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

Album Review: Honeyblood

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Artist:  Honeyblood

Title:  Honeyblood

Record Label: FatCat Records

Release Date: 14th July 2014

Rating: 8.5/10

"Another fucking bruise/this one looks just like a rose" trills Stina Tweedddale on closing track ‘Braidburn Valley’ and with these beautiful yet macabre words, we understand the ethos of Honeyblood and the duo’s confessional self-titled debut LP. Much like the pair’s sweetly brutal name, the band’s first album combines an adolescent swing of emotions with raw, fuzzy indie rock. 

Instead of being in the eye of the teenage storm, Honeyblood’s sonic appeal is that of a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis but a naive innocence still resonates with a burning, tongue-in-cheek ire. ‘Super Rat’ positions the band calmly recounting the story of a low down dirty scoundrel “I will hate you forever/ I will hate you forever/scumbag/sleaze/slim ball/grease/you really do disgust me” all delivered with a grin but with a knife situated somewhere between the unnamed suitors shoulder blades. The gulf between teenagedom and young adulthood rings true on ‘All Dragged Up’ where Shona McVicar’s rapid drumming and Tweedddale’s fuzzy guitars paint the picture of someone clinging onto their old childish ways. “Why won’t you grow up/ why won’t you grow up/do we have to drag you up?” We’ve all got that pal who lives that eternal student life - this is about them. Fading friendship and drifting apart also factors during ‘Honeyblood’s lifespan, throughout the fast paced scratchiness of ‘Killer Bangs’ the Scottish twosome reflect reluctantly but defiantly about having to move on with one’s life “I don’t want to have to go on without you/but I have to” a short-sharp summary of how certain people are present in your life for fleeting moments but not permanent fixtures. Transition and the clarity of embarking on a new chapter becomes a main theme on ‘Honeyblood’ but instead of remorsefully reflecting on the past, there’s a feeling of catharsis with a confident nod towards the future.

A prerequisite for a two piece is to make as much noise with the sum of your parts but with Honeyblood, the noisiness is toned down to ensure melody and other textures are allowed to shine through. On previous recordings the Glaswegian’s projected themselves as coarse pop minstrels but on their debut those rough edges have been smoothed over ever so slightly, applying a sugary layer on top of the raw amalgamation of guitars and drums. 

It would be trite to claim ‘Honeyblood’ as a coming of age LP but in saying that, a notion of shedding childish idiosyncrasies is blood coursing through the album’s veins. Bitterly sweet and honestly autobiographical Honeyblood have distilled the emotional transition to adulthood with the jab of a smiling knife. 

Blissfields 2014 In Photos

Photography by Naomi Abbs

The Blissfields Experience

Over time the ‘festival experience’ has been lost somewhat. Now attending a summer bash has become a rite of passage akin to your first boozy trip to Malia with the boys or indeed, girls. What should be several days absorbing music, art and saying goodbye to the wider world for a weekend, translates into being shitfaced neck deep in mud whilst ignoring the multitude of amazing bands/acts/crafts ready for you to get your teeth into.

Blissfields on the other hand is an entirely different beast, this is a festival enjoying its 14th year and it’s in fine fettle thanks to a wonderful array of musicians to saviour, activities for all the family and a stunning setting that invokes journeying through the rabbit hole to a candy coated dream world. Predominately it’s a music festival but the wealth of artistic detractions are a stunning jewel to Blissfields’ crown – if you wish to try your hand at leather craft, fancy having a go at being a blacksmith or simply tie dying yourself a kaleidoscopic t-shirt as a momento of your time at the Winchester event, these are the tip of the crafty iceberg. With the myriad of gorgeous food to indulge your inner foodie, a quick game of pitch ‘n’ putt and of course the sumptuous spa area, suffice to say, Blissfields is a one of a kind festival and one that has more to offer than just getting drunk as a skunk. 

Whilst exploring Blissfields we fed our musical bellies as well as feasting on a vast array of delicious grub – We Were Promised So Much is first and foremost a music blog but by Christ we like to eat! The first offering on the festival’s diverse mezze board that we had the pleasure to wrapped our ears around was London whippersnappers, Jungle Doctors and considering this year’s fancy dress theme was ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ our primary choice of band comes with a coincidental vibe. Taking to the site’s The Hustle Den, the young five piece prowl the stage as if they’re headlining the whole shindig, there’s a confidence that exudes from the quintet that makes them a bright star for the future. Boasting an indie-rock sound that’s not a million miles away from Swim Deep, Peace and the slightest hint of Two Door Cinema Club, these boys definitely cast a spell over the amassed throng on a drizzly day in Hampshire. 

Apparently at Blissfields it never rains, which would be a lie as on Saturday the heavens opened and indeed, the waterproofs and wellies had to be adorned to protect us from the elements once we graced the Wild Stage. Just the remedy to this precipitation is Ry X and his soothing static lullabies. With a voice of velvet and guitar tones which waft and caress the air, it’s no surprise that the clouds cease their downpour and that giant orb in the sky makes an appearance to soundtrack X’s idyllic fuzz. X, or Ry Cuming to his pals, has to be one of the most humble and genuine souls to grace the planet as his gratitude and modest demeanour warmed the cockles of our hearts as the sun started to beat on our necks.

With a changeable weather pattern, it’s with a curious irony that Bipolar Sunshine follows Ry X. Adio Marchant’s sweet and sour soundtracks the dark clouds subsiding until rays of glowing light drench Blissfields for the first time on what was a gloomy Saturday. Backed by three musicians, Marchant’s performance slowly gathered pace until the triple helping of ‘Where Did The Love Go?’, ‘Rivers’ and ‘Love More Worry Less’ get the crowd off their feet and their hands in the air. Blissfields and Bipolar Sunshine are a match made in Hampshire and the closing manifesto of ‘Love More Worry Less’ fits today’s festival like a glove. 

Back in The Hustle Den, Southampton’s Laurel delivered an icy cool set forged by the swooning sound of a cellist, Portishead beats and glacial synths. Despite the starlet’s aural frostiness, Laurel radiates an infectious warmth that has large quarters of the audience hollering her name and immediately posting performance snaps onto Twitter or so claims a devoted Laurel fanatic. Straddling the line between girl-next-door and sensual provocateur, Laurel moulded Blissfields in her hand like putty.

Back to The Wild Stage and Blissfields is freewheeling to an ecstatic finale, transporting us from Winchester to the glitzy yet grubby sidewalks of New York, Hercules and Love Affair light the blue touch paper for a dance fuelled disco party with Andy Butler’s rubbery take on house music garnering feverous responses from the melee down the front. As Butler pulls the strings from behind his vast array of sonic gadgets, two singers take centre stage and command Blissfields like a pair of disco-cheerleaders. It’s a joyous sub-headlining set and one fitting for a festival that carries the name Blissfields. Tonight we all had a Love Affair with Hercules!

After HLA’s hip shaking transatlantic disco, it’s time for the audio collagists, 2manydjs to bind together the weird and the wonderful from their burgeoning record collection. With the crowd nicely limbered up, the Belgian’s headlining spot crowns of Blissfields with the brothers Dewaele merging a plethora of crowd pleasers. Granted watching two grown men – who bear a resemblance to Columbo and Inspector Gadget thanks to their rain-macs - toil over a bank of musical toys isn’t the most engrossing, nevertheless witnessing the cat and mouse of crowdsurfers versus security is hilarious, it seems just as a party goer is bound to be plucked from the undulating sea of hands they’re thrust back into the crowd to bobble like flotsam and jetsam.

From the likes of Disclosure’s ‘White Noise’, the band’s adopted theme tune ‘Peter Gunn’ to The Human League’s ‘Don’t You Want Me Baby’ and the closing one-two of ‘Girls and Boys’ by Blur and Supergrass’ anthem to eternal youth ‘Alright’, the overall feeling is that David and Stephen have pilfered our favourite anthems, cut them up, stuck them back together again and supercharged them with a ribcage rattling assortment of beats. 2manydjs wrap up Blissfields Wild Stage and it’s left to Mel and Paul Bliss to thank all those that have made this such a fantastic event, from the punters, to the artists and all those behind the scenes, the Winchester shindig all of sudden morphs into less a festival and more of a huge party with a shedload of new friends.

We scamper off to the Hidden Hedge and immerse ourselves in the frenetic, chaos of Area 51 to keep the party going…that’s where our tail ends of 2014…same time next year? Bet your leopard print loincloth we’ll be back!

Photography by Naomi Abbs

Blissfields 2014 – The Acts You Don’t Want To Miss

Since its meagre inception back in 2001, Blissfields has slowly evolved from “friends having a great party in a field” to a two day festival that’s “lots of new found friends having an incredible party in a field”. 2001 saw Blissfields crop up on the festival radar, cobbled together by a bunch of fairy lights, a sound system hired the morning of the shindig and roaring bonfire. Leap forward into 2014, the Winchester knees up is a multi-staged festival drawing in talent from all over the global. 2manydjs, Sleigh Bells, Tune Yards, Wolf Alice and many more factor this year amongst a whole host of DJs. Blissfields carries a theme for each annual outing and 2014 is no different; you’re invited to “walk on the wild side”. Prepare yourself to go native at Blissfields 2014.

Here’s our choice of acts that’ll make Blissfields 2014 another year to savour…

Sleigh Bells

Sugary sweet and visceral in equal measure, Sleigh Bells are sonic terrorists sent on a mission to meld together abrasive hardcore punk shredding and hip hop production so that you can lose your shit and dance like a loon. Alexis Krauss and Derek Miller invoke the aural bedlam of a punk band hijacking a troop of cheerleaders. Krauss is the gooey centre to the pair’s arsenal, saccharine to the taste with the moves of a girl band member raised on Black Flag whereas Miller is the engine room, the brutal outer core that hammers out blistering fretwork to juxtapose Krauss’ syrupy tones. This is all wrapped up in a shiny package of r ‘n’ b beats and chirps making for a multi-faceted, 3-D experience. Blissfields, you’re in for a treat.

2manydjs

The original mash up kings, 2manydjs have the pleasure in bringing Blissfields 2014 to an energised digital-flecked close. Primed and ready to dispense with their copy ‘n’ paste electronica, the brothers Dewaele have an entire sonic encyclopaedia to draw from; be prepared to have your ears treated to a dizzying array of veritable tasty morsels. Be it Iggy Pop, Destiny’s Child, Missy Elliot, Salt ‘n’ Pepa or some random TV jingle from back in the day, 2manydjs are the aural equivalent to MacGyver – give them the bare bones of music and they’ll get any dancefloor or in the case, a field in Winchester, bouncing like its New Years Eve 1999.  

Hercules and Love Affair

Festivals are meant to be big parties aren’t they? That communal experience of losing yourself in a field whilst being absorbed by the best music washing over you like a sonic tidal wave. Positioned neatly underneath main stage headliners, 2manydjs, are NYC dance-merchants, Hercules and Love Affair. Suffice to say, those party vibes will be ramped into overdrive once The Big Apple residents get their hometown disco pumping. New York for years has been synonymous with The Strokes and garage-rock but HLA represent a glamourous side of the five boroughs, albeit with cigarette burns on its cocktail dress.  Protagonist and head honcho, Andy Butler helms the band and drafts in a choice band of musical visionaries to bring HLA’s rubbery New York disco to life. Glitzy and oh-so fabulous, dust of those disco pants, Hercules and Love Affair are coming to town.

Wolf Alice

Boundaries are something that Wolf Alice are blissfully unaware of. The London troop’s aural goods are a tricky deal to summarise, this is a band who can mesmerize an audience with a pin-drop silence but then detonate with a cavalcade of roaring grunge-pop roughness. Ambient but oh-so noisy, Wolf Alice are riding the crest of a wave thanks to the plaudits garnered from their ‘Blush’ and ‘Creature Songs’ EPs merged with the band’s empathic live shows. Happily disobeying convention, Wolf Alice are one of the UK’s most treasured new bands – you’d be a fool to miss them at Blissfields this year. 

Years and Years

Years and Years’ synth led dance pop showcases the trio’s knack of melding boinging basslines and effervescent synths which in turn provoke comparisons to geeky-dance collective Hot Chip. Elsewhere, Years and Years craft a sound that drips with contemporary R ‘n’ B and saunters with a nonchalant groove. The London three piece set the airwaves a flutter with the bedroom electronica of ‘Real’, a track that caresses your ears with a euphoric, anthemic quality and one that’s set to get your feet moving all night long.

Chloe Howl

Who says pop music has to sound stale and uninspired? “Fuck those naysayers” that’s what ballsy teenager Chloe Howl would say (or something to that degree). Cut from similar cloth to Lily Allen and Kate Nash, Howl strikes an androgynous figure with a pop aesthetic that siphons off the best ingredients for electronica and drum ‘n’ bass. ‘Rumour’ is a surging melee of fluid synth lines and rapid fire beats that will certainly get this year’s Winchester party bouncing. Equally, with the squealing ‘No Strings’ we see the starlet flash her fangs with “No more crawling in your bed/fuck your no strings/I hope you have twins” proving she’s not someone to trifle with.  Instantly poppy with a venomous streak, that’s Chloe Howl! Don’t miss her over the weekend.

Bipolar Sunshine

This year’s Blissfields Festival is a melting pot of musical titbits, there’s 2manydjs’ aural collages, Sleigh Bells acerbic punk-rock-cum-cheerleader pop and then, there’s Bipolar Sunshine or Adio Marchant, a man who draws from Kanye West as much as he does Arctic Monkeys. A musical architect who loves to mine the furrows of Kendrick Lamar whilst positioning one ear towards The Smiths. With these contrasting but complimentary touch-points comes the young Mancunian’s vast appeal. Marchant is an uplifting prospect whilst having the ability to burrow right into your heart and soul. “Love more and worry less” Marchant declares on the track of the same name, that’s a good manifesto to have and one that rings true with Blissfield’s goodtime vibes. 

For more information on Blissfields

http://www.blissfields.co.uk/

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