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SXSW 2018 Interview: Dan Bettridge

 
By on Tuesday, 19th June 2018 at 11:00 am
 

If you’re a long time TGTF reader, you might remember that Welsh singer/songwriter Dan Bettridge was originally tapped to make the trip to America for SXSW 2017. (If not, you can read our SXSW 2017 preview coverage here and here.) Sadly, unexpected visa issues prevented Bettridge and several other international artists, from making the trip last year.

I met with Bettridge on the Wednesday night of SXSW 2018, at the Focus Wales showcase hosted by downtown Austin club the Townsend. He was kind enough to give me a few minutes before he played his set on the showcase, and we naturally started with a chat about the aforementioned visa challenges. Specifically, Bettridge had a problem with the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), which determines eligibility for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). The VWP allows citizens of 38 approved countries, including the UK, to travel to the U.S. for up to 90 days without a visa.

If that sounds complicated to you, you’re not alone. “To be honest, I think it was a clerical error,” Bettridge said. But the ordeal inspired his management team to write a guide for international musicians planning to travel to America ahead of his rescheduled trip to Austin this year. “I think that was helpful to some people, because people are still confused, you know, artists and management, about how to get their band over here. So the more we share about it the better, I guess.”

I mentioned the current American political climate as a potential obstacle for visiting musicians, and Bettridge quickly agreed. “Yeah, it’s a nightmare! I mean you’re supposed to be able to do it with an ESTA, but people are saying, just for security reasons, go and get a visa which is a bit of a pain, really. But I got [a visa] this year.”

“You don’t strike me as a security risk,” I joked. Bettridge laughed, “No, that’s just what people said! I don’t consider myself a security risk.”

At that point, we turned our attention to Bettridge’s impending set, and I asked him what I might expect to hear when he took the stage. “It will be all new stuff,” he said, “it’s kind of, how do I explain it?” He paused for a moment, and I empathised with the ever present challenge of trying to describe music in words. “I guess it’s soul rock, with a little bit of country thrown in sometimes. I guess that’s the best way to explain it.”

That intriguing description led to discussion of Bettridge’s forthcoming LP, ‘Asking for Trouble’, whose release format is equally intriguing. In the midst of the digital age, when so many musicians are releasing singles and EPs rather than waiting to put out a full album, Bettridge has struck a very deliberate compromise with the new project. “It is going to culminate in an album,” he explained, “but I’m releasing it in ‘Waves’ of four songs at a time.” The idea behind the staggered release, he said, is “to take advantage, really, of everything turning to streaming. It’s just more digestible. It’s a 16 track album, so I think it just wouldn’t work, putting it out in one piece.”

Bettridge also wanted to encourage his listeners to take some time with the new songs. “Sometimes huge artists will bring out albums, and the following week they’re just forgotten about, you know, they’re just dead. So [this] was another way of prolonging the release and trying to get every song to be [heard] without interruption. I think four songs is a good number of songs to be released at a time.”

The individual ‘Waves’ are each carefully constructed and deliberately different from the final album tracklisting. “It’s a little bit eclectic,” Bettridge said of the full LP. “There’s some really driving rock songs on there, and then there’s also some more sort of pop sensibility songs on it. The ‘Waves’ are gathered together where the songs make sense together, so there won’t be so much of a shock when the full album does come out. There’ll be three ‘Waves’ in total, and then the final ‘Wave’ will be kind of like a completion of the album. So when people buy the album, they’ll still be getting songs they haven’t yet heard.”

Despite the temptation of that payoff at the end, I suggested that the ‘Wave’ approach might be asking a lot from Bettridge’s listeners in terms of thoughtful comprehension of the music. “I kind of thought I was making it easier for them!” Bettridge exclaimed. Still, this is clearly an album for dedicated listeners, even with accessible singles like ‘Heavenly Father’ in the mix.

Dan Bettridge’s LP ‘Asking for Trouble’ is due for full release on the 6th of July. In the meantime, you can listen to Waves One, Two, and Three on Spotify or on his official Soundcloud. Bettridge will be on tour in the UK this summer, playing headline shows and festival slots.  TGTF’s collected coverage of Dan Bettridge is right through here.

 

SXSW 2018: Wednesday night with artists from the UK, America and New Zealand

 
By on Thursday, 12th April 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

My first stop on the Wednesday evening of SXSW 2018 was at the Townsend for the highly anticipated Focus Wales showcase. The Welsh lineup would prove to be a popular one, starting with a pair of singer/songwriters before moving into heavier rock and dance music as the night progressed. I stopped in for the early part of the show, and editor Mary took the reins for the later acts, which you can read about in her Wednesday night recap. Unfortunately the fates conspired against us, and we both missed up-and-coming alt-rocker Stella Donnelly. Donnelly is definitely one to watch: you can read our preview coverage back here.

Christopher Rees internal

First on the Focus Wales bill was Americana singer/songwriter Christopher Rees, who dressed appropriately for his part in a distinctive Western-style shirt. Rees has been around the country music scene for quite some time, but this was my first real exposure to his songs. I have to say that his cowboy vibe didn’t quite ring true for me, though I do understand the difficulty of capturing it in such a contrived setting as SXSW. Putting him in comparison to some of the truly amazing country/folk singers I heard through the rest of the week, I can’t really say that Rees struck me as outstanding. He did, however, appear to have a few dedicated fans in the audience, and I feel sure that they would have a different take on his performance.

Dan Bettridge internal

Next up was alt-rock songwriter Dan Bettridge, with whom I had a quick one-on-one chat before the showcase began (stay tuned for that interview, to post as our SXSW 2018 coverage continues). I was intrigued by his in-depth description of his current project ‘Asking for Trouble’ and eager to hear a few of the songs in live performance. Bettridge was affable on stage, even a bit goofy at times, which unfortunately distracted a bit from the music he played. But getting beyond that, his songs were emotional and engaging, even pared back as they were from their soulful instrumental arrangements to single voice and guitar.

Field Report internal

Though the remaining bill at the Townsend was a promising one, I was eager to head to Swan Dive to see American alt-rock band Field Report, who have been on my radar since I first saw them back in 2013. Frontman and songwriter Chris Porterfield has a very understated but viscerally effective way with a lyric, and he didn’t fail to bring me to tears here. Their new album ‘Summertime Songs’ is out now on Verve Records, and I can report after-the-fact that it’s a stunner. Their set at the Swan Dive was no less brilliant, encompassing several of the new songs, including ‘If I Knew’, which you can hear below courtesy of Baeble Music.

Colin Gilmore internal

After taking a moment to pull my wits back together, I peeked back into a favourite spot of my mine during SXSW, the Victorian Room at the Driskill, for a quick taste of a more local flavour. Texas country rocker Colin Gilmore seemed pleasantly comfortable and very much at ease on the stage, inviting friend and fellow musician Betty Soo to join him midway through. The smattering of fans in the small crowd were clearly happy to have him there, a couple of them even daring to shake up the formality of the room with a bit of country dancing to his tunes. Though the Victorian Room is a nice venue for singer/songwriters, I couldn’t help thinking that Gilmore’s jukebox sound might have worked better in a more casual setting. If you get the chance to see him play in a bar or pub, bring your two-stepping shoes along for a spin around the dance floor.

Emme Woods internal

My next stop was a bit off the beaten path at the Iron Bear, where Scottish rocker Emme Woods was on the Glamglare showcase schedule. It was late in the evening by this point, and unfortunately Woods didn’t appear to be at the top of her game. The combination of alcohol and her thick Scottish brogue rendered her between-songs banter almost completely unintelligible to my American ear. Musically, her songs were sensual and bluesy, and the added brass instrumentation was interesting, but the band’s performance felt rather sullen and uninspired, and I was just as happy to duck out after 3 or 4 songs. Still, I could see that this might have gone differently on another night, and if you like sultry rock led by a rich female singing voice, you’d do well to give Emme Woods a listen.

Marlon Williams internal

My favourite new act of the Wednesday night came at the very end, when I hit the Palm Door on Sixth Patio to hear New Zealand crooner Marlon Williams. Williams was predictably smooth and suave on stage, with a retro rock style that felt at once fresh and vaguely familiar. The younger women in the crowd were especially taken by Williams’ flexibility, which he displayed both in his serpentine dance moves and his remarkable singing voice. Taking full advantage of the breezy outdoor stage, Williams and his band played a brilliant high energy set that came as a most welcome surprise in this notoriously difficult 1 AM time slot. Watch for him to make waves with his recent album ‘Make Way for Love’, out now on Dead Oceans/Caroline.

 

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2018: UK singer/songwriters showcasing at this year’s SXSW

 
By on Friday, 9th March 2018 at 11:00 am
 

The list of solo singer/songwriters showcasing at SXSW 2018 is predictably lengthy. Festivals lend themselves easily to the traveling troubadour types: setting up shop with a single person and instrument is easier than carting a full band’s worth of gear around town to play show after show. However, the singer/songwriter genre is becoming increasingly diffuse, as its definition expands to include a wide array of different instrumental and vocal sounds.

The singer/songwriter acts representing the UK at SXSW this year are broad in their stylistic scope, from unassuming acoustic balladeers to rising mainstream pop stars to eclectic avant garde musicians. Many of the acts on this year’s list are artists we at TGTF have covered extensively in the past, including Frank Turner (pictured at top) and Lucy Rose, but there are a number of new-to-us acts on the bill as well. We’ve covered a fair few of those in our (SXSW 2018 flavoured!) Bands to Watch features, including Jade Bird, ONR, Rhys Lewis, Chloe Foy, Allman Brown, C. Macleod, and Sam Fender. Read below for a brief rundown of the remaining UK singer/songwriters heading across the pond to SXSW 2018.

Christopher Rees – We featured Welsh singer Christopher Rees in the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2013, but haven’t heard much from him since that time. He heads to Austin this year with a new Americana album called ‘The Nashville Songs’ in tow. Take a listen to the chilling single ‘I Shiver’, just below.

Dan Bettridge – As we previously mentioned, Bettridge missed out on SXSW 2017, due to visa issues which his management has discussed in detail here. Bettridge will release his debut solo LP ‘Asking for Trouble’ later this year. Along with Rees, Bettridge will be proudly waving the Welsh flag in Austin.

Dan Lyons – Margate alt-pop singer Dan Lyons has spent the past four years primarily as a drummer, but he’s now stepping into the spotlight as a solo songwriter. His single ‘Big Moon’ was released at the end of February on Shaker Records.

The Dunwells – While obviously not a solo act, Leeds rock duo The Dunwells have nevertheless been classified as singer/songwriters at this year’s SXSW. They released a new EP called ‘Colour My Mind’ back in December, which included the track ‘Diamonds’, playing just below.

Elle Exxe – This Scottish pop singer is no stranger to SXSW or to the pages of TGTF. She recently teamed with MAC Cosmetics to promote her latest single ‘Catapult’; watch her exotic visuals in the promo video just below.

Emme Woods – Another Scottish songwriter, Woods’ singing voice belies her youthful 22 years of age. The level of musical sophistication in her single ‘I’ve Been Running’ is also well-beyond what you might expect of a musician so young. Check out the PledgeMusic campaign for her debut EP just through here.

Frank Turner – We’ve covered the indefatigable Mr. Turner and his merry band of Sleeping Souls extensively here at TGTF, including a lovely interview at SXSW 2015. This year, Turner is showcasing his forthcoming seventh studio LP ‘Be More Kind’, due out on the 4th of May via Polydor/ Xtra Mile. We’ll be looking forward to hearing the new songs at SXSW; in the meantime, you can take a listen to the album’s title track just below.

Gaz Coombes – Another artist we’ve featured in live coverage on TGTF, alt-rock songwriter and former Supergrass member Gaz Coombes will travel to Austin with a set of new songs from his forthcoming LP ‘World’s Strongest Man’, due out on the 4th of May.

Harry Pane – This Northamptonshire indie folk singer broke onto the music scene in 2015 and released two EPs, ‘Changing’ and ‘The Wild Winds’, in the following 2 years. He comes to SXSW 2018 with a pair of new singles, ‘Here We Stay’ and ‘Beautiful Life’. Listen to the latter just below.

Hilang Child – Hilang Child is the stage name of half-Welsh, half-Indonesian dream pop songwriter Ed Riman. Currently based in London, Hilang Child has recently signed on with Bella Union for the release of his debut LP, which will include the calmly introspective new single ‘Growing Things’.

Jerry Williams –  This 22-year-old Portsmouth alt-pop songstress has already captured the attention of BBC Radio 1 in the UK and KCRW in America. She has recently collaborated with fashion brand Topshop to market her new single ‘Grab Life’, ahead of her scheduled appearance on the BBC Introducing showcase on the Tuesday night of SXSW.

Jonny 8 Track – Brighton’s Jonny Aitken, aka Jonny 8 Track, is the first UK signing to Austin record label Chicken Ranch Records. His back catalogue includes ‘All America Taught Me’ from back in 2013.

Joshua Burnside – We covered this Northern Irish avant/experimental songwriter last year around the release of his debut album ‘Ephrata’, which won the 2017 Northern Irish Music Prize. Just below, check out the Ryan Vail remix of album track ‘Blood Drive’.

Lion – London alt-rock singer/songwriter Beth Lowen became known as Lion due to the rough and raspy tone of her singing voice. She’s so fresh on the scene that she has yet to officially release any music, and her SXSW 2018 bio links to an amateur video of a live performance at Shepherd’s Bush Empire from back in 2016.

Lucy Rose – We recently featured Rose’s new single ‘All That Fear’ as our (SXSW 2018 flavoured!) Video of the Moment #2801. Rose will be showcasing that single along with her recent album ‘Something’s Changing’ at SXSW. She is also scheduled to speak in a panel session titled ‘It’s a Fan’s World: The Life of Superfans’ on Friday the 16th of March.

Lucy Spraggan – You might remember Manchester songwriter Lucy Spraggan as a former X Factor contestant from back in 2012. Just last year, she released her fourth studio album ‘I Hope You Don’t Mind Me Writing’, on her own label CTRL Records. The LP features the track ‘Fight For It’, streaming just below.

Nilüfer Yanya – This youthful West London songwriter brings a unique sense of irony and bemused detachment to what might otherwise be dismissed as standard indie pop. Her breakthrough single ‘Baby Luv’ is out now on Blue Flowers/ATO Records.

Nina Nesbitt – It’s been a day or two since we heard from Scottish pop songstress Nina Nesbitt, but she is heading to Austin with a potential new album in the works. No details have been shared as of yet, but Nesbitt did recently release a new single written in Nashville, ‘Somebody Special’.

Non Canon – Bristol alt-folk songwriter Non Canon takes his stage name from the idea that “anything described as ‘Non Canon’ exists apart from the story we know and love. A concurrent storyline, a different perspective, the world we experience through someone else’s eyes; familiar but insightful for its new dimension.” He comes to Austin as part of the Xtra Mile Recordings troupe; the label released his debut LP back in 2016.

Only Girl – South East London pop-soul artist Ellen Murphy, known on stage as Only Girl, has recently released a personally poignant new single titled ‘Mountain’, which deals with her husband Jamie McKechnie’s assault and traumatic brain injury, suffered back in 2011. Murphy says of the track, “I wanted the video for ‘Mountain’ to really convey Jamie’s journey through recovery since he suffered the brain injury. I think his story is so inspiring and shows how he really fought for his life against all the odds.” She speaks of her husband as the inspiration for the song: “If I could focus myself on climbing this mountain alongside Jamie, I could force myself to stay strong for him.”

Pete Molinari – Veteran folk and blues songwriter Pete Molinari is one of the few artists appearing at SXSW with nothing new on offer in terms of recorded music. He is set to play the We Are Hear Records showcase on the Tuesday night, alongside the aforementioned Lion.

Will Varley – This Kent singer/songwriter and Xtra Mile Recordings artist will bring his brilliant new album ‘Spirit of Minnie’ to Austin this year, on the heels of an American tour with label mates and fellow SXSW 2018 artists Skinny Lister. We featured the video for album track ‘Seven Days’ back in January; you can listen below to the gentle but poignant ‘Let it Slide’.

Please note that all information we bring you about SXSW 2018 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts and artists and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change. To learn when your favourite artist is playing in Austin, we recommend you first consult the official SXSW 2018 schedule, then stop by the artist’s Facebook or official Web site for details of any non-official SXSW appearances.

 

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2017: Welsh artists showcasing at this year’s SXSW

 
By on Friday, 10th March 2017 at 11:00 am
 

Wales may be small in size, but they are a proud country never short of praise and support of their musical artists. BBC Radio 1 presenter Huw Stephens is quick to promote his countrymen and women, and I am sure he’s pleased with all five of the artists to showcase this year at SXSW 2017. The summaries of acts below were written by Rebecca Clayton and Steven Loftin. Please note: all information we bring you about SXSW 2017 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts and artists and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change. To learn when your favourite artist is playing in Austin, we recommend you first consult the official SXSW schedule, then stop by the artist’s Facebook and official Web site for details of any non-official SXSW appearances.

Casi – pop / Bangor
A young singer/songwriter originally from Bangor, Wales, Casi Wyn is currently based in London. Casi grew up speaking her mother tongue of Welsh and hearing traditional music, before getting into pop music in her teens, which probably explains the melding of eerie vocals and electropop rhythms in her music. Last year, Casi released her entrancing single ‘Lion’, an ethereal and moving track that showcases Casi’s angelic vocals and her evocative song writing. Since then she’s also shared ‘Golden Age Thinking’ and this year’s ‘The Beast’ via her label Chess Club Records. (Rebecca Clayton)

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=873g5wS7ltM[/youtube]

Chain of Flowers – post-punk / Cardiff
A surprisingly great modern take on post-punk. Choruses thick with reverb and longing lyrics, Chain of Flowers are definitely a band worth a listen. They recently released their self-titled debut LP that should go straight on your list of must listens. I mean, come on, they’re named after a The Cure song, right? (Steven Loftin)

Dan Bettridge – singer/songwriter / Ogmore-by-Sea
With a voice older than his years, Dan Bettridge is the soulful folk singer from the small village of Ogmore-by-Sea in Wales. Bettridge, who has been playing guitar from an early age, first appeared on the scene in 2013 when he released the EP ‘Hunter’s Heart’. He is currently working on his debut album. He rereleased his single ‘Rosie Darling’ last year, a gentle, country sounding number, and ‘Third Eye Blind’ back in 2015, a bluesy, soulful track that transports you out of your own skin and onto the neon-lit streets that Bettridge sings about. (Rebecca Clayton) [We’ve been informed that sadly, Dan Bettridge will not be joining us in Austin. – Ed.]

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4UYER_GK6bc[/youtube]

Meilyr Jones singer/songwriter / Aberystwyth
Exactly what Jarvis Cocker and Morrissey’s love child would sound like, and this isn’t a bad thing believe it or not. The optimism of a young Cocker, with the yearning howl of an in-his-prime Moz. Lyrical structure that puts most novelists to shame, ‘How To Recognise Art’ is, well, a work of art. He also won the Welsh Music Prize in 2016, if that tempts you further. (Steven Loftin)

The Sandinistas – punk / Tredegar
A Welsh band named after a Clash album? Count us in. Having only released their debut single last year, The Sandinistas are gaining some serious momentum already. When you listen to the adrenaline-inducing riot of their single aptly titled ‘Ready To Blow’, you can see why. Get on this band. Now. [They’ve also already been championed by Fred Perry, who have been rarely wrong in spotting potential. – Ed.] (Steven Loftin)

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ik74yCjG7S4[/youtube]

 

(SXSW 2017 flavoured!) Quickfire Questions #124: Dan Bettridge

 
By on Thursday, 9th March 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

This year’s SXSW Music Festival is just days away. We’re once again excited to bring you showcasing artists’ answers to a special SXSW 2017 flavoured set of Quickfire Questions. In today’s feature, we’ll be bringing you the answers from Welsh singer/songwriter Dan Bettridge. The song he names as his favourite in his childhood, the one that was his earliest memory and the one that makes him laugh is surprisingly by an American entertainer from yesteryear. Should we be surprised? I’m not sure. But read on for more of his intriguing answers… [We’ve been informed that sadly, Dan Bettridge will not be joining us in Austin. – Ed.]

Describe your music / sound in three words. (We know, tricky…)
Soul – Rock – Blues.

What are you most looking forward to doing while you’re in Austin?
Definitely playing the showcases – it’s been a minute since I’ve played in the U.S.! Also catching bands that I’ve been waiting to see and without a doubt I’m really looking forward to seeing musicians, filmmakers and all kinds of artists together saying what needs to be said in a mad world.

Of the bands who have already been announced, do you have any that are must-sees on your schedule? If yes, who are they and why?
At the moment I’m most looking forward to seeing Forth Wanderers – I stumbled across them on a Spotify playlist and they rock.

Name something you’re packing in your suitcase that we might find weird or unusual. (You are welcome to elaborate.)
A lot of women’s clothes… (My manager and I are going to share a case.)

If we happen to run into you in a bar, we’d like to buy you a drink. What is your tipple of choice?
If I’m drinking – a whiskey, no mixer, no ice. If I’m driving – a cranberry juice… thanks!

What was your favourite album from 2016 and why?
Oh God… there were so many… the one that jumped to mind was the new Bon Iver album. Also ‘Blonde’ by Frank Ocean… I’ve been really into weird sounds recently.

Will this be the first time you’ve played to American audiences? What have you heard about the festival? Are you excited / anxious / scared / etc. and why?
I’ve played in Nashville, TN before. It was in 2013 I think and I turned up, just myself and my guitar and didn’t realise that it was the week that the CMAs were on… it was MAD! But I ended up playing some places while I was there. I’ve played a couple of gigs in NYC too. Most of the time I’ve come across the pond it’s been to go to Canada, so I’m stoked to be coming back to the US – especially as it’s for SXSW!

Now, onto our usual list of Quickfire Questions…

What song is your earliest musical memory?
‘Inka Dinka Doo’ by Jimmy Durante.

What was your favourite song as a child?
Same as the above – I used to dance around in my blue denim dungarees to that song!

What song makes you laugh?
Maaaan this is gonna be the most boring interview ever, but the same song hahaha If you haven’t heard it… you really need to! [Okay, Dan, we’ll indulge you… – Ed.]

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oV7XIw-eNUg[/youtube]

What song makes you cry?
‘Shed a Little light’ – James Taylor, off his live album.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsKTzFwv16w[/youtube]

What song reminds you of the first time you fell in love? (It’s up to you if you want this to be sweet, naughty, etc.)
Anything from The OC soundtrack…ahhhh young love and indie rock.

What song makes you think of being upset / angry? (Example: maybe you heard it when you were angry with someone and it’s still with you, and/or something that calms you down when you’re upset, etc.)
Any Jack Johnson song calms me down. I grew up right on the seafront but most of that time we had quite a turbulent home life… Jack kept me happy and sane.

Which song (any song written in the last century / 100 years or so) do you wish you’d written yourself?
Way way way too many… but then if I’d written them then they wouldn’t be the songs I love.

Who is your favourite writer? (This can be a songwriter or ANY kind of writer.)
Of songwriters there are many… people who I admire for their poetry, others who know exactly how to write for themselves for the perfect delivery, sometimes both. One of my favourite book writers though is John Muir.

If you hadn’t become a singer/musician/songwriter/etc., what job do you think you’d be doing right now?
I always said if I wasn’t a musician, I’d be a long distance truck driver in the Pacific Northwest somewhere.

If God said you were allowed to bring only one album with you to Heaven, which would it be and why? (Sorry, but double albums do not count.)
Ooooo that’s a toughy. Either the James Taylor ‘Live’ double album or ‘By The Way’ by The Red Hot Chili Peppers because it’s the first album I ever bought with my own money.

Cheers, Dan, for answering our SXSW flavoured Quickfire Questions! Thank you also to Max for helping sort this for us. Dan Bettridge’s official SXSW 2017 showcase will be at Stephen F’s Bar on Thursday 16 March at 11 PM.

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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