Single Review – NO:IR – Phantom

Since their debut in 2019, Bristol-based Nu-Metal five-piece NO:IR have evolved their sound from their hardcore roots to create a modern fusion from a host of genres. They take deep inspiration – and their name, from Film Noir, often characterised by cynicism, intricate plots and existential philosophy. 

With four previous successful singles under their belt, the band have achieved more than 100,000 streams on Spotify. Their innate blend of rap and metal draws on an array of influences including emo, hip-hop and dark pop. This has resulted in a signature re-imagination of the Nu-Metal sound; their upcoming single Phantom due for release May 7th 2021, captures this perfectly.

Produced, Mixed and Mastered with Josh Gallop (Phoxjaw) at Stage 2 Studios in Bath, Phantom challenges and explores the honesty and authenticity around an artist’s image. Established artists show a diverse variety of personalities, with some being completely transparent about their feelings and life stories; and some being the opposite, creating new identities or writing about fictitious situations in order to seem more appealing or interesting. 

“Phantom explores these ideas and reflects this back onto NO:IR,” explains lyricist Evvi Davies.  “The song is intuitive about who NO:IR is, and comparing the honesty in our music to the persona we have created as a band. NO:IR isn’t five individuals but one personality, blending elements of the individuals into one character. The song questions our authenticity, and the lyrics directly reflect where we are as a band.”

The music video for Phantom portrays Plato’s ‘Allegory of the Cave’, with an emphasis being on the shadows and silhouettes created by the band. The video challenges their own honesty and authenticity within their music. Often, we can believe an artist is being honest, however they’re really depicting a story which appears true to the world but in reality are just casting shadows on the cave wall.

Phantom is taken from their upcoming EP Are We Really Alive? due for release later this year. Are We Really Alive? Is the premiere to NO:IR, illustrating a contemporary and dynamic revival of heavy music. Conveying themes of depression, anxiety, addiction, anger, distrust and unity, Are We Really Alive? shows the different musical aspects of their sound, through trap beats, heavy metal breakdowns and haunting melodies. 

Just the start of the video and the screaming vocals come together in a wave of transcendence. It’s an utterly beautiful wave of emotion you just don’t get enough of in the world. Moving forward, the track is very well produced and the drums with the guitar just have this coherent rhythm that is impossible to ignore. I truly can’t wait to hear more because NO:IR could be a band that changes the shape of things in this generation.

Rating:5/5.

Check out the video for ‘Phantom’ below.

Single Review – Heckyl – ‘Stranger’

Stranger follows the release of ‘Preacher’ that received great reviews from NOTION, CLOUT Magazine, Talk About Pop Music and others plus it was selected Record of the Day by that influential music business daily.

Self-written, performed and produced in his Sweet Factory studio the song is a mixture of catchy melodies, harmonies built upon a base of imaginative ‘Kygo-esque’ rhythm, percussion and swirling synths. One listen and its earworm qualities will have you hooked and when you take in the lyrics you’ll feel and understand the darker side of life the author describes.

The song captures the inner voices that Luke channels through Heckyl and refer to the anxiety often experienced late at night when feelings are heightened by that imaginary monster that“crawls inside my head”. It’s relatable and, in difficult times like these, the feelings expressed will probably resonate with us all.

With a number of highly successful releases under his own name and co-writes and productions for other artists his songs have nearly 25 million streams on Spotify alone.”

Following on from the track ‘Preacher’, Heckyl’s follow up in the from of ‘Stranger’ just has a groove you can’t forget anytime soon. Punchy, rhythmic and truly fantastic, the artist proves he’s anything but a one hit wonder with the ideas flowing and one you want to see performed right away.

Rating:4/5.

Check out ‘Stranger’ below.

Single Review – Calling All Captains – Tailspin

Tailspin” is out now on New Damage Records, which is their first release in two years and is an energetic and emotional song about falling deep into your own vices. Consistently telling yourself you need to change, but struggling with the real pain that comes with healing. 

On the release, the band say:

Together we are slowly getting better, some days more than others. This is the first song we’ve released in over two years and it features Connor’s voice upfront and personal alongside Luc’s, adding a new element to our music. Thank you for listening!

The track is a perfect reminiscence track while blending genres in such a fascinating way. With reminders of Real Friends, Neck Deep, A Day To Remember and more, this is a very much welcomed return to the scene for Calling All Captains with the hooks coming in every shape and form but what displaces them from every band in similarity is the grungy vocals of Brad Bremmer. What they add to the genre though is the lyrics which encapsulate the feelings of the last year for most of the world. Hopefully they’ll be able to tour this one soon because it’ll go off in any venue!

Rating:5/5.

Check out Tailspin below or via your preferred streaming service.

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Single Review – Dawn Chorus – ‘Modern Being’

Dawn Chorus are an atmospheric indie rock trio out of Salt Lake City, UT. With an energetic life of its own, their upcoming single ‘Modern Being’ radiates a sunny disposition, taking the listener on a journey through an array of instrumentation with a psychedelic vibe. Musically coming together the day Trump was defeated in the presidential election, it’s no wonder the tune has such an uplifting feel!

Utilising their passion for different genres and styles, Dawn Chorus incorporate everything from acoustic guitar to cello, flute, organ and synthesisers on the new track. Every instrument and track was performed by Dawn Chorus and entirely self-produced, composed, arranged, engineered and was even mixed within one of the members’ apartment. The DIY attitude of Dawn Chorus gives them an authenticity that shines through both musically and lyrically.

Dawn Chorus on the meaning behind the track:

It’s about disillusionment with modern life and technology’s effect on interpersonal relationships. Lyrically, this song was inspired by a mushroom trip in Colorado. Musically, the core of this song came together the day Trump was defeated (thank god) as such, it has a celebratory feel. Harmonically, it was inspired by Brian

Wilson’s more daring Harmonic arrangements / harmonic language of Jazz. We were striving to capture that classic 60s / Beatles psychedelic feel with a modern flare /extra dose of harmony.

Having played music together in some capacity for roughly 7 years, Dawn Chorus started writing and recording in earnest with their current lineup in 2018. Priding themselves on their collaborative effort, the trio try to span the multitude of genres that influence them.

‘Modern Being’ follows their November 2020 single ‘Diamond Dust’. Last year the band enjoyed breakthrough success with their track ‘Origami Heart’, which reached 50k+ streams on Spotify over the course of a few months and was playlisted internationally. The single also achieved local coverage by SLUG Magazine and Salt Lake City weekly for the band.

Dawn Chorus is comprised of: William Fait – Guitar, Keys, Vox; Christian Sudweeks – Bass, keys, drums, vox, mixing; and Christopher Weed – Lead Vox, Keys, Drums.

The track starts off quite unconventional as if it was a big band but that’s more of the Jazz influence coming into play. After this, it moves straight into an older indie and more of the 60’s territory which is really quite appealing to the ear. It’s a complete throwback which we may just need right now.

Rating:3/5.

Check out ‘Modern Being’ below.

Single Review – Kashmere – ‘Someone’

Founded within the suburbs of Greater Manchester, Kashmere are an indie-rock force to be reckoned with.

With modern and vintage production methods, robust layers of analogue synths and unforgettable chorus hooks, Kashmere have always carved a unique & distinctive path for themselves, becoming impossible to ignore. Now the band return with their euphoric and vibrant single ‘Someone’. 

Kashmere on their new track

“‘Someone’ is about chasing a lifestyle, a relationship or simply a headspace that perhaps isn’t suited to you.”

After feeling like they’d lost their way, Kashmere found time to reflect during the year of lockdown and returned to the sound that inspired them to make music in the beginning. The band returned to their favourite residential studio, Eve Studios Stockport, Greater Manchester (The Charlatans, Snoop Dogg, Blossoms). The owner at Eve Studios allowed the band to dust off the cobwebs from their 1970’s Mk 1 Mini Moog, previously used on Kashmere’s 2018 hit ‘Codeine’ on the promise of spending the entire day finding the perfect bass sound. Keeping to their word, the Mini Moog is the first sound you hear on the new single ‘Someone’

Kashmere echo an eclectic range of influences from the band’s extensive interest in old and new music, from the likes of Depeche Mode, the 1975, Simple Minds, The Strokes, Tame Impala and Talk Talk. The un-mistakable sonics & consistent earworm anthems have allowed the band to sell out every Manchester headline show since 2016, selling over two thousand tickets in their hometown. 

Through constant touring and dedication to playing every corner of the UK, Kashmere has built a fanbase almost solely on a word-of-mouth basis. Never showing fear to jump in at the international deep end with incredibly successful tours in China 2018 & Germany 2019. Followed by an unfortunate cancellation of their SXSW 2020 experience. Kashmere have recently announced a series of UK and European tour dates for 2021 (see below), although still dream of returning to China in the future!

Previously Kashmere have found a high success rate on Spotify, appearing on nationally renowned editorial playlists such as New Music Friday, The Indie List and All New All Now. Racking up a healthy 1.7m streams, alongside powerful sync backing & retail playlisting from Netflix, Fred Perry and Pretty Green. Performing at Y-Not Festival, Neighbourhood, British Sound Project and Tramlines Festival the band gained support from the likes of BBC 6 Music, XS Radio and BBC Introducing MCR.

‘Someone’ is set for release on April 30th and is the first in a series of singles expected in 2021.

The track ‘Someone’ is a beautiful soulful dream which is one of the more pleasant listens I’ve had the pleasure to have come my way so far this year. You can just imagine this in gig settings because it’s going to be a huge one for Kashmere. Easy on the ear and the instrumentation is one aspect to the track you could listen to for multiple plays on repeat, this triumphant release easily proves that Manchester is just full of artists with massive potential. And this ear worm is one you’ll head for days, if not weeks on end.

Check out ‘Someone’ below.

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Single Review – Boxteles – ‘D’YOU MIND?

Huddersfield alt-rock collective Boxteles make their return with their tantalising new single ‘D’You Mind?’ April 23rd

Boxteles journey began back in 2018, now comprised of Tom Bedford (vocals and guitar), Alex ‘Rex’ Richardson (bass), Ryan Smith (guitar) and Will Hirst (drums). Their musical journey began in front of a sound-tech and an elderly couple in Keighley. Fast-forward 18 months and Boxteles were selling out headline shows throughout the north. The new line-up is ready to blow rooves off venues throughout the U.K. and beyond (as soon as it is safely permitted).

Having released a string of popular singles as well as supporting acts like; Kyle Falconer of The View, Larkins and Glass Caves, Boxteles have gained a strong and loyal following that grows faster and stronger with every release. 2020 started with a bang, selling out two headline shows in Huddersfield and Manchester, and having signed their first record deal with Caos Music Ltd, we’re expecting big things from Boxteles this year.

Boxteles sound combines hard hitting riffs, sing-along choruses and more than a little of that famous Yorkshire wit. Now, making their return with ‘D’You Mind?’, Boxteles Tom Bedford explained: 

“D’You Mind? is a song that tries to encapsulate the excitement, anxiety and adventure that is the world of modern dating. It’s about trying to be yourself and be true to yourself as well as trying to impress and maybe hide aspects of your personality that you feel may deter others from wanting to stick around, all wrapped into a, rocky up-beat pop song.”


They look to 2021 with positive energy as it’s set to be a huge year for the band. They prime to hit stages once again with an all-new storming set of soul-stirring songs, with their sights set on the stratosphere. With ‘D’You Mind?’ set to drop on April 23rd 2021, this cheeky Yorkshire band are going places.

Check out ‘D’You Mind’ below.

Starting off with a little blues and then transporting into that rifftastic explosion is just utterly fantastic. Also, with the track diving further into modern dating is commendable and somewhat enjoyable to listen to but with the mix of the alternative and rock instrumentation coming together within the final third I was just blown away by the cathartic explosion the track really is.

Rating: 5/5.

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Single Review – Prey Drive – Socrates

Norwich-based alternative four-piece PREY DRIVE have released new track ‘Socrates’, from their upcoming ‘Neon God’ EP, out 28 May via Lockjaw Records. The accompanying music video, the second in a trilogy, sees singer Bradley Smith confronting himself as he comes face-to-face with his evil doppleganger. (Watch the first part of the trilogy here.)

Bradley says of the new track, which sees the band get a little darker and heavier, “Socrates is about growing older, while your body is slowly falling apart. Trends coming back into fashion that you remember the first time around. Experiences that you have to go through in adult life, like marriage, divorce and unfaithfulness making your perception of life and love slightly bitter. Relying on medication so your body doesn’t destroy itself prematurely. Wanting to go back to a simpler time. It’s all about having the years of life experience and wisdom on your side but not the optimism you had in your youth.”

He adds, “The song incorporates a quote from ‘Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure’ in which Ted befriends Socrates by being philosophical with him saying, ‘all we are….is dust in the wind, dude’. I used this as a metaphor meaning that we basically only have a short time on this earth and things will keep on spinning long after we are gone, like they did before we were even here. So make the most of it. I used this just to sum up the whole theme of the song.”

‘Neon God’ is Prey Drive’s first release with label Lockjaw Records and comprises five new tracks following themes of hopelessness, fear of an ever-growing technological future, and our dependence on devices like our phones and the internet to actually be able to live in it and not feel like you’re missing out.

Listeners can expect a powerhouse of authoritative rock riffs intertwined with intricate mathematical lead lines and a dream-like ambience, with soaring vocals soaked in canorous harmonies. The lyrics reflect on self-frustration and the personal challenges of adhering with society’s expectations – something we can all relate to. 

Prey Drive have been garnering a passionate following from touring across the UK and EU and their 2018 debut album ‘Once More With Feeling’ has racked up over 350k streams on Spotify alone. The band’s progress to date was recognised with an opportunity to support Busted at their sold-out reunion show at Norwich’s 1500-capacity UEA.

Is it me or is everything just that little bit better as something goes darker and heavier? That’s exactly what Prey Drive have done. Starting off the track, it’s just basstastic, going in a more hardcore vibe then retreating to a more traditional alternative route while still keeping that guitar in all the right places. There is a good balance in the genre for ‘Socrates’ where that last breakdown comes and just hits home. A truly epic track for anyone that needs a fantastic band to be listening to right now.

Rating: 4/5.

Check out the video for ‘Socrates’ below.

Single Review – Dohny Jep – Fade

Kent-based alternative-rock four-piece Dohny Jep began as a duo in early 2019, with Stuart and Pete deciding to create something unlike anything either of them had done before in previous bands and projects. With their unique video concepts and mesh of pop-synth melodies and rock guitars, they did just that.  Fast forward one year and with an additional two members in tow, the group self-released their much celebrated debut album L.U.S.T in July 2020.

After playing just one show together as a band, they had tours planned throughout 2020 to coincide with the release of their debut album, but as the Coronavirus put a halt to any plans of playing their new material live, they headed back to the studio to record more new music. 

Following up on the February release of their EP ‘Smile, It Might Never Happen’, comes their second EP of 2021 ‘Shallow Is The Water’, due for release May 28th via Favour The Brave Records.

Recorded at their recently-built home studio and produced, mixed and mastered by Rhys May (Bring Me The Horizon, Don Broco, While She Sleeps), the EP explores the subjects of change, self-reflection and past mistakes.
Prior to the release comes the EP’s leading single ‘Fade’.

Commenting on the track the band state: “Fade is about people who are so fixated on how they look and what they want other people to see, social media sometimes brings out the worst in us. We don’t accept the flaws that we have and feign perfection.”

Fade is a more soft sounding self reflection track for the band to start with. Heading into the deeper section further in, that is where meat of the track lives. In addition there’s a little sprinkle of Don Broco influence you can hear in the breakdown but Dohny Jep manage to make ‘Shallow Is The Water’ their own where they start to find their own identity. It’s a trippy self reflective piece and one you’ll become addicted to as you await their upcoming EP.

Rating: 3/5.

Check out the Music Video for ‘Fade’ below.

Single Review – Cappa – Fatal

LA-based pop darling CAPPA is releasing her new single, “Fatal,” on April 2nd. “Fatal” will join singles “Colder” and “Contact High” on CAPPA’s forthcoming EP slated for release later this year. 

CAPPA’s signature combination of atmospheric production, alluring vocals, confident lyricism, and catchy hooks is on full display on “Fatal”. The song explores a tumultuous relationship that never feels like it’s on solid ground. “The other person doesn’t put you first or see your point of view and it’s always causing chaos,” CAPPA elaborates.

Since her 2015 breakout, “Hush,” which premiered on SPIN and was later featured in a Victoria Secret ad, CAPPA has released two EPs – ‘CAPPA‘ & ‘Queen of Hearts‘ – and a steady stream of effervescent singles. Over the years, CAPPA has been championed by key tastemakers like NYLON, Glamour, Entertainment Weekly, and Billboard. Her songs can also be heard on hit TV shows like Riverdale, Selling Sunset, and Siesta Keys, as well as in commercials for Lady Gaga’s HAUS Laboratories and Under Armour. 

Originally hailing from Philadelphia, CAPPA first landed in Nashville and quickly became synonymous with the emerging pop scene there. Buoyed by her success in Nashville, CAPPA made the leap to Los Angeles a few years back and has continued to expand her resume as an artist, songwriter, and vocalist. Well-known for her hypnotic vocal stylings, CAPPA has featured on tracks for major electronic acts like SNBRN, Dirty Audio Justin Caruso, and TELYKast, and curated an exclusive vocal sample pack for SPLICE.

Cappa’s latest track, ‘Fatal’ is just an expert in how confident someone can be when their music is amazing. The lyrics of the track that focus on a relationship is laid bare and exposes herself to share something which you absorb into your soul. It’s a in depth view into the mind of an artist we want to hear more from.

Rating: 5/5.

Check out ‘Fatal’ below.

Single Review – Julian Skiboat – My Room

When you hear Julian Skiboat you stop and listen. Hailing from San Antonio, the 24 year-old multi instrumentalist and singer-songwriter evokes emotions out of each and every lyric and guitar strum. What’s astonishing is that up until recently, he has made all of his music on his iPhone 5.  

Starting out writing music at the age of 18, Julian was a drummer for local pop-punk bands in his hometown. Now the young enchanter has found his own sound. Following the release of his debut EP nice to meet u, which has garnered over one million streams to date, Julian is now unveiling his next slew of singles. Transitioning from his usual “sad boy” romance songs, to tracks about self-growth, the upcoming releases are all inspired by his day-to-day living, touching on themes from his own experiences and relationships, to everyday occurrences and general thoughts, providing comfort to listeners by reminding them that we’re all in this together. 

His latest single “My Room” was written as a reflection of how the artist has been feeling during the pandemic. He confides, “It’s about feeling bored, lonely, and stagnant. I have such a love for this song because I think it really represents me well. Having this upbeat happy instrumental with slightly somber lyrics really embodies me as a whole.” Emphasizing how better days are always ahead, the songwriter shares, “I think with my upcoming songs and projects I really want to dive into that kind of like “it could be worse”, “I can make it through this” message.” Sonically the track features laid-back tropical infused guitars, warm hazy vocals and Skiboat’s signature quirky soundscapes creating an enthralling juxtaposition.  

Continuing to press his artistry forward and with a step up in production and musicianship, Julian is showing his dedication to furthering his craft. The somber style he has developed has led to press pickups from Live Nation’s Ones To Watch, DIY, Earmilk, Lyrical Lemonade, Hilly Dilly, Urban Outfitters and more. Julian Skiboat seems poised to become a household name.

Right in at the start of this track you hear something striking and different. Whether it’s the instrumentation of the music or Julian’s voice, it’s something I gravitated to quite quickly and is a track for the generation trapped by COVID-19. Reflecting on the past is always good to be doing and this track does it in a way that you can’t get enough of.

Rating:3.5/5.