Monday, 19 April 2010

Kez Breakout (demo review)

Article by Stephen Harvey
The rap scene in Stoke on Trent has apparently been a little quiet of late with Hip hop seeming to be the main casualty at the moment, which is unfortunate given the quality of some of its home grown talents in the area. I believe hip hop has lots to add to both local radio and the local music scene as a whole,and the actsI have seen play live shows have on the most part been welcomed by music fans.

Matt Kesic or ‘Kez’ from Blurton is one of the artists that I believe has something new to offer musically. I was sent (well I asked for one actually) a copy of his new demo album ‘breakout’ after first hearing a track on the playlist of Stoke Bands Network website.

The album starts with my favourite track of the demo ‘Around The Clock’ with its fantastic funk riff in the background and a rap style delivered with both a local accent and the potteries own take on wit and word play. There is no fake accent in there, or indeed the overdone bass-line style that dominates the charts at the moment, which is a good thing. My love of old skool rap is no secret in the area, and as such, I am instantly drawn into simple riffs and good story telling, which I am glad to say is in abundance in these tracks. My favourite line has got to be “you think its thick, cus it’s not posh and it’s written in the cursive” which puts me in mind of another other local anti-hero and rapper Parradox, who incidently Matt told me that is his favourite local artists, and is indeed a great man to listen to, in my humble opinion.

Kez has recognised that he has a completely different audience to play to than Docksey, and as such, he talks about the things that he knows about and that are personal to him and his generation. This is sadly where a lot of the younger generation of artists fall short I feel. They fail to recognise the difference between being influenced by an artist and copying their style. Kez has the maturity in his writing to make it his own and this is what makes him different than all the other rappers sending me their tracks.

The closest comparison I could make to people who are not familiar with hip hop or Kez would be to rappers like Eminem and Mike Skinner. These are rappers that draw you into their own world by the use of their language. Sometimes the individual dialects or content can be un-familiar at times, but the use of clever wordplay and emotional content gets you over this small lapse in what you’re accustomed to listening to and that is their strength. Kez has this ability, and I would recommend that you take a listen and judge for yourself. The only difficulty I can see for him at the moment is finding the chance to play live at one of the bigger local venues, but hopefully we can help him along with our support.



Tuesday, 6 April 2010

The Decision / Vellocet / The Rivalry @ The Underground 4th April 2010

Review by Liam Kelly

Kicking off tonight’s proceedings were a band I have become increasingly familiar with in recent months, The Decision. At an average age of around 17 you would expect the band to have the usual run of the mill tracks and lack of a stage presence, but not these lads! The Hendrix-style riffs of Ben West on lead guitar combined with the powerful bass playing of Rob Melville and Liam Kaye’s furious drumming give the band the stepping stone to go on to big things. After a lengthy instrumental Ben kicks into things with his yelping and unique vocals for first track, ‘Wasting time.’ It’s in tracks such as ‘Hide’ and ‘I don’t know what you want’ where you see the bands true potential, and it’s clear to see the influences of 80’s - 90’s indie bands such as Primal Scream, particularly in Bens superb range of guitar riffs. This is to take nothing away from Rob and Liam who keep hold to a tight rhythm section throughout the set. A band that get better and better through each track, they ended their set in fashion, with crowd favourite The BIB, which definitely achieved the crowd reaction Ben and the rest of the band aimed for. A band who have been in fine form in recent gigs, The Decision are definitely up there with the best of the younger bands in Stoke right now.

Main support act Vellocet took to the stage, packed with their usual confidence. A band who are clearly becoming popular in Stoke, it's easy to see why with their 90's indie stylr vibes being similar to The Stone Roses. Frontman Ryan Barker demands respect from his audience and certainly earns it, with his powerful vocals sending this large crowd into a frenzy. First track 'Frontline' see's Jordan and Ash displaying a wide range of hogh quality playing and is easily a track with the credentials to be released as a single. 'Messiah' and 'One and Only', two of te bands strongest tracks seem to go down particularly well with thie rather up beat crowd. Finishing the night with a slower track 'Drown', the band showed they have the talent to write a range of songs and change tempo and mood to showcase the most of their skills. This band just get better and better!

Headliners The Rivalry arrived on stage to a thunderous reception from a bumper crowd. They seem to be one of the most popular bands in Stoke at the moment, and arguably one of the most talented. A band who have arrived back in the local music scene in the past couple of months combine some of their most popular older tracks with some freshly new written material.

First track of the set would be the instrumental ‘Sex and Fear,’ which seemed to be much to the approval of the crowd. It’s in the next track ‘This is how we do it our town’ that you can really see what this band are all about. Frontman and lead guitarist Rob Hawthorne has the attributes similar to that of a young Liam Gallagher, minus the attitude problems. To see the crowd screaming back the lyrics of his tracks is a testimony to Rob’s lyric writing capabilities, with comparisons to that of Paul Weller and Ian Brown in their heyday. A new keyboardist has been added to the original line up, and is particularly effective in next track, ‘Live it like you mean it.’

Their newest track ‘Welcome to the silent disco,’ a track written by Rob when he was at last year’s V festival, went down better than expected and demonstrated the authoritative and heavy bass of Darren Mellor mixed with the symbol thrashing drumming of Tom Machin. Slower track ‘Legend still remains,’ written in tribute to the legendary John Lennon, shows a slower and more melodic side to Robs vocals and shows the bands versatility. Unfortunately the set had to come to an end, and finishing with ‘Lets wake up the sun,’ the band certainly saved the best till last, prompting scenes of delirium with their large fanbase. Easily the best gig iIhave been in the area for a long time, I have no doubt that The Rivalry are going to go on to big things.


The Decision


The Rivalry

Hollywood Tease @ The Underground 3rd April 2010

Review by Sian Eardley

Photo by Simon Bamford

Hollywood Tease are undoubtedly a big band for the area, with big possibilities, and with a full-to-capacity crowd tonight, it would be interesting to see them play further afield in a larger venue and pushing the boundaries. However, they certainly try to do so at their latest Underground appearance.

A big curtain reveal, unveiled the united front of the hairspray fivesome, and out come the big tunes: the distinctive solos, the insane, whaling vocals which still knock me off my feet, even after seeing them numerous times, and of course, the hot-girl protégé standing at the front of the stage in the black latex pants with ‘Hollywood Tease; all over them, cheering and musing them on. They really do set the American rock scene, and you can very easily see their love for Guns ‘n’ Roses as they take it up a gear with their ‘COME ONNNN!’ jeers. They are a superb team of glam-metal comrades, a guitar thrusting, leather loving, stud wearing and tight trousers spectacle of mother rockers.

They unleashed some new material – the first live performance of ‘Who Needs Love Anyway?’ that had a vast intro and ridiculous guitar opener; highly catchy and reminiscent of Guns ‘n’ Roses’ ‘You Could Be Mine’, it was intense and polished, with the roaring of the title in the chorus. Man has Ashe got some vocals! This new song had to be the highlight of tonight’s show.

Each band member: drummer, lead guitarist and so on, had their chance to shine with a solo performance while the rest of the band recouped, and yes, all of the components of tonight’s gig have been done before, and it would be good to see something new, refreshing and invigorating from them, but they still manage an impressive reaction nonetheless.

However, just as I thought it was becoming a bit mediocre, and the sound quality wasn’t so stellar, out comes the ‘Good Times’ (a personal favourite) encore seeing the band leap from the stage and onto the bar on the opposite side of the room, firing it up like something ACDC would unleash, and it was phe-nom-en-al! Fireworks and banners signalled the end of the night, and after that high, boy was it amazing! Just when you think you might doubt your rock faith in Hollywood Tease, they pull it straight out of the back and deliver the rock goods. Love it!


Hollywood Tease