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Sound Of The Sirens Embark Upon A National Tour To Promote Their New Album, ‘Damage Control’ 

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Abbe Martin and Hannah Wood together are Sound of the Sirens and their prowess as one of the UK’s most exciting acoustic duos is built on the foundations of their live performances as well as their insightful and honest song writing. Their music finds focus on things that affect us all; past relationships, life experiences, mental health awareness and homelessness. Equally at home with songs of lament or joy, their brilliance caught the attention of Chris Evans when he brought back TGI Friday for one last hurrah and he featured their live performance on his show and asked why they were not signed by a major record label. This year may prove to be the year they find the widespread commercial success they deserve to accompany the widespread critical acclaim they already enjoy. Working with Saul Davies from the rock band James, they have recently released the brilliant ‘Damage Control’ album and are in the middle of a national tour to promote it.

Their music is impossible to pigeon hole and their musicality and instrumentation vast and varied. With Abbe playing acoustic guitar, high strung guitar (Nashville tuning), mandolin and bass drum and Hannah playing acoustic and electric guitar, tambourine, snare drum and piano, they bring huge technical know-how as well as superb creativity to the party and the chance to catch them live is not one to be missed. I was lucky enough to catch up with Hannah and ask a few questions about the album and the tour. I hope her answers encourage you to look them up and take a listen and hopefully try to see them; you really won’t be disappointed.

EP:  It’s joyfully difficult to pin you down to any one style. Your songs are powerful whether they are emotive, heartfelt ballads or more anthemic toe tapping singalongs. Is it a conscious effort, as songwriters and artists, to make sure you cannot be pigeon holed and to defy genre? I’m a big fan of making it difficult to be put in any particular box as I think successful artists are able to be a constantly evolving, and therefore interesting, force of nature.

H: Well thank you very much!! We are so glad that you feel this as this is how we see us too. No one wants to be stuck in any box and we both believe that a good song is a good song, no matter what the genre. We tend to have our sound, but test out all sorts of different styles with that sound! We tend to be put into the folk box quite a lot, but are constantly trying to wangle our way out of it, because we don’t want to disappoint the folk folk!!

EP:  I have spent some time listening to your records and I love them but, and that’s not a negative but, live you guys are amazing. The live stuff I’ve tracked down has great vitality and it’s something you clearly enjoy. Is it important to you both that your live performances have this extra gear?

H: Yeah, I think that as soon as we have a live audience, we perform it with more emotion and angst. I think as well, we have been performing for so many years, and started out singing in pubs where you had to really work to get the attention of people. It is probably instilled in us to just go for it! We love recording and making albums, but people do always seem to comment that our live performances are very different. We have to make up for the lack of production somehow! 

EP:  You have worked very hard since winning Exeter’s prestigious Battle of the Bands competition, who have been and who are your main musical inspirations?

H: Wow, that takes me back!! I think our influences are very far and wide. We have had many obsessions over the years. Some being Will Varley, First Aid Kit, Lana Del Rey, Mumford and Sons; the list goes on! 

EP:  Your new album ‘Damage Control’ is out and it seems to be quite an evolution from your excellent ‘A Long Way to Fall’ debut. How do you think you have evolved as musicians since your debut and how do you hope this album is received by fans of your music, and of course music lovers new to your music?

H: It has been wonderful to work with a producer who had such a vision for these songs. ‘A Long Way To Fall’ was recorded live in two days, because that was the competition we won. It is raw and stripped back and sounds more like us live. We seem to be getting very lovely feedback so far on this new album ‘Damage Control’, and I think it is a way more accessible sound, and one that could reach further to wider audiences. We love how Saul (the producer) has shaped these songs and hopefully people do too!!

EP:  I remember seeing you play TFI Friday when it returned for a final season in 2015 with Chris Evans, who was quite the fan, giving you a national platform on his show. You sang the brilliant ‘Together Alone’ which as it turned out was almost prophetic with the time some people spent alone during the pandemic and the line “we are all in this together” and the message that we must make real use of the time we have available to us. How did the pandemic and the lockdown affect your music? I have spoken to several musicians who seem to have taken real directional changes in their music and seem to have taken the time to examine their art without the pressure of expectation. It’s almost been a silver lining, what do you think?

H: Yes, that song sounds like it was written post Pandemic!! Lock down definitely made us have to work harder in some areas and less in others. To not be on the road gave us space to really work on our online presence. We had to learn how to record ourselves, and find ways to stay present and keep connected with people out there. I feel that our Siren family became closer and we definitely appreciated the power of music when life turned upside down. It was such a crazy time for everyone and now feels like one big weird dream! For us, we gained a manager and a new booking agent during this time and we will be forever grateful for that. 

EP:  Chris Evans asked what was wrong with the music industry when two artists like yourselves were unsigned in 2015. Has that changed and did Chris use his considerable influence to help you, especially as he seemed a big fan?

H: We had some major labels interested at this time, but nothing materialised. We will always stay none the wiser, but don’t have any regrets that it didn’t. Chris was absolutely amazing for helping us like that. We were so lucky that our paths crossed, and that whole experience was totally surreal. Its the kind of story we will tell our grandkids and they won’t believe us! 

EP:  You are obviously hard working and enjoy touring your music. How hard has it been to lose that during the last couple of years and how excited are you to hit the road with new music?

H: It has been okay to be honest. We always remained grateful for our situations and counted ourselves lucky for not being worse off. The fact that we found ways to still sing and write together was a godsend. It is great to get back out there now, especially to play these songs that we are so excited to play. Plus, we have really missed the service stations…. Genuinely! 

EP:  For new fans, who might be discovering you for the first time, how did you guys meet and what brought you together artistically?

H: We met working together in Exeter’s best night club! We would drunkenly sing walking home from nights out together and convince ourselves that we were good. We sang in a functions band together, singing covers until we decided to write our own music and play our own instruments. The rest is history!

EP:  Finally, what’s the best way to keep up to date with your music and live performances?

H: Probably Facebook, Instagram, or join our mailing list.

For super keen people, they can join our Patreon page, where you get exclusives and podcasts of us chatting deep…or nonsense!!! 

Sound of the Sirens are touring the UK this May. Find details on their official website.



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St. Vincent Covers “Funkytown” For Minions: The Rise of Gru

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Some things in life are inevitable. For a while, that inevitably was a new Shrek movie with an updated pop cover like “I’m a Believer” from Smash Mouth. These days it’s a new Despicable Me movie, this time in the form of spinoff Minions The Rise of Gru. And just as we all predicted, the new Steve Carrell led film comes stacked with a loaded soundtrack headlined by St. Vincent.

For her contribution to the Minions: The Rise of Gru soundtrack, St. Vincent covered “Funkytown” by Lipps Inc. Her version was produced by Jack Antonoff and continues a run of luck for the musician that earlier this year saw her win a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album.

Antonoff also gave St. Vincent a shout-out for her album Daddy’s Home when he won Producer of the Year at the Grammys.

Announcing the release of her funky cover, St. Vincent took to Twitter and wrote, “Excited to say the @Minions (including @jackantonoff) and I have just released our version of ‘Funkytown’ from #TheRiseofGru soundtrack. Shout out to Gru and them…” Included with the post was a graphic of St. Vincent as a minion.

Joining St. Vincent on the Minions: The Rise of Gru soundtrack are Tame Impala, Kali Uchis, Brittany Howard, Thundercat, Caroline Polachek, Diana Ross, and Weyes Blood, just to name a few.

The album will be released on July 1, coinciding with the film’s theatrical release. You can listen to St. Vincent’s cover of Lipps Inc. “Funkytown” below!



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Parmalee Shares The Music Video For Their Top Five US Hit ‘Take My Name’, A Musical Marriage Proposal.

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Back in October of 2021, Parmalee released ‘Take My Name’ as the second single from their third studio album. It was written with and produced by David Fanning, producer of the massive hit ‘Carolina’ that introduced me to the band back in 2008, Ashley Gorley and Ben Johnson. Robyn Collins of ‘Taste of Country’ described the song as “a musical marriage proposal” and lead singer of the band, Matt Thomas, says it was inspired by the marriage of brother Scott; he says “it made me think about what I would want to say to my future wife.”

Some songs almost become bigger than themselves when they tap into the lives and moods of everyone and this is very much one of those songs. It’s not difficult to see why this song has been adopted by fans all over the world irrespective of their taste in music; its words conjure all the romance and love that you’d hope to feel when you ask someone to marry you. It’s lyrically a shopping list of everything you feel at the moment you realise you’ve met the one, even if that’s after only a short time. I remember proposing to my wife after just 8 weeks and if I try to remember what I was feeling at the point I proposed and tried to put it into words I would hope it was very similar to this song. Now over 31 years later and still happily married I listen to this song and it brings all those feelings back in a rush so why wouldn’t it be the perfect song to overlay a proposal, sing at the wedding or just be part of the moment; it’s how I’d love my sons to feel when they propose to their partners. 

Parmalee are very aware of their fans needs and were quick to record a wedding version for such occasions with a less catchy percussion and a softer piano focussed vibe than the original version. There have even been brilliant occasions where the band has turned up to “crash” a wedding and sing this song to the happy couple reminiscent of Maroon 5 and their song ‘Sugar’. None of those guests will forget that wedding in a hurry!

With all the interest in the song and the brilliant videos and messages the band have received, they felt the time was right to make their own narrative video to accompany the song as an addition to the previously released visualizer. The ‘Wedding Version’ video of the romantic song was filmed in Gallatin, TN and directed by Shane Drake. The heart-warming story follows the journey of the protagonist through middle school and all the way to adulthood featuring kids from a local school, an original 1968 Mustang Shelby GT350 and appearances from the band with the lead being played by frontman Matt Thomas.

Matt says:

“From the jump, the fans have really latched onto this song in such an amazing, life changing way- our fans have been the reason for so many of our own major milestones, so it means that much more to us that folks are using our song for their proposals and weddings and allowing us to be a part of those major moments in their lives. We wanted to pay tribute to the fans who have been on this journey with us since the beginning so in the music video you’ll see a story of love and loyalty unfold across the years-but don’t expect to see any weddings or proposals – the fan created videos far exceed anything we could depict. We love watching them.”

With over 135 million global on demand streams, the song has raced up the Country charts, outpacing the band’s previous single, the multinational Number 1 smash ‘Just The Way’ with Blanco Brown and has been popping up all over TikTok with creators playing the song over proposal and wedding videos and even sparking a trend of using the sound of the song and writing “if your man doesn’t make you feel this way then what are you doing?” over the video. 

Parmalee - Take My Name (Official Music Video)

Coming from their recently released album ‘For You’, an album that has garnered critical acclaim with American Songwriter calling it “authentically real, genuinely inspired” and Billboard saying that “Parmalee find itself in the enviable position of being able to tap into multiple audiences”. What is very clear is that Country music is slowly starting to find a new, younger audience in the UK to stand alongside the existing fans of the genre. Zack Bryan has recently found himself high on the Spotify album charts and UK stars like Ed Sheeran have appeared alongside Country stars like Luke Combs at the Country2Country festival. Even Tom Odell has found himself headlining the British Country Music Festival in the Summer. Parmalee may be the band to really break down the barriers between Country music and the UK Charts with this song as the musical genre of this release is far less important than the honesty and emotion of the lyrics and Romance will always break down all of the barriers, or at least I would hope it would.

‘For You’ is out now and can be streamed and downloaded here. Find out more about Parmalee and their music online on their official website.

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Mercedess Releases debut album ‘Casa Fantasia’ along with lead single ‘Summers Already Gone’

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This Copenhagen DIY pop artist has managed the difficult task of mixing her soulful voice with vibrant dreamy production and lyrics with real streetwise attitude. The result is something that has given her the hit single ‘Obvious’ which Danish radio loved and the internationally acclaimed single ‘Back to Business’. Now she is releasing the excellent lead single ‘Summer’s Already Gone’ which sounds very modern Bond in its lo fi production but tells an unusual love story. Not a story about falling in love with a person, but about the love affair that always ends; the affair with Summer.

She says:

“I wanted to write a song that could represent both the fearlessness of the magical Summer days and the truly blue sadness of the re occuring love story it actually is when Summer eventually comes to an end. I know it’s a heartbreaking, melancholy feeling but it’s also everything I love about Summer.”

The song was written in Mercedess’ living room with Danish indie superstar Goss and the guitarist Søren Breum and is produced by the critically acclaimed artist Vera. It allows the velvet of the artist’s voice to tumble over the muted trumpets, break beats and flirty acoustic guitars and strings bringing to life the seasonal heartbreak. 

The fact that it is about the love and anticipation felt for Summer is almost more poignant this year as we embark upon the first free Summer for a few years. The affair with Summer this year promises to be a torrid passionate affair as we’ve been apart so long but the heartbreak of its end will be felt more keenly. This song will be the soundtrack to the affair for sure.

The single is released on the same day as the debut album from this exciting new talent. Mercedess says of the album: “Casa Fantasia is an album about longing for closeness and honesty. These songs are an escape from reality-a place to feel free and be yourself. Writing it was a personal journey and process to me that hopefully will make space for creativity, art and emotions for others too”

The album promises to do just that with the artist’s melancholy and yet warm and dreamy vocals and marks an exciting new chapter for an artist destined to find international acclaim  with this collection of music. Summer may come and go but I’m sure the appeal of Mercedess will be perennial. 

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