New Zealand’s Best – Sound The Ocean

9 Oct

New single review – Sound The Ocean ‘Spring’

SpringI often like to ‘lose’ myself on the Internet whilst searching for new music.  I like to call these activities my musical journeys.  There are no rules of engagement and there is no logical plan to follow.  These journeys can start when I least expect them to start, often as a result of a Tweet someone has shared, or a name that pops up on the Facebook search bar as I type.

During one of these musical journeys I came across a collection of new, fresh and emerging New Zealand bands which left me grinning from ear-to-ear as they are ALL fantastic.  I also discovered that the New Zealand government are avid supporters of broadcast media and the Arts and have set up an organisation called NZ On Air which funds and invests in a colourful range of local television, radio, music and digital media content to extend choices for New Zealand audiences.  This goes a long way to explaining the reasons why there is such a vibrant and exciting new and emerging music scene in New Zealand.Sound The Ocean main

I present to you Sound The Ocean, a seven-piece band of music teachers from Hamilton. in the Waikato region of the North Island.  Their sound is polished, anthemic and totally infectious!  Their brand new single ‘Spring’ epitomises the perfect pop anthem with an uptempo beat driving the song, perfect instrumentation, and a melodic male lead vocal accompanied by some deliciously euphoric choruses sung in beautiful harmony.  These guys certainly know how to write and perform the perfect pop anthem and I have a suspicion they will do rather well in their native New Zealand and we hope this success spills around the Globe.

Here is the fantastic video which accompanies ‘Spring’ which launches today.

Unsung Lilly – Album Review

12 Sep

Unsung Lilly – BE

ULMMpicUnsung Lilly, are a five-piece band from deepest Surrey led by two formidable female vocalists, Sera and Frankie, and backed by a male trio of expert musicians, Wayne, Russ and Allan.  They are the epitome of a fresh, contemporary and very relevant mainstream pop band.  Their songs are original, catchy and authentic with many different musical styles and influences woven into each and every song.

Their long-awaited album ‘Be’ is a collection of 14 self-penned and self-produced songs which the band chose to release via a Pledge Music campaign to allow their fans to pre-order and in doing so help to fund its release.  Following the success of this campaign, the album will be available from the band’s website from Monday 16th September.

As is common with independent self-produced and self-released albums, all 14 tracks are strong and very likable, which represent excellent value for money.  When was the last time you bought an album from a signed mainstream artist and found each and every track to your liking?

Unsung Lilly

I have chosen five tracks at random to review, and have added a sixth, which the band kindly sent me for exclusive airplay ahead of the album’s release and I must confess put a huge smile on my face when I first listened to it.

Silence is a beautiful, heartfelt soulful ballad featuring the delicious vocals of Sera, initially accompanied by simple guitar and piano chords, and soon builds into a rather anthemic chorus.  Close your eyes, and you’ll be transported to a candlelit room.

I Remember is another ballad which is as delightful as it is melancholic.  It also happens to be one of Sera’s favourites, and here she tells us why:

I love how this song came about…. I was on a tour bus in Switzerland and suddenly all these words started coming into my was like they were literally coming through me as opposed to coming from me. I wrote them all out on my phone and emailed them over to Frankie, who was back in the UK. It just so happens that at that exact same time she’d been playing around with chord and melody ideas… and crazily, it all fitted together! Within about 30mins she emailed me back with a song! It’s the only song we’ve written like that (i.e. doing bits separately and not even in the same country). It was supposed to be a hidden track at the end of the album but we love it so much we decided not to do that in the end!

Just Be is a catchy, melodic and rather funky number, one of those songs that takes over the part of the brain that controls movement and sends your muscles into spasms turning you into John Travolta or Patrick Swayze!  This is an uplifting number with a very clear message to anyone who feels burdened by peer pressure to be something they are not.  The chorus says it all – Just Be, everyone else is taken… Very wise words.


Caught Up In A Moment  arrives as a guitar-laden, rocky uptempo number which soon turns into a very infectious soulful pop anthem with catchy choruses, perfect harmonies from Frankie and Sera, and expert instrumentation from the boys.  Great production, fantastic arrangements and solid vocals.

Let Us Be is another uptempo number which starts with the cosmic 70’s sound of a guitar on full reverb, soon joined by a very interesting afro percussion arrangement.  Just as your toes begin to tap, Sera’s unmistakable vocals kick-in like an MC on a Hip-Hop track.  Frankie soon joins the party with her bluesy soulful tones perfectly complimenting Sera’s melodic rap.  This is a full-on production which leaves the listener under no illusion this is a band at the top of their game and they mean business!a

As the first few bars of I Ain’t Got The Blues ooze out you just know this is going to be a classy number with some very delicate soulful guitar licks and piano chords accompanied by the slightest percussion and bass.  Your prediction is confirmed as soon as Frankie’s vocals burst full of blues, soul and more than a dash of gospel.  She is soon joined by Sera’s delicious harmonies and the song just takes you to a parallel universe where Motown meets BlueNote meets Philly meets Led Zep!

This, ladies and gentlemen is no ordinary album and this is certainly no ordinary band, for goodness sake, Unsung Lilly played in front of 300,000 people in Hyde Park during the Royal Wedding celebrations in 2011, and that ain’t no ordinary feat!

Buy the album before someone tells you it is one of the ‘must have’ albums in any music lover’s collection.  Oh, I do believe I have just told you that!

Under The Radar Live Sessions with Johnny Lucas

12 Aug


Johnny LiloThis week we welcome to Under The Radar Live Sessions on Brooklands Radio supreme one-man band Johnny Lucas, who is originally from Warrington in Cheshire but now living in London.  Johnny is a talented and versatile singer who has mastered the loop pedal and puts on a very engaging performance with perfect timing and aplomb, sounding like he has a full band around him.

His brand new single ‘Lilo’ is an infectious Brit-pop anthem which is sure to stay echoing in your head long after it has ended!  Johnny has found an innovative way to promote the single by organising a ‘flash mob’ event at London’s famous St Pancras station, where, this Wednesday 14th August at 11:45am, he, plus a bunch of his friends and fans, will launch into an impromptu performJohnny and DDance of ‘Lilo’ which will be filmed and uploaded on YouTube soon after the event to create a buzz and hopefully spark some form of viral reaction.

Listen to the show in full on Mixcloud

Under the Radar Live Sessions Volume 1 FREE Download

11 Jun

Supporting Music Therapy Week and Nordoff Robbins

Under The Radar Live Sessions Compilation Volume 1

UTR Live Sessions V1 Lemon artists keysBlue sizedIntroducing the first in a series of compilations of tracks from some of the artists that have appeared on Under the Radar on Brooklands Radio.

This first compilation consists of 16 tracks which have all been performed and recorded live at the Brooklands Radio studios.

Available as a ‘Pay what you like’ download on Bandcamp, we have plans to make it available as a CD and quite possibly in glorious vinyl including beautiful artwork on the covers and comprehensive sleeve notes.  We have included short interview snippets of each of the artists as bonus tracks which will add a new dimension to the listening experience and give an insight into the song and the artist.

We hope that by making these superb recordings available for FREE download, more people will discover and learn about the incredibly talented, passionate and innovative artists that are emerging not just in the UK but also worldwide.

Any proceeds from these downloads will be shared with Nordoff Robbins, who are a Nordoff Robbins Logo Landscape Colour JPEG1music charity dedicated to transforming the lives of vulnerable children and adults across the UK. Through music therapy and other music services, we support a range of people with a range of challenges such as autism, dementia, mental health problems, stroke, brain injury and depression. Some of our clients have a life-threatening or terminal illness, such as cancer. All of these people have one uniting factor – music dramatically improves their quality of life. For more information about Nordoff Robbins and how you can get involved please click the Nordoff Robbins logo.

Under the Radar is a weekly Internet radio show, now in its fourth year, which is totally devoted to providing a platform for up and coming original singers, bands and musicians to reach new audiences. You may listen Sundays from 7pm (GMT) on and meet like-minded lovers of new music by taking part on the friendly Facebook forum which accompanies the show if you visit my Facebook page.

We hope you enjoy this selection, and if you become a fan of any of the artists featured, it would be incredibly valuable for them as well as us if you let them know you discovered them via the Under the Radar Live Sessions compilation.  Your comments and feedback are also welcomed and greatly appreciated.

Thank you for your support, and hope you enjoy this first selection of what we hope will be many!

You may access this compilation by clicking on the picture above, or by following this link:


Bronagh & The Boys – EP Review

29 May

From Belfast with love, this Muse will enchant you

Facebook page Bronagh & the Boys

EP coverI first became aware of this enchanting chanteuse via Tom Robinson’s The Listening Post and was instantly captivated by ‘I’m His’, the first track on her brand new EP titled ‘A Young Heart’ by Bronagh & The Boys, a collection of four self-penned songs, beautifully produced and worthy of adding to any discerning music lovers’ collection.

I’m His opens with a haunting piano accompanied by a distant trumpet soon followed by Bronagh’s haunting voice, and as your ears begin to adjust to this eclectic combination of sounds, you become aware of the bass, percussion, guitars and all the intricate layers that make this one magnificent ballad.  This is a serious musical piece oozing melancholy, reminiscent of Portishead’s epic Glorybox.

Green is the band’s debut single. A quirky, rather uplifting number with a definite folky country feel, beautifully produced with enchanting piano and that subtle trumpet in the distance.  The lyrics are thoughtful, clever and original.  The song itself is simple, yet the arrangements are intricate and feature keys, trumpet, solo acoustic guitar and delicious harmonies, always led by Bronagh’s perfect vocals.

Bronagh & the Boys – Green


Young Hearts starts gently with Bronagh’s delicate vocals accompanied by piano and once again that distant trumpet, and soon builds into a rock ballad full of energy, passion and you could be forgiven for feeling this is the opening soundtrack of one of those epic Hollywood motion pictures.

The fourth and final track on the EP is Not My Own and although all the elements of the previous songs are very much in evidence, this is yet another highly original, fresh and epic number, masterfully produced and led by Bronagh’s distinctive and supremely likable vocals.

To sum up, A Young Heart is a must-have EP and has certainly left me wanting to hear more from this enchanting young songstress, who at 22 has the World at her feet!  I personally can’t wait to welcome her to our studios for what promises to be a memorable Under The Radar Live Session!  Watch this space.


25 May

A treasure chest of Folk and Soul with a Pop twist

Arcelia mainIt is always hard to come up with the opening line for a blog, so without wishing to be perceived as lazy, I am going to use Arcelia’s very own introduction which I plagiarised from their Facebook page:

Arcelia ( pronounced Ah – KELL- ia, a very old Spanish word meaning ‘Treasure Chest’) combine clear, lyrical, soulful voices with guitar, cajon and original song writing, to create a sound that’s like relaxing in front of a blazing fire with a glass of red wine in hand. Their voices blend in intricate and haunting harmonies that will stay with you long after the set is over.
As you can clearly see, their own introduction is as good as any I can think of, and the perfect way to describe this trio of supremely talented and affable musicians who graced the Under The Radar Live Sessions studios back in April.  The thing that really stuck with me is the way each of the three, Teresa, Gavin and Simon took the lead in each of the three songs they performed and made them sound totally different from the others.  It was like having three different artists in the studio all at the same time! Teresa’s vocals are pure, almost angelic, whilst Simon sings with the passion and the fire of many of the great soul legends of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s and Gavin with his distinctive voice, reminding me of the great John Mayer, not to mention his supreme song-writing skills which also bear comparison to Mr Mayer.
But don’t take my word for it, watch the videos below and listen to the full session and you will hear for yourself the versatility and effortless way each member of this very original group bring to the table their own character and style.
Arcelia studio
Once you have watched the videos and listened to the podcast, go and download for FREE their excellent EP ‘This Time’ a collection of three magnificent tracks which serve as a taster of their debut album due later this year.
Arcelia Define their music
Arcelia – 45 Seconds
Arcelia – She’s Not Lost
Arcelia – Heaven
Under The Radar Live Sessions with Arcelia – Full Podcast 21 April 2013

Phildel – Gig Review Bush Hall London 15 May 2013

18 May

She will send a storm to capture your heart

phildel album coverLooks can be deceiving.  From the outside, there are not many clues, if any, about its pedigree as a renowned music venue.  The building looks dated, tired, and you could easily be persuaded to believe it is a bingo hall or snooker club, which incidentally, it was years gone-by!

Bush Hall is a small 300+ capacity venue which has character, great acoustics, and lends itself perfectly for those intimate gigs where artist and audience are so close they could almost touch each other.  The interior is pink, ornate, reminiscent of those old-time dance halls with high ceilings and several two-tier chandeliers giving a sense of elegant decadence.

The lobby is a narrow corridor adorned with photos of musicians who have previously played at Bush Hall, and what an impressive line-up it is: Adele, Kings of Leon, Lilly Allen, Amy Winehouse, REM plus many more of the World’s best-known artists and bands silently watching over you as you study each phoPhildel stage bandto and accompanying review.  The corridor leads into the bar, which then leads into the auditorium, a hall devoid of chairs except for a few round tables and chairs near the front.

We parked ourselves at the very front on the left near a grand piano next to the stage.  In front of the stage a maypole had been erected with several coloured ribbons taped to the floor.  The auditorium filled slowly, and after some considerable time, it always seems like an eternity when you wait patiently for a performance to start, the lights flickered to indicate the start of the show.  First the band took their positions on the stage, and were followed by a group of six young females in dresses wearing masks, who took their places around the maypole each grabbing the end of one of the coloured ribbons.

As piano filled the hall and a chorus of angelic voices from ‘Union Stone’ gently caressed our ears, so the maypole dancers started their dance skipping in opposite directions round the maypole gracefully and skilfully avoiding colliding with ePhildel arms highach other.  The dance and music ended and as the last of the girls exited, the band started to play and smoke-filled the stage; Phildel appeared, barefoot, stunning in a white dress, and effortlessly started to sing ‘The Disappearance of the Girl’, her excellent debut album’s title track, a haunting, gentle, melodic song dominated by strings, percussion, expert synth and her immaculate voice.

Phildel is no ordinary artist, she cannot be compared to any mainstream artist, her style is unique, her songs are authentic and even the instruments which accompany her repertoire are not your usual guitars and bass, instead she uses strings, piano, synth, percussion and rich harmonies.  Her music is visual and tells a very definite story, her own story, which is both tragic and magical.

The third song ‘Storm Song’ a more upbeat but also gentle number with a very infectious hook and again those angelic harmonies and choruses is perhaps one of the most commercially strong songs on the album.  The sound at Bush Hall was so good, that this, as well as most of the thirteen or so songs on Phildel’s set list sounded as good as the fully produced and mastered CD versions, a true testament to Phildel, her band as well as the sound engineers at the venue.

After ‘Storm Song’, Phildel stepped off the stage and took to the grand piano which sat patiently waiting for her to start playing ‘Beside You’, a stunning love ballad with words like ‘I’ll be everywhere you go, you go, in my symbolised world I’m a beautiful girl, in my house on the hill there is room for you still’.  The arrangements with piano, strings, haunting synth plus those angelic choruses and harmonies are simply exquisite.  ‘Union Stone’, the full version quickly followed and Phildel, now fully relaxed and in her element, started to tell eloquent stories in-between songs giving away a charming, humble and slightly mischievous side to her personality.

Her magnificent set ended with a double encore and a standing ovation which took her by surprise and moved her to tears.  Without a doubt this is a performer who oozes talent, passion, determination and whose songs are honest, heartfelt, dramatic and sometimes verging on the tragic.  Phildel literally has the World at her feet.  I for one, consider myself incredibly privileged to have witnessed this performance, and I urge you to go to one of her intimate gigs before she starts playing larger and less intimate venues.  If you haven’t bought her album, go and grab yourself a copy.123


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