Down and out to sea

classy live studio 2021 editRich Brown wanted to draw a line under what was intended as a lockdown project, and having had enquiries about them, decided a CD—his first physical release—would do exactly that.

Revisiting old songs with a tweak here and there, plus adding three completely new, Down and out to sea contains ten tracks, all of which were recorded, mixed and mastered in Rich’s own home studio; a place that started as a duvet fort and has become something producing sound that one would be hard pressed to realise hadn’t been recorded in a real studio with all the engineering and mastering that goes with it.

Continue reading

SÖNUS: Usurper of the Universe

coverWhirring into life like a comet lowrider being fired up, Usurper of the Universe is an ever expanding cloud of trippy space dust gritty with derision. Who, or perhaps what, is SÖNUS is a question the answer to can change with every listen; the six track album as much space rock opera—a beer and bong infused version of Queen’s Flash Gordon score with SÖNUS playing both band and Ming—as a frustration-driven social commentary not only on the world we currently live in but always have.

Continue reading

Welcome to the Carnival known as DUIR!

A substantial aspect of DROME is the matter of time, so appropriate then that its first listen transports me back to the mid seventies and a trip up North to see relatives which included a visit to the fabled Yorkshire Dales.

Nothing of the actual visit remains in memory beyond it being uneventful. It’s all the things said about the place by family members beforehand that spring to mind. The potential for heavy mists to suddenly descend and leave anyone there disorientated on the vast expanse of open land hard enough to navigate at the best of times.

Continue reading

Rich Brown: the new shining light of Folk?

Rich Brown’s EPs Pandemo and The Misinformation Age get their first listens with my customary no attention paid to any of the review package notes.

Brown genres as Folk, something that as a rule is only enjoyed by me when live in a pub and drunk enough to think I know the lyrics.

It’s not a style I know much about and what I’m hearing puts me in mind of a low-key Greenday or a smooth Pogues.

Continue reading

From Beale Street to Timbuktu

Timbuktu: located at the edge of the Sahara Desert nine miles north of the Niger River in the country Mali; though only so since incorporated into what France considered its colony of Mali in the 1890s.

Map by Joe LeMonnier.

Starting as a seasonal city it became permanent in the 12th century; from there soon a major—and so extremely rich—trade hub dealing in slaves, salt and gold in particular.

Continue reading

Release Package Guide

This page links from the Music Review Contact Form

Okay, so let’s get the milkshake out the way first:

The purpose of the review is to provide a tool that the artist/band/label can use to engage an existing or potential online audience.

Publishing and sharing it via my social media (which I will) will do little to nothing for your cause. The diagnostics have shown this with previous reviews. My sharing it will receive few hits as music reviews per se isn’t why I’m followed. Whereas when bands share/post them on their profiles or in focused pages/groups hits go through the roof.

As a rule of thumb reviews are most useful to artists if published pre release date; they can be used to encourage pre sales and also to generate interest on the day of release. The more reviews, the greater buzz created; posting ten different ones on release day will generate far more interest than the same one ten times over.

The Package

A release package can contain any number of things depending on the recipient. In this instance the focus is on everything needed to produce a good review on a website.

Therefore it needs:

  • images of the album artwork and any others the band may have for promotion purposes.

Whereas a radio show or podcast might not have any need for images at all.

Oh, and ‘any others’ means maybe five or six, not a whole back catalogue of snaps randomly taken in the rehearsal room. Also: make sure all images are good enough quality for use on a website.

It’s better to be safe than sorry, so:

  • in the first instance try to create a pack containing everything possible
  • then edit it down accordingly for specific purpose
  • especially if what’s wanted has been specified by the recipient

I put as many links to the artist in as possible: where the music can be found/bought; where the artist can be followed/seen. Not every reviewer will do this; they definitely won’t think of it if the information isn’t there to start with.

While some aspects are to be anticipated, such as the music itself, album artwork, release notes, impact to the receiving inbox for anything above and beyond can be reduced by providing links to material held in dropbox/google drive or similar. This is also a good way of providing a choice of music formats.

It’s the artist’s responsibility to supply all relevant information. Don’t include band member names, then don’t expect the reviewer to come asking or go looking. They might. But there’s just as much reason for them to think the band only wants to be known by its collective name as part of its ‘thing’.

And if you leave the band members’ names out, then there’s no hope for when it was recorded, who it was mixed by, where, etc. So:

  • names and information!

Of course, simply because you mention best friend of the band insert-name-here played tambourine on track seven for twenty seconds at the end, it doesn’t mean the reviewer will use the information.

However it does mean that if insert-name-here gets upset they weren’t mentioned, you can show it was in fact not your fault and direct their ire at the reviewer.

btw: keep the ‘technical info’ to the point; tambourine on track seven by insert-name-here should suffice (unless there’s a mega cute factor like it being someone in the band’s gran).

To start the whole thing a bit of background and information about the band/release is essential. This can include some of the above information, though I recommend also including it in list form if it does.

Don’t be put off if you don’t have professional photos or tons of social media links to include; its including what you do have in the right way that counts. That said, when your music is on a platform like YouTube (regardless of actual video or just pic of album cover/band as the song plays) it gives the reviewer a way of including the music directly; so in some cases, it’s worth looking at a platform like that if not already using one.

Finally, be creative.

If there’s a certain something that you think will give your package an edge while also helping the reviewer don’t be afraid to include it. Examples would only reveal other people’s creativity and defeat the point.

Finally, finally, be creative, but don’t overdo it and don’t at all when the recipient has specified what they want to receive (full-on relevant when contacting labels: failure to follow the instructions can result in the whole package ignored and deleted/binned straight off the bat).

Check list:

  • an introduction to the release
  • the music
  • album art work/promo photos
  • technical information (names, who did what, when and where, including any label info, etc)
  • include tour dates if applicable
  • links to both social media and platforms where music can be heard/purchased; ensure links are presented clearly, see example below (as would appear in email, not as usually presented on site):

Social media:


For more information on how best to present your music/information please read the article on One-Sheets by Heather McDonald here. It’s full of invaluable information including lots of links relating to other aspects of the music industry; and if you find anything there that contradicts me, take their word for it!

Click here to return to the Music Reviews Contact Form.