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SXSW 2016 Music and Tech: Tipcow

 
By on Thursday, 7th April 2016 at 11:00 am
 

One of the perks of being a SXSW 2016 Music conference attendee is access to the SXSW Trade Show. It was my first year to partake in the event taking place during Convergence, the period of the festival when the Film, Interactive and Music parts run concurrently. While I didn’t have as much time as I would have liked to stop at all the interesting booths in the Austin Convention Center on Monday and Tuesday, there were a few booths in particular that impressed me with their innovation and creativity. I hope as time goes on, I’ll be able to connect you with some of the fine folks of these companies and organisations in the near future.

First up, I want to introduce you to a local to Austin startup who have sussed out a way for artists to get a compliment, via the ever-important medium of money, directly from the fans. We had a great conversation about a recent move by a cafe in Philadelphia to allow music fans seeing live music there to include a tip to the artist playing on their drink bill. Co-founder of TipCow Rene De La Mora rightly pointed out the inherent problem in this idea: punters then will either shortchange the venue for their food and drink in favour of giving more of their money to the band, or vice versa. TipCow is different, as it’s a free service for artists to connect with their fans and to get paid (or in this case, tipped) for their hard work and efforts in their art, and without a middleman, maximising payments from fan to artist. I asked CEO Chris Bush in his own words explain how their app, now available in the Apple Store and Google Play, works:

TipCow screencap

TipCow is a mobile app and Web service to allow fans to tip their favorite artists. Each artist has a social media profile through our service with a unique URL, allowing direct fan to artist support any time, and for any reason. This URL can be shared on artists’ social media profiles, Web sites, or other online platforms to allow them to receive tips from fans outside of their shows. Artists also have a dashboard to track their tip amounts and locations, so they can make smarter booking decisions based on which venues they see the most support. We also have a very secure, yet simple signup process to guarantee the artists that can be found in the apps are who they say they are.

We directly promote and support artists via http://www.tipcow.live and our social media reach. We have professional photographers on staff to review shows, and work directly with artists to increase their tips at these shows. We also have a tip incentive redemption program in place for select shows to incentivize tipping. We partner with neighboring businesses and venues to give discounts on agreed upon items for tippers, like drink or food discounts. We are currently working on technical features to bring these incentives and many others into the app to bring as much revenue to artists as we possibly can.

Artists currently sign up on the Web site at tipcow.me, and fans can sign up via the app or on the Web site as well.”

We here at TGTF are definitely for any new technology that can increase deserved artists’ incomes and keep them firmly in their livelihoods. More than ever, artists need all the help they can get to keep making music for fans like you and me and all over the world, and this app provides a seamless app to let us help them directly. We’ll definitely be keeping our eye on TipCow and their future innovations in the coming months.

 

SXSW 2016: TuneIn Sessions, plus highlights and lowlights from Thursday evening – 17th March 2016

 
By on Wednesday, 6th April 2016 at 4:00 pm
 

Thursday evening began promising enough, with a fantastic set by The Big Pink at Easy Tiger Patio, which had been transformed into the TuneIn Sessions venue during SXSW 2016. I hadn’t been back to Easy Tiger since my first year of SX in 2012, and I definitely didn’t recall the kind of extensive queues I witnessed this year.

With the Big Pink, however, I would stay for the entirety of the set I actually could see in front of my face, as was very eager to see what was up Robbie Furze’s sleeve. Or rather his always heavily tattooed arm, and now that founding member Milo Cordell has left. Cordell has been replaced admirably and ably, it turns out, by Mary Charteris on keys and backing vocals. I was impressed with the way recent single ‘Hightimes’ sounded live: it’s a nice and welcome evolution from the Big Pink’s first album, 2009’s ‘A Brief History of Love’. It’s also, in a way, a return to their former glory after the less successful ‘Future This’ in 2012, in which the duo had worked with producer Paul Epworth and their attempt at shinier electropop never really got off the ground.

The Big Pink at TuneIn Sessions at Easy Tiger Patio, Thursday at SXSW 2016

I loved The Big Pink’s first album and while single ‘Dominos’ was a given for the set list, I couldn’t believe my luck when ‘Too Young to Love’ was included in the mix. More synth-heavy goodness with a good dose was delivered via songs off the newly released ‘Empire Underground’ EP, out now on B3SCI Records. Of these, ‘Beautiful Criminal’ came out swinging, sounding fresh.

Despite them being American and myself being such a massive fan of electropop, I’ve never managed to see YACHT live. I’ve always been thwarted somehow in seeing them live in DC, so I made a point to stick around at Easy Tiger to finally witness them live to rectify the situation. Whoa. Frontwoman Claire L. Evans, who like me is a science boffin writer type in her ‘normal’ life, is the kind of person one would say was made for the stage.

YACHT at TuneIn Sessions Thursday at Easy Tiger Patio, SXSW 2016

Her camp demeanour, funny faces and gesturing make it clear she was born to be an entertainer, and she serves as a perfect foil to YACHT founder Jona Bechtolt, who is otherwise confined to his table of synths and keys when he’s not jumping up and down and generally being a badass in a Bernie Sanders baseball cap. While I enjoyed the music, I decided halfway through their set that the dramatic and highly sexualised flair employed by Evans, particularly on ‘Ringtone’ and ‘I Wanna F*ck You ‘Til I’m Dead’ (ya, really) would be better enjoyed by someone outside waiting in the queue. Maybe I’ll see you round at a science expo, Claire?

I had a couple of options on tap for the rest of the evening and oddly only really wanted to see one band on the British Music Embassy lineup for PIAS / AIM, FEWS from Sweden (yes, not a UK band, I don’t get that either). Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy them anywhere as much as I had hoped, after listening to ‘The Zoo’ and thinking I was hooked.

FEWS at the PIAS / AIM UK showcase at the British Music Embassy, Latitude 30, Thursday at SXSW 2016

Maybe I was stood in the wrong place, or maybe the mix wasn’t quite right, but that would have been surprising at the British Music Embassy, where the sound is usually peerless. However, everything was simply loud and I couldn’t distinguish a melody. I used to think Temples were bad for this kind of music, but at least there was a guitar hook I could latch on to and appreciate.

Disappointed, I left early to find something else. I realised soon enough that I couldn’t walk across from one side of 6th Street to the other like we always had in the past, getting stuck in a crush of bodies going west. As a pretty small woman with claustrophobia, it’s not the greatest of places to find oneself in. I finally decided to stop inside Friends. Inside, a loud and raucous crowd of Canadians (I’m guessing?) were cheering to The Mariachi Ghost: yes, an actual mariachi-themed band living in the Great White North. I feel bad that after all these years, I’ve never had much time to give to the Canadians, whether it be M for Montreal or BreakOut West, the host for this evening’s lineup of talent from Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. When I’m able to clone myself, I’ll let you know.

The Mariachi Ghost describe themselves as “a unique musical fusion of Mexican folk music, progressive rock, spaghetti-western soundtracks, and jazz”. Which is a lot. The band came out of frontman Jorge Requena’s attempt at writing a graphic novel, with the songs based on stories and ideas that first took flight as part of this writing effort. Beyond the many Latino members you’re expecting as part of a mariachi band, this mariachi band also perform with Day of the Dead-esque skull makeup on their faces and with an interpretative dancer bandmate. This evening, she was festooned with flowers in her hair and used a red scarf to great effect, as a visual representation of the music being played, as well as engaging directly with the audience, including one particularly memorable trance-like moment with tango moves with a punter.

The Mariachi Ghost at BreakOut West showcase, Friends, Thursday at SXSW 2016

The audience rightly ate up this hybrid of gig and ballet theatre, and I bet you there was nothing else quite like it all week in Austin. Requena, clearly buoyed by how positively the audience members were responding, was in near tears at the end of their set, saying how wonderful everyone had been to them all week in Austin and how welcome they’d felt as a band so far from home. His final words before their last song was his pronouncement that he’d been getting a tattoo the next morning to commemorate their great time at SXSW. The whole experience was an excellent reminder of how much SX means to musicians, and we ALL should be reminded that while money may be the means of getting to Austin, it’s the actual experience of playing to an international crowd, among so many other bands getting the opportunity to do the same exact thing, that makes SXSW the experience unequaled anywhere else or by any other event in the world.

It was too bad that I only caught part of their set, as it was over too quick and I then I needed to find someone else to see. After being less than wowed by Polica on Monday afternoon at the Onion / AV Club party at Barracuda, I didn’t fancy queueing to get into the Parish to see them, although I was curious to ex-Smith Westerns member Cullen Omori’s new project directly after. He would be followed by Sydney’s DMA’s, who I’d seen on the Radio Day stage at the convention centre earlier, and I figured I’d see the same set, so I chose by venue instead.

Working my way further west, I ‘treated’ myself to a visit to the all-too-posh Driskill Hotel, with the intention of seeing Dion, of ‘Runaround Sue’ and ‘The Wanderer’ fame. Having grown up with parents who listened to either classical or ‘50s and ‘60s oldies music, Dion was a huge fixture in my childhood, and I remember all the words. Dion (surname DiMucci) was in town to do a q&a earlier in the day and this showcase, both to promote ‘New York is My Home’, a new blues studio album.

Dion at the Victoria Room at the Driskill Hotel, Thursday at SXSW 2016

As you might expect, the average age of the audience members in the Victoria Room for his appearance exceeded my own by a hefty bit. There was even an older gentleman who jostled me out of place so he could place a recorder on the surface of a speaker near the stage. Cheeky bugger! Dion is the kind of celebrated musician who would be able to keep telling stories all day and to be honest, I found the anecdotes he shared with us more genuine and heartfelt that his actual songs. More power to him that he’s still rocking it in his 70s. Let’s hope we’re all as creative and engaging as him when we reach those golden years.

And now we reach the part of my evening that didn’t go so well. Smartly (or so I thought), I asked a staff member at the hotel on another exit to the hotel, so I didn’t have to go back into the melee on 6th Street. I had every intention of seeing Brighton synthpop group Fickle Friends at the Sidewinder, then returning to the British Music Embassy to give Liverpool slackers Hooton Tennis Club, who I’d seen at the Great Escape 2015, another go. This never happened, because a man walked into me and on purpose on the corner of E. 7th Street and Trinity. I feel sure it happened on purpose, as there was no crowd on the corner (so there was no reason for him to walk into me) and I purposefully walked in the opposite direction of him coming towards me, but he changed course and charged. The next thing I knew, I was on the sidewalk, I was in pain, and my elbow was bleeding. The man ran across the street and was gone.

Some 20-something were kind enough to help me up and ask me if I needed to go to hospital, but I have been to too many in my life and I was not going to get stuck in A&E on a Thursday night in Austin. I said no and went off to find first aid, still shaking. This was when I learned that neither the police or EMS on the beat for SXSW have first aid kits (meaning they don’t carry antiseptic, sterile gauze or plasters), which you’d think would be a simple thing for all these protective personnel to have. I was and am still beyond shocked that these things that every parent would carry in his/her car for basic first aid for their children were nowhere to be found when I was sat on a curb with blood coming out of my arm. I’ve seen EMS cart off revelers with broken limbs, so maybe if I had broken my leg and couldn’t walk, maybe they’d done something. I got an ice pack, which is I guess is better than nothing.

I note my experience as a safety message that you really need to look out for your friends during SXSW, because I’m not sure what I would have done if Carrie could not come to collect me. I certainly shouldn’t have been driving with a bleeding elbow. It’s an unfortunate, scary and not entirely random event that sadly clouded the rest of my SXSW experience and makes me fear for my safety in future years.

For more of my photos from my Thursday at SXSW 2016 when I wasn’t dealing with a stupid emergency, visit my Flickr.

 

SXSW 2016: Thursday night with the BBC Music showcase at Stubb’s BBQ – 17th March 2016

 
By on Wednesday, 6th April 2016 at 2:00 pm
 

After Thursday afternoon’s amazing Output Belfast showcase at the British Music Embassy, I headed over to Stubb’s BBQ for another exciting UK-centric show, the inaugural BBC Music Showcase. The emcees for the evening, BBC Radio presenters Steve Lamacq (6 Music), Jo Whiley (Radio 2), Huw Stephens (Radio 1) and MistaJam (1Xtra) were almost as high profile as the showcasing artists themselves, who according to the official SXSW preview of the event, were chosen to “represent the breadth of genres BBC nurtures and supports.”

Given the magnitude of the artists scheduled to perform at Stubb’s that night, I thought it would be wise to queue early, and I arrived just as the line outside the venue was starting to form, almost 2 hours ahead of the show. Luckily for me, Stubb’s offers takeaway barbecue near the venue gates, so I was able to grab a delicious pulled pork taco while I waited to get in. My fellow punters, including Melinda Hasting, John Baker, and Walter Fields of SXSW showcasing act Missi and Mister Baker made fine company, and the time spent in the queue passed quickly.

Loretta Lynn at BBC Music at Stubb's, Thursday at SXSW 2016

The members of Missi and Mister Baker were at Stubb’s specifically to see the first act on the evening’s bill, country music legend Loretta Lynn. I was giddy with excitement to see Lynn myself, especially after featuring her in my preview article on feminism at SXSW 2016. Lynn was accompanied on stage by a full backing band, led by her son Ernest Ray, and their set on the night was predictably spectacular, from their introduction by BBC Radio 2 host Jo Whiley all the way through to the sentimental favourite final track ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter’. Jovial banter and playful teasing between mother and son punctuated the set list, which included shouted requests for “Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven’ and ‘Fist City’. After a bit of suspenseful coquetry on the part of Ms. Lynn, we were treated to her latest single ‘Everything It Takes’ before she swept the figurative curtain closed with ‘Honky Tonk Girl’ and her signature set closer.

Loretta Lynn at BBC Music at Stubb's, Thursday at SXSW 2016

Loretta Lynn was no doubt a difficult act to follow, and the crowd at Stubb’s dissipated somewhat after the end of her set. The front of the venue didn’t remain vacant for long though, as a more youthful set of punters filed in for the next act, the female-fronted trio Sunflower Bean. Introduced by BBC 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq, the up-and-coming New Yorkers took advantage of the large stage at Stubb’s both visually and sonically, creating an impressive display of psych rock force, especially in their extended performance of ‘Space Exploration Disaster’. For more on Sunflower Bean, you can read our Steven’s review of their debut album ‘Human Ceremony’ right back here.

Lapsley at BBC Music at Stubb's, Thursday at SXSW 2016

Nineteen-year-old Liverpudlian electronic singer/songwriter Låpsley appeared next on the Stubb’s stage, on the strength of her recent debut album ‘Long Way Home.’ I wasn’t previously familiar with Låpsley’s music, but a fellow audience member described her to me as “like Adele, only with a dance beat.” His assessment wasn’t far off, as it turned out. If you like the timbre of Adele’s singing voice but find her songs a bit too sleepy and weepy, Låpsley’s more urban edge might be just your speed. Check out her recent concept video for ‘Love is Blind’ just below.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/q9Jrlg6GnkY[/youtube]

I was even less familiar with Croydon grime artist Stormzy, who took the stage after an introduction by BBC Radio 1Xtra’s MistaJam. Though his given name is Michael Omari, Stormzy reminded us of his stage name several times in the course of his set, while also stirring up the crowd’s energy with frenetic onstage motion and relentless rapping over beats provided by his assistant, DJ Tiny. I couldn’t help but reflect on the contrast of styles between Stormzy and Loretta Lynn, and though Stormzy’s brand of hip-hop isn’t exactly to my taste, the formidable strength of his show was every bit as spectacular as Lynn’s opening set.

Stormzy at BBC Music at Stubb's, Thursday at SXSW 2016

Unfortunately a minor personal emergency near the end of Stormzy’s set meant that I was unable to stay at Stubb’s for the final act on the BBC Music bill, alt-folk rocker Jake Bugg. I have to admit that I was particularly disappointed not to see Bugg, who I also missed when he toured in America with Snow Patrol several years ago. On reflection, however, I feel fortunate that Mary I and found ourselves safe and sound at the end of the evening. Jake Bugg will remain on my musical bucket list for the time being; I’ll be keeping my eyes and ears open for possible future tour dates around his new third album ‘On My One’, which is due out in June. In the meantime, the video for his current single ‘Gimme the Love’ is playing just below.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/o70e7Nb8SVM[/youtube]

 

SXSW 2016 Interview: Rosie Carney

 
By on Wednesday, 6th April 2016 at 11:00 am
 

By the time Friday rolls around at SXSW, musicians and spectators alike are typically beginning to show signs of wearing down after several nights in a row of near constant gigging. The traditional Friday morning Full Irish Breakfast at B.D. Riley’s Irish Pub is a bit of a respite for those of us in the audience, starting with a lovely brunch and coffee (or tea, or even a Guinness if you prefer) but it’s another day on the job for the artists performing there.

First on the bill at this year’s Full Irish Breakfast was 18-year-old Donegal singer/songwriter Rosie Carney, whose warm and delicate tones were a decidedly gentle introduction to the long day of music ahead. As I’ve noted in the past, the venue at B.D. Riley’s Irish Pub isn’t perhaps the ideal location for soft and subtle music, but Carney seemed determined to make it work, and in the end her performance was well-appreciated by the crowd of patrons who listened as they noshed on their eggs and sausages.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/N0iPdCLWiAM[/youtube]

In the interview clip below, the soft-spoken Ms. Carney and I stepped outside B.D. Riley’s for a brief chat about her two already released singles ‘Winter’ and ‘Better Man’, both of which she had regaled us with inside, as well as her still-tentative plans for an upcoming EP release. She was lucky enough to have a pair of bandmates accompanying her to Austin on this trip, and they hoped to make a lasting impression on their American audiences with her folk-tinged songwriting and gracefully nuanced singing voice. If Carney seemed a bit dazed by the chaos and commotion of her first trip to SXSW, she could perhaps be forgiven at this late point in the week, as she’d already played quite a list of shows and still had one more ahead of her on the Saturday’s Women to Watch showcase. Thankfully, her lovely voice had shown no sign of fatigue at the Full Irish Breakfast, despite the early start to her Friday morning.

 

(SXSW 2016!) Video of the Moment #2055: Fickle Friends

 
By on Tuesday, 5th April 2016 at 6:00 pm
 

Thanks to monies from the International Showcase Fund of PRS for Music Foundation, Brighton band Fickle Friends were one of many UK bands to showcase at SXSW 2016 last month, which was plenty reason enough to cheer. Now, after returning from Austin, it’s been announced the group have signed to Polydor Records.

In honour of this momentous occasion in their career, they will be releasing their inaugural single with Polydor, ‘Swim’. While the actual physical action on actors besides the band in the video for the song are ‘dragging’, the song is anything but, sparkling with upbeat, New Wave-y synth and guitar backing and Natassja Shiner’s energetic vocals. Watch the promo for ‘Swim’ below, and stay tuned for its release on the 20th of May on Polydor. Later this month, they’ll be headlining a show at the 100 Club in London on the 27th of April. For more on Fickle Friends on TGTF, try this link.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQjbNrUCYA0[/youtube]

 

SXSW 2016: a lazy St. Patrick’s Day afternoon with donuts, footy and some music – 17th March 2016

 
By on Tuesday, 5th April 2016 at 4:00 pm
 

After the Creating Custom Songs for Film, TV, Trailers & Ads panel and the second half of Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo’s entertaining, yet raunchy q&a at the convention centre (more on those here), it was time to get some things done. Portland’s world-famous Voodoo Donuts now has an outpost in Austin – and right on 6th Street – so it seemed rude not to get some and share them with our friends at Latitude 30, who work so hard to produce great shows for us at SXSW, as a small gesture of our appreciation for all they do. As it was St. Patrick’s Day, we also wanted to provide a sweet something in the form of themed donuts to those involved with Output Belfast, who put on a great showcase St. Patrick’s Day afternoon. (Read Carrie’s review of the entire Generator NI-supported show from earlier today here.)

After my donut delivery work was done (pro tip: the Irish don’t fancy donuts as much as I thought they would and certainly not like Americans do, I’ll tell you that!), I went up to Cheer Up Charlie’s to see if I could catch Ezra Furman and the Boyfriends, who were part of Brooklyn Vegan’s afternoon line-up there. I made the mistake of thinking that he’d be on the larger outdoor stage. Nope, he and his band were crammed onto the tiny indoor stage where Carrie and I saw CYMBALS at SXSW 2014. I had no chance in hell of getting in, so I, along with some other latecomers, had to peer through the dirty side windows to get a glimpse of Furman in his red dress. However, for your trouble, here’s a crowd shot from the outdoor stage, with a guy in a kilt.

outside at Cheer Up Charlie's Brooklyn Vegan Thursday at SXSW 2016

Now that I am writing this, red was an appropriate colour for the day (other than green, of course), as I remembered walking down the street that Liverpool were playing Manchester United at Old Trafford in an UEFA match. So maybe the luck of the Irish was smiling down on me, as I came across Bull McCabe’s, a living, breathing, no frills Irish pub with plenty of Liverpool fans (as it’s the pub’s club) and the occasional, tempting fate Man U supporter, including one particularly annoying one in a flat cap was in front of me as I was sat by the bar. It probably would have been packed anyway, seeing that it was St. Patrick’s Day, but the place was packed to the gills and it was just fun to grab a Guinness, watch the match with fellow Liverpool supporters, and watch the entire pub go crazy when Phil Coutinho scored, securing our spot into the quarterfinals against Dortmund this Thursday. It was a nice, non-music break during my week that was much appreciated. Speaking of non-music things, I also had a nice snack at the Llamas Peruvian Creole trailer at 7th and Trinity and met a new friend, though unfortunately, my luck at that intersection would not last…

Hairy Larry and the Llama Trailer Thursday at SXSW 2016

Next up on my hit list on St. Patrick’s Day were Australian alt-rock trio DMA’s, who came highly recommended by our uber helpful Aussie correspondent last year NickiGirlStar. They were the final act of the day at the KCSN showcase at the Radio Day stage Thursday. While Melbourne’s Gold Class have been called the 21st century Australian Smiths, Sydney’s DMA’s have been favourably called the 21st century Australian Oasis. While they might refer to themselves as just “dude[s] from Australia”, they lived up the comparison to the Gallaghers’ brothers’ band with their own massive guitar anthems, minus the sibling rivalry. There was also no evidence of infighting on the Radio Day stage at the convention centre, whose wide stage span dwarfed the actual physical presence of the band and their live backing crew.

DMA's Radio Day Stage at the Convention Center, Thursday at SXSW 2016

However, having already played larger stages at Governor’s Ball, Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza in 2015, they took the stage confidently and to a respectable crowd at 5 in the afternoon. I am sure their show to close out Paradigm Agency’s showcase at the Parish later that evening had a far more boisterous crowd, but I actually appreciated having a more relaxed vantage point to see DMA’s unfettered and in the wild, if you will. To have a taste of their Bonnaroo set last summer, watch the video below. I don’t recall Liam Gallagher ever wearing Adidas (I could be wrong), but for sure, lead singer Tommy O’Dell looks like an assertive dude onstage. As one would with songs as sound as theirs, like the arresting ‘Lay Down’, his charismatic vocals ringing across the room. It wasn’t hard to close your eyes and imagine it was the younger Gallagher up on stage, just without a nasal Mancunian accent.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1Ah0ZU6y4w[/youtube]

After the DMA’s set, I took the opportunity to sit and charge my phone for a while. There usually aren’t too many comfy places to sit at the convention centre that aren’t already occupied by people with laptops, so I sat at the deserted softball tournament . Hilariously, band people started coming up and asking me where the artists’ lounge was. I guess I look like I work for SXSW? Maybe I do, after 5 years of hitting the Austin pavement and club floors hard. I also ran into online friends, the lovely Elke and Oliver from Glamglare, completely by accident while being sat there too. That is one of the magical things about SXSW. The world is such a large place but for 1 week in Austin, you could run into anyone – anyone! – from around the world because everyone is in that most important city for the most important time in March.

 
 
 

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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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