Live Review: DZ Deathrays

Artist: DZ Deathrays

Support Acts: Table Scraps & Hyena

Venue: The Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham, UK

Rating: 9.0/10

Date: 27th September 2014                        

We love an intimate gig as much as the next person but there’s something particularly claustrophobic about The Sunflower Lounge’s basement gig spot. We’d wager the room this review is being written in is almost as big – and this a two bedroom flat! The Sunflower Lounge’s confined walls are the perfect setting for a night of rock ‘n’ roll thrills and spills with DZ Deathrays as the icing on the proverbial cake. Before the Aussie twosome lay waste to the Birmingham pub, it’s up to Telford troop, Hyena and noisy local duo, Table Scraps to grease the wheels and kickstart some sweaty bedlam.

WWPSM arrive as Hyena are in full swing and on first impressions, the four piece could have been any indie band in the mid/late 00’s boom of guitar slingers. But, we’d like to attempt judging the quartet on first impressions is pretty naïve as once Hyena lurch away from the jingle-jangle of indie and crank up the QOTSA-style desert rock, there’s a robust, meaty quality to their aural DNA. The further the Telford band delve into dirty riffs and strutting rock ‘n’ roll the better, as like their name suggests, this band sound better scavenging for bloody morsels and just being the right side of feral. They also boast a charismatic frontman to boot, in Jacob Ball. This is a man with the bone structure of Suede’s Brett Anderson (in his heyday) and the floppy hair to match. Ball commands the crowd with his in-between song banter and remains a key focal point throughout Hyena’s short support slot. Later we find out that this is Hyena’s first Birmingham show, as last month the band called time on their previous incarnation, Weatherbird. Here’s hoping the Telford boy’s second life ushers in the plaudits it deserves.

 

Dirtier, louder and altogether a more menacing prospect are Table Scraps.  With a sound that melds grunge and the acrid onslaught of Josh Homme’s desert dwellers, this power duo cut rock ‘n’ roll back to its muscular sinews but don’t scrimp on the volume levels. They’re a formidable live spectacle too, with drummer/vocalist, Poppy Twist looking bizarrely delighted to be pummelling her stand up kit, whilst vocalist and “guitar abuser”, Scott Vincent Abbott, has a tractor-beam stare that pierces right through your soul. Equally, Abbott’s guttural howl is akin to a solid diet of garbling drawing pins, washed down by cheap-ass whiskey. Table Scraps blast through a violent range of animalistic rock ‘n’ roll nuggets, which seem to take on a life of their own, as Abbott goes off on guitar slaying tangents, keeping Twist on her toes. The two piece’s set is brought to a close by Abbott plunging through the middle of the amassed throng like a hot knife through butter, knocking a press photographer out the way and several pints of beer. Then Abbott and Twist collapse on the floor, utterly spent from delivering a set of sweat-soaked brilliance.

Temperature levels are now pushing towards the tropical and there’s a heady whiff of booze in the air. The scene is well and truly set for DZ Deathrays to get up close and personal with the grubby contingent within The Sunflower Lounge’s meagre walls. Shane Parsons (vocals and guitar) and Simon Ridley (drums) meander through the dancefloor and without hesitation launch into ‘No Sleep’. The tracks urgent bark and razor bite kicks off the first of many (and when we say many, we mean shitloads) life threatening moshpits. From here on in, DZ act as the fire and their Brummie fans are the petrol – you could say they both get on like a house on fire. With every blast of scuzzy thrash pop, the pits get bigger and wilder, with proportions of the throng scaling the hands of their peers for some death defying crowd surfing and few aborted attempts at stage diving. The look on Parsons’ face is that of pure glee as he witnesses the carnage unfolding in front of him. This is a band who cut their teeth on berserk house parties – ultimately DZ were born to obliterate a small room full of pissed up revellers.

Tonight sees the Brisbane posse smash through cuts from debut LP, ‘Bloodstreams’ and sophomore effort ‘Black Rat’. However it’s early track ‘Teeth’ from the ‘DZ Deathrays Ruined My Life EP’ that prompts widespread chaos. This is all down to Ridley’s wild tub-thumping, coupled with Parsons’ raucous scream over serrated guitar riffs. The band’s latest cuts are custom built for climes such as this, with the added hip hop bounce of ‘Black Rat’ and ‘Reflective Skull’ adding an elastic throb to the madcap behaviour down the front. While ‘Less Out Of Sync’s schizo detonations leaves utter devastation in its wake and there’s nothing that can prepare you for ‘Ocean Exploder’s immense impact, you’ve just got to ride its tsunami and hope for the best.

‘Gina Works At Hearts’ brings The Sunflower Lounge to its knees and everyone is left to wonder quite how we all survived. The main thing is no-one got hurt…apart from the dude that epically face planted with a failed stage dive…oh and the guy who fell to the floor and ended up with the whole crowd on top of him. Oh, our eardrums are pretty fucked too. Screw ‘Daft Punk Is Playing At My House’ – DZ Deathrays can have a permeant residence at WWPSM Towers if they want – the neighbours would bloody love it!

Photography by Naomi Abbs

Live Review: Honeyblood + Bloody Knees

Artist: Honeyblood

Support Act: Bloody Knees

Venue: Scholar Bar, Leicester, UK

Rating: 8.5/10

Date: 25th September 2014                        

As we stumble into Leicester’s Scholar Bar, we assume we’ve rocked up at the wrong gig. Littered throughout the venue’s dancefloor is a range of burly chaps sporting t-shirts adorned with metal bands such as Tool, Metallica, Machine Head and the not so metal, Rise Against. Mentally we begin preparing ourselves for a night of frantic hair windmilling whilst screaming “DEATH! WAR! FUCK!” but alas, our indulgences with the devils music become short-lived when it transpires we are in the right place. Tonight’s roster of fuzzy indie rock hasn’t been bundled into a transit van to be replaced by wild shredding and double bass drum thumps.

First up onto the Scholar Bar’s modest stage is Cambridge four piece, Bloody Knees. Before the young scamps even play a note, it’s evident they’re at ease in the live arena as they ooze confidence from the off. Frontman, Bradley Griffiths begins by beckoning over the punters propping up the bar to his right, gesturing for all concerned to get involved. After the decent sized throng tear themselves away from the beer pumps, Griffiths and Co fire into their own brand of grungy skate punk. This is a band that don’t so much wear their influences on their sleeves but are embellished across their bodies. There’s a Weezer windbreaker on show, backwards baseball caps and skate wear a plenty. Comparisons are all too cheap but you can see why Bloody Knees would be lumped in with FIDLAR and Nirvana when it comes the band’s sonic template and their attire. 

The quartet steam through a rollicking set of grunge-punk nuggets, powered by raw riffs, thunderous drums and Griffith’s caustic vocals. The likes of ‘Daydream’ and ‘Bury Me’ bristle with a downturned roughness. ‘Stitches’ is introduced with an anecdotal tale of how the track was spawned. Whilst playing the very same city with Wolf Alice, Bloody Knees par took in some post gig shandies, which led to Griffiths smashing his head open on a road sign after a bout of rock, paper, scissor in McDonald’s. The argument with the sign required hospital attention and voila, ‘Stitches’ was born. Usually a knock to the bonce would cause serious problems but splitting one’s head open has inspired a twist pop-grunge beauty. “And I’m covered in blood/but at least I’m having fun” growls the Bloody Knee’s man.

 

After a clutch of spirited punters attempt a pit down the front, Bloody Knees urge the revellers to abort their “shit moshing” and “pretend they’ve had a bottle and half of red and act like they’re at a wedding”. Essentially, the Cambridge troop want us to dance to closing ditty, ‘Never Change’, which in essence is quite hard, as it’s more a Homerpalooza style swayer than a foot tapping jig. The slow grind of ‘Never Change’ brings BK’s short set to a close and despite the foursome supporting Honeyblood, the quality on show is that of a charismatic headline set.

Two weeks before tonight’s performance fifty percent of Honeyblood went their separate ways. When you’re in a two piece and your partner in crime leaves, it must feel like the shit has really hit the fan. Luckily for Honeyblood and for us, replacing drummer Shona McVicar is Cat Myers, and all live commitments remain scheduled as normal.

Despite the personnel rejig, there’s a slickness to Honeyblood’s performance, especially when you consider Myers has been fast tracked onto the drum stool. The Scottish duo, kick off tonight with ‘Fall Forever’ the opening track from their self-titled LP. In the live environment, there’s a warmer, fuzzier feel to the twosome. This an outfit tagged with the moniker of “Noisy Scottish Girls” and you can see and hear why. Vocalist/Guitarist Stina Tweeddale exudes confidence, in the way she flicks her eyes skywards when delivering her sugary Glaswegian brogue plus it’s with a sultry wiggle of the hips and poise that gives tonight’s gig an extra dollop of sass. 

The likes of ‘(I’d Rather Be) Anywhere But Here’ and ‘Biro’ skulk with a smoky tendency whilst debut single ‘Bud’ chimes with a earnest glow that has the Scholar Bar’s punters mouth the words to the track’s infectious chorus. The same can be said for ‘Super Rat’ with the front rows yelping “I will hate you forever/I will hate you forever/scumbag, sleaze! /slime ball, grease! /you really do disgust me!” Sonically, this ode to a love cheat is beefier and all the more cathartic in its barbed delivery. Shifting dynamics are key to Honeyblood’s arsenal, the slower numbers ensure pacier moments like ‘All Dragged Up’ and closing track ‘Killer Bangs’ hurtle along at a giddy pace.

It’s with a strange irony that Honeyblood cap off tonight’s jubilant performance with ‘Killer Bangs’ – as a curtain call, it’s all ragged guitars and tumbling drums with a wanton urge to speed off into the sunset but lyrically there’s a pang of a cautionary tale. “I don’t want to have to go on without you but I have to” almost feels like it’s been written to chronicle McVicar’s departure. Still, there’s no mournful sentiment here as the two noisy girls propel the song and the set to a thrilling close.

With the band’s rough indie rock rumbling in our ears as we depart, one punter declares tonight’s Honeyblood show as a good as seeing PJ Harvey twenty years ago in the room next door. In fact, it could have been better. Need we say more?

Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes: Hail To The Chief

Radiohead and Thom Yorke have spent their entire careers going against the grain. From the “no promo” release of Kid A, to ‘In Rainbows’ ‘honesty box’ release mechanic and ‘The King of Limbs’ ‘newspaper’ LP bundle, if there’s a collective to push innovation it’s the Oxford five piece.

So, we’ve got another surprise courtesy of Yorke; this just isn’t any old surprise LP that’s available across the ether, this is a new Thom Yorke solo effort and when it comes to the Radiohead frontman, be it with his day job Atoms for Peace or on his tod, challenging the status quo is part of the process. ‘Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes’ is Yorke’s second solo album, following 2006’s ‘The Eraser’. The album was announced on Friday 26th September, and with the announcement, ‘Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes’ became available to purchase through an unusual payment channel. Yorke and producer Nigel Godrich, selected to use BitTorrent as their preferred distribution platform. Interestingly, torrent sites are ubiquitously linked with illegal peer-to-peer file sharing but as an “experiment” the site had been developed to include a paygate to access the bundles of files, in this case ‘Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes’ audio and video components. The theory behind this method of releasing music is to give power back to artists so to interact directly with their fans and to help bypass “the self-elected gate keepers”. In addition, by adapting a mode of consumption that’s linked with stealing music for an ecommerce solution gives BitTorrent an almost Robin Hood persona now. 

No doubt, over the coming days/weeks, music’s big mouths will have their say about Yorke’s methods in releasing ‘Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes’ but as an alternative to distributing music via iTunes and their ilk or opposing streaming sites such as Spotify, it’s a powerful statement and hopefully, more artists will follow suit in seeking alternative means for pushing their new offerings to the world. In the past fortnight, U2, attempted a revolutionary feat in delivering new LP, ‘Songs of Innocence’ for free to nearly half a billion iTunes user in conjunction with the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Subsequently, the Irish quartet discovered how the wider public appreciated this “gift” – Apple hastily produced a tool to remove the album from users devices due to the fact the album’s awful and as a general consensus – a lot of people seem to despise U2! It was declared “an invasion” by a sizeable chunk of iOS users and in turn the quartet looked to have veered close to the precipice of career suicide. Would widespread animosity  been belched up towards the likes of Jay-Z, Kanye West or Beyoncé if they’d got into bed with Apple and “forced” their latest album’s into our iTunes library? We guess that’s another argument entirely…

Yorke on the other hand, is a savvier cookie, whilst U2 attempted something new and promptly failed, Yorke has given consumers a choice to purchase his latest album and in turn, by using BitTorrent, is challenging the notions of illegally obtaining content. At the time of writing, the free segment of ‘Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes’ has been downloaded over 100,000 times, thus illustrating a large proportion of the world are intrigued by this innovative release platform. How many have parted with cash for the album is yet to be announced. 

There’s a lovely nonchalance in how ‘Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes’ has appeared into the world, the same kind of feeling that came with ‘In Rainbows’ and ‘TKOL’. Yorke has merely offered up his new work by a modified channel with a cheeky nod and wink, no (pardon the pun) song and dance, no press conference. Just a “hey – I’ve made a new album – it’s available here, oh by the way, you can buy stuff from the place you used to steal from – cheers Thom”

Hail to the chief and may Yorke and Radiohead continue to surprise and enthral us.

Read ‘Tomorrow Modern Boxes’ Press Release here

Album Review: Thom Yorke

Artist:  Thom Yorke

Title:  Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes

Record Label: Self-released via BitTorrent

Release Date: 26th September 2014

Rating: 9.0/10

It may seem a false economy reviewing an album that’s instantly released without a moment’s notice. What’s the point of reading a review when music fans and critics are in the same boat? When it comes to a record’s grand unveiling and immediate consumption, you can make your own opinion by acquiring the damn thing in tandem with the tastemakers. In this case, is the album review as outdated as a fully-fledged album campaign with the end result of actually owning a CD? Let’s hope not. Opinions matter after all.

So, on 26th September, Thom Yorke, without much fanfare, declared his new solo LP, ‘Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes’ was available immediately via BitTorrent. Read the full skinny here on the Radiohead man’s inventive way of interacting with his sophomore outing. Always one to wrong foot us all, it’s too easy to get caught up in how to consume a Radiohead album or in this case a shock Thom Yorke LP, whilst forgetting about how it’ll actually sound. Imagine how weird it would be to hit play on this new album, and discover Yorke had regressed into some kind of blues-rock fug or does a fully electronic soundscape await in the bundle of files nestling on your computer’s hard drive? This is an artist that has been progressively advancing into uncharted waters for so long, he’s almost some kind of quasi-time traveller. 

Ok, let’s cut to the chase, you wanna know what Yorke’s been cooking up in his lab with Nigel Godrich right? Suffice to say, ‘Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes’ is an album of shifting, digital motifs, synths whirr with a glacial calm whilst at times beats distort to produce what can only be described as “bangers”. On several occasions, when the likes of ‘The Mother Lode’ and opening track ‘Brain in a Bottle’ get going, it’s hard not to imagine Yorke busting out a range of his infamous jerky dance moves, akin to the Oxford man flapping at an army of invisible wasps. The album’s core can be credited to a bevy of robust beats, the kind of mechanical rattle Aphex Twin conjures up. Wafting across these computerized pieces of percussion comes Yorke’s disembodied croon. There’s a heavenly slur to the vocalist’s delivery which daubs an angelic glean throughout the album’s 8 tracks.

Amongst the awkward, jittering beats and up-tempo numbers, you’ll discover pools of serenity but with these oasis’ of tranquillity come macabre, sinister undertones. ‘Guess Again!’ rebounds over crunching beats and a looped piano line while Yorke whispers “wild dogs are howling/behind the curtains” and “all of my nightmares/are in the garden” like a twisted fairy tale told to naughty children before Christmas. ‘TMB’ although a synthetic album, Yorke’s second solo effort looks to nature and in the case of ‘Interference’, animals for its lyrical comparisons. Digital nocturnal slews buoy Yorke’s malevolent innocence as he declares “we stare into each other’s eyes/like jackdaws/like ravens/the ground may open up and swallow us in an instant”.

Suffice to say, ‘TMB’ is majestic. The serene hue of ‘Guess Again!’ and ‘Interference’ morph effortlessly into the more upbeat occurrences of ‘The Mother Lode’ and the twisted ‘There Is No Ice (For My Drink) with the latter rebounding with a hypnotic bounce.

Musically pioneering with a delivery system to match, as a musician and an artist, Yorke has long been peerless, and this is evident when stepping into ‘TMB’s digital landscape. And it’s all yours for the price of $6 (£3.86).

 

Album Review: Single Mothers

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Artist:  Single Mothers

Title:  Negative Qualities

Record Label: Hot Charity

Release Date: 7th October 2014

Rating: 8.0/10

“If this is living the dream/just kill me/or at least wake me up!!” bellows Single Mothers vocalist Drew Thompson, with a howl of a man possessed on ‘Crook’ midway through debut LP ‘Negative Qualities’. This acerbic, guttural growl and the lyrics spat out typify Single Mothers bile infused, disenchanted hard-core punk. “If this is reality/I need more stimulation!!” punctuates the dying moments of ‘Crook’ as the rest of Single Mothers churn through a heaving sea of mangled static. The London, Ontario, band are spawned from punk’s self-destructive ways; this is an album and a band lit on a short fuse, one that depicts a group of men disillusioned with their surroundings, the wider world and a wanton lust to vent their spleen at faux-hipster culture.

What’s intriguing about Single Mothers, is that ‘Negative Qualities’ shouldn’t even be rattling the earwax in our lugholes. The four piece sacked off their collective punk fury in 2009 but have been playing shows ever since. Akin to when a marriage dissolves and the ex-husband and wife get on better as separate entities, it would seem a self-imposed “divorce” has given the Canadian troop the hutzpah to crack on with their own brand of twisted punk ‘n’ roll. 

‘Negative Qualities’ is a smash ‘n’ grab album, it doesn’t fuck about, before you know it, opening track ‘Overdose’ has trampled all over your skull and it’s time for lead single ‘Marbles’ to implode with a scenester slamming assault. Over a rusty barrage of guitars, bass and drums, Thompson’s acidic bark slips into a cynical slur declaring “At least I don’t pretend that my whole life is held together by bookends”. ‘Blood Pressure’ follows suit with the snarky moment of “I’m not half as good in real life/as I am in your stories”. It’s the way the frontman sarcastically rolls out his playful lyrics that gives Single Mothers its “fuck you” moments. Forever the antagonists, Single Mothers rattle the religion cage with ‘Patricide’ – “I need God about as much as she needs me” declares Thompson with millions of Christians reaching for their holy water and bibles. Most tracks swerve in at under the three minute mark, making ‘Negative Qualities’ an out of control gallop through the four piece’s urban sprawl. This is an intense debut LP but never is it overwhelming.

The outfit’s primary offering delivers a gut punch impact with ‘Marbles’ as the most instant track, alongside ‘Crook’ when it comes to blistering punk firebrand. However, adding in a nugget like ‘Christian Girls’ or ‘Winter Coats’ from the band’s 2011 self-titled EP, would upgrade a jab to the midsection to a knockout blow. Equally, closing instance ‘Money’ lacks the visceral edge found elsewhere on ‘Negative Qualities’. Still, there’s always round two.

Quite the contradictory title, there’s plenty of positive embellishments to be taken from ‘Negative Qualities’ and for a defunct band that dissolved in the last decade, they sound pretty fucking vital right now.   

Hot New Track: Nothing But Thieves – Wake Up Call

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It’s a rapid ascent that Nothing But Thieves find themselves on. Championed by Zane Lowe, comparisons to Radiohead and Jeff Buckley and being picked up by RCA Victor – home to David Bowie, Pharrell Williams and Swim Deep – these are all jubilant milestones that litter the band’s path at what can be the start of something very special. 

Debut EP, ‘Graveyard Whistling’ chalked up the band’s sonic manifesto; raw, emotional anthemics with a dose of melancholy. Swiftly propelled by their first effort’s slipstream comes ‘Wake Up Call’ – the not-so distant cousin of ‘Itch’, ‘Graveyard Whistling’s most visceral, abrasive moment. Anchored by choppy, serrated guitar riffs, ‘Wake Up Call’ illustrates that amongst the arena-baiting anthems, the five piece aren’t afraid to crank up the volume and with it the intensity. For an outfit such as NBT, huge chest beating aural motifs are their bread and butter but unlike vanilla acts such as Snow Patrol and Coldplay, a ragged, almost guttural undertone populates the lifeblood of the group’s latest single.

Amongst the storm of clattering drums and urgent guitars, vocalist Conor flexes his angelic pipes which act as the polar opposite to the storming instrumentation NBT produce. Soaring and fully formed, ‘Wake Up Call’ is a defiant piece of indie-rock and one with a clear message from NBT – “Slow down/fade out/that’s not how I wanna go”. Too true boys. On the band’s immediate impact, there’s little chance of the Southend troop fizzling out anytime soon. 

‘Wake Up Call’ is available to download on iTunes now – http://smarturl.it/WakeUpCall

For more information on Nothing But Thieves: 

Facebook – http://smarturl.it/NBTFacebook
Twitter – http://smarturl.it/NBTTwitter
Spotify – http://smarturl.it/NBT_Spotify
Soundcloud - https://soundcloud.com/nothingbutthieves 
Instagram - https://instagram.com/nothingbutthieves 
Website - http://www.nbthieves.com 

Album Review: alt-J

Artist:  alt-J

Title:  This Is All Yours

Record Label: Infectious/Atlantic Records

Release Date: 22nd September 2014

Rating: 8.0/10

With ‘An Awesome Wave’, alt-J’s debut LP, there was little expectation on its shoulders. alt-J at the time were a promising little band that produced quirky, weird songs that looked set to carve out a niche not unlike Wild Beasts. Essentially, widely revered but not world conquering. Little did we all know that, the now three piece - bassist Gwil Sainbury left the band in January 2014 – would create an album of pure splendour, an album that would propel them to the arenas and festivals the world over and position the Leeds outfit as a quasi-air to Radiohead’s oddball throne. However, expectation is a key reference now, with the trio rustling up a follow up to ‘An Awesome Wave’, the public wait with baited breath, was the band’s first offering a fluke? Can alt-j equal or surpass ‘An Awesome Wave’s legacy? 

‘This Is All Yours’ carries the hallmarks of alt-J’s distinctive sound; the crisp, robust beats of Thom Green provide a sturdy backbone, Joe Newman’s beguiling falsetto-baritone glides across Green’s defined stick-work and the layers of electronics and trembling guitar lines dealt with by the hands of Newman and keyboard aficionado, Gus Unger-Hamilton drape a rich, texture sonic tapestry across the album’s 13 tracks. The burning questions are, does the group’s sophomore attempt measure up to ‘An Awesome Wave’ and how has the bands unique and innovative sound developed? To the first quizzer, it almost measures up – let’s make no bones about this, ‘This Is All Yours’ has some magical moments but the way ‘An Awesome Wave’ appeared out of the blue ensured the band’s debut came loaded with the surprise factor. Despite this, ‘This Is All Yours’ finds the collective pushing themselves into new realms, notably sampling Miley Cyrus on comeback single ‘Hunger of the Pine’ – there’s flirtations with brass and added elements of lush orchestration plus the outfit’s lust for using silence as another instrument delivers poignant impact at opportune moments. We guess that’s query two covered; there’s an alt-J template that’s been tweaked and toyed with but not completely rewritten, just what you would want for a second record.

Cinematic appeal and a feeling of the conceptual has always been an important string to alt-J’s bow. Let’s face it, any band previously known as Films is going to have a lust for the celluloid way of life. Equally, ‘An Awesome Wave’ made references to Luc Besson’s Leon with ‘Matilda’ and they’ve lent their wares to the Bradley Cooper starring Silver Linings Playbook with ‘Buffalo’. Movie influences aside, there’s a filmic quality to ‘This Is All Yours’ in how the album commences with a part-instrumental ‘Intro’ that swells and soars with crispy, crunching noises and intricate guitar plucks. Additionally, the inclusion of ‘Arrival in Nara’ at the record’s summit and ‘Leaving Nara’ during its final moments work as lush establishing motifs akin to opening and closing credits. ‘Garden of England’ found at the LP’s core is another heavenly instrumental wrapped around bird tweets and elegant recorder trills. It’s a lovely nod to English eccentricity by a peculiar, English band. 

So many songs on ‘An Awesome Wave’ stood out as centre-pieces but on ‘This Is All Yours’ alt-J have cooked up something denser and slightly more elusive. Where the band’s debut LP, in retrospect, is full of weirdly, wonderful pop songs, on this second helping, the tracks are less instant but with it the challenge to delve deeper under its skin is an invitation hard to turn down. ‘The Gospel of John Hurt’ and ‘Hunger of the Pine’ are standout favourites to nestle up to ‘Tessellate’ and ‘Breezeblocks’ as new fan faves – equally, ‘Bloodflood pt.II’ has a dash of familiarity which harks back to those widescreen motion picture vibes previously mentioned. The album might not produce as many sing-a-longs as its predecessor but what it lacks in anthemics it makes up for in depth and adventurousness.

alt-j find themselves in a similar place as The xx did when the Londoners followed up ‘xx’ with ‘Coexist’ – to reignite the magic from their debut is a tall order. ‘This Is All Yours’ stands up tall to ‘An Awesome Wave’ and forgetting expectation, it’s a solid, textured and well-crafted second album. 

Live Review: Logfox

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Artist: Logfox 

Venue: Firebug, Leicester, UK

Rating: 8.0/10 

Date:10th September 2014

With tonight’s Firebug gig in mind, its evident Logfox have their eyes firmly locked on the future. Not content with just unleashing a brand new EP of rubbery, serrated indie-rock, the trio kick off their set with an unreleased track – ‘White As A Ghost’ – which, sshhhh, don’t tell anyone, will become a bonus song on the deluxe edition of EP3. Logfox could have mined their prolific past for a gem to ignite Firebug’s upstairs venue but with a bevy of new tunes within their arsenal, tonight’s short set is the prime opportunity to showcase how the Leicester troop have evolved from forging snappy three minute firecrackers to a band happy to produce nuggets that sprawl past the eight minute mark and that contain more twists and turns than a drive with George Michael.

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Without much of a pause, ‘Oblong’ follows the mangled static of ‘White As A Ghost’ – which manifests as a conduit between EP2 and EP3’s expansive trickery. Propelled by Neil Taylor’s machine-like drumming, this ‘oldie’ coats the air with a danceable yet discordant menace. Akin to challenging Foals and At The Drive In to a death match – Logfox flex a staccato bent which then erupts into plumes raw noise. Still on the theme of pushing things forward, there’s time for an untitled track to rattle some skulls. Influenced by alt-j, this nameless animal is cut from the same cloth as EP3’s noisy aural tapestry. The remainder of the set is dedicated to their latest body of work’s elongated masterpieces. ‘Fist Filth’ highlights Jaimie Marlow’s guttural roar which pushes the band’s sonic DNA into a post-hardcore territory while closing track ‘Top Lip Tuesday’ is embellished by Richard Springthorpe’s elastic basslines. Both composite moments from EP3 demonstrate a purple patch of creativity for Logfox where noise and serenity are equal bedfellows. Plus the gang of three have managed to develop songs that are – whisper it – epic without sounding indulgent.

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Appearing as a support act to LA duo EL Ten Eleven, Logfox play to a healthy batch of music fans hungry for their ears to be terrorized. Notably, amongst the regular Logfox devotees, a large chunk of those in attendance are happily shimmyin’ and a shakin’ to the three piece’s ‘muckyfunk’. Too long have the ‘three men that make noise’ been the best kept secret in Leicester, their time is now to wreak havoc on a new collection of willing new adoptees.

Photography by Naomi Abbs

Album Review: Gnarwolves

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Artist:  Gnarwolves

Title:  Gnarwolves

Record Label: Big Scary Monsters/Tangled Talk

Release Date: 15th September 2014

Rating: 8.0/10

It’s been a long, contested topic for years; did punk originate from America or across the Atlantic on a tiny island known as the United Kingdom? Some may say the States birthed rock ‘n’ roll’s delinquent offspring thanks to CBGB, The New York Dolls and The Ramones - however in Blighty, the safety pin/Mohawk enthusiasts among us would claim Sex Pistols, The Clash and The 100 Club marked a ground zero for guitar music, where the bloated world of prog and stadium rock was stripped back to its raw sinews - as they say; “this is a chord, this is another, this is a third…now form a band”

Working as a conduit for transatlantic punk relations, Brighton oiks Gnarwolves are the bastard sons from an American egg and a British sperm. The three piece echo the pop punk catchiness of New Found Glory, FIDLAR and Blink 182 - the latter being recent touring buddies. The Anglo connection comes in the form of a darker toned slice of punk, recounting Gallows, the now defunct The Ghost of a Thousand and Frank Turner when he’s not flexing his folk muscle. The seaside dwellers have primed a self-titled debut LP which rattles with a Warped Tour appeal but a devastating gut punch closer to their motherland.

'Gnarwolves' is an unrelenting beast, anchored on chugging riffs, scratchy bassline rumbles and drumming that speeds past at a million miles an hour. Vocalist Thom Weeks, possess a voice somewhere between Frank Carter and NFG’s Jordan Pundik. The deployment of a guttural howl or anthemic call to arms injects a depth to the band's debut and maintains a quasi USA/UK union. Sonically, the trio don't stray too far from a pop-punk blueprint, albeit with a slightly more acerbic tone to their cartoonish brethren. When the three piece veer from these jittering realms, they hint at a more considered, expansive sound. 'Hate me (Don't Stand Still)' reels off in a propulsive gritty fashion, much like the rest of its peers however Gnarwolves remove their foot from the gas to deliver a less urgent track of shifting dynamics, from explosive to sparse and back again before completely disintegrating. This melee is punctuated with the sobering words “we're living in a modern hell and it suits you well” as an ode to the disenchanted. LP closer, 'Eat dynamite. Kid' embellishes on the Gallows comparison, as it detonates in a violent scree of noise and metallic riffage. Very much a song of two halves, it announces itself as a darker, frantic cousin to the rest of its kin until a period of silence is decimated by a violent flurry of hardcore punk. The nine tracks that precede 'Eat dynamite. Kid' fizzle like a lit fuse with the album's finale providing the C4, attributing to an explosive set of end credits.

Lyrically, the album deals with a state of detachment and a ubiquitous angst. Gnarwolves do well in avoiding the perpetual adolescent teenager normally associated with pop punk but there are moments when the genre’s clichés rear up but luckily these occurrences don’t soil the album’s raw appeal. ‘Bottle to Bottle’ delves into a blinkered existence clouded by alcohol indulgence “If we start drinking heavily/the walls might stop shrinking” provides the inebriated thoughts of “I got so caught up in a moment I didn’t know I’d changed” which illustrates a theme of being stuck in a downward spiral. The ADHD punk of ‘Smoking kills’ pierces the air with an upfront dart of “We weren’t raised to be fucking morons” but later in the track a tired formulaic line of “I am the product of my father’s burden” is less pie ‘n’ mash grit and more American Pie faux trauma. Separation and longing are the key references on ‘Day Man’ - “Don’t tell me distance gets easier with time” and “You’ll always be much better at saying goodbye”. The impassioned bark of “If you must die/then die for something” whiffs a little of fromage but you can’t help but agree with that parting sentiment.

'Gnarwolves' does nothing to win the battle of who founded punk first and it doesn't reinvent the genre but what the album does well is fuse raw passion and a no bullshit salvo of blistering punk 'n' roll nuggets. 

Album Review: BANKS

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Artist:  Banks

Title:  Goddess

Record Label: Universal/Harvest Records

Release Date: 8th September 2014

Rating: 7.0/10

 It’s a sad world we live in when female artists such as Grimes, Deap Vally, Lauren Mayberry from Chvrches and Laura-Mary Carter of Blood Red Shoes feel compelled to speak out about equality in the music industry in comparison to their male peers. Last time we checked it was 2014 and not the dark ages. Each of the aforementioned artists have strong and justified opinions when it comes to being represented, belittled and the lack of female performers at music festivals. With this burning argument roaring a tumultuous blaze it’s only a matter of time before a truly game changing role model makes everyone’s ears prick up. For the moment, these gals are fighting the good fight.

LA songstress, BANKS, is cut from the same cloth as her fellow sonic sisters. Although, whereas the likes of Mayberry and Carter have made direct, assertive remarks in the public domain, BANKS has opted for a slightly more subtle approach. Notably, bestowing the title of ‘Goddess’ upon her debut LP marks out the intent of her own feminine identity. The album itself is a stirring wash of brittle beats, low slung synth hues and BANKS’ enchanting vocal, which ranges from alluringly aloof to strong and empowering. Such empowerment ripples through the album’s title track; this is a slick number that fidgets and writhes whilst the album’s lynchpin dispenses with breathy, sultry vocal nuances. “Fucking with a goddess and you get a little colder” is how the singer from Orange County warns off any potential bullshit mongers. Not so much ‘sisters doing it for themselves’, ‘Goddess’ hinges on a stealth like poise.

The album’s main core is constructed on the themes of relationships, generally love of the doomed kind. A reoccurring notion is that BANKS has found herself in a toxic union and ‘Goddess’ is her catharsis. From the off ‘Alibi’ sets the mood; “please give me something to convince me that I am not a monster” BANKS asks while mechanical cogs whir and euphoric synths swell to a state of rapture. ‘Waiting Game’ is an ode to love’s limbo land where a complicated matter of the heart isn’t easily determined as either on or off. ‘Change’ follows suit with more turbulent tales of amore. Finally, on closing number ‘Under The Table’ a point of resolution is almost found with BANKS requesting “my heart could be yours/won’t you make it your home?” in a touching piece of sentiment. Rough seas indeed on the BANKS love boat.

Sonically, ‘Goddess’ excels when electronics lurk in the shadows and beats reverberate off the walls. In saying that, the two moments of organic instrumentation ‘Under The Table’ and ‘You Should Know Where I’m Coming From’ provide a nice change of pace with their stripped back piano led ballads. ‘Goddess’ tends to lose momentum at the album’s epicentre with ‘Stick’ and ‘Fuck Em Only We Know’. The latter is not the barbed attack it’s title purports, while both tracks drift too close into pastiche r ‘n’ b. BANKS’ appeal is where cool, sophisticated beats and synth lines al a The xx merge with smooth vocals of The Weeknd but these two ditties angle themselves as standard chart clogging derivative album filler. 

‘Goddess’ doesn’t capture the raw, visceral BANKS you see on stage but her dark, brooding electronica manages to enchant with a sultry brooding nature. Not quite a ‘bra burning’ declaration but a strong female message of determination nonetheless. 

Introducing…Logfox

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Logfox revel in the sonic world of mathematics; they’re a fidgeting gang of 3 with a lust for messing with noise and time signatures, their discography is now a blossoming trilogy of awkward rhythmic textures, counting EP1, EP2 and latest instalment EP3 in the band’s slippery bag of tricks and finally, the trio can be understood by this simple equation - (Metronomy x Tom Vek)/Deftones = Logfox. 

After laying down the foundations with the first brace of EP’s, Logfox’s next chapter. EP3, realises a wanton impulse to fuse hypnotic low slung basslines with acidic barrages of serrated fretwork. To coin the band’s self-proclaimed categorisation - EP3 is ‘muckyfunk’. ‘Top Lip Tuesday’ rumbles with rubbery bass throbs whilst nonchalant falsetto vocals urge you to “tie it up/and grease it up/and bag it up” with a tongue in cheek risqué sauciness. All this pent up tension climaxes once a feral guitar wail surges at the tracks finale with a searing eruption of sound. 

If ‘Top Lip Tuesday’ is Metronomy and Tom Vek’s jam session being rudely interrupted by Deftones, ‘Fist Filth’ is the metal overlords crushing the skulls of Joe Mount and Vek with an eight minute long ball of mangled static. Filth is high on the agenda and EP3’s closing bruiser couldn’t get any grubbier.

EP3 is ready for your listening pleasure at http://logfox.bandcamp.com along with Logfox’s previous releases EP1 and EP2 all for the cost of precisely zilch. Bargain!



Logfox play The Cookie Jar, Leicester, 23rd October 2014 supporting Thought Forms - http://tinyurl.com/ne7cl85

Check out a review of Logfox’s recent gig at The Firebug, Leicester - here

Logfox press shots can be downloaded - here



Please get in touch if you like what you hear - for any press/interview/guest list requests for Logfox please contact Adam Williams @ wewerepromisedsomuch@gmail.com 




Logfox are: Three men make noise
 

Jaime D Marlow - Guitar/Vocals/Production 
Richard D Springthorpe - Vocals/Bass
Neil V Taylor -  Drums/Percussion

https://www.facebook.com/logfoxband
http://logfox.bandcamp.com

We Were Promised So Much
 

Contact Adam Williams via - 

Email: wewerepromisedsomuch@gmail.com 
Website URL: http://wewerepromisedsomuch.tumblr.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WeWerePromisedSoMuchUK
Twitter: @Wewerepromised

Introducing…Fizzy Blood

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If you frequent the pages of We Were Promised So Much regularly – and we hope that you do – you’ll know we love two things, noisy rock ‘n’ roll acts and bands that count ‘Blood’ in their names. Royal Blood, Honeyblood and now, Leeds four piece – Fizzy Blood. Although sonically different, each outfit stokes the fire in our bellies reserved for rock ‘n’ roll at its most potent.

Fizzy Blood have garnered interest from tastemakers Jen Long and Ally McCrae at BBC Radio One, Alex Baker at Kerrang! Radio and Sophie K at Team Rock Radio. Plus punk forbearers Dead Kennedy’s requested the unit to accompany them on their August UK tour. We’ve got a feeling this is just the tip of the iceberg.

The foursome mould together the no fuss blue-collar punk rock of The Gaslight Anthem with the muscular might of Queens of the Stone Age. Debut single, ‘January Sun’ projects itself like Josh Homme and Brian Fallon are having a love in whilst they fight over who thwacks the cowbell next. The four piece’s primary outing commences with an assured swagger, attributed to Benji’s deadpan vocals, Paul’s slippery guitar twang and a strutting drum lick delivered by the hands of Jake. As the track gathers pace, a feeling of momentum is hard to avoid, akin to shaking up a bottle of cola and plunging in a tube of Mentos. Before you can blink, Fizzy Blood’s effervescent rock ‘n’ roll froths with an rampant urgency, where those deadpan vocals have transformed into a guttural howl and the Homme/Fallon bromance has turned ugly…oh the aural simulated horror!

Although ‘January Sun’ sonically surges with a confident persona, lyrically the Yorkshiremen are a frazzled bunch “Is it all in my head?/Am I going round the bend?/Still alive, but I’m dead behind the eyes” paints the picture of a troubled protagonist, one at odds with the world. It’s this juxtaposition between musical bravado and an exposed fleshy underbelly that gives Fizzy Blood their depth and poise. 

For more on Fizzy Blood -

https://soundcloud.com/fizzy-blood

https://www.facebook.com/FIZZYBLOOD

https://twitter.com/FIZZYBLOODMUSIC

Interview: Nothing But Theives

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Arguably one of 2014’s success stories, Nothing But Thieves have propelled themselves onto the playlists of Radio 1 – with the likes of Zane Lowe showing early support to the band’s melancholic stadium-indie. Amongst influential support, NBT have been likened to Radiohead and Jeff Buckley. It’s safe to say, Nothing But Thieves are making waves.

We grabbed some time with the band to get a handle on their reaction to the feverous response they’ve received from Mr Lowe and Co, whilst we get under the skin of the band’s creative process and what can we expect for the rest of 2014 and beyond…

Nothing But Thieves have received plaudits from Zane Lowe and daytime Radio 1 - how does it feel to garner such influential support so early into your career?

It was a bit of a surprise to be honest. We uploaded the video for ‘Emergency’ to YouTube and few hours later received an email from Zane’s team asking to play it that week. We used to watch Zane in his MTV days so it was great that he liked our song. 

Jeff Buckley and Radiohead are highly rotated comparisons, how much of an influence are these artists to NBT?

They’re both artists we love and have listened to for years so it’s definitely rubbed off on our music one way or another. We’d hate for people to think we’re a poor copy though, we’ve worked hard to try and create something unique sounding. 

Tell us about other influences that make up NBT that maybe aren’t as obvious?

Bands like Led Zep and Pink Floyd are where all our influences meet. From a vocal perspective, Conor has always listened to old jazz singers such as Ray Charles and Sam Cook. …Pantera?

'Last Orders' documents a tale of a night out turned sour - is this a real life recollection or a general overview of the UK's alcohol obsessed ways?

We like to keep everyone guessing. A lot of our lyrics play on modern day issues viewed from a different/fresh perspective. As a lyrical blueprint it’s taught us to approach songwriting from an original angle. The song was an experiment really. We hadn’t heard a slow, moody song about something like a bar fight before, it turned out kinda cool.

How did you settle upon the name ‘Graveyard Whistling’?

The title is just an odd sounding lyric in the song. It’s a metaphor for purposely showing a nonchalance or indifference. 

Give us an insight into the EPs recording sessions - how was the record formed?

We tend to knock up our demos into good shape before getting into the studio. The idea is to leave enough room for experimentation without turning up with a blank canvas. The EP followed that ethos and as cliché as it sounds, the songs ‘came alive’ in the studio. 

And, finally what does the rest of 2014 and beyond hold for NBT? 

Firstly, a painful wait to release our album. Apart from that, we’re doing a bit of travelling. Sorting out dates for a few shows in the States later this year alongside playing Gibraltar Music Festival. Can’t complain… 

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