Mar 12 2015

Conrad Vingoe: Interview + Free Download


Because Conrad Vingoe is such a sterling chap, he’s also given us a free track to give away. Download ‘Hand on my Heart’ Ft. Sarah Howells (of Paper Aeroplanes fame) for free here. The interview follows:

Cougar Microbes: What time did you wake up today? Was it out of choice or necessity?

Conrad Vingoe: 8.30 due to the Elephant children that live upstairs, I went back to bed for another hour as I am exorcising the remnants of man flu

CM: Describe The band to the uninitiated?

CV: Retro Folk/Americana influenced songwriter

CM: How do you kill time on the road, hobbies?

CV: Take a notebook to write down stuff and also addicted to Angry Birds Star Wars and online Scrabble

CM: What have been your favourite venues to play? Any venues you hated?

CV: Something interesting always happens, even in the shittiest venues. Favourites have been Union Chapel (London) and Fotografiska (Sweden).

CM: What is the songwriting process like for you. Are you able to write on the road or do you do this in your off time?

CV: Bits of both, I keep diaries on the road which sometimes end up in songs. Phone recordings are great for remembering ideas. Generally I try to experience on the road, write about it at home.

CM: Favourite track of yours and why?

CV: Well, they’re all my babies but off this album, “Little Things”. All of the album was recorded live to tape by Phill (Brown) and this was a studio “moment” when everything came together instantly. The parts that John (Parker– double bass) and Martyn (Barker– drums) played really worked for me and it has a really cool atmosphere to it. I like the cyclical nature of the song, sounds like you’re eavesdropping on something happening.

CM: If you could record any cover what would it be?

CV: Too many choices but this week anything by Smokey Robinson, maybe “Second that Emotion” in Motown’s old room!

CM: Do your songs go through many revisions via demo recordings?

CV: Not so much , I record things onto a tape 4 track which is pretty unforgiving, either a song works or it doesn’t, no amount of Reverb will fix it. If it doesn’t work I ditch it. Generally I don’t put anything to tape until I have a whole song in my head and I’m happy. There’s notebooks full of crap that didn’t make it though.

CM: What came first, the lyrics or the melody?

CV: Mostly the melody and the syncopation. It’s often sounds of words without being actual words for a while, but sometimes music and words come together

CM: What are your views on auto tune?

CV: Don’t touch it unless you’re Cher

CM: Any other band/bands from your local scene we really should know about?

CV: Loads of great Brighton people – Sharon Lewis, House of Hats, my sometimes band mate Fiddes Smith, the Dials, Lloyd Williams, the list goes on and on

CM: Most flattering thing you’ve read about yourselves?

CV: I had a review once saying I was London’s answer to Neil Young, a ridiculous comparison but it made me feel great for the rest of that day

CM: What was the first record/tape/cd you ever bought?

CV: Actually it was cool, ‘Rock the Casbah‘ by the Clash, then followed by several years of very uncool albums

CM: What was the last song that got stuck in your head?

CV: The one I just said is now stuck in my head

CM: What was the last show you paid and queued up for?

CV: Cat Power in Brighton, no queue though

CM: If you had to bring on artist back from the dead in exchange for sending a living artist down ,which artists would it be and why?

CV: Oh that’s harsh , I wouldn’t wish death on anybody, is it temporary? I’d like to see Billie Holiday sing so let’s resurrect her in exchange for say…Simon Cowell , not technically an artist but I’m liking the swap. Actually let’s make that permanent, never met him but he’s got a lot to answer for.

CM: Lastly, is there any question I should have asked you that I didn’t? And if so what’s the answer?

CV: Answer – You can’t get rid of them, they always come back.

Question – up to you.



Mar 11 2015

Introducing Conrad Vingoe

Tomorrow, then front cover lo

There’s this guy from Brighton, UK, and he’s a really good songwriter. We know this because Acoustic Magazine slapped an award on him for ‘best singer/songwriter’ – and I gather they take these things fairly seriously.

The guy is Conrad Vingoe, and he recently recorded his new album ‘Tomorrow, Then’ with producer Phill Brown (Led Zeppelin, Bob Marley, Bombay Bicycle Club) live to tape in two days. All sounds so cool, dunnit? Well, it is cool. And so is the first single ‘Fail’, “which just sort of fell out, I like the sense of urgency we captured on the recording. It’s possibly the most literal and autobiographical song on the album”.

We like it too, Conrad. We are putty in your fine-guitar-picking hands. Slaves to your stripped-back honesty, subtle folk-pop hooks and intelligent songwriting.

See the stop-motion video for ‘Fail’

His album ‘Tomorrow, Then’ is out in March. Go get it. Now. Quickly. #whatareyouwaitingfor? Chop chop.

Tune in tomorrow as we interview Conrad and offer a free download.



Aug 26 2013

Festival Review: The Great Escape, Brighton


Nothing cheers the British like blue skies and sunshine, and what better way to enjoy a sunburn than head to the coastline, bathed in the cacophony of greedy seagulls and 300 up and coming musicians? The Great Escape in Brighton has been filling the British music industry conference void for the past 8 years, and is sort of SxSW’s envious, less popular cousin – but if we overlook the fact TGE is more modest in size and scope, there are some pertinent parallels: the UK music industry is here en masse, schmoozing and drinking to the early hours; there are queues everywhere; the unofficial side shows are often more fun than the main attractions; and of course… …THERE IS MUSIC!

With venues spread all over town, resistance is futile: one must arm oneself with comfortable shoes and go with the flow. Cougar Microbes kicked things off with Elisapie’s seafront gig. Perhaps a midday show wasn’t the ideal setting for the Inuit Canadian’s electro pop, but it was sultry nonetheless. The songstress spoke seductively of love and nature and all sorts of hippy stuff, yet with her intense presence she made you feel she could eat you alive. Her set was sunny and apres cuit like sea foam washing on the beach, but as she delivered her songs there was fire in her eyes.

Next up was the indie rock of fellow Canadian bearded lads, Foam Lake. Their strength lay in the balance of guitar laden grungy overtones, melodic synth detailing and 4 piece harmonies. Almost 20 years on from their formation, the Foo Fighters’ resonance in this kind of music has become a little clichéd – but it is no slight on Foam Lake to say they occasionally touch upon the finer moments of the Grohl – it in the best possible way.

After a flurry of free drinks and a long succession of panels pondering the demise of the music industry as we know it, and the future of digital marketing, piracy, streaming, blogging and good ol’ insiders’ gossip, CM decided to sample the delights of the unofficial parties… Keston Cobbler’s Club played an intimate set at the Fiddler’s Elbow, rousing the crowd with their quintessentially British brand of perfectly adorable folk. Led by brother and sister Matthew and Julia Lowe, the Cobblers’ star is on the rise and their set was heartwarming and fun, conjuring up village fetes and sunny playgrounds and all things nice. A real treat.


In contrast, it was a stinging disappointment the talented Tarq Bowen’s set was cancelled – his otherworldy onstage intensity would have provided a contrasting flavour in a lineup that could not help but cough up some forgettable bands.

Deap Vally, of course, were not the latter. A wild tousle of hair and legs, chunky riffs, sexy growls and a truckload of badass attitude had the audience entranced. Lindsey Troy and Julie Edwards ooze the kind of cocksure sexuality that got Robert Plant armies of groupies, but the crowd’s uncertain whether to be aroused, afraid or both. Probably both. This is scuzzy, filthy garage rock with clever riffs, powerful vocals and a delicious nod to highest calibre Riot Grrl. I was left daydreaming about getting a DV tattoo on my ass.

It is an unintentional side effect of all the aimless wandering from venue to venue that these highlights have a strong female element – also from Canada, The Balconies blew the Green Door Store away at 2am with a dose of ass-kicking rock’n’roll, topped off by tantalising frontwoman Jackie O’ Neville’s impressive set of pipes. With much headbanging and whoo-hooing, she delivered a pitch perfect concoction of meaty riffs and melodies. Like a whippet on speed, O’Neville didn’t stand still for a split second and revealed that behind her sweet smile and delicate frame lies a force of nature. Zooey Deschanel gone an enticing kind of bad.


Next in line was the Nordic electro folk of the atmospheric singer/songwriter Farao, strumming a guitar serenely from an Airstream van. Graceful and full of poise, she sang whimsical tracks on her finger-plucked acoustic, rendered by carefully measured synths. Just what everyone’s hangover was calling out for. One of the downsides of such a sprawling event is that you end up missing so much, and the headliners are all on at the same time, at different venues, with neverending queues.


Even so, having a bumper ticket (for an extra price) to watch Everything Everything in the Corn Exchange felt like an anti-climax. Perhaps it was the free-spirited sun soaked unbritishness going on outside – despite the bands best efforts, it was more fun being in the open air. The Great Escape was finalised by late night boozing in the Queen’s Hotel, followed by a 5am escape to Sticky Frog Mike’s – the last bar standing.

To top things off, Deap Vally were there knocking back drinks and dancing to Hole. And what better way to heal tired aching feet than a cold sea dip at sunrise? While Britain’s answer to SxSW could be improved by wider musical diversity, it still stands as the place to see ‘the next big thing’ and is a fantastic way to kick off the extraordinary UK festival season – for those who have the stamina!


Post by Karen aka @housegirlfriend






May 23 2013

SXSW 2013 Day 2 (Feat. Cave Painting, Papa, Poolside, Japandroids, Iggy And The Stooges, Caveman, Pickwick, The Death Set and Divine Fits)

Skaters at sxsw

This year we sent some of our finest writers to witness SXSW first hand and mingle.  there was also a lot of music to see. 

Cave Painting live at SXSW

Cave Painting | Latitude 30 (The British Music Embassy)

We kicked off day two with a short walk over to The British Music Embassy where Cave Painting, and a very decent bloody mary, where doing a good job of reawakening me after the previous nights shenanigans.

The Brighton quintet’s spacious indie rock and restrained performance was a perfect match for this venue as their sweet melodies filled the air.

Poolside live at SXSW

Papa | Cheer Up Charlie’s (Echo & Echoplex + Origami Vinyl Party)

Former Girls drummer, Darren Weiss, spearheads Papa who released their first EP, ‘A Good Woman Is Hard To Find‘, last October (2012). With song titles like, “Let’s Make You Pregnant”, who doesn’t want to listen?


Poolside | Cheer Up Charlie’s (Echo & Echoplex + Origami Vinyl Party)

True to form at South By, I caught this band from my must-see list by a chance trip to Cheer Up Charlie’s, which with its quaint, outdoor charm, came to be one of my quintessential SX venues. It was the perfect place and time for Poolside’s warm, groovy tunes. Their self-proclaimed “day-time disco” hit the right tone for this fun-loving crowd lounging on grass-topped cubes with lights-strung overhead.

Japandroids mohawk live at SXSW

Japandroids | Mohawk ( Vans + Fat Possum Party)

I was delighted to get a second chance at seeing Japandroids so soon after the previous nights disappointments.

Fortunately, within the surroundings of a good sounding venue, the Canadian‘s came up trumps playing as if possesed. Despite there only being two of them on stage their performance was both tighter and more raucous than most other bands, ever.

Iggy and The Stooges at SXSW

Iggy And The Stooges | Mohawk ( Vans + Fat Possum Party)

The line around mohawks had been building forever to catch what was oe of the most anticipated performances of this year’s SXSW.

Once Iggy and The Stooges finally hit the stage there were still a several hundred people crowding around the 150 capacity venue to try to at least hear the set from outside.

Offering a mix of new material and ancient gems, all of which blended into one massive riff, Iggy spent the time between tracks ranting about the themes behind the tracks.

When it all kicked off the rush was incredible as Iggy jumped and flailed proving he has more energy than most of the people in the audience combined.

On a personal level I had seen The Stooges live at my first ever festival several years ago and had now come full circle.

Caveman live at SXSW

Caveman | IFC Crossroads House (freecreditscore Party)

NPR Music describes Caveman as “dreamily rendered, deftly executed pop-rock” and you can hear the album now, for a short time, on First Listen.

Sxsw cover

Pickwick | IFC Crossroads House (freecreditscore Party)

Easy listening in the form of soulful R&B. Pickwick‘s vocalist, Galen Disston, is a powerhouse that can’t be ignored.

The Death set live at SXSW

The Death Set | Lamberts

At the posh upstairs bar at Lamberts I immediately spotted the room had a water pipe running down the middle. The Death Set clearly spotted this too because they hung upside from it for virtually the entirety of their set.

While the interruptions and in-between song banter was slightly enervating but once the trio kicked off with their sample rich take on punk rock you got a feel for why these guys are so well liked.

Despite the room hardly being full an impromptu moshpit kicked off with the Aussie/NYC band making sure to be at the centre of it giving everyone an explosive send off.

Divine Fits 1 live at SXSW

Divine Fits | IFC Crossroads House (freecreditscore Party)

Do you not know?! Go listen to Divine Fits, people. Dan Boeckner’s fierce front man presence balances Brit Daniels croon to a T, and the resulting songs have a distinct, new-wave vibe.



Apr 4 2013

VIDEO EXCLUSIVE: Glass City Vice – “Have To Say”

Glass City Vice are a bunch of sharply-cut chaps from Britain‘s ever-trendy boho seaside town, Brighton. Their clean cut Alt-Rock sound will appeal to fans of The Xcerts , Canterbury, Twin Atlantic and the likes.

Make no mistake though, these handsome young gents have a certain ‘I dunno what’ which sets them apart from their genre contemporaries. Their sound’s not groundbreaking in itself, but there’s a real urgency and hunger coming through in the music and lyrics which urges you to get amongst it.

They’ve been approached by big name producers, and the video is top quality showcase of why the band are starting to turn heads.

Without further ado, merry Easter and get yer lookin’ gear round this exclusive first video play.


Glass City Vice


Jan 16 2013

Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2012: Bat For Lashes – The Haunted Man


Bat For Lashes decamped to the idyllic Italian countryside to write and record her third album in an attempt to rid herself of a classic bout of writer’s block.

She got that monkey off her back- no reference to the Mapplethorpe style cover- succeeding in giving us a the most heartfelt record of her short career. Tracks like “Laura“, “Marilyn” and “Lilies” are the pick of the bunch.

Intense and totally naked emotionally… just like on the beautiful cover. – Mario




The Haunted Man - Bat for Lashes


Dec 18 2012

Bat For Lashes’ ‘The Haunted Man’ reviewed


Bat For Lashes, AKA Natasha Khan, decided to isolate herself from the external pressures of those who expected a new hit in the vein of 2009’s ‘Two Suns’. The Brighton artist composed and recorded her new album ‘The Haunted Man‘ in the Umbria countryside and this decision appears to have benefited her work.

The Brighton native’s return is stripped (right down to the Mapplethorpe style cover) and inspired as can be heard on the beautiful ballad “Laura” (which continues a tradition of first name single titles) and the Gotye-esque “All Your Gold“.

All the usual elements of the Bat For Lashes sound are present; minimal Middle Eastern rythmic patterns, subtle electronica bursts that never outstay their welcome and Khan‘s voice which, as displayed on opening track “Lillies“, can truly be regardes as one of the best heirs to the throne of Kate Bush and Elizabeth Frazer.

This album can be considered a coming of age for Bat For Lashes succeeded in producing an album that is even more passionate and sincere than it’s predecessors pushing ‘The Haunted Man‘ amongst the best, and possibly the very finest, release of her short discography.

Post by Mario


The Haunted Man - Bat for Lashes