Readers Panel

It's been a while since our beloved Reader's Panel became one again and I am so so pleased to say, yes, it's back and it's bigger and better than ever. I've always wanted The Music Manual to listen to our readers to really get to grips with who they're liking from this months selection of fantastic artists and I hope I have achieved this! Remember, it's all about the music.  Lauren x

Siobhan Corcoran on SUGARMEN.
Sugarmen were my favourite out of who were featured, I listened to their song Circuit Queen and I honestly had it on loop for about an hour after..
The lyrics are inventive and intelligent and I can definitely see Circuit Queen becoming a bit of an anthem for the band. The song has an atmospheric energy that flows through it, and as Lauren said its "not just some misleading clever poetry". They make great music without pretentiousness which is difficult to find these days. I feel that they have the capacity to make it, and it looks as though they are already on the rise. Well done for what you've achieved so far, and good luck for what appears to be a promising future!
Ever since I heard 'Stop In The Shade', a hypermelodic gem of tune, I've been secretly plotting a devious plan to kidnap Thomas McConnell and steal some of his magical mystery (or politely ask him to jam with me). Thomas's music is heavily influenced by The Beatles, a band which people keep trying their best to turn me against, to no avail. Give it up, kids. When I'm not blasting west coast garage rock down my lugs, The Beatles are in my ears and in my eyes - and I love them. Our Thomas has the balls to be unashamedly Beatlesque and does it well, not an easy task. His recordings are perfectly layered with velvet vocal harmonies and a quarry of instruments to produce a sound not dissimilar to those captured by Mr George Martin himself. There are also sneaky hints of the Ziggy side of Bowie hidden in the mix I believe, another of my true loves. 
Surprisingly, the song featured on August's Music Manual 'John' is simply a keyboard with vocals. If you know Thom's work you'll understand the shock of this and your ears might twitch with wonder. However if this is the first you've heard of him you'll probably think the song's a bit basic. Yeah, a fat bass, a sitar and some 'Free As A Bird' drum fills would be great on this tune, f' shiz, but I reckon it still stands strong 'on it's all alone'. 
"John, where have you gone John?" he questions. I like the idea that Thomas, a self-declared McCartney fan, is searching for his very own Lennon to weave impossibly brilliant songs with. I can totally understand this craving, the Lennon-McCartney skill has always fascinated me because of the mass amount of incredible songs they wrote as a unit, even if some only had a tiny input from one of these geniuses. As a John fan myself I sometimes wonder if all my unfinished songs, sitting all lonely and broken, could be mended and made beautiful by a Paul, an unknown entity somewhere out there who is destined to finish them...  
All that said, I've probably got Thomas's song all wrong, it might not even be about John Lennon but about the late great Scatman John (bee-baba-bada-boh) or the frustration of losing one's tin of John West tuna just when you're potato is hot and ready?? 
Weird theories aside, Thomas McConnell is definitely worth checking out. His songs are catchy, the production immense and when I saw him live recently with just a guitar as accompaniment, it was so good that I was instantly star struck, which does not happen very often. I've got a good feeling about him - worried I'm not! Check out his soundcloud - I highly recommend 'Stop In The Shade' (my favourite one), 'On My All Alone' and 'Penelope Definitely' as great introductions to his art. Then lose yourself in the rest and finally go and buy his 'Worried About Thomas McConnell EP'.
Margaux P. on SUGARMEN.
To be honest -and I'm really sorry for that- I didn't find the time to properly listen to all the bands so I decided to choose my 'band of the month' only from my first impression, and so I picked Sugarmen ! I actually only listened to the one song they have on their soundcloud, the one Lauren had put on the blog: Circuit Queen. It's really catchy from the first notes to the end, and makes you want to play it on repeat. I love the vocals, the guitar riffs, that little pause with the drums just before the chorus (I can easily picture a whole crowd singing along to the lyrics, they're just great!)
I also read that they supported Deap Vally and The Strypes - two of my favourite bands at the moment !- so that makes me like them even more ! Thank you once again Lauren for making me discover new exciting bands.

Hannah Welsh on THE MERRYLEES.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to find any band with a different sound, with more and more bands releasing the tried-and-tested indie rock/pop album, all sounding the same as the last, and so I found it very refreshing listening to many of this month’s bands on the ‘Music Manual’. However, one band which caught my attention was The Merrylees with their 60’s influenced, psychedelic sound, completely different to most modern day bands. Their single ‘For You’ is tinged with hints of the past, forming a nostalgic, dreamy yet fresh sound, unlike any other. Having already played at the festival T in the Park, it is clear that the best is yet to come from The Merrylees, and I shall look forward to hearing more.

Kerry Barrett Turley on RED SAILS.
I'm hoping every month's Reader's Panel choice isn't going to be as hard as this one - Although it would be pretty cool if it was too!
I love so many of the people on this list for so many different reasons. Thomas McConnell just writes perfect pop songs, with the catchiest of chorus' ... love his artwork and everything he puts into his craft - and he is a proper dude too! Thom Morecroft? Don't EVEN get me started ... Gorgeous with the most perfect voice in the whole entire world ... Sugarmen .. A Lovely War, just great too! But, there is no point if I am not going to be honest with all this .. so .. my choice is obviously Red Sails.
From the first listen of "Sure Enough" I was hooked ... there is nothing else I've heard this year that I love as much as this track. It just IS perfection ... gorgeous tone in Kieran's voice, it sounds like the simplest of songs .. but it took incredible hard work to make it like that! There is a certain piano part to it that is just so moving, makes me wanna cry every time... heartfelt lyrics... Sure Enough just has absolutely everything you could want .. and then some more! Songs like this come along once in a blue moon!
Melissa-Kate Newitt on SUGARMEN.
There is nothing I love better than discovering new bands, and clearly Sugarmen are a winner in my books. As a band from the great music city of Liverpool they really have took that expectation of a Liverpool band on very easily. If the fact they supported artists such as The Strypes and Deap Valley and took part in Liverpool sound city doesn’t intrigue you to check out their music, then I’m sure I could convince you. 
The song ‘Circuit Queen’ will almost definitely make you a fan, this track is acoustic but striking, it gets you in the type of euphoric mood. The guitar playing carries the song perfectly but it’s the vocals that top off the greatness of the song, the words are sung with emotion and tone, a truly captivating voice. However it is the whole song the just creates a great atmosphere to it, certainly top marks from me. If I were you id be keeping an eye on Sugarmen, with their sound they shall be reaching great heights and everyone would be wanting a bit of that sugar. Like I said, there is nothing I love better than 
discovering new bands.

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