Music Review

Premiering the driving rock rhythm and raucous stage presence of the East London Band ‘Shanghai Blues.’

Shanghai Blues - Camden Portraits - London - 11

Photo Credit: Ant Adams –

The realm of romantic relationships is one that is seemingly getting increasingly more difficult to traverse in our social media and digital era. With dating apps becoming almost a dime a dozen, and everyday platforms creating additional distractions in terms of both time and potential love interests or partners, honesty can sometimes fall to the sidelines. As one of the major components of a successful romantic relationship, honesty is what breeds trust, and when someone lies, that trust can be broken forever. Similar to crumpling up a piece of paper then attempting to unfolding it, or even breaking a pane of glass and glueing it back together, these analogies paint the picture of how once broken, trust in a relationship may never be the same again. In their new single, ‘Lies’, Shanghai Blues examines the feelings of frustration and betrayal with a unique indie rock sound that mixes both beautiful and street cruising.

Shanghai Blues is an alternative rock quartet that only formed under two years ago and is composed of childhood friends James Chalk (Vocals, Bass), Reece Ismael (Guitar), James Heed (Guitar) and Mike Stinton (Drums), hailing from Walthamstow, East London. As for the inspiration behind the band name, they explain, “I went to a Chinese takeaway in Holborn once called Shanghai Blues, was wicked but then it shut down. So we named the band after that, hahaha.”

As a band, their hugely diverse array of influences include Kanye West, Jimi Hendrix, J HUS, Dinosaur Pile-Up, B.B. King, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Led Zeppelin, The Strokes, Spring King and Mooseblood. When asked about their individual influences, they respond, “Chalk; BMTH, The Maccabees, Rex Orange County, Fleetwood Mac, Dire Straits, Nirvana. Reece; Pavement, Arcade Fire, Jeff Buckley, Vince Staples, Pink Floyd, Kendrick Lamar, Joni Mitchell, Radiohead. James; Pantera, Dinosaur Jr., Stevie Ray Vaughan & Tupac. Mike; Kanye & myself.” Known for their raucous live stage presence, they have already made a name for themselves with slots at The Great Escape (Alt) and City Sound Project, and they continue to sell out shows to their insatiable fan base.

Shanghai Blues - Hoxton Square Bar Portraits - London - 11

Photo Credit: Ant Adams –

Their newly released single ‘Lies’ features shimmering guitar melodies, smooth and explosive vocals, a driving rock rhythm, and heart racing drums, all packaged into a loud and proud indie rock anthem. In speaking about the inspiration behind their song, the band says, “It’s about a really shit relationship that Mike had at University. The basis of the song was written a few years ago after it all fell apart, but there was never any medium to get it out until now. The lyrics are set around a theme of betrayal through constant lies with the inevitable realization one day that ‘enough is enough’.”

Curious to find out if there were any pearls of wisdom they wished to impart, I asked them if there was a single message that they would want to put out there to make the world the kind of place that they would aspire to live in, what would that message be and why do they think that message is so important, they replied, “Don’t take life too seriously and enjoy yourself. We’re here for a good time, not a long time. Everyone takes things far too seriously these days, everyone is stressed and sad and unhappy. Have fun, get drunk, party, etc. Because one day you’ll be far too clapped to be able to do that. We like getting drunk and playing loud – not enough people do that these days.” Wise words; enjoy the present moment and live life to the fullest.