SINGLE REVIEW: Runaway by The Fireflys

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The Fireflys are an alternative rock/Americana hailing from Runcorn, in the North West of England. They are based around songwriter and lead vocalist Lee Wylding, and have become one of the North West’s most popular bands. They’ve already garnered plenty of media attention, with Mike Peters of the legendary punk group The Alarm describing them as “a good mix of REM and The Gin Blossoms”. Other strong influences include Neil Young and Tom Petty, but The Fireflys have developed their own style.

This song, Runaway, is the second single released since they signed to Strawberry Moon records and is taken from their forthcoming fifth album Only Us, Northern Lights. From the melodic introduction featuring some fluid electric lead guitar, it’s apparent that this band are treading their own path. Lee Wylding has a strong, distinctive voice that bodes well for their long term appeal and musically it lies somewhere between the well crafted songwriting of Tom Petty, but with the raw, edgy guitars of Neil Young circa Rockin’ In The Free World.

The musicianship of the entire band is first rate, but most importantly Runaway shows their ability to produce the kind of memorable choruses that pack out stadium arenas. Lyrically, it is romantic without being sentimental: “Runaway with me, let the people stop and stare, cos we don’t really care...”. There are echoes of Springsteen and The Smiths in these words which rock aficionados will appreciate. They will also enjoy the spirited, mellifluous guitar solo towards the end, not something you hear much on the radio these days.

Overall, this is a superb song that brings back classic songwriting and authentic musicianship in an era of over-produced, synthetic pop. The Fireflys may well capitalize on the recent resurgence in popularity for alternative music, and they have everything it takes to break through into the worldwide market. Runaway could well be the song that helps them kick down the door to the big time.

 

VERDICT: 9 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

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SINGLE REVIEW: Catch That Train by David T. Dunn

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https://star1ent.com/david-t-dunn/audio

David T. Dunn is a singer/songwriter in the Americana/blues genre who was born in Nashville but grew up in Atlanta. Although he only began playing guitar at twenty, over the years he has accumulated a songbook of over one hundred compositions. He regards his main influences as fellow troubadours like Neil Young and Kris Kristofferson, groups like The Beatles and The Velvet Underground, as well as blues artist Slim Harpo.

This song, Catch That Train, is the title track from his recently released six track EP. It’s a finely crafted piece of songwriting, pitched perfectly between country and blues, the essence of Americana. Dunn is blessed with a fine voice eminently suited to this musical style, and the rootsy sound of guitar, bass, drums and rich drawbar organ has the distinct ring of authenticity, reminiscent of The Band and Bob Dylan.

Lyrically, the song is about facing up to life’s vicissitudes and seizing opportunities whenever you can: “There’s a hard wind blowin’, calling out my name, the only thing for certain in this life is change….I don’t know where I’m going, but I know I better catch that train….”. The title hook is memorable and very catchy, with a brief but well structured guitar solo adding a little more instrumental colour towards the end.

Overall, this is a very enjoyable and finely written track by an experienced songwriter who is clearly the ‘real deal’. He obviously writes from the heart, and combines it with a fine musical craftsmanship and an emotive, affecting vocal performance. For anyone looking to hear modern Americana of the highest quality, look no further than David T. Dunn.

 

VERDICT: 8.7 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

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SINGLE REVIEW: River Road by The Gary Douglas Band

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http://garydouglasband.com

Gary Douglas is a singer/songwriter who grew up on the streets of Brooklyn steeped in the music of Americana, blues and rock n’ roll. This kind of raw, passionate music resonated much more strongly with him than the commercial pop he was exposed to. After playing in college bands, the need to make a living meant he became a lawyer, though a rather heroic one, defending the ‘little guy’ against the corruption of large organizations.

Eventually, his deep love of music came to the fore and he formed The Gary Douglas Band with a crew of gifted musicians and backing vocalists. They have been busy recording their debut album Deep In The Water and this song, River Road, is the first to be released from it. Musically, it embodies the spirit of rock n’ roll, with the anthemic qualities of The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, and the more recent music of The Killers.

Douglas has the most important aspect for this style of music, an authentic and strong rock voice. He gives a gritty, impassioned performance on this track which has the same charging rhythmic energy as Springsteen’s classic outsider anthem Born To Run. Like Bruce, Gary Douglas has a deep empathy for the working man and writes from this perspective: “Can’t afford the rent no more, they took away our car, the job I got is just minimum wage and on that you can’t go far…”. I particularly loved how the female backing singers gave this song a soul/gospel vibe, especially at the end.

Overall, this is a high quality piece of songwriting and old school storytelling that keeps the flame of rock n’ roll alive. Gary Douglas and his cohorts kick up a musical storm that recalls the finest moments of Springsteen and acolytes of that artist will adore this band. Having already amassed a huge fanbase on social media, their forthcoming album (produced by Niko Bolas of Neil Young fame) should ensure their music reaches and entertains many more discerning ears.

 

VERDICT: 8.4 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

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E.P. REVIEW: You Find Out On Your Own by Michael Reddington

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Michael Reddington is a singer songwriter hailing from Nottingham who initially had his sights set on being a sound engineer, which for a while he achieved when working at the venue Stealth, where he worked with Bastille and Shy FX. However, an escalator accident ripped off his big toe, leaving him bed ridden for three months. He turned to music to get through, and began his songwriting journey which has led to this EP.

His music is essentially well crafted pop/rock in the great British tradition and you can hear myriad influences in these three songs, from The Beatles to The Smiths, though he also cites American songwriters like Neil Young, Ryan Adams and Tom Petty. His lyrics are very much rooted in the struggles of everyday life.

Opening song You Find Out On Your Own is an excellent start, a mid paced piece of guitar pop that has a nice Beatles-esque lead guitar line, warm pulsing bass, subtle piano and rich organ filling out the sound. It alternates between a lilting 4/4 rhythm on the intro and verse then switches to 2/4 on the bridge/chorus which injects momentum into the music.

Lyrically, it’s strong, a rumination on figuring things out through your own life experiences rather than accepting what others say: “I’ve been keep on making my own rules, avoiding fools…they don’t teach you any of this in school, I guess you find out on your own…”. His vocals are very good, comfortable singing in a high range and the whole song is catchy and memorable while avoiding anything predictable.

Monotony Lobotomy is slightly faster paced and in 4/4 throughout, lyrically a melancholy tale of frustration through being stuck in a humdrum situation and longing for a chance to escape, though still with a ray of hope for the future (“Just one chance and they’ll be no stopping me….”). The vocal melody and main hook are haunting, expressing the weariness of the lyrics perfectly.

Final track Uniform is a slow paced acoustic track, and lyrically takes an acerbic look at those to conform rather than show any individuality: “You’re a nancy of a man, got to do for them all you can…in uniform“. It’s another very melodic and memorable song, augmented by some lovely strings as the track progresses.

Overall, this is an excellent EP that shows Michael Reddington as a quality songwriter both musically and lyrically, with a fine gift for melody and a voice that is both distinctive and easy on the ear. While it’s hard these days for a songwriter to break through, he has everything it takes and I look forward to hearing a whole album from him.

 

Alex Faulkner (The Faulkner Review)

 

VERDICT: 8.9 out of 10

REVIEW – Ed Layne: Sea Is Raging, Keep on Rolling, Five Days From Home, Maple Street, Vicious Circle

ED LAYNE Ed Layne is a one-man band, a multi-instrumentalist of the hard rock/blues persuasion hailing from Northern California. His voice is rather reminiscent of Neil Young but from the numerous meaty riffs present on these songs, you can tell Ed is a major fan of Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple. As you listen to these five tracks, prog-rock influences such as Yes and Rush emerge through the more sophisticated touches and epic structures.

Sea Is Raging is the shortest of the five at nearly five minutes, but is quite an epic in itself. The music mirrors the title perfectly, a veritable tsunami of sound cooked up by a wall of heavy guitars and drums, contrasted nicely by Layne’s voice. The lyrics are suitably apocalyptic and seem to be about the dark times the world is going through, but with a sense of perspective: “In a hundred years this won’t matter much, its just another generation that’s out of touch…”.

The modulation at around the three-minute mark is something you wouldn’t find in standard blues-rock and there is none of the self-indulgent lead guitar noodling some associate with this genre. Every solo is effective and tightly constructed, always adding to the music. Second track Keep on Rolling is a stark contrast, a mid-paced country rock ballad that show’s Layne’s gentler side and is another well-crafted track, with nice acoustic guitar work.

Third track Five Days From Home blends the style of the first two tracks, starting with a Stairway To Heaven type acoustic section then exploding into another colossal riff and climaxing with another enjoyable Tony Iommi-style solo. Tracks four and five, Maple Street and Vicious Circle, are both great upbeat rockers featuring some fantastically mellifluous guitar runs. Virtuosity nearly always seems to go hand in hand with the desire to ‘show off’, but Ed always plays for the song, not his ego.

Overall, these five songs comprise an extremely enjoyable half hour of carefully crafted rock music that melds its influences into something potent, breathing some new life into a genre that some feel has ‘all been done’. By taking the best elements of his favourite bands and adding his own twist, Ed Layne has shown that rock is far from dead and I’d recommend that everyone should check out his music, and turn up the volume.

 

Alex Faulkner

Verdict: 8.5 out of 10

 

LINKS: SOUNDCLOUD