Today is the equivalent of Christmas for record store frequenters and vinyl junkies, as during this Easter weekend its Record Store Day 2014. Now in its seventh annual jaunt, for one day a year, independent music stores and like-minded artists combine to release special vinyl and CD offerings while staging impromptu in-store gigs to celebrate all things music with the idea of keeping the DIY spirit alive.
Getting in on the act is Head Records in Leamington Spa and while stocking their shelves with limited edition releases from the likes of J Spaceman, Pixes, Django Django and much more wasn’t enough, they’ve snared in local darlings Coves for a celebratory 30 minute in-store performance just as they’ve dropped their stunning debut LP, ‘Soft Friday’ to widespread critical acclaim. Currently things are looking scintillating for the Warwickshire based duo, they’ve garnered feverous attention for their first musical offering, the likes of NME, DIY and Canadian music site Northern Transmissions have been early adopters and the duo have recently shared a stage with Band of Skulls. Plus, with Sharks’ sad demise from the Leamington Spa music landscape, there’s an absent branch at the top of the tree waiting to be filled; Coves can be this band with ease.
Kicking off their set at the rather un-rock ‘n’ roll time of 1:30pm, Coves have gathered in quite the baying crowd amongst the racks of CDs, DVDs and vinyl. Setting up shop in Head’s front window, the two piece, Beck Wood (vocals) and Jon Ridgard (guitar) – flanked by two session musicians on bass, drums and electronic gadgetry – make for the most animated mannequins with a deft knack at wheeling out hazy, groove-led rock ‘n’ roll in the mould of The Kills, Velvet Underground and, interestingly Death in Vegas during their ‘Scorpio Rising’ phase. Coves only have half an hour to offer up choice nuggets from ‘Soft Friday’ but in this time they approach each track with a smouldering gusto, even if the PA decides to throw a spanner in the works with a malfunctioning noise that’s attributed to a “naughty robot”. The likes of ‘Last Desire’, ‘Fall out of Love’ and the storming ‘Cast a Shadow’ already glisten with a timeless quality. Even a cheeky cover is dispensed with in the guise of Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’. Suffice to say Coves’ hypnotic appeal is strong enough to stop passers-by in their tracks, resulting in worried shopping centre security assembling the most flimsy of crowd control at the front of the store – akin to the passive fabric barriers seen in your local branch of Natwest. Any stampedes were avoided in the end – good job security men!
Wood and Ridgard clearly have a special musical bond as they share effortless vocal harmonies one minute and then trade jokes and smiles the next. Equally, the award for the most exuberant out of the pair is an undisputable tie. You’ve got Ridgard’s guitar virtuosity, which sees 50% of Coves twitching with untold enthusiasm, playing his guitar with his teeth, yelping like a banshee or collapsing to his knees during the show’s finale. Wood, not to be outshone shimmers with magnetic cool, swaying and winding with the ubiquitous wash of kaleidoscopic, psyche-indebted rock currently mesmerising all in attendance.
It’s evident Coves have a strong local following as this afternoon’s mob lapped up the two piece’s enthralling sonic titbits – it’s surely only a matter of time before Coves transcend from local favourites to a global success story. Gotta love Record Store Day, it’s the gift that keeps on giving!
Live photography by Naomi Abbs
Artist: Brody Dalle
Title: Diploid Love
Record Label: Caroline
Release Date: 28th April 2014
For her first stint at going it alone, Brody Dalle has thrown caution to the wind when it comes to her solo LP, ‘Diploid Love’. Acting like the conduit between the Melbourne born artist’s former bands, The Distillers and Spinnerette, the Australian icon has forged a record that snarls with punk aggression whilst being brave enough to explore previously undiscovered territories. If ‘Spinnerette’ was Dalle testing the water with a new musical endeavour, ‘Diploid Love’ leaps headlong into the ocean and it’s all the more fearless for it.
With Dalle’s initial foray away from the blueprint of punk, ‘Spinnerette’ illustrated a lust to push the boundaries of what is expected from rock music and especially a female focal point. With Spinnerette, Dalle toyed with electronics and dusty guitar lines more associated with her spouse’s brand of rugged rock ‘n’ roll. This blueprint has been rolled out across ‘Diploid Love’s lifespan but where Dalle’s first project after The Distillers was perhaps a little bloated in places, this primary solo effort is leaner, tenser and heavier. With only nine tracks to its name, ‘Diploid Love’ doesn’t have time to dilly-dally, it’s focussed and razor sharp. Even during the album’s more expansive moments, that recall nods to Portishead, The Postal Service and bizarrely a demonic Coldplay fronted by a venomous Courtney Love, the fat content here is negligible. ‘I Don’t Need Your Love’ is the biggest departure from the Dalle of old, taking in those Portishead vibes, this six minute opus combines a menacing piano and the sound of drip-dripping drums, whilst the inclusion of taut plucked strings convey an uneasy air to them. Our protagonist side-lines her trademark howl for the voice of an angel, albeit one that’s fallen to earth with tattered wings and a buckled halo. Electronic influences are prevalent but it’s the use of orchestral flourishes and a breakdown of sampled baby noises that makes for a thrilling centre piece to ‘Diploid Love’.
Despite the comparisons to the less than punk figureheads of Chris Martin and Co, Dalle hasn’t dulled her acidic growl nor has her guitar been diluted to that of an arena band, at times ‘Diploid Love’ rages with a frenzied roar. Opening with ‘Rat Race’ things slalom to punctuated guitar stabs and the rampant drumming of someone pummelling sheet metal. Revving up like a modern twist on punk’s spit embalmed template it comes as a surprise when jubilant parps of brass segue in a triumphant leaning. Dalle is in fine voice too, with a defiant tone to her husky pipes “I got a gun pointed at the rat race/got my own private road to hell” smirks at the thought of nowadays modernity and, how vacuous and greedy we’ve all become. Brass plays another key part in ‘Underworld’, shotgun punk vibes reign supreme thanks to a salvo of rollicking bass and drum combinations that buoy searing helpings of fret-assaults. As the track progresses, the sound of horns become more prominent leading to the imagery of Dalle’s former outfit jumping a marching band in a dark alley or a brass band chasing a gang of young punks out of town. The whole shebang glides effortlessly into a mariachi breakdown to bring the million-miles an hour moment to a composed halt.
Optimism and defiance are significant factors within ‘Diploid Love’, ‘Dressed in Dreams’ is where the Coldplay style influences bear fruit, only if for the soaring walls of whirring shoegaze like guitar. Catharsis comes in the guise of Dalle declaring “better days are waiting for me” and the throat distorting clarion call of “I want the freedom to dream the impossible” couldn’t be anymore life affirming. Coming of like a bruised and broken EMA, ‘Blood in Gutters’ manipulates static waves into tuneful drones and fuzzy notions, Dalle barks “find your weakness/go on! Kill it!” akin to the last battle cry before heading out to war. The album’s nuances towards inner power and belief are reassuringly infectious, thus making for a record that principally appears mechanical but throbs with a beating human heart.
Despite clawing in help from the likes of Shirley Manson (Garbage), Emily Kokal (Warpaint), Nick Valensi (The Strokes) and Michael Shuman (QOTSA) ‘Diploid Love’ feels like a record where compromise is non-existent. Dalle sounds revitalised, passionate and hungry and something that makes her solo LP a vital listen.
Although Merseyside is a hive of activity thanks to Liverpool’s current return to football supremacy, when it comes to the Liverpudlian music scene, it’s fairly threadbare in the terms of hot prospects to treat our eardrums to something delectable. Until now…emerging almost out of nowhere, Death At Sea come marching out of the home of The Beatles with a dark yet sweet intensity that’s wrapped around stark, melodic tracks. The band’s lifeblood invokes Echo and the Bunnymen’s brooding nature and Sonic Youth’s deft use of noise – albeit turned down a notch so to let their pop sensibility shine through the murk.
What the four piece do with the expert execution of a Suarez free kick, is merge the macabre with the divine, take debut offering ‘Drag’, a rollicking indie-rock number built on the foundations of shimmering guitars that flicker in one aspect but slice like a razor when you least anticipate. It’s the lyric of “When he’s with her/she bleeds glitter” that ramps up the notions of the gruesome tinged with an uncompromising beauty. Follow up nugget ‘Selfless’ opts for a direct charge into the box, all down to the song’s rampant energy right from the off, rattling drums combined with handclaps sallied up next to seething fretwork make a urgent call to arms. Despite the distilled aggression, Liverpool’s new favourite sons still find the room to slot in some poptastic vocal harmonies, as if to sell the listener a dummy. Wordplay again is key, Death At Sea bear their soul with a self-deprecating lament of “I wanna be anything but myself” plus the straight to the point, lash out of “you’re fucking bringing me down” proves the four piece don’t beat around the bush when it comes to expressing their emotions.
Weaving in the two aforementioned tracks slipstream, Death At Sea have another dose of stirring melancholy ready to be dispensed across our airways. ‘Glimmer’ drags the pace down to a crawl, shoegaze-esque guitars paint with broad brush strokes whilst drums steadily pitter-patter before erupting into an anti-anthem chorus of euphoric proportions. Again, the ideals of beauty and ugliness gather in the hook line “I can’t tear my eyes away from you” that smack of insatiable devotion but also convey an air of voyeurism-like menace. Are Death At Sea declaring untold adoration here or are they shadow dwelling stalkers?
Death At Sea are the point where darkness and light meet, they’re a band happily straddling the territory between elegance and downright ominous. Liverpool needs something to shout about, A Premier League winning season and a scorching new band could just be the ticket.
Let’s hope Death At Sea aren’t Everton fans after lauding up Liverpool right?!
For more on Death At Sea
New single from Death at Sea, out on Kissability on May 5th.
See them live!
16th April - The Bell Jar, Sheffield
3rd May - Liverpool Sound City
9th May - Blind Tiger Club, Great Escape Brighton
Record Label: Frenchkiss
Release Date: 7th April 2014
“Your sweetness is killing me/Be mean! Mean! Mean! I want you to be mean to me!” shrieks Bridget Battle, the mouthpiece of pop-punk trio Tweens, over a slew of ADHD indebted punk clatter that is ‘Be Mean’. What’s ironic about this statement by Battle, is that she may like her boys to be bad but her Cincinnati troop have a punk rock sound smothered in a sugary sheen; imagine picking up what you think is a peanut M & M only to find once you crack through the candy coated shell, there’s a fiery chilli waiting to wipe out your taste buds. That’s ‘Tweens’, the band’s self-titled LP, in a saccharine layered chrysalis, delectable on the outside but venomous on the inside or is that poison on the outside and heavenly on the inside? Either way the young punks exude an obnoxious exuberance all over their first offering like a fizzy can of soda bouncing down an empty elevator shaft.
Akin to Cyndi Lauper fronting a Coca-Cola mainlined Ramones or a frenzied Karen O ushering Yeah Yeah Yeahs away from art-punk into the sticky floors of sweet shop indebted pop-rock, Tweens’ eponymous debut is an album to be enjoyed at high speed and preferably without a seat belt. Pace and wanton abandon is what gives the three piece’s album its addictive appeal, if it’s not Battle yelping like a hyperactive cheerleader or thrashing her guitar like it’s stolen her last Fruit Pastille, it’s Peyton Copes (bass) and Jerri Queen (drums) smearing gaudy amounts of syrupy chaos all over their first long player.
Frustration and isolation crop up occasionally on ‘Tweens’, especially during album opener ‘Bored In The City’. Tweens youthful vigour explodes across this ditty that has Battle stating “this town is eating me alive” with a twitching restless. ”Is now the time to go?” is what the frontwoman squeals during a brooding, bass driven breakdown which rolls of the tongue, less like a question, more a direct action. Battle and the boys are those tearaway school kids who are under stimulated and hell bent on creating their own mischief at the back of the classroom.
‘Tweens’ screeches with a tireless energy and one that only wanes in the last third of the record, ‘Want U’ is the band’s sugar lull, a static lullaby that lumbers with a heavy eyed lethargy. The antithesis to ‘Be Mean’, ‘Want U’ captures the outfit with their guard down and a sound that’s subtler and more introspective than the rest of the album. Battle sweetly coos the track’s simple title in a bearing of the soul statement that’s alien to ‘Be Mean’s brash declarations of “getting to second base”. However, the likes of ‘Rattle + Roll’, ‘Hardcore Boy’ and ‘Girlfriend’ bristle with a fidgeting menace that plops the gang back in the playground, wreaking havoc like the aural tearaways they purport to be.
The term ‘Tween’ has, up until now, been used as a tag for the likes of pop goomba’s Justin Bieber, One Direction and everyone’s favourite foam finger molester, Miley Cyrus. Thankfully for Tweens, any dainty, plastic packaged pop cynicism has just been demolished by their brattish, adolescent mood swing of a debut album.
Record Label: One Side Dummy
Release Date: 7th April 2014
Sacrifice and compromise is what has spawned PUP’s eponymous debut LP. When the Canadian punks could have stuck to the rat race and attempted to climb the slippery corporate ladder, they opted instead for an existence pivoting around punk rock and all the toiling that comes with it. Forgetting about the possibilities of being flat broke and the thought of being stuck in a battered old van touring any godforsaken country, in giving up the blueprint life, the quartet have offered a collection of 10 songs that bristle with melodic intensity. ‘PUP’ captures the Toronto band replicating their thrilling live sound as best they can and by golly they’ve achieve it with a fizzing ramshackle pop-punk that doesn’t scrimp on the aggression stakes nor is it hollow when melody and anthemics are concerned.
Something that ‘PUP’ delivers effortlessly is the juxtaposition between jaunty and playful pop notions that are sandwiched between more downbeat lyrical imagery. ‘Dark Days’ initially is a cheery run through, hammered home by Zack Mykula’s persistent stick work and traded guitar lines by Stefan Babcock and Steve Sladkowski that shimmy with a deft pop sensibility. Although breaking through the upbeat sonics you’ll hear Babcock huskily declaring “We’ve had some dark days/we’re in the thick of it now” whilst this retort is confronted in the next breath by a triumphant Babcock barking “At least I survived” as if to be thankful for getting through these aforementioned ‘Dark Days’.
There’s a relatable frustration and struggle to ‘PUP’ that’s either played out by the band’s thrashing punk wares or Babcock’s sweetly delivered rasp or in some cases a heady combination of the two. Lead single and live favourite ‘Reservoir’ is a turbo charged, arms aloft anthem about struggling with life’s excesses. The song’s inception came when Babcock realised all he was doing was getting wasted and how vacuous his life had become. Perhaps this doesn’t sound like the most jubilant of subject matters but in the way the foursome bulldoze through the track at a ‘blink-and-you’ll-miss it’ pace, being instantly hooked is a certainty. Unified vocal harmonies, slashing riffs and tumbling drums provide ‘Cul-De-Sac’ with a robust backbone, conveying the perfect vehicle for Babcock’s tuneful yelp. In keeping with the dead end street the track coins its name from, PUP’s lead man can be heard uttering the defeated but strangely defiant words “My whole life I will wait for your heart to change” like a man who knows his endeavours of the heart are fruitless. The less aggressive and slightly more playful ‘Never Try’ illustrates the band’s pop edge with a sprightly verse and soaring chorus one-two. If there’s something PUP do expertly well it’s mesh punk’s energy with pop music’s tuneful assertiveness. Frustration is a key factor on ‘Never Try’, rattling like an ode to a town stuck in a time warp, lyrics such as “I’ll come back ten years from now and nothing will have changed” will strike a relatable chord with anyone who’s ever yearned about escaping their insular bolthole.
Amalgamating pop and punk has done PUP well, with a volley of nuggets on their self-titled debut that sparkle like grubby diamonds on a dive bar floor. However, penultimate number ‘Back Against The Wall’ is where PUP flip the switch and give pop a break whilst punk marauds like a drunken reprobate hell bent on kicking off circle pits and fatal stage dives. Another ditty like this bruiser earlier on into the record would have taken ‘PUP’ from being a superb debut record to an exceptional one.
The true acronym behind PUP, is Pathetic Use of Potential – on the basis of the North American’s blisteringly sweet punk ‘n’ pop debut, they’ve used their potential perfectly not pathetically.
Title: The Future’s Void
Record Label: City Slang
Release Date: 7th April 2014
Information, information, information. Twitter feeds, Facebook timelines, Instagram photos, 24 hour news channels – a modern day headfuck made up of relentless barrages of noise that stream from every conceivable electronic device to your brain. It’s enough to send a person loop the loop. It’s no lie to state, when it comes to information or “staying in touch” nowadays it’s almost a perquisite that your retinas must be stuffed to the gills with YouTube videos, GIFS, snaps of friend’s cats, babies and evening meals along with the ubiquitous status update of banal modernity.
If you’re looking for the sonic equivalent of what it’s like to live in 2014, being bombarded by hashtags, selfies and the feeling of a communication overload, ‘The Future’s Void’, EMA’s sophomore outing may provide the solace you’ve been yearning for or the final excuse you need to delete your social media existence. Either way, Erika M. Anderson has cut 10 tracks that schlep through today’s saturated digital landscape; ‘The Future’s Void’ is a tense, claustrophobic listen, constructed around endless streams of abrasive static and caustic beats superbly mimicking the suffocating notion we all must engage on a plethora of artificial platforms to maintain an organic reality.
Many have tried and failed when it comes to chronicling today’s obsession with content overkill but ‘The Future’s Void’ triumphs in being subtle in execution and innovative in its sonic delivery. EMA’s repetitive walls of fuzz are akin to ditching the guitar for a malfunctioning transistor radio, none more so conveyed in album opener and lead single, ‘Satellites’. Malevolent hails of crackling noise swell to the sound of mechanical beats which push Anderson’s aching vocals skyward resulting in a strangely euphoric experience. Aside from EMA’s observations towards a solitary internet based inhabitancy, ‘The Future’s Void’s opening gambit harks back to the days of the Cold War in the late 1980s – early 90’s with “I remember when the world was divided by a wall of concrete and a curtain of iron” sounding as if it’s being beamed back from the International Space Station.
The forays into damning contempt for our self-confessed ‘Facebook Life’ can be heard on the lullaby-esque trill of ‘3Jane’ and the dissonant thud of ‘Neuromancer’. The former’s aural lifeblood is wistful and subtle, allowing Anderson’s delicate whisper to recount her views on societies self-congratulatory behaviour “feel like I blew my soul out across the interweb” while the simple “but disassociation, I guess is a modern day thing” sums up the juxtaposition of social media’s need for harmless self-promotion. The latter is a digital punk onslaught fired up by industrial beats that would make Trent Reznor piss his pants and the cast of Stomp supremely jealous at the DIY percussion thumps. Anderson’s vocals transform from a waiflike thing to something more assertive as if to compete with the tracks tremor like backbone. Lyrical snipes at “taking selfies, narcissism and new millennium” provide the bile to fuel ‘The Future’s Void’s angriest stab at gorging ourselves on the information super highway’s vacuous ways. ‘Dead Celebrity’ caps off the South Dakota inhabitant’s second release in a less frenzied fashion, provoking the images of a pre-baseball game fanfare; a distorted organ squeaks with the sound of broken patriotism to Uncle Sam whilst firework crackles distil an ironic swipe towards celebration, as if to say “you’ve all had your 15 minutes of fame, well done. What have you actually done?”
Distortion and dystopia are rife in the annals of ‘The Future’s Void’ however respite can be found in the calming acoustic strum of ‘When She Comes’ and ‘100 Years’ lonesome piano refrain. Such relief comes at a premium as the aforementioned tracks are swiftly engulfed up the rolling drones of ‘Cthulu’ and ‘Smoulder’ while the back to basics ‘So Blonde’ captures EMA are her most organic, with clean guitar lines replacing venomous torrents of molten noise. Vocally, Brody Dalle and Linda Perry spring to mind as Anderson embraces her inner punk-rock menace with a throat rasping roar.
‘The Future’s Void’ is a wildly intense, oppressive record that casts a scathing light on a new generation’s fixation with self-applause. No LOLs to be found here – just disdain and frustration towards today’s preconceived methods of reaching out.
Ironically, this album review can be found on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr – #hypocrite.
Venue: O2 Academy 2, Oxford, UK
Date: 28th March 2014
Ten minutes prior to BANKS’ set time at Oxford’s O2 Academy the atmosphere was beyond palpable. This was the point we joined the sold out crowd for the LA starlet’s electrifying performance. The atmosphere was thick with expectation and a genuine feeling of excitement could be felt rippling through the air. In a retina destroying flash of white lights against a noir background, the American singer slinked onto the O2’s stage, adorned head to foot in black – as if camouflaged against the darkness, to the sound of floor creaking bass and distorted electronics.
From the off, it was hard to avoid the fact that the likelihood of BANKS playing these intimate shows will start to become a rare occurrence. Exuding confidence and a demure elegance, BANKS strikes a captivating figure, one of magnetic proportions. Interestingly, for anyone who’s already consumed the slick, dark electronica of ‘London EP’ you’d expect a statuesque silhouette of a performer to be gracing the stage, however BANKS commands every inch of the Academy, gracing each corner, acknowledging fans and bobbing to the sound of the immense digital backdrop.
Vocally, the performance gets off to a shaky start but it’s evident that any microphone issues are down to the PA as opposed to BANKS impressive set of lungs. The lurching mid-section of ‘Brain’ wipes away any cobwebs or misconceptions that the LA inhabitant can’t deliver in the live arena, as the song reaches its crunching breakdown, BANKS comes charging from the back of the stage, in a flurry of lights bellowing out a voice that makes Florence Welch sound like a timid mouse. A hefty amount of tonight’s performance was indebted to the polished electronica, flecked r ‘n’ b that’s got the likes of Zane Lowe, NME and Fake DIY a flutter; ‘This Is What It Feels Like’ is dropped early on into the set to the sound of enormous cheers, ‘Bedroom Wall’s raw intimacy (almost) silences the chatters at the back of the venue – don’t you just love them! Whilst the aforementioned ‘Brain’ garners the most euphoric cheer next to penultimate track ‘Waiting Game’. It’s only main set closer, ‘Stick’, that flirts too much with r ‘n’ b cliché for our liking – although this is a minor grumble in an almost faultless performance. Akin to merging The xx with London Grammar, BANKS produces a shadowy pop music that is without cynicism, this is electronica with a dark heart looking to storm the charts
Rapidly becoming synonymous with heavily treated electronic music, it’s refreshing to hear ‘Warm Water’ being delivered acoustically plus The xx indebted ‘Fall Over’ invokes an organic nucleus amongst the machine driven sonics from tonight’s performance. Tipping her hat to her musical roots, BANKS reels out a super slick version of Aaliyah’s ‘Are You That Somebody’ whilst a further nod is aimed towards touring buddy The Weeknd, with a cover of ‘What You Need’ which brings BANKS first steps of UK domination to an end.
There’s always talk of the “next big thing”, something that the Californian singer has been tagged as since midway through 2013 but such an accolade isn’t misplaced where tonight’s show is concerned. BANKS has the whole package plus there’s the feeling of being an antithesis to Lady GaGa’s ostentatious persona. By stripping back everything, visually and musically BANKS demands your attention, it’s unavoidable and all the more palatable due to the fact it’s gimmick free.
There’s little confidence in banking institutions of late but let’s make this clear, you’d be a fool not to invest your time and attention with BANKS.
Photography by Naomi Abbs
With the urgency of a commuter sprinting to catch the tube, Honeyblood’s latest snippet from their forthcoming eponymous debut LP – due out 14th July – ‘Killer Bangs’ has the Glaswegian two piece charging through their rickety brand of noisy pop like they’ve got their foot stuck on the accelerator.
Something that the duo have exemplified of late is their perfection in amalgamating melody and cacophonous frenzy, and on ‘Killer Bangs’ Honeyblood are keeping this spirit alive thanks to the tracks blistering flurry of raw guitars delivered by Stina Tweeddale’s deft fretwork while Shona McVicar’s drumming does nothing to slam the breaks on ‘Killer Bangs’ runaway sugariness. Equally, Tweeddale’s sweetly yelped vocals dollop on another layer of urgency, “time is against us/circumstance likes to dick around” only adding to the tracks freewheeling momentum.
With the likes of ‘Bud’, ‘Kissing on You’ and ‘Choker’ setting our hearts a flutter, ‘Killer Bangs’ is another reason why ‘Honeyblood’ is a possible front runner for debut LP of the year.
“One Song…Every Month…Until The Day I Die” That’s quite a wild statement but this is the legacy Prints Jackson wishes to leave behind. And hey, why not?! The way in which we consume music has changed so radically over recent years, dolloping out monthly helpings of sonic giveaways challenges the status quo once more. Oh, we forgot to mention – these tracks will cost you diddly.
The debut offering from this ambitious project is the synth heavy splurge of ‘Law A’. Commencing in a squall of twisted electronics, Prints Jackson then effortlessly segues into the main body of ‘Law A’ that bears a delicious resemble to Postal Service’s melancholy indie-electronica. Siren-like digital waves smooth over euphoric moments which in turn buoy percussion driven verses that are heavy on rattling beats. PJ’s primary effort’s core is the joyous sound of mangled electronics which pose an exhilarating backbone for our protagonist’s voice that veers from serene to yelp.
Currently very little is known about Prints Jackson and his/her/their origins remain elusive. Still, all the details we need thus far are the most important - “One Song…Every Month…Until The Day I Die” plus ‘Law A’ is a promising foray into this intrepid sonic voyage.
Here’s hoping for a long and fruitful existence for Prints Jackson – this could be the start of a something wonderful.
For more on Prints Jackson -
It was only a matter of time until the antithesis of B-Town’s sunshiney optimism was challenged by an altogether darker, more aggressive barrage of aural discordance. Don’t get us wrong, we’ve been long-time supporters of Peace and their vitamin D entrenched wares, we also dig the carefree notions of Swim Deep and the tropical flecked escapism of Troumaca but what we love at WWPSM is juxtaposition, plus in our hearts we’re miserable bastards who’ve never grown out of being angry at the world. This is what makes Birmingham three piece, Youth Man such a thrilling proposition, this noisy bunch produce neck snapping punk-rock that’s infused with bile and vitriol, something that suits the grey vistas of the UK’s second city far better than the sonic radiance of their peers.
Lining up as a classic power trio, Youth Man consist of Kalia Whyte on guitar and vocals, Adam Haitof on bass and Marcus Perks on drums. The Brummie band have received wide spread acclaim from the likes of NME, Rock Sound and Fake DIY off the back of their recent free download EP, ‘Bad Weather’. For the price of precisely zilch you can experience the caustic turbulence of Youth Man at first hand, these are five songs of raw intensity, played at high speed albeit with a scant few moments of unsettling calm before the volcanic assault of punk-rock cacophony threatens to rip your face off and puncture your eardrums once more. Youth Man can be likened to Savages in the fact both bands have little regard for restraint and favour blitzkrieg eruptions over subtly. If you were to take away the ‘post’ pre-fix from Savages’ punk rock and really piss them off, you’d get Youth Man – equally, Whyte’s unhinged vocals bear a resemble to Jenny Beth at her most vengeful.
‘Bad Weather’ reeks of urban decay and soaks you to the skin with a sound that is ostensibly British, although amongst the ragged punk rock kicking, there is the most meagre of hints towards grunge’s ramshackle chaotic nature giving a slight nod across the Atlantic. ‘Insipid’ is the sound of Youth Man racing through a frenzied salvo that clocks in at under one minute and thirty seconds, with Whyte howling like a rabid banshee. ‘Salt’ merges tense atmospherics and violent tantrums of brain rattling tendencies that detonate like a cluster bomb. It’s not until the EP’s finale do we slide into Youth Man’s grinding eerie calm before a seeping crescendo whips away the Jenga blocks and the whole thing comes crashing down.
Discordance and ire has never sounded so exhilarating, youth is definitely not wasted on Youth Man, not matter what the (Bad) Weather.
Listen to ‘Bad Weather EP’ Below -
For More on Youth Man -
On the eve of releasing their fourth LP, ‘Cope’ Manchester Orchestra have offered up a sneak preview into the band’s inner sanctum. Magic Moments is a guided tour around the home of the Atlanta band with snippets of acoustic sessions and the real feeling you’re getting under the skin of their creative process.
With their tongue firmly planted in their cheeks, Manchester Orchestra don’t seem to take themselves too seriously and Magic Moments cements a real togetherness amongst these five pals.
Spoiler Alert! May contain nudity!!
Check out our review of ‘Cope’ below -
Album Review: Manchester Orchestra - Cope
Artist: Manchester Orchestra
Record Label: Loma Vista
Release Date: 31st March 2014
Over the course of four LP’s, Manchester Orchestra have become synonymous with all things grandiose and ultimately, huge sounding. With their third record, ‘Simple Math’, the band from Atlanta, Georgia tipped the scales when it came to theatrics whilst pushing the limits of where ‘epic’ can go in the realms of being a rock band. As if to give stadium gods, Muse a run for their money, the five piece aren’t afraid to ramp things up to widescreen and expand what the expectations might be of ‘a normal band’ set up with additional layers of strings and horns. Whereas on the outfit’s fourth outing, ‘Cope’, Manchester Orchestra have suppressed the added bells and whistles for a record that’s quintessentially a colossal alt-rock album. Orchestral flourishes and extra pieces of theatrics crop up from time to time but at ‘Cope’s rugged core, you’ll find the basic components of a rock band; vocals, guitars, bass and drums. We think band lynchpin Andy Hull sums it up best, “Our mission statement was to make a crazy-loud rock record”. And that’s exactly what Manchester Orchestra have accomplished with their fourth body of work; an album that’s ginormous in sound with rock music planted firmly at its heart.
‘Simple Math’ is a wonderful album of varying contrasts and flavours but there’s something in the succinct nature of ‘Cope’s DNA that just excels. The sheer volume and scale is an instant hook plus the direct appeal of the tracks ensures any tangents towards over-indulgence are kept to a minimum. There’s no six minute rambling odysseys here, just short concise explosions of a sonic magnitude. This isn’t to say that the band’s most recent effort lacks any inventiveness or personality, far from it, by stripping back their wares to just the main ingredients of being a band has given Manchester Orchestra a compelling sense of freedom.
Over the years, Manchester Orchestra have been likened to Arcade Fire, thanks to their love of ambitious soundscapes but on ‘Cope’ Hull’s band of merry men have more of a kinship with Smashing Pumpkins and in some cases, Black Sabbath. The album’s title track that brings ‘Cope’ to a cacophonous finale, is a pure riff-fest from beginning to end, as if Tony Immoi and Jimmy Page have met at the gates of hell and their challenging one another to a dual to see who confronts the devil first. The rest of the album doesn’t leave you wanting in the bombast stakes but it seems Manchester Orchestra have left the biggest, most fierce-some rock monster to the end, as if to fully establish ‘Cope’s “crazy-loud rock record” tag. Elsewhere on the album, any flirtations with added textures of theatrics don’t over power proceedings, they merely provide an insatiable depth. ‘Trees’ buzzes with chainsaws and motoring drums topped off with swooning strings, while ‘See It Again’ commences with the sound of monk chants that project a cathedral image against a backdrop of dissonant noise and white hot fretwork. The common denominator across ‘Cope’ is loud is good, with a smattering of quiet to dilute the mix.
Through all ‘Cope’s surging riffs and tumbling drums, there’s a very human heart and a catharsis that instils an organic feel that’s pure flesh and bones. Firstly, the album’s disregard from volume is a sure fire hit within anyone that consumes their guitar music loud and visceral, whilst Hull’s emotive vocals ache with intensity. Buried amongst ‘Choose You’s chugging quiet/loud dynamics, a plaintive Hull declares “I am not the man you knew/I am not the man you choose” as if to discuss a human condition first hand. From the slightly less harsh and altogether more melodic ‘Girl Harbour’ we hear another therapeutic yet damaged line of “You’ve rearranged the pieces of your life” akin to someone continually resetting their existence but to no avail. ‘The Ocean’ is perhaps the most obvious reference to cleansing ones soul or life with Hull declaring he’s given something back to the ocean, in a tsunami of jagged riffs wrapped around a sweeping chorus – a rock ‘n’ roll baptism indeed.
In traversing the territories between grandiose and simplicity with the volume turned up to 11, Manchester Orchestra have birthed a record that doesn’t jeopardise songcraft or melody. Hull and the gang have easily demonstrated epic can be delivered without cliché with the most cohesive of approaches whilst achieving thrilling yet deafening results. We think we can all ‘Cope’ with that?
Appearances can be deceptive; clap your eyes on the above press shot of Hamburg trio Pool, and you’d assume they’d be an angry three piece playing spit-embalmed punk rock whilst fearing they might fuck you over behind the venue after they’ve smashed up another stage. Despite the angry faces from the young Germans, the music they make couldn’t be wider from the mark of aggression. Sonically, Pool are cut from the similar cloth as Friendly Fires, Foals and LCD Soundsystem, in short Pool buy into the indie-dance state of mind. The band take their cues from dancefloor patterns, taut basslines and jittering drum licks making for as Franz Ferdinand once said “music to make girls dance”.
Hailing from Hamburg, Pool are made up by Daniel Hulsten on drums, whilst David Stoltzenberg and Nils Hansen top off the group on vocals, bass and guitar. Nils and David give Pool a unique standpoint in that they both share vocal duties making for different composite voices bouncing off all corners of your earholes.
Pool understand the knack of peaks and troughs, as if earning their spurs from DJ’s, their sonic melee of alt-indie dips and weaves, pivoting on crescendos and drops, custom built to make your hips sway, your feet move and for your shit to be lost. ‘Harm’ is where Pool’s collective endeavours have reached a purple patch, the track was the official anthem of the 2013 Berlin Festival and was birthed as such “We wrote this track in the summer of 2012 when we were in a huge disco state of mind. All we wanted to do was deliver the funk – slow, sexy but still dancey. So one night Nils came up with this guitarlick and we started playing around with it. The lyrics and vocals came naturally. It’s about that situation when two boys are in love with the same girl and start messing with each other” is how David remembers the inception of this disco-funk stomp monster. We couldn’t have summed up ‘Harm’ any better – it’s a track of pure strutting sexiness with funk being the driving factor.
Amongst the swaggering ‘Harm’, Pool have amassed further dance-flecked beasts in the guise of ‘Flex’, ‘Botox’ and ‘Game Over’ and ‘Don’t Call Me Name’. This quartet of strung out, staccato indie-dance thumpers all convene their own personalities in the way they unravel but at the track’s cores you’ll find the same components; a heady beat, taut fretwork and elastic basslines attributing an infectious bounce.
As it would seem, don’t judge a band of their press shots – Pool are more than likely to funk you up than fuck you up – they won’t do you any ‘Harm’.
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Ol’ Dan Auberbach and Patrick Carney, otherwise known as The Black Keys have been hard at work applying their aural fingerprints to the musical wares of Lana Del Rey and The Black Lips, it would be easy to assume their two piece blues-rock project would be on ice for some time. Think again! Dropping hotter than a potato covered in chilli in Dubai, Messrs Auberbach and Carney have just dispensed with comeback single ‘Fever’, the first snippet from the duo’s eighth LP, ‘Turn Blue’. The album itself was announced to the world last week via Mike Tyson’s Twitter page which subsequently linked through to a hypnotic and quite frankly bizarre video acting as a teaser for the record which is due to grace Planet Earth on 12th May 2014.
The Ohio duo have become renowned for their stripped back, no fuss rock ‘n’ roll that’s flecked with the raw intensity of blues. ‘Fever’ however, is a totally different beast, as if trapped in a disused fairground, the track whirls with a vintage trill merged with drumming that sounds like Carney is banging dustbin lids. Attributing to the vacant amusement park eeriness, at ‘Fever’s heart there’s an infectious organ loop that’s just as mesmerising as the video’s accompanying swirl of entrancing colours. Keeping the spellbinding magnetism going, a repetitive bassline and jagged riff can be found strutting and provocatively nuzzling up against the chimes of keys and steadfast beats.
Auberbach’s aching croon hints at falsetto but the frontman’s voice maintains that timeless husk that has now propelled The Black Keys to the top of festival bills the world over. ‘Fever’ manages to straddle the notions of rock ‘n’ roll’s retro past whilst sounding undeniably fresh and forward thinking.
The Black Keys may now be the newest ‘big band to hate’ but music snobs are just going to have to like it or lump it, we’ve got the ‘Fever’ and we’re prepared for the pandemic.
The Black Keys’ new album ‘Turn Blue’ will be released May 12th. Pre-order the album at http://theblackkeys.com and receive the single ‘Fever’ instantly.
Record Label: PIAS
Release Date: 31st March 2014
It’s safe to say that Lucius are the biggest band in the world, although Planet Earth doesn’t know it yet. It’s only a matter of time before the quirky five piece from Brooklyn become a household name with their stunning unification of lush dual harmonised melodic pop songs buoyed by clip-clopping percussion. See, Lucius sonically and visually are beyond perfect; the quintet are fronted by the twinned mouthpieces of Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig who, believe it or not, aren’t related. The pair may strike a mirror image of one another but rest assured they’re brothers from different mothers or in this case…err…sisters. The mesmerising way their vocals combine as one provides the first striking quality to the New Yorkers’ swooning brand of captivating alt-country-cum-contemporary pop. Lucius are topped off by a two-way combo of Peter Lalish and Andrew Burri on guitars and finally, Dan Molad, applies the beatific drumming, whilst stood upright. Visually, the five-headed percussion machine cut a significant eye-catching quality, not unlike Arcade Fire or The Polyphonic Spree, Lucius opt for a uniform of sorts, Wolfe and Laessig dress identically whilst the trio of unshaven gents providing the instrumentation to the “twins” sumptuous vocals, don their own matching garbs - they’ve been likened to B52’s in their zany image, whilst Arcade Fire crop up again with Haim joining the short list of sonic comparisons. Due to this they’ve been tagged “Arcade Haim” – which is a useful term for journos and bloggers to pigeonhole Lucius, however, the New York band manage to dodge any trends and fly-by-night fads with a sound and image that is very much their own.
So, why the elongated gushing intro on why Lucius are a classic world conquering pop group in the making? Well, that’s a good question; the fivesome are due to drop their debut LP, ‘Wildewoman’ and whilst the record has set the USA a flutter, this is the UK’s first foray into Lucius’ lush domain of swooning pop brilliance. Rolling Stone and Spin have lauded up Lucius embellishing the group with the accolade of “immaculate ‘60s girl-band harmonies, soaring melodies and stomping percussion”. Equally, Fashion bible Vogue has branded the collective “60s girl group transported to the modern day”. All of these superlatives couldn’t be more accurate when it comes to defining the band from the Five Burroughs and the fruits of their labours. ‘Wildewoman’ is an album of serious depth, poise and sophistication. Instantly you’ll be hooked with the combined vocal treatment of Wolfe and Laessig, the way their voices soar and harmonise provides a comforting yet hypnotic quality that draws you in like a tractor beam. Aside from this, Molad, Lalish and Burri’s shared efforts on aural simplicity garners praise also, the boys even get involved with some backing vocals too, boosting at times, five point harmonies that are oh so sweet.
‘Wildewoman’ is a stroll through life’s up’s and down’s, the album is an enthralling dichotomy of emotions. On a very linear level, the record is a life affirming voyage for the soul; vocals soar and swoon, percussion makes the heart skip and guitars trill and strum making for a sound that’s familiar but ultimately timeless. Dig into the record with your bare hands and you’ll discover sentiments polar opposite from one another as if to document the rollercoaster experience of being trapped in a human being’s thought process. Take ‘Tempest’ for example, a song that commences with stomping percussion and trilled acoustic strums before exploding into a rousing chorus wrapped around Wolfe and Laessig’s shared voices. However, it’s in the last third of the track where the lyric of “just get out of your pretty little head/just waking up to get back into bed” is shrouded in tense drumming and synths, as if to mimic that feeling of loneliness and depression. You feel the pang of life’s turmoil before the song picks up again for a rousing finale, akin to the sun coming up on a particularly dark day. ‘Don’t Just Sit There’ follows a similar tact, in that initially it begins with a solitary strum and vocal opening whose crescendo swells to the front partnership bellowing “have you found love” at the top of their lungs as if to spirit along an unnamed friend on the pursuits of amore. The vintage waltz of ‘Monster’ smacks of gramophone crackle and a sombre vocal murmur that recounts the unsettling notion of “I know I’m older but there are still monsters in all of my closets/sometimes I feed them and some they get bigger and others depends on the day” demonstrating no matter our age, we’ve got all demons to slay. ‘Two Of Us On The Run’ reels off like a discreet kick up the backside, subtly Lucius urges you forwards with a heart swelling ode to “keep going champ”-esque sentiments. Sumptuously and low key, Lucius state “there’s no race only a runner/just keep one foot in front of the other”.
When not wafting around the juxtapositions of emotional heaven and hell, ‘Wildewoman’ offers up a righteous stomp and holler that shines with everlasting sparkle; ‘Turn It Around’ ticks the boxes when it comes to those 60s girl-band tags thanks to a volley of vocals, percussion and hand-claps, ‘Hey Doreen’ possesses a chorus that gives your heart and head the biggest cuddle – it’s the way Laessig and Wolfe merge their vocals with the swelling walls of aural vitamin D that makes ‘Wildewoman’ the closest thing to Prozac. No matter what we’ve said about Lucius treading the boards of our high’s and low’s, their debut LP will cast sunlight on any dim or dismal day.
If Lucius don’t become a global success it won’t at any fault of their own, we’ll have to put it down to widespread inertia – now come on World, embrace this superb band, you certainly won’t regret it!
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