Gathering Festival 2013 – Ten Bands You Have to See – PYYRAMIDS

Bonding over their shared love of The Smiths and Joy Division, PYYRAMIDS ooze a special kind of allure, one that gleams in stark monochrome. Channelling their post-punk/macabre indie heroes, the duo of Tim Norwood (OK GO) and Drea Smith (He Say She Say) create a deep, brooding sonic hum that is equally tense as it is playful. PYYRAMIDS trade in darkness and such shadowy tendencies forge tracks that have endless, hypnotic grooves. Their debut LP, Brightest Darkest Days is awash with vignettes constructed around crackled static and bold looping basslines fit to mesmerise and primed to make jam packed rooms bounce.

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Album Review

Artist:  PINS

Title:Girls Like Us

Record Label: Bella Union

Release Date: 30th September 2013

Rating: 7.0/10

 

Mancunian four piece, PINS have been bubbling under for some time. Their EP, LuvU4lyf, garnered a feverous response whilst the quartet’s live show has traversed the UK and Europe deliveringperformance after performance of cool, poised attack. And that’s what the Manchester band set out to do from the off with their debut LP, Girls Like Us, attack.

When commenting on the album’s tense, strung out intro opener, ‘It’s On’, vocalist/guitarist Faith Holgate and bassist Anna Donigan resurrected some home recordings to forge the LP’s commencing gambit, the pair have gone on record stating “It’s strong and we wanted to kick off the album by letting listeners know that we are ready for a fight if they want to take us on”. Girls Like Us is laced with upfront, confrontational vignettes that continue the vein of PINS being a gang, four feisty girls ready to exert their dominance. Overall the band’s battle strategy on Girls Like Us works but occasionally their war offensive isn’t always as devastating and foreboding as you’d want, leaving holes in their battle lines.

The title track is the first hint that PINS need to reshuffle their arsenal as the opening lyrical delivery of Holgate is reeled off in a laboured manner with the words lacking any harmful impact, “Do you see me like I see you/you couldn’t if you wanted to/you lust, lust because you must/it’s all good for girls like us”. When these lyrics crop up again on the track but harmonised, the gang vocal approach gives the wordplay that added level of oomph missing at the top of the song. Musically, the cannon is loaded with driving, dark riffs and crackled feedback attributing a smattering noir sophistication to the mix.  ‘Howlin’ suffers from the same lethargic lyrical execution, with Holgate fumbling over “I have nothing else to say to you/you might find me when you wanted to” When the pace drops from the lead singers range, vocally the tracks unravel when they should remain taut and defiant. ‘Lost Lost Lost’ again comes a cropper with another clutch of clunky vocal misfires “I feel alright/I feel so young/there’s nothing else I want to become/I take as much as I can get until there’s nothing left”. Finally the spoken word, ‘Velvet Morning’ sits uncomfortably on ‘Girls Like Us’, the rewound sound and heart beat thumps capture the band as inventive but overall it’s borderline pretentious.

When PINS get it right, they are a well drilled, lean mean, post punk killing machine, although we’ve highlighted where Girls Like Us doesn’t stack up, there are clear moments where, the band come out all guns blazing, destroying everything in their path. ‘To You’ is straight to the jugular with a rolling bassline credited to Donigan that envelopes the pacey, post-punk sucker punk. Holgate appears exposed and confessional with “To you all I give my mind/To you all I give my time/To you all I give my life” and “my heart aches”. ‘Waiting For The End’ is the hybrid state of when PINS merge the dark brooding notions of post-punk with rock ‘n’ roll’s rattle and hum, direct and forceful, this is where PINS storm the enemy gates with only victory on their agenda. As with anything labeled post-punk, Girls Like Us carries a sinister, almost dark sensuality to it, ‘I Want It All’ is akin to a violent storm consuming an entire city, the booming drums of Sophie Galpin act as the thunder to the lightning of the bass and guitars fuzzed up static. Holgate’s primal howls and squeals drop in the sexual conations, with the vocalist submissively declaring “I’m his endlessly/What I do to him/he does to me”.

Girls Like Us was recorded and mixed within a week at Liverpool’s Parr Studios, with the band self producing their debut and it’s this compulsive nature that spurs along the group’s first effort. At times the LP dips into improvised outros and jams that captures the band in a freeform state adding a pleasing air of organic touches to their wares. Equally the inclusion of Holgate’s footsteps at the beginning of ‘Howlin’ and Galpins’ use of tea towels draped across her floor toms adding to a muffled, boxy sound only proves how much PINS want to challenge themselves sonically.

PINS have confidently set out their strategic stall with Girls Like Us and while they don’t always get the formula quite right, their debut LP shouldn’t find it hard invading the hearts and heads of dark hearted music lovers far and wide.

Album Review

Artist: PYYRAMIDS

Title:Brightest Darkest Day

Record Label: Paracadute

Release Date: 15th April 2013

Rating: 8.0/10

Galvanized by their shared passion for British post-punk and 80s Manchester bands, PYYRAMIDS’ debut album, Brightest Darkest Day drips with these aforementioned influences but instead of being a facsimile of what came before, the duo made up of Tim Nordwind (OK GO) and Drea Smith (He Say/She Say) have taken the brooding shadows of Joy Division and the noir-pop of The Smiths, whizzed it up, stretch it out and produced a record of smoldering charm.

With such dark musical touchpoints it would be easy to assume the duo’s debut LP would be a stark, impenetrable effort, something that shirks at the human touch and is at home skulking around, away from the gaze of its peers. But like the album title suggests Brightest Darkest Day is a compelling juxtaposition of light and shade. It could be the sultry coo from Smith that shines a light into the darkness or it could be the low slung bass thrums that invoke a luminous glow amongst the fog but what is certain, is that combined, musically and vocally PYYRAMIDS make the most incandescent, stark documents.

Nordwind and Smith know how to mix up the delivery too, Brightest Darkest Day is buoyed by an arsenal of tracks that vary in dynamic and shift effortlessly within their own lifespan. ‘Do You Think You’re Enough’ pushes the punk side of the duo with a fuzzed up bassline and driving drum beats which then collides with a serrated riff, and without warning the tune drops into a solitary acoustic strum which portrays a sparseness after the upfront racket just spewed out. ‘Paper Doll’ is forged from a similar mould but instead of being a song of two halves, this number employs the quiet/loud gear changes from sedate verses to anthemic raucous choruses.

When it comes to the post-punk that helped bond our pair, this can be heard in the taught rhythms found on ‘Smoke & Mirrors’ which struts and shakes with pounding drum beats, ‘Don’t Go’ shimmies with Smith’s laidback croon that floats smoothly from her mouth as does the loose drum rolls and sparse percussion stabs which accompany the vocalist. Something that post-punk displayed is the use of silence and space; PYYRAMIDS have channeled this into ‘Time’, a skeletal song constructed around the loose framework of a piano and Smith’s lonesome voice. There are moments where a lacerated guitar riff growls or a layer of percussion rattles across the keys but fundamentally this is where the twosome are at their most spectral. ‘Invisible Scream’ endorses a smaller slant but where ‘Time’ is stripped bare, this missive grows new layers of skin with every surging wall of progressive noise that roars into a thrilling crescendo.

PYYRAMIDS aren’t shy when it comes to what has inspired them to create Brightest Darkest Day and with their influences brandished heavily on their sleeves that have offered up a record that shines with pop lushness but echoes with elusive cool.  

 

 

Album Review

Artist: Dead Wolf Club

Title:RAR

Record Label: Scene No Herd

Release Date: 11th February 2013

Rating: 7.5

 

An album entitled RAR, with it’s meaning that can either be interpreted as a condition that induces hallucinations from being caught in the snow for too long or the term used for data compression and error recovery. Lyrical themes that depict social, economic struggle that pose questions for religion vs science and fate vs determination. Finally, the creators of this album have been labelled many things, dark punk, geek rage and more recognisably post punk. Welcome ladies and gents to the distorted, tortured world of Dead Wolf Club and their sophomore record, RAR.

Luckily for a record heavy on tough going subject matter, RAR is never a slog; but admittedly it’s not a party either. DWC’s new album is the distilled sound of a frustrated generation tearing itself part whilst starring into the void, uncertain of the future ahead while taking the chance to vent. The London four piece switch from distorted malice to an eerie calm throughout their new LPs lifespan, even during the more low key moments it doesn’t feel like a shockwave of noise isn’t too far away, just to unsettle the equilibrium, ‘Create All’ is a fine example of this.

The social frustration DWC feel is evident across a number of songs on RAR, ‘A Versus E’ places itself in the subdued mould DWC favour when not destroying their instruments. Lyrically vocalist John Othello, proclaims “We are parasites, we are insecure” followed by “I wanna fuck you up”.   Musically this might be the quartet at their most restrained but this doesn’t mean the words from Othello’s mouth aren’t confrontational. Opening missive ‘The ABC of Being Stupid’ is pure post punk savagery with squalling guitars and battered drums which coax Othello to yelp “We are broken!!” repeatedly. Equally the band’s vitriol boils over during album closer ‘Bring Down The Banks’ with the frontman yelling in what can only be described as pain during a sheer maelstrom of noise behind him.

Dead Wolf Club can easily shift dynamics, as heard on ‘MBE (Matt’s Big Entrance)’ with the stop-start riff/bass/drum roll combo. But it’s on tracks like MBE where Othello’s vocal is lost amongst the cacophony, maybe this is symbolism for being ignored in a sea of modernity however it feels the frontman’s vocals need turning up a notch. This is a common factor that crops up in the latter part of the record almost as if Othello is being swallowed by his band’s uncompromising racket.

Musically abrasive with lyrics to match, RAR is the sound of a million news feeds being consumed by a legion of hapless people yearning for a resolution that, at this time, doesn’t look hopeful.

 

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Introducing…PYYRAMIDS

Without a pharaoh or treadmill in sight, Tom Norwind of OK GO fame is all set to dispense with an exciting new venture, soon to be known to the world as PYYRAMIDS. Norwind has teamed up with vocalist Drea Smith from electro-popsters He Say/She Say to carve out icy cool missives that have a deep-seated leaning towards 80s Mancunian bands and the first wave of British post-punk acts. This is what kick-started the bond between Norwind and Brea, their collective appreciation towards music that perhaps casts more shadows than light, music with a penchant for the gloomy but with a beating pop heart. The duo worked at their separate homes trading audio snippets that finally have been assembled to populate the twosome’s debut record, Brightest Darkest Day.

To whet the appetite PYYRAMIDS have offered up three nuggets from their first LP on Soundcloud, these tracks go by the names ‘Smoke and Mirrors’, ‘Don’t Go’ and ‘That Ain’t Right’. Each track is remarkably different to the next but Norwind and Smith have laid down such a sonic footprint, each track is a conduit to the next. What links them altogether is the marrying of the organic and the synthetic, as you’ll soon realise PYYRAMIDS are an electronic act with a difference, yes synths whirr and hum but lucid vocals provided by Smith ensure any machine driven instrumentation is assisted by something of a human touch.  

‘Smoke and Mirrors’ is progressively magnetic, it begins in a sultry, brooding fashion but soon gathers pace snaring in pounding bass drums and untamed fuzzed up electronics. If you can imagine Joy Division soundtracking Blade Runner and you are almost there, future-retro appeal at its finest. ‘Don’t Go’ takes a post-punk throbbing bassline that is pure elastic and calm pitter-patter drums that forge an atmospheric listen. This is until restrained guitar thrashes upset the serene and inject a little bit of terror into the millpond. The more electronic of the bunch is the pulsing ‘That Ain’t Right’ which boasts an ever present synth line that burbles and chirps while stunted guitar strums weave themselves around Smith’s downplayed coo. On this track PYYRAMIDS demonstrate their pop aesthetic with brooding verses and an illuminating chorus with Smith declaring “I don’t want to break your heart”, which almost sounds like an apology about future heartbreak, with our velvet vocaled temptress playing the part of a mermaid on the rocks using her voice like a siren call.

PYYRAMIDS won’t make you walk like an Egyptian but they are an enchanting discovery and one you’ll want to keep revisiting.  Come April be prepared to have the Brightest Darkest Day.

 

Brightest Darkest Day is out 15th April 2013 (tracklisting below)

1. Brightest, Darkest Day (Intro)
2. Smoke And Mirrors
3. Don
t Go
4. Do You Think You
re Enough?
5. Paper Doll
6. Everyone Says
7. Invisible Scream
8. Time (Interlude)
9. Time
10. That Ain
t Right
11. Nothing I Can Say

For more information on PYYRAMIDS -

 
http://pyyramids.com/
https://soundcloud.com/pyyramids
https://www.facebook.com/Pyyramids
https://twitter.com/PYYRAMIDS
http://www.youtube.com/user/PYYRAMIDS

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We Were Promised So Much – Bands to Watch 2012 – Outfit

Manchester is often heralded for it’s take on alternative dance music, considering it birthed New Order, Manchester knows how to produce melancholic foot shufflers. Just down the road in neighbouring Liverpool, indie dance collective Outfit, tread the same path as the Hacienda torchbearers. Merging together New York house, indie, techno and elements of electronica, this Liverpudlian five piece take the euphoria found on dance floors and turn it on its head to create expansive, broad documents of sound.

Outfit are made up of the communal efforts of Andrew and Nicholas Hunt, Thomas Gorton, Christopher Hutchinson and David Berger. This sextet are set to reclaim the night from the likes of chart bothering collaboration king David Guetta to add a little bit of darkness to the dancefloor.

For more information on Outfit – facebook.com/outfitoutfitoutfit

Check out the other bands in the We Were Promised So Much – Bands to Watch 2012 Here