t Stand Down’ is a manifesto of a carefully nurtured core value held strong by the ropes of experience. Indeed, perhaps the greatest life lesson is that we have to courageously stray far to appreciate home and, like prodigal sons, they’ve returned to the sounds that started it all.

To borrow the words of Walt Whitman, here they now stand with their robust rock and roll soul.

Is there a new Muse album on the way? We’re yet to know. But you can find the brand new, pretty creepy video for ‘Won’t Stand Down‘ below: