Music To Listen To In September

Sorry for the slight break in transmission recently, lets put it down to the vagaries of mental health…

In the meantime while I prepare my next Soundcloud story, here’s a mix of songs that have caught my attention lately. I hope you’ll give both old friends and new discoveries some Soundcloud love.
Whether its a virtuoso performance or a bedroom / “do it yourself” demo, all of these songs have their charms.

Santa Dharma – Japan

The duo I’m featuring today is one I am totally in love with. As a matter of fact if I lived in Tokyo I’d be begging them to let me join their band!! They’re one of my all time favourite discoveries on Soundcloud – I’ve devoured everything they’ve put up onto Bandcamp and it’s a real pleasure to present them here today. Plus they’re super nice people, I’ve had the pleasure of emailing back and forth with Holly and she’s been really friendly and helpful when I’ve asked her questions about the cool synths and other assorted gadgets they use. Please make sure you check out the links at the bottom of the page to visit the uber cool world of Santa Dharma!!

The Santa Dharma story

We’re Tomo and Holly! We first met in a hookah bar in Tokyo and immediately bonded over our love of American indie music. Before that, we had dabbled in a few bands and solo projects, but nothing really stuck. We both were looking to start a new musical project, so we jammed together in a small one-room apartment and made demos with a sound recorder. Eventually we began playing and organizing gigs around Tokyo among a community of DIY artists at diverse intersections of “experimental” and “music”.

Over the years we have slowly built up our instrument collection and studio from online auctions and junk shops, gravitating toward nostalgic and lo-fi sounds. We don’t have computers in our live setup, so we use midi to connect synthesizers, drum machines, and loopers. We’re always experimenting with new ways to perform songs and add layers, so every time we play our set looks and sounds quite different. We also love tiny portable instruments that we can bring into nature and jam with. 

Before the pandemic, we hosted and streamed gigs in our home studio in Tokyo. Unfortunately, gigs have been on pause for a while. However, the extra time meant we finally released our first full-length album earlier this year, and we learned a lot about live streaming. We’ve also had more chances for sound experiments since there’s no upcoming gig to rehearse for. 

Musical influences / favourite artists

We have really random music taste, and we’re always discovering new stuff we love. We have been influenced by 90s/early 2000s indie rock, like Yo La Tengo, Pavement, and Galaxie 500. Once we started writing songs, we became inspired by Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club. Also, we love lots of experimental artists out there who are carving out new ways of making music like Chad Vangaalen, Tune-Yards, and Peaking Lights.

When we lived in Tanzania a few years back, there weren’t taxis in our town, but we occasionally hired a driver. He always had this amazing African music playing, and we’d say, “What is this?” and he’d say, “I don’t know, it’s on my USB drive.” We just had to enjoy the song in the moment since we didn’t know if we’d ever hear it again. Locally, we’d often hear African rhumba and highlife from the live musicians at our favorite Indian restaurant, or Bongo Flava and Nigerian pop at the clubs. Being there inspired us to buy more African music and experiment with African rhythms and sounds.  

Then we moved to Colombia, and we were introduced to champeta and cumbia. We became more interested in experimental Latin American music like Mitú, Bomba Estéreo, and Meridian Brothers. Actually, our album art was designed by the same artist who did the cover art for a Meridian Brothers album. Being there also inspired us to write a cumbia song.

It probably goes without saying that Japanese music has influenced our music too, especially experimental pop artists like Shintaro Sakamoto, The Plastics, and Takako Minekawa. We also love how Minyo Crusaders are combining traditional Japanese minyo (folk singing) with Latin American rhythms. We’re also both interested in yoga, meditation, Indian philosophy, and Zen Buddhism, so sometimes themes come up in our lyrics. 

What’s the song you’ve uploaded to Soundcloud that is your favourite? What’s the story behind the song?

We mostly use Soundcloud to post unpolished demos, so most of what’s up there is a peek into our song-making process. Probably our favorite song upload is “Happiness Glasses”. 

Our house in Tanzania was far away from town. Often our electricity would go out and we’d jam with a little lantern and battery-operated instruments. We wrote and recorded a bunch of songs, with the nature sounds sneaking in through the windows. We had lots of animal visitors—monkeys, mongooses, chameleons, stray cats. Being there taught us how to be more present. This song is about those times out in that house. There was a beauty in the simplicity. 

The version on our album is re-recorded, using an Omnichord (an 80’s electric autoharp). You can also hear the original Tanzania recording here.

Your favourite Soundcloud artist and song?

Lately we discovered an artist named Sawyer Dust, making some cool songs. We especially like “Sports Men”, which is a Haruomi Hosono cover. We like how it sounds as if New Order covered the song. The production’s great, and it’s super brave to cover the legendary Haruomi. 

Any tips for people starting out on Soundcloud?

We think the thing is to not just use Soundcloud simply as a place to upload songs and promote yourself, but also to support and connect with other artists with like minds. Once you find artists you like, check out the artists that they’re listening to, and you will find an endless supply of music to inspire you.

Also, upload often even if you’re not sure if it’s good or not. Soundcloud is the perfect place for experiments, and you may be surprised that a demo you thought wasn’t that great is just what someone needed to hear.

Your thoughts on the Soundcloud community (if you have any!!)

We like that Soundcloud creates opportunities for music to be shared quickly and easily. People post tracks they might not share on other platforms, so we can hear music in its early stages, often with minimal effects and mastering. Through hashtags, subgenres can be explored in real time collectively from different parts of the globe.

We’ve noticed some artists who are popular on Spotify only have small following on Soundcloud. It’s testimony that it’s more community driven. It’s a different way of listening and exploring music.  

My favourite Santa Dharma song…

I can’t actually pick a favourite and I find all of their songs to be pure joy, but I think this is one of the first I heard. I spent a few weeks with their collection of songs on repeat as I drove around town, walked the dog etc…. I also really like Coyote and The Badger A LOT – the version below is a demo I believe but the “official” version is on their Bandcamp page.

Santa Dharma (Holly & Tomo) 

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Soundcloud recommendations for March / April

Here’s some of the stuff that’s been floating through speakers and headphones in my house and travels lately.
I love how eclectic this list is – starting with the cool indie instrumental by Haga187 – what a cool bassline!!
This list also features the ridiculously talented Jonathan Beckenstein a few times – both solo and in sublime collaborations. He’s one of my true all time faves here on Soundcloud – a gentleman and a consummately tasteful musician who just never delivers anything less than wonderful. 
Janine Levinson also features a few times and I was really thrilled to hear Aine Parkes return to the Soundcloud airwaves in an excellent collaboration with Falsestart.

Miaow McDonald – Scotland

Miaow McDonald was one of my earlier finds on Soundcloud – she has a fantastic indie pop style which suits her cool chanteuse / noir-ish voice really well. All of her songs are excellently produced and well worth your listening time.

How did you get into music?

I grew up in a house full of music, all my family are musicians and so it was a natural part of my childhood development. we had an old piano in our home, lots of guitars and a huge collection of vinyl. i would listen to everything from Pink Floyd to Beethoven… from Johnny Cash to David Bowie… from Bach to Blondie. my main influences are Patti Smith, Thom Yorke, David Bowie, Joni Mitchell and Miles Davis. i admire their fearlessness, their theatre and their genius.

my brother bought me my first guitar, the same year my dad died. i was 13 and ‘Julio’, my Spanish guitar, is one of my best friends. i still have Julio and you can hear it on some of my tracks.

i love words, and the imagery they can convey… i have been in many bands and toured the UK and USA with my former project, Little Buddha.

my current devotion is a collaboration with @agedchoirboy aka Robert Davidson and together we are called Pilgrims. two studio albums, Wilderness & Tundra, and a third on the way… containing songs written about our journey into love and our love of nature, highlighting the plight of many animals that man has continually enslaved, tortured and slain for too long. here is a link to Pilgrims soundcloud @pilgrimsuk

@agedchoirboy is currently co-producing my debut album, Year Zero, which i hope to complete and release before the year is out.

The song you’ve uploaded to Soundcloud that is your favourite? What’s the story behind the song?

ooh that is a tough question! that’s like asking a mother which of her children she prefers! i can’t honestly say which is my favourite as they all have a poignant meaning in my life… these past 4 years, since the death of my mother, have been a really emotional rollercoaster but my music has helped me through many a dark day and long night. i have often woken up next to my guitar… so this is why i genuinely don’t have a favourite as such. but there is one track, an instrumental, that i will be on my album called ‘Little Spoon’ – it’s a track i wrote about my little cat, Alf… he too has been a wonderful companion through all of this and has been instrumental (bad pun, i know…) in helping me stay as sane as i can in these dark times.

Your favourite Soundcloud artist and song?

there are many artists on Soundcloud that have my heart… Viola Moonshape is one. her voice is like apple sauce, and her musical arrangements are completely mesmerising… Holy Shitshow is another artist that i enjoy. he is prolific and yet unassuming. a lot of his tracks remind me of the Blue Nile. another band that i really respect.

there are too many artists to mention here that have blown my mind and/or moved me to tears with their musical creations… you can find them in a series of playlists i have compiled. i call them my ‘magic’ playlists as they contain a lot of magic that i’ve stumbled upon here on Soundcloud, which is, due to its friendly and encouraging community, my preferred platform for musical listening and recreation

Any tips for people starting out on Soundcloud?

Yes… listen to other artists. that is really important. if you like what you hear, tell them so… feedback for artists is really important. if a song/track moves me in some way, or stirs something in me, i tell them.

collaborate with other artists too… that is a great way to network and widen your audience.

and be nice! constructive criticism is always welcome. artists pour themselves into their music… it’s an intimacy shared, be sensitive to that. if something in a song, or composition, resonates with you – let them know what it is and why… they will appreciate that.

i have made some good musical friends here on Soundcloud and looking forward to perhaps collaborating with some of them in the future. music transcends all barriers. it’s a beautiful thing. share it. live it.

My favourite Miaow McDonald song is……

I like to think of this as a bit of a modern day torch song……

If you reeeeeally like what you hear from Miaow McDonald, you find her excellent music here on Bandcamp

Null-o Band – Toronto

Ever since hearing bands like Kraftwerk and (early) Simple Minds and local Australian bands like Icehouse and Pseudo Echo (yeah a very guilty teenage pleasure, sorry) I’ve loved the sonic possibilities that synths and keyboards offered in music. One of my favourite artists to keep up with on Soundcloud is Null-o Band, who make trippy sc-fi themed electronica that is atmospheric and a lot of fun.

Null-O Band is:
null-o – synths, bass, guitars
raccoon 6ix – guitars, bass, synths, vocals
voland – criticizing null-o & raccoon 6ix, occasional drums (I love these kinds of credits)

Formed in Toronto in 2018, the plan was Null-O Band to be a live act, but after the band started recording songs for the first album, the pandemic happened, raccoon moved to Montreal and currently the members of the band exchange ideas online, record their parts at home and release music online.
The band has released 3 albums so far: Parallax View (2020) – compiled mostly by rehearsal recordings, Martian Tavern Jukebox (2021) and Ghost Armada, Chapter I (EP, 2021). Ghost Armada, Chapter II is in progress and will feature some of the band’s favorite indie singers.
Besides working on the follow up to Ghost Armada Chapter, voland still plays in a local metal band and null-o fills in on bass sometimes. Raccoon 6ix works on his solo album (guitar instrumentals). null-o is in the final stages of completing an EP with electronic remixes of acoustic songs by Seafoam Sweater Girl (previously featured on this blog here)

Musical influences / favourite artists when you were growing up?

There are 2 bands that all members of Null-O Band will put in their top 3 major influences – Pink Floyd and Nine Inch Nails. Other influences – Massive Attack, Deep Purple, Front Line Assembly, Machines Of Loving Grace, Alan Parson and many contemporary indie artists.
Favorite bands while growing up – null-o (Pink Floyd, Neil Young, Motorhead, Jean-Michell Jarre, NIN), raccoon 6ix (Deep Purple, Joe Satriani, Pink Floyd, NIN, Front Line Assembly), voland (Jethro Tull, Judas Priest, NIN, RATM, Massive Attack)

What’s the song you’ve uploaded to Soundcloud that is your favourite? What’s the story behind the song?

My (null-o) favorite song uploaded on SC is probably Ursa Minor Dance Patterns despite its production flaws. I have soft spot for it because it is the last song we used to play while we were together and it gave us the idea for sci-fi oriented album (I am sci-fi nerd, read a lot of it when I have time, voland reads heavy stuff and raccoon is too eclectic reader to describe).

Favourite Soundcloud artist?

I think I will go with Aurora Ferrer – I heard her music soon after we joined SC and it was exactly the kind of music I often imagined but never heard and I was (and still am) very happy with the discovery. Aurora has powerful voice which could work in all kind of music, from pop to hard rock & metal (she does jazz too)but she is doing her own thing with heavy synths and soaring vocals and I love her dark and abstract lyrics, always with pinch of humor. It is one of the artists I listen very often to and I am looking forward to her second album. My favorite song from her first album is here on Soundcloud (writer’s note – usually I embed these songs but Soundcloud won’t give me a code to embed this one so you’ll need to click the link to Soundcloud to hear the song)

Any tips for people starting out on Soundcloud?

Don’t hurry to upload tracks, take your time to make them as good as you can.

Your thoughts on the Soundcloud community?

We keep in touch with a few artists and collaborate with some (Seafoam Sweater Girl , Deerevnia). For us it is a cool place to chill out and discover new music. We always try to comment/give a feedback/share on social media if we like something we hear on SC and it is always interesting to hear what people think of our music.

My favourite Null-o Band song….

I quite like their picturesque collaborations with spoken word artists, here’s a perfect example….

Shade Structure – Sacramento, California

This talented fellow is one of the artists that really exemplify the good things about Soundcloud. Not only is he a prolific songwriter but his Soundcloud feed is an almost constant source of cool music. Whenever I jump on to Soundcloud, Shade Structure is one of the first feeds I check out – both in hope of hearing some new music from him, but also to hear what he’s been listening to and reposting lately.

Musically Shade Structure creates a cool brew of bluesy R & B and urban flavoured sounds and he sings with a husky world weary voice that always makes me think of Robbie Robertson. His lyrics are always smart and often have a tinge of wry humour to them. His mixes and production style is always spot on too.

How did you get into music?

As a very strange child I would always create my own silly songs about subjects in my life, from TV shows to vicious neighborhood dogs. Then I picked up instruments throughout my school years. I found I could play any instrument and make some kind of noise with it. When I started joining bands after school in High School and College, that’s where the real musical damage begins! I mostly played bass and vocals. I was in some terrible bands, from cover bands to playing originals. I was a co-conspirator in many ruined company picnics and college quad concerts!

Your musical influences?

Musically, I’ve have always been a man out of time. I never listened too deeply to the popular music of the moment. I lived in Los Angeles during my 20’s, and they had a great radio station KPFK, which played huge amounts of classic blues and jazz. That was my musical diet for at least a couple years. I loved listening to Son House, Chet Baker, Bill Evans. My most treasured musical moment was working in a bookstore in Toluca Lake California, and meeting blues legend Willie Dixon. Such a nice and generous man to a poser like me! He sent me a signed harmonica case, which is in a prominent position in my home studio.

I love observational and sarcastic point of view songs, often written from a characters perspective. Randy Newman, Tom Waits and Warren Zevon are big influences for me.

A criminally under rated songwriter and huge influence is Mark Eitzel, Both with his 90s band American Music Club or his later solo stuff, it is always great listening . He can make you laugh with a lyric, then rip your heart out with the next. Check out his track “ I Love You But You’re Dead” for a taste.

I also love Indie Rock, with my favorites having great lyrical ideas. The short list includes Destroyer, Mountain Goats, Neko Case, and Silver Jews.

Your favourite song that you’ve written?

“Sleepwalking”. It combines my love of beatnik style lyric writing and a slow groove. I can still hear a lot of mystery in that song, and it came together very quickly. It’s one I can still stand to listen to. My philosophy on a successful song is how close I come to meeting the original idea that I had for it, without having to labor over it for weeks.

Your favourite Soundcloud artist and song?

Too many, talent overflows on SoundCloud! 
A quick example of the range of talent on SoundCloud is with 2 unique and different guitar player/songwriters.
N.o.b.S: He can play so technical brilliantly, but can also rock out hard in so many different styles.
TexMex Shaman: Psychedelic blues guitar playing with lots of sonic invention.

Your thoughts on the Soundcloud community?

What strike me most about SoundCloud is the overall support and positive spirit shown to other musicians on the platform. Lots of positive and constructive comments, which definitely isn’t the norm on the internet. On SoundCloud you also have many artists collaborating and making some brilliant things by combining their creativity and styles.

Soundcloud Tips?

You’re not going to put your music and have thousand of new fans by the end of the week. That old adage of ‘what you put into it is what you get out” really is true. You have to be an active participant and listen to the music of others, leave constructive comments, and listen to styles of music other than what you think you like. I never thought I would like deep house music, but it turns out I do! Also, putting out new music on a regular basis is important to build your listens. Even if you put out something experimental or still in demo stage, you’ll find support among the SoundCloud community.

My favourite song from Shade Structure…

It’s hard to pick a favourite because he is just so very prolific! But this song is one I return to probably most of all – a beautifully wry tale of lost love. This is pretty close to perfect in my opinion.

SeafoamSweaterGirl – Illinois, US.

Nicole (aka SeafoamSweaterGirl) is one of my favourite Soundclouders. Her lo-fi and low key (mostly) acoustic songs are little folky gems. There’s a directness and quiet confidence to them that is captivating and charming and it’s served with a dash of world weariness and cynicism. Her songs are great example of the folk tradition and a reminder that single voice with an acoustic guitar can stop you for a moment and make you listen in a way that few other musical genres can.

I’m 32. Work seasonal jobs and make music in the off season. I have two dogs and a cat. I have a daughter and soon to have a son (due in February!) fun fact, I absolutely hate making music that sounds nice and polished and refined- most of my songs are done in one or two takes and never touched again lol

My musical history in a nutshell….

I have played instruments as long as I can remember. Violin and flute as a kid. Taught myself bass and guitar at age 12. I have been writing songs and poetry since I was a teen. I never wanted to be a singer, but could never find anyone who would sing for me- so in 2013 I decided to bite the bullet and do it myself! Recorded my first tracks in 2013 to SoundCloud and the rest is history. My music is basically just my heart and my thoughts made into sounds.

Musical influences/childhood favs…

I love all types of music from classic rock to European folk music to dance to classical lol I grew up being obsessed with “grunge” music (soundgarden, Pearl Jam, nirvana, Alice In Chains) and classic rock (Led Zep, AC/DC, doors, Hendrix) and Bob Marley. To date these are probably the bands that shaped my musical interest the most.. but there are so many more!!!

Favorite SoundCloud song I’ve uploaded and it’s story…

that’s tough, and I feel like it changes constantly lol right now it’s “we’re so small” which is essentially about growing up and realizing that life isn’t what you thought it would be.. as a child you have dreams and aspirations and then as you age and get sucked into the work life, bills, relationships, hardships, losing friends and family… you realize that the machine just keeps rolling and profiting off you… the allure of being special and unique is shattered and you realize that everyone is just a tooth in the gears, in the wheel of the machine. Bummer.

Favourite SoundCloud artist and song….

wow! These are hard questions! I suppose I’d have to choose “in your palm” by vulpine smile because they are one of the first bands I started listening to on here years ago, and I loved the song so much I did a cover of it 🙂 they used to have a different name but I can’t remember it.

And here’s Nicole’s cover of the above song

Tips for people starting out on SoundCloud….

don’t be discouraged! When you first start uploading it can be discouraging when no one is finding your music or the only hearts you’re getting are from spam accounts.. it takes time. Just do your thing, create from the heart, and with time your people will find you 🙂

Thoughts on SoundCloud community….

I can’t speak for all of SoundCloud, but as for the people I have interacted with on here- they’re so lovely and supportive!!! Like one big family of creative energy. I’ve never gotten so many kind and encouraging words from any other place, online or off.

Here’s my favourite SeafoamSweater song – I just love this one…..Just a simple acoustic song, a wonderful vocal and a footstomp backing – absolutely perfect lo fi folk.

If you go to SeafoamSweaterGirl’s Spotify page, you’ll also get a chance to hear her in another musical setting because her Spotify catalogue includes some quite cute electronic instrumental pieces, as well as her usual folky gems.

She’s also done some collaborations with another fave of mine, Nullo-Band, an artist I’m going to featuring in one of my upcoming Soundcloud Stories.

You can also see SeafoamSweaterGirl on Youtube, here’s “We’re So Small”

Richard Monaghan – Stockport UK

Richard is definitely in my top 5 for discoveries on Soundcloud this year. I am exceedingly jealous of his uncanny ability to craft a perfect Brit pop song pretty much every single time. Superb choruses, heartfelt lyrics and recordings all with an earthy feel to them. And all hand crafted to perfection. He makes it all sound so utterly easy. He has slightly husky world weary voice and there is a quintessential “Manchester” vibe in his music. He’s another one artist who makes the kind of music I would have rushed out and bought after hearing it on the radio back in the day. Fortunately the next best thing I can do is find him on Bandcamp (link at bottom of page) and a few of his releases are now a cherished part of my collection there.

Richard sounds to me like the best of brews (that’s my British tea analogy!) of artists like The Verve, Elbow and Crowded House / Neil Finn.

How did you get into music?

My first instrument was an acoustic guitar & it remains the only instrument I am reasonably proficient in, which is a bold claim. I’m not a great musician, but I do like to write songs & have just enough skill & theory to get by.

When I was about 15, after learning enough chords to write some basic songs, I headed out to a local wine bar that ran an ‘Open Mic’ slot on my own, guitar slung across my back. It was fun, though pretty scary. I think one of my first songs was a really simple song about a spider! I wish I could remember it, it was quite good!

A few years later, in my early 20’s, I formed a band which we named ‘The News’ (completely oblivious to Huey Lewis until too late). We played just about every venue in Manchester & bars all over the UK. We were a solid live band with a good following & the other guys really great musicians & friends. As I guess a lot of these things do, we slowly grew tired of damp rehearsal rooms & carrying amps around. Work, girlfriends (now wives) & kids happened. My musical endeavours didn’t so much stop but rather, they petered out.

Fast forward to 2020 & my old laptop died. I bought a MacBook & discovered Garageband. Turns out now anyone can record & release music on major platforms with relative ease & little expense. It has been such an unexpected joy. Though it is hard to find time with children, home & work commitments, I love sneaking away to record a bass part or some keys on whatever the latest song is.

Your musical influences?

Against the run of play considering my musical output, my favourite record of all time is ‘Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)’ by Wu-Tang Clan. It is probably the first record I felt truly excited by. Its pretty dense material heavy with slang, even still today, but the expression is raw, powerful, melodic & exciting. In my teens it was rap all the way. Wu-tang, Nas, Blackstar, Fugees, Biggie Smalls etc

I also love The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Otis Reading, Sam Cooke, Johnny Cash. I love lots of Indie music – I love well written & well-structured songs.

I would hesitate to say who my musical influences are, only because my imagination is limited by my skill set. I write little songs about family, friendship, love & loss which tend to sound like someone who grew up in the 90’s. If they sound like anything it is probably luck rather than design.

Your favourite song that you’ve written?

It’s always the latest one. Once mixing is over I don’t tend to listen back too much. Otherwise I just regret all the decisions I made in writing & recording. (At the time of writing, this is the latest song Richard has uploaded to Soundcloud)

Your favourite Soundcloud artist and song?

Amy O’Bryan (I miss you every day) & Cat Came Back (2am). Joint winner! (Author’s note – thanks from the Cat! 😸)

Soundcloud Tips?

Don’t fall for re-post accounts or accounts that advertise they will market your music. I tried one service early on – offering to promote a track – to see what the impact was but they’re just bots & fake plays.

Your thoughts on the Soundcloud community?

The real people on there are great. Really supportive & I’ve had a lot of lovely feedback & comments. I think the best thing about Soundcloud is the sense that someone is genuinely listening – stats are cold but interaction with people is rewarding.

Anything else we need to know? 😼

Outside of music I have two young sons (currently 4 & 6) who, along with my wife, keep me very busy. We live with our Cat in a nice house in Stockport which is in Greater Manchester. It is a good place to live & bring up kids, close to rolling countryside in one direction & a major city in the other. We also have some interesting coastlines not too far away. I just wish it would be warmer more often – I like a Mediterranean climate!

My favourite song from Richard…

This one really is almost too hard to choose, so I’m sneaking in two. First one is the first song of his that I heard, and I became an instant fan. The second song is just gorgeous and very demonstrative of his wonderful songwriting skills.

And as an added bonus Richard has sent me some Youtube links to some of his past glories – they definitely look like Manchester boys to me!

Finally if you reeeeeallly like what you hear, you can make Richard’s day by visiting his Bandcamp page and adding his music to your daily listening here