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Alan McGee – Eyefocus 359 Music

This entry is part 1 of 7 in the series Eyefocus 359 Music

Creation Records founder Alan McGee claims he has been reinvigorated by music recently, to such an extent that he has launched a new record label in conjunction with Cherry Red Records. Not content with resting on his illustrious laurels, the man who helped bring bands such as the Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Primal Scream and Teenage Fanclub into our lucky lives has decided to once again grace the record buying public with his welcome presence, and hopefully to provide us with some much needed new music and great talent.

Creation Records was started in 1983 by Alan McGee, Dick Green and Joe Foster (and a £1000 bank loan) in order to put records out by bands that they liked, and according to McGee who no one else wanted. In a candid interview for the Guardian in 2010 McGee also revealed that part of the reason for starting Creation Records was because of ‘not wanting a real job’, which is as good a reason as any to start your own record company. However, to run a record label that seemed perennially in debt must have brought its own stresses and tribulations, and although McGee admits a lot of it was down to luck, there must surely have been a lot of hard work and a passion for what he was doing in order to keep Creation Records going as long as he did.

Some of the most influential bands from the past 25 years were signed to Creation Records, and they need no further introduction here. When Creation Records came to an end in 1999 the label had released records by at least 40 bands, and you would forgive Alan McGee if he felt like throwing the towel in at this point, however, he formed Poptones and signed The Hives before dissolving the record label for financial reasons in 2007.

Can the man who co founded Creation Records and subsequently Poptones have any more hunger for the trials and tribulations of the music business? The answer is comprehensively in the affirmative. However, Alan McGee has decided to set up his new venture from his home in rural Wales. McGee moved to Wales with his wife and daughter and he openly admits that he got bored with life in London. Thanks to modern technology McGee has been afforded the luxury of being able to operate his new venture from the comfort of his own home.

Alan McGee argues that all he needs is a Blackberry and a laptop in order to operate his label. Although McGee has found a new zest for music, he feels that technology has altered the importance of music. McGee argues that people are more enthused by Twitter than pop music, which makes uncovering the next Primal Scream or Oasis virtually non-existent. However, McGee is also canny enough to know that online social media sites is now the way to push new music, and YouTube, Twitter and Facebook do provide an important outlet for new bands, who can promote their music off their own backs. However, the other side of the argument is that the Internet is making it difficult for any aspiring musician to forge an identity amongst the deluge of sub standard music.

Luckily the artists signed to 359 Music do have an outlet for their music, which comes in the form of Cherry Red Records, who intend to handle the business side of the label with McGee responsible for A&R. How Cherry Red Records and Alan McGee came back together is somewhat amusing. McGee says he received a letter in the post from Cherry Red Records saying that he was due outstanding royalties to the tune of a £126. The royalties in question date back at least 30 years when he was in a band called the Laughing Apple. Cherry Red Records must be applauded for outstanding honesty and unwittingly helping to convince Alan McGee to return to the music business.

Cherry Red Records are still going strong and growing after 35 years in the music business, and can lay claim to being the biggest reissue company in the market. Now Cherry Red records are moving back to distributing music by new and upcoming artists, and this joint venture with Alan McGee sounds like a match made in musical heaven, especially for the lucky 15 or so artists who made the cut and are finally realizing their dream of actually recording music and getting it released for us lucky punters to hear.

Alan McGee had invited artists to send their music by MP3, and McGee then promised to listen to everything that he received, which must be a monumental but thoroughly enjoyable task in itself. Within a few days of announcing the formation of 359 Music Alan McGee said he had received at least a few thousand MP3’s, however, he would have also liked to have heard from more female artists as McGee claims that at least 85% of the MP3’s he received were from male bands. According to McGee ‘there is more talent in Huyton than there is in Hoxton’, which reveals his disenchantment with London was not just geographical but musical as well. The request to send MP3’s is closed for for now, but will periodically re-open with fresh opportunities when the time is right. Our advice would be to follow 359 Music on Facebook and Twitter, to keep up with the action.

November is set to be a busy and exciting month for 359 Music and the artists who are lucky enough to be signed to the label. 359 Music are set to unleash at least half a dozen albums throughout the course of the month, and I have been lucky enough to have a sneak preview of 3 of these albums. Pete McLeod, Gun Club Cemetery and Tess Parks have been fully endorsed and supported by Alan McGee, and he feels that 359 Music will provide a much-needed outlet for these artists to showcase their talents.

Alan’s Interview to follow…

A Series has been set-up for 359 Music on eyeplug.net, which include interviews and reviews of the 6 newly signed Artist’s and they will be published very soon!

 

Long John

Charming Chap and a new sharp force for Eyeplug, being a toppermost writer with a keen appreciation for things of quality and distinction. A well known face on the London ‘Mod’ Scene but with an open mind and heart. Got a strange interest in Pirates? One to watch out for!

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November 7, 2013 By : Category : Features Front page Interviews Music Reviews Tags:, , , , , ,
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John Lennon McCullagh – Eyefocus 359 Music

This entry is part 2 of 7 in the series Eyefocus 359 Music

John Lennon McCullagh (his real name),  is a fifteen-year-old from Doncaster, South Yorkshire. He’s been playing guitar and writing his own songs since he was twelve. His latent talent for his beloved six-string was soon followed by mastery of the harmonica. Having returned with his family from several years in Australia to the UK in late 2012, John has been playing low profile shows this year in the north east. These included a support slot with former Housemartins/Beautiful South frontman Paul Heaton at Sheffield’s Mosborough Music Festival in June.

01 How did you first get started in music?

When I heard Bob Dylan’s Positively 4th Street on the radio one day.

02 Who were your major influences and inspirations?

I have a lot, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, The Beatles, Van Morrison, Marc Bolan, there probably the main ones.

03 What shapes your song craft and sound?

Just everyday life in Doncaster, things I see or hear, I come from a very working class family so I think that shapes a lot of it.

04 What types of themes and subjects do you deal with?

Thats for people to decide, if I write a song about something that means something to me, it will probably mean something else to whoever’s listening.

05 How has your music evolved since you first began playing?

A great deal, I was only ever a guitarist, then got into Dylan and wanted to be a singer. And obvisouly doing a lot of gigs will help you a lot.

06 What has been your biggest challenge so far? Were you able to overcome this? If so, how?

I haven’t really had a challenge as such, I guess making the record was a big thing, but it wasn’t a challenge.

07 Do you ever play covers? If you could pick any song, which would you like to cover most and why?

I did when I first started,at the minute I finish my set off with a cover called “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean” But if I could cover a song the most it would probably be something like “Ballad Of A Thin Man” by Dylan.

08 How did you get connected with Alan McGee (ex Creation Records) and with the new record label project 359 Music?

He seen me play a gig in Rotherham, and then invited me to a gig in Liverpool, and he said he wanted to sign me, so its all gone from there really.

09 Alan has a reputation as someone who makes things happen in a very vital way, did this draw you in to the bigger plan?

Well if you look at his history of bands you don’t need much persuading haha. The bigger picture for me is i’m in a marathon not a sprint, which also fits in with the way Alan does things.

10 Will there be a Tour or live dates to help promote your album and single releases?

Yeh a lot of shows in December around the country and 1 date in Belgium, and a big hometown gig at the Dome in Doncaster supporting Reverend and the Makers and the Enemy.

11 What can someone who has never seen you live before expect from your live shows?

Live raw energy, coupled with honest music.

12 Who would you most like to record with?

A lot of people, Dylan of course, people like Richard Hawley, Noel Gallagher or someone would be cool.

13 What should we be expecting from you in the near future?

My album comes out on the 14th October, and therefore a lot of live shows taking me up unto Christmas.

14 Can you tell us a half-decent joke please?

Shakespeare walks in to a bar, landlord says get out ya bard.

Web Links:

facebook.com/JohnLennonMcCullagh
twitter.com/JohnMccullagh
soundcloud.com/john-mccullagh
359music.co.uk/johnlennonmccullagh

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North South Divide: John Lennon McCullagh (359 Music, cat #359CD1) – Released 14th October 2013

If you thought the young were content with their urban, or grime, or whatever it is, that’s supposed to be the new Rock & Roll this week, you could disabuse yourself of that notion successfully, by listening to this guitar and harmonica-toting teenager.

John Lennon McCullagh (real name) has the storyteller-troubadour bit off pat with his collection of self-written stories, laments, love songs and spittin’ anger-fests that make up his debut LP.

Opening with the no-holds barred ’55 Blues’, this one has no intentions of taking what’s offered to him, with the constant threat to ‘tear a strip outta you’. The ire may be a little misdirected, but what the hell?

Title track ‘North South Divide’ might be a master class at stating the obvious, but I’d beg older listeners to remember what passed for social concern song writing in their youth, before they carp at this particular effort.

An altogether sweeter atmosphere creeps in with ‘Long, Long Way’, with a hint of medieval and some pleasing guitar work, it goes to make up one of the more poetic moments on offer here. Closely followed by ‘Ballad of a Blue Poet’, a melancholic bit of whimsy that bears up to repeat listening.

The bell-like tone of the guitar and gently wailing harmonica of ‘It Never Rains’ are the essential elements of this standout track, its eternal themes of wandering and reunited lovers is perhaps the closest approach to John’s obvious musical model, one Robert Allen Zimmerman of Duluth, Minnesota.

An unquiet ghost from Britain’s political past is given a solid drubbing on ‘Rivers Of Blood’ expressed with surprising authority, and over a barking guitar strum. The cold face of today’s political scene is gazed at in ‘Colour of the Sun’, with a fine rolling rhythm, but sadly to no great conclusion. ‘Slipping Sway’ provides much more to feed on, a mysterious song, it could be disillusionment with life, or politics, or the aftermath of an assault, as you choose to see it.

There’s a touch of Burnage’s Gallagher brothers in ‘Ballad of Mr Henderson’, and the listener might think that the singer is a little young to be so world weary, but try to run with it; he sings a good song.

‘Short Sharp Shock’ gets a prize for sheer aggression here, its heavy, thumping chords whistling up a storm, even if the lyrics sound a little hackneyed.

‘White Rose’ will likely be a lasting favourite, a beautiful tune held up with simple finger style guitar and gentle harmonica, and the fall in the voice at the lyric, ‘the place I know’ makes it linger in the mind long after first hearing.

Closing this LP, ‘The Strand’ is a sprawling effort in the surreal storytelling tradition, much loved and exemplified by the aforementioned northern American poet. A classic saga involving a sea voyage, themes of home and belonging, populated by tramps, sea captains and mysterious ladies, if you’ve a hankering for tales with no end, told for the joy of telling, you’ve come to the right place.
BUY HERE!

Scenester

Scenester lives in London and Brighton, as time allows. Enjoys music, film, television, books, design and anything else which won’t leave well alone. Old enough to know better.

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November 4, 2013 By : Category : Folk Front page Interviews Music Tags:, , , , ,
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Chris Grant – Eyefocus 359 Music

This entry is part 3 of 7 in the series Eyefocus 359 Music

A Liverpudlian through and through, Chris Grant has always performed straight from his heart. “Chris’s main preoccupation is writing big songs capturing northern innocence,” Alan McGee once commented. “It’s a soulful escapism that eschews the hard man approach to songwriting. As with the best bands I’ve known, I get excited to hear his new songs and his musical progression. When Chris gets it right, his music transcends the apathy of rock’n’roll over the past ten years.”

01 How did you first get started in music?

Growing up my Dad had two acoustic guitars in our living room, he is a massive Bob Dylan fan. I was switched onto the guitar and great song writing from as far back as I can remember.

02 Who were your major influences and inspirations?

My Dad and my family inspired me and in music, I was influenced by Dylan and Neil Young from an early age.

03 What shapes your song craft and sound?

Honesty from start to end.

04 What types of themes and subjects do you deal with?

I’m writing about all possible emotions a human being can have on my first record. From around the age of 15 to 31. I don’t hold back, there is nothing I won’t sing about. One is about knocking someone clean out, the other is about being heart broken after the death of a loved one. Stuff like that.

05 How has your music evolved since you first began playing?

Very organically, I started acoustic then started a rock band until I found my own sound and went full circle and fused the two. The evolution of it is at a new peak right now as I truly believe I have crafted my own unique way of writing and recording and creating a sound for myself to live inside.

06 What has been your biggest challenge so far? Were you able to overcome this? If so, how?

Just fighting my way through the thousands and thousands of songwriters and bands all across the world on the unsigned scene to get to a point where I am now recognized and respected by high profile music industry people was my biggest challenge. I overcome it with determination and hard work with an element of talent that I seem to have for writing and performing music. There is no secret to it, you just don’t give up. Never aim for anything, just be on a never ending journey and enjoy the ride, if you can enjoy the ride the destination becomes irrelevant. To be honest people found me and my music, not the other way around. You see people all the time in music circles desperate for ‘ things ‘ to happen. They stress about it and try really hard. This put me off at once, I just do what I do. I never try.

07 Do you ever play covers? If you could pick any song, which would you like to cover most and why?

I used to for money, to live and pay bills, it was easier than working on a building site, not anymore. I hate it with a passion, this is my world and my music now, I don’t waste time playing other people’s music.

08 How did you get connected with Alan McGee (ex Creation Records) and with the new record label project 359 Music?

I have known Alan for years, he discovered me online in 2006/7. He is the only person in music or the world for the matter who I thought was worth a nudge, he is my exception, I sent him eight words, I wasn’t polite I was actually quite rude and arrogant, ” sign us now while you have the chance ”. He got back, had every right to say ” fuck off ” but he loved my music and mentored me in private for around 7 years, best advice he gave me was just keep writing these songs, I did. We are good mates, have been since, he started a label and there wasn’t really a discussion he just sort of said one day I’m starting a label, your on it pick ten songs we will put out your music. I picked ten songs from a huge catalogue I have, then you have my first album ” It’s Not About War! ‘. It took me ten minutes to write down on a piece of paper what tracks should be on the album. I wanted to show the world my diverse song writing in one great classic record. I have in my opinion and there is a lot more to come. This album does not begin to scratch the surface of what I can do.

09 Alan has a reputation as someone who makes things happen in a very vital way, did this draw you in to the bigger plan?

When I messaged him in ’06 I knew what he was about from Oasis TV documentaries in the 90’s I always knew in the back of mind, this guy will get me, there are people in music who are cool behind the scenes. I can do anything Noel can do, why is he talking like no one else can touch this Manc. It can be done, that was my angry attitude at 14 years old on the whole thing, I loved Oasis but i knew I could do it, that annoyed me. So I got on with my own journey. Im not a sheep, never have been, Id say I’m more a farmer. I followed for 5 minutes what they did, it was great but i was like, ok, I’m taking on the biggest challenge I can from this moment. Everyone around me set out to get a new pair of trainers in 94, I set out to take on the biggest band in the world and change Mcgee’s mind. I think I wanted that respect i watched him give Noel when I was 14 on TV, it’s sometimes strange to think i got there. I earned that respect, he now mentions me in the same breath as Noel. Thing is, to get here i waved any hero’s off. So it doesn’t mean anything to me, I’m out to be Noel now and go full circle, I hope to inspire 14 year olds, get them angry, I want them to be angry like I was, ” who is this Chris Grant Mcgee’s on about, I’m better than him ”. Bring it on you little shits, I want you to do your own thing, thats the whole point. Take me on. I dare you. I demand you do. Music will get better then. My plan is working so far.

10 Will there be a Tour or live dates to help promote your album and single releases?

Yes, touring December then again in the New Year.

11 What can someone who has never seen you live before expect from your live shows?

Great music.

12 Who would you most like to record with?

No one.

13 What should we be expecting from you in the near future?

More great songs.

14 Can you tell us a half-decent joke please?

Chris Martin.

Web Links:

facebook.com/ChrisGrant
twitter.com/ChrisGrant359
soundcloud.com/359music
359music.co.uk/CHRISGRANT

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It’s Not about War! Chris Grant (359 Music, cat #359CD2) – Released 21st October 2013

A new, entirely self-written collection of songs is about to appear on CD, by Liverpudlian Chris Grant. Those of you to whom Death Metal is the last word in sophistication may not be too impressed with this CD, but if you’re missing the romantic side of the early 80’s in these days of anodyne pop, you’ll find a kindred soul somewhere in here.

‘Our Story’ has a lush atmosphere, a beautifully compressed rhythm guitar that, with the pure, clear lead guitar and vocals, create a highly atmospheric piece on the subject of filial togetherness.

‘I Am the One’ articulates a mind awash with feelings of great good fortune as he gets the sought-after girl, starting quietly, with slow, sweet guitars and restrained vocal work that recall Pete Gabriel’s hushed tones.

‘It’s you’ is one of the albums more raw and substantial lyrics; the rasping guitar backing has admirable restraint for a classic romantic argument song.

An uncomfortable, guilty retelling of a date gone wrong, with someone he’d like to know better, ‘Pretty Mean’ has a late 70’s, early 80’s feel, leaning toward The Police’s signature sound, but without their wittering about obscure philosophers.

‘Like a 45’ opens with lush piano and distant horns accompanying a raw falsetto voice, like a peaceful day in the country. It gradually builds up into a crescendo of emotion, ending on a single, poignant piano note.

Coming straight after ‘Like A 45’ is the standout, ‘How Many Times’ with its strong, Jesus and Mary Chain / Echo & The Bunnymen style guitars and drums, a stuttering lead guitar and Grant admonishing himself for weakness in the face of lost love. An absolute standout and bound to last.

‘Maybe Now’ has a John Cale-style piano backing, forbidding strings, with Grant’s straining vocals expressing guilt and longing from what sounds like long experience, even touching on the steps we are prepared to take to blot honest emotions out of our minds.

‘Moonlit Wall’ is back to the subject of regret, some beautiful, delicate guitar work, the layered vocal and guitars contributing much to a track that sounds in danger of being overwhelmed by the mix.

‘Too cool to die’ marks the welcome appearance of the beloved fuzzy guitars, a rare swing to the melody, and some slightly enigmatic lyrics, but the vocal is a little reminiscent of James Blunt for my liking.

‘Baby Pink’s tale of love gone wrong is underpinned by a plaintive acoustic guitar, a hesitant vocal with a quality to it that is close to tears, but Grant’s lyrics are edging toward that Dylan area, notoriously hard to suggest without descending into a pastiche.

Chris Grant’s first collection shows a lot of promise, but on the evidence of these songs, he needs to sort out his love life, sharpish. BUY HERE!

Scenester

Scenester lives in London and Brighton, as time allows. Enjoys music, film, television, books, design and anything else which won’t leave well alone. Old enough to know better.

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November 5, 2013 By : Category : Front page Interviews Music Rock Tags:, , , ,
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Mineral – Eyefocus 359 Music

This entry is part 4 of 7 in the series Eyefocus 359 Music

So, who are Mineral? Well, imagine an indietronica outfit who hail from Paris and Dublin and cite as their influences Talking Heads, Pixies, Syd Barrett, Kraftwerk, Gainsbourg, The Beach Boys and Béla Bartók. That’s the vision behind the band members Craig Walker, Thierry Fournié, Sophie Armelle and Damien Li. Walker made his name in Irish indie rockers Power Of Dreams, and then trip-hop act Archive, who were huge in France. With Mineral, Craig teamed up in 2012 with three of the finest musicians in Paris to create a widescreen musical canvas in keeping with the best in French music (Air, Daft Punk) while hinting at soundscapes from around the globe. They’ve even recorded a telling cover of My Bloody Valentine’s ‘When You Sleep’.

01 How did you first get started in music?

Kids I was totally zero in football. So I’ve tried to play guitar.

02 Who were your major influences and inspirations?

Velvet Underground, New order ,middle age music, after punk and psyché pop. The letter B is generally good in music: Bowie , Barrett, Beatles, Beach Boys. We should call us Bineral.

03 What shapes your song craft and sound?

We love a lot of different stuff, different periods in music. We chose to be an electro band because it allows us to amalgamate all these influences, because it looks like our time. Electronic music is using the most modern expression to describe this strange period.We love Pop, rock, soundtrack but we just have a bass and 3 keyboards in a little studio.

04 What types of themes and subjects do you deal with?

Love and Violence.

05 How has your music evolved since you first began playing?

Listening a lot of music always evolves your own perception of things.We need to be curious! A lot of musician plays the same shit all their life, they found something quite interesting at the beginning, and after dig it. Some people call that “style” but in fact it’s just mannerism. Bowie never did the same, he’s an example to follow.

06 What has been your biggest challenge so far? Were you able to overcome this? If so, how?

My biggest challenge so far is to learn how to live, my second one will be to learn how to die.

07 Do you ever play covers? If you could pick any song, which would you like to cover most and why?

We’ve already done “When you sleep” by M.B.V. We did a stupid video for it, it was quite funny to do. The danger with covers is if the songs you choose is really excellent, it’s going to be impossible to do better. The challenge is at least to do something as good as the original, otherwise there is no interest. Next cover will be a Rihanna song!

08 How did you get connected with Alan McGee (ex Creation Records) and with the new record label project 359 Music?

It had a lot to do with time, numerology , destiny and 2 Albums by Kevin Shields.

09 Alan has a reputation as someone who makes things happen in a very vital way, did this draw you in to the bigger plan?

Alan gets the best albums out of the artists he works with, the evidence is clear.

10 Will there be a Tour or live dates to help promote your album and single releases?

Yes,we must pay to eat…

11 What can someone who has never seen you live before expect from your live shows?

Very loud electronic rock n roll.

12 Who would you most like to record with?

Kraftwerk.

13 What should we be expecting from you in the near future?

We have finished writing our second and third albums.

14 Can you tell us a half-decent joke please?

The 1975 band is a very funny joke.

Web Links:

facebook.com/mineralofficial
twitter.com/mineralofficial
soundcloud.com/mineralmusic
359music.co.uk/mineral

Photo Credit: Nicol Despis

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Plastic Exphrastic: Mineral (359 Music, cat #359CD3) – Released 28th October 2013

The long established genre of electronica has thrown up some frustratingly difficult to appreciate music over its life span, as well as some highly accessible ditties, and Mineral are on the blue end of the scale, never straying into the red zone of the totally unlistenable.

‘Serial Monkey’s loose, bleeping rhythm and its cast of vocalists, ranging from displeased infant, growling, monkey-obsessed male and stentorian disco minx, all seemingly pursuing their own path, is an attention grabbing opener, but does not bear up to too many repeated listens.

‘Atoms’ has a more languid feel, a pleasing marimba, real or generated, doing sterling service, but the male voice is too monotonous to hold the interest in this sprawling track, that tails off into a Beach Boys inspired workout, regrettably not one that resolves as only the BB can.

‘Bleeding the Beast’ is much more to my taste, soft piano chords coming on like Roxy Music, a sugary- sweet female vocal and an atmosphere that shows the band, unlike many of their brothers in synth, can be a little reflective.

‘Cynical’ is back in the icy-cold waters of electronic pop, but the male vocal has a little grit to contrast with the sweetness of his female comrade in voice, and the melody is not lacking in interest.

‘Love divine’ is another grass hopping synth riff with a worried keyboard figure doing nothing to enliven this maudlin ‘You, Me’ song. The offer to ‘Love you forever’ does not tempt this reviewer, and even the band gets bored with the whole shebang, ba-da-da –da-da-ing into the distance. What’s with the foghorn, by the way?

‘Mi-Clos’ has some tingling, ghostly vocals and hard, echoing guitars that set up a pleasingly tense atmosphere that could have been the basis of a chilling break-up story. Regrettably, the song fails to capitalise on it, and it ends sounding like a particularly freaky Japanese car commercial.

‘Stone’ presents us with more Lego music, bubbling keyboards, muffled drumbeats and loud-hailer vocals, the only respite a pleasing acoustic guitar figure. Aiming, I think, for the kind of absolutist shtick peddled in the 90’s, but all we appear to have here is an interesting beat going nowhere.

‘1989’ recreates the kind of twee-pop I thought had been outlawed long ago, but it seems some can’t get enough of it. You’re welcome.

‘Brainwashed’s compressed drums, bright keyboards and light touch guitar is pleasant enough, but it isn’t too long before the twee vocals start up again, and we’re stuck in a lift with Frazier Chorus.

By the time the final track ‘Plastic Exphrastic’ spun around (please, no secret tracks) I was ready for a change, and was duly presented with a sub-Kinks, Sgt Pepper lead-out groove dervish, that quickly turns into a robotic organ ditty of a late 1970’s stamp, complete with whiny vocals and whistling.

‘Where are we going with our digital souls?’ Indeed, where? BUY HERE!

Scenester

Scenester lives in London and Brighton, as time allows. Enjoys music, film, television, books, design and anything else which won’t leave well alone. Old enough to know better.

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November 5, 2013 By : Category : Front page Instruments Interviews Music Pop Rock Tags:, , , ,
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Pete MacLeod – Eyefocus 359 Music

This entry is part 5 of 7 in the series Eyefocus 359 Music

Pete’s star has been rising for some time now, with tours supporting the likes of Ocean Colour Scene and headline shows joined by former Oasis guitarist Bonehead. Before signing with 359 Music, this acclaimed Glaswegian singer, songwriter and guitarist has remained fiercely independent, releasing his music through his ModRock Music label. Back in the day, Pete performed under the name of thestar69, before eventually deciding to present himself as simply Pete MacLeod.

01 How did you first get started in music?

By listening to it and then it took me to this point now. I think we can take the ability to just listen and learning for granted at times.

02 Who were your major influences and inspirations?

Musically my influences and inspirations vary as I have so many musicians that I look up to. I like the message that The Beatles put out with the Peace&Love. I also think John Lennon continued that with his solo career. I always think that we are here a short time on the grand scale of things as the statistics for human life expectancy is probably about 80 now right? I’d rather spread a good message and leave that mark than hatred and all that nonsense. It’s not even about being judged by others as it would just feel such a waste of time here if you can’t turn something into a good positive thing rather than a negative thing y’know, so I guess that means anyone that was a hippy or a Beatle. Ha…

03 What shapes your song craft and sound?

I actually intentionally don’t over think it all to be honest. I have a passion for music but I don’t want to spoil or ruin it to the point where it’s a chore. Also every song and sound has it’s own direction and meaning so it naturally goes where it goes y’know.

04 What types of themes and subjects do you deal with?

Pretty much most subjects we all deal with in life. I think all the great writers dealt with obvious but touchy subjects which always interests me, two who spring to mind are John Lennon and Kurt Cobain. Two great artists IMHO.

05 How has your music evolved since you first began playing?

It will always evolve one way or another if I continue to make any sort of effort with it, from the beginning it was evolved greatly as would anything right? But there is always a natural thing with music and art isn’t there? Something we can’t create. Some touch it and have a glimpse of it. I think analyzing it too much could be unhealthy so I just go with the flow and try to enjoy it as much as I can as it’s not just about the song is it? Although that’s the World I personally live in but it’s not the World everyone lives in eh.

06 What has been your biggest challenge so far? Were you able to overcome this? If so, how?

I get different challenges every day. From the moment I wake up throughout the whole day. Life is a challenge sin’t it? Sometimes we need a wake up call to realize that we don’t have it as bad as others, it’s important to listen and look before commenting and pursuing an action. I would say I’m still involved in the biggest challenge and fight in my life and it’s trying to have or gain musical recognition from my efforts. I would say I might be winning on points just now but the fight isn’t over yet, it might go the full distance! Haha.

07 Do you ever play covers? If you could pick any song, which would you like to cover most and why?

I never play covers live tbh I but I throw in a few one liners of songs and artists that I look up to. I covered Love by John Lennon and filmed it whilst I was driving up to the hospital to see my Dad whilst he was fighting his cancer.  I think It’s still on youtube. I’ve always loved that song. Since I was 7 or 8 years old. Alan loves that version actually. He loves my voice on it.

08 How did you get connected with Alan McGee (ex Creation Records) and with the new record label project 359 Music?

Alan and I met in 2005 in LA. We got on well. Since then I would say that he is one of my best friends. I trust him and I respect what he has to say. He is still fighting for the good things in life and he has kinda already won the fights that we are still trying to overcome first time around! Somethings nearly happened in the past but for one reason or another they never came to light so when 359 Music got in the ring then I of course agreed to sign with Alan. Nothing to do with money or popularity. All to do with trust, belief and the music!

09 Alan has a reputation as someone who makes things happen in a very vital way, did this draw you in to the bigger plan?

Who really knows what the big plan is, I take care of the small things in life and then the bigger things take care of themselves y’know. It’s something that was passed onto me by the ppl who love me and care for my well being. I do the same for others who I love. It’s an open game and if others like what I do then I am really grateful for that. I have just stuck in at something I have a passion for as it gives me a self purpose of existing here y’know. It probably could have been anything else if I had put the time into that. It just so happens to be music and I am glad about that.

10 Will there be a Tour or live dates to help promote your album and single releases?

Two album launch dates yes. Glasgow on the 1st of November at the o2 ABC2 and then London on the 8th of November at Brixton Jamm. Just the two dates for now. See how that goes really.

11 What can someone who has never seen you live before expect from your live shows?

Ahhh… well… to get a true answer they would just have to come and judge for themselves. That’s the thing about performing live on a stage, your exposing yourself to be judged by everyone and anyone. I think that’s a good thing and a bad thing tbh. Everyone has and is entitled to an opinion but in all honesty I get on that stage my own personal reasons and I mean every chord I play and note I sing. I don’t compete with anyone other than myself. If I enjoy it then it’s a good gig. If anyone else enjoys it then it’s a great gig!

12 Who would you most like to record with?

Not sure yet actually, some great producers probably. Some great musicians too. It might even be someone that doesn’t have the fame or popularity that others have but are a great musician or have a great ear for production. It’s an open book really man.

13 What should we be expecting from you in the near future?

Music!

14 Can you tell us a half-decent joke please?

Sure, why did David Hasselhoff get called the ‘Hoff’? Because he couldn’t be bothered with the hassle!

Web Links:

359music.co.uk/petemacleod
facebook.com/PeteMacLeod
twitter.com/PeteMacLeod

Photography by Stefan Duerr

Rolling Stone: Pete MacLeod (359 Music, cat #359CD4) – Released 4th November 2013

pete macleod_rollingstone

Pete McLeod releases his debut album ‘Rolling Stone’ on the 4th November. McLeod was living in L.A. when he met Alan McGee and after hearing McLeod play some songs McGee felt that his music needed to be heard by a wider audience. So when 359 Music was established, Pete McLeod was one of the first artists to be signed to the label. McLeod originally comes from Kirkwood, Coatbridge in Scotland, and has been on the music scene for a few years now. McLeod has done support slots with Ocean Colour Scene, Amy McDonald, and has played numerous gigs with Bonehead the erstwhile Oasis guitarist.

Living in L.A. has had an impact on McLeod’s music, and there is a West Coast tinge to some of the tracks, especially lead single ‘Rolling Stone’, with the guitar intro nodding to the Byrds early ‘Jangly’ Rickenbacker sound. The album opens with ‘Let it shine’ and this is an upbeat warm sounding song, which sets the tone for the rest of the album. Songs like ‘let it shine’ ‘give a little love’ ‘keep your dreams alive’ and ‘God speed’ all have a distinctive ‘Sunshine Pop’ feel to them and with a hint of Ocean Colour Scene thrown in for good measure. This is an album of 2 halves and at the half way point the mood of the record becomes distinctly more mellow with acoustic led tracks like ‘hold me now’ ‘on the other side’ and ‘Panic’ showing a more wistful side to Pete McLeod’s songwriting talents. BUY HERE!

Long John

Charming Chap and a new sharp force for Eyeplug, being a toppermost writer with a keen appreciation for things of quality and distinction. A well known face on the London ‘Mod’ Scene but with an open mind and heart. Got a strange interest in Pirates? One to watch out for!

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November 7, 2013 By : Category : Folk Front page Interviews Music Reviews Rock Tags:, , , ,
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Gun Club Cemetery – Eyefocus 359 Music

This entry is part 6 of 7 in the series Eyefocus 359 Music

Gun Club Cemetery love their good old-fashioned, down and dirty guitar music but like the bands who have inspired them – The Faces and The Stones among others – they can also turn their hands to a sensitive, heart-rending piano ballad. The band are fronted by Perth-based ex-Hurricane #1 singer Alex Lowe (vocals and guitar), alongside Mancunian Nick Repton (bass), who’d previously played with Bonehead in The Vortex, and Colin Ward from Nottingham (drums). The band formed just over a year ago. For Alex, it’s the chance to be back where he belongs, fronting a no-frills, no-nonsense rock and roll band. “It feels amazing. I really like playing solo, but to be on stage with a group of friends is the best feeling in the world,”
he says. “I want Gun Club Cemetery to be a great band and to stick together through thick and thin. I just want to make it work, make some cool records and get out on the road.”

Web Links:

359music.co.uk/gunclubcemetery
facebook.com/GunClubCemetery
twitter.com/gunclubcemetery

gunclubcem_album

Gun Club Cemetery: Gun Club Cemetery (359 Music, cat #359CD5) – Released 11th November 2013

Gun Club Cemetery release their self titled debut album on the 11th November. Gun Club Cemetery are a 3-piece rock n roll band fronted by ex ‘Hurricane #1’ singer and guitarist Alex Lowe. ‘Hurricane 1#’ were a popular indie combo signed to Creation Records in 1997, and immediately scored a top 20 hit album and single. Alan McGee has teamed up yet again with Alex Lowe and his new outfit, and he argues that Lowe’s new songs are some of the best he has ever written. McGee is particularly drawn to Lowe’s ballads and it is this sensitivity, which is revealed on ‘Gun Club Cemetery’s’ debut that inspired McGee to sign the band to 359 Music.

This album in parts is made up of no nonsense back to basics ‘rock n roll’, however, that is not all that is in their repertoire and they are not adverse to slowing things down with a few piano and acoustic led ballads. Alex Lowe’s voice still sounds good and is well suited to the songs and the sound of the band. His rasping and husky vocals will remind listeners of Rod Stewart era ‘Faces’, and he is very honest about the music that inspires him and his fellow band mates, with the ‘Rolling Stones’ ‘The Faces’ and the ‘Black Crowes’ all an influence on ‘Gun Club Cemetery’s sound. Alex Lowe believes that ‘the music business just now needs a kick up the ass!’, and let’s just hope Gun Club Cemetery and Alan McGee can do just that.

The album really starts with a bang and the opening tracks ‘the hollow face of a shallow man’ and ‘sunset shadows’ could both be singles in their own right. Lowe admitted in a recent interview that he prefers ‘no frills’ music that is a little rough around the edges, however, it is at the mid point in this album that the band show their more tender moments, with piano led songs like ‘all I want from you’ ‘before sunrise’ and ‘it’s in your smile’, which shows that they have an ear for melody as well as being able to assault the senses with some bruising rock n roll. The album comes to an end in suitable fashion with new single ‘needle aside’. This song clocks in at a smidge over 2 minutes and this stomper opens with a twin acoustic and electric guitar assault with some Little Richard ‘boogie woogie’ style piano, thrown in for good measure. ‘Needle aside’ is a limited edition 7” and (wait for it) only 359 copies will be released, and it pre-dates the release of the album by a week, and should keep those eager for the release of the album happy for the time being. BUY HERE!

Long John

Charming Chap and a new sharp force for Eyeplug, being a toppermost writer with a keen appreciation for things of quality and distinction. A well known face on the London ‘Mod’ Scene but with an open mind and heart. Got a strange interest in Pirates? One to watch out for!

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November 7, 2013 By : Category : Front page Interviews Music Reviews Rock Tags:, , , , ,
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Tess Parks – Eyefocus 359 Music

This entry is part 7 of 7 in the series Eyefocus 359 Music

Tess Parks is a musician and photographer born and raised in Toronto. The granddaughter and daughter of musicians and an art school dropout, she moved to London at seventeen years of age to pursue music and to study photography. She has played as a solo act for the past four years between the UK and Canada. After overstaying her visit in London, she reluctantly moved back to Toronto on the advice from one of her heroes. Once home, she put together her amazing psychedelic backing band of “sexy and talented musicians”, The Good People, in late 2012, compromising gifted guitarist Andrew McGill, bassist Thomas Huhtala and her record’s producer and multi-instrumentalist Thomas Paxton-Beesley.

01 How did you first get started in music?

It was all my dad. I was listening to Zeppelin in the womb. I played violin and piano when I was younger and begged for a guitar after my first Oasis concert when I was eleven.

02 Who were your major influences and inspirations?

Oasis always. Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Jefferson Airplane, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Spacemen 3, Velvet Underground, so many. I’m also very visual. I’m inspired by photographers and painters. A lot of authors too.

03 What shapes your song craft and sound?

Bad life experiences I suppose… The past, the future… Also listening to songs that inspire me make me want to get off my ass and make something.

04 What types of themes and subjects do you deal with?

Love, life, death… the past, the future…

05 How has your music evolved since you first began playing?

I played solo for a long time and now I have a great band, which has filled out the sound and given me so much confidence and made me feel like people actually like my music enough to play it. Which is important to me. It was always a very solitary, lonely experience making and playing my music. So I guess now it’s more of a happier venture than it ever was before.

06 What has been your biggest challenge so far? Were you able to overcome this? If so, how?

I guess dealing with past heartbreak and past painful days, months, years… I don’t know if I’ve overcome it fully, I still have bad days, but I try to think positive and I can see that there is so much to look forward to.

07 Do you ever play covers? If you could pick any song, which would you like to cover most and why?

I used to cover “D’You Know What I Mean?” by Oasis, I love doing that one. Haven’t brought it to the band yet. That song just really speaks to me. I fucking love it.

08 How did you get connected with Alan McGee (ex Creation Records) and with the new record label project 359 Music?

I met him by chance in London on a film set and gave him my demos. I didn’t think I’d hear from him again, but we kept in touch and then earlier this year he started the label and asked me if I was in.  I was shaking and crying! I was like, “Wow, is this really Alan McGee on the phone? Is this real life?”

09 Alan has a reputation as someone who makes things happen in a very vital way, did this draw you in to the bigger plan?

Alan McGee is the best man to ever grace the music industry. I’ve known that from a really young age.

10 Will there be a Tour or live dates to help promote your album and single releases?

Absolutely! I can’t wait!

11 What can someone who has never seen you live before expect from your live shows?

A lot of psychedelic good times. Lots of body swaying.

12 Who would you most like to record with?

I want to make a record with Anton Newcombe someday. I want to sing with Noel and Liam Gallagher at least once before I die.

13 What should we be expecting from you in the near future?

Oh man, I don’t even know that.

14 Can you tell us a half-decent joke please?

This goes straight into the ‘jokes my Dad is gonna love’ category. Good one.

Web Links:

facebook.com/tessparksmusic
twitter.com/tessnormaparks
soundcloud.com/tessparks
359music.co.uk/tessparks

Blood Hot: Tess Parks (359 Music, cat #359CD6) – Released 18th November 2013

tessparks_bloodhot

Canadian Tess Parks unleashes her first solo effort ‘Blood Hot’ on the 18th November, and she moved to London for 4 years, in order to develop her music and photography career before moving back to her home town in Toronto. Tess Parks first came across Alan McGee on the set of SVENGALI, at the 12 Bar in London’s Denmark Street. It just so happened that she was employed at the 12 Bar and was friends with talent booker Andy Lowe who told her to come down, as Alan McGee was in attendance and might be interested in hearing her music. This chance meeting allowed her to hand Alan McGee a few demos, and as a result she landed a record deal. With refreshing honesty Tess Parks admitted in a recent interview that she did not have confidence in her music until Alan McGee told her that he liked what she was doing, to such an extent that he offered her a record deal, once he started his Record Label 359 Music.

Tess Parks was already familiar with Creation Records and Alan McGee as she is a big fan of bands like the Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine and Oasis. It was Oasis that first inspired her to take up music, however, her solo effort certainly owes nothing to the Gallaghers whose own brand of hedonistic rock n roll and optimistic songs about living forever in the ‘Sunsssshhhiinnnne’ contrast sharply with her more sombre and dare I say it ‘Shoegazing’ sound. The lyrics are quite dark and introspective, and in ‘Stick Around’ Tess Parks sings in a whispery drawl of her desire to ‘try to keep myself to myself before I get let down’. It is not surprising that Tess Parks is also a fan of the deceased and sadly missed Elliott Smith whose introverted influence can be felt in the presence of this album. The droning Psych feel to this album is owed to the ‘The Good People’ a band she put together in late 2012 in her native Toronto. These musicians plough their furrow well and the sound on this album will certainly remind some of the Brian Jonestown Massacre in their darkly late 90s pomp, however, the songs on ‘Blood Hot’ reveal a certain vulnerability and the feeling of isolation, but as Tess Parks has said herself these songs also contain ‘nice messages’, which she hopes will resonate with people. BUY HERE!

Long John

Charming Chap and a new sharp force for Eyeplug, being a toppermost writer with a keen appreciation for things of quality and distinction. A well known face on the London ‘Mod’ Scene but with an open mind and heart. Got a strange interest in Pirates? One to watch out for!

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November 7, 2013 By : Category : Front page Interviews Music Rock Tags:, , , ,
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