It seemed like we had to wait forever before Brody Dalle unveiled her new solo work to the world, then came the sprawling, rather amazing ‘Meet The Foetus/Oh The Joy’ in mid-February and our thirst was quenched. Now, just a few weeks later and ramping up the expectation for Dalle’s first solo LP, ‘Diploid Love’, comes another new aural delight right from the Brody Dalle locker of twisted rock ‘n’ roll.
‘Parties For Prostitutes’ is an entirely different animal to ‘Meet The Foetus…’, it’s a stuttering, electronic treated drone-fest that has Dalle cooing over machine driven beats and malevolent tense sounding waves of foggy static.
Dalle’s vocal ranges from disembodied to almost bloodcurdling without warning, thus signalling her latest outing to rear up from pensive to a full detention of frenzied riffs and jackhammer drumming. The slight air of mechanical circuitry gives Dalle’s latest taster of things to come a robotic edge but that of human skin.
If Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator had time travelled to 1984 not to kill John Connor but to teach him to explore the outer realms of rock ‘n’ roll, he’d have created the eerie blitzkrieg that is ‘Parties For Prostitutes’.
One things for sure ‘Diploid Love’ cannot come soon enough.
The ex-Distillers front woman has confirmed that her debut solo album will be released on 28th April through Caroline Records.
Fed on a staple diet of QOTSA’s meatiest riffs and dusty rock ‘n’ roll, whilst being swept up in a sound reminiscent of Foo Fighters’ early raucous work, it’s no wonder London trio LYGER chose such an animalistic moniker of their visceral assault of brutal fretwork, malevolent bass rumbles and frantic, seismic drumming.
When it comes to LYGER’s audio output thus far, the three piece count a brace of storming brutal yet melodic thermal detonators out in the public domain. ‘Stroke’ is a scratchy, punishing barrage of primal rock music that would make Josh Homme weep and cause new boys Royal Blood to look over their shoulders when it comes to the future of British rock music. If the track isn’t chugging along at a Richter scale worrying speed, it’s breaking down in the most delicious way possible at the song’s finale. There’s even time amongst the sludgy riffs for a dishevelled, screeching guitar solo. Most recent single, ‘Power Struggle’, is all pummelling drum-licks, stop-start guitar and bass jack-hammers that amalgamate to produce something scuzzy and searing. LYGER’s aural concoctions may induce brain rattling noise but the Londoner’s haven’t forgotten to supersize their vocal harmonies for a rousing anthemic backbone that is sure to propel them out of the toilet circuit to the arenas of this fair isle and beyond.
“What’s a liger?” – “It’s pretty much my favourite animal. It’s like a lion and a tiger mixed…bred for its skills in magic”. Napoleon Dynamite isn’t alone when it comes to his favourite animal, LYGER are our favourite new band, thanks to their mystical aptitudes derived from the wilds of rock ‘n’ roll.
For more information on LYGER
"That rock’n’roll, eh? That rock’n’roll, it just won’t go away. It might hibernate from time to time, sink back into the swamp. I think the cyclical nature of the universe in which it exists demands that acquiesce to some of its rules, but it’s always waiting there, just around the corner ready to make its way back through the sludge and smash through the glass ceiling, looking better than ever. Yeah, that rock’n’roll, it seems like its faded away sometimes, but it will never die. And there’s nothing you can do about it."
Alex Turner, Brit Awards Best British Album Acceptance Speech, 19th February 2014
It’s a topic of discussion older than Mick Jagger’s underwear drawer, “is rock ‘n’ roll dead?” Not according to Alex Turner, he of Arctic Monkeys’ fame. The bequiffed frontman uttered the words all of us guitar loving fiends were thinking, well, almost. In an eloquent and articulate demeanour, in ways we could only dream of, Turner took the opportunity whilst receiving the Brit Award for Best British Album, to declare that although rock ‘n’ roll may not be top of everyone’s playlists, it’s still there, waiting patiently, refusing to die, energising itself ready for the next assault on the charts and music fans alike.
A week after the event, the debate is still raging – in the blue corner, the naysayers claiming Turner’s speech was arrogant and performed by the singer’s empty posturing. In the red corner, rock music’s devotees, the riff merchants that proclaimed the speech a ‘call to arms’, a rallying cry to all those who love their music jam packed with danger, swagger and a little touch of sophistication. The dialogue upon Turner used to proclaim rock ‘n’ roll a still relevant art form is what has garnered the arrogant tag. Just look at those long words and enigmatic delivery, no wonder a cross section of society is jeering with disdain, Turner should have just grunted “totes amazeballs” and be done with it. The ubiquitous state of monosyllabic moron culture has no place for the Yorkshireman’s expressive tongue, making his speech even more vital. Plus, how dare the frontman portray himself as a dapper, refined young man, what was he thinking? The fucking sheer cheek of it! Let’s face it, from Arctic Monkeys’ early days of being lads in tracksuit tops to ten years down the line, in smart suits and perfect hair, they look the archetypal rock ‘n’ roll gentlemen – a little suave and a little dangerous. Arctic Monkeys 2014 are cooler than a polar bear’s popsicle.
One thing that caught our attention, other than the whole speech uttered by a man with the silverest tongue this side of slick-town, was the mention of “smashing through the glass ceiling”. Suffice to say, there are enough guitar slingers around more than capable of pushing rock music back into the stratosphere but it’s that special group, some new blood to reinvigorate the masses, to turn their ears to guitars rather than pre-packaged pop or ham-fisted dance music that we are waiting for. Years ago the saviours came as diverse as Nirvana, Oasis, The Strokes and indeed, Arctic Monkeys’ to propel guitar music back into the public consciousness. Over the years, there’s been a wealth of promising acts, The Vaccines, Palma Violets, Deap Vally and The Family Rain that hinted at storming the gates of tedious popular music. Equally, established bands have seen an important resurgence; Queens of the Stone Age, Biffy Clyro, Muse and Kings of Leon are all maintaining their positions at the summits of festivals across the globe while shifting some serious units. But, nevertheless, it’s the surprise package, that burst of pent up energy that translates into a renaissance moment, a new breed of noise maker to latch onto Turner’s inspirational words and fill the void waiting for the next Nirvana or Oasis.
Akin to the scene in Jurassic Park, when the Tyrannous Rex makes its first, devastating appearance, there’s a ground quake, it’s evident something is coming – a band to demolish that ‘glass ceiling’. If we were pushed for name, we’d pin our hopes on Brighton noiseniks, Royal Blood. The furore around Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher’s thrilling brand of rock music has been as surprising as it has been refreshing. The duo have garnered praise from everyone including Zane Lowe, DIY, NME and your very own grandmother – she bloody loves them. Although the racket they produce is punishing and earsplittingly loud, it’s too difficult to avoid that there’s something special about the music the pair create. As if to hand the baton on, Arctic Monkeys have gifted a support slot to the seaside dwellers when the Sheffield lot play their enormous shows at London’s Finsbury Park and Marlay Park in Dublin. Where hype and expectation is concerned, the levels around Royal Blood at the moment are of epidemic proportions, let’s hope they’re given the attention the duly deserve.
So, there you have it – we’re in the red corner, Turner’s speech stirred a fire in our belly that has been roaring for some time. We’ll leave it to the master himself to sign off – “Yeah, that rock’n’roll, it seems like it’s faded away sometimes, but it will never die. And there’s nothing you can do about it.”
When DZ Deathrays re-emerged last year with the widescreen, anthemic tones of ‘Northern Lights’, it would be easy to assume that the Aussie duo had put their thrash-punk revelry to one side for a venture into colossal, expansive, sprawling missives. Well, for anyone even considering that Shane Parsons and Simon Ridley had lost their bite with their comeback single - as if! Who wonder ponder such a thing?! - the teeth marks left by the twosome’s latest salvo of blitzkrieg proves that the pair are still synonymous with dirty riffs, yelped vocals and destroyed drums skins.
‘Gina Works At Hearts’ is a marauding, ragged affair that careers from one filthy piece of fretwork before effortlessly seguing into a domain closer to ‘Northern Lights’ arena sized rock. The track erupts with a molten combination of frenzied guitar squalls and Ridley’s rattling stickwork but at the track’s core, the rougher edges are slightly refined to allow a more melodic slant to shine through the commotion. It’s evident that DZ are happy to keep one foot in their chaos inducing camp but the lust to explore other sonic territories is clear to see with their other foot planted in a fertile and progressive place. Sonically ‘Gina…’ is a leap forward, while this advance is matched by Parson’s new found vocal range. Yes, the frontman can still bark like the best of them but his ability to flit from visceral to plaintive gives the Australian’s aural melee an added layer of texture, pushing them into new, and compelling waters.
As natural progressions go, DZ Deathrays’ evolution from house party soundtracking maniacs to globe traversing rock band has taken a giant step.
‘Gina Works At Hearts’ is the next single to be taken from DZ Deathrays’ highly anticipated forthcoming sophomore LP ‘Black Rat’ which will be released on the 2nd of May 2014 (Australia/NZ/Canada only). Release dates for the rest of the world will be revealed shortly.
Pre order ‘Black Rat’: www.dzdeathrays.com
Tiger Cub @ The Musician, Leicester, 17th February 2014
Photography by Naomi Abbs
Artist: Royal Blood
Venue: The Musician, Leicester, UK
Date: 17th February 2014
Comparisons and lineage it appears, are two things not lost on Royal Blood. Prior to the Brighton duo appearing on The Musician’s minute stage, over the PA you can hear the dusty rock ‘n’ roll of QOTSA, Arctic Monkeys and Tame Impala, all bands the twosome have been likened to and due to share a stage with, bar Josh Homme’s gang. See, Royal Blood make the kind of music that’s off the Richter scale, with just a bass and drums, its bloody earth quaking stuff.
Tonight sees Michael Kerr (bass and vocals) and Ben Thatcher (drums) take their blistering juggernaut of minimal set up but maximum volume to Leicester to play a venue most likely they’ll never see again thanks to the buzz around this fledging outfit. Zane Lowe is an uber fan, any music critic with an ear for deafening rock music loves them and let’s face it, if there’s something we need right now it’s a hard hitting, guttural dose of noise to disperse the pap we’re subjected to on a daily basis via daytime radio. Royal Blood are staging a raid of the mainstream in plain sight and we’re all invited.
The Musician is packed to the rafters and sold out ahead of this evening, meaning personal space is non-existent and sweating is mandatory. There’s a ripple of excited, expectant energy bouncing of the walls and low slung celling before Kerr and Thatcher step out in front of the gathered masses. Without a fuss, the pair crank up their dual assault with Kerr thrashing his bass and Thatcher pummelling his kit whilst possessing the best, angry drum-face we’ve ever seen. The hulk-like figure of Thatcher was built to play the drums, the beats he delivers are akin to atomic bombs exploding on impact. Early on in the set, Royal Blood dispense with recent b-side ‘Come On Over’ whose intricacies invoke the interstellar rock of Muse, with a piece of dextrous fretwork from Kerr that leads into a deep-down dirty groove and Thatcher’s ground moving metronomic drumming. It would be too easy to focus on the sheer magnitude of the seasiders but amongst the cacophony Kerr’s vocals hold their own, not lost in the mix, the frontman’s range is terrific. Battling against bombastic tuneage must be a challenge but Kerr doesn’t falter, swerving from plaintive, almost menacing to anthemic and full bodied.
Back in August 2013, it almost seemed to be good to be true, the pair dropped their debut single ‘Out of the Black’ and it’s ragged, violent charm was like a wonderful, visceral bolt out of the unexpected…errr….black. They appeared fully formed as if training Rocky-style out of the gaze of music fans and critic alike, biding their time until it was the perfect moment to strike. Tonight’s performance is that of astute professionalism, Kerr happily steps away from his mic, stalking the stage, sallying up to the front rows with his bass slung down low. Equally, Thatcher is no wallflower, flailing his colossal arms around like a baseball capped Dave Grohl homage. The band are tight, the tracks they play are lean and their stage presence is magnetic just by doing very little, Royal Blood could almost be too perfect.
For a band that only have three songs out in the public domain and a sneaky fourth if you can track down the other Muse-esque stomp of ‘Figure It Out’, it’s amazing to see a crowd give such an elated reception to a new collective. The only drawback tonight is that the Brighton boys don’t have an album out yet but as they say, ‘good things come to those who wait’. Recent single ‘Little Monster’ garners a huge cheer and set closer ‘Out of the Black’ caps off a set of brutal, ear-destroying brilliance. The latter is what brought us all here and it’s the perfect curtain call to a solid 30 minute set from an outstanding talent.
With the trajectory Royal Blood are on, and the praise they are receiving, the sky’s the limit. They’ve had a sneak peak at the kingdom and it’s safe to say it’s theirs for the taking. All hail the new Kings of tinnitus inducing rock.
Photography by Naomi Abbs
Record Label: Warner Brothers
Release Date: 24th February 2014
At the top of the year we included SKATERS in our poll of sounds for 2014; one of the acts that would stand out from the pack as an aural delight amongst the copyists and humdrum ‘meh’ usually found on daytime radio. We also had the pleasure in speaking with drummer, Noah Rubin, where we posed the pressing question of “You’ve all got matching pizza tattoos in honour of NYC, how much has the city formed your sound?” Rubin responded with the succinct summary of “The music stays pretty fast, loud, and schizo. That’s the NYC we’ve experienced thus far” If you wanted a concise, ‘in-a-nut-shell’ distillation of SKATERS’ debut LP, ‘Manhattan’, the group’s sticksman has thwacked the preverbal nail on the head. The album has been bestowed the borough of New York City the outfit love the most and in turn, the Big Apple’s urban sprawl is squished into 11 lean, hectic, and most importantly, catchy nuggets of garage rock, via punk, via hip hop, with the slightest hint of dub and back again.
There’s a rich musical lineage at the heart of ’Manhattan’, you can feel the city’s historic musical stylings bristling with intent as the adopted New Yorkers swerve and career through their first offering. Not wanting to hide their adoration towards NYC, the collective throb with romantic intent towards this urban settlement with ‘To Be Young In New York City’, which has vocalist Michael Cumming’s possessing a wistful, almost dreamy tone to his voice whilst Rubin and guitarist Josh Hubbard, crash along with a track that skirts from ragged garage rock to softened pop-rock. Aside to this direct tip of the backwards baseball cap to New York, this iconic city is represented by the dub bounce of ‘Band Breaker’ and ‘Fear of the Knife’ that has SKATERS toying with samples, drum pads and loops – If The Clash were around today and set up shop on the east coast of the USA, they’d sound like this. Cumming’s and Co maybe have taken a snapshot of NYC’s cooler vibes with the reggae leanings but it’s when SKATERS ramp up the volume and the pace do you see the yellow taxi cabs flash by your retinas and the smell of street vendored pizza waft up your nose. ‘Deadbolt’ and ‘I Wanna Dance (But I Don’t Know How)’ both erupt with an urgent energy that spits and snarls with a playful punk attitude. These two previously released singles have the keen knack of taking the quiet/loud dynamic but coupled with slow/fast for extra impact. Festival mosh pit/crowd surfing fodder at its best.
It would be easy to discount SKATERS as NYC chancers, players to the throne that The Strokes have left unattended for years. But such pigeonholing would be lazy and ignorant. The trio contain a depth and poise that takes them away from Julian Casablancas and his merry men. Firstly, Cummings has a subtle range to his voice that ol’ Jules only dreams of, from sedate, almost wistful tones to barked punk howl and all that’s in-between. Sonically, as previously stated, the Manhattan devotee’s may have a nucleus of rollicking rock ‘n’ roll but their lust to experiment and rip up the script with added hip hop and dub influences gives the gang a fresh tapestry to work on. Like they are armed with spray cans and an untouched subway train, the world is their canvas.
‘Manhattan’ has SKATERS sounding at their most guttural with the punky ‘Nice Hat’, a two minute, fist fight of a track that spits and bites with violent urgency. Another visceral, aggressive song in the same ilk wouldn’t have gone amiss on the trio’s debut. Garage rock is well represented but the sonic barrage of ‘Nice Hat’ is too good not to replicate just one more time. Equally, the omission of ‘Armed’, the band’s flirtation with hip hop beats is a surprise and one that could have replaced ‘Fear of the Knife’ if we were to start being picky.
“The music stays pretty fast, loud, and schizo” Rubin already called it; ‘Manhattan’ sounds like a good place to be, grab your passport and a one way ticket – NYC awaits.
To mark the announcement of their self-titled debut LP, Honeyblood have whet our appetite even further with their latest slice of harmony soaked, guitar driven, distorted pop. If ‘Bud’ and ‘Kissing On You’ hinted at a fruitful aptitude towards making a guitar howl in pain but vocals dripping with sugar and spice, ‘Choker’ takes that notion and makes fuckin’ jam out of it!
Stina Tweeddale’s guitar rings with a pent up malevolence while Shona McVicar’s boom-clatter drums drench the track in an ominous, pensive tone. Such tensions are diluted by the duo’s sumptuous vocal collaboration, providing a smooth edge to the barbed, aural menace manifested by the simple combination of guitar and drums.
Crooked tales of the heart are the core of Choker - “I’ve fallen madly in love with a man I cannot trust/I don’t think he would hurt me/ I knew he would” Tweeddale delivers with deadpan poise, marking a bleak statement swirling around a relationship marked for failure.
It’s too late of us, our heart belongs to Honeyblood – we suggest you succumb to the Scottish duo’s charms, resistance is futile.
Taken from the debut album, ‘Honeyblood’, out May 19th on FatCat.
Artist: St Vincent
Title: St Vincent
Record Label: Loma Vista/Caroline International
Release Date: 24th February 2014
“I like it when guitars don’t sound like guitars. But conversely, I like it when guitars sound like fucking guitars, you know?” Oh, we know St Vincent - otherwise known as Annie Clark - we know! This little soundbite comes courtesy of when Clark spoke with Laura Snapes during a recent NME interview. Never a truer statement has been uttered by Clark, who is readying her fourth LP, a self-titled buzz-fuck of harsh, feral noise tangents where it’s a job to know what instrument is making what noise – one thing is for sure; the guitars sound like fucking guitars albeit beamed in from another dimension!
Frenzied, tight-wire, maniacal, guitar virtuosity is what anchors ‘St Vincent’, Clark manipulates her weapon of mass destruction with undue care and attention, akin to taming a wild animal, the walls of sound being channelled from our protagonist’s fingers are something to behold. However, the artist’s fourth outing isn’t just consumed by the guitar, amongst the frazzled fretwork, there’s fragmented beats, heavenly choral moments and sonic manifestations that can only be described as otherworldly. There are a clutch of tracks that can be described as ‘marquee moments’ – ‘Huey Newton’ is one such occurrence. Commencing in a stripped back manner, with a rattling hip-hop style beat, Clark takes on an ethereal falsetto with a track that swoons and glides from drum lick to liquid electronic flourish. Such divine moments are eradicated by a venomous guitar line that spits and jabs like a million Jimmy Pages hooked up to the national grid, sent to slay Godzilla. Clark in vocal, slides from tender to assertive snarl. Interspersed between the guttural howl, a gospel hue slathers itself against the jarring tidal wave melee. Clark summons the demons of cacophony with the gigantic sounding ‘Bring Me Your Loves’ this hectic mesh of sound, squirms from one tangent to another, imagine a demure, sophisticated Death Grips with Clark as vocalist and you’ve got the stance of where this beast is coming from. There’s a lot of talk about rock ‘n’ roll being dead and there’s no evolution where the guitar is concerned – look no further than St Vincent for the future of rock ‘n’ roll. ‘Bring Me Your Loves’ squeals with innovation, confrontation and imagination. Heavenly nuances and visceral flashes make the perfect union on ‘Regret’, a track that should dissolve into a big old mess but is deftly controlled and manipulated by the hands of our creative genius.
Chaotic noises maybe the banner heading for ‘St Vincent’ but Clark’s latest opus doesn’t leave us wanting where calmer flashes are concerned. The delicate documents of the album are positioned to a T, just when the aural barrage is becoming too much of a mindfuck, Clark swiftly deploys a pace-changer, one to cleanse the palette, ready for the next onslaught. As if transported onto a cloud above civilisation, ‘Prince Johnny’ rings with an angelic tone attributed to amassed blissful vocals that sound like god’s very own acolytes uniting in voice. Album closer, ‘Severed Crossed Fingers’ adopts a less rampant pace for a romantic sway and a pleasant segue out of the anarchy into something more measured. Intertwined with the haze, Clark utters the vulnerable “you stole the heart right out of my chest” like someone that’s experienced the rough hand of love.
‘St Vincent’ at times can be an assault on the senses provoking the images of frantic morning commutes, busy office scenarios and the general human traffic hell we all try to avoid. Intriguingly, Clark’s manifesto upon creating her latest body of work was to document modern day human interaction, or in the case of the 21st Century, either the lack of it or the sheer self-indulgent narcissism vomited onto social media. Recent single and horn lead stomp ‘Digital Witness’ maybe a playful jaunt built around burbling brass but Clark can be heard stating “If I can’t show it/you can’t see me/what’s the point in doing anything?” in a low-key swipe at Twitter/Instagram/Facebook self-congratulatory bullshit. The subject of self-absorbed internet wankery has been approached a lot recently but Clark manages to sum up a generation’s self-applause without sounding hackneyed. Clark seems to speak for us all on ‘Every Tear Disappears’ with the pleading announcement of “call the 21st Century, tell her give us a break.” In a more intimate, inward glance, Clark reflects on the devotion towards her parents with the serene, subdued beat driven ‘I Prefer Your Love’ – this is where the starlet realises one day, her parents won’t be around and that she favours her folks adulation over Jesus’. In a god-fearing country like the USA, this is a big declaration, queue effigies of Clark being burnt and national outcry.
‘St Vincent’ is the sound of its creator at the top of their creative game. It’s an album of wired, frantic noise inter-spliced with flickers of human emotion. Genuinely inventive in a world of copycats and facsimiles. Spellbinding from beginning to end.
Support Acts: Joanna Gruesome, Burning Alms
Venue: Hare and Hounds, Birmingham, UK
Date: 13th February 2014
It maybe 2014 - a year away from hover boards - but tonight at the Hare and Hounds it might as well be 1994; the air is thick with expectant music fans awaiting three bands indebted to feedback drenched grunge/alt-rock missives, plus it’s not gone amiss that a few punters have dug out their Pavement tees, chucked on the plaid or in some cases gone full 90’s and indulged in some tie-die. This evening is where Speedy Ortiz will kick off their UK tour but most importantly their first ever UK show. Having garnered huge amounts of praise for their debut LP, Major Arcana, the Massachusetts inhabitants appeared almost out of nowhere last year, subsequently support slots with The Breeders followed and now it’s time for the UK to get up close and personal with the quartet’s murky down tuned rock ‘n’ roll.
The first band to grace the stage are Burning Alms, a local Birmingham ensemble made up by John Biggs – vocals and guitar – and Thomas Mark Whitfield – drums. The duo churned out the rougher side of rock ‘n’ roll tonight with a sound more comparable to QOTSA than Nirvana. The Brummie boys do love some feedback with screes of static rearing up intermittently throughout their short set. Sonically, there’s little doubt the duo create a mighty wall of sound and in some cases a pleasing groove but Biggs’ voice is a non-existent murmur up against the cavalcade of riffs and drums around him. Equally, the pair’s stage presence is scant, audience interaction is minimal meaning their performance can be described as a wee bit chilly. The foundations of a great sound are there, they just need to find their voice and some stage confidence.
Penultimate track and set highlight, ‘Graveyard’ captures the band at their punkiest, with a thrashing aural barrage forcing a section of the front row to start a very pleasant mosh pit. The band’s support slot culminates with bass player Max Warren joining the pit for some added bedlam whilst McArdle simply marches off the stage. See ya then!
Joanna Gruesome then disappear with about a quarter of the audience in tow. Luckily they all return for Speedy Ortiz’s first ever performance on UK soil. This hasn’t gone amiss by band leader and vocalist Sadie Dupuis, who understands the irony of announcing this before a note is played then launching into ‘American Horror’ taken from the recently released EP, Real Hair. Anyone accustomed to SO’s recorded work will know they have an almighty sound; well this notion is amplified up several notches when the band crash through takes from their debut LP and previously released EP’s. Aurally they’re huge, with everything spewing forth like a joyful, slightly dishevelled but organised mess. Matt Robidoux can be credited with making the most commotion as he attacks his guitar with two bottles of water, creating almost unbearable dins of maelstrom. Such enthusiasm leads to Robidoux snapping a guitar string, which means an awkward few minutes of stage banter from Dupuis. We did discover that the band had some of the best hummus ever pre-performance though. We fucking love hummus. String fixed and ideas of a late night chickpea based snack lodged in our heads, the Americans crank back into action with more abrasive jolts of alt-rock.
Unlike Joanna Gruesome, Speedy Ortiz’s awkward stage presence feels quite endearing, it’s more humbled and less obnoxious. Drummer Matt Falcone takes up the mantle of addressing the Hare and Hounds, pointing out the plaque that states UB40 played their first ever show at the same venue. Thankfully for all in attendance, the only thing Speedy Ortiz and UB40 have in common is playing the same venue.
Set highlights come in the guise of the schizophrenic assault of ‘Gary’, the effervescent ‘Taylor Swift’ which has Joanna Gruesome nodding in approval. Key track and standout number ‘Tiger Tank’ is dispensed with mid set to a welcomed cheer on the dancefloor. ‘Real Hair’ is represented by the aforementioned ‘American Horror’ and the static drenched mooch through, of ‘Everything’s Bigger’.
The Northampton-ites turned back time to the days of distortion, volume and noise like we were all part of ‘My So Called Life’, we’ve always loved Jordan and Angela, so that’s kinda cool.
Photography by Naomi Abbs
Slaves @ The Flapper, Birmingham, 9th February 2014
Photography by Naomi Abbs
PUP @ The Flapper, Birmingham, 9th February 2014
Photography by Naomi Abbs
Female Smell @ The Flapper, Birmingham, 9th February 2014
Photography by Naomi Abbs
Support Acts: PUP, Female Smell
Venue: The Flapper, Birmingham, UK
Date: 9th February 2014
On a cold, rainy Sunday night in Birmingham, a trio of bands made it their mission to solidify transatlantic punk relations. These three outfits played different hybrids of this raucous genre but one thing that binds them together is the urge to make a room quaking racket. Ultimately tonight’s gig is all about Canadian pop-punkers, PUP and Royal Tunbridge Well’s duo, Slaves. Both of which wear their origins on their sleeves, with each collective bearing the rock ‘n’ roll wares from either side of the pond.
First up in the cramped underground bunker that is The Flapper are local troop, Female Smell. According to the internet, Female Smell aren’t actually a punk band, which is an odd proposition considering the mangled wreckage they spew out from the stage sounds a lot like punk, albeit the more abrasive brand of said genre. They’ve got a frontman, Garry Payne, who cuts the dash of Iggy Pop, all shirtless and exuberant body wiggles as he parades the Birmingham venue’s desolate dancefloor. Payne even gives out his mic to bystander “Shaun” for a little go on guest vocals – if that’s not audience participation, we don’t know what is?!
Next on the bill was PUP who have recently waved goodbye to Toronto for their first UK tour and its evident the four piece are appreciative of the reception they are receiving from the British contingent. The Flapper’s attendance maybe threadbare but this doesn’t stop the Brummie crowd bantering with the band, shouting out the name of PUP’s set closer ‘Reservoir’ and generally making the Canadian’s feel right at home. Sonically, the quartet come off like a heavier, leaner Weezer, they straddle the concept of pop-punk and manage to channel the aggression of the latter with the catchiness of the former. Guitars grate, drums are thwacked and bass lines rumble inducing ample jolts of urgent rock ‘n roll but it’s when the band combine their four voices in either harmony or gang vocals do they take their missives into a more accessible arena. Energy wise, PUP don’t seem to care they’re playing to 20-odd people, the foursome thrash around The Flapper’s stage as if they’re provoking widespread carnage to thousands.
As little tasters go, when PUP drop their self-titled LP in April over here, the band know how to rattle out a catchy punk nugget, they slam through a number of tracks without pausing for a moment’s grace. Ultimately its recent single ‘Lionheart’ and previously mentioned ‘Reservoir’ that garner the best reactions from the meagre throng, however when PUP launch into Jay Reatard cover ‘My Shadow’, the Toronto band sound like pure distilled chaos
So, PUP came armed with their own brand of punk rock, all charging riffs and anti-anthemic chorus – Slaves on the other hand toss out good ol’ English punk rock, that’s packed to the rafters with aggression, grit and cheeky humorous nods ‘n’ winks. Akin to two chaps who’ve just clocked off working at the bookies, Isaac Holman and Laurie Vincent rock up on stage smartly dressed, with slicked hair and the odd flash of a sailor tattoo. Holman himself strikes the image of a younger, shorter, leaner Ray Winston. These two wouldn’t look out of play hanging out in Albert Square or enjoying a swift one in the Queen Vic. There’s a charming Englishness to Slaves that hasn’t been diluted nor is it conveyed as a gimmick.
It’s a job to know what part of the duo’s show to review first, their rib-cracking stage banter or their blistering, garage-punk. As we’re a music blog and it’s a live review, we’ll opt for the latter first! Slaves are as raw as it comes with Vincent cutting dirty riff after dirty riff from his guitar whilst his partner in crime, Holman, batters the living daylights out of his kit, standing up. Their stripped back, unorthodox approach makes for a simple but effective spectacle plus this allows for copious amounts of energy to be belched out from the stage. Vincent trials some new dance moves on a number of occasions and it seems that drum kit must have looked at Holman funny because he fucking loves whacking it! The drummer/singer possess the closest vocal to punk’s heyday; since Frank Carter fronted Gallows – its pure Landan snarl with an aural backing that’s taut and aggressive. Nuggets such as ‘Nervous Energy’, ‘White Knuckle Ride’ ‘Girl Fight’ and Beauty Quest’ sear and slice like a cut throat razor, all propelled by just two lads in business slacks and smart clobber.
Stage banter and showmanship is where Slaves can win over any crowd. On numerous occasions tonight, the two Kent boys will regale The Flapper with anecdotes about life on the road or the inspiration behind their many punk rock vignettes. ‘Where’s Your Car Debbie?’ was introduced by Holman as a tale about recent sightings of Bigfoot in Tunbridge Wells and how he and Vincent where a touch scared whilst walking ‘Debbie’ back to her car. ‘Girl Fight’ the 15 second long surge of twisted punk is a recollection of witnessing a…err…girl fight after a drunken night out. The lads openly stretch out their set with little titbits from their lives and this makes tonight less of a gig and more a gathering, like being round your mate’s house, chatting shit and having a laugh. Vincent blurts out the previous night in Glasgow he wanted to see how long the Travelodge shower would maintain its hot temperature; the guitarist ended up taking a long, two hour drenching in pursuit of testing out the plumbing from said budget hotel.
Separated by a vast expanse of water but bound together by punk rock, Slaves and PUP united in Birmingham for a night of laughs, riffs and good times.
Photography by Naomi Abbs
We have been waiting with baited breath for the return of Brody Dalle - after deciding to go fully solo after mothballing the much underappreciated Spinerette - we finally get to hear what the former Distillers frontwoman has been cooking up whilst being out of the public eye. We’ve had the odd cheeky hint that Dalle has been rustling something up; Strokes guitarist Nick Valensi has cropped up on some sessions, backing vocals by Shirley Manson and Warpaint’s Emily Kokal and collaborations with long term cohort, Alain Johannes, Dalle has been teasing us with the prospect of something awesome. Expectations are high.
Now comes the time for Josh Homme’s other half to unveil the first fruits from her solo work, ‘Meet The Foetus/Oh The Joy’ a sprawling, part mesmerizing, part wall of sound stomper that has Dalle in the stance of sounding sultry and cool. Guitars buzz like passenger plane sized bees, drums clatter and rumble like Godzilla’s first baby steps and that’s just the beginning. Dalle’s primary release is a game of two halves, 50% drawn out melodic dirge, 50% rattling punk-rock meets QOTSA stormer. Through all the tempered and not so restrained noise, Dalle finds the time to be heartfelt with the plaintive touch of “sh-sh-shot through the heart, baby/I’m gonna love you forever.”
If you were to take the best glimmers from Spinerette, The Distillers and Homme’s band – this is what would happen…welcome back Brody, we’ve missed you.