Single Review -Paul Simon – Wristband

One of the most prolific songwriters of all time is back and has announced a thirteenth album called Stranger To Stranger. That man is Paul Simon and we can expect his album on June 3rd and the first single to come from it is ‘Wristband’ and what a single it is! The song has unrelenting rhythm and energy through rapid percussion and handclaps and beyond that there isn’t a whole lot else other than a simple bass line. At the conclusion, the brings in trumpets to escalate the energy further. As well as this, Paul’s vocals which are as calm, yet steadfast as they’ve ever been. The message behind the song matches the energy. He recalls being locked out of his own gig as he didn’t have a wristband and likens it to exclusivity and privilege in society before envisaging a social revolution. He commentates on American society in the same was as Kendrick Lamar, just through a highly relatable metaphor. He promises his upcoming album to be another genre-bending affair and at 74 he’s trend-bending too and remaining ahead of the game.

Owen Riddle

Single Review – Karen O – Rapt

On the September 8th the wonderful and enigmatic Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs will release her debut solo album with Crush Songs. This first track from this is ‘Rapt’. A little taste of what is to come in September at just under two minutes. In those two minutes, the song is a single strung out and muted and in a gentle affair with a subtle riff. Over this is Karen’s highly distinguishable vocal which conveys intimacy, narration and distant ecstasy. A simple and basic track that is a small window into what Karen and the new album is capable of.

Nicole Atkins Interview!

I reviewed Nicole Atkins single ‘Girl You Look Amazing’ from her latest album Slow Phaser back in March and now she’s answered some questions for me on song ideas, recording her latest album and her upcoming dates with Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds.

For those who don’t know, who is Nicole Atkins and how would you describe your sound?

I am musician from the shores of New Jersey and I like to make desert disco progressive rock.


Who or what are the main influencing factors to your music?

kraut and progressive rock, jesus christ superstar and couch faint inducing crooner rock.


Several people have compared you to Roy Orbison; do you see that as a help or a hindrance?

i see it as neither. it’s a compliment. roy was the man.


You’ve talked of how the idea for you’re first rate single ‘Girl You Look Amazing’ came to you in a dream, have you had any other song ideas that have arrived out of the blue like that?

there are many of my songs that get delivered to me in dreams. it’s also a good way to rationalize my sleeping in… i’m working. 


How would you describe the process of making your recent album Slow Phaser? Does it differ from how your previous albums came to fruition? 

slow phaser was a slow process. i took a really long time writing this one. if i had rushed it i wouldve released a very different, or rather two very different records. my first record, “neptune city,” took most of my life up until 26 to write. my second, “mondo amore,” was written in a fever after a bad breakup. “slow phaser,” i let myself wander around the world, meeting people and looking for inspiration. paying attention to my dream life and finding good writing foils in jim sclavunos from the bad seeds and tore johannson as well as my time in the joshua tree desert and writing in an LA porn studio with my buddy glen. 


You’ve recently announced that you’re opening for Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds for some of his shows, how do you find that? He seems like a laudable enigma of sorts, has he gave his opinion on your music or offered up any Nick Cave wisdom? 

I haven’t met him yet but I’m looking forward to it. his drummer Jim Sclavunos helped me write a few of the songs on this album and really helped me figure out how to break a particularly long bout of writers block. he’s also playing drums with us on my own UK dates this week. I’m sure i owe him a fruit basket.


You’ll be arriving in the U.K very soon, where are you heading and what can people expect from your live shows?

we are playing in London, Nottingham, Bristol, Manchester and Scotland. also an instore at rough trade on may 5th. Lately our shows have been more raw and electric than they’ve ever been.


Do you have a favourite venue when you’re playing gigs? A place you always come back to? 

we always come back to the bowery ballroom in nyc. it was my first big venue i ever played and the room, sound and staff always feel like home.


I’ve seen some of your performances on Letterman and The Craig Ferguson Show, does having a few million people watching ramp up the nerves a bit? Would you do it again?

it ramps up the nerves in a good way. i love the rush. i was always terrible at sports so i guess maybe it’s comparable to playing a big game. i love to do it when ever given the chance.


I’m unreliably informed that Brooklyn is a city solely inhabited by musicians… Whether or not that’s the case, is it easy to get things done as a musician in Brooklyn?

there are tons of musicians in brooklyn and yes, it’s a great place to meet likeminded people and get inspired and make great things, but is it easy? not really. you have to have a buttload of cash money to live there these days. that’s why i live in asbury park, nj right now. not too many musicians, but there are some really great ones. and you can pay the rent and look at the ocean and feed seagulls french fries.


What do you have planned after you’ve stopped off in the U.K?

we come home and have a bunch of festivals, some dates with our friends the avett brothers, a tour with nick cave and the bad seeds and i’m releasing a record i produced from this badass teenage girl band, the glycerine queens. i’m also recording with my other project, Very Night. we make 80’s stalker film music.

Thanks to Nicole for some great answers!

Single Review – Nicole Atkins – Girl You Look Amazing

Nicole Atkins from Neptune in New Jersey released her third studio album entitled Slow Phase to a great reaction and a deserved one at that. This is justified further in how she will be supporting Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds on their North American tour, but before that she is playing four dates in the U.K next month. She plays in Manchester on the 2nd, Edinburgh on the 4th, Bristol on the 6th and London on the 7th. Her latest single from her third album is ‘Girl You Look Amazing’. It’s has a solid bass groove and the snappy percussion give it an infectious rhythm. Nicole’s vocals are the driving force of this song however. She has an earthy and rich vocal with a range that she utilises in this track. The lower tones of the verses and the rise and fall of the chorus which she pulls off brilliantly to mould a pop-like and playful vocal which leads to an all round fun and exciting track. Lyrically she talks of how it came to her in a dream. “It was being played in a big dance club and David Byrne was singing it. I woke up and recorded it into my phone. It took a while to figure out what “girl, you look amazing” could mean, as I’ve never been one to be that positive. So I wrote it about a girl who is the last one to shut the party down. Whose life is just an absolute mess. She might look amazing, but she misses all the real things that used to make her happy.” That added lyrical dimension to the song entangles deeper undertones and messages to the fun and exiting musical elements. To pull it off so well is one of the tell-tale signs of an accomplished artist.

Image from 

Video for Girl You Look Amazing

Nicole Atkins and Arc Iris May tour dates 
Fri2nd  ManchesterNight & Day


Sun4th Edinburgh* Sneaky Pete’s 
Tues6th  BristolLouisiana
Wed7th LondonBush Hall
* Edinburgh show is Nicole Atkins only