Written as part of Youth Music funded position at NARC. Magazine. 

TRACK REVIEW: Simon York West – Something Good

The tragic story of George Bailey from It’s A Wonderful Life is beautifully told in a tale with a positive outlook. Something Good wraps up the plot of the movie into a quaint, folky track that feels relatable and honest, with an outlook that could reflect onto anyone listening. Simon York West has created a tender and reflexive track perfectly timed for Autumn. This debut single shows promise for the future of the multi-instrumentalist’s solo project, demonstrating his ability to use a film as

TRACK REVIEW: Arcade Skies – Lid On A Scream

The title of this track from Arcade Skies is pleasantly misleading; instead of putting a lid on anything, the song uses a series of melodies to take the listener in different dimensions minute by minute. The ambient synth of this track takes from the developments of Arcade Skies’ first and second EPs. The artist’s first EP epitomised an 80’s electronic style, whereas the second developed more experimentally, and Lid On A Scream perfectly blends the two styles into a multifunctional piece, one t

LIVE REVIEW: The Devil’s Advocate All-Dayer @ The Cluny, Newcastle (21.08.22)

Promoting a day full of local talent spanning rock, punk and alternative sounds, the festival invited music lovers from across the North East together to see what devilish behaviour they could stumble upon. The day opened for me with Smuj on The Cluny’s main stage. A very entertaining opening act who set the precedent for the day’s extravaganza. With a range of instruments, one member was playing the piano, synth and the trumpet on rotation. Incredibly curious, the soundscape was composed with

TRACK REVIEW: Tales – What We Talk About

When I first read the title of this song it reminded me of Raymond Carver’s short story collection What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, and I was delighted to find out this was the inspiration for the new song by Tales. This angsty track perfectly blends a new rock sound rooted in the literary. The lyrics focus on Carver’s details of unrequited love, wrapped up in this addictive and catchy track, which packs an electric punch with some lyrics on the cheekier side. The four-piece seem to

TRACK REVIEW: Cortney Dixon – Bang Bang Honey Honey

Cortney Dixon has an addictively unique voice, and the layers of guitar on this piece really heighten her use of her vocals as an instrument to compliment the rest of the soundscape. Most of the final vocals on this single are taken from Dixon’s original demo, which is extremely impressive given how confident the vocals sound against the instrumental backdrop. Bang Bang Honey Honey is the definition of fun-driven pop elevated with indie rock and guitars. It’s cheeky, positive and a great listen

TRACK REVIEW: Craig Clark – The Late Show

Slow, heartfelt and beautifully produced, The Late Show tells a beautiful tale through its lyrics, loosely based on Kurt Cobain. This is especially felt in the grungy style of the soundscape, with elements of country in the soulful guitar, mixed with an intimate vocal and the slow beats of the drummer. The lyrics, although loosely based on celebrities, are extremely personal and emotive, and deal with the sensitive topic of death. It illustrates this beautifully into a moving track that is sure

TRACK REVIEW: Baltic – July

This a cheeky glimpse of summer from Baltic, named July and coming out on the first of the month, this is a song for summertime which reeks in positivity, with a festival vibe the core of the soundscape. Baltic have been together for five years, and after taking a slight break from putting singles out, it’s great to see the band back releasing. With one verse centred around dialogues of summer house parties, July has a great nostalgic feel harking back to those “days of innocence”. Not only do

LIVE REVIEW: Dream Wife, Straight Girl, Venus Grrrls @ Newcastle University Students’ Union (01.05.22)

Late addition to the line-up Venus Grrrls opened the show, and the vocal capabilities of the Hartlepool-via-Leeds band were a real highlight; beautifully melodic and almost operatic, they contrast with the punky instrumental soundscape. The band took the gig as an opportunity to play unreleased song Violet State of Mind, and revamp classics such as Deranged, noting the conversations the song brings up about women in the music industry.. Additional support Straight Girl gave an electric experien

TRACK REVIEW: Frankie Jobling – Grateful

My favourite thing about this new Frankie Jobling track is how her voice sounds like an instrument, perfectly complimenting the melodic, soothing backing instruments to create a soulful soundscape that is both catchy and smart. Grateful is rooted in ending a difficult relationship, and has plenty of self love. The lyrics “I took a date with myself / it was the sweetest breakthrough”, root this otherwise melancholic and somewhat toxic tale in a newfound happiness. It’s a real treat to witness su

TRACK REVIEW: Cat Ryan – Rex Mundi

Quaint in its nature, this upbeat song is rooted in laid-back songwriting, dreamt up by songwriter Mary-Anne while visiting her rural family farm with no distractions. This is a happy track that is easy to listen to, yet hard to get out of your head. The Newcastle-based art rock band Cat Ryan have perfectly crafted a piece that is artistic in nature, with style and meaning emerging within the two-minute listen. The speed and agility of a greyhound (the titular Rex Mundi) is used as a metaphor f

LIVE REVIEW: Stockton Calling @ Various Venues, Stockton (16.04.22)

After two years out in the cold the sun was shining down on the throng teeming their way between the eleven venues of Stockton Calling. The background hum of excitable chatter, comparing of itineraries, swapping recommendations and sharing notes, whilst carefully crossing the widest High Street, all meant that an Easter institution was in town again. A music festival town centre take-off spreading music and joy and community. Welcome back…


Addictively catchy with an energetic chorus that remained in my head well after the first listen, the brand new track from Charts And Graphs, X Marks The Mainstream, is an extremely fun listen. The soundscape is very vintage, in that it masters a blend of the 00’s indie of Maxïmo Park and experimentative rock from the likes of Talking Heads. The vocals are confident and tell a cynical but touching storyline, rooted in the music industry, but exploring how there are “no more close relationships, it’s just me and you”, whether this be a personal relationship or about industry contracts in the mainstream. The dual meaning between music and personal love is a really interesting blend that this song nails, both in its lyrical craft and very well produced sound.


India Arkin brings an angsty lyrical twist to her summery new track What You Call Home. The storyline tells a painfully honest tale of home and growth within a “place like this, cuts off hope”, twisted with a naivety which creates a really interesting and thoughtful listening experience to reflect on. The track is heightened through the beautiful depth to India’s voice, uniquely layered into the soundscape. The backing on this track compliments India perfectly, and takes her singer-songwriter status to a really effective new level as a rockier prospect. This fun song is perfect for summer; light to listen to, yet laced with curious and meaningful lyrical dilemmas.


‘swim school, band from Edinburgh’ seem to lowercase near everything on their social media, but there’s nothing lowercase about their sound. Headlining Head of Steam on Thursday 14th April and popping up again at Stockton Calling on Saturday 16th, their gigs in the region provide an opportunity to discover a band that have really nailed their sound; loud, dark, and confident. With a debut EP, Making Sense Of It All, under the belt, tracks such as ‘see red’ are angsty and exactly what post-punk needs. With an upbeat tempo and a thrilling vocalist, the soundscape is addictive and staged perfectly for mosh pits. Also in the mix are dancier tracks, and there’s a flexibility to the songs; their track ‘outside’ flexes between hard backing tracks and preppy guitars with a catchy chorus, creating a fluidity in their understandings of the alt. rock genre. Hilariously, the band describes themselves as “Tesco Value Wolf Alice”, but they are more Tesco Finest, with an exquisite sound FFO the likes of Wolf Alice, but definably swim school in the darkness of their alt. rock soundscapes. Swim School play Head of Steam, Newcastle on Thursday 14th and Stockton Calling on Saturday 16th April. www.facebook.com/weareswimschool

TRACK REVIEW: Ruth Lyon – Black Hole

This new track from Ruth Lyon is unexpectedly dark, enriched in powerful emotions and masked in a ghostly tone. Her beautifully haunting vocals enhance the storyline, using the metaphor of a Black Hole, which explores themes of mental health and responsibilities unto others. These emotions are openly vulnerable and on show on the stripped-back solo track. The layers of harmony in the piece shape it as one with depth to its melancholy soundscape. Well produced, this sounds like it’s going straig

PREVIEW: Lynks @ Cluny 2

It’s hard to describe Lynks, partly because they are a mysteriously masked superstar of the queer electro punk scene. Hidden away in Cluny 2 on Sunday 27th March, an insane performance like no other will take place for Lynks’ debut tour, where Newcastle will witness a performance usually disguised in London’s underground cult music scene. There is no disguise, however, about the masked fashion of the star – it’s loud, expressive and fun, and makes the whole ego a piece of artwork.

PREVIEW: The Chats @ Boiler Shop

The Chats bring their outrageously hilarious pub rock to Newcastle’s Boiler Shop on Saturday 25th March. The Aussie punks’ tunes are simple yet addictive, and to some degree incredibly hard to explain. Expect lyrics about getting the clap, going for pub grub and taking your ‘smoko’ break on the graft. The humour is working class, full of Australian slang and unapologetically fun, creating a listening experience which veers between creative genius and easy-going rock ‘n’ roll.

LIVE REVIEW: Nova Twins, Cherym @ The Cluny

Riot Grrrl is back. This night showcased edgy 90’s energy, more inclusive than ever within a safe space via the listed Nova Twins’ posters which demanded ‘WE ARE PRO LOVE AND RESPECT! NO HARRASMENT, RACISM, HOMOPHOBIA, TRANSPHOBIA, XENOPHOBIA, ABLEISM’. Nova Twins opened with recent hit Antagonist, then called for the EP1 fans and treated them to Bassline Bitch. Covering a full discography with new music debuting too, unreleased song Cleopatra has more synth, but is undeniably Nova Twins in sty

LIVE REVIEW: The Orielles, The Lounge Society, Witness Protection Programme @ Newcastle University Students’ Union (28.01.22)

Having previously seen The Orielles at a festival when their microphones broke, I was interested to see what the live performance would be when they weren’t hindered by technical issues; thankfully this time the band managed to turn their gig into what felt like a club night with a warm energy that encapsulated their positive soundscape. Barely pausing to chat, the lack of breaks made their performance blended and unique. The band has a definitive sound straight from the 90’s, with set highligh
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