Album Review: Pulled Apart By Horses

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Artist:  Pulled Apart By Horses

Title:  Blood

Record Label: Best of the Best/Sony/RED

Release Date: 1st September 2014

Rating: 8.0/10

Leeds noiseniks, Pulled Apart By Horses are often associated with being a band of jokers, a unit that revel with the application of a tongue firmly placed in the cheek; who else would call tracks ‘I Punched A Lion In The Throat’, ‘E=MC Hammer’ and most recently, ‘ADHD in HD’. In summary, these Yorkshire lads are a bunch of goofballs, or so we are led to believe. Taking past albums as milestones, their self-titled debut and sophomore LP ‘Tough Love’ were both smash and grab affairs, aural ram-raids hell-bent on wanton destruction, powered by savage riffery, caustic vocals and pneumatic drumming, Now on the eve of the four piece’s third effort, ‘Blood’ an evolved collective of steeds stand before us, the tuneage is still face-melting but a more considered approach appears to be a mainstay in ‘Blood’s acerbic DNA. Queens of the Stone Age are a key reference point of late and PABH have turned their native Leeds into a sprawling arid wasteland, somewhere fit for Josh Homme and the gang to roam; furrows are marked out by unrelenting grooves, a horror-movie tension ripples through opening gambit “Hot Squash” and a more assured, less frantic PABH have their hands gripped tightly around the reins of their third record. Saddle up partners, your ‘Blood’ transfusion awaits…

On the first spins of PABH’s latest document of murky rock ‘n’ roll, a seed of doubt is planted – has the raging, chaotic rock of before been replaced by mid-paced homage to QOTSA? A half listen would provide an uncertain yes, but immerse yourself in ‘Blood’s viscous membrane and you’ll discover a rich soundscape of textures, shifting dynamics and a claustrophobic conceptual feel that’s pure Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The worrying notion with a band such as PABH is, come album three, there’s a natural urge to drop the pace and the punishing impact of what has come before. In the aspect of ‘Blood’ the first three tracks could raise alarm bells to those with a short attention span, the previously mentioned ‘Hot Squash’, ‘ADHD in HD’ and recent single ‘Lizard Baby’ saunter instead of sprint, this is PABH combining the dusty rock of QOTSA with Foo Fighter’s widespread appeal, topped off by the band’s own brand of barbed noise. But once the LP rolls out as a whole, the unearthing of the feral ‘You Want It’ illustrates the new depths PABH can mine from. ‘You Want It’ works as a perfect conduit between PABH from back in the day and the more – dare we say it – grown up model that wants to rattle our skulls right now. Gone are the drawn out, sludgy moments and in their place, a frantic, hardcore punk aping sound that’s all unkempt and will more than likely piss on your toilet seat. Plus, there’s an insane breakdown of frazzled fretwork and jarring bass, that’s unadulterated moshpit fodder in the waiting. ‘Bag of Snakes’ follows as ‘Blood’s most dysfunctional moment akin to capturing the aural equivalent of cinematic torture a la Saw; this is one feral beast. 

With the part comedic tag PABH have been bestowed, witnessing the Leeds boys progress whilst maintaining their core sound is testament to the musicianship that’s gone into ‘Blood’ – sweat and tears have also been poured into the album’s discordant melting pot too. As a unit, it’s evident the quartet have stepped it up a notch, vocalist Tom Hudson matches is acidic howl with a deep, menacing growl, there isn’t a song where Robert Lee’s basslines don’t making a rip-cracking contribution and Lee Vincent’s drumming provokes rhythmic earthquake tremors. Equally, the duelling guitar scree of Hudson and James Brown – not that one! – wraps all these components together in a shiny but oh-so grubby bow.

‘Blood’s development pushes PABH towards arena rock territories albeit the group’s sonic maelstrom is being belched out of the urine soaked toilets. ‘Medium Rare’s meaty shtick cooks up something anthemic but definitely not anaemic. Plus there’s a riff that has ‘Foxy Lady’ written all over it, provoking a hip thrusting sauciness. Album curtain call, ‘Golden Monument’ again finds PABH plunging their teeth into enormodome rock proving that Muse’s epic vibes have rubbed off on their former tour partners but any tendencies towards spaceships or lizardmen mind control have stayed reverberating around the walls of Wembley Stadium.

It’s easy for a unit to dilute their wares for radio play but in tweaking their formula, the four horsemen from Leeds are coming for you - Trojan Horse style. 

Introducing…Hockeysmith

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Elaborate, exploratory and innovative, sibling duo Annie and Georgie Hockeysmith trudge an aural highway that forks in the road, with one signpost directing them towards Warpaint-Ville and the other destination being a desolate town called The xx. And it’s in the pair’s sonic no-man’s land where they forge a sound invoking these two musical visionaries to birth an output that’s beautifully jarring, where melody and cacophony have a Siamese kinship, where noise and serenity combine in a beautiful union and where organic song structures prickle to the sound of artificially abrasive burbles.

Annie and Georgie or their collective name Hockeysmith, produced their debut EP, ‘But Blood’ not in an abandoned bunker or a decommissioned insane asylum but in a caravan, on a farm, in Cornwall. Forget odes to surfing and beach life, Hockeysmith are the protagonists of an intense urban sprawl; there’s a claustrophobic quality to the way the pair meld and contort waves of sound into areas of eerie exquisiteness. Across four tracks, Hockeysmith build a feeling of something conceptual, opening instrumental  ‘Phantom Whistle’ writhes and chirps akin to robotic crickets decimating a telephone wire, while the EP’s title track saws and moans under the weight of rumbling bass and guitar yawns. A pulsing sci-fi refrain ripples amongst the serrated jabs of guitar and definite beats. ‘Hesitate’ bewitches as much as it does puts the frighteners up you, a calming undertone is overwhelmed by jagged jolts of guitar and layered, doomy electronica. A subtle lament announces closing track ‘Meanwhile’ before vocal chirps and ethereal voices attempt to dilute the contained horrors that’s preceded it. 

The baffling reality of where Hockeysmith tinker with their aural chemistry is what gives the pair’s musicality a pleasing air of juxtaposition.

Otherworldly and uniquely alien, Hockeysmith convey an intriguing mystic that beckons you forward and urges you to stand at the same fork in the road as Annie and Georgie traverse their idiosyncratic roadmap.  

For more on Hockeysmith

https://soundcloud.com/hockeysmith

http://www.hockeysmith.co.uk/

https://twitter.com/Hockeysmithuk

https://www.facebook.com/hockeysmithband

Hot New Track: Dolomite Minor – Talk Like An Aztec

Southampton duo, Dolomite Minor are a bilingual bunch; firstly they’ve managed to become fluent in the mother tongue of grubby, raw rock ‘n’ roll – sonically the twosome provoke images of lonesome drives into untouched wastelands whilst fighting off vampires and the occasional meth cartel. Secondly, their first single has DM communicating with an extinct race of man, namely the Aztecs. 

‘Talk Like An Aztec’ has Joe Grimshaw (vocals/guitar) and Max Palmier (drums) kicking up plumes of sand, and their own stab at desert rock has you wondering if Josh Homme will produce their debut LP. Intense, brooding and downright dirty, it’s with a devastating force that Grimshaw and Palmier thrust themselves forward using the propulsive oomph of savage riffs and ragged drum licks. Grimshaw has a drawl reminiscent of Mark Bolan but only if the 20th Century Boy had never even glanced at glam-rock and all its glitter but devoted his existence to filth guitar slashes and something altogether menacing.

‘Let Me Go’ is the companion track to ‘Talk Like An Aztec’s’ rugged ways. Like it’s partner in crime, the unrelenting chug of rough blues rock is omnipresent but with drawn out fuggy haze that occupies the songs midsection whilst crushing avalanches of sound make up the track’s backbone.

Forget ‘Walk Like An Egyptian’ – Dolomite Minor will have you tripping out and jabbering to the Aztecs – just be sure to pack the holy water and your favourite stake. 

For more on Dolomite Minor 

https://www.facebook.com/dolomiteminor

https://soundcloud.com/dolomiteminor

https://twitter.com/DolomiteMinor

Hot New Track: Single Mothers – Marbles

The wait is finally over, it’s felt like an eternity but it would seem London, Ontario’s Single Mothers have got their shit together and they’re putting out a debut LP. You see the hardcore punks broke up in 2009 but they’ve been playing shows ever since. They’re the most productive non-functioning-functioning band out there. Come 7th October 2014, the Canadian punks will dispense with ‘Negative Qualities’ via Dine Alone Records/Hot Charity.  As a warning shot across the bow (or is that past our lugholes?) Single Mothers have primed the album’s first punk-rock rampage, the static drenched maelstrom known as ‘Marbles’. 

As if the North American’s have pieced together the shards of all of punk’s fury, ‘Marbles’ is a beautifully messy slur against hipster culture and poser mentality. Detonating like a nail bomb, ‘Marbles’ shows no mercy; basslines rumble with a barbed wire roughness, drums cartwheel down rusty stairwells and then there’s the seething walls of guitar noise akin to a transistor radio being stomped to death under the feet of a frantic mosh pit. Vocalist, Drew Thompson has the pipes to match his band’s visceral charge; the frontman unleashes a gravelly bark aimed directly at anyone that’s ‘cooler than thou’ or that is “so self-aware it’s crippling”. With an attack on the in-crowd comes a self-fulfilling prophecy towards Thompson’s own hypocrisy – with the collective’s mouthpiece being more than conscious of this.

Raw, violent and with a rabid bloodlust, this is an anti-anthem to get your heart pumping and your pulse racing. The best thing Single Mothers ever did was find their ‘Marbles’ – let’s see what ‘Negative Qualities’ bring us. We’ll bet our bumbag (or fanny pack for our transatlantic chums) and a chai-tea-mocha-choca-skinny-frappe-low-cal-high-fibre-breakfast-burrito-latte it’ll be the punk album of 2014. 

'Marbles' is From Negative Qualities, out this fall on Hot Charity (world) / Dine Alone (Canada). Pre-order here: shopusa.xlrecordings.com/negative-qualities

https://www.facebook.com/singlemothersparty

http://www.singlemothersgang.com/

https://twitter.com/snglmthrsgang

https://soundcloud.com/single-mothers

Album Review: The Gaslight Anthem

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Artist:  The Gaslight Anthem

Title:  Get Hurt

Record Label: Island Records

Release Date: 18th August 2014

Rating: 9.0/10

There haven’t been many applications for the positon of ‘world conquering wholesome rock band’ since Kings of Leon decided to become pompous, cliché rock stars but if there was a unit to fill the vacant cowboy boots of the Nashville group, it’s New Jersey everymen, The Gaslight Anthem. Slowly but surely, the four piece have been gathering pace, sparking global devotion towards their blue-collar punk ‘n’ roll. Now on the eve of releasing their fifth LP, ‘Get Hurt’ it would seem the stars have aligned and it’s now time for Brian Fallon and his merry men to step confidently into the big time but there’s the assurance that this isn’t a band to disappear up their own arseholes. 

‘Get Hurt’ has been spawned from the desire to tread new turf; the band’s purpose to create something new was a key mission statement for The Gaslight Anthem. Speaking with NME, guitarist and vocalist Brian Fallon stated “You get a realisation at some point in your career that whatever it is you do, you can no longer continue to do it. You just realise you can’t put out the same records forever.” While another key turning point can be taken from an unlikely source; The 1975. Fallon proceeded to declare “We were like, ‘well that sounds different – what would happen if a band like us works with a guy who makes records sound like that?” That guy being super producer Mike Crossey who handled the duties of crafting The 1975’s self-titled LP. Lastly, contrast and juxtaposition were high on the agenda, the quartet had the urge for a punk rock band to sound ‘heavy and pretty’ in equal measure. Without much fucking around ‘Stay Vicious’ kickstarts ‘Get Hurt’ with the manifesto of ‘heavy and pretty’ broadly daubed across the song like Fallon’s heavily inked arms. This is a song that erupts to the sound of chainsaw guitars and explosive drum licks – Fallon too adopts a gravelled vocal that recounts Bruce Springsteen after a night smashing back the bourbon. Referencing the track’s moniker, TGA have never sounded so ‘vicious’ – akin to the film Gremlins, this critter is pure barbed malevolence – until a chiming mid-section exposes a soft, fleshy underbelly and the Jersey boys go all Gizmo on us. Fluffy, and indeed ‘pretty’, ‘Stay Vicious’ attests to the unit’s lust to merge the raucous with the delicate. Elsewhere on ‘Get Hurt’ the heaviness is toned down to a more recognisable punk ‘n’ roll you’d expect from TGA, however, the drive to intersperse textures of tender touches are a prominent fixture. Aside from the barbed riffs, spit ‘n’ saw dust rock flecked with sweetly tinged moments, TGA’s new found influence in The 1975 can be heard on ‘Underneath The Ground’. Anchored as the poppiest number on the band’s fifth outing, there’s a considered, chiming quality that bubbles and skips, buoyed by a lonesome hue.

Fallon is the ringmaster of ‘Get Hurt’, it’s impossible not to be swept up in the frontman’s grizzly tones and self-deprecating wordplay. Lyrically, this is an album which could be perceived as being down on its luck but any glum references instead reveal themselves as defiant nods towards survival– it’s a horrible cliché but in the aspect of ‘Get Hurt’ – “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger” could have been the LP’s alternative title. Personal effacing is bountiful while key moments crop up on the title track; stripped to its bare sinews, Fallon can be heard reflecting “I keep my wounds without a bandage” as to expose himself to life’s misgivings. Equally, notions of defeat but never submission roll from Fallon’s lips “I came to get hurt/might as well do your worse to me”. Despite TGA’s troubled lyrical content, you’re never too far away from a supportive pat on the back or a reassuring arm round the shoulder. ‘Helter Skeleton’ is another half ‘n’ half march through Americana flecked punk and chiming pockets of beauty. “Why don’t you lean on me for a while” muses Fallon before barking over surging fretwork “there will always be a soft spot in my cardiac arrest”. Future fan favourite and no messing comeback single ‘Rollin’ and Tumblin’ typifies ‘Get Hurt’, this is TGA spewing out dirt under your fingernails American rock ‘n’ roll at a hurtling speed, like they do best. Amongst the grubby tones a bold Fallon announces “You say I’m hopelessly devoted to misery/maybe I ain’t so devoted no more” like a big middle finger to any ‘woe as me’ vibes.

Toying with unpredictable sonic touchpoints and a big name producer could have diluted The Gaslight Anthem’s rugged personality but it’s given the New Jersey gang an added level of vigour to propel them stratospheric.

‘Get Hurt’ is an album to puff your chest out to. A record to set you up for the day. A collection of tracks that’ll pick you up, brush you down and kick you square in the arse.

Album Review: DZ Deathrays

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Artist:  DZ Deathrays

Title: Black Rat

Record Label: Infectious Records

Release Date: 18th August 2014

Rating: 9.0/10

DZ Deathrays haven’t bought into the ‘second album jitters’ it would seem. Sophomore LP, ‘Black Rat’ takes the sonic bedlam of the band’s debut record ‘Bloodstreams’ and pushes it to new levels. This is the Aussie pair propelling their own brand of thrash-pop into fresh and exciting territories. Musically, all the facets of what make DZ such a face melting prospect are present but with pop undertones that have been enhanced, as if they’ve have been subjected to several bouts of steroid injections prior to being committed to tape.  Shane Parsons’ riffs pack a meatier wallop, Simon Ridley’s drumming rattles with a muscular thwack and vocally, Parsons’ has expanded his range from deathly growl to melodic trill. ‘Black Rat’ could quite well be the perfect follow up album, due to the fact it holds the same components as it’s predecessor but everything has taken a giant bound, not just in volume but in song structures, the occasional flirtation with electronics and the all-round feeling of progression.

Confidence is something that seeps from ‘Black Rat’ like a fragrant sewer – this is an album that struts with a hip-hop swagger which is evident in the springing ‘Reflective Skull’ with its beach ball bounce and elastic appeal. Opening onslaught and album title track, ‘Black Rat’ is driven by a stop start combo of razor sharp guitar slices and huge drum licks that attribute to DZ’s new found rap influence. This isn’t Parsons and Ridley going all ‘bitches and hoes’ but merely adding this layer of poise is what you’d want to hear from a duo as vital as this Brisbane pair. 

‘Black Rat’ twitches and writhes with a fidgeting need to keep evolving, single ‘Gina Works At Hearts’ flits from visceral bombast to sing-a-long choruses with a sweet pop centre, whilst the explosive ‘Less Out Of Sync’ is where you recognise Parsons’ new acidic howl with a song that bursts into barrages of static moulded into a three minute pop song from a parallel universe. DZ hinted at a digital bent on ‘Bloodstreams’ and the burbling ‘Fixations’ is front ended with an electronic influence, akin to Crystal Castles dissolving into a the pair’s effects pedals.

The spectrum of which DZ are playing with has become a broad prospect, ultimately ‘Black Rat’ is a raucous trek through eardrum worrying noise but ‘Northern Lights’ shows a side to these Aussie boys we’ve not seen before. Effectively, Parsons and Ridley quit the skull rattling for one moment to produce a song that could rival Coldplay when it comes to widescreen arena rock antics. Even the band have self-proclaimed that this tune could be ‘DZ Coldplay’. Where ‘Northern Lights’ illustrates a more considered – dare we say it ‘mature’ sound – ‘Ocean Exploder’ denotes like a megaton blast. Easily the heaviest thing DZ have ever created, the way the two piece career through a bevy of twisted fretwork, massive drum beats and Grohl-style screams is mind-blowing. The riff alone is enough to make you shit your pants with glee. 

Cunning, dirty as hell and curiously loveable, this is one ‘Black Rat’ you’d want to save from pest control. 

Introducing…False-Heads

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After setting down roots back in 2011, East London’s False-Heads finally stabilised their band personnel in 2013, with a line up consisting of Luke Griffiths (vocals/guitar), Jake Elliott (bass) and Daniel Delgaty (drums). Today’s guise of False-Heads is the one garnering praise from the likes of Q, NME and hordes of well-respected music blogs, whilst drawing comparisons to early Foo Fighters, Pixies and the inevitable association with Nirvana. These likenesses aren’t unjustified but the trio’s searing alt-rock needs to be judged on its own merit and its own personality.

Sonically, False-Head pack a mighty wallop, this is a band cooking up a cavalcade of sound buoyed by discordant guitar riffs, rumbling bass and Grohl-style avalanche drumming. What’s refreshing about this band of three, is that whilst rock ‘n’ roll is treading water or producing lacklustre anaemic recordings of lo-fi jingle jangle nothingness, False-Heads boast a full-bodied sound that blurs the lines between rough ‘n’ ready and chart threatening.  

False-Heads dropped ‘Tunnel Vision EP’ on 28th July 2014; this body of work is testament to a band willing to merge an acerbic assault with melody, a deft knack for hooks and song writing. A punk energy permeates the grubby mess of ‘Without a Doubt’ which twitches and writhes like an exposed nerve and ‘Anything Else’ is a display of discordance and tunefulness battling to the death. Then there’s opening gambit ‘Fall Around’ a chugging anti-anthem with a Pixies-esque bassline and closer ‘Remedy’ injects a less abrasive approach but maintains the band’s huge sound.

Barraging into your eardrums, the unit’s second EP bristles with a distilled chaos, where it begs the question are False-Heads playing their instruments or are their weapons of choice merely holding the trio hostage so to produce a volley of joyous noise?

There’s no fabrication here, False-Heads are the real deal. 

For more information on False-Heads 

http://false-heads.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/FalseHeads

https://twitter.com/FalseHeads

Introducing…Vancouver Sleep Clinic

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What a life affirming invitation “together, let’s create something beautiful”. With an outstretched hand and promise of disappearing somewhere otherworldly, this is the mission statement pinned to Vancouver Sleep Clinic’s mast. VSC is the brainchild of Tim Bettinson, who hails from not Canada but Brisbane, Australia. Over several months trolling through frameworks of songs, doodles and unfinished sonic sketches, Bettinson birthed the immaculate ‘Winter EP’, a sedate, humming collection of sparse songs held together by threadbare electronics, its protagonist’s sumptuous falsetto and a glowing hue that casts a mystical air across the record’s lifespan. 

According to VSC’s Facebook profile “Vancouver Sleep Clinic as a name in itself conjures up imagery of long cold winters, of isolation and remoteness and the sometimes self-imposed reclusiveness in all of us as the days get shorter and we move into the bitter months ahead”. It is true, Bettinson’s sonic delivery conveys a desolate palette, one that indeed provokes illustrations of wide open expanses of barren landscapes and a feeling of detachment. However, despite the notions towards long cold winters, VSC bestows a gentle warmth that can be found in the Justin Vernon-esque trill of Bettinson and the assembled synthetic/organic marriage of sounds. This isn’t music that echoes Queensland’s tropical climate but Australia’s laidback, hazy ways can be drawn out of ‘Winter EP’ – as if soaking up the winter sun on one of Byron Bay’s beaches. The young Aussie’s subtle affair offers a comforting arm around the shoulders or the feeling of someone draping a blanket over you as you doze on the couch.

And this is all created by the mind and fingertips of an 18 year old. A Prodigal talent waiting to be unearthed, Tim Bettinson wants to construct something of genuine splendour that comes with an open invitation. Will you RSVP? 

For more information on Vancouver Sleep Clinic

https://www.facebook.com/VancouverSleepClinic

http://vscsounds.com/

https://twitter.com/vcsleepclinic

https://soundcloud.com/vancouversleepclinic

Download Winter EP: smarturl.it/winter-ep

Introducing…Lxury

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Andy Smith, or his musical alias Lxury, makes the kind of electronic euphoria that is better placed either at the point of the sun going down or when the bright orb of light crops up again to start another day. See, Smith’s digital motifs straddle the lines between contemplation and danceable – there’s a heady blend of techno, NYC house, giddy samples and ricocheting beats that invoke SBTRKT’s melting pot of electronica. 

Like any music, you want to be transported somewhere and it’s with a serotonin-rush that Lxury whisks you off your feet to somewhere with a warm climate but with a dark undertone. Akin to waltzing around Bangkok’s heaving streets, you can suck in the escapism and be absorbed by the colours and flavours but the element of danger or a shady waft of menace is never far behind. Ironically, Smith forged his debut EP, ‘Playground’ whilst living under an M4 underpass situated enroute to Heathrow. Smith himself reflects that ‘Playground’ should sound less than upbeat as his living arrangements were anything but, however, inhabiting such an urban sprawl has ensured the young electronic artist has offered up the antithesis to a concrete jungle somewhere near the world’s busiest airport. 

Smith’s first body of work is available now, right in time for summer getaways and day’s spent lounging in the park. But spare a thought for Lxury, whilst you’re soaking up the rays, those tunes that are accompanying a cocktail or a cold beer are gifted to you from piece of Grey Britain. 

For more on Lxury - 

www.twitter.com/lxurymusic

www.facebook.com/lxurymusic

https://soundcloud.com/luxurymusicuk

Get ‘Playground EP’ here:

Festival and Gigs Aren’t Places To Fight

It’s not at epidemic level yet but since festival season has kicked off, there’s been a steady slew of reported incidents at gigs and festivals where punters have either been seriously assaulted or in the case of Robert Hart at this year’s Parklife Festival, lost their lives. Gigs are a place to immerse yourself in music and to thrive off a communal feeling that everyone is in one spot to have, quite simply, a good time. A Saturday night or any given night for that matter, has become synonymous with a punch up or someone getting a kicking, when this behaviour permeates into the world of gigs and watching music, this is a worrying thing to consider.

The incidents we speak of occurred during pop acts, a metal festival and of course, Manchester’s Parklife which boasted acts such as Foals, Snoop Dogg, Rudimental and Bastille. An Ellie Goulding show as part of the Eden Sessions had us reading on with bewilderment. According to Digital Spy, the pint-sized popstrel had to cease a performance of ‘Anything Can Happen’ (oh the irony) to break up an altercation amongst a group of girls. Once Goulding had the fist-happy gang’s attention, one of her “fans” took it upon herself to throw abuse back at Goulding, as if the headline act was somehow spoiling her punchy time. For the good natured, vanilla music Goulding makes, having to stop a scrap mid-song is just astonishing. Another shocking instance occurred at Sonisphere earlier this month. Metal festivals aren’t for the faint hearted, their attendees drink hard, mosh hard and pretty much do everything hard. However, aside from the bone breaking moshing, metallers are a good natured bunch and there’s always something of a community spirit when you rock up at somewhere like Download or Sonisphere, the latter we can vouch for as WWSPM had the pleasure in seeing The Prodigy earlier this month at the very same event. Sadly for 21 year old George Cook, his festival was marred by a brutal assault that left him needing five hours of reconstructive surgery on his face. In a completely unprovoked attack, a gang of three men set upon Cook and to put it bluntly, smashed his face in. The most disturbing and worrying of all is Robert Hart’s death at Parklife Festival. Hart was beaten unconscious in front of the main stage before Snoop Dogg’s headline set. It’s believed Hart was attempting to protect his girlfriend from being bashed on the head with an inflatable doll, which then lead to him being brutally assaulted. His injuries were so severe they brought upon an untimely death to someone just wanting to enjoy a music festival with his girlfriend. Parklife also counts two knife attacks across its weekend, luckily the two victims received hospital treatment and their injuries weren’t life threatening. 

(skip to 4.44 for incident)

So why are these pockets of anti-social behaviour cropping up in a place where they’re just not welcome? Is it because we live in a time of aggression and antagonism, where it’s better to be the attacker than the victim. Is it because many gig goers see attending a show or a festival as just another piss up and therefore clashes are a prerequisite? Certainly alcohol doesn’t help and that “let’s get shitfaced” mentality is sometimes more important to actually seeing bands amongst a percentage of festival goers. We don’t have the answers but ultimately something isn’t right when a time to celebrate is tarnished by such life ruining behaviour.

This may sound like we’re music purists or we’re wishing for some kind of nanny state, which we’re not - we’re not attempting to scaremonger here. By all means, have a few beers, equally have a good time, dance, mosh, lose your shit; do whatever you want – just don’t be an arse and hurt someone. Remember, everyone in the same venue, field or pub are there for the same reason; to appreciate music and to enjoy themselves. 

We’ll leave it to Mr Dave Grohl to sign off about fighting at shows…putting it simply, don’t fucking do it.

Thanks Uncle Dave, you’re the best. 

Introducing…White Lion Parade

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Serenity and cacophony are the two main components to Bristol based three piece, White Lion Parade. The trio beg, steal and borrow from the choice nuggets of post-hardcore, shoegaze, post-rock and metal to forge a sound that is soothing and brutal in dual capacity. In early 2013, WLP dropped their debut EP ‘The Valley’ and now thanks to Cassleblank Records, it’s been re-released on limited edition cassette with an added bonus track. 

‘The Valley’ finds the band pushing themselves into a broad tapestry of sound and moments of calm create expansive furrows of static that verge on the cinematic and epic in equal measure. Whilst the band comfortably shimmer with grandiose appeal, they’re not one trick ponies – just as the soothing waves of whirring noise peak, WLP drop into crushing tsunamis of metallic post-rock, taking their aural concoction from one end of the spectrum to another on a heartbeat. Sonically, there’s a schizophrenic urge to bind tranquillity and discordance, and this is matched by James Browning’s formidable vocal range. The vocalist/bassist straddles the line between Deftones’ Chino Moreno at his most aloof, with the slightest hint of Jared Leto’s emotive slant – albeit without the pomposity - however this melodic slur is quickly punctured by a visceral roar that enhances the band’s metal influences.

In its first inception, ‘The Valley’ was a two track EP which cascaded into one elongated musical journey through static fuzz, monstrous riffs – delivered by Jason Treloar – and pounding drums – thanks to James Pritchard – topped off by the whispered, howl of Browning’s dreamy shout. ‘Valley’ and ‘Stars’ are now joined by ‘Battle of the Sea’ which continues WLP’s far-reaching palette of exploratory sound and where stillness and visceral get along just fine. 

For more information White Lion Parade and Cassleblank Records

www.facebook.com/whitelionparade

www.casseblankrecords.bigcartel.com

https://twitter.com/CASSEBLANK

https://twitter.com/WhiteLionParade

EP Review: The Family Rain

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Artist:  The Family Rain

Title:  Hunger Sauce EP

Record Label: Mountbatten Recordings/Kobalt

Release Date: 28th July 2014

Rating: 8.0/10

It would appear The Family Rain aren’t applying for the positon of the next Guns ‘N Roses. There’s a mere 5 months between releasing the trio’s debut LP, ‘Under The Volcano’ and their next slice of playful rock ‘n’ roll – ‘Hunger Sauce EP’. Frontman Will Walter simply summarised the latest splurge of inspiration as a lust to be creative and not to muck about when it comes to dispensing with some new prime cuts. “We had very little time to write last year so it was good to get back to it and bang out some fresh material. We have been recording with our friend Tom Dalgety (Royal Blood, Band of Skull and The Maccabees), he has a small setup just down our road so it’s been perfect, the new stuff is sounding beefy as hell and we can’t wait to get it out!” 

The Family Rain and ‘Hunger Sauce’s urgency is imminent once the rattling ‘You Should Be Glad You’ve Got A Man’ kick-starts the new EP. Drum machine beats signal the opening moments and then without much fanfare, you’re headlong into an accelerated, rough ‘n’ ready ode to a less than functional relationship. Timothy Walter’s drumming is the main driving factor, ensuring that a sense of pace is always pushing the redline. Brother Will regales us with a love turned awkward and sour and the fact this unnamed vamp should be pleased someone will put up with their unpredictable behaviour. “You should be glad you’ve got a man/who keep’s coming back to you” and “And it’s another complaint/but it’s hard to complain when we fight everyday” typify a turbulent relationship fraying at the ends. ‘We Are In Love’ continues the themes of the heart but again with a twist. The band of brothers take up the guise of a voyeuristic bunch, announcing “we are in love/you just don’t know it yet” as if stalking their prey from afar. All decked out in night vision goggles and camping out in the bushes that’s where you’ll find the Walter brothers as they’re attempting to woo another siren albeit with the temptress having not a clue the three piece are swooning over her. Sonically, ‘We Are In Love’ takes up an almost hip-hop aesthetic with a razor sharp, repetitive riff rebounding off a rigid beat and rubbery bassline. If ‘Under The Volcano’ harnessed the power The Family Rain’s blue rock schtick, ‘Hunger Sauce’ sees the band burrowing deep into a mezze of alternative musical flavours. 

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Despite having an aural reference point from across the Atlantic The Family Rain have an Englishness about them that can’t be escaped. ‘Tarantula’ is the conjoined twin of ‘Hey Jude’ and Oasis’ ‘All Around The World’. This is the band flexing their jaunty muscles and a chorus/middle eight that recounts the uplifting moments from both the Liverpudlians and Gallagher brothers in equal measure. These combined elements provide a jovial edge and a tongue-in-cheek sassiness that invoke further British greats Blur and The Kinks at their most Blighty. ‘Punchbowl’ sidesteps any further connotations with the British Isles for another burst of fuzzy rock ‘n’ roll that’s buoyed by a flurry of ricocheting drum licks and Ollie Walter’s serrated fretwork, angling itself somewhere between ‘Under The Volcano’s visceral edge and ‘Hunger Sauce’s new found sonic wonderland.

Evidently, The Family Rain have a ravenous desire when it comes to cooking up new, mouth-watering morsels and if this is just the ‘(Hunger) Sauce’, imagine the next gastronomic delight to whet our appetite. 

EP Review: Nothing But Thieves

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Artist:  Nothing But Thieves
Title:  Graveyard Whistling
Record Label: RCA Victor
Release Date: 21st July 2014
Rating: 8.0/10
 
Although Nothing But Thieves’ inception dates back to 2011, it seems they’ve appeared from nowhere. Pffft! As if shrouded in smoke, the Southend quintet have landed on Zane Lowe’s radar, been courted on Radio 1 daytime, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Miley Cyrus, Rihanna and whatever anaemic, facsimile dance music is being touted that week and then comes the comparisons, likenesses to Radiohead and the late-great Jeff Buckley are in constant rotation. Such hyperbole can pull at the stitches of a band but there’s no way Nothing But Thieves are coming apart at the seams, all the attention and soundbites are justified and accurate; this five piece are a special outfit.
 
Being garnered with praise is one thing but can NBT make it count where it matters, on record? The answer is a resounding, yes! Due out on RCA Victor – home of David Bowie, Pharrell Williams and Swim Deep – the collective’s debut EP, ‘Graveyard Whistling’ is a four track mini opus of yearning, operating vocals, ethereal rushes of textured guitars and the type of expansive, yet modest wares that Coldplay used to produce, long before the “mutual uncoupling” and children named after fruit. Intimacy is key to the group’s primary outing and this is created by Conor’s (vocalist) tender operatic tones which are embellished by soaring, undulating waves of guitar provided by fellow band mates, Joe and Dom. The EP’s self-titled opening track solidifies this notion with its delicate vocal wafts accompanied by tumbling clouds of guitar. ‘Emergency’ continues this thread but with added anthemic muscle and syncopated handclaps. It’s too easy to focus on the skyscraping guitar swoons or Conor’s dulcet pipes but underneath all the understated theatrics there are multiple textures waiting to be discovered.
 
Any preconceptions that NBT are a unit waiting in the shadows for Chris Martin and Co to slip up are blown away by the riotous ‘Itch’. These Southend lads are already broadening their palette; gone are the heart wrenching operatics and in their place, jittering, insect chirping beats that roll into a healthy eruption of arena sized indie but without the soullessness. Even Conor knows it “I just wanna feel something real!” hollers the band’s mouthpiece with an intense croon. ‘Itch’ excels itself with its use of quiet/loud dynamics that hint at the group tinkering with electronics; we’re a long way off NBT producing a ‘Kid A’ but this tracks nod towards experimentalism is encouraging.

‘Last Orders’ caps off ‘Graveyard Whistling’ acting as the calm after ‘Itch’s storm or so it would seem. NBT plop us straight into the scenes of a drunken night out and the harsher side of what revelry can bring. Delivered with a beautiful tone but recounting macabre visions Conor whimpers “A fight broke out/someone took objection to my face with a bottle/I thought I was dreaming but some girls are screaming/and my face is streaming blood as well” is the tip of the iceberg of a night on the town turned sour. Sonically, NBT drop down to a mournful hue which works as an atmospheric backdrop to the horrific images painted by Conor’s innocent recollection.
 
They’ve stolen our hearts and it’s only a matter of time before they come for yours too – they are Nothing But Thieves after all.

Live Review: The Prodigy @ Sonisphere 2014

Artist: The Prodigy

Venue: Sonisphere Festival, Knebworth, UK

Rating: 8.5/10

Date: 4th July 2014

Cast your eyes across Sonisphere 2014’s line up and its business as usual…or at least it would seem. Rock and metal reign supreme with the likes of Iron Maiden and Metallica topping the bill. Additionally metal stalwarts Slayer, Anthrax and Mastodon nestle up nicely to Limp Bizkit, Deftones and HIM. But what is this? Do we see a clutch of musical imposters on the festival’s riff heavy roster – Frank Turner?! A punk-folk poet! Chas and Dave…what the fuck?! And taking up the third summit filling spot…The Prodigy. Are the staunchly set in their ways metal masses casting their net to wider musical reaches? Some may contest that the Essex rock-ravers have no place at a “rock festival” – they’re a dance act aren’t? However, some recognise that The Prodigy headlining Sonisphere makes perfect sense, this is a collective that have fused together the most anti-social fragments of music to create a sonic-battering ram  that’s mosh worthy as it is ‘glow-sticks at the ready, let’s get our bosh on’! Punk, rave, metal, drum & bass, dubstep and God knows what else, they’ve all touched the trio’s petri dish and what morphs from this curious concoction of disparate items is uniquely The Prodigy and most importantly, it’s music to piss people off – isn’t that exactly what rock/metal should be?

Just as day is turning into night, The Prodigy turn Knebworth into a post-apocalyptic warehouse rave, albeit in a field near Stevenage. Smoke bellows as the audio anarchists appear while screens that flank the Apollo Stage, glitch and fuzz as if projecting malfunctioning transmissions from the final embers of the human race. The scene is set for Braintree’s finest to fry our eyes and expand our minds. The visceral scree of ‘Breathe’ announces The Prodigy to Sonisphere and it would appear, the Essex lads have their work cut out initially. Large chunks of the audience are divided, there’s the believers: losing their shit,  the inquisitive: bobbing their heads and wondering if it’s ok to enjoy the band’s bass heavy but guitar spewing dance-rock and then there’s the ‘arm-folders’ the “true” metal fans who aren’t budging one jot – “this isn’t metal and we’re not going to enjoy it”. WWPSM had to wonder if the guy in front of us - we’ll call him Mister Machine Fucking Head, thanks to his lovely t-shirt – was a statue because no matter how much The Prodigy ramped up the beats and the frazzled riffs, he moved precisely nowhere. Still, the non-advocates loss is our gain, after nicely limbering up Sonisphere with ‘Breathe’ the riotous threesome smashed through a vast cannon of hedonistic, cuts of dance-rock mayhem. What’s telling with tonight’s headlining slot and with The Prodigy is how they are constantly evolving, numerous tracks get reworked, introducing dubstep nuances or extended freakouts of floor quaking beats and jagged guitar slashes. ‘Voodoo People’ and ‘Poison’ receive these re-imaginations whilst ‘Omen’ remains largely in the shape of its recorded persona, it garners the loudest cheer and most enthusiastic response of the night – next to ‘Firestarter’ of course. 

Towards the end of June, head-honcho and musical Svengali, Liam Howlett spoke to NME about the group’s imminent new album and the prospect of playing new jams during their allotted summer festival slots. Howlett professed the new cuts would be “violent sounding” and that “at these big shows people don’t want to hear fucking new stuff”. Well, Mr Howlett you tell porkie pies because those “violent sounding” nuggets appeared in the guise of brand spanking new tracks ‘Jetfighter’ and ‘Rock Weiler’ both of which live up to their vicious billing and whet our appetites for what the future holds concerning a much anticipated new LP.

After being pummelled for nearly an hour and a half, the slightly tentative masses are moving as one, either instigating circle pits or wafting glowsticks like its rave year zero. Apart from Mister Machine Fucking Head – he’s rooted to the spot. A three song encore rushes the band’s headlining set to a close; a frenetic ‘Take Me To The Hospital’, the old-skool rave from back in the day ‘Hyperspeed (G-Force Part 2)’ has Sonisphere reaching for the sky and then, the metal-tinged monster of ‘Their Law’ wraps up The Prodigy’s assault on a Knebworth. It would be fitting that ‘Their Law’ is the Essex boy’s parting shot, originally penned in reaction to the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, which criminalised raves and rave culture, the venomous howl of “fuck ‘em and their law” thrusts a middle finger in the direction of anyone doubting The Prodigy would work at Sonisphere. You’ll be hard placed finding a heavier, more aggressive and innovative act over the course of the weekend – “fuck ‘em and their law” indeed.

Photography by Naomi Abbs

Live Photos: Band of Skulls @ Sonisphere 2014

Band of Skulls @ Sonisphere 2014, Knebworth, UK, 4th July 2014

Photography by Naomi Abbs