Mo Kenney - Macy Todd - The Vex - Norma - Bunny

Mo Kenney - If You're Not Dead.

Background - This is the year that Mo Kenney plugs in, quite literally. Known for her smooth vocals and fearless lyrics, the Canadian singer is back with her new album The Details, on September 29th, 2017. Mo has released two records with long-time producer and Canadian rock mentor Joel Plaskett since 2012. With her third album, Mo comes fully and completely into her own as an artist; she swaps her trademark acoustic guitar for a Fender Mustang, tracing her own strange, devastating, and ultimately hopeful trip through the trials and tribulations of booze-fuelled breakdowns, clouds of depression, and disintegrating relationships.

On each of its 14 tracks, Mo unflinchingly confronts her annihilation and eventual redemption, leaving nothing out. The concept album is her most personal and cohesive work to date. Combining elements of bruising rock ’n’ roll, vivid psychedelia, and haunting, left-of-the-dial pop, Kenney navigates the darkest waters in her life with self-deprecation, genuine soul-baring, and typical black humour.

Before and during writing the album, Kenney was enroute to rock bottom: depressed with dark blues and drinking like a fish, unable to hold herself or her relationships together, alienating the people she loves, and living hell-bent on oblivion. It’s a journey, thankfully, that finds Kenney sailing to calmer seas, closing gently on the sparse, clear-minded “Feelin’ Good.” But the storms weathered to get there are the kind that leaves scars. The self-destructive drive of “On The Roof” explodes out of the gate with blistering intensity. “June 3rd” channels the late Elliott Smith with spectral atmospheres as Kenney comes to terms with her alienating behaviour. And the vicious, rollicking “If You’re Not Dead” shows her playing mind games over feral guitar solos and biting hooks.

She explains, candidly, “The Details is a fourteen song concept album. The album starts off kind of hopeless and gets progressively more optimistic. This album is the details of coming out the other side.”

As well as having toured in Canada alongside the likes of Joel Plaskett and Ron Sexsmith plus extensively in her own right, Mo is already no stranger to international audiences, stunning crowds with full band and solo sets at this year’s Great Escape Festival. Website here.

The forthcoming album 'The Details' may have come about in a pretty dark spell of Mo Kenney's life. 'If You're Not Dead' suggests the flip side of this (or perhaps irony) was her ability to create some very impressive songs, plus thankfully and much more importantly recover.


Macy Todd - Give It Up.

Background - Her debut single "I've Got A Feelin'" racked up over 600K streams since last year. Praised for "merging elements of the likes of Amy Winehouse, Paloma Faith and Macy Gray," it was covered by everyone from Indie Shuffle to HillyDilly, before finding its way onto numerous reddit threads and multiple Spotify playlists. 

Macy is finally set to release her sophomore effort "Give It Up," channeling the vocal powerhouses that launched her career the first time around. "Give It Up" came to Macy while her longtime producer and collaborator, Dan Hannon (Manchester Orchestra, A Rocket To The Moon) was recovering from surgery to remove a cancerous lesion from his vocal cords. 

While in the hospital, he was told he wasn't allowed to speak for three days, but couldn't get the melody (or the idea of Macy singing the track) out of his head. Deciding to break doctors orders, he whisper-sang the single to Macy on a call, and ran right from the hospital to the studio to record it the very day he was discharged. Facebook here.

With a rich and powerful musical arrangement, Macy Todd adds real vibrancy to 'Give It Up' a feisty and addictive song. The above comparisons are well founded, her passionate and soulful delivery is a delight.


The Vex - Education Kills.

Background - An electrifying injection of no-holds-barred punk rock, ‘Education Kills’ is a tribute to the extraordinary bravery of Malala Yousafzai, shot in the head by the Pakistan Taliban while campaigning for women’s rights to education. With this now Nobel Laureate in mind, The Vex’s treatise on the evil that men do is set to overdriven punky-reggae riffage and a fiercely anthemic chorus. 

Though hailing from London’s outer fringes, where the capital unceremoniously bleeds into Kent, The Vex actually came into being some 1,500 miles away, with an Eighties pop superstar playing his part. While on tour in Moscow with a previous band, the schisms in the group were made apparent by an offer of management from one Adam Ant. The faction that opposed the deal broke away to form The Vex, playing their debut gig at Moscow’s BlastFest, where the only thing that wasn’t ice-cold was, typically, the band’s beer rider. 

Back in the UK, Josh (guitar/vox), Jacko (guitar/vox), Andrew (bass) and Joshua (drums) soon honed a sound inspired by the classic roots and rock of both Kingston, Jamaica, and London, England. Dealing in dirty guitars and big beats, played with passion and precision, the quartet’s heavy rocksteady sonics became a draw on both sides of the Thames, their ferocious shows earning them a rep as one of the best live bands on the circuit. The Vex hit hard and they cut deep. Spin this EP and hear for yourself. Facebook here.

'Education Kills' is a powerhouse of uncompromising punk rock, where the band channel energy & urgency in this sub two & a half minute blast of fresh air.


Norma - Spectacular Bid.

Background - Swedish Kraut-rock 3-piece Norma are finally ready to deliver sophomore album. No rush. Ten years from their debut single, Norma is about to release their third album. Since the beginning, Norma has been about building big, atmospheric scenery with sounds and music. With the goal to put the listener into another world or a feeling of hypnosis, the trio has been experimenting with dream interpretation machines, old synthesizers, racehorses and Formula 1 Cars.

Norma was formed in a living room, as the band says, “this way we could sit comfortably, having a glass (or two) of wine and watch a movie inspiration at the same time as rehearsing”. The band was vey influenced by the movies of David Lynch, experimenting with instruments like pedal steel, old organs and synthesizers. After a while, the trio starred rehearsing in a shelter and a bigger, heavier more kraut influenced sound started to grow which resulted in the debut EP “1” in 2007.
One and a half years later, the full-length album, “Book of Norma” was released, followed by the bands second record in 2013 “The Invisible Mother”.

The bands music has been compared to German Kraut Rock Bands like Neu and Faust, whilst also references like Silverbuilt, 120 Days, Serena Maneesh, War on Drugs and Sigur Ros. New single “Spectacular Bid” gives a feeling of being in the middle of a horse race. Horses are neighing, legs gallop and the legendary horse Spectacular bid is like always-running fast, led by his jockey Ronnie Franklin.

The idea of making this song came up when Erik was going through belongings from his grandfather and found a picture of a racehorse that he remembered from his childhood. In the seventies Eriks grandfather was working in the postal service and in 1978 he saved up for a vacation in the US. During the trip he went to a thoroughbred horse race for the first time in his life, the Young America Stakes in New Jersey where he placed a bet on Spectacular bid and won. It wasn’t that much money but enough to be able to stay and rent a studio in New York for one month where he was painting his arts. Website here, Facebook here.

Just the mention of Kraut-rock tends to spark my attention & 'Spectacular Bid' has some of that vibe coursing through it. It's more than that, although the reference is not misleading, this band have a broader musical feel, where melody and emotion are also key parts. Very impressed & looking forward to more.


Bunny - Let Me Be Your Dog.

Background - Chicago's Bunny shares new single "Let Me Be Your Dog." Bunny, formed in Chicago during the winter of 2016, toes the bleary line between dream pop and bedroom rock. The first project of Jessica Viscius, their tunes take on a soft grunge feel, mixing dainty, pretty melodies with hazy lyrics delicately laced with sarcasm. 

Her tongue-in-cheek songs are a testament to the tried-and-untrue stereotypes of female frailty, dependency, and hopeless romanticism. "Let Me Be Your Dog" is deceivingly seductive, a mix of sweetness and sarcasm. 

She might charm you, but she’s certainly not fooling herself. The debut EP from Bunny, Sucker, will be released later this year. Website here, Facebook here.

Second time on Beehive Candy & in less than a month Bunny has now shared 'Let Me Be Your Dog.' It's another beautiful dose of dream pop with that hint of garage rock lurking just beneath the surface.