The State of the Arcade…

Arcade State, one of Glasgow’s as yet undiscovered gems, finally hit the north west. Manchester, was the welcoming host, on a crisp mid March day, clear blue skies throughout. You know, those kind of days that take you back to the carefree times of being a teenager, where summer seemed never ending.

As the sun set, and the temperature dropped, music fans from the length and breadth of the country descended into the cities ‘Northern Quarter’, and the cosy, welcoming 33 Oldham Street. Listen Up Music are at the forefront of the independent music scene in the city. Since we’ve started to acclimatise to ‘living with covid’ and gigs have returned with a vengeance, Listen Up have started to ramp up their live offerings, with some of the most talented undiscovered acts on from all corners of the UK.

Image Courtesy of Ricky Atterby

I can’t remember the last time I went to an ‘underground music’ gig, without bumping into someone I knew. It’s nice to be able to grab a ticket and not worry about being alone (not that I ever was too bothered). I’d imagine some of the women involved in the new music scene probably feel a little more safe, knowing they have friends, male and female alike, at gigs to look out for them too. The scene is really buzzing at the moment and there is so much talent around, bursting to be heard.

First up on the night was Midlands native ‘Jay Tennant‘. Jay has been on my radar for the last 18 months or so. A talented male solo artist, a throwback to the rock and roll stars of days gone by, great look, great sound. It’s a crowded market place and difficult to stand out, but Jay has done that with each and every single release since I came across him. Accompanied on the night by scottish singer songwriter Martin Leary, Jay was the perfect opener for the show. Serenading fans with his catalogue of tracks, ‘Spectre’ being a real crowdpleaser live, as it did as a single. A wonderful touch was Jay singing ‘Eminence’ one of Martin Leary’s own tracks. A sign of the times was Jay having a reminder of the lyrics, on his phone as he performed. Considering these guys had only ever jammed via video call, it’s a testament to their talent that they managed an accomplished set which really got the crowd firing. Jay’s decision to end his set with the classic Verve track ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ only amplified the volume. One can only imagine Jay’s presence with a full band behind him at future gigs.

Following on from Jay’s set were the accomplished ‘The Shop Window‘, a band almost thirty years in the making, when charismatic frontmen Carl and Simon first forayed into music with the band ‘Westpier’. After enjoying varying degrees of success the pair reunited in 2019 and ‘The Shop Window’ were formed. Last year saw the release of the acclaimed album ‘The State of Being Human’ and a rare appearance up north, was a must see for their adoring fans.

The band were extremely tight, you could tell these guys have ability and experience in abundance. The harmonies were incredible, with almost a psychic connection between Carl and Simon, and the band rolled back the years. Latest single ‘Lighthouse’ really set the pulses racing, with the band offering the crowd a glimpse of their next track to boot. The venue filled up further, the temperature rising both on and off the stage as the fans awaited Glasgow’s Arcade States arrival.

Despite the absence of Scott Frank from Arcade State’s line up, the anticipation of seeing one of Scotland’s rising talents was palpable. Frontman Ciaran Murray hopped up on stage, and gave a little introduction. As the lights dimmed, his stunning vocal echoed around the silenced room. Showcasing his guitar skills on an unreleased track ‘A slave to the waves’ until out of the darkness, bandmates Jordan Murray, David Daly and new member Kieran Robertson joined him on stage.

Image Courtesy of Ricky Atterby

‘Welcome to Arcade State’ – As the nights line up was complete, the sound went up another level. The beauty of this band is their ability to convey meaningful lyrics, melodic sounds, and hard hitting guitar and drums all in a matter of seconds.

The band shone throughout, delighting fans with their established tracks, like ‘When it hits home’, ‘Alone again’ and ‘Follow’. Freshly released ‘Even in the dark days, you draw a smile’ is hauntingly beautiful when live.

Image Courtesy of Ricky Atterby

Ciaran, complete with cheeky grin, and oozing charm, wowed the audience with his warmth, and undeniable talent, a vocal range that took me a little by surprise in the best possible way. Sometimes, bands and artists can’t convey the vocal found on their recorded tracks, to a live environment. Ciaran positively shone on this score.

Image Courtesy of Ricky Atterby

Standout tracks ‘Splinter’ and the beautifully heartfelt ‘Silence’ were delivered superbly before the set finished with ‘Hard to grow’, well I say finished, the fans were desperate for more, and in an unplanned encore, the band went again with ‘Dance like the flames’ another as yet unreleased track.

Image Courtesy of Ricky Atterby

It’s nice when those with talent shine, even nicer when they are grounded and grateful to their fans. There is something special cooking in the Scottish music scene at the moment, and Arcade State are without doubt one of the core ingredients.

Image Courtesy of Ricky Atterby

Images Courtesy of Ricky Atterby

Give Arcade State a listen on Spotify

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.

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