Monday, October 23, 2017
Sheffield’s Purest release their second single 'Waiting For' this Friday (October 27) through 25 Hour Convenience Store Records.
Ahead of which, they follow earlier debut single 'Always', with a video to the new noise, rock with a fuzzy shoegaze sheen, track.
08 Jimmy’s, Manchester
11 The Monarch, London
25 Cafe Totem, Sheffield
This week our three guest reviewers take on another five new tracks and give them a spin through the headphones before they then air their opinion on each.
This week's panel: Bang Bang Romeo drummer, Richard Gartland; Little Indie contributor, Richard O'Hagan; drummer with Glasgow band The Van T's - Shaun Hood.
CODEWALKERS - RUNAROUND
Out November 3, the third single from Cardiff-based three-piece: Nigerian Seun Babatola (vocals) and local North Wales brothers, Dafydd (guitar) and Ben (synth) Dabson. An ear-grabbing mix of alt-R&B, hip-hop, reggae and electronica, it comes from their debut album 'Even Better Enemies' (out early 2018). Seun describes the affecting, hard-hitting lyrics as, 'a warning to the predators - you keep pushing, it's just a matter of time before somebody decides to push back'.
Richard Gartland: Absolutely loved the intro, I'm a sucker for percussive vocal parts. Beautiful arrangement, but seems to switch vibe too quickly for me. Lyrics are strong, great message. Felt the drum and bass switch up cheapened the song, but the strings are beautifully arranged. A bit all over the place on the whole, can't decide whether I liked it or not. 3/5.
Richard O'Hagan: I feel really conflicted by this. They've tried to tackle a difficult subject here and I totally get the message that they're bringing, but the lyric is just so grating. It's like they've tried to shoehorn words in because they couldn't really think of anything that fits. In all, a worthy effort, but they've not quite pulled it off for me. 3/5
Shaun Hood: Stylistically speaking, this track is a little on the schizophrenic side. It opens with a sombre a cappella and the groove kicks in nicely with beats accented by breathing and soulful female vocals lamenting over quite a serious subject matter. This is followed by a dubstep drop and a bit of melodic rapping that I can't say I'm sold on; just as the tone of the voice improves somewhat, it all gets a bit too drum and bass for my liking. I get that this sort of genre mashup is what the artist is going for and I do actually enjoy the odd bit of reggae D'n'B, but feel like it's placement in this particular track takes away from it rather than adding to it like for example the use of strings towards the end of the song. 2.5/5
Total score: 8.5/15
ARTIFICIAL PLEASURE - WOUND UP TIGHT
“It’s about feeling on edge, as if this state of anxiety and constant worry has now become normality,” say the London electro-pop outfit of new single and EP title track, released December 8. Sounding like a Franz Ferdinand and WHITE mash-up, after the killer 35 seconds opening, it's all uphill on beaty stomps and infectious guitar riffs.
RG: Love the 80s grooves but maybe flirting slightly too closely to Frankie Goes To Hollywood's 'Two Tribes' for me to be able to fully engage with the track. Chorus is massive. Synth hook grabs you with both hands. 3/5.
ROH: YES! YES! CHRIST ON A HOVERBOARD, YES! This is one of the best things I've heard all year. TV On The Radio meets 80s disco, with an air of tension thrown in for good measure, too. Great vocal, funky bass, superb to the outro. Can I give this ten out of five? 5/5
SH: This track opens with a chugging monotone synth loop and four on the floor drum groove, it's dressed in groovy bass lines and smoking guitar hooks which hold well within the hypnotic 16th note backbone. Dramatic builds interweave with anxiously intense vocals before dropping back down to the rhythmic base to round off the piece. I feel like the production itself leaves a little to be desired and the musical ideas could have been slightly more developed, but it's an all round impressive effort regardless. 3/5
Total score: 11/15
THE CHEAP THRILLS - SENTIMENTALITY
A Guardian Band To Break - of 2013, so about time they smashed the mould - this synth-pop anthem follow-up single to EP 'Glare' (released through Eighties Vinyl Records back in January) could be what it takes to set the Liverpool four-piece onto bigger things, with chorus chants and explosive guitars. Catch live at single launch show in Liverpool at The Magnet on October 28.
RG: Opening synth line is infectious, borderline pop-punk at times with a large chunk of psych-rock. Love the energy. It feels safe, hasn't got the identity and groove of some of their other material, and won't change lives, but will definitely be adding to my morning playlists. 4/5.
ROH: I feared that I was going to end up disliking this a lot, but in fact it's annoyingly catchy. It kind of reminded me of the Soup Dragons for some reason. I love the way that the keyboard drives the melody, and the fuzzy bass sound. 3.5/5
SH: An uptempo piece of high school era pop/rock genius. Super catchy from the get go and ticks a lot of boxes throughout. Solid songwriting and a distinctive Liverpool accent help set the band apart too. Not much else to say on this one, but although it's not really my kind of thing as such, there are certainly no complaints and I'll no doubt have that chorus playing through my head all week. 4/5
Total score: 11.5/15
ABISHA - ALL THAT
Addictively impressive earworm debut from 22-year-old alternative R&B singer-songwriter from Devon (by way of South London). The coolly-restrained slow-burner (about the pitfalls of seeing more than one person at once) was produced by the legendary Mike Chapman after a chance meeting in a South East London pub.
RG: Great production value, sits in a genre I'm not too familiar with and doesn't progress enough to please my own taste. Good voice, can see the appeal to lovers of RnB and soul, enjoyed a darker vibe than expected in the chorus. 2/5.
ROH: This is the sort of song that really gets my goat. She clearly has a good voice, but this song does nothing and goes nowhere. She might as well be singing Christmas carols in July for all the impact this makes. 2.5/5
SH: The first thing I picked up with this one was the production, even through generic iPhone speakers on first listen it just jumped out at me so I knew that coming back to it with a good set of headphones would be rewarding. Seriously enjoyed the warm tones and trap drums throughout. The vocal harmonies in the chorus were almost reminiscent of something along the lines of Lianne La Havas which again is right up my street. Lyrically, the track is written from a confessional standpoint and I really feel like the artist gets her point across without pushing it too much. 4.5/5
Total score: 9/15
DRAHLA - SILK SPIRIT
Taken from the forthcoming debut EP, 'Third Article', produced by Hookworms' MJ - out November 24 on 12" vinyl via Blank Ad - from the Leeds-based post-punk trio, with singer/bassist Luciel Brown doing a Jehnny Beth-alike over a brimful of shuddering rhythm forces and wiry guitars.
RG: Indicative of the female fronted indie grunge scene led by the likes of Wolf Alice and Dream Wife. Groove is hypnotic and the track as a whole grew on me with a second and third listen. Not instant, but will be checking out more from Drahla. Powerful but nonchalant vocal and guitar parts, almost lazy in accuracy but 100% deliberate. 4/5.
ROH: I confess that I've heard this on the radio a few times already. I love the guitar sound on this, and the Louise Wener-esque vocals. It's a shame that you can't really make out what she's singing about, but it's a decent tune and they've got a lot of potential. 4/5
SH: Quite a clever little rock'n'roll number. I really dig the stream of consciousness writing style as you can throw a lot out there lyrically in the one song, it gives it a bit of a Courtney Barnett vibe too which helps lift the instrumental from being too doom and gloom or monotonous. The rhythm section are tight with their pushes and use of dynamics too which always helps. But for me this one was more of a grower and I can't imagine it being everyone's bag. 3.5/5
Total score: 11.5/15
Words: Linn Branson
Freewheelin' Auckland 'supergroup' Thousand Island sound as good on this debut single 'Desert' as their relish namesake tastes.
The sub-four minute delicious track, released last week, has a real earworm melody, with Brad Fafejta's vocal sounding part US West Coast, and part echoing the moodiness of Australia's DMA's, while the guitar solo which comes midway is simply orgasmic. A timeless, chilled groover.
The Kiwi quartet - made of up Brad Fafejta (of Brand New Math/The Conjurors/Teen Wolf), Calum Gunn (Sere/Long Distance Runner), Samuel Walsh (Damsels) and David Coffey (The Insurgents/No Aloha) - recorded the track in one day with Edward Castelow of Dictaphone Blues, and is the first of four planned releases.
Brad Fafetja says the song was inspired by a return to West Auckland last year where he grew up and it bringing back old memories:
"No money, no car, just walking around, walking to the mall to kill time etc. Everybody has moved on, all your friends have left, and you are stuck in the suburbs or some small town and its uncomfortable and hot. I suppose it's a little about being some kind of unapologetic sun burned deadbeat!
"It also reminds me of driving down the Desert Road, which I used to do a lot in the summers, and really enjoy. The landscape suddenly twists into something else, and it can be very moody. I like to stop and hang out and walk around, and it usually annoys the people I'm travelling with."
Little Indie casts its ears and eyes over more of the latest sounds to emerge recently from Down Under.
PLANET - ACHING DREAM
Sydney indie rockers share atmospheric new single ahead of their debut EP, expected before end of 2017. With bass and vocals recorded in frontman Matty Took's bedroom, it builds from a slow, melancholic start to bring in some glorious psych guitar and Britpop styled vocals.
CREPES - FOUR YEARS TIME
Melbourne-via-Ballarat quartet are gearing up to release their debut album ‘Channel Four’ (out via Spunk!/Deaf Ambitions on December 3), and from it comes this meandering, silky synth infused track filled with shimmering beats, neat guitar riffs, and nicely tuned harmonies.
THE BETHS - GREAT NO ONE
Catchy guitar-pop from the Auckland quartet, who include elements of 90s alt-pop into their bouncy melodies via influences such as Veruca Salt. Vocalist Elizabeth Stokes describes it as about "the voice in your head (my head) saying 'it's good, stop wasting time' and then 'it's garbage, stop trying', and trying to balance on that see-saw."
TWO CARTOONS - HOSPITALITY
Dunedin duo Bradley Craig and Isaac McFarlane - the two cartoons of the title - have put out this taster from forthcoming EP 'The Great British Hangover', released November 18. An infectioudly upbeat vibe with a 70s rock essence as lyrically they detail what it’s like to work in the service industry.
RAISED AS WOLVES - DON'T WE ALL
Wollongong/Sydney punk trio follow their 2016 EP 'Phonebook For Hokkaido' with new punchy single which highlights their pop-punk rawness with wiry guitar hooks, fiery beats and an astringent vocal.
GOOD BOY - FISHING WITH A SHOTGUN
The Brisbane garage punks are set to release double EP 'Shirk Life' (side A), split with their 2016 EP 'Plum' (side B) on November 10 via Barely Dressed Records, and this first single, which fires venom at Australia's right-wing politics through vocalist Rian King’s hard-hitting lyrics, was produced and engineered by Tim Fitz (Middle Kids).
October 19 2017
Words: Richard Cobb
600 were packed in to see the band's first Glasgow show since they supported Alt-J at the mammoth 13,000 capacity Hydro back in December 2015. They’ve come a long way from the band I first saw 10 years ago back at the Academy in Glasgow on the NME tour, when their fan base consisted mainly of back combed hair and eye liner clad teenagers who would let out banshee like screams during ‘Sheena Is A Parasite’ or ‘Death At The Chapel.’
One early live show I witnessed at T in the Park, I remember frontman Faris Badwan walking onstage in a cloak carrying a Pineapple on a rope draped over his shoulder, before proceeding to spend the latter part of the gig trying to take out the disco ball with his microphone. As fun and unpredictable as those days were, and without wanting to mirror the usual press cliché about the band, they really have evolved and for a solid eight years now, it’s been all about the music and the way it makes you feel, leaving behind the shock value.
‘Who Can Say’ is still one of the band’s finest achievements and it’s warming to see that it still makes the cut for their set. The emotion and sincerity in Faris’ voice when he utters “and then I kissed her, with a kiss that could only mean goodbye” still fractures my heart a bit each time I hear it. Setlist-wise, the Horrors have always favoured a less is more approach, opting for a 12 song set, which works well for them, but it can often be a bit of a shin kick when you’re wanting to hear more across their impressive and extensive back catalogue. A notable omission was “I See You” which was somewhat unexpected. Only one track, ‘In and Out Of Sight’ from 2014’s 'Luminous' got a run out which was a shame, but the spotlight was very much on their new album, and when a band have five albums, four of which they still play songs from live, I suppose it was inevitable that some were going to slip through the cracks.
‘Sea Within A Sea’ was midway through the set, which still feels strange, as it’s such a stand out song, so to not have it near the end feels a bit like being rewarded with your desert before you’ve had your main course, great at the time but you’re massively regretful afterwards. The looping synth from Tom Cowan on the track coupled with Rhys Webb’s bass line create a spellbinding effect which really captures what The Horrors are about as a live band.
During main set closer ‘Still Life’ the stage strobing lights work wonders for the atmosphere, and once again the capacity crowd are transported to another place. Only when the band walk off stage are people awoken from their hypnotic like trance. The band return for an encore of new tracks ‘Ghost’ and ‘Something To Remember Me By.” Both songs are amazing live and whilst I questioned ‘Sea Within A Sea’ not being nearer the end, it’s clear to see why these songs were picked for the thrilling encore.
Though unfortunate sound issues plagued the last track as the synth levels were booming, it didn’t detract from the performance, with Badwan almost channelling a young Nick Cave as the crowd were transfixed on his every move whilst the engine room worked hard behind him. The reaction it drew from the crowd was eye opening too as the atmosphere was similar to that of a dance tent at a festival as it was just wall to wall euphoria, thankfully with fewer warm pints to the back of the neck.
Sunday, October 22, 2017
Words: Ellie Ward
Produced by Charlie Russell, 'The Bay' is the first single from London four-piece Stereo Honey's debut EP 'Monuments', due on December 1 via Beatnik Creative.
The moving track - follow-up to 'The Heart' and 'Where No One Knows Your Name' - is a haunting and personal song about death, tragedy and physical connection, written by lead vocalist/guitarist Pete Restrick, whose falsetto narrates the tragic love story over a melancholic backing of flowing guitars.
Based on the 2004 disaster where twenty-three people - labourers trafficked from southern China - lost their lives at Morecambe Bay, Restrick, who was 13 at the time, recalls the area that inspired the song:
"My grandparents had a caravan on the edge of the bay at Grange-over-Sands. I remember me and my brothers playing there when we visited Morecambe, running out into the sand under the close watch of my dad who would loudly belt out at us if we ran too far out.
"The lyrics of this song entail both a physical connection and a personal memory to an event I could not fully understand at the time. 'The Bay' is a love song written from the perspective of the two bodies that were never recovered, clinging onto one another whilst the water rises around them: 'Here comes the tide, wait for a lifeline / Place your fingers in mine / we’ll wait for a lifetime.'”