Musical Motivation: James Reidy

James Reidy's latest single, Love Me, is an anthem to the very core. With the Birmingham based singer/songwriter explores his failed relationship, he strikes a universal cord in his epic radio anthem. Having fallen in love with the song the moment we heard it, we knew we needed to find out more. So we asked him what songs make him... Smile Blind Love - Lola Young I actually found this category really tricky, listening to music usually makes me smile regardless so…

Musical Motivation: Han Bloom

London based Han Bloom is a classically trained pianist and composer but decided to take the route of jazz/ prog rock/ alternative genres. Having just released her debut album, Higher State Of Mind, she has shown herself to be a distinctive artist with the ability to make poignant statements within her lyrics. We caught up with her and asked what song makes you... Smile Stevie Wonder - As It makes me wanna dance. Contemplate Oscar Peterson - Hymn To Freedom The pianism…

Review: The Sheltering Sky By Paul Bowles

Since my first encounter with The Sheltering Sky some years ago, the novel remained in my mind as one that really meant something. It moved me; I found it wholly engaging, complex, mysterious and somewhat disturbing. That isn't half bad, considering that all I read, no matter how much I revel in the experience at the time, gets cast to the bookcase and the back of my mind to be slowly forgotten. I returned for a second round recently as I…

Mile High Musings - On Narrative

As a child I was fortunate enough, thanks to my father, to be regularly invited to join the Captain and Co-Pilot in the cockpit of numerous passenger aircraft whilst in flight. Often perched upon an uncomfortable jump seat, I gazed in astonished wonder at the bedazzling range of knobs, switches, levers, pulsing lights and gauges before my eyes as the aviators piloted their Jumbos and DC 10’s through the skies. The sedulously professional air of the pilots was at utter variance…

Interview With Hannah Grace

The last year has been huge for Wales' Hannah Grace, and has seen her perform at Richard Quinn's London Fashion Week Show, following in the footsteps of the likes of Lady Gaga, Beyonce and Amal Clooney by being dressed by Richard on the night, and leading Vogue to describe her voice as sounding "like honey". Hannah also played her largest show to date last year supporting Barbra Streisand at Hyde Park, following previous support slots for the likes of Jess…

Musical Motivation: Pleasure Trap

A born performer, Rory Kaye was a 90’s baby. Born in London, growing up on the road, with stints in Middlesbrough, Manchester and Southern Spain. Rory’s childhood was soundtracked by a mix of albums by Eminem, Black Eyed Peas and The Beatles among others. As Kaye hit adolescence, his tastes evolved and he began to listen to rock bands such as the Foo Fighters and Slipknot, who inspired Kaye’s first musical project, Rory Indiana, a critically acclaimed band with Radio…

CORONAVISION: My Lock-down Media Schedule

Whilst weathering the storm of COVID-19, in all its infinite layers of difficulty, the prospect of immersing oneself in similarly-themed media may seem a paradoxical if not masochistic proposition. Well, that’s about as meta as it gets! Yet in a period which has simultaneously seen sales of Albert Camus’ The Plague skyrocket, and Steven Soderbergh’s 2011 film Contagion enjoy a spike in downloads, you have to wonder why it is we’re doing this to ourselves. The Plague (for those of…

Musical Motivation: LEX

LEX is a musical ‘character’ created by the talented and multi-faceted pop/rock Spanish artist Alex Ayora. LEX really does encompass it all - not only is he a renowned singer and composer in his native country, he is also a multi-instrumentalist playing guitar, bass, drums and piano who has worked with a plethora of other artists and big brands. He has just released his latest single Unlucky, so we caught up with him to find out what songs make him... Smile Every

Riva Taylor - This Woman's Heart .1

Back in 2014 former child star Riva Taylor (known previously as Becky) released her first single in almost a decade. Creed was a powerful reminder of her stunning vocal, but showed a very different side to an artist better known for musical theatre driven sound. While she then waited another few years to return with her next single, 2018's Deeper Than Us. It was hereafter that her new mini-album started to take shape with the marching beat of My Mouth. Having…

The 1975 - Notes On A Conditional Form

The 1975 are one of the biggest bands in the world. To date they have release 3 huge albums and stolen the hearts of the masses with their insightful lyrics, playful melodies and ability to write a perfect anthem. All that changes with the 22 song long Notes On A Conditional Form. Having reached the stage in the career where they can simply sell records by just announcing to their huge audience that a new one is on the way, they…

Review: The Litigators By John Grisham

My love for a Grisham continues and I thought it time to read another... Although refreshingly humorous in tone, or at the very least tongue in cheek in places, the opening of this novel is a frighteningly real description of ‘the snap’ as experienced by David Zinc. For those of you who, like me, have never heard the term before, it is that moment when your mind snaps, the pressure becomes too great and, as in this case, you run. David…

Musical Motivation: Rumer

Rumer discovered the songs of Hugh Prestwood as she searched for "lost gems" while living in the American South. With grand arrangements and traditional elements, Nashville Tears was produced by Fred Mollin at StarStruck Studios with some of Music City’s best musicians. Since her 2010 debut album Seasons of My Soul earned her a MOJO Award and two Brit Award nominations, Rumer has earned praise in the US from the likes of NPR, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and CBS…

Badly Drawn Boy - Banana Skin Shoes

Eight years has passed since Damon Gough - a.k.a - Badly Drawn Boy released his last studio album. It was at a point in his life when something needed to change. He had been through a tough relationship break-up and the perpetual cycle of album release and subsequent touring had taken its toll. Although he never stopped writing, he was not at a stage in his life where he could release an album. That moment has finally arrived and he…

Singles Of The Week: 22 May 2020

The summer sun appears to have finally arrived, and while the world remains at various of stages of lockdown, there is a sense of unity and optimism as we look ahead. With the first post-lockdown concert having happened in the States and the Eurovision confirming its intention to return in 2021, the music world is proving a strong fighter. To celebrate, here are our singles of the week - with an impressively high rate of full house scores meaning a…

Carly Rae Jepsen - Dedicated Side B

The world of pop music has never been played fairly. While Carly Rae Jepsen has by no means done badly for herself, she is seen by many as the purveyor of the cheesiest kind of pop. In truth she is far from that. Yes, she is a purveyor of pop. Yes, she has delivered too of the cheesiest hits of recent years (but admit it, you love them both). However, her back catalogue showcases a far more striking and compelling…

Musical Motivation: Laura Cortese

Berklee College of Music in Boston alumni Laura Cortese debuted back in 2004 with the lush folk of Hush. Her sonic journey since has been one of experimental growth. With some stunning highs, she is about the reveal her finest record to date. Recorded with her band The Dance Cards, Bitter Better sees her folk leanings married to a pop sensibility that is delivered with a real warmth of heart. To celebrate the impending release, we caught up with her…

Musical Motivation: Tall Children

Tall Children is the musical alter-ego of Ben Hughes. Ben believes we are all Tall Children. Because being childlike is positive. We should never lose our creativity, playfulness and fun. Equally, we can all grow older and taller without ever growing up, running rampant through the world’s resources, with increasing fear and diminishing empathy for each other. Being childish isn’t quite so positive. Having graduated from LIPA, he has been honing his craft alongside musicians including Melanie C, Paolo Nutini and…

Sister Sledge: Thinking Of You – The Atco / Cotillion / Atlantic Recordings (1973-1985)

Aptly named sibling group Sister Sledge first explored their musical potential as a group in 1971, before releasing their debut album Circle of Love four years later. However, it wasn't until the end of the decade that they finally achieved mainstream acclaim with the evolution of their sound into a disco domain, which of course saw the arrival of the always epic anthem We Are Family. Although the group have released two studio albums after their 'hey-day', Cherry Red have…

A Writer's Journey: Kamand Kojouri

Born in Tehran, raised in Dubai and Toronto and currently a resident of Wales, Kamand Kojouri saw her debut poetry collection rewarded with bounteous praise. In her second collection, she turns the age-old question of the existence of God on its head, and asks whether humanity exists. Her main intention is to make us think and act more humanely—with compassion, empathy, and understanding. We caught up with her to find out a little bit more about her journey as writer. What

Puffin Launches Week-Long Childrens' Book Festival

Puffin, the world’s biggest children’s book publisher, is launching the ‘Puffin Festival of Big Dreams’ as part of their 80th birthday celebrations. The seven-day online festival, in partnership with Waterstones, will launch on the 8th June and will bring together authors and illustrators including Jacqueline Wilson, Robin Stevens, Nick Sharratt, Dapo Adeola, Nathan Bryon and Nadia Shireen, to inspire children to keep on dreaming. Hosted on Puffin’s YouTube and Facebook Live channels, the festival will feature an all-star line up…

Ruthie Collins - Cold Comfort

Ruthie Collins grew up on a grape farm in Fredonia, New York and was brought up on a diet of classical and gospel music. However, all that changed during her teenage years when she fell in love with pop and country, with the latter introducing her to the narrative songs that would shape her own music career. While still a relatively new name on the Country scene, the Curb Records signed vocalist has already been rewarded with high praise from…

The Sound And The Fury: A Hero Of Our Time By Mikhail Lermontov

Mikhail Lermontov’s A Hero Of Our Time (1840) was a game changer of seismic proportion for Russian literature. It was a pioneering psychological novel, confronting its readers with a minatory and unforgettable protagonist in the form of Pechorin, its Byronic “Hero”. Lermontov both broke and created literary conventions in order to provide society with a depiction of a monster it had made. Its central message, though bleak, finds expression through Lermontov’s literary innovation and ability to keep his reader entertained…

Poem Of The Week: 'Treat' By Thirza Clout

Treat When dad thickly buttered a slice of white bread, spooned on sugar, tipped it to and fro over the china bowl he showered down so much love it snowed across the cloth. I licked my first finger, pressed down to stick grains, licked again. In our house love came granulated never enough to be wasted. Here’s a poet who constructs the living room of a life from the barest of furniture. Thirza Clout’s brief but focused observation bespeaks an act of love which is given definition, not so much…

Review: A Street Cat Named Bob By James Bowen

I had a cat once. I got him as a kitten, a little ball of fluff, and it was the vet who told me he was Harry and not Harriet! I had him for seventeen years. After the initial cute kitten phase, he was quiet, kept himself to himself and wasn’t particularly affectionate, except once when I was in bed with pneumonia and woke up to find him curled up under the duvet, in the small of my back. It…

Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit - Reunions

4-time Grammy Award winner Jason Isbell has very little to prove as he releases his fourth album with his band The 400 Unit. Having achieved commercial and critical acclaim for pretty much his entire back catalogue, many could forgive him for simply sitting back and taking it a little bit easier on himself. Thankfully Reunions does not do that. It is an album that is both introspective and reflective, while simultaneously questioning and observing the global social situation. Having teased the…

KEiiNO - OKTA

When KEiiNO were first announced for Eurovision 2019 the response was divided. For some the appeal of their Sámi infused pop was instantly addictive, while for others they felt the cheesy pop leaning was a step backwards in the increasingly credible pop contest. On the night of the competition last year the public spoke loud and clear. While the trio were not favoured by the jury, the public awarded them a very resounding first place position. One year on and…

Singles Of The Week: 15 May 2020

Music fans around the world are mourning the loss of the 65th Eurovision Song Contest. Having gone from strength to strength in recent years, the contest has once again started to really introduce an army of amazing new talent for fans to follow loyally. While there are many who feel Iceland would have romped to an easy victory (perhaps repeating the Bookies success at predicting both Salvador Sobral, Netta and Duncan Laurence), it would have been wonderful to see how…

Musical Motivation: Jan Thierfelder

German Indie group Jante have drawn comparisons to Passenger and Mumford and Sons. With an effortless breezy indie-folk leaning, their heartfelt lyrics and singability are helping them to steadily rise through the ranks of the German music industry. Having just released the sensational third EP, Blick ins Freie, which was teased by the wonderful Einfach Leichter, they have proved that with each new EP they find greater musical strength. We caught up with frontman Jan Thierfelder to find out more…

Musical Motivation: Julia Kautz

Born in Vienna, based in Munich, the former journalist Julia Kautz recently released one of our favourite songs written in response to the current pandemic. So viele Menschen and its accompanying music video are truly a moment of unified beauty, showing that throughout the tough times, we can still lean on one another and that we truly are in this together. As she builds towards the release of her new EP, we caught up with Julia to find out a…

Duncan Laurence - Worlds On Fire

The last few years have seen The Netherlands send a flurry of stand-out acts to the Eurovision Song Contest with a seeming determination to win the competition. Having last won in 1975, they attempted victory with sensational entries from Anouk, Douwe Bob, The Common Linnets and O'G3NE, but though their results on the whole improved, they couldn't quite edge ahead of their competitors. All that changed last year when former The Voice of Holland contestant Duncan Laurence took the crown…