Thursday, 31 January 2008

Profile: MC Hypes, by GS

Now and again a star is born. This happens to be true for a nineteen year old, who does not state his real name, MC Hypes, from Manchester who has won Sidewinder’s ‘Best newcomer’ award and played in Stoke in August.

“Well I feel out for of all the places! Manchester has the most talented kids but London and Birmingham have the brains and connections to do raves and whatnot. But, I think we can go far because we are putting in the work and not stopping”.

Currently having regular gigs within the UK, Hypes has already established himself as a new role model for today’s MCs. He is part of a crew called ‘Higher Stakes’ containing over fifty members throughout the UK, has developed a record label called High Rise and is now signed to Sidewinder Raw Entertainment.

Hear MC Hypes at

Monday, 28 January 2008

Welcome to Stoke Sounds

Whether it’s Northern Soul, early 90s dance or mid-90s indie, wave after wave of ‘scenes’ have had major hotspots in Stoke. Music is one area where we have never been afraid to stand up and make things happen for ourselves and every now and then the UK stands up and takes notice. Friend of the tabloids Pete Docherty was one of the first to rediscover the city when he decided to get arrested here a few times and not turn up a few more. That’s cool. But beyond that there’s a lot going on. The Sugarmill in Hanley has a ridiculous number of big and emerging names playing and the Axis Festival is set to bring more famous names alongside local talent, giving music lovers a wide choice to enjoy in May.

Never hesitant to scramble onto a bandwagon when we see it passing, Local Edition has expanded its music section to cover more of these local developments and celebrate where we are – not only a hotbed of emerging talent in a dizzying array of genres, but the one place in the country where you can also go to just about every other major city easily for a night out. Our new site takes the expertise of our writers and photographers to a wider audience than we reach with the paper and links to all the listings that we don’t have time to rewrite here. As with the paper itself, anybody is very welcome to contribute and send us information and links. We want to include all types of music, so if you’re an expert or enthusiastic critic on any particular genre, you’re very welcome to get involved. If you don’t have ready access to the internet, it’s free at all libraries and we’d be happy to give you a quick tour from the Burslem Arts shop. And, of course, we’ll be bringing you the best of Stoke Sounds in the newspaper.

Website review: Upstart Stoke by Clare White

Upstart Stoke launched at the end of last week, in advance of their Sugarmill showcase gig this Wednesday night.

The site is nice and simple, clad in ever-cool black and with a useful array of resource for every musician and music lover in Stoke and beyond. A comprehensive list of bands is a joy to the armchair browser, with brief descriptions to give you a taste of their sounds before you schlep over to the obligatory ugly Myspace page for a listen. I've just discovered the talents of Cannibal Sunset and Cynical Protest before finishing my morning coffee.

If I had a criticism, it is the use of so-called framed domain forwarding, which makes tagging and sharing more difficult than it should be. Since the site is meant to be all about raising bands' profile, this is something I hope can be fixed. Otherwise Jim and Lotti have done a great job and I'm sure the project will be successful in leading many new people to the delights of our city for the Axis Festival and beyond.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Band profile: the Queensberry Rules. By Simon Bamford

The strange thing about The Queensberry Rules is that although they sing songs about the people and places of Stoke-on-Trent, they are probably better known outside of the area. The regulars on the British folk circuit signed to the Cumbria based Fellside Recordings in 06. Their latest release Landlocked contains a track about our very own witch Molly Leigh. Previous releases offer titles such as The Sagger Makers Bottom Knocker and Jam Jar Wakes.

Having swapped from electric instruments to acoustic ones six years ago, the band never looked back. Their music is tradition English folk with a modern twist. Brothers Gary and Duncan Wilcox (vocals and percussion / vocal, mandolin, bass, fiddle) and Phil Hulse (vocals, guitar, bouzouki and harmonica) are about to set off for an 8 date tour of Holland. Next is a 17 date tour of Britain’s lesser known venues, such as Ibsley Village Hall in Hampshire and Shap Memorial Hall in Cumbria. Then there’s a planned tour of Canada in July.

When Mike Harding championed their track Sinking Town (from The Back Dog and Other Stories, a song about our area’s mining subsidence) on his weekly Radio 2 folk programme in 06, he exclaimed “a band destined for great things”. Looks like he was right.

TQR play Up In Arms at The Biddulph Arms, Congleton Rd Biddulph on 7 Feb. Landlocked is out now on Fellside Recording

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Rachel Rimmer / The Black Apples / Ant Mayer / Remo & Rob Davies @ Granville's, Stone. By Steve Dean

Granville's excellent Live Lounge at Stone played host to a wealth of local talent last Sunday, and with two stages ensuring minimum waiting time between acts, we managed to see five performances, although we were unable to stay for the entire evening. A charity event in aid of the Nightingale House Hospice, organiser Samantha Vaughan never looked less than absolutely delighted to announce her guests and first up after we arrived was able chanteuse Rachel Rimmer and her stylish backing trio. The lounge setting seemed ideal for her laid-back jazzy style, putting one in mind of Cleo Laine in places, although her frequent voice modulations suggested a personal appreciation of Whitney Houston's vocal gymnastics.

Immediately following, The Black Apples' no-nonsense brand of blues/rock set an upbeat and furious tempo from the very start. Mixing standards with their own compositions, their exhilarating version of Rollin’ and Tumblin’ thundered along at a frenetic pace and folk were soon bopping appreciatively to their raunchy tune.

Singer/songwriter Ant Mayer sung and played his acoustic guitar with real passion and his version of Ray Davies' 'Dead End Street', the trumpet parts sung as well, was a delight.

Nemo's infectious brand of good-time pop/rock made for an enjoyable set as they leapt about practically non-stop from the outset. A very visual act, gangster-besuited front man Andy Harrison's almost demented antics made for much audience merriment.

Accomplished picker Rob Davies, the last act before we departed, played some impressive guitar as he sang his self-penned tunes and my only real criticism is that maybe his lyrics could be a little more inspired, but this is minor carping about a talent that should see real success in the not-too-distant future.

North Staffordshire has much to offer music-wise and last Sunday, Granville's was certainly the place to see it.

Monday, 21 January 2008

Ryan Dooley & Coda at the Old Brown Jug

Review by Steve Dean

The cosy Old Brown Jug in Newcastle makes for a fine midweek venue to view local musical talent and it was here that we sat down to watch the acoustic and vocal prowess of Ryan Dooley, followed by Coda, a five-piece outfit with an entirely instrumental set.

The enthusiastic audience behind him from the start, the likeable Dooley gave a confidently professional performance throughout his set. The tunes are mainly his own well-crafted compositions and his catchy opening number 'Dayshift' is very much a potential chart song. Following the demise of his old band 5th Action Shelter, he is now lead singer with soon-to-gig New Education. Having mentioned that though, tinged with Dylan and Billy Bragg, he is an able performer in his own right; the thunderous applause at the end of his performance supplying more than enough evidence to that.

Coda, with three lead guitars, produce involved and interesting soundscapes; bringing to mind Statesiders Explosions in the Sky in places, but not discreditably. Able Drummer Tom Wood lays down some intricate and dextrous rhythms whilst guitarists Craig Hawkes, Luke McPeake, David Rafferty and Lewis Shenton on Bass, add light and shade as they build their refrains layer upon melodic layer, producing some tasty musical concoctions indeed. Maintaining a similar tempo throughout their half-hour set, which contained but four songs; Y-3, Give it 99 Years, Thank You and Trust Your Instincts, I couldn't help but wonder how such compositions would bear up in an hour or hour-and-a-half set; but then again very short sets seem the norm nowadays, so I don't suppose it really matters. Interesting to note the use of Fender Jaguar and Mustang guitars, as opposed to the more popular Strats and Telecasters.

Some fine musicianship and tunes I'd like to hear again. A good gig all round.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Wednesday, 2 January 2008