REVIEWS: Demo Reviews | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Kat Candace

NOTE: The printed version of this article mistakenly credited Tom Astley for the below reviews, when they were actually written by Gus Ironside. We’d like to extend our apology to Gus for this error.


Kat Candace – Grenades and Guillotines

Newcastle-based 16 year-old Kat Candace describes herself as a “my own one-girl band”, as she writes, records and produces her songs as a solo singer-songwriter. The follow-up to her Who Loves You Now? EP, Kat’s latest single Grenades And Guillotines is a charming, very well-produced pop ballad featuring gorgeous vocals and a memorable melody. With a well-crafted chorus and perfectly-judged instrumentation, this is a seriously impressive single from such a young artist, who’s likely to go far. Kat has further singles in the pipeline in advance of her debut album, so we can look forward to hearing more from her soon.


Joshua Bell – Breathe

Having previously formed an acoustic duo and a quartet called The Blue Circle, Joshua Bell is now recording tracks under his own name. Breathe is a well-produced and arranged ballad that deftly combines beats, strings and piano to good effect. Joshua appears to have a fine voice, but it’s a little hard to tell, as he has modestly placed his vocals rather low in the mix. Overall, a catchy song with a strong melody and snappy arrangement, but on future releases Joshua should have more confidence in his singing and not bury it within the instrumentation. Well worth checking out.


Lewis Narey – Gates of Hell

Lewis Narey is a second year Music Production student at Newcastle College who describes his music as ranging from “bedroom pop to soul/RnB”. Gates of Hell is the first of four singles that he plans to release in 2023, with live performances also in the works. Boasting some fine piano and guitar-playing, Gates of Hell adeptly blends soul, reggae and R&B and is topped by a confident vocal by Neary that neatly reflects his varied influences. A polished production that ought to pick up plenty of airplay, this track would lend itself well to festivals, so look out for forthcoming gig announcements from Lewis.


Alex Douglas – Double Rainbow

Alex Douglas is based in Washington and describes himself as “an original hard rock piano artist”. Following in the lineage of Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elton John and Ben Folds, Alex treats his piano as the lead instrument on Double Rainbow which he describes as “an energetic and fast hard rock song”. He’s not kidding – Double Rainbow is a barreling roller-coaster ride rooted in 1950s rock ‘n’ roll, with the louche charm of The Faces and a generous dollop of ‘70s glam. Alex’s vocals have a tongue-in-cheek, almost Chas & Dave-like feel to them, perfectly in keeping with the slightly deranged sense of wild abandon conveyed by his boisterous piano-playing. A barnstorming rock ‘n’ roll number to round off this issue’s diverse selection of high quality demos, all of which are worthy of your time.



The Beauty Pageant – She Was Mine

A new band based in Newcastle, The Beauty Pageant have somewhat of an air of mystery about them. Latest release She Was Mine is an atmospheric song featuring shimmering, understated guitar over a crisp lounge-core rhythm track, with rather lugubrious vocals pitched somewhere between Ian Curtis and Leonard Cohen.

The song’s stylish melancholy evokes a wide range of artists dealing in the more nocturnal side of life, from The Jesus And Mary Chain to The Blue Nile, without ever lapsing into parody. Strangely hypnotic and intriguing, She Was Mine also features a minimal yet highly effective instrumental passage that eschews traditional rock dynamics in favour of repetition, conjuring a contemplative late night ambience. Difficult to pigeonhole, The Beauty Pageant are ones to watch.

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