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Martin Carthy & Jack Blackman to play at Stratford Play House next month

News

Just in from the newly launched Stratford Play House Folk Club:

The Folk Club will be bringing top quality live music to Stratford … from Roots to Blues! First date for your diary… 17th February HEADLINER : The legendary Martin Carthy! Supported by Jack Blackman.

Starts at 7.30pm.

Tickets ON SALE NOW; https://www.ticketsource.eu/.../2022-02-17/20:00/t-gnjejk

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"Mind Right" by Levi Washington

Review

After the angst of last week when he agonised over the mix of "Carrie, Baby" until Wednesday & the existential angst of the preceding "Check 1, 2" this week's Levi Washington single is called "Mind Right": again it too casts its eye over this thing of life and our extravagant journey through it.

To be honest, as I was aware of the title before I heard the song, my first  instinct was that in some way it might concern itself with a search for decent mental health: not least since that is a theme which the artist returns to regularly. On listening to it, I pretty much still think that the title remains a nod in that direction, as do aspects of the words, though, as you might imagine with Levi, there is much else that he's getting his lyrics to do for him & us. It's another of his onion songs.

Musically (again it's dubious that he'd hit us with two similarly sounding songs in a row) the new track is a long way from its predecessor. This is both retro (some very psychedelic stylings) and bang up to date contemporary & he melds them together perfectly….

A languorous propulsive beat carries you along this rather fuzzy pathway with processed vocals pulsating around you: sometimes rather close, then receding further off. The images evoked include those of chasing the apparently elusive and also of life events breaking over you like waves: both come through the music effectively with the tune coming at you like sea breakers and the vocal running ahead of you down the forest path, challenging you to catch up with it. Levi has also gone for a sense of quiet desperation (which of course Roger Waters once memorably called "..the English way…") and that too is in there. There is a wooziness which may be the heat of a summer day or the effect of the self delusion that the pursuit is worth the prize: which Levi definitely questions.

So there you have it: a lot of mixed (and possibly incompatible) allusions from me, mirroring a rare old mix of imagery mashed together in a song which itself is a bit of a compendium of music of the last half a century as well as possibly being a self help guide. This is one of the Levi songs you could usefully replay & pick out bits over quite a period of time, though you'd better get started on that sharpish as they'll be a new one along very soon….

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'Hot Music Live Presents Volume Seven'

News

Fresh out today: 'Hot Music Live Presents Volume Seven': seventeen more great original tracks by Coventry & Warwickshire musicians, available for free download via this link: https://hotmusiclivepresents.bandcamp.com/album/hot-music-live-presents-volume-seven

As the aim of the project is very much to get the word out about the quality & diversity of Coventry & Warwickshire music, readers are very much encouraged to download & enjoy these songs, but also asked to share the link so that we can help build audiences for the artists concerned.

The tracks and artists are:

"Still Going Strong" by annA rydeR

"Lazy Hazel Heart" by The Giraffes

"Totally Together" by Brothers From Another Mother featuring Kirsty Brewerton

"Untelligent Behaviour" by Trust Club

"Sick Of It" by Never Apart

"California" by Reiss Pinder

"Thoughts" by Paul Mccormack

"Mermaid" by Paradise of the Titans

"HIGHHIGHHIGH" by Euan Blackman

"Disperse" by Ezza Brianna

"Yoruda" by RobinPlaysChords

"Mountains" by Dan Bygrave

"Too Long" by Contacts in the North featuring Ingela Wiklund

"Working On Your Chemistry" by The Eyes of Isabel

"SMILE" by Avidfan

"A Friend" by In Emerald Sea

"Peaceful Warrior" by Lemon Tones

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"Carrie, Baby" by Levi Washington

Review

If last week's magnum opus "Check 1, 2" gave ample evidence of Levi Washington's perfectionism then this week's single release "Carrie, Baby" certainly reinforces that. I am currently writing this review within minutes of his finding a mix he was happy with, and as you can see, it has taken him until Wednesday to do so, missing his customary release moment by two whole days in order to present his work as he hears it himself & to its best advantage….  And on top of this he has decided to move to two releases a week. If you factor in the myriad live events he is currently organising each week around the area via his Phoenix Collective, I can only assume that he has phased sleeping out of his life.

Anyway, I'd better plunge straight into "Carrie Baby" before the next one arrives… In fact like the proverbial bus (or at any rate like they used to be), if you wait for a succession of Levi singles, you will experience the odd existential one, some dark nights of the soul, the odd nod towards addiction or mental angst, but you know sooner or later a love song, or something quite like one will come along to carry you off.

And "Carrie, Baby" is pretty much like a love song, though it's rare for Levi not to twist our expectations of the genre or offer us a view from an unusual perspective to challenge our preconceptions. Despite the long hours spent honing the recording, apparently this was a pretty spontaneous affair in terms of the writing & much could possibly be said of the narrative it offers us…..

A primarily acoustic number, showcasing his gentler guitar playing style (you can really hear his fingers shift on the frets on the main part (there are some beautiful extra embellishments on a second instrument plus an exquisite solo and a tinkling piano providing some extra foundation), the direction is probably towards where folk bumps into country: the basic tune being fairly straight forward, with the melodic adornments coming from the vocal part which certainly goes up in the direction of the top of his range at times.

Is it a happy love song: not entirely: at least it seems to delineate a romance in progress, with hope being favoured over attainment. He sets out his expectations and while he clearly isn't there yet, and some pleading is needed, he certainly hasn't given up. If you had to sketch a spectrum of Levisongs, while not at the "deliriously content" end, "Carrie, Baby" is certainly nearer it than it is the opposite one... which can be a gloomy & forbidding place to say the least.

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Four new albums from Daffod'i'll

News

That prolific artist Daffod'i'll has today announced no fewer than four new albums: his sixteenth, seventeenth & eighteenth ('Gold 'n' Sold', 'Pray Away' and 'Gay Away' respectively) plus a compilation from albums nine to sixteen (to complement the compilation from the first eight which came out in March 2020).

Hopefully the team here at the magazine will be able to listen to them all at some stage in order to review them, but in the meantime, you can enjoy them via this link:

https://iconoclastrecordsuk.bandcamp.com/

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"Can't Breathe" by Rheo Uno

Review

Like most people, I'm never averse to pleasant surprises & this track dropped so out of the blue that fifteen minutes before starting to write this review, I had no idea it existed. I'm talking about today's single from Rheo Uno, and it's called "Can't Breathe".

As you'll know from my reviews of "Señorita" and "Good Girl" from the latter part of 2021 (and both tracks have had the success that they deserve, with 166,000 streams & 111,000 respectively & increasing all the time), she worked hard in the studio last year & created an abundance of great new songs to get a powerful momentum coming out of the difficult circumstances of the last couple of years.

Once again written in collaboration with Charlie Drew of Monarchy Music (also her producer), the song is something of a deliberate reconnection with her roots: although she is intent on developing her craft & evolving as a writer (and as one of the most played local artists on BBC Introducing in 2021 she has clearly got a firm, established platform to launch herself further & wider in 2022: and as you know from earlier reviews, her internationally appealing brand of dance music won her overseas fans from the start), she clearly does not want to forget (or let us do so) where she came from musically.

Hence "Can't Breathe" is an unashamed plunge back into commercial dance orientated pop with lyrics she identifies as "..self explanatory, no deep meaning just irresistible attraction, carefree fun.."  and sometimes that's what you need to do of course: especially if ultimately you are aiming for audiences who do not necessarily speak English well, on whom some of the lyrical nuances of the last few singles might be a little lost: there is a sort of popular music Esperanto I guess in which such tracks are composed. The key question is "will "Can't Breathe" get them dancing?" and to that the answer is "yes it will for sure".

A bubbly (and burbling) sound with great phat retro synth sound underpinning it (has Rheo ever created a track without some gleeful vein of fun running through it?), as her quotation above makes clear, the metaphor in the heart of the song is not a difficult one to decode.

As infectious as her music always is, this track needs no vaccine and will do us a great deal more benefit than certain other contagious agents around at the moment.

Arriving unheralded, I hope people spot that it's out there (I just added it to the current "Hot Music Live Presents" Spotify playlist and I'm sure I shan't be the only one) as it's a bright sparkle on this misty January morning.  I respect her strategy for reminding us of her earlier stylings and taken with the general progression of what she is currently doing, I think it helps cover a broad range of expectations for what Rheo Uno music might be. 

She is one of those local artists who obviously has ambition to develop her career artistically & commercially & with the talent and vision to do so. Most people in that category were potentially stymied by the pandemic. Momentum is everything in the music business when you are rising, and months and months with no live appearances nor new releases and any progress beforehand can count for little as the more fickle parts of the media forget who you are. This should not be the case with Rheo Uno: she was able to keep very high quality new music coming out even in the darkest months and was fortunately able to write & record an impressive stockpile of new & distinctive tracks which could then create a new and incisive momentum once the scene started reheating. Given both the statistics from where she is now plus the critical approval, 2022 has huge potential for a year of further breakthroughs for Rheo Uno.

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"Bring Back The Sun" by Kyle Boswell

Review

Many thanks to Rich Keogh for bringing the work of Nuneaton based musician  Kyle Boswell to my attention just in time to review his ‘Bring Back the Sun' EP which comes out on the 21st of this month and features both the title song and a reworking of his previously released "Hourglass". (Credit too to Andy Baldwin from Metropolis Studios in London for mastering)

 n fact I would recommend your spending time listening to both tracks since (having checked out some of his previous work), I think that "Hourglass" (presented here in a "Midnight Edition" form) more closely represents his signature work, which tends towards human scale narratives with "..a sense of local charm…" which he claims & I can perceive. He cites Alex Turner as an influence on his words and I can see why: and I like that.

The title track is a cheery upbeat number to brighten our January days: led by what sounds like a ukulele & words to match. The beat is steady and the words & tune easy to get your head around: you can easily imagine audiences being able to sing along to it. He acknowledges how the song is very much at the pop end of what he does but as he said to me, "..I don't think that's always a bad thing…" and again I agree. This one will get him airplay I hope & he can pick up new fans with it.

But just as the song has effective hooks, Kyle is being canny here & I suspect using it as a hook in itself to draw people in & then expose them to his more profound songs such as "Hourglass" which is much more contemplative with its starker arrangement & vocal and more anguished narrative, accentuated interestingly with howls of feedback

He seems to be making a name for himself already having played the O2 Arena in Bristol, the Kasbah in Coventry, Nuneaton's Queen's Hall and the Godiva Festival (with a gig at the Sunflower Lounge in Birmingham among those lined up for later this year) and has had play on BBC Introducing and Switch Radio (indeed it was being dubbed their "Switchmas Star" for 2021 that has led to the Sunflower Lounge opportunity)

It strikes me that Kyle has already got some admirable momentum going in his career and the new EP is a smart move to potentially add a few more mainstream fans to the indie ones I imagine he has won over so far.

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'Wake Me Up Tomorrow' by Street Arts Project

Review

I'm delighted to be able to report on the brand new album by the Street Arts Project from Stratford which is released on the 14th of this month & which will assist their work with the homeless and vulnerable citizens of that town, namely ‘Wake Me Up Tomorrow'

I'm sure that you'll recollect their previous album ‘Hope' came out back in 2019 as we reported here & you will also I trust have read our review of the single "Isolation" which came out during lockdown & was shared by the official John Lennon Facebook page (kudos!), was praised by the likes of the late Janice Long plus Curtis Stigers and Marc Riley and raised a large amount of money for the project.

That single featured no fewer than twenty nine different musicians, among whom were several ‘Hot Music Live Presents' artists including members of Evergreen, Jack Blackman, Wes Finch, Ben Haines  & Chessi O'Dowd plus other well known names such as Nigel Clark.

Several of these appear on the new album as Jack, Wes & Nigel provide the professional base of the thirteen tracks, aided by project members Laurence (vocals & the cover art), Rebecca (vocals), Pat (vocals, acoustic and electric guitar), Jonas (vocals and acoustic guitar), Jon Doran (fiddle) and Louis Scheuer (accordion). In addition some tracks were written by Josh & Mark though they are not credited as performers. (The album was produced at Rhythm Studios by Jack, Nigel & Wes with Euan Blackman & Paul Johnston. Dom James mixed it and mastered it & project facilitator Doug Armstrong was Executive Producer).

Each of the thirteen songs was developed through the Street Arts Project workshops, starting with thoughts, lyrics, poems etc and with the help of the professional musicians, developed into the form you hear on the album. The resulting songs are:

"Boat Ride" (Laurence), "Many Years Gone By" (Pat), "I'll Wait For You", "Not How It Was Before" (Pat),  "Clock Struck 13" (Laurence), "Cracks In The Pavement" (Mark & Jonas), "Rambling Gate" (Pat),  "Pedalling Drill Man" (Laurence),  "Magic Island" (Laurence), "Wake Me Up Tomorrow" (Jonas), "Jude" (Josh), "Shouldn't Have To Fight" (Pat)  & "Snowball Queen" (Mark) and they cover themes including addiction, loneliness, mental health, isolation, boats and nineteenth century dentistry.

As Doug describes the workshop sessions: "we give a voice to experiences & feelings and a chance to unlock a creativity that the participants hadn't previously known how to articulate or share. Fun, at times bizarre, occasionally sad but always real. Just like life".

I think the results speak for themselves & you need to hear the authentic voices yourselves directly. It must have been a fine balance for the professional musicians, helping shape the raw material into forms which could sit on a professionally released album, yet not impose their own personalities on the unique stories of others: and they do it very successfully I must say.

At this point, I'd like to state my general approach to reviewing this album: in order to produce a review of a length which ensures people read it through, I tend not to give full detailed accounts of each track on an album: I tend to focus more on ones which "stand out" to me and I guess there is a thin line between "stand out" and "my personal favourites". In the case with ‘Wake Me Up Tomorrow', I think that would be grossly unfair: every single track is as deserving of our equal attention & praise as is every participant: the workshop attendees for sharing their stories & having the confidence to raise their heads about the parapet to work on such a high profile project, the professionals for their time, dedication & delicacy in helping shape the tracks.

Each song/story is worthy in its own right: a unique narrative & each infused with the experiences, values & philosophy of its writer. The process has clearly worked very effectively to ensure that the initial stories come across with great clarity & hence their innate truths. I'm guessing some workshopping has gone on around finding the best structures & the arrangements and production are crafted with light touches: there is absolutely no obscuring of the essence of any of the songs behind layers of virtuoso playing or bombastic over production: and the styles of the songs themselves, each of which is  presumably true to the original vision of its writer are agreeably diverse which creates a good balance within the collection: we open with something of a rocker but there are also the folkier acoustic numbers you might anticipate, bits of edgy new wave on the off beat, Americana, blues, pop & even old school soul etc. Something for everyone musically, but ultimately as interesting & beautiful settings for the lyrics.

One track I do need however to single out for you (literally) is Jonas' title track, as it out as a single on the day of the album itself. Jonas himself comes from Lithuania & has spent years living rough in a tent and it's an epic, slow building song, intense but with an ultimately optimistic sense.

The following day (Saturday 15th January), many of those involved in the project will be launching it at a free concert at Stratford Play House.

‘Wake Me Up Tomorrow' is a most commendable artefact & I am delighted to share my thoughts about it with you. It's for a really important cause & its sale will affect lives directly: so you know what you need to do don't you? However the   process of creating it (and what you get at the end is high quality music, indistinguishable from anything else we review in the magazine in that respect) was itself transformative: those involved will have regained confidence in themselves, possibly knocked out of them to various extents during their years of challenges, developed their skills & articulated stories we as listeners will benefit from hearing as it adds to our understanding of the world we live in & who we share it with. It's a sobering thought but the album salutes the memories of project members Paul & Bryn who were part of the first album but didn't make it to the second one.

So please acquire the single & album: enjoy it, appreciate what it's saying, tell others about it, pop along on Saturday, keep an eye & ear out for more Street Arts Project activity & maybe ask yourself "what can I do to help?". ‘Wake Me Up Tomorrow' has a ton of potential to catalyse change and action in all sorts of forms & I'm pleased to report that the workshop sessions should be recommencing this month.

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Old and gold

"Check 1, 2" by Levi Washington

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 For his second single of 2022, following last week's "It's Cool", Levi Washington has opted for something of an epic and once again ...

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"Traitor" by Abz Winter

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As I'm sure most if not all of you are aware, Abz Winter was selected for the new television talent show "Walk The Line" at the end of 2021 and ...

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"Summer's Healing Time" by Alchemista

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It was last April that Alchemista were last able to put together all their considerable talents and release the rip roaring pirate themed single ...

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"California" by Reiss Pinder

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Hopefully you enjoyed "Wasted" by Wilde on ‘Hot Music Live Presents Volume Four' and our review of their most recent single "The South" back ...

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"Race Against Time" by The Eyes of Isabel

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Last month, I caught up with John Rivers at Woodbine Street Studios and shared some of his enthusiasms with you.

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"Sick of It" by Never Apart

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Fresh to "Hot Music Live" today is Coventry band Never Apart whose new single "Sick of It" came out today, following their previous releases ...

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"It's Cool" by Levi Washington

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I suppose with Levi Washington's campaign of releasing a single a week now so far advanced & his choice of tracks so impossible to predict, ...

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"Here To Stay" by Levi Washington

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Following the very successful release last week of a remake of "Sierra Leone", this week's single from Levi Washington is called "Here To Stay".

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"Together At Christmas" by Chasing Deer

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As a Christmas treat for us, Chasing Deer have decided to re-release their 2015 festive single, "Together At Christmas".

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‘Routes: The Field Sessions' by Stylusboy

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Last December, I was able to let you know about the festive version of "Silent Night" which Stylusboy released to aid the Carriers of Hope charity ...

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"It's Christmas (I Miss Ya)" by YNES

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Only the other week I was reporting on the enthusiasm of John Rivers of Woodbine Studios for the work of YNES, and here I am, fortunate enough to ...

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"Petrichor (Acoustic)" by Monday Nights

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Following in the impressive footsteps of Ivy Ash, Monday Nights have today released an acoustically reimagined version of their most recent single ...

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"Sierra Leone" by Levi Washington

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This week's Levi Washington single took me by surprise: though in a wholly benevolent way.

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"Vänern" by Lemon Boy

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For his first release since September's "Never Gone", Lemon Boy has today unveiled "Vänern" for our pleasure.

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"Untelligent Behaviour" by Trust Club

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I appreciate that one of the tasks of a reviewer is to maximise the amount of information about an artist so that the reader can investigate their ...

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"Shank" and "Above" by Levi Washington

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This week, Levi Washington is surpassing even his prolific form of the past few weeks with not one but two new singles, "Shank" and "Above".

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Theatre Of Hate - ‘A Thing Of Beauty Tour'

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THEATRE OF HATE ANNOUCE ‘A THING OF BEAUTY TOUR' - DECEMBER 2021 - TICKETS HEREIn 1980, Kirk Brandon formed Theatre Of Hate from the ...

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Catch up with John Rivers

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I am delighted to report that this week a plaque was erected on the original site of Woodbine Street Recording Studio by Leamington Town Council, ...

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"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" by The Rising

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I have to confess that when I heard that the new single by The Rising (out today) was to be their version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little ...

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'Lovey Dovey' and 'G4s I Guess' by Daffod'i'll

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In the three weeks since I reviewed Daffod'i'll's twelfth & thirteenth albums, namely ‘Red Rose SPD Way' and ...

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"Noughts & Crosses" by Levi Washington

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Thankfully after managing to catch up with Levi Washington's weekly singles release campaign with "On The Wrong Side Of The Sunshine" last week ...

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'Mermaid' EP by Paradise of the Titans

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When, about a month ago, I reviewed the inaugural live performance of Ian Todd's excellent new album "Seven Signs of a Soul" at the Tin, I did ...

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"Don't Stop. Live A Lot" by Dave Pepper

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Following the raunch of his most recent release from earlier in the month, "Rub Rub Grind", Dave Pepper is back with his new single "Don't Stop.

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"On The Wrong Side Of The Sunshine" by Levi Washington

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Having been too slow in my response to last week's Levi Washington single "Soph", thanks in part to a heads up from the artist himself (thank ...

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"Soph" by Levi Washington

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The main problem with trying to review the more prolific releasers of new music locally is actually keeping up with them.

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"Petrichor" by Monday Nights

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You will I'm sure be aware of the debut single from Monday Nights, "Flight" which also appears on ‘Hot Music Live Presents Volume Five'.

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"The Lucky One" by Joe Dolman

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After the recent releases of "Real World" and "Strangers" in the past few weeks, both of which have no only been reviewed in this magazine but well ...

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King of the Alps live

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Last night was another little milestone for me: my first pub-based gig for two years.

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"Glad To Say" by Jake Rizzo

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It's a rather unbelievable two years since we last covered a Jake Rizzo release in this magazine, and ironically our review on that occasion ...

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Leamington Unlocked 2021 - Leif and The Oak House

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What a weekend of live music put together by Peter Drew (with a little help from his friends) and all put on to to raise money for Guide Dogs For The ...

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