The Low Down: Joe Symes & The Loving Kind – Acoustic Variations EP Review



Acoustic Variations EP

After the release of their debut album, Liverpool band Joe Symes & The Loving Kind toured all over the UK performing their material from their self-titled album. They have played some major support slots including Steve Cradock (Ocean Colour Scene/Paul Weller), The Blockheads, Dodgy, XTC, Bloc Party and Alt-J, headlining Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds Aftershow Party. In addition to this they have played the Festival circuit, and have come to the attention of Creation Management’s Alan McGee. Their album was well received in America, with magazine and airplay all over the world.

 ‘Scousedellia’ – Alan McGee, Creation

The release of their last double A side single ‘Things Get Better/I’m Gonna Find Out Someday’, showcased how they have progressed with increasingly energetic live performances and a heavier sound; but still kept their distinctive feel found on the first album. ‘Things Get Better’ attracted attention at home and abroad, BBC Introducing, being played at Anfield (Liverpool Football Club) on match days, and major international airplay.



In 2016, the band were asked to play Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds Aftershow Party once again at the 02 Academy Liverpool, as well as featuring on LFC TV (Liverpool Football Club’s official TV station) Bay TV’s Arts Alive show, and Radio City Talk (105.9 FM). Last summer they performed at festivals around the U.K alongside bands such as Dave McCabe (The Zutons), Space, The Icicle Works, and The Christians, and have commenced work on their long awaited second album which will be released towards the end of 2017; recently working on the album at Peter Gabriel’s Solid State Logic Studios in Oxfordshire.

They recently released their Acoustic Variations EP. Here’s my review of the latest release from Joe Symes & The Loving Kind.



I’m Gonna Find Out Someday – features a gentle acoustic start which picks up the pace before the melodic vocals come in. It has a stripped back sound which is easy on the ear and lovely. It has lyrics such as ‘down in my soul my heart is yearning’, quite a reflective song.

Fine Line – has a fast tempo, husky vocals, cheery strumming of guitars and is a catchy song. It’s a very upbeat tune and I like the percussion, it helps to make it sound very cheerful. It’s very Britpop with good harmonies and a sing a long infectious chorus. I like the ‘live’ sound.

You’re Not Coming Back Tomorrow – the live in the studio sound makes this tune sound quite atmospheric. The song features a sweeping but gentle melody with sway along gentler and softer vocals. It’s a slower paced song but still catchy and infectious nonetheless.

No Turning Back – again has a gentle stripped back start, this song moves along at a slower pace. It’s a melancholy song about love lost and the pain of missing that person with lyrics such as ‘my future is in the past’ and ‘there’s no way forward and there’s no turning back’. It’s an understated and gentle song, easy listening.

This is a really good EP from this talented band from Liverpool. It’s very likeable and easy to listen to. Understated and very well done.

They have some gigs coming up as part of a Spring Mini Tour over the next few months which you can get more details of from their website. Here’s the link to the new EP: Acoustic Variations EP


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Good luck with the EP Joe and the band, it’s a good one!

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Joe Symes & The Loving Kind




The Low Down – Josh Taylor interview



Josh Taylor – Interview & Review

Just before Christmas last year I had the opportunity to go along to an Alstar Music showcase of young unsigned artists at the Classic Grand in Glasgow. Alstar Music is the brainchild of Simon Dawbarn .a.k.a. Spike from 90’s band 911. I was primarily there to see and interview Manchester born singer/songwriter Josh Taylor.

Classically trained and with an education from well known theatre and acting academies, he is in the pop/rock/classical genres. Josh is a young rapidly rising star of the independent music scene. He set up Cloud9Records & Management, and has toured with up and coming band Road Trip plus The Tide (from California). In addition he has been guest artist with the Glasgow Philharmonia when they played Glasgow City Halls.

Josh Taylor in Glasgow

Josh has released several songs and an album Feeling Stronger, all available here Josh Taylor Music. He has huge numbers of followers on his social media, and was extremely popular with the crowd in the Classic Grand. Not only is he a popular singer/songwriter but he is also a successful actor too, appearing on the BBC and in films as well as in theatre too, and has starred in West End Live at Leicster Square and Traflagar Square in London. In the past Josh has also co-written a play ‘The Wasp’.

He’s done so much it’s hard to list all of his background; I recommend checking out Josh’s website Josh Taylor Music.



My interview with Josh had to be conducted in two parts due to the busy goings on at the gig. Here’s our video interview where we spoke about balancing two careers, songwriting and what his future plans are amongst other things.

The Interview

Josh Taylor Interview

I was very impressed by Josh’s natural performance skills at the Classic Grand (useful on stage and in front of a camera) his great voice, and the rapport he built with the audience. I particularly liked his airing of a new song which sounds like Josh’s music is moving gradually towards a maturer sound. A smart move as he and his teenage following grow and mature too. His natural talent, energy, charm and hint of cheekiness (a t shirt came off at one point!) will see this young musician/actor be successful in whatever he chooses to do. From what I have seen of Josh and through meeting him and the supportive team behind him I am certain he will achieve his goals. He is very down to earth, funny and likeable which will stand him in good stead too!




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My thanks to Josh for agreeing to the interview and also to the team behind Josh for allowing the interview and for filming it. It was good to meet you all and I wish Josh all the best for the future, I’ll look forward to some new music soon.

Thanks also to Katie from Radio Saltire for introducing me to Josh.


Explore Josh Taylor’s music here:

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Josh Taylor

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Josh Taylor YouTube

Josh Taylor team & Shoony


The Low Down – Little Eye (Interview)


Little Eye – The Interview

Little Eye are Allan, Euan, Marcus and Jay. They were formed initially in 2008 by lead singer Allan but established as the current line up in 2013. They have a couple of accolades under their belt – Young Scot Unsigned Act Of The Year 2012 and Clyde One In Demand’s 2009 winners of ‘Band Of The Year Award’. They released their first album ‘Fighting The Future’ in  June 2014 after releasing the single of the same name in April 2014, which received postiive reviews on the iTunes Alternative Chart. In 2014 they were invited to open the main stage at the Isle Of Wight festival alongside established artists such as the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, The Waterboys, The Specials, Nina Nesbitt, John Newman and The 1975. In 2014 they  also supported iconic band Blondie at the O2 ABC in Glasgow.

Little Eye toured in mainland Europe last year, and made it into the charts in Italy with their song ‘Something Out Of Nothing’ (it has had over 3 million streams on SoundCloud).They are currently signed to an Italian label and that track ‘Contagious‘ is getting national radio airplay. ‘Something Out Of Nothing’ was played on their MTV Rock channel, and reached number 8 in the top ten rock songs in Italy.


They released ‘Contagious’ on Halloween 2016 and I recommend checking out the accompanying intriguing and slightly disturbing video! It reached number 1 in the Virgin radio chart in Italy with CDF Records, and number 14 in the Italian airplay rock charts.

I interviewed the band recently (minus Marcus the bassist) and it was a great interview with a very down to earth, fun and friendly band. I had the pleasure of seeing them live towards the end of 2016 at their headline show at Electric Circus in Edinburgh, and hope to see them again sometime soon.


They are a dynamic and polished band who know how to put on a fantastic show with a charismatic frontman in Allan. I highly recommend checking them out live. Click on the link to watch the band discuss touring, acting and plans for 2017 etc…….

Little Eye – the interview


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Thanks to Allan, Jay and Euan for an entertaining interview, great to see you all. Marcus sorry we didn’t get a chance to meet! Look out for this fantastic band bringing out sone new tunes this year

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Little Eye

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The Low Down – The Rising Souls ‘Set Me Free’ EP Launch Review



On 26th November 2016 popular local band The Rising Souls launched their new EP ‘Set Me Free’ at The Liquid Rooms in Edinburgh with support from Logan’s Close (I unfortunately missed their set). I have seen The Rising Souls a few times; one of those times being when they played our charity Rockathon in May last year and gained a few new fans as a result of their impressive set. I was looking forward to what I knew would be a gig of superior quality.The Liquid Rooms were at full capacity and the atmosphere was lively and friendly.

The Rising Souls at The Liquid Rooms

With a new line up and a new sound straight away this felt very fresh; almost like watching a new band but with the reassuring familiarity of long term band members Roy (Kelso) and Dave. Kelso’s effortless guitar playing, and Dave’s powerful, sublime vocals were as reliable as ever. I could still hear the rootsy soul we are used to but this new sound is more rock with a harder edge than previously.

The new band members Joe and Reece have clearly gelled very well with Kelso and Dave. The sound created is polished and cohesive. The band has a great chemistry on stage, and they look like they are having a good time which means we are too. Somehow The Souls manage to be both gritty & natural at the same time as being polished and flawless.

The new songs sound immense, I didn’t think it was possible to improve on their previous material as it was so good, but they have taken it up another level and have somehow surpassed an already high standard. The new material was well received by a receptive audience who appreciated the rapport Dave built by engaging with the crowd, and by talking of his appreciation for their support of the band that night.

At the end the crowd demanded ‘one more tune’over and over, and the band happily obliged, raising the roof with their encore.

The production of the gig was great, the lights were very effective. All in all this was a fantastic gig and a highlight of my gigging experiences in 2016. I look forward to seeing them again sometime this year and hearing more of those new songs live.


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Thanks to The Rising Souls for a memorable gig, I’m loving the new sound!


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The Rising Souls





The Low Down – Unsigned Music Awards Review


“We believe that awards in music should no longer be reserved for a selection of elite, well established, international recording artists that have the funding, support and weight of major record companies behind them.” – UMA Founders

On 27 October 2016 the inaugral Unsigned Music Awards took place at the beautiful Troxy venue in London. Well over a year in the planning it came from the creative brain of founder Simon O’Kelly, and grew through the hard work, determined contribution and vision of Simon and fellow young, dynamic founders Georgina Thomas and Ben Connor.

Their dedication created an Awards to be proud of, that can be built on year on year. Designed to be able to sit comfortably alongside other music awards such as The Brits as a credible awards for the independent scene, I think they achieved that goal on the night.

With a lot to prove about the validity and worth of independent awards, the UMA met the challenge head on. The result was there to be seen in a glossy, exciting ceremony with some interesting and influential people in the industry presenting the awards, and two presenters in Laura Whitmore (MTV) and Chris Stark (Scott Mill’s Radio 1 show) who are current and credible in the music industry. All in all I think the combination of industry judges, professionals in the music industry, well known presenters, top quality nominees, incredibly good winners who proved their worthiness for the awards, and the excellent acts who performed at the ceremony (some such as Elle Exxe and Broken Witt Rebels went on to win awards) made it authentic and credible. I can see the UMA ceremony becoming more polished and glamorous as it progresses, but for the first year they did a good job. It all pointed to an exciting prospect for the years to come.


I have to mention the supremely good live performances on the night from Elle Exxe, Broken Witt Rebels, Hunter & The Bear, Alex Francis, Dani Sylvia, AKS,SKIES, Chasing Cadence and Darby Ward. We were treated to a diverse set of performances that impressed us throughout the night. The standard was very high and it helped to set the tone for the evening; showcasing how great the quality is within the unsigned music scene. For viewers watching it on Freeview etc I hope it came across at that high standard via TV as it did live at The Troxy. If it gained a few more fans for all the artists involved – winners, nominees and performers – then that’s a great incentive for everyone.

I have to give a special mention to Elle Exxe and Momac who are both from my home city of Edinburgh. I was so delighted to see them showing what talent there is here. Elle has great songs and put in a dynamic performance of her single ‘Home With You’ at the ceremony. I had the pleasure of meeting Elle after the ceremony and she is lovely and just as dynamic when you meet her in person, definite star quality. I scouted Momac for the UMA and was so delighted for Molly when she won the Youth Music Award. She was presented with it by Andy Parfitt who gained widespread recognition as controller at Radio 1. An impressive person to collect the award from, and Molly was very assured up on the stage. Well done Momac! She’s a star of the future definitely. I encouraged Momac to apply for the UMA because of her amazing voice, great songs, striking videos and cool look. She is the whole package, a ready made star. I recommend checking out her music.

If you didn’t watch the Unsigned Music Awards this year or didn’t attend the ceremony then you missed out on a great night. The good news is there are the 2017 awards to look forward to. I’m certain that Georgina, Ben and Simon will again put all of their hearts and souls into the awards they passionately believe in, and strive to make each year better than the last. But what makes the Unsigned Music Awards special is the talented independent musicians within the industry who are a part of the UMA. They showed why the UMA exists; why it’s important for the UMA to support them and nurture that talent.


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My thanks to the UMA founders for including PR Owls in what is a fantastic venture.I’m delighted to be a small part of a much needed awards.

Find out more about UMA here:

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Interviews with UMA winners:

Elle Exxe – Best Female Solo Artist

Broken Witt Rebels – Best Rock Act


Tony Jupp

Eric Duvet



The Low Down – Little Eye at Electric Circus (Review)


I went along to Electric Circus in Edinburgh on 7/11/16 to see Little Eye. They are a band from Glasgow who are beginning to gain attention not only here, but in mainland Europe too.

Little Eye are Allan, Euan, Marcus and Jay. They were formed in 2008 by lead singer Allan. Since then they have a couple of accolades under their belt – Young Scot Unsigned Act Of The Year 2012 and Clyde One In Demand’s 2009 winners of ‘Band Of The Year Award’. They released their first album ‘Fighting The Future’ in  June 2014 after releasing the single of the same name in April 2014, which received postiive reviews on the iTunes Alternative Chart. In 2014 they were invited to open the main stage at the Isle Of Wight festival alongside established artists such as the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, The Waterboys, The Specials, Nina Nesbitt, John Newman and The 1975. Also in 2014 they supported iconic band Blondie at the O2 ABC Glasgow.

In October they released their new single ‘Contagious’ which fitted perfectly with Hallo’ween! I recommend checking out this intriguing and creepy video!

After the gig I caught up with Little Eye front man Allan to find out how he thought the gig went and to ask more about touring and what’s next for Little Eye. Look out for a full band interview coming soon. But first my review.




It was decent sized crowd for a Monday night in Edinburgh. Although Little Eye don’t gig that much here  they are obviously well known and liked here judging by the size of the crowd that was in Electric Circus.

I had known about Little Eye and listened to their music quite a while before I saw them at their headline gig. I had literally days before seen their video for new song ‘Contagious’ and was very impressed by the new single and the unnerving but entertaining video that accompanies it. I was very much looking forward to seeing if their live performance would be of the same standard.

Little Eye I discovered have a very charismatic and enrertaining front man in Allan. They are very good at engaging with the crowd which always gets extra points from me. Songs on the set list included ‘Dreamers’ which I thought was a good song. At one point during a song Allan got off the stage and stood in the crowd watching the rest of the band play a superb instrumental section. Also in the set was ‘Better Than This’ from their debut EP ‘Fight The Future’ and ‘We Are The Kings’. They played ‘Something Out Of Nothing’ which they added was being featured on the  MTV Top 10 in Italy.

Little Eye introduced ‘Contagious‘ by explaining that a month ago they had shot a video with Film Scotland and released it on Hallow’een.They said they had been on a long tour and ‘Contagious’ has been picked up by radio in Italy. It’s a great song, loud melodious rock that I highly recommend checking out.

The last song of the night was ‘Disco’ which I thought was fast, upbeat and funky with drving drums  Allan was doing some dance moves which ended in a forwards flip, he is quite the showman! It was a very rock n roll theatrical ending to a very good gig. Little Eye have gained a new fan.

After the gig I caught up with lead singer Allan who was lovely and kind to take time out to speak to me after the energetic set!




Why have you not played in Edinburgh for a while?

No real reason why. It’s not that we don’t want to play, it’s just that other opportunities opened up; a lot of stuff in Europe. We’ve been gigging in Europe more than Scotland actually. It was a girl who contacted us and wanted us to play this venue, it was at the end of our European dates; we just decided to come and do it because we never play Edinburgh. I think our last time was Studio 24. Because we play Glasgow so much, so we thought we’d do it – come to Edinburgh, beautiful city and why not?

What did you think of the gig tonight?

Yeah it was really good, obviously it’s a Monday night so it’s a very nice and humbling turn out. For us on stage at a venue there’s obviously a few things that artists are pernickety about. But overall, people seemed to enjoy it, so that’s what it’s all about.

So you said that you were on you were on tour in Europe, where were you touring?

The tour spanned over a few months.We set off first and played Germany, France and Luxembourg. We were away for 2 weeks, then we came back for a few weeks. Then we went back out to play Belgium and Holland for 7 days.

And you seem to be doing well in Italy from what you were saying?

Yeah we’re currently signed to an Italian label and that track ‘Contagious’ is getting national radio airplay which is amazing. It’s one of these things ‘our track ‘Something Out Of Nothing’ got picked up in Italy as well. It was getting played on their MTV Rock channel, I think it’s currently number 8 in the top ten rock songs in Italy.which is a quite a cool thing.Then through that they found ‘Contagious’ the new song. It’s getting played on national radio which is quite good and hopefully we’ll be out to Italy next year playing some festivals, keeping our fingers crossed.

Are you going to be gigging more in Scotland as well?

Next year we think we’re going to be doing a Highlands and Islands tour. Places like Inverness, Aberdeen and Dundee, but then we’ll probably finish it off with a big show in Glasgow. It just depends next year on what Europe has to offer us. It’s going to be a busy year next year definitely!

Are there going to be any songs coming out after ‘Contagious’?

Yeah we are actually going down to London to record a bunch of new songs in January. Next week actually we are going up north to a studio with our producer for a week, just to get the songs ready to take down to London. So it’s an exciting time – lots of new music next year.

What’s been your biggest gig to date?

There’s been a few personal ones, we were lucky enough we did 2 shows with Blondie. Just meeting Debbie Harry, playing with such an iconic band! It was probably for me the coolest gig. But the guys would probably say in 2014 we played the main stage at the Isle OF Wight Festival so that’s probably the biggest one. So I’d say I O W main stage is our biggsest gig to date. But I personally prefer the Blondie one because I love Blondie! Even though you are playing a big festival’s main stage, it felt more personal playing 2 shows with Blondie as the only support band. That was quite cool.




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Thanks to Allan for chatting to me after the gig, you must have been tired after that energetic set!

You can find out more about Little Eye on their media:

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Little Eye







The Low Down – Mark Anthony Interview


Mark Anthony is a North London born and bred singer-songwriter that I had the pleasure of meeting while I was on a recent trip to London for the Unsigned Music Awards. On 31st October Mark released his debut album Reckless Caution (click on the album name to have a listen). Mark’s music fits into several genres such as Urban Pop/Hip-Hop/Trap Rap/House/Elecro. On 4 March 2017 he’ll be playing his first headline solo gig, and featuring some tracks from the album at the St Moritz Club in Soho, London.

As a teenager he and his friends would hang around the London estate where he lived imitating rappers and writing their own raps to perform. Mark met a rapper from South London, Hi Breed and a singer from West London, Paul Lee. Eventually after being friends for quite a while the trio formed the group ‘The Meds Collective‘. They teamed up with a London based producer BA Nusance and recorded tracks together.

In May 2012 The Meds Collective released their debut album ‘Heartbreaks & Remedies’ and in January 2013 released an EP ‘Change’.They toured all over the UK after both releases and they also built up a core fan base around Europe and beyond. The Meds Collective split in September 2014. Following on from this, in December 2015 after writing and recording solo material, Mark released his debut single ‘An 80’s vibe’. After that he released ‘London City’ in February 2016 and ‘I Still Miss You’ in May 2016.

On 24 September 2016 Mark supported Tony Mortimer, former member of  British group ‘East 17’ (who were one of the big pop bands in the 90’s) at the O2 Academy Islington in London.Tony has continued on as a solo artist, a record producer and manager of bands. You can hear more about this big and busy gig for Mark in our interview.

Mark is also a music columnist for North London magazine “The Crouch End Connection“, and has his own weekly radio show “The Evening Sessions“on Shoreditch Radio every Monday from 9 – 10pm. A talented and busy man!


So onto my interview which was conducted after meeting and chatting to Mark for a while beforehand (topics of conversation included Peter Andre, Blur and our day jobs!). He’s a great person to interview; very warm, friendly and chilled out. Mark was a star answering all my questions with ease including rate or slate! We spoke about Queen, Damon Alban, what’s next for Mark, collaborations and who he’d like to go on a road trip with.

Click on this link to watch the full interview with Mark:

Mark Anthony – interview


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My thanks to Mark for being such a good sport, you’re never getting to forget your answer to guilty pleasures! Thanks also to Katie G from Radio Saltire for initially connecting Mark and I. Finally thanks to my fellow Owl GeeGee for again being my fantastic videographer.

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Mark Anthony

Video filmed by:

GeeGee (PR Owls)

The Low Down: Hinks – Icarus (EP Review)


Hinks are an Edinburgh based 6 piece alternative rock band fronted by singer-songwriter Jack Hinks ‘combining the raw hearfelt songs of Jack’s solo work with the grit of a six piece rock band’. The band ‘create a dynamic style with a compelling line-up. Using a behemoth rhythm section, 2 violins, piano, guitar and powerful vocal harmonies, the band blend genres such as rock, blues, jazz and prog to create an eclectic genre of their own’.

Jack Hinks describes the 4 track EP as being about exploring the story of Icarus. Sharing the themes of descent and regret across all 4 tracks, using the band to covey his interpretations as well as his experiences. You can listen to the whole EP at this link:


Quotes about Jack Hinks:

“Huge sounds from a natural performer. Jack’s passion for song-writing is matched by his talent”. – Freddie Egan, Farmhouse Sessions Director
“Hinks mixes and balances the introspection of James Taylor, the raunch of Neil Young, and the ingenuity of Jon Gomm”. – Rookie Music
“Spellbinding!” – John Riley, Biggar Little Festival
“Jack Hinks isn’t just a musician, he’s a creative entity” – Bizzare Magazine


No One – Is a song which first and foremost I acknowledged the great sound created by the stirring combination of the violins, the guitar and drums. It has a nice intro and Jack’s stark low vocal adds to the serious, deep lyrics. I felt that listening to this song after all that’s gone on in 2016 globally ‘No One’ has some lyrics that you could almost call prophetic (depending on your political view) including the line ‘world run by bigots and fools’.  I liked the dramatic middle section with the strings, drums and guitar coming together. There is a particularly good haunting electric guitar solo at this point. Lyrics such as ‘no one makes you feel that safe’ fit in well with the melancholy sound created by the arrangement. All in all it’s a dramatic, sweeping and heartfelt song.
Scars – I like the lovely lilting Celtic sounding start to this track created by the gentle combination of violin and guitar, and then with Jack’s vocal. It starts with a stripped back sound and then a sudden change as the vocals and the instrumentation become more powerful, creating a bigger sound. The addition of the backing vocals add to the interesting layers. ‘Scars’ has a a folk sound to it, very Celtic. All the elements added together build up to what seems like a powerful ending before fading away as a more gentle instrumental in the same vein as the start of the track.
Icarus – The title track has a gently melodic, acoustic intro. Jack’s low voice combines harmoniously with the backing vocal. He builds up to louder, pleading vocals with the equally powerful electric guitar, strings and drums kicking in. ‘Icarus’ is a tune with a folk/rock feel for me with lyrics that speak directly to someone they care about in an empathic way. ‘There’s only air between love and pain’ and ‘And you can’t fight where you belong’. It seems like a warning and reassurance are being given in the lines ‘Don’t lose yourself’ and ‘I will weep for you’.The finish is atmospheric and dramatic with loud guitars, strings and drums which then quieten to haunting strings at the very end.
The Fall – this is the final track and a purely instrumental one. For me this would make a great addition to a horror film or suspense thriller! I can imagine it playing at a dramatic and tense moment when the main character is in a nightmarish situation. It begins deceptively with a gentle guitar before a sinister sounding violin comes in making it sound very gothic. Add to this the drums and it’s very powerful and atmospheric. There is a creepy and menacing feel to the ending of ‘The Fall’ for me as it tails off in a dramatic echo. It’s a short, snappy track which is full of intent and feeling.

All in all I would say I enjoyed listening to Icarus. It certainly is a bit different to the norm with it’s powerful and emotional feel. It is greatly entertaining because of a quite theatrical sound in part too, and can be quite jarring on the ear in a striking and interesting way. This makes you listen closely to hear every layer to the song in question. In other parts it’s vey easy on the ear, gentle and melodic. The instrumentation on each track is impressive, the instruments blend together in the main in a beautiful way. Jack’s assured and distinctive voice is great, and I really liked the backing vocals which were in beautiful harmony with Jack’s vocals.It’s a unique and fresh sounding EP that I recommend you check out. It’s good to hear something a bit different sometimes.
PR Owls

Good luck with the EP to Jack and the band. Thanks for sharing your music.

The Low Down: Midstock Festival 2016 (Review)


Yet again this year Midstock Festival was a truly family friendly, diverse music lovers festival held as usual in the beautiful surroundings of Dalkeith Country Park just outside Edinburgh. This was the 3rd year of Midstock Festival. I have been every year and, can honestly say each year has been great quality, but Scott Gunn and Wullie Slight are constantly looking at how they can improve it to make it bigger and better – and they are definitely succeeding. The stage has improved year on year and the numbers are growing. All good signs!

The festival was fantastic fun with some top quality artists playing throughout the day and evening. Scouting For Girls were the headliners but unfortutately their van broke down on the way to Dalkeith. I felt for the Midstock founders as I know how hard they have worked for the past year to make Midstock a festival that appeals to everyone.It was outwith their control and Arlene from Forth One who was compering the festival with Katie G from Radio Saltire did a great job of giving the waiting crowd the bad news. She was a pair of safe hands delivering the bad news, and handling the surprised and disappointed audience.

Kicking off proceedings were a couple of very talented young local singers. Caitlyn Vanbeck was at the time competing in the X Factor. She made it as far as Simon’s judge’s house and was a favourite to win. Unfortunately Simon didn’t choose her for the live shows which a lot of people disagreed with.

As well as Caitlyn the crowd were treated to the music of another young and super talented singer Jack Robertson. Jack in recent months gained attention from his cover of Sam Smith’s ‘Writing’s On The Wall’. Jack is signed to Universal Music and released his first single ‘Set It Alight‘ in July. Alongside these great singers the audience was treated to some amazing dancing from Edinburgh’s professional dance troupe Fierce Pro Dancers. I did manage to interview Jack who impressed me with how lovely and friendly he is. Check out our short interview after Jack’s set:

Jack Robertson Interview


After Caitlyn and Jack who’s performances I sadly missed as I was delayed getting to the festival, came Animals and Friends. This band hailing from Newcastle Upon Tyne orginally started life as the legendary 60’s group The Animals and has undergone a few name changes in the intervening years as well as changing members too. They played some of their classic songs such as House Of The Rising Sun. I managed to catch the last couple of songs from their set and thought they sounded pretty good.

After this came one of the highlights for me. Curtis T Johns is a published singer-songwriter from Leeds who I know quite well. At Rockathon our charity marathon of music that PR Owls held in partnership with Midstock Festival, we managed to persuade Curtis to sing one song which impressed the Midstock founders – Wullie and Scott – enough for them to decide to offer Curtis a slot at the festival. I know how sublime his vocals are so I knew that Curtis would not disappoint and he didn’t. He performed a flawless 4 song set which included his original song ‘Where Love Lies’ and a spine tingling version of Emelie Sande’s ‘Read All About It’. The crowd seemed to be very impressed by Curtis’s performance. After his superb set I caught up with Curtis to ask him a few questions about his music and Midstock. Here is our short interview:

Hi Curtis, for those who don’t know how did you get involved with the Festival?

So I went did an event at Stramash which was like a little impromptu performance. Wullie was listening (Midstock founder), the wonderful PR Owls were like ‘Come on do a song!’ , so I did and he was really impressed,so he gave me a little guest slot on the Midstock which I’m really grateful for, because there are some amazing performers. It’s really really fun, I’m enjoying it!

And how does it feel to perform to a Scottish crowd?

Interesting, it’s new. I don’t know if they’ll understand me ( his Yorkshire accent!) or get my jokes but the weather is fine, it’s still t-shirt worthy so it’s ok!

Tell us a bit about yourself, for those who don’t know Curtis T Johns?

I’m a singer – songwriter. I take my songwriting very seriously. I love to write meaningful, varied things. I’m just venturing into the artistry thing over the next few years, exploring styles, things like that until I find something I’m comfortable with!

And where can people find out more about your music?

You can find out on my website, which is back! You can find it on and on there it links to eveything else, all the different fanbases and things like that. And yeah it’s going to be a slow build, we’ll see where it goes!

Thank you!

After the beautiful simplicity of Curtis’s set featuring just him and a keyboard came quite a contrast. Jamie and Shoony are loud, fun, charming and energetic with a real talent for engaging a crowd and getting the best out of them. This performance was no exception, as I later remarked to them I could feel the vibrations from the music going right through me from where I was standing! In typical rock n roll style Jamie K decided to climb a barrier and then walk about in the crowd at the front. He also threw cd’s and t-shirts into the crowd, and Jamie H joined in throwing his drumsticks too! After their barn stormer of a set I got the chance to interview the boys and it was fun. Here’s the link to the entertaining interview:

Jamie & Shoony at Midstock

Arlene Stewart from Forth One and Katie G from Radio Saltire were doing a smooth and entertaining job of keeping things flowing on the main stage and providing great banter in between bands. Next up came the legendary DJ and producer Dave Pearce. His set was full of classic dance tunes with his production making them sound fantastic and current. He played amongst others N Trance – ‘Set You Free’, Robin S ‘Show Me Love’ and a dance version of Adele’s ‘Hello’ and he encouraged lots of audience participation – which resulted in some classic hands in the air moments that are an integral part of any festival/gig.

After Dave Pearce came the brilliant Airport Impressions from Malta who are making waves wherever they go; just before Midstock they appeared at the Isle of MTV Malta music event. Airport Impressions are a talented 4 piece rock band who blew the Midstock crowd away with the sheer quality of their musicianship and Errol’s stunning vocals. Their own songs were superb and Errol’s vocals on their cover of ‘Ring Of Fire’ were jaw droppingly good. I got a chance to interview Errol after the band’s set and he is such a nice guy.Here’s the link to the interview:

Airport Impressions at Midstock

Next up was The Pigeon Detectives, a well known indie rock band from one of my favourite cities, Leeds. They have just finished their 5th studio album. The band played their hits with a swagger in a classic rock n roll style. Matt Bowman is the quintessential showman and entertained the crowd with his antics mainly involving classic poses like jumping onto speakers! An entertaining band who I thought were very good.

After this came one of my favourite acts of the day Reverend And The Makers. They were yet another excellent act from Yorkshire on the bill along with Curtis T Johns and The Pigeon Detectives. The band is fronted by Jon McClure a.k.a. “The Reverend”. His wife Laura is the keyboard player in this rock band who I warmed to instantly with their catchy songs.

There was anticipation in the air as everyone waited for signs that Europop group Vengaboys were ready to perform onstage.They came bounding on stage in a dazzle of brightly coloured, sparkly costumes and were immediately welcomed loudly by the enthusiastic crowd. They tore through a blistering set which included all their old hits and I was impressed by the amount of times they all interacted with the crowd. In fact at their encore they came back and all 4 of them ended up singing standing on the speakers. They specialise in cheesy, happy, positive tunes with energetic dance routines which the crowd loved.

After their glitzy set there was a short break, and then Arlene and Katie introduced to the stage a brilliant piper who played ‘Flower Of Scotland’ beautifully. It’s always stirring to hear it played by a great piper and the pipes are usuallly appreciated by a Scottish crowd.

After this Arlene had to come back out and confirm for us that the headline act Scouting For Girls had had to cancel due to their van breaking down twice. The crowd were a bit annoyed at this understandably, but seemed to accept it was the end of the festival, and eventually some of them made their way to the usual festival rides while others left the park. It was an unfortunate end to what had been a top quality festival. But those of us in the crowd couldn’t complain because the quality of the acts who did perform proved yet again that Midstock Festival knows how to put on a good show. In part through introducing people to some brilliant new music artists, blended in with artists who are familiar names, and the end result being something created for a wide ranging audience.

I will definitely be back at Midstock Festival next year. The acts are slowly being announced and again it looks like there will be something for everyone! Well done on another fantastic year Scott and Wullie. Thinking about next year’s review now …….


Thank you to Scott and Wullie for another great year as I mentioned, and for inviting me along. Thanks to GeeGee for being my videographer for the day, much appreciated! Finally thank you to all the amazingly talented and friendly artists who let me quiz them after their brilliant sets.


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Midstock Festival

The Low-Down: Joe Symes & The Loving Kind (Interview)



“Expect the unexpected” – Colin (Joe Symes & The Loving Kind)

After the release of their debut album, Liverpool band Joe Symes & The Loving Kind have toured all over the UK performing their new material from their self-titled album. They have played some major support slots including Steve Cradock (Ocean Colour Scene/Paul Weller), The Blockheads, Dodgy, XTC, Bloc Party and Alt-J, headlining Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds Aftershow Party. In addition to this they have played the Festival circuit, and have come to the attention of Creation Management’s Alan McGee. Their album has been well received in America, with magazine and airplay all over the world.

 ‘Scousedellia’ – Alan McGee, Creation

The release of their last double A side single ‘Things Get Better/I’m Gonna Find Out Someday’, showcased how they have progressed with increasingly energetic live performances and a heavier sound; but still keeping their distinctive feel found on the first album. ‘Things Get Better’ has already attracted attention at home and abroad, BBC Introducing, being played at Anfield (Liverpool Football Club) on match days, and major international airplay.


In 2016, the band were asked to play Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds Aftershow Party once again at the 02 Academy Liverpool, as well as featuring on LFC TV (Liverpool Football Club’s official TV station) Bay TV’s Arts Alive show, and Radio City Talk (105.9 FM). This summer they have been performing at Festivals around the U.K alongside bands such as Dave McCabe (The Zutons), Space, The Icicle Works, and The Christians, and commencing work on their long awaited second album.

I interviewed this fantastic band prior to their participation in a concert for Hillsborough to find out more about their background, who they are, their tour and what it’s like to have such good support in their home city.




Can you tell us a bit about how the band started and where the ‘Loving Kind’ part of your name came from?

Joe…..I was playing acoustic gigs in and around the north west as a solo artist. Colin, who I have been friends with for many years, asked if I want any help from him playing bongo’s on the gigs I was playing, so I said Yes. We then started to audition band members and there was a lot to go through. We then met Stef, our bass player, and it’s been great since Colin came up with the name The Loving Kind.

Colin….Joe, with me accompanying him at time, had quickly began to make waves around here even at that early stage, and it would’ve confused people to go under a totally new name, so we decided to expand on what we already had, as it will. “The Loving Kind” is a line from the R.E.M song Get Up. It was the first thing that came to mind, and was agreed on immediately. It just rolls off the tongue. Joe Symes and the Loving: simple, memorable, classic.

Briefly describe each band member in 3 words?

Stef.….bad ass bassist

Joe….Tripple Amalgamatory Eddibleness

 Colin.…Surreal, stylish, mad.

You’re from Liverpool, and seem to have had a lot of support, e.g. featuring on Liverpool F.C’s TV channel, and your song being played at matches. That must be a nice feeling and a boost to have that support from home?

Joe….Yeah, it’s great all the support we are getting even from around the world. Long may it continue.

Stef.…Yeah it’s good to get the support!

Colin.…It’s like anything really. You start here, and make your way out to other places. Constant expanding.

On the same subject I see you are playing a gig ‘Hillsborough Truth & Justice Delivered’ at the Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool on 28th August. How did you become involved with the gig? It’s an emotional subject for the people of Liverpool in particular?

Stef….it’s an honour to be asked to play!

Joe….Yeah it’s great to be involved with the event and it is very close to the people of Liverpool, we are happy to play and show our support, even for any event that raises awareness. We became involved when the promoter asked would we show our support to which we said Yes.


You’ve been touring all over the UK since the release of your debut album. What have been your favourite memories of that tour?

Colin….We’ve been to many places, and played so many gigs; it all kind of gets jumbled up. I remember we done a gig at Bradford University on an outdoor stage, and people in the audience started taking their clothes off. It was raining too, by the way. That was…….interesting.

Joe.…Having a great time, meeting loads of interesting people, playing the top venues all over the UK, going to Abbey Road Studio’s, signing autographs, it’s been great and we still are having a great time.

Joe Symes & The Loving Kind YouTube

You’ve also picked up some great support slots including the Blockheads, Dodgy and Alt-J. What’s been your favourite so far and why? Did you pick up any useful advice along the way?

Stef....Supporting The Rutles is the gig I really want to do,just waiting for that call off Neil ☺ all u need is cash!

Joe….Just to believe in what we are doing and how well we are doing for a band that’s self managed, The Blockheads gig was great to do they were really great to get on with, playing at Noel Gallagher’s high flying birds official aftershow party twice and headlining it twice was awesome, really pleased we headlined them two gigs at the main stage of the 02 Academy 1 in Liverpool. Supporting Steve Craddock also was great, nice that his promoter asked us not to play the last song LOUD as Steve didn’t want us to upstage him LOL

Colin.…The gig with Block Party and Alt-J at Scala in London was good. The venue is an old converted cinema from the 30’s/40’s. The second Gallagher Aftershow Party at the O2 Academy Liverpool from this year was brilliant.

Tell us more about your last double A Side ‘Things Get Better’/’I’m Gonna Find Out Someday’?

Joe….It’s not on our debut album and it won’t be on our new album. We don’t want to con the public buy making them buy the same thing twice. It has also had 3 weeks BBC Introducing & BBC 6 music feature.

Stef.…Great 2 songs ! Live favourites!

Finally, what can we expect in the near future from Joe Symes & The Loving Kind?

Stef.…Really cool tunes !!!

Colin….Expect the unexpected.

Joe….More new music

‘A sonic construction which you’re going to have in your head for days at a time’ – The Independent


Thanks to the guys for taking the time to answer my questions, love hearing new music and I’m loving their well crafted tunes. Good luck with future endeavours and keep us posted!


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