Phonotonal

Saur

Stuart 'Saur' Smith was a prolific writer for The Mag throughout the magazine's lifetime. He combined a day job of temporary office jobs in London with a nightlife of trawling the capital's music venues looking for talent. As well as writing about music, he was a session musician who featured on a number of singles in the 90s. Today, Stuart is a Chief Writer for Phonotonal.
Stuart Smith
  1. Music
  2. Single Reviews

The Ramones meet Franz Ferdinand in this angular track with punk roots. A lyrically gritty social commentary with a hooky riff and retro reverb on the vocal makes a neat track and my ears have pricked up. The chanted ‘This is my modern England’ chorus is cast over the same riff that loops through the […]

  1. Music
  2. Single Reviews

The new Pale Waves album, ‘Who Am I’, is one of our most eagerly anticipated releases of 2021. ‘Easy’ is the first single from the band this year, following ‘Change’ and ‘She’s My Religeon’ in building up to the LP release. For those who played ‘My Mind Makes Noises’ non-stop for months, there’s a lot […]

  1. Music
  2. Single Reviews

In the bleary early hours of 2021, many of us will be working on our pivot while feeling heavy from the overnight observation of the completion of another rotation around the sun. We need a good start to the year and we know just where to start. Pittsburgh’s Old Neon deliver a slick chunk of emo […]

  1. Music
  2. Single Reviews

Manchester’s Hot Milk are a dual-fronted “emo power-pop” band who blend all-out rock tracks with neat electronic flickers. ‘Glass Spiders’ fits the band ethos of writing sad songs with happy melodies, neatly slipping desolate lyrics into a pleasing three and a half minute track. The vocal duelling works well for this band, who compare well […]

  1. Music
  2. Phonotonal
  3. Words

A tough year was improved beyond measure by some great writing and some awesome music. Here’s a quick dash through the parts that really got us through the panic buying, lockdowns, and meltdowns. There were some records that really stood out this year. Therapy? delivered their Abbey Road greatest hits album, which delivers a set […]

  1. Music
  2. EP Reviews

After twenty years gathering dust, Little 10 have released their work in a digital format. Just as we did when we found an old Macromedia Flash file containing some Brussel Spaceship tracks, we unleashed Haski-Coast on our speakers to see how well it has weathered two decades. Simply put, it’s done rather well. Storm clouds […]

  1. Music
  2. EP Reviews

Buzzing into life with the morose chorus line of “save yourself; fall out of love”, it’s not long before Salem’s ultra-pink EP has won me over with it’s pacey anthemic sound. ‘Fall Out of Love’ is a dark All American Rejects, or a brighter My Chemical Romance – ultimately a great emo-mantra with impressive vocal […]

  1. Music
  2. Single Reviews

Sounding like a Broadway hit song, John Paciga’s ‘Big Hit Song’ is a pastiche that is part Axis of Awesome with a hint of The Horne Section in the accompanying music video. It’s cheesy, awkward, and enjoyable. Musically, the song hits the same zone as many of Paciga’s other tunes. We have a piano in […]

  1. Music
  2. Single Reviews

‘Do You Dare’ takes us on a journey, harking back to Feline’s atmospheric moments before smashing us into a booming heavy chorus that smoulders with October Rust. The verse slides the lyrics across the slippery synth and sparse drums. The guitar preludes the chorus with souring notes before that aforementioned massive sound fills your ears. […]

  1. Music
  2. Single Reviews

Led by a great smoky vocal, Dylan-esque social commentary, and a persistent bassline, Secondhand Ltd is an example of what happens on Garageband when everything is done right. ‘Pandemic’ is dark and grainy like an old photograph, but there’s also lightness in the folky bounce of ‘Lockdown’. Yes, this brace of songs is a snapshot […]

  1. Words

Dionysus is re-born in a city which is never named, but which can only be Rome. He doesn’t understand how or why he’s there again – a pagan god in a city where he has no believers. Weak and disorientated, he’s sleeping rough when he meets fifteen year old Grace; a chance encounter in the […]

  1. Music
  2. Single Reviews

How can I describe this record? That’s a rhetorical question, in case you were one of the cynical people who deigned to think that I was stuck for words! What I mean is, how do I convey this strange feeling I’m getting from listening to it. The artwork takes on a fairly dark theme, the […]