The Sunday Alternative

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Spotlight On: October Drift – Giles Cosgrove

There is no live experience like the wall of pure auditory energy that hits you when watching October Drift. Born and raised in Taunton the band, Kiran Roy, Chris Holmes, Alex Bispham, and Daniel Young, played in various bands through their formative years, going to school together at Castle before forming properly in 2015. They have gone from strength to strength ever since, lauded with praise from the likes of Q Magazine and The Independent, emphasised by sets on The John Peel Stage at Glastonbury 2017 and the BBC Introducing Stage at Reading & Leads Festival 2018 as well as supporting slots with Red Rum Club and Editors, garnering a huge and devoted fanbase.

Listening to an October Drift EP is unique, with swirling distortion swamped guitars forming a sea through which the vessel of the vocals and drums thunder through. Moody indie lyrics accompany a passive aggression that in the wrong hands would turn people off but instead is the sound of October Drift. It’s difficult to describe October Drift, their sound a melting pot of genres and bands, creating something so new and exciting that when they finally break in a big way you know they’ll need a shelf for the coming wave of awards.

Excitingly the band are now signed to Physical Education Recordings, the label run by members of Editors, with a reworked version of the powerhouse “Losing My Touch” their first release on the label, and an entirely new single on the way. Lead singer Kiran Roy secretly revealed to The Sunday Alternative the future plans for the band, the key word here being secret, so until then get October Drift playing on your speakers very loudly. They prove originality and rock music are both thriving with a soundscape that is a visceral experience both recorded and live.

Find Them: New single “Losing my Touch” released on Physical Education Records is out now.

Sounds like: Nothing you’ve ever heard before. A perfect mix of shoegaze, indie and grunge.

Music
Photo By Ania Shrimpton Photography

Spotlight On: Masquerades – Giles Cosgrove

Masquerades are a Taunton based New Wave band, initially called “Stevie & The Masquerades” and formed of Stevie Brown and Matt Bond, the band have taken everything great about the 80’s and given it an injection of the future. Formed accidentally in 2015, the group premiered their first single “HER” on The Sunday Alternative, before touring the UK festival circuit and garnering acclaim in the process. After a long wait they finally released their highly anticipated debut EP titled “SALVAGE” at the tail end of 2017, before touring once again throughout 2018.

Their second EP “Now Is All We Have”, released that year, pushed the boundaries of what an EP can be with a concept and narrative spread throughout the records length, adding cinematic soundscapes to further the visual element of the band’s sound.  A full review of the EP can be found in the reviews section of this webpage.

Always pushing themselves to further their sound and their live performance, the band dropped “Stevie & The…” from their name, streamlining themselves and adding Stephan Gooderham to their line-up in 2019 as a live drummer, bringing a greater sense of immediacy to their live shows and opening up innumerable sonic possibilities.

There are few bands as creative and exciting as Masquerades on the UK music scene, a brilliant New Wave band with fantastic pop energy, a sense of the visceral and a perfect blend of modern and throwback sounds with steaming sensuality and passion injected into each track.

The darker side of pop.

Find Them: Stream all releases now on Spotify

Sounds like: The Smiths meets New Order inside The 1975

Music

Spotlight On: The Idle Silence – Giles Cosgrove

It’s not often a band emerge onto the music scene, and quite so immediately gain so much attention, but The Idle Silence have done just that. Based in Taunton and formed via the internet, the group have graced the covers of local music magazines and are regularly heard on The Sunday Alternative, with local scene heavy weights October Drift rating the band’s sound publicly.

It’s little wonder then that even with only one official single, The Idle Silence are on the up. Made up of James Haldane, Martyn Edwards, Phil Russell, and Jay Parr, much of the group has previous musical industry pedigree, whether it’s playing in a pop punk band with airplay on Radio One or releasing a record on an obscure Italian cassette only label. These guys know alternative music back to front and it really shows.

Their tracks take all the best influences and mould them into a unique sound as all great musicians do, with guitar tones akin to Noel Gallagher at Knebworth, mastery over dynamics and a slice-of-life song writing approach that makes Parklife sound like a pantomime. The Idle Silence prove it’s not difficult to make decent indie rock in 2019, whilst so many other bands seem to struggle. Whether that’s on the effortlessly catchy indie anthem “Chew It Over”, with an incessant beat and earworm of a chorus, or the slightly darker, bluesy “The Blame Game”, more akin to Radiohead than the stadium giants of the decade they take their greatest influence from.

They make married life, everyday domestics, or simply lack of patience sound as Rock ‘N Roll as the teenage anthems of love, lust and rebellion that typically define the genre. That is where the true genius of The Idle Silence lies, not since Dire Straits and “Money for Nothing” have post-teen troubles sounded so anthemic.

Find Them: Get their single “Chew It Over” on Bandcamp right now and look for them playing at a venue near you.

Sounds like: Really interesting 3-minute bursts of indie rock energy.

Music

Spotlight On: Last One Home – Giles Cosgrove

Last One Home are the epitome of a rock band. Effortlessly cool with the perfect look, an edgy sound and each with a unique personality, Tom Westlake, Harry Lowndes and Phil Horler have tailor made a sound to get everyone from 8 – 88 rocking.

With their first self-titled EP released last year following break out single Bring Down the Storm, the band set out the template for their style, a perfect mix of aggressive playing, radio friendly melodies and lyrics telling tales of determination and the search for success.

Tom’s vocal delivery channels just enough aggression to make it known these lads mean business, his long fringe nodding back to the classic noughties Pop Punk scene whilst the guitar echoes with the likes of Green Day and the Foo Fighters.

Elsewhere Harry, with his knowing on-stage persona, provides a perfect bass line to combine with the guitar melody, the two sounding inseparable on each track.

Drummer Phil Horler is deserving of special mention, his skill and proficiency comes through on each track, a brilliant example found on House of Fire, but it’s his live solos that are truly awe inspiring and warrant the notion that he is possibly one of the best drummers around.

With enough swagger to rock Noah’s Ark each track is a blast of rock perfection, and there’s more to come with the band locked in the studio for an eternity working on new music to premier at an ever-increasing list of live dates across Somerset and beyond.

Find Them: Find them across social media and on Spotify, the band recently dropped a brand-new track “Wherever You Are”

Sounds like: A concoction of British and American Rock with a hint of Pop, resulting in a string of Head Banging anthems.

The Sunday Alternative
Image by Zoe Barton

Spotlight On: Eloise – Giles Cosgrove

The battle between the visual and the sonic has defined music ever since the launch of MTV on August 1st, 1981. Whilst an album cover can be used simply to compliment the record, a music video can define the artist more so than the music itself. A true artist of modern music is able to balance both sight and sound. Eloise does this and so much more besides. A 20-year-old singer-songwriter based in London, playing in the same music scene as Taunton born Reader, her record “Designed for your Pleasure” isn’t afraid to hide its parentage from the off.

Eloise embraces musical influences from Lana Del Ray, Lady Gaga and David Bowie, whilst lyrically turning to Americana, women in power, and the concept of glamour in all it’s forms, be it the classic pinups of the 50’s or the neon drenched icons of the 80’s. Throw in dashes of old Hollywood, the decadence of Al Pacino in Scarface and the essence of Miami Vice and the result is an EP that accomplishes so much in just 5 tracks.

The standout tracks on the record are the wittily written “Centrefold”, a track that sets the scene and was perfectly timed as a single a month before the EP’s release. Pop culture references set a foundation for observations on and obsession with the role of women in powerful society all set to silky smooth dream pop grooves. The music video for the track, available on YouTube, proves you don’t need a massive budget or a complicated narrative to drive home the point, just a sense of the tongue-in-cheek and visual flair.

Her masterpiece, however, is the closing 4-minute magnum opus “Jackie Kennedy”. Of the track Eloise said on her Instagram story “Do you remember when I was 16 and I wouldn’t talk to anyone and wrote songs about Jackie Kennedy?” A real labour of love, the song was initially a Meat-Loaf-esque 8 minutes long before being cut down for it’s EP release. Smoking subtle verses give way to an almost haunting chorus probing everything from politics, depression and relationships to excess, and modern equivalents to a past era. It’s bold and beautifully written.

Eloise embraces aesthetic, sonics and pop culture itself to create one of the most stunning independent EP’s of the year and is certainly proof that pop can still make you think.

Find Her: Eloise can be followed across social media

Sounds Like: The credits have just started to roll on a classic 80’s thriller, as the embittered hero walks away into a neon drenched sunset, any moral lesson lost to the excess of the era.

Music

Spotlight On: Dirty Blueprint – Giles Cosgrove

When you end the title track of your second EP with the sound of a massive gunfight, you’re either extremely confident or completely mad… It’s likely that Dirty Blueprint are both. Based in Wiveliscombe, the band are a welcome return to the alternative sound of days gone by, as the 60’s turned into the 70’s, when John Peel could be heard in the midnight hours on Radio London playing blues, psychedelia and prog rock long into the night.

Dirty Blueprint aren’t however just a retro blues rock covers band. Originality is their middle name. Made up of Lewis Bond on Drums, Sam Turner on Bass, Charles Farrelly on Guitar, and Stuart Lloyd with Vocals, and on Harmonica, the group pack a dramatic punch with every track channelling the likes of Hendrix, Vaughn and The Black Keys at once.

The only modern group to take the Harmonica from a joke kids toy to a full on instrument, the band’s riff heavy foot stompers push at the envelope of convention, adding sound effects and narratives into their tracks invoking the likes of Pink Floyd and Rush in their tale like nature, most evident on their latest work, their second EP “Gangster Life”. There’s a swagger in the sound, each track taking its own time, knowing exactly where it’s headed without rushing to walk off stage, instead embracing the Spotlight.

With a string of live dates on the way including numerous festival spots in the South West this summer, Dirty Blueprint make Rock sound like a fine wine, matured and throaty, old fashioned in the best way and boundary pushing at all times.

Find Them: You can hear both “Better Off With Me” & “Gangster Life” in full on Spotify before catching them live this Summer.

Sounds Like: Woodstock, Classic Rock and the Peaky Blinders Soundtrack thrown into a blender to produce something truly brilliant.

Find Her: Eloise can be followed across social media

Sounds Like: The credits have just started to roll on a classic 80’s thriller, as the embittered hero walks away into a neon drenched sunset, any moral lesson lost to the excess of the era.

Music

Spotlight On: Reader – Giles Cosgrove

There is an emerging new genre within modern music that confounds boundaries, whilst certainly pop, the influences of garage, trap, rap and dance are all self-evident. Pianos are laced with muted drums and synthesisers, creating something unique to this side of 2010. Reader is one of the artists at the forefront of this. Born and raised in Taunton, attending Castle School at the same time as local rock heroes October Drift, Reader, real name Kim, is a singer-song writer based in the cultural capital that is South London. Her debut EP “Change the Weather” opens with the sultrily harmonic “Give Me”, building further and further towards the avant-garde before the blueprint is laid down for this exciting new sonic vibe in the title track, featuring UK underground cult rapper Trim.

Reader’s vocal delivery is what gives every track it’s hook, a sultry almost jazz bar-esque tone that wouldn’t be out of place in a noir film, yet it is laced with an urban attitude sounding out the influences of the capital, heard particularly on “WSL”. The final track on first EP hints at her musical routes, “Hovering” is a simple acoustic guitar ballad, with nothing but her voice and the guitar giving a path to her song writing and bare musical talent. Playing all over the world with regular sessions for Sofar Sounds, as well as spending a lot of time in the US, she’s an advocate of The Sunday Alternative stating, “There’s so much creative talent in that area [South West England] and it doesn’t always get the exposure it deserves, so shows like this are so important.”

Following up her debut with the self produced and infinitely catchy “In Bloom”, Reader is a modern artist at the forefront of a modern sound, so new it has no name, and EP’s are some of the best from this movement.

Find Her: The EP “In Bloom” is available to stream now, and her Instagram @ReaderTheGreat is perfect for keeping up to date on all things Reader.

Sounds like: The new emerging sound of British Music fronted by artists like Jorja Smith

Music

Spotlight On: Palooka 5 – Giles Cosgrove

The words Surf Rock conjure images of California in the 1960’s, all things Americana, The Beach Boys blasting from a transistor radio in the back of an open top Cadillac, or if you’re a bit younger the impending violence and uber cool of a Quentin Tarantino film. In Taunton, the first thing that comes to mind at the mention of Surf Rock should be Palooka 5.

One of the most successful bands on the local music scene, these guys are the retro band of the century, completely embracing the vintage nature of their look and sound. Bedecked in Vietnam style US Forces uniforms, the group, made up of T Baigent, A McCallum, B Baigent and S Fisk, perform regularly across the County Town and beyond, with big shows at the CICCIC nearly every month.

But they’re not just a novelty band. Signed to Somerset label “Fuelled by Cider”, Palooka 5 write and record their own original music with a real attention to detail, utilising original 60s instruments including Organs and Guitars to really capture the essence of that old school sound. Their debut 2018 mini album “Rough Magic”, whilst not the first local scene release on vinyl, was the first LP by a new band in Taunton that had to be owned on vinyl to truly hear them as intended. The title track is a 3-minute definition of the band; barnstorming riffs, historic harmonies and thundering drums.

With regular airplay on BBC Radio 6 Music and shows selling out repeatedly, Palooka 5 are undoubtedly one of the most fun and original bands on the Taunton music scene. Great to see at festivals, as the summer arrives look for Palooka 5 on the setlist, and don’t miss them!

Find Her: Check them out on Spotify, get the LP and see them live!

Sounds like: It’s the opening of Pulp Fiction, Pumpkin and Honeybun are sat in the diner, and it’s about to go down.

Music

Spotlight On: Aqila – Giles Cosgrove

Music has always been the language of youth. From The Beatles right the way through to Stormzy, each artist speaks to the next generation, providing a soundtrack for a moment in time that is never repeated. It’s lightening in a bottle when the next generation make their own soundtrack, and it’s a rare nuclear explosion when it sounds so immediately timeless, yet that is exactly what Aqila do. The youngest featured band in the 3 years of The Sunday Alternative, the Yeovil trio are made up of Gus Chalmers on guitar and vocals, Jessamy Bowditch on piano and vocals with Joe Ockrim providing drums.

Forming 18 months ago through Waterloo Music in Yeovil, with an average age of 15, Aqila defy their age with their ability, recording tracks including Home and Changing for a soon-to-be-released EP that, whilst clearly about their own moments, sound as timeless as the classics of the 70’s. The group ditch the teenage traditions of 3 chord pop punk in favour of mature and more complex melodies, taking influences from a multitude of artists and genres, mixing indie and folk, with Gus providing a tortured gravely tone in his vocals, Jessamy adding her own touch of country rock, and Joe holding everything together with subtle perfect rhythms.

Winning this year’s Sandstorm Battle of the Bands, Aqila are making music far beyond their years, unique tracks with well worked influences, hinting at a creativity not often found in musicians so young. Aqila are a band for everyone, they speak the universal language of youth, following in the footsteps of giants, leaving their own stamp as they go.

Find Them: Check them out on Instagram and YouTube, or visit their website aqilatheband.com

Sounds like: It’s the 70’s, you’re in the back of an opened top Mustang driving down the sunset strip in LA, and the FM Radio is tuned to just the right frequency.

Music

Spotlight On: All Smiles In Wonderland – Giles Cosgrove

Turn back the clock fifteen years or so and alternative music was a very different and altogether arguably better place. Now legendary bands like My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy, Paramore, Panic! At the Disco were all conquering forces, topping the charts and sound-tracking the lives of those that grew up with their music. Those days may be gone but their influence is beginning to be felt in the music from kids that grew up on a diet of Gerard Way and Hayley Williams.

Nowhere is this more evident than in upcoming alt scene stealers All Smiles In Wonderland. Made up of Maddie Christy, George Clark, Jack Dodge and Taunton’s Tristan Gorman, the band formed at Bath Spa University, and have built a startling following in the short time they’ve been on the scene.

Although having released only two single in “Astronaut” and “Whatever Makes You Sleep At Night“, the band have shared secret demos with The Sunday Alternative and it’s a sound that resets alternative music in 2019 back to how it should sound. With Maddie on vocals there’s a great drama in the lyrical delivery, melancholic when required, anthemic the rest of the time. There’s a sense of scale in their music, tackling the complexities of reaching adulthood from a teenage perspective, evoking the stadium sounds of Green Day and their classic “American Idiot.” Sonically the group take a leaf out of the book of The Pixies, an often-overlooked band who influenced the great Nirvana, twisting the dial to eleven from acoustic guitars to a full emotional wave of electric chords and thrashing drums.

Theirs is the sound of your teenage emo phase grown up, bringing a maturity to the genre that other bands can’t or couldn’t seem to grasp. It’s a sound that needs to be heard more and when All Smiles In Wonderland release their next track, be sure to get it on and get it loud!

Find Her: All Smiles In Wonderland’s debut single “Astronaut” is on Spotify now!

Sounds like: The answers to the questions you had when you were 13, waiting to join The Black Parade.

Music

Spotlight On: Finding Aurora – Giles Cosgrove

Rock is dead. At least, that’s the general consensus amongst music journalists at the moment. They say the genre has run its course as the rebellious child of Rhythm and Blues and has become unoriginal and just as irrelevant. If Rock is dead and buried, then Finding Aurora are the Dr Frankenstein’s bringing it back from the grave. The three-piece head bangers from Newport, Wales, are made up of Samuel Wagner-Jenkins on guitar and vocals, Nick Williams on drums and Luc Simmonds on bass, and have only been playing live shows since May 2018. Herein lies their secret weapon, as the group came together in 2017, jamming together and writing their first EP, working out their sound and performance before debuting, so whilst many new bands sharpen their tools the more they play live, Finding Aurora hit the scene with their tools already serrated. They cemented themselves as a group to watch with the release of their self-titled debut EP in October 2018, a 5-track effort spanning genres across the alternative landscape from Green Day-esque “Hayley” to the full on hard rock anthem “Nick’s Gone Fishing”, a track with one of the best intros you’ll find in modern music, and an impossibly catchy hook. “Free” meanwhile borrows from Nirvana’s “Heart Shaped Box” with a country twist whilst “Hell” embraces the emotional side of life, crying out about the injustice of it all.

Finding Aurora’s love of big sounds, moshing and classic rock are all evidenced on their debut EP with their live shows bringing just as much energy and old school charm. Here’s a band for 2019, a Rock N Roll Resurrection.

Find Them: You can listen to Finding Aurora on Spotify and check out a DIY documentary behind the scenes of the EP on YouTube.

Sounds like: 50 years of Rock N Roll compressed into 4-minute bursts of mosh inducing hits.

Music

Spotlight On: GEO – Giles Cosgrove

Geo is, in a word, unique. Her sound takes elements from Funk, Folk, Jazz, Soul, R&B and Pop, but is impossible to categorise. The closest expression potentially is “Urban Soul” but even that doesn’t quite capture the layers and nuances in both her records and live performances.

Her lyrics capture the essence of life as a teenager in 2018 with such expression that it verges on poetry as supposed to music, framed against simmering basslines and trap-esque drum patterns. Geo’s story could have come straight from the silver screen, leaving school in Taunton and heading to London to chase her dreams of a career in music, she eventually performed across New York in the United States, all by the age of only 18.

With only a few singles released thus far, there’s palpable anticipation for the release of her full debut album “Aura” with her tracks making use of brass and strings, instruments that other young pop artists would discard as old hat, yet Geo’s arrangements in collaboration with various talented musicians, captures a sound that is intrinsically fresh.

Her voice is a highlight on each track. There’s bits of Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, and Amy Winehouse in her vocal tone, it’s a sound that it is both vintage and timeless, that classic voice.

Taking influences from both Alicia Keys and David Bowie, this is what Pop Music should sound like in 2018. It looks back upon all the decades of music that we’ve had to get to where we are today but is also incredibly modern and unique, it remains artistic and never feels manufactured.

No one is making music like this, and that’s what makes Geo such an exciting artist to listen too.

Find Her: Geo is available on Facebook, on her own website; geomusic.org, as well as on Instagram @geo.ibm with her debut album “AURA” dropping soon.

Sounds like: Difficult to say, but Geo is the latest in the classic line of soulful female solo artists.

Music
Image by Irven Lewis
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