Dad

It’s a weird time, my birthday. I always hated it growing up, I think the fact it always lands around Father’s Day was always a kick in the teeth for me. Not only was my dad not around to celebrate my day, he wasn’t around for me to celebrate his day either. I don’t really remember my dad’s birthday, mum was never cross with me for not knowing, simply because it was that. He never was there so I never forgot, I just didn’t know. How sad is that? That I don’t even know my dad’s birthday. I only get reminded by my sisters Facebook memories.

When all the other kids were out for Fathers day meals and stuff, I wasn’t. When they were on the fields, practising football or rugby. I was in my room on my computer and video games. He was good at everything my dad. Rode motorbikes, flew planes (model and real), played cricket, played rugby, did stand up comedy. I mean, he literally could do anything. There’s no way I could have lived up to him, but I wished so hard he’d have been around to teach me stuff, to be more like him. He was a good man by all accounts. Funny, kind, charming, clever, to name but a few. He was short though, so at least I have one thing on him.

Me, I was crap at everything, football, rugby, running, you name it. So, I quietly kept myself to myself. I loved reading, it was an escape, you could be profoundly in love with Pandora (one for the older ones) or off to Narnia. Kids these days get transported to Hogwarts. That’s the great thing about imagination. I wasn’t a sad kid without a dad there. I could be the biggest, fastest, strongest, funniest.. anything I wanted to be. But there’s always a bump when reality bites. Anxiety, anxiousness, paranoia are the worst. When you overthink everything and get stuck in your own thoughts, it’s a terrifying place.

Life works in mysterious ways, and from the pits of sadness and despair, something happened, (everything happens for a reason) and suddenly, my birthday became my daughters birthday. Fathers day changed, from me being an empty child, to a fulfilled parent. I didn’t have to worry or focus on me anymore and what I didn’t have. I could focus on this amazing gift, sent to show me that things always turn out okay. There’s always a reason.

Sure the anxiety remains, the self doubt nags away. It’s different, but at least there’s a reason to smile. I always wonder if I was a good son, and I’ll always worry if I’m a good dad.

It’s okay not to be okay, and when you’re struggling, really struggling, talk to your loved ones, your pals, anyone that will listen. Sometimes a different perspective changes everything. Life is so so precious, and can be gone in the blink of an eye, so never take anything or anyone for granted.

Tiller Toward Trouble (Guest Post)

Content warning – Mature adult themes of an uncomfortable nature.

So here, we have a guest post from a friend. A blog which I felt, rather than read. Something which contains harrowing mental images which have been written about, for want of a better word, beautifully. This persons writing style is off the charts and I’m privileged to be able to host it for you. Enjoy would be the wrong phrase, so I shall just say, read, feel, and understand…

So, yet another person has now offhandedly referred to me as a Phoenix…this week. I always just assumed it was the hair. Perhaps even a comment on my hurricane-like personality, a pun on the raku, anything. I never really know. That’s pretty much a theme now, the not knowing. I’m trying to learn how to just accept it – you will too. I promise.


Other people make sense.  Get used to it.


And, before we get down to brass tacks – there’s a story here – there’s always a story, that’s all we are. If you aren’t ready to read it you may want to give this a pass, it’s a little intense.


First, generally I’ve focused on people “on the outside” – tried to reach the people who didn’t understand because they simply had different lives. It would break my heart to see their eyes, to recognize the looks of horror and helplessness. That was after I learned what to keep quiet though. Quite honestly, I was that odd writer chick who wrote about nightmares, and everyone acted like it was so kind I’d taken an interest in the plight of those ‘poor lost souls’ – it never occurred I was a ‘them’ – still doesn’t.  I honestly, arrogantly, thought if I could help bring light to the subject it would help people. Evil feeds on the dark.


It didn’t.


All the stories became ‘just another sad story’, someone else’s sad story, some type of grotesque carnival act as people salivated for details.  Things that only happen in far away places or other cultures or different socioeconomic groups, or just anyone else. Pick a label. There’s always a label.


So, in the very heart of the “Change It or Adapt” mindset we develop, I’m adapting. I’m switching audience. I’m speaking to survivors.


Hello, dear. I’m proud of you. You’re alive.


Don’t scoff. I don’t buy it. I know you’re embarrassed. So, I’ll say it – maybe a little louder for the people in the back. There’s nothing wrong with having survived what tried to kill you.  Yes, I know the normal people read that too, it’ll be ok. They’ll adapt. We aren’t the only ones that can do that you know. Feels like a lie saying survivor, doesn’t it? There’s always someone who has it worse after all. For what it’s worth – I agree with you.


I’ve read the inspirational success stories, and the powerful blog posts about overcoming just like you have. I’m happy for them just like you are.  They amaze me, and are goals, and genuinely fill me with hope. And when I wake up in a cold sweat alone in the middle of the night I think of them and I feel like I’m just as much of a failure as you do. Ooop, oh boo – you think it was only you? Survivors guilt is insidious.


I hate signifying. It makes my skin crawl too. You know, when you’re sitting with your friends and hear stories…and suddenly realize you’re so very ‘other’ – Which were you? The hang a lantern on it kid, or the hide it under perfection kid? Doesn’t matter, variations on a theme.


So, that’s what this post is. It’s the “Don’t do this” of survivor stories. You can get inspiration anywhere. But, sometimes it isn’t inspiration that people need, is it? It’s the scrapes and bruises we learn from. Your friends are your friends – not your therapists. You have to save yourself, good thing you have experience in that. And, if you’re very very lucky – you may have some that will stand beside you while you do. Hope springs eternal.


I’ve struggled with which story. Anything too young and there’s no sense of responsibility, anything too old and it’s just repeating a pattern. I’ve deleted and hem-hawed and stalled in some of the most creative ways. Finally it hit me, that one pivotal moment. That one weekend that honestly wasn’t that bad, but, it changed how the world looked.


Friday was like any Friday, I stayed out as late as I could so I could get into our apartment at a time I wouldn’t be seen. I knew I’d be alone, I usually was, with work and school schedules sometimes it was days between when I’d see my mom. But, I was an incredibly mature kid, I knew how to take care of myself, it was fine. I also new how to pick locks, so we didn’t have to worry about me having a key that could get lost, it was much more efficient for me to just let myself in. Our downstairs neighbor had a key, incase there was any emergencies.


I got home, slipped off my shoes, and went up the stairs silent as death to jimmy the lock and get in. One jiggle on the handle and I heard the rustling inside. He was in a mood and easily twice my size and I hid. I actually hid. I was thin enough to slip behind the dryer and the wall of the shared laundry room before the door opened. After a good half hour of raging around looking for me it got quiet, I hate quiet. Apparently I’d gone to my friends for a sleep over or something. When I slipped out and got into our apartment and into my room I vividly remember swearing I’d never hide from anything ever again. Ever.


Saturday I woke up, alone, early, and slipped out to spend the day with my friend. There wouldn’t be anyone to notice me gone, people rarely knew where I was, or so I thought. But, when I got back the door was ajar, and my room was occupied, and I refused to hide. He sat there on my bed twice my mass and nearly three times my age like he owned the damn place and I pitched an absolute seething fit, which was probably ridiculous because how scary can a twelve year old actually be? But it worked. It finally worked. I didn’t even blink. The early evening was absolutely glorious. I drank tea and watched tv in the living room like a proper person. I told myself with enough determination you can do anything. For a couple of hours it was like my life had absolutely turned around. I’d learned only kids hide.


Evening turned to night and his girlfriend showed up and I learned about cause and effect and consequences.


The building was old and the walls and floors were thin and his room was right under mine. This time there was no hiding. All the while he was assaulting her and then beating the living tar out of her I could hear him yelling it was my fault, and I was next. Simple solution, right? I called the police and managed to drag the dresser in front of my door. She wouldn’t go with them. She didn’t want to get him in trouble. They left. I finally managed to fall asleep despite the noise and yelled promises. I knew I was next, I always was.


Sunday I got ratted out and learned it’s not nice to call the authorities on people.


Familiar, isn’t it? Variations on a theme. We all have that one moment, that instant that sparks the guilt. It always looks different, but we all have it. And, we all look back on it with adult eyes. It’s easier to be angry at yourself that way isn’t it? That’s what starts the pattern, and there’s only one way to stop it. When they get to you physically it just hurts, and it just passes. Mentally, it’s like a worm that just burrows in, but with patience you can get it out. But when they find your heart…


You’re not a kid, and it wouldn’t matter anyway because you can’t hide.


So, here’s your stare it in the eye moment. That moment that sparked yours – actually look at it. Quit digging yourself in deeper and just shut up and see it. Quit falling for the noise. Your perspective will shift – rather drastically. All the normal people have no idea why you’re apologizing for being alive. Look at the kid and see if you can figure out one good reason to keep doing so. Ten minutes ago I could have given you fifty without batting an eye. But, then I quit panicking and just wrote the story, and now I can’t think of a single one.

In Your Ears Music – The Radar Awards

In Your Ears Music has been a beacon for #NewMusic. Particularly over the last 12 months as the world was locked away during a global pandemic. An online station, borne from a passion of sharing music from the independent scene, the brainchild of Dan, Lewis and James. The station has become a goto for many in the new music community, particularly on Twitter, where like-minded souls have found a home.

Not only that, In Your Ears has fostered a community spirit by offering many of those passionate souls a chance to broadcast shows and share the music they love to a wider audience. Each show has it’s own unique format and it’s very obvious style which comes directly from the presenter.

From the wonderful mind of Mobytanner, a blogger of exceptional talent, comes the Radar awards. Something to recognise the artists that have embraced this fantastic community. A small nod to acknowledge those who have gone above and beyond, both musically and personally.

The In Your Ears team got together and selected artists from a wide range of categeories, and there were so many nominations that they needed a hand to whittle it down. So they engaged 20 people from the community and industry to help narrow it down further to the entries you see below.

Ladies and Gents – I present the class of 2021

Best Newcomer

Dictator

West Lothian four piece Dictator have roared onto the scene since forming at the end of 2019. With eclectic influences that flow from Gorillaz to London Grammar, it’s better to expect the unexpected. A mixture consisting of Electronica and classic psychadelic guitars merely scratches the surface.

Also Nominated for :

Best Single -Best Merch

The Heavy North

Scouse five piece The Heavy North are dragging Rock and Roll kicking and screaming to the present day. With a blues vibe thats straight out of America’s deep south and a gravelly gritty voice that won’t give up, 2021 is shaping up to be a huge year for the band.

Also Nominated for :

Best Band – Best Single -Best EP/ Album

Rianne Downey

Bellshill singer/songwriter Rianne Downey has grafted the hard way. Busking on the famous Buchanan Street in Glasgow at the age of 15 and gaining a cult following with her videos on social media throughout lockdown. Rianne recently released her first single after being signed to her first recording deal and has an amazing future ahead of her.

Sam Lambeth

The Codsall Crooner (it’s in the Midlands in case you didn’t know) has been playing the guitar for well over a decade now and is beginning to see great success as he embarks on a solo career. Citing Counting Crows, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty as his inspiration, Sam has a sound not widely heard in modern day singer songwriters which sets him apart from the crowd.

Vela Incident

Welsh residents Vela Incident have spent lockdown putting Port Talbot on the map. The best new old band you’ve never heard, having been formed over twenty years ago, the guys added that little missing ingredient and revisited their older tunes. With ambient vibes and melodic tunes, 2021 looks like being a breakout year for the lads.

Also nominated for :

Best Twitter

Mawpit

Another Welsh entrant in this category comes in the form of pop, soul and jazz inspired trio Mawpit. Formed in cardiff less than two years ago, the band use their melodic music to great effect tackling many current issues with their hard hitting lyrics.

Revivalry

Cleethorpes teen rockers Revivalry shot into the limelight during lockdown. With their catchy lyrics and beyond their years musical talent, the pesky kids are sure to go far. For all their fantastic talent though, it’s their incredible attitude and support of the community that sets them apart from their peers. With Cheeky replies full of their boundless energy they just ooze charm. (Just stop calling me Sir) 😉


Also nominated for :

Best Twitter

Jonny Ash

Making it a hat-trick of Welsh nominations in the best newcomer category are Wrecsam (see I even wrote it in Welsh) natives Jonny Ash. The four piece cite inspiration going back as far as The Beatles, with a thick slice of Thin Lizzy, not to mention The Stone Roses and current super heroes DMA’s. Their debut EP Blurry Vision landed just before Christmas and a bright future is predicted.

Mercy Kelly

Finishing up the Best Newcomer nominations are Oldham based four piece Mercy Kelly. The band have spent lockdown recording and recently debuted single ‘Anymore’. With catchy guitar riffs and and punchy percussion, the influences of James and Inspiral Carpets are pretty easy to pick out.

Best Solo Artist

PG Ciarletta

Better known as Phil (to his pals and those who can’t pronounce his surname) this singer songwriter from Kirkcaldy in bonny Scotland rose to the public’s consciousness during lockdown with his single ‘The Sesh’. With relatable lyrics and catchy guitar riffs, it’s hard not to be excited about what the future holds for this talented young man.

Jen Dixon

Marske resident Jen Dixon has really come into her own since swapping the drumsticks for a guitar. Gigging up in the musical hotbed of the North East of England, Jen’s love of the outdoors shines through in both melody and lyrics. Deep reflections of love and romance couple perfectly with a beautiful vocal that echoes around your mind for days.

Lissy Taylor

A transatlantic artist with roots firmly planted between Kentucky and Manchester, Stoke born Lissy Taylor has an unmistakable vocal which blends perfectly into dreamy guitars and laid back drums. With a fantastic future ahead of her and an authority that belies her tender years, 2021 is shaping up to be an exciting year.

Ade

Dr Fabola has fantastic charm to his music. With a beautiful tone accompanying his intricate guitar work, his style transcends genres, but if ever anyone could be described as easy listening, it’s Ade. With Nigerian heritage, and Manchester roots, you can see the influence of incredible artists like Nina Simone, Otis Redding and Bob Dylan have had on his style.

Cobain Jones

Another resident from the suburbs of Manchester, young singer songwriter Cobain Jones has roared onto the scene with his catchy chords and relatable lyrics. Singing about everyday life on the industrial north, the talented youngster just oozes charm and charisma. Having been picked up by Modern Sky, 2021 seems to be a breakout year for Cobain.

Also nominated for :

Best EP / Album

Amelia Coburn

Another north eastern rising star, Amelia has a wide range of influences, but her musical arrangements and beautiful vocals take you to another place entirely. With her trademark Ukelele, Amelia has made waves with her catchy choruses and fantastic unique sound.


Also nominated for :

Best Single

Joe Astley

Proud Wiganer Joe Astley burst onto the scene in 2020 but really came of age with the catchy and contemporary ‘Television Fantasy’ at the turn of the new year. Joe has begun assembling a band to showcase his eclectic style but has an array of solo work which has left a mark on the New Music community.

Jay Tennant

Warwickshire rocker Jay Tennant has brought a swagger back to solo rockstars. Echoes of Ian McCulloch (get it) and a style not dissimilar to Richard Ashcroft in his pomp, Jay has used his years of gigging to great effect and shot into the spotlight with the brilliant Knoxville. Bringing a little bit of 90’s indie and 80’s sounds to the modern day scene, Jay has a bright future ahead.

Michael Forsyth

Finishing off the solo nominations is Huntly singer-songwriter Michael Forsyth who became a feature of the New Music community during lockdown. He showed his softer side with the beautiful dedication to his sister Kimberley ‘She Can Fly’. Coming from a musically ingrained family, 2021 could be a defining year for the proud Scotsman.

Best Band

Apollo Junction

One of Yorkshire’s finest. Leeds 5 piece Apollo Junction have a sound custom built for arenas. Soaring guitars, gritty vocals and punchy drums leave you singing along to the catchy anthemic chorus’. As gigs start up again, these guys will be on many peoples ‘must see’ lists.

Also nominated for :

Best EP / Album – Best Merch – Best Twitter

The Capollos

2020 feels like a landmark year for the fantastic Aberdeen fourpiece The Capollos. A throwback to Britpops heyday, the boys were catapulted into peoples ears with the standout track ‘ Electrify’. Comparisons to Artcic Monkeys. Oasis and Catfish & The Bottlemen increased the spotlight but the canny Scots seem certain to live up to the hype.

Citylightz

Midlands outfit Citylightz have a distinct style which has been described as rock and road. Catchy riffs, harmonic vocals and a little bit of rap thrown in set them apart from many other acts. Their singles each have a unique style and charm which have all gone down a storm with their dedicated fanbase.

Also nominated for :

Best Merch – Best Twitter

Crimson Bloom

Teesside outfit Crimson Bloom are one of the funkiest outfits on the New Music scene. With incredible psychedelic guitars and powerful vocals, tracks such as Stir it up have been greeted with widespread acclaim. Another must see ticket now that gigs are back on the menu.

The Heavy North

Scouse five piece The Heavy North are dragging Rock and Roll kicking and screaming to the present day. With a blues vibe thats straight out of America’s deep south and a gravelly gritty voice that won’t give up, 2021 is shaping up to be a huge year for the band.

Also Nominated for :

Best Newcomer – Best Single – Best EP/ Album

Moonlight Parade

If ever a band summed up the DIY ethic of the Indie scene it’s Moonlight Parade. The Worthing trio not only do all the music themselves but get stuck into the covers and posters for their tracks too. Paint the Sun found it’s way into the hearts of the New Music community as lockdown took a hold and gigs planned for the end of the year will see their profile raised even further.

Also nominated for :

Best EP / Album – Best Merch

The Outcharms

Doncaster quartet The Outcharms are seeing the fruits of their labour pay off. Formed in 2014 the lads have gained notoriety across South Yorkshire, even headlining the famous Leadmill in Sheffield. Taking a new direction at the end of 2020, the single ‘To Be Young and In Love’ brought them to a wider audience.

Also nominated for :

Best Single

The Reytons

Keeping up the South Yorkshire element in this category is Sheffield outfit The Reytons. Despite the obvious comparisons from fellow city dwellers The Arctic Monkeys, there is an unmistakable sound from the punchy guitars to the relatable lyrics. Could 2021 be a watershed year for the band?

Also nominated for :

Best Single – Best EP / Album

The Voyd

Sunderland four piece The Voyd are another breakthrough act flying the flag for the incredible North East scene. Anthemic bangers, with resounding guitars and catchy choruses are a staple of their music. With a dedicated fanbase and an unrelenting resilience to find the next big anthem, 2021 is shaping up perfectly for the lads.

Best Single

The Heavy North – Lying To Yourself

Funky guitars, hard hitting drums and soulful vocals typify the sound of the Liverpool outfit. The laid back tempo personifies the unique blend the band seems to have. Released in May 2020 the track has more than 10,000 streams on Spotify.

Also nominated for :

Best Newcomer – Best Band – Best EP / Album

Dictator – Days Gone By

A track that builds from the haunting instrumental intro, the fantastic Days Gone By showcases the full plethora of the Scottish bands talents. A catchy and powerful track released in August 2020 has approaching 8,500 streams on Spotify.

Also nominated for :

Best Newcomer – Best Merch

Skylights – Darkness Falls

Proud Yorkshiremen Skylights gained widespread praise for this resounding anthemic and moving track. Pacy drums and soaring guitars show a different side to the bands prowess. Released in October 2020 the track has over 34000 streams on spotify.

The Outcharms – To be young and in love

South Yorkshire outfit the Outcharms enjoyed great success with this melodic catchy song released in November 2020. With well over 100000 streams, the track has gone down a storm with listeners as the vocals pair perfectly with the poppy indie sound.

Also nominated for :

Best Band

The Reytons – Headache

Lyrics that echo everyday life coupled with energetic and memorable riffs mean you can’t help but singalong to the chorus “I don’t need the headache”. Released in March 2020 the track was one of the earworms of lockdown.

Also nominated for :

Best Band – Best EP / Album

The Silver Bars – The man in the sky

North West outfit The Silver Bars released this catchy upbeat atmospheric track at the turn of 2021 and it has already amassed over 10000 streams. With echoes of the Strokes, the tight punchy drums are a perfect accompaniment to the beautiful vocals.

Amelia Coburn – Dublin Serenade

The melodic Ukelele and Amelia’s stunning vocal lend themselves perfectly to this catchy, jaunty single about the wonderful city in Ireland. Perfect laid back summery vibes echo out of the speaker whenever this track plays.

Also nominated for :

Best Solo Artist

Best EP / Album

The Heavy North – Dive Bar Blues.

Scouse five piece The Heavy North are dragging Rock and Roll kicking and screaming to the present day. With a blues vibe thats straight out of America’s deep south and a gravelly gritty voice that won’t give up, 2021 is shaping up to be a huge year for the band.

Listen here
Also nominated for :

Best Newcomer – Best Band – Best Single

Moonlight Parade – Paint The Sun EP

If ever a band summed up the DIY ethic of the Indie scene it’s Moonlight Parade. The Worthing trio not only do all the music themselves but get stuck into the covers and posters for their tracks too. Paint the Sun found it’s way into the hearts of the New Music community as lockdown took a hold and gigs planned for the end of the year will see their profile raised even further.

Also Nominated for :

Best Band – Best Merch

Cobain Jones – She Plays

Another resident from the suburbs of Manchester, young singer songwriter Cobain Jones has roared onto the scene with his catchy chords and relatable lyrics. Singing about everyday life on the industrial north, the talented youngster just oozes charm and charisma. Having been picked up by Modern Sky, 2021 seems to be a breakout year for Cobain.

Also nominated for :

Best Solo Artist – Best Merch

Apollo Junction – Mystery

One of Yorkshire’s finest. Leeds 5 piece Apollo Junction have a sound custom built for arenas. Soaring guitars, gritty vocals and punchy drums leave you singing along to the catchy anthemic chorus’. As gigs start up again, these guys will be on many peoples ‘must see’ lists.

Also nominated for :

Best Band – Best Merch – Best Twitter

The Reytons – May Seriously Harm You And Others Around You

Keeping up the South Yorkshire element in this category is Sheffield outfit The Reytons. Despite the obvious comparisons from fellow city dwellers The Arctic Monkeys, there is an unmistakable sound from the punchy guitars to the relatable lyrics. Could 2021 be a watershed year for the band?


Also nominated for

Best Band – Best Single

Red Rum Club – The Hollow of Hum Drum

North west act Red Rum Club received critical acclaim for this album which matched catchy chorus’, sublime guitars and not often heard brass. Big things are expected from the Liverpool outfit but all signs are that they will fulfil their incredible potential.

Working Mens Club – Working Mens Club

West Yorkshire outfit Working Mens Club self titled album brings that electro rock vibe that New Order managed to pull off so brilliantly. A sound that’s often mirrored but very rarely pulled off so successfully sets WMC apart from so many artists that have tried to emulate but failed to do so. 2021 could be the year that electro rock returns with a vengeance.

The Mariners – The Tides of Time

With a sound that takes you back to the psychedelic sixties. The Tides of Time from the Mariners has a familiar yet fresh sound. Catchy vocals and jangly guitars are al over this brilliant album from the Nottingham outfit.

Best Merch

Citylightz

Tees tees tees. The standout colours and vivid images have been a massive hit with their loyal fanbase.
Also nominated for :

Best Band – Best Twitter –

Apollo Junction

With tees proud of their Yorkshire (and in particular Leeds heritage) the bands Merch releases have been one of the highlights for their dedicated fan base.
Also nominated for :

Best Band – Best EP / Album – Best Twitter

The Superlatives

With their iconic typeface, the bands tees have been a resounding hit amongst the new music community with their stylish designs and understated colours.

Moonlight Parade

With the bands creative input to their Covers and artwork, it’s even more impressive that their tees in particular have become must have items.

Dictator

With stylish designs and quirky characters, Dictator have some of the most sought after merch on the indie scene.
Also nominated for :

Best Newcomer -Best EP / Album

42’s Records

With an impressive stable of talent including Skylights, Shader and Reclaim Vienna, 42’s records have probably the widest selection of merch on the indie scene with some standout tees that reflect the individuality of the bands.

Cobain Jones

Simple yet standout probably describes Cobain Jones merch collection. With an eyecatching logo and easily identifiable covers, it’s easy to see why the merch is so popular.
Also nominated for :

Best Solo Artist – Best EP / Album

Best Twitter

Ynes

With an insight into the life of an artist, Ynes offers thought provoking tweets, brilliant videos and an awesome collection of songs. Engaging and never afraid to tackle topical issues, Ynes is a must see twitter account.

Apollo Junction

Fantastic fan engagement, using every platform available to them, Apollo Junction have every angle covered when it comes to their socials.
Also nominated for :

Best Band – Best EP / Album – Best Merch

Citylightz

Let’s start a riot! Always creating new ways to engage, always involving fans (see the back of their live at Rockfield vinyl) and always involved with other artists. A shining light in social media use.

Revivalry

Those pesky kids, the most supportive twitter account there is. Always grateful, always shouting out others, and always tweeting with a smile. An infectious account that you can’t help but love.

Vela Incident

Flying the flag for Wales and another engaging and insightful account where fan interaction is king. When accounts do things right it doesn’t half make a difference.

Best PR / Management

The #TuneArmy

With a cult following for the best new music on Twitter, the #TuneArmy has gone from strength to strength as the hashtag was used far and wide for the go to place for the best new tracks.

Dan Potter

DP’s Happy Hour fast became one of the biggest movements during lockdown. The charismatic Geordie gained a cult following and was snapped up to move the show onto the InYourEars platform and following the introduction of FNL and with upcoming live events, there are big things afoot for Dan.

Moonbase

Boasting the likes of Amelia Coburn and Crimson Bloom, Moonbase have fast built a reputation of spotting incredible talent and pushing them to the next level. All whilst having a fun and engaging social media presence.

Happy People Music

Happy People Music is fast becoming the bible for new music blogging. With a relentless energy of promoting artists far and wide, the blog has received critical acclaim and rightly so with thought provoking and insightful reviews.

42’s Records

With an ever growing an increasingly impressive portfolio of talent, 42’s Records is fast becoming the go to label on the Indie scene. With an impressive line up and ever increasing Merch lineup, 2021 is fast becoming a huge year for the label.

Scruff of the Neck

Manchester label Scruff of the Neck boasts an impressive roster including Lucy Deakin and the Reytons. Coupled with engaging posts and creative publishing the label looks like it will go from strength to strength.

So There You Have It…

https://www.inyourearsmusic.com/the-radar-awards-2021/

Please make sure you cast your vote to support these amazing artists and remember stream share and buy. Something special is happening with #NewMusic and you can be a part of it.

Be Kinder – Caroline Flack follow up

I’ve heard about the Caroline Flack documentary, and as I write this, I’m watching it. Inspired to do so by my guest post by JD. You see he’s one of lifes good guys. Genuinely. Someone who, despite having never met, I know tries to make a difference.

How do I know? Well one time when I’d gone off twitter for a short while. He sent me a card, just to say hey, just to check in as it was the only way he could contact me. He didn’t have to, he just did it. Went out of his way.

Caroline was well known, a familiar face on TV and on the front pages of the newspapers. She was a beautiful, funny, talented woman, ultimately a victim of her own success.

Watching the documentary, there’s a harrowing moment where she’s recording a video, distressed, wrapped in a parka and a yellow burberry scarf. Trying to scrape the tears from her face, saying the only person she’s ever hurt is herself. I can’t imagine how watching that makes her family and friends feel. It makes you want to reach through the screen and reassure her it’ll be okay. However, it won’t be. She’s now just a bookmark in entertainment history, but we must learn from her tragic loss and do better.

It was a fight, I’ve never hurt anyone in my life. The only person I’ve ever hurt is myself.

Caroline Flack

#BeKind shouldn’t just be a hasthtag that’s used to make us feel better. ‘Oh I wrote Be Kind so I’m good’. Look through your last 20 tweets. Is everything you wrote, particularly about someone else, true, necessary and kind. If the answer to just ONE of those is NO then why’s it there? Delete it!

Too many people are quick to write negative things. Just a few weeks ago, a good friend was thrilled to be playing a vinyl of one of her favourite artists and she tagged them in the short video. To my surprise.. I saw a reply that began ‘unpopular opinion’. Then I was gobsmacked to read something derogatory about the band. They’d untagged the band which I guess they thought was a kind thing to do. But it just showed me that the comment was unnecessary. Why do people on social media feel the need for controversy just for the sake of it. Or one-upmanship. Many times I see someone post a new release song they love. Instead of just letting people enjoy it, others are quick to boast and brag that they heard it weeks ago because they curate for a radio show or similar. For goodness sake just let the people that buy the merch and stream the music enjoy it. Praise the artist for a great song. Don’t make it about you, it’s such a dick move.

Watching the comments about social media, it was like an addiction for her. People posting the most abhorrent tweets about her. But she couldn’t stop looking, I guess she just wanted to be loved. She bottled all of this up from those she loved though. How many of us say, ‘yeah I’m fine’ when really there’s a whole heap of problems rolling round the back of your head. How someone can actually have written ‘Caroline Flack is one of the ugliest hosts on tv’.  I mean.. come on.. she was simply stunning.

I guess there are two things I take from this. 1. Be careful what you post, you can’t see someone’s reaction behind a screen. You may say something that might seem funny to you but you might just have inadvertently mentioned something about their biggest insecurity. It starts with you. You might be one sole voice in a sea of millions but you aren’t responsible for those others.

The other thing is check on your friends. The signs for Caroline were there, the reliance on social media, the craving to be loved. The fact her mum would dread her inevitable splits from boyfriends because she couldn’t handle heartbreak is just so desperately sad. The story of her final Christmas is again just haunting. Her family thrilled to be around her for a special day. Seeing the images of the bedroom, and the implication that the blood spilled was her actions on someone else, not herself, again is desperately sad and plain wrong. Seeing the sadness in her twin sister is just heartbreaking when she’s asked what she’d say to her now, and she awkwardly fidgets with her earring, her eyes glass up and she delicately whispers ‘I don’t know’.

Sometimes you have to be persistent. If your friends aren’t responsive, be patient. Keep checking. If you stop, they may think no one cares. I am sure that like Amy Winehouse, one person could have made a difference for Caroline too. You can be that difference and it starts with a little kindness.

Be Kind – Caroline Flack

Guest post by JD

Be Kind…. Life is short and precious…. 

Having watched earlier this week, the hard hitting but poignant documentary Caroline Flack: Her Life and Death… Her story has given me time to reflect and I have to say it is one of the most emotional pieces of TV I can remember watching. It was not easy, I felt sad, helpless, guilty and frustrated…. I am not sure which of these emotions I felt the most but they made me want to put pen to paper, something I have never done before….

We live in a world where we are quick to judge, say negative things and at times hurt people for no particular reason. People that we may know, but also people we do not have a relationship with.  In a climate where the pandemic has magnified people’s mental health and social media can be all encompassing, it is easy to say something that may make us feel better, but at the cost of someone else… Some seem to find it cathartic to post something that, both intentionally and unintentionally can be upsetting or offensive to an individual. We all need to take time to think before we say something.  

Like everyone, I want to feel good about myself, but more importantly, I want to make others feel good about themselves. Life is not easy at the best of times and I am sure there are people we all may know who need support, some help, a shoulder to cry on or just an ear to listen, however small their problems or challenges may be. Quite often though people look or seem ok when they aren’t.

I’m fortunate to have good friends around me, including virtually, and some friends will tell me I say it too much, but we are here for a good time not a long time and if you don’t have something positive to say then say nothing. Maybe it is a cliché but if we all take 5 minutes to say hi, send a text, make a call or write a letter it might just make a difference.

Caroline will be missed by many people and I feel so much for her friends and family, and there are other families who will be in the same situation.

We should all do something nice for someone today, let us all look out for each other as we hopefully come out of the pandemic.  Life is precious, and I hope all those struggling will get some support from those around them. 

RIP Caroline … #BeKind #ItsOkayNotToBeOkay #Mental health

Just another day as the years roll by

It’s hard when somethings gone and you’ve never really had it in the first place. You know, that nagging feeling you’ve forgotten something but you can’t for the life of you think what? It’s there in the back of your mind somewhere, but try as you might it just won’t spring to the fore.

I guess that’s how I can describe not having my dad. He was never there, but I knew he was missing. The years have rolled by. Forty three years to the day to be exact. I torture myself with have I wasted my years. After all, I’m six years older than he was when he was cruelly taken away on that snowy winters day. He’d done a lot. Captained the local cricket team, played rugby to a decent level too. He fancied himself as a comedian and even won a talent contest at Butlins.

He worked so hard, he’d worked down the pits as a lot of kids his age did in the grim towns of the North.  When the pits closed though, he didn’t sulk, he cracked on and qualified as a teacher. He even taught future world champion boxer John Conteh. Dad would probably joke that he taught him everything he knew to be honest.

As for playing hard, yep, he did that too. He was forever taking motorbikes apart, usually in my grandma’s kitchen. Much to her annoyance. When he wasn’t doing that he was building and flying model aircraft. I think he did it at Burtonwood. That used to be a magical place for me as a kid, but since the old aircraft hangars have been replaced with modern warehouses for The Hut Group and Dominoes… it’s kind of lost it’s charm. He didn’t stop at model aircraft though and when he left us,he’d actually completed many hours training to be a pilot. He was a right daredevil my dad. Me, not so much. Maybe, just maybe I’d be a bit more daring if I’d have had more of his influence rather than just his genes.

But, as one of my favourite Feeder songs exclaims

We can’t rewind!

I don’t know what he’d make of Covid. He’d probably shrug his shoulders and get back to fixing or tinkering something as the world rolls on. I’m sure many of you have lost loved ones. As one of my good friends said today ‘it’s the circle of life’. I quickly replied ‘alright Elton’. Maybe I have got some of his comedy genes after all, as they found it hilarious.

As some of you know, mum’s not been well either. Her MRI showed she’d had four strokes not the three we believed. However she is a warrior. She’s faced so much in life and still battles on. I’m not sure how my heart will cope when anything happens to her. I mean I know it will. When you’re younger, most just take for granted that your parents will be around. They seem indestructible. Especially when handing out punishments. As you mature though, you see their weaknesses grow and their shield lower. You become the one worrying about them, protecting them. It’s a sobering moment, that’s for sure.

I guess that’s why the years rolling by without dad get easier. As much as I’ve never heard his voice or smelled his scent. It wasn’t taken from me as a memory. Just a dream, one which I can play out however I imagine.

I miss him, I always will. My sisters got the holidays and the memories, but they also got the heartbreak much more than I did. So I feel for them more than I used to. I used to be jealous but no one wins, every hurt is valid and relevant to every person.

So please, whatever you do, be kind. Always.

2020 Vision

As the clock struck midnight to usher in the New Year, I was filled with optimism. Despite 2019 not being a great year, I convinced myself that this was going to be better. I was eagerly anticipating moving into my new home. I had got my running to a really, really good level. I was healthier than I had been in a long time. I’d spent alot of time managing gigs and becoming more involved in Softlad Promos, and despite losing one of my best and longest standing friends I was looking forwards not backwards.

Sure, I’d made a couple of mistakes in my personal life. Forgivable, if not forgiven. I regret the hurt I caused, but don’t think I deserved the hounding I got over one of them in particular. But that’s in the past and not the point of this blog. I even had a date lined up for the first week in January with someone who I had admired from afar and man was she beautiful. On top of this there was also the Smut Marathon to look forward to. It was going to be a busy year no doubt.

Fast forward 3 months and St Patricks day. The dating was going swimmingly. Despite it never being a relationship, it was fun, exciting, sexy. We connected and had the best of times for those fleeting months. I never knew St Patricks day would be the last I saw of her, but I don’t regret a thing, not even the gesture that in my opinion ruined it all, despite it just being read completely wrong. It’s just who I am.

After my twitter drama in January/February (with reprisals in April and June and September) I had to change my account for the Smut Marathon and little did I know how important this writing competition would be for me. The competition had to be shelved, which was a really sad state of affairs, as once again the ugly side of social media was laid bare. However, It did bring me closer to the organiser Marie Rebelle. We spoke often. We listened caringly, we shared tales both happy and sad. Marie always takes the time to read and comment on my blogs. To have that from someone who writes so wonderfully is incredible. The fact I get to call her a friend blows that out of the water though. Along with Marie I made some amazing writer friends along the way. Myself and Jae Lynn bonded over a love of music and most notably Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Go Your Own Way‘ and now rather than being a writer friend. Jae is simply a friend who writes.

Not only did I connect with Jae but I also stumbled across Carolyna Luna. We bonded over stickers (who knows, 2021 may be the year I get them) as well as writing and music and Star Wars and Bourbon to name a few. She inspired me to write when I didn’t have the words. She encouraged my confidence when I’d found my way with my new twitter but more than that, she became a huge part of my daily life.

As lockdown continued, I stumbled across the #VirtualPubCrawl when Shiner Sam posed a selfie one day with a beer and a band tee. All of a sudden I was engrossed by this wonderful community. Raising money for charity whilst drinking beers and listening to exquisite music. I mean… what is that about! Too good to be true right? But as the clock struck 3 every other weekend, the chords to Primal Screams ‘Loaded‘ signalled the start of the madness. There are far too many people to mention that have made this an amazing part of my year and everyone that has spoken to me or tweeted or done a down in one or donated to charity are all legends. However it would be remiss not to mention a handful. Al Burke was the first person to speak to me and become a friend. Then there are a ton I plan to meet in 2021. Andie, Ems, Danny, JD, Kirsty, Jake, Paula, Ady, Andy, Al, Dom, Rob, Matt, Sarah, Sarah, Russ, Redders, Dan, Amy, Michael, Lisa x 2, Johnny, Richie.The list really is endless and that’s before I even mention all the bands.. again special shout outs to Revivalry and Citylightz, you guys are the absolute bomb.

Now I make no apologies for mentioning these next few people who made my year much more bearable. People that transcended Twitter and I met in real life.

Lilycat – You gave me confidence and support in the unlikeliest of circumstances. You were the best part of the first quarter of 2020. Thanks for the Peanut Butter Latte and well just for being you. Keep swishing your pony.

New Indie Sounds. Mate. That night in Manchester was just the best. Never met someone that felt like an old pal within a few minutes. I promise I’ll get you that drink back when tier 4 lifts.

Indie Rob and Gems. Rob. You gave me so much this year buddy. You helped me through an awful time and I cannot thank you enough. Gems. Who knew we have probably been in each others presence so many times in Wigan and never even knew we existed. So much love for you two.

Scott and Kay. What an amazing couple you are. The kindest people I know.. how you treated 12 was the most warming thing I witnessed in 2020. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Sam. Thanks for giving me some much needed confidence over summer. Amazing to think 12 months ago you never knew I existed. But I did with you. Yet here we are now and I can class you as a friend. Probably the craziest thing to happen to me in 2020. Keep being that new music champion but more importantly keep me posted on my fav, Beryl

Dating was a bit hit and miss in 2020 some incredible highs and some earth shattering lows. So let’s just leave that eh.

A special mention to my twitter bro and twitter sis. Syriz and Vimtotime. Again 2 absoluye shining stars. Both with amazing twitter accounts that I just connected with.

To Amy, who’s been there on twitter for me for over a year. Making me laugh daily and sharing her beautiful blogs and amazing pics.

To Splintercat who keeps me in check, never let’s me get too big for my boots and keeps me in tea and cakey. A smile is never far away.

Finally, my last memory of 2020 is dedicated to my mum. She’s had the toughest of years. 2 strokes, losing friends with alarming regularity (nooo not falling out with em, them sadly passing, no she didn’t do it) . One of the best things about seeing 2021 in will be the fact my mum gets to see it in as on more than one occasion I was frightened that she wouldn’t.

So as 2021 arrives. Here’s to health and happiness. To kindness and care and to getting back to doing the things we enjoy with those that we love.

Television Fantasy – Joe Astley & The Wallgate Band

Sometimes you hear a song which sounds like a medley of songs fused into one (think of Greenday’s Boulevard of Broken Dreams). Occasionally, you hear a song which tells a real story. Rarely, you hear a song which brings the two together and resonates so closely with your day-to-day life that you immediately sit up and take notice.

But Wigan stars Joe Astley and The Wallgate Band have absolutely nailed it with their latest offering, ‘Television Fantasy.’  

From the funky bass introduction through to Joe’s vocals building to the anthemic singalong chorus, you can’t help but be infected by the song’s catchiness. In a year when Covid-19 has dominated the planet and the world has been locked away, the lyrics hit just the spot.  It continues whilst touching on subjects such as the political chaos in the United States and the Black Lives Matter movement, which gained momentum following the tragic death of George Floyd.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, television fantasy is all you know for certain, pay no attention to the riot at the front door, television fantasy is all there is worth living for.

Television Fantasy

The cultural shift that occurred as result of the pandemic seems such a lifetime ago. Mentioning this, the song takes another twist. The removal of the Edward Colston statue in Bristol gets a nod as the song covers the endless news stories that have dominated 2020.

They’re pulling down the statues and they’re breaking down the walls. Stranded in the no man’s land of someone else’s war. There’s chaos in the streets tonight, there’s panic in the halls.

Television Fantasy

Then, when you think the song has given up all it can offer and you feel it’s coming to an end, it shifts again to a soaring guitar riff, delivering a poignant message.  

These streets won’t show you mercy, these streets where you call home.

Television Fantasy

You know when a band has a signature tune at their live gigs? You get the feeling this could be Joe Astley and the Wallgate’s band song where it all goes off. And having featured on the Brits and Pieces Compilation and worked with Citylightz at Rockfield Studios, you can’t help but feel excited about 2021 for this outfit.  

Television Fantasy is available to preorder from Apple Music now by clicking here and available from all other streaming sites on 1/1/2021.


Edited by : H.Caine

Unlike Any Other..

By 9:30pm, I want a picture of your clothes, laid out on your bed, so that I may approve them”. 
“Yes, sir,” came the prompt response.
“I need to know your ETA for the morning. And remember, no panties and you’d better be wet upon arrival. I will be checking.” 

“Understood.” 

His phone pinged just before 9:30pm. He’d been watching it all evening, waiting for her message. Exactly as he had requested, she had laid out a tight black dress next to a plunging lace bra which he recognised from some photos she’d sent. No panties but fish net stockings with a lace suspender belt. Perfect! He felt himself getting harder as, once again, the anticipation made his mind wander. 

Ryan thought he was managing to sound like he knew what he was doing but the truth was, this was a whole new ball game to him. He found it relatively easy to hold his own in social circles. He got by with just listening. In most conversations, he almost always managed to find some common ground, pulling a thought or a memory from some by-gone experience. He felt it usually put him at an advantage. But now, with Natalie, he was struggling. He’d always had dominant tendencies but he’d never taken it to this extreme before. 

He’d always believed that the art of listening was long lost in society, but in Natalie, he felt he had found his match. She could seemingly recall any detail from any conversation.  

“No, no Ryan, you said…,” was sometimes uttered, and invariably, frustratingly, she was correct. However, he wasn’t daunted, it just made him up his game. He liked being challenged; kept on his toes. But so did she. The set-up suited them both equally. 

Tall, slender, short dark hair, beautiful eyes, perfectly rounded tits. She was hotter than hot. But more than her physical attributes, it was her mind and her straight-talking ways that enchanted him. She was as straight as they come – a spade was simply a spade. She had a way which was quite unlike anyone else he had ever encountered. It was disarming and yet strangely captivating. 

The day had finally arrived. But to his surprise, he didn’t just get an ETA. The message popped up, ‘Natalie is sharing her location.’ He was transfixed as he watched her car darting across the map, getting ever closer, passing increasingly recognisable places. She’d said she was nervous, but the truth was, so was he. His palms were sweating; his stomach flipping with every new thought. He couldn’t let her see it though. He had to maintain his poker face – partly to keep up the pretence but also to help quell her nerves. He knew she would feed off any chinks in his armour. 

They both knew what was coming. It was a ‘date’ they’d organised an exasperatingly long time ago. Each day had increased the tension but the last week in particular had been hard as each day slowly ticked itself off. They knew one another and had been communicating daily for a while. They’d shared their innermost secrets, discussed boundaries and preferences, swapped photos. In a strange way, all the communication had made the wait feel longer.  

They’d met once before – a seemingly innocent evening, with a meal and a few drinks. But just before parting ways, they had managed to grab a stolen moment, pushed up against a wall, their mouths connecting, his hands rushing over her wonderful body. When a stranger walked closely by and remarked, “Put her down,” they couldn’t help but giggle like a pair of teenagers. “He’s just jealous,” Ryan calmly reassured her before hungrily tugging at that delicious bottom lip once more. 

Snapping back to reality, Ryan heard a car door slam shut outside. He heard her walk up to the door and knock gently. It was still early morning. School runs had just been completed and as she entered the house, he could see parents returning to their own homes. She kicked off her shoes and stood by the doorway, waiting. Instinctively, he grabbed her neck and pulled her in for a kiss. Her breathing hitched as, keeping his promise, his other hand began to lift her tight-fitting, black dress to check her wetness. He was taken aback as his hand slid up her thighs and his fingertips connected with her soft delicate pussy. She was already noticeably wet.  

“Fuck, you were right,” he growled, referring to her past reassurances, “Upstairs now”. 

He followed, watching those gorgeous, long legs and that taut, firm arse slink into his bedroom. She slowly turned to face him and they kissed again, before he pushed her back onto the bed. Lifting her dress further, he revealed her stocking tops and suspenders. She lay back and sighed, anticipating what was to come. His mouth moved to the silky soft skin between her legs. Finally laying his eyes on her freshly shaved landing strip, Ryan struggled to contain himself. 

Her scent already emanating from her gorgeous pussy, he closed his eyes and allowed his tongue to trace up and down her lips. Feeling his desperation grow, he grabbed her arse and pulled her in close, lapping hard as a moan escaped her mouth. He moved over her body and their lips connected, their tongues exploring in turn. “Why are you still dressed?” he barked, rhetorically and she slid off her dress. 

“Nice bra,” he whispered almost apologetically. He hadn’t got the chance to enjoy it for nearly long enough but he just couldn’t wait to experience those tits and gorgeous nipples. He’d seen them in photos – so perfectly formed. He undid it and slid it off her shoulders. Hungrily, his mouth engulfed her nipples one at a time. Enjoying the sensation of them stiffening at his touch, his cock hardened. Suddenly, finally, his fingers penetrated her. Her body writhed under him, as he plunged his fingers deeper inside her; rocking her body back and forth; fucking her with his hand; feeling her get wetter with each thrust. He pressed his thumb down and rubbed her clit until she started to uncontrollably spasm as she came closer and closer to climax. 

“Fuck,” he thought, “I’ve only just begun here and already she’s at my mercy”. He picked up the pace and rhythm – he wanted her to enjoy every last second. Her moans turned to groans as he frantically brought her to a crashing climax. Breathing heavily, he felt her orgasm washing over her. If only she knew that this was just the start…. 

Strong

Strong – Adjective – Able to withstand force, pressure or wear.

Excuse me for a while, While I’m wide-eyed and I’m so down caught in the middle

I’ve excused you for a while, While I’m wide-eyed and I’m so down caught in the middle

And a lion, a lion, Roars would you not listen?

If a child, a child, Cries would you not give them?

Yeah, I might seem so strong, Yeah, I might speak so long

I’ve never been so wrong

London Grammar – Strong

Like love and hate, there is an incredibly fine line between strength and vulnerability.
Two people who I have become close to, underneath the surface, have been dealing with so much, even disregarding this shitty covid year.
They have faced very different but nonetheless difficult times. However to a casual observer, you wouldn’t know a single thing was hurting their beautiful hearts.
I mean, I feel privileged to have become close enough to them that they allowed me to see them at their most vulnerable. It displays a huge amount of trust to be given this no holds barred, soul bearing view.
They’ll get through it, I know they will, even if they don’t. Hopefully I’ll be able to help them raise a few smiles along the way.
That being said, there’s a friend of a friend who’s having just the absolute worst time possible. Like hand on your heart, blow after blow, crushing time.
It’s not at the hands of a malicious ex though, or anything at all like that. They are facing the biggest battle, and man does my heart ache for them.
I mean, why does it happen to the beautiful souls, with so much to give? Why does it always home in on their greatest attributes to weaken them?
It’s in these moments though when they see who’s got their back. Who’s worth their time. There is a phrase,

Darkness can only be scattered by light and hatred can only be scattered by love.

Pope John Paul II

It’s true on both counts. When you’re down and you’ve reached the bottom. In your darkest moments, there will almost always be someone there for you.
A little beacon of light for you to gravitate towards. In this case, this person has at least one that shines brighter than a light saber. AT LEAST ONE, and to be honest, even if they only had this one person, I know that would be enough.
Nothing is ever too big or too much trouble. So when you’re reading this, know that you can focus on what’s ahead, as you know your back is covered.
You’re stronger than you think, but let others take up the slack when you want to be weak. No one will judge you for it. Be kind to yourself above anyone else.

When those times hit, have a listen to the playlist. I hope it helps you get through a moment, because ultimately, that’s all they are, just moments in time. And each one that passes is another big win. If you ever need anything then know you have someone else to call upon, unconditionally……..

You got this.