Written & Produced by John Anderton // Mixed & Mastered by Matt Fairley (Atlantic Audio Recording)
Therapy, if anyone has been to some form of counselling or mental health clinic, the initial experience, the daunting first steps through the doors and the anticipation of dealing with a situation that you may well have been avoiding for months or even years can be so overwhelming that even those first few steps through the doors attending that first appointment for many of us sometimes prove far too much for us to deal with. John begins the 21 track album by capturing this scenario by setting the scene where he is arriving at the clinic, briefly engaging in conversation with the front desk member of staff all the while being constantly harassed by callous voices looping disturbing statements in his head, constantly belittling and degrading him thus allowing us, the listener, to comprehend an exemplified situation that so many go through on a daily basis. Once John has made it passed the reception area and onto engaging with his assigned mental health professional, he then goes on to elaborate on his state of mind all the while dealing with an onslaught and barrage of constant verbal abuse by ‘the voices’ in his head. However, as soon as the counsellor mentions alleviating Johns mental distress by physically writing down his thoughts and current psychological troubles there is obvious confusion and panic shown by the ‘voices’ as now the solution to Johns problems become more clear and the means of using the content of these thoughts as lyrics in music allows the voices to dissipate and die off as we hear their cries uncomfortably silenced. Moral of the story being, writing lyrics and using music as an exit from depression is a major factor in John Anderton’s example of mental health well-being and is captured perfectly here with this audible interlude proving that to a lot of us …..’RAP is THERAPY’. John manages to capture and brilliantly execute an audible few moments as the ‘Intro’ of his beautifully presented album, theRAPy. The album is beautifully presented in a glossy card fold-out cover and comes with a lyrics booklet allowing you to keep up with the seriously rapid bars and flows, keeping it original and authentic by maintaining his Seaham accent but really letting his audience in on J.A’s modern life and opinions elaborating on his passions and viewpoints throughout the album. Rapid bars and simply executed however consistently complex flows are what puts John Anderton up there with the best rappers in the northeast and his remarkable way of delivering his fresh yet straightforward rhyming style will really make you want to see the album out right until the end. I don’t know why but I really see this album being enjoyed on a journey in a car or sat on a train, something about the way the album progresses makes it go hand in hand with a trip or mission of some sort. Fundamentally, Therapy is a blend of comedy, epically fast bars and flows, story-telling, and lessons in life. Influenced heavily by Eminem he takes influence from the artist whilst remaining original, regional and self-made. The beats begin rather similarly reminiscent of the single, ‘The Real Slim Shady’ but I must say that any other similarities really do stop there. John does mention that Eminem has been a serious influence on his music and that he has been listening to Eminem (in his words) ‘since he was an infant’. The beats, also originally produced throughout by JA are very well made and although have a DIY feel to them could give anyone’s production a run for their money. I think as well that the simplicity of the beats really allow the listener to focus on the bars and flow so whereas at some points the beats may seem quite straightforward, the sheer speed of bars on for example track 15, Spooky C#$%, will literally blow your mind and leave you literally wondering ‘how did he come up with that?’ The following track, Bad Guy, is also very quick in the world of spitting bars but has the style and pizazz of any mainstream blending track by a hip-hop artist may be trying his luck in the world of catchy mainstream chart music. As technical as any of his other tracks, Bad Guy, really pushes for 2018 chart recognition, bringing everything to the table in abundance. Throughout the LP you’ll hear harpsichord style synthesizers, tone=altered backing vocals, bubbling bongs and Traktor-esq basslines along with an array of home-made character voices all brought together by JA literally doing everything himself from scratch bar the mixing and mastering. Now 21 tracks is a lot for even the most dedicated of music lovers to take up the challenge of completing all in one hit but the album flows so well that as you glance up to the media player for the first time to see where you are up to, you’ll find yourself at around the track 14 mark point meaning the tracks are quite short in length but full of originality and versatile varied styles and structures. All in all, theRAPy by John Anderton has a kind of turn of the millennium Eminem-Esq feel to it but maintains a completely home-grown feel ultimately pushing John Anderton to the top of the pile regarding North East creative artists, rappers and songwriters whilst also heavily separating him as his own execution and delivery takes very little from sounding like something else or everyone else on the scene in the North East. JA can’t be compared to or bundled in shall we say, to a similar style of production or flow allowing him to retain the high position on the regions grid of local urban creative talent that his hard work, efforts, and perseverance have deservingly shot him too, maybe not paying off in the pocketbook but definitely boosting his status on the scene round the doors. All in All…. I’d give the album 8/10, keywords being Original. Well executed. Funny. Memorable.
Reviewed by Chunk on 2nd March 2018
Produced at The Giraffe Studios Los Angeles.
The first thing that stood out to me when I started this album was how smooth the production was. The guitars seemed to slip and slide from chord to chord, and the bass sounded like auditory butter, maintaining a great structure of sound. And then the vocals come in, cutting through the mix like a machete, and making my throat cringe (in a very great way).
I thought the track ‘Liars’ would fit in well on a Dune Rats record but without that annoying over-produced sound. ‘Confused’ took me by surprise, taking a very sudden shift to this acoustic performance not even halfway through the album. And don’t get me wrong, it is undoubtedly welcome. ‘Gnar Kill’ stuck out to me as a key moment in the album, being my personal favourite track on the album followed closely by ‘Grunge Monkey’, the seriously dynamic and ever-shifting second track. I came into ‘Nuclear Brainwash’ excited to see what the band would do with an 8-minute track, but I was a bit disappointed with what I could only describe as a guitar rant without much of a point. I can see what the band was trying to do, having this epic long track to close the album, but to be honest, I found myself skipping the majority of it.
Overall, It seems each and every song has something different to offer, whether it be a different songwriting style or a completely new sound, and yet the album doesn’t seem like a collection of mismatched tracks pieced together. If I hadn’t read that some tracks were from their first EP ‘Melted’, I never would have guessed anything other than the tracks were written and recorded all at one time. However, as much as I like the dynamics of a clean melody bursting into distorted riffs, and despite the fact the band seems to pull them off much better than many bands out there, I feel the album possibly wears this a little bit thin, deploying the move in 90% of the tracks on the album. Despite this, the album features many an ‘Oooooh yes!’ moment, whether its a fantastically executed solo like in ‘Gnar Kill’ or a head-banging riff to end all riffs like in ‘Sliced Turtle Meat’ Everything on this album is performed with an amazing energy and passion, as if there was a gun pointed at the two of them the entire time, and I dread to think the state of a mosh pit at a Styrofoam Turtles gig. For a debut album, the band has secured a great sound unique to them that they can definitely expand and experiment with in the future. Give this album a listen if you want to cripple your neck, trash your house, and find a new favourite band. Also give their teaser track, an incredibly enthusiastic cover of The Pixie’s ‘Tame’ on Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/album/3vlhYcXYDMCjNYXjArp7Gd
Reviewed by Rhino on 3rd March 2018
Instantly, what springs to mind when begin listening to Beware! Monsters 9 track album Awakening, is how similar they are to the very popular band from the 90’s known to metal and rock/rap fans as Senser. The title track ‘Awakening’ begins with a familiar dance music synthesizer which kind of led me to think we were to experience a very different style and genre than what was actually to develop, only to then progress into a very guitar and drum orientated sound from track 3 onwards.
Limp Bizkit, Fall-out Boy and ultimately Senser seem to obviously highly influence these guys, although they’d never heard of Senser when I mentioned them which leaves that only to ‘coincidence’ then I suppose. Thus bringing in bands such as Audio Slave, Incubus and Linkin Park to be allowed a vague comparison, meaning Beware! Monsters retain a unique style utilizing many different methods of sound production and technique. I originally thought that 9 tracks were far too much content to be classed as an EP but as the ‘even number tracks’ are basically short clips of samples and an opportunity for various random sound effects and interludes to be experimented with, The album is definitely best described as an EP leaving 5 tracks as full-length well-written songs. And that they are, full, well-composed, technical captions showing exactly what this band is capable of. Impressive, versatile, interesting and really leave you to imagine and predict an absolutely mind-blowing live set really giving a vibe of something massive and memorable.
As the EP shows many samples, skits, and surprises along the way, I was myself surprised of the fact there is only 4
musicians in the bands’ entirety. Paul and Sidge on powerful riffing and smooth (but also crunchy at times) palm-muted guitars and bass, Oriol on the drums allowing the percussion to be so noticeable and profound that you literally remember every roll and solo regardless of what else is going on in the track. Jay the not so mild-mannered frontman providing throat melting vocals and hard spitted bars leave you wondering how a four-piece can (and do) achieve such a robust varied sound, churning through genres known commonly to us as industrial metal and rap rock, exemplifying a cross-pollination of sub-genres that can’t just be created without a full understanding and mastery of each genre, showcasing a blend of music but presenting it in it’s true natural form.
Overall, I’d like to give more of a high score but as the ‘even number’ tracks on the record are kinda skit/interlude recordings, only leaving 5 tracks to actually review, as heavy as those tracks are, I feel it could have been filled up with more actual content as opposed to the sample tracks. Saying that the tracks that are down, are full of energetic displays of rumbling crescendos, super fast bars, and roaring guitars brought together by brand new sounds from I predict a versatile MPC/DAW (although I may be super wrong as I have been known to be in the past) giving ‘Awakening’ the credit, kudos and congratulations it deserves as a great addition to 2018 UK new music scene let alone for nu-metal and electronic industrial alternative guitar rap-rock.
Reviewed by Chunk on 4th March 2018
XIDONTLIE: Nah // https://flexxtyler.beatstars.com/
Produced by XIDONTLIE/ Eff Ghano/ Micall Parknsun/ Muckanks/ Cardo Beats
To capture UK trap, on one record, with minimal collaborations and variation of flow, NAH does just that and for fans of UK TRAP, have got all they will ever need right here on one record (or possibly 2, you’ll see what I mean further on in the review).
Heavily influenced by ‘Grime Legend’ Micall Parknsun, with Micall producing the opening track and also my personal favourite track on this record named ‘Pathways’ might I add, being honest I was expecting much more of a conceptual blend of instrumental additions and also powerful melodic vocal bridges, choruses and various different experimental melodies and tempos. However, we the listeners are only to be met with a more than neccasary amount of your standard hooks and sets found in the ‘TRAP instrumentals’ section on any well known pre-programed MPC or DAW production software making this record very difficult to fully compliment as I literally see this XIDONTLIE record as two products (in which I shall digress and explain how I have come to this conclusion later in the article) which is (A) a Trap album, in fairness is not and will never be, a personal preference of mine summoning an instant bias, and secondly (B), a really great EP (needing another couple tracks or interludes though definitely) to be enjoyed by ALL lovers of urban music. As a rule, when listening to XIDONTLIE and also while watching his visuals on social media, i’ve been conditioned to expect a level of production that exceeds most independent artists creations, almost putting him up there with the likes of ‘Coops’ from High Focus records, Verbs and Mr. Slips from the Internationally renowned Yogocop and even towards the level of the Cult of the Damned’ from the guys at Blah Records, however different in style and format. His bar is set remarkably high considering his previous videos and tracks I’ve heard through social media and I mean for a Trap record, this is exactly what it says on the tin anyway, so maybe I am expecting too much from an artist as I have put him on such an unrealistically high pedestal from the get-go without really considering the fact that this record may just be as experimental on a personal level for XIDONTLIE in the way that certain ‘evening entertainments’ is for Mrs Chunk. Tracks such as the title track ‘Nah’ and also ‘Adaptation’ throws bars at you literally like fireballs from street
fighter Alhpa2 and a flow coming straight at you like E.Honda’s 100 hand slap, bringing out the lyrics in a clever but very candid way. Track 7 ‘Rider’ begins with bars flying out the barrel like a fully automatic weapon of lyrical rap battle destruction and accompanied with a beautiful piano cameo and very soulful hook by the featured artist known as Lion I, which gives a perfect example of what I’d expect from a XIDONTLIE record. OK I shall now digress as on further contemplation, if XIDONTLIE was to chop this album up into 2 pieces I think it would really work well, having tracks 7,8,9,and 10 as a completely separate EP, allowing music lovers of all urban genres to get amongst these selected tracks and enjoy them separate to the remaining 10 compositions known to music lovers as fine examples the UK ‘Trap’ sub-genre. This in the weird world outlook of Chunk would have definitely been the most suitable option to release the record(s) as 2 creations, however, this conclusion may also epitomise the fact that Chunk being a radio producer and not a
nationally renowned recording artist as is XIDONTLIE!! OK, onto a breakdown of my personal favourite tracks on the record and what really stood out for me.
The boom-bappy Micall Parknsun produced track ‘Pathways’ features an old-school hip-hop beat, an example of modern 2018 boom-bap in its entirety and personally I can’t get enough of that type of hip-hop style as I feel its, unfortunately, getting drowned out a bit and heavily over-looked by a certain sub-genre known to all of us hip-hop fans as mumble-rap or endearingly known to some hip-hop fans as ‘Trap’.
‘Pathways’ features a soulfully ‘sung’ vocal chorus by XI and followed up by absolute killer bars making it quite obvious that Micall Parknsun remains to be one of the best producers on the scene at present and will be renowned for producing great records such as this for years to come.
‘Pathways’ has everything, a great beat, brilliant vocals showing us that XIDONTLIE can hold a note and spit with the best of them, and all brought together by Parknsun as an overall personal favourite.
Title track ‘Nah’ begins with a haunting synthesiser loop and a trappy rattly snare, powerful bars that reminisce over harder times and bring XIDONTLIE’s name to life with a catchy looping trap vocal exemplifying a rather clever technique of subliminal messaging, leaving the listener with the artists name burned into your lexicon with no danger of forgetting him in the foreseeable or doubting pronunciation.
Also, another track up there as another personal favourite of mine is ‘Adaptation’.
beginning with a deep allegro harpsichord and offbeat high-hat loop only to be followed with some intense bars laid down by XIDONTLIE effortlessly and elegantly, Adaptation kinda borders Trap and turn of the millennium Hip-Hop. The bars being especially technical, memorable and robust. You have to hear it to believe it kinda thing so go out and get a copy of ‘NAH’ by XIDONTLIE and start it from track 7. Trust me. By the time you have got to track 10, you’ll be ready to let the genre-bridging track ‘Adaptation’ transition you back to the opening track, allowing you to enjoy the whole album in its entirety without being misled into believing the whole album is a ‘Trap’ record. Maybe this is quite harsh as I am admittedly not a fan of Trap, however, XIDONTLIE has brought me one step closer to ‘bridging the gap’ and giving it a chance although I know the kids will LOVE this record and no doubt most young blood hip-hop and urban fans will be all over this. On the subject of kids too, the curse words on this record are kept to
quite a minimum allowing for this record to reach more people this side of the watershed, which in anyone’s book is mega-positive!
However… Long live BOOM BAP and CLASSIC OLD SCHOOL HIP-HOP!!
I can’t wait to hear XIDONTLIE’s next project though, as an overall artist he remains to be one of the best on the scene right now and always brings quality production, great visuals and amazing vocals to the table on any given day. The lad from Ipswitch did really great, even though the odds were stacked against him. I’ll give ‘Nah’ by XIDONTLIE 7.5 / 10 with keywords being:
bridging the gap between sub-genres (ok thats more than 1 word)
Reviewed by Chunk on 7th March 2018
Penny Rich – Nomad EP // https://pennyrich.bandcamp.com/releases
This is an EP for hard rockers and Punks alike. ‘Nomad’ is just over 11 minutes of deserty, stoner rock inspired riffs, punky shredding, and exciting, catchy songwriting. The production is dynamic, with the quiet sections being intimate and the loud sections slamming you in the chest. The opening track ‘Flare’ starts off seemingly heavy enough, but just when you think that tracks finishing, explodes into a blistering final section before ending on another chorus. ‘I’ve been driving’ has a bass tone to kill for, and doesn’t leave you waiting for the explosion. It features slightly more reserved vocals, and killer riffs they reel off like bullets from an Uzi. ‘Scream’ has a slightly more melodic feel, but still keeps that raw energy. The track does, however, seem a bit safe, not really exploring any territory the EP hadn’t already delved into and features a guitar solo which seemed a little on the underwhelming side for me. All in all, the tracks are exciting, never remaining on a single section for too long, meaning the EP seems to finish in no time at all and can be repeated time and time again without becoming tedious, (I listened to the EP 5 times while writing this review). The guitars are relentless, never stopping to breathe, but managing to have that endurance that means you never get tired of them. The drums are tight, but still feel human in that punk rock sort of way. The bass keeps the sound together, adding harmonies and little touches that keep you engaged. The vocals are well executed if a little hard to understand in some parts. Definitely an EP worth listening to (especially as it’s name your price on Bandcamp). Give it a download/stream here: https://pennyrich.bandcamp.com/releases
If you can imagine subtle hints of ‘Definitely Maybe’ rhythms blended with profound ‘Lynrd Skyner-esq’ guitar riff, brought swiftly into the modern day with a very relaxed Britpop feel and Axel Rose or a present-day Gaz Coombes singing heartfelt teenage-kicky ballads beautifully brought together with a certain John Squire Seahorses style rhythm with bridging pentatonic solos you will be met at the door by Crossroad Revival’s debut EP ‘What the future holds’. Thus reminding you
that the year is 2018 and not 1996 and Britpop and American Classic Rock really haven’t gone anywhere except for in this bold amalgamation of the two sub-genres contrary to popular belief all the while being brought right to you by the four Northern Irish rockers from Lisburn. Ryan, Neil, Jackson and Adam, creating the independent and thoroughly impressive band, Crossroad Revival.
Their 2017 debut EP ‘What the future holds’ released only in October of last year, is a 5 track extended play that really is everything you’d come to expect from a well-established independent rock band. Giving us the listener thoroughly wholesome, well-made and well-structured melodic entries, a brilliant title track beginning with a beautifully executed acoustic introduction, powerful memorable vocal verses, followed up with a sweet very slash-esq harmonic guitar solo, the type of song you’d imagine hearing as a blood red 1967 Chevvy bearing a confederate flag crossed with a star-spangled banner and a ‘jesus loves rock music’ bumper sticker drives flat out along a shimmering Highway 45 on a blisteringly hot Friday in the mid-west of America giving Crossroad Revival such a strong debut EP leaving zero room at all persay for improvement, negative comment or critique. My favourite track on ‘What the future holds’ is definitely the title track being by far the most memorable song out of the five on this debut record, its catchy, its got a great acoustic intro, a great guitar solo and great vocals, and really is a wonderfully well-rounded great guitar band moment however all four of the othert tracks on the record come a very close second and if you like melodic britpopy classic rock guitar music look no further, Crossroad Revival have arrived to lets say, rejuvenate a slowly wilting potential casualty of a rock sub-genre, with the band boldly and might I add very accurately stating, ” ‘What the future holds’ is what the Rock world is missing today” personally after listening to this EP a few times, Guys I really couldnt agree more.
So how does their first EP compare to second, the March 2018 release, ‘Crossroads’?
How have the band developed and how does their first EP sound now I’ve heard the second one?
Well, ‘Crossroads’ has a completely different kind of feel to it from the get-go. Beginning with the addition of a crunchy distortion pedal, crashing drum rolls with added splash cymbal mayhem and a quirky completely different vocal style introduction really does leave one guessing what will be to come next regarding the following 4 remaining tracks. Throughout the EP Singer/guitarist frontman, Ryan Belshaw brings his consistently powerful and melodic vocal style a little away from Axel Rose and more so into the realms of the late Layne Staley of the 90’s grungers ‘Alice in Chains’ maybe not as growly but definitely slightly reminiscent in some ways, tonally and generally. The guitars on this follow-up EP are definitely a lot more noticeably intertwined with fellow band member guitarist Neil Adams’ contributions showing us that the two have a natural sounding way of bringing the two instruments together in harmony all the while keeping the ‘Classic Rock’ vibe right at the heart of this band, with hints of Thin Lizzy, Aerosmith and Guns’n’roses protruding. With Jackson Kenny laying down the bassline on ‘Don’t Stop’ especially, cementing my remarks here only to go into ‘Dethroned’ really giving Crossroad Revival fans something a lot darker, heavier and
with solos verging on ‘Hangar 18’ by 80’s rockers ‘Megadeth’,’Dethroned’ is so different to literally anything on the debut EP and leads us into totally different realm completely regarding our listening experience.
Which, only leaves us the listener to wonder what will be next from the Northern Irish Grunge Rock Britpoppers? If you see Crossroad Revival appearing at any festivals during the summer or are taking evening residency at your local music venue of choice, don’t go missing out on a thoroughly enjoyable set-list with the third release being a completely unique progression of this bands musical and creative development.
Exciting times for Crossroad Revival fans and even more exciting times for the bands themselves. Good Luck lads, keep it unreal.
I’d give them a hefty 8/10.
Reviewed by Chunk 19th March 2018
Sunderland has a new player in the Northeast UK HipHop/Grime scene. He’s young, strong, determined, original and with such flair and flavour shining right through his debut album, “Invariably”, I’d say with a little nourishment and encouragement, this kid could become an artist that literally sets the bar and standards high enough for other young emcees to see, motivate them enough to approach it and as far as ‘originality’ goes as an artist, Tuckage really does hold the title, set the pace and provide us with tracks that can’t be compared to anyone else in entirity, creating music so personal and unique, “Invariably” is by far the hardest album to review that I’ve come across to date just because,
to make comparisons to this album to any other artist or artists work is not only challenging, but unfair on Tuckage, giving him the kudos and credibility he deserves, showing that lyrically Northeast HipHop and Grime artists prove to be understandible, with tracks that are if not more catchy than the rest of the UKs productions and just as well produced than any other place that produces homegrown grass roots HipHop with bedroom production/privileged and overly appreciated trips to the studio providing mixed and mastered masterpieces, giving the region so much clout this year, than ever before and yes, it is only March.
So let’s talk about the album.
We begin with a track that really kinda sums up the whole Tuckage experience in one. The catchy instrumental, a very clear and straightforward profoundly unemotional but epitomising mackem vocal addition, lyrics that explain just what Tuckage wants us to envisage and understand with a direct and unmistakable verbal persona and even though my guy doesn’t make the rhyme a priority, they seem to flow so so well and really leave a clear memorable mental caption shall we say. Bars that etch themselves into your cerebral cortex and refuse to leave upon request along with a hefty bassline and trappy keys, making our first track a firm favourite out in the motor providing you have good monitors or sub fitted. However my personal favourite on this 11 track mixtape has to be ‘Recovery’ as its one of the more emotional productions with heavy flow, meaningful lyrics and an absolutely beautiful ‘Florence & the Machine-esq’ sample, Recovery has it all and really has to be one of Tuckage’s proudest achievements to date. With such a memorable second track and a hard-hitting introductory track, the LP starts as it means to go on, leaving you excitedly anticipating track 3 and really understanding what Tuckage has set out to achieve, literally… from the get-go. ‘Breaking Cycles 2’ is the next and third track on the mixtape, really giving example after example of technical delivery and quality of complex rhymes, I’m to say that the first 2 bars on the third track on ‘Invariably’ ultimately sums up Tuckage in one caption.
“Never been tested/Under-rated legend”
And, I’ll stand by that bold statement. This debut production from the young emcee from Sunderland has such a seasoned
feel to it it really is hard to believe this is the first crack at an LP, the proud Wearside accent never slipping into an American-rap vocal, and I mean at all, all the while being as clear as day and very easy to understand by even the most conservative well-spoken home counties resident who has randomly picked this UK Grime/Hip-hop mixtape as an addition to his/her SoundCloud playlist. Tuckage, reppin’ La Familia, Sunderland has really come through hopefully leaving his crew proud as punch.
Reviewed by Chunk
28th March 2018