28 Dec 2014

VAPOUR TRAIL'S SONGS OF THE YEAR (Top 30)

30. Zombie - Jamie T
The comeback king of 2014. When the news dropped that Jamie T was returning after a five year break, the indie world exploded. His comeback single Zombie is his way of breaking away from the junkie rapper stereotype and pretty much reinventing himself. It's catchy, quirky, painfully relatable and well deserving of a spot in our best songs of 2014. Jamie T is well and truly back in the game. 

29. Jealous Sun - The Horrors
The Horrors' electronica based Luminous is one of the year's most underplayed albums. It was acclaimed, but the band haven't been anywhere near the top of the albums of the year lists you'd expect. This track is adorned with Josh Hayward's MBV influence, a sort of apocalyptic pedal fest kicks the song off as the song kind of struts effortlessly along. Mind you, it's almost impossible for them to play it live because it's just too crazy. 



28. Pleasant Heart - Ought
Six minutes of post-punk anger, Ought are probably the best thing to emerge all year. Canadian art students that dabble in lots of genres, Pleasant Heart opens their album with an almost industrial influence - it has a crunchy, OTT riff and menacing vocals. Ought's Pleasant Heart is an incredible opener and the way it kicked into and out of life is just life affirming.

27. The Impasse - Hookworms
You hear a quick burst of buzzes, and then BAM! Hectic DeFreitas-style drumming and screeched vocals wrench Hookworms' The Hum into life. Hookworms' album is incredible, and this is the doorway. Hookworms' sound reaches the point at which it's most akin to their proto-punk influence; an uncompromising album opener that's completely tempestuous.  

26. Giant Peach - Wolf Alice
A fairly late addition to our list, Wolf Alice released a live version of this song as part of VEVO DSCVR and it's easily one of their strongest songs to date. They all sound confident in their ability and like their finally becoming aware of how stupidly talented they are. The song goes back to their rocky routes with some killer riffs and incredibly dark and dirty breakdown come 3:58s. Simply outstanding. 

25. On My Fingers - Iceage
Iceage's Plowing Into The Field Of Love record was almost a coming of age album; they've certainly matured, and this (the longest song on the album) is a sprawling, almost poetic ode to Iceage's newfound stance. Ronnenfelt's fiery voice is complimented by instrumentation that resembles the Bad Seeds where before it was Joy Division, and self-mythologising lyrics poise the frontman to be some kind of messiah figure. It's all very cool, and possibly the finest moment in Iceage's brilliant discography. It's even better than Morals.



24. Never Come Back Again - The Soft Walls
The motorik highlight of the Brighton psych band's second album is an escalating, hypnotic track that showcases their wonderful krautrock influence. Nonchalant vocals and a driving drum beat make this one of the single best psych songs of the year, and although a great centrepiece for No Time, it really comes into its own in a live environment, as it's closed a lot of their sets this year.

23. The Faker - Ty Segall
Ty Segall is a genius with his finger in many pies. He does everything, that man. This is off of the album Manipulator, and also the b-side to lead single Feel. The Faker, like all of Ty's newer material is almost polished, but it also has a swagger to it that instils a lot of life in it, making sure it still has the character Ty demonstrates in all of his other projects.

22. A Question Isn't Answered - Temples
Opening with a series of claps before Bagshaw's synth-laced voice floats in to draw you into the ethereal and glittery world of a Temples song. But the floaty dream-like sense does not last, the drums kick in and shortly after the ending of the first verse, a dark and dirty FX driven guitar riff kicks in to blow your expectations of this song out of the water. It's a 5 minute dream sequence soundtracked by whimsical vocals over a contrastingly gritty melody and my god does it work well.

21. Fuckers - Savages
Motorik, sprawling, brash. Savages' latest offering is 9 minutes of post-punk fury driven by an amazing rhythm section and a visceral, ballzy guitar hook. Even without Jehnny Beth's amazing vocal talents turning their hand to yelling the distinctive verse of "DON'T LET THE FUCKERS BRING YOU DOWN", this is one of the releases that stands out this year as being absolutely amazing.



20. Under The Pressure - The War On Drugs
If all of the War On Drugs latest album was like Under The Pressure, I feel like all of the accolades that it's garnered would be completely deserved. Under The Pressure sprawls over eight minutes, and has a very distinctive mood; it teeters and totters uncertainly, and Adam Granducial's crisp voice makes it the perfect song. 

19. Wire Frame Mattress - The Wytches
"You sit there and laugh/while my dignity collapses." Kristen Bell's gritty vocals intertwine perfectly with the feedback-laden riffs of this stunning single. It's chaotic yet rhythmic, messy yet it's one of the most organised rock songs released this year. It channels all the elements that make The Wytches one of the best grunge bands around right now. 

18. Hollow Visions - Eagulls
It has the best and probably most controversial video of the whole year to accompany it, but even without gruesome visuals, Hollow Visions is a fantastic bit of post-punk brilliance. It's Eagulls at their most dystopian, and darkest - it has the same sort of atmosphere Unknown Pleasures does, in that it's dark and gloomy, but much more accessible with it's two-word chorus that is quintessentially Eagulls. Live, it was always one of the few tracks that prompted a singalong, but recently it's even greater, as Mitchell and co. add a sinister, cold, middle bit that makes this gloomy dystopian anthem even gloomier. 



17. Circles - Kate Tempest
Kate Tempest's strong London accent and fantastic self-styled poetry was what owned 2014. Her debut album was Mercury nominated, and whilst not the lead single, Circles was a standout rap moment. Her neurotic lyrical prowess is demonstrated here; "I go round in circles/Not graceful, not like dancers/Not neatly, not like compass and pencil/More like a dog on a lead, going mental" is probably the best lyric to come out this year.

16. Lazaretto - Jack White
Jack White, the 21st century's leading proponent of blues rock, hammered out his latest album this year, and the title track was one of the punchiest, raunchiest songs that the Nashville man has ever released. A daring, jumpy riff over the almost rapped vocals showed the world that Jack White still has it; this track features the guitar solo to end all guitar solos.

15. Bubbles - Superfood
Easily up there with the best of the best Superfood tracks, yet Bubbles is absent from their stunning debut album. It's punchy, angsty and oh-so-90’s. The lyrics are catchy, clever and a manic crowd pleaser. The song centres around the memorable riffs which hold the song together under the weight of the unsurprisingly obscure lyrics, this is a Superfood song after all. "The bubbles inside/they follow the light/where you are" Whatever these guys are smoking is certainly working for them because this song, this EP and their debut album are all fucking fantastic.


14. Fossils - Piano Wire
Piano Wire have only played about 6 gigs together, but already they've stuck out like a sore thumb as a special band to keep your eye on; a phoenix rising from the ashes of the Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster, Andy Huxley and Sym Gharial's new band's second track is a tight, memorable pop song that shines with influence from the likes of the US' eighties indie rock scene.

13. Moaning Lisa's Smile - Wolf Alice
With a video that sees 3/4 members of the band sporting drag and entering a dance competition, this song made quite the impression this year. The opening track from Creature Songs EP, the song begins with a quiet yet dirty guitar riff before progressing into a manic rock track with Joel’s drumming crashing through and hitting you like a ton of bricks at about 7 seconds in. Theo and Joff on guitar and bass wack up the depth levels of this indie masterpiece and with Ellie’s usually whimsical vocals sounding stronger than ever, this song is an absolute work of art.



12. Pea Green Coat - The Wave Pictures
Indie rock's most underrated band teamed up with garage rock legend Wild Billy Childish for their newest album, and this is the first offering from it. The Wave Pictures are favourites of Marc Riley's 6music show, and this masterpiece has graced the airwaves for months. A huge Subway Sect/Bunnymen influence, this closes their forthcoming album in style and implies that 2015 will be a great year for the trio.

11. Today More Than Any Other Day - Ought
Ought's near-title track from their debut juxtaposes the big decisions with small petty concerns. Tim Beeler's artsy vocals cry thus over the top of some Husker Du-esque guitars; 'Today! More than any other day, I'm excited to taste the milk of human kindness' slots beautifully against 'Today! More than any other day, I am excited to go grocery shopping' in his artsy Mark Smith tones. 

10. What You Isn't - The Brian Jonestown Massacre
Hypnotic, swirling, and a complete embodiment of all the drugs that go into the BJM's music, What You Isn't comes from their amazing Revelation album. Anton Newcombe shows that he doesn't really give a fuck with some incredibly laid-back but assertive vocals make it the album's highlight. This track shows that the Brian Jonestown Massacre will never lose it, and that a million albums in they show no signs of faltering.

9. Rule Number One - Telegram
Psych punk prodigies Rule Number One hits you straight away - five seconds of explosive You Made Me Realise-style guitars and you're into Telegram's best 2014 release. It feels as though they've been around forever now, but here Telegram have this year released their finest song. Visceral, uncompromising and loud, this gives the hint that Telegram are going to be the band of 2015, if they can land a record deal.



8. Killer Bangs - Honeyblood
Easily best track off Honeyblood's stunning debut album. It's short, punchy and seriously badass. "I don't wanna have to go/go on without you/but I have to" is the centre of the chorus which somehow gets you dancing despite the chaotic melodies behind it. It's basically the perfect rock-pop song and it's only two and a half minutes long. 

7. Stitches - Bloody Knees
Bloody Knees’ Stitches EP was up there with the finest EP releases of this year and the title track is nothing short of genius. .”And I'm covered in blood/but at least I'm having fun/I'm having fun." It's one of the catchiest most sing-a-long-worthy rock tracks in a long time. The gravelly vocals over the smashing up of a drum kit and the thrashing and crashing of the guitars make for a phenomenal sound and well deserving of our #7 spot.  



6. Retreat - Hookworms
Sonically cleaner than anything from Pearl Mystic, Retreat wraps up an incredible album with it's Modern Lovers-esque drive and it's triumphant feel. Atop some sharp feedback, it's kicked into life by a driving guitar motif that reminds you of See No Evil whilst the organ sounds of MJ's keys hurry the track along. It'd be the perfect closer to any album, and the way it closes up The Hum is something else.

5. Tough Luck - Eagulls
Fast and angry, Eagulls' brash debut album has enough highlights to monopolise this list. The most arguably upbeat song, Tough Luck is yet another track driven by Eagulls' distinctive, omnipotent, downstroke only basslines and it's an absolute belter. George Mitchell's cries of "ter-flook, ter-flook, ter-flook" make this almost anthemic, and it probably should have been released as a single.

4. Possessed - Eagulls
Another Eagulls classic, Possessed is the outright pop song from their self titled debut. By their standards, it's a soppy, messy love song that sees George Mitchell's rough voice completely unintelligible - you've just got to assume it's a love song from his intonation patterns. The fact that it's a perfect, perfect pop song with that Eagulls touch makes it the most memorable moment of their amazing album.

3. Psykick Espionage - Joanna Gruesome
When I first heard this offering on the radio from the Welsh noise-pop group, I thought it was the Buzzcocks for about three listens. Psykick Espionage is part of a split single with Perfect Pussy and it's completely peerless. 120 seconds of bright energetic punk rock, cloaked but shouty vocals and an energy that no one else can quite muster, Joanna Gruesome's latest single is an incredible pop song that never fails to please.



2. The New Calm Pt 2 - Ought
The Canadian art-punks' latest single (well, it's lead song from their new EP) features the band encorporate all of their influences into a fresh sounding 7 minute long artistic manifesto. Deliberately out of time vocals in the verses combined with witty lyrics ("Who invited Paul Simon? I didn't invite him") channel the obvious Mark E Smith influence, but as the song escalates the shoegazing tones of Ride and Galaxie 500 surface to make the song one of the most complex and perfect releases of the year.




1. Darker - The Wytches
Not two seconds pass and you're thrown into the massively chaotic and dark yet melodic world of The Wytches. Despite being the B-side to Burn Out The Bruise, Darker is pretty much the best song this band have ever recorded. It sees The Wytches not only at their darkest and grimiest, but it also sees Kristian Bell's lyrical talents reach their zenith. Possibly the lyric of the year; "I wanna dig your grave and be the reason you are in it/I know it's not a game but I'm in it to win it" is howled over dishevled riffs in the grittiest tone known to man. It may only be a B-side, but Wytches fans have taken this song and ran with it, with the lyrics being screamed along at their live shows and the song itself being loved possibly more than the A-side single. It's both satirical and morbid, and it's a great gothic singalong. Truly deserving of our #1 spot, it's a work of total genius.


23 Dec 2014

Top Ten Live Performances of 2014 (Part Two: Calum's)

2014 has been a cracker of a year for gigs and all, so with it coming to an end I thought I'd round my top ten gigs and festival slots into some kind of countdown. This year I went to End Of The Road and Truck Fest as well as amount of gigs well into double figures in and around Southampton, Portsmouth and Brighton, so I guess you could say this list is pretty fuckin' prestigious...

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10. TOY @ The Talking Heads, Southampton
Following the success of their second album, London psych band TOY embarked on their biggest UK tour to date, and the Talking Heads date at Southampton's third best venue was one of the first stops. TOY stayed on for well over an hour, and remained mesmeric throughout. Opening pseudo-Krautian instrumental Conductor kicked off the psyched out proceedings in a hypnotic way, which established TOY's sound and vibe. Communicating little with the audience, frontman Tom Dougall poised himself as some kind of mysterious oracle, moving only to sing, whilst the rest of the band didn't exactly jump around either; they stayed motionless as pumped out mesmerising psychedelia. This gig showcased the unbelievable talents of TOY, who announced they're working their third album just yesterday - if their live show is anything to go by they can do no wrong.

9. The Wands @ Lennon's, Southampton
Danish warlocks The Wands stopped by Lennon's for their first UK tour since their debut album came out - a great debut album that we put #7 in our albums of the year countdown. Their set consisted of perfect examples of post-Loop psych-pop like Sound Of The Machine and And Full Of Colours, as well as sprawling fuzzed-out freak-outs like The Name Of The Mountain and Hello I Know The Blow You Grow Is Magic. The Wands' two frontmen robotically strutted around the stage to make for one of the tightest psych shows to hit Southampton all year.


8. Black Moth @ Truck Festival
Truck festival was one of the many highlights of my year, and although it is a largely indie-specific festival, it's Leeds doom-metallers Black Moth who stole the festival for me. Fronted by the deathly cool Harriett Bevan, the band's set was sexy, murky and one of the coolest things ever to happen in a cowshed. Instantly recognisable Blackbirds Fall was the highlight, but it was also a great place to showcase the material that would later go onto appear on their sophomore record... I interviewed them about it here...

7. Bo Ningen, Younghusband and The Scenes @ The Joiners, Southampton
This was an incredible mind-expanding night for a capacity Joiners crowd... Opening up with Finnish headcases The Scenes, the night started with a bang as the band and their enigmatic Lux-esque frontman Konsta lept around the stage to their energetic music. Then, dreamy Londoners Younghusband came on; their set was woozy and dreamy, and although it took the tempo down, it was certainly a welcome break from all the furore of the earlier band, and what was to follow. Bo Ningen arrived on stage, robed and ready to go, with their hair being blown by a big fan they'd somehow managed to carry around the country with them. Their hourlong set included 3 minute thrash freakouts like Dadada and Kiroshitai Kimochi, before they closed their set with a ten minute space jam that saw instruments fly, drumsticks break and the guitarist being swamped by the overeager Bo Ningen fans. Alongside the perfect support, Bo Ningen's taking of The Joiners was more than memorable for everyone involved.


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6. Circa Waves, Public Access TV and Bloody Knees @ The Joiners, Southampton
Upcoming indie trailblazers Circa Waves packed one of 2014's surprise punches by just being out of this world. Support came from Bloody Knees' Nirvana-inspired fuzz and the perfectly polished melodies of New Yorkers Public Access Tv; who I, for one, think are going to be absolutely ma-hoo-sive in 2015 - they're dreamy, together, and everything you wish The Strokes still sounded like. Circa Waves were just the same; Strokes carbon copies that were actually a thousand times better than the original; they blistered through a set in a very sweaty Joiners which included blistering versions of Get Away, Stuck in My Teeth and everything else in between. Although their studio stuff isn't as exciting as most, Circa Waves live show is really something special.



5. Eagulls @ Lennon's, Southampton
Staggering onto the tiny nightclub stage, Eagulls' first major UK tour saw the five piece trying to squeeze themselves onto a tiny stage that was barely big enough for Bad Breeding, the quartet that supported. After a previously unheard opener opened proceedings in a dissonant way, the set began to gain a huge amount of momentum; the wall of sound on Tough Luck, the swarm of Nerve Endings and the anthemic cries of "I'm moulting! Moulting! Moulting away!" saw the band sounding just as great as they do on their flawless debut. Frontman George Mitchell's great stage presence - kind of Lux meets Iggy meets Ian - was amazing throughout and the cold extended version of Hollow Visions, Eagulls were on fire. By the time they finally finished with final track Possessed they'd completely wowed the crowd with their post-punk brilliance.


4. Hookworms @ The Haunt, Brighton
Explosive, loud, and about as together as a band can possibly be, Hookworms took Brighton's seafront venue by storm with their own unique brand of noise-rock. After opening with fuzzed out Away Towards, which caused the set to explode superbly to life, they unleashed selected offerings from new album The Hum. Radio Tokyo was explosive, The Impasse was furious and Retreat closed the set absolutely perfectly. Whilst here the new songs were an unknown quantity, they sounded fantastic and aptly secured Hookworms' Brighton gig as our fourth best of the year.


3. The Libertines @ Alexandra Palace, London
The Libertines reunion show was something else entirely; both intimate and biblical. Pete Dohert and Carl Barat's onstage chemistry seemed as though no time had passed since 2002 as their set sprawled for well over and hour and a half. They played all of Up The Bracket before a mind-blowing, heart-wrenching version of rarity You're My Waterloo opened up the encore. I was incredibly cynical about this Libs reunion as I was with the last, but this time the Londoners are back to quit the drugs and kick the ass. And they've just quit the drugs.


2. The Wytches @ The Joiners, Southampton
October also the Southampton return for The Wytches, who've played both The Joiners and Lennon's before this October. They were joined by hot shot upcoming band Piano Wire, and the singer songwriter Otis Elliott for this segment of their tour, making a near perfect line-up. Elliott was very Elliott Smith-like, and Piano Wire were electric, but that was nothing compared with the main act. They played almost every track from their debut Annabel Dream Reader, as well as latest b-side Darker which was quite   The Wytches set included particularly loud, fierce versions of Burn Out The Bruise, Wire Frame Mattress and Beehive Queen before the show was closed with the rarities Holy Tightrope and She's So Far Out. The band were unstoppable, noisy, and furious - the best Joiners gig of 2014, which is an achievement in itself.

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1. Slowdive and Hookworms @ The Forum, London
2014 has been Slowdive's greatest year; their reformation brought them the acclaim they deserved in the early nineties. Our blog's favourite Hookworms kicked the lid off of proceedings with a dynamic set that encompassed ALL of our album of the year The Hum. But what followed was the only possible way that Hookies could have been outdone; Slowdive's 90 minute set began with a stunning rendition of the thirst-quenching Slowdive before the ethereal Avalyn shrouded the whole room in that beautiful Slowdive atmosphere that is completely and utterly their own. Slowdive's beautiful shoegazing sound was beyond beautiful, and serene - the outro to Catch The Breeze was special, Machine Gun was almost like drowning whilst one thousand other people drowned with you and their infamous cover of Syd's Golden Hair was the single most beautiful thing I've ever witnessed - there were actual tears, from pretty much everyone in the crowd. Live, Slowdive created a sound that it's not only hard to get your head around guitars making, but a sound that it's hard to get your head around people making. As a live experience, Slowdive were more special than even I could imagine, and if their musical prowess with their old material is anything to go by, the new material they've promised should be the most amazing thing in the world.

(written by calum cashin)

14 Dec 2014

Devin Ruben Perez Can Fuck Right Off



If you've not heard the news about it, it's come to light that DIIV's bassist Devin Ruben Perez is a racist, sexist, anti-semitic bigoted, homophobic piece of shit. It was revealed when THIS BLOG discovered that the bassist had a rich history of posting on the music domain of the forum 4chan, where all the internet's bigoted trolls hang. Perez's targets include Perfect Pussy frontwoman - who's vocal about the misogynistic sleazebag Ariel Pink, who Perez seems to love ("He is misogynistic... but in an endearing way") - as well as the musician Zomby, who Perez called a "nigger". Obviously this is absolutely repulsive, and I think it's horrible that someone in such a high position of influence could broadcast such repulsive views. As Zachary Cole Smith points out, Meredith Graves (who I for one think is an incredible woman) has been called a bitch on computer screens nationwide.


And then, if that wasn't enough, upon being rumbled by that tumblr I mentioned earlier, Devin got really fucked off by these 'social justice warriors'. Did he try and cover his tracks? Seem like he wasn't a bigoted misogynist? No, he just added to the furore. "Did Meredith Graves post this shit herself?" he posted on 4chan, because logically, the only way that anyone could be upset with his bigoted comments would be if they were directly on the end of them. (The tumblr had nothing to do with Graves)

But furthermore, Perez, alongside some commenters on posts like this one have backed up the comments with statements like "that's just the 4chan lingo, get with it" - but what can they mean by that; in my books, any lingo that uses bigoted slurs is generally bigoted. There's not really a context in which the N-word can be used in a non-racist way, and if there is a context to use it, that context certainly isn't on an anonymous hate forum known for it's bigoted troll users. But maybe the most tragic thing is that he tried to back his racism up with the excuse "I'm part black anyway," like how the hell can that be a reasonable excuse? But who am I to comment? It's not like "fooligans" and "n*ggers like me" won't understand "what (he's) like irl", is it? And that all makes it okay for Devin to say all these things online with a 4chan alias.



"I honestly don't regret saying any of the stuff I did", Perez said; but he should and it looks like he will. Cole Smith of the band DIIV, who Perez plays with has announced that sexism, bigotry and bullying of all sorts "will not be tolerated" within the NYC band's ranks. You'd like to think, I'd like to think, that it won't take long for Devin for the racist bassist to get kicked out of the band. The music industry isn't a place for bigoted arseholes, and this tosser deserves no place in any position of influence.

So far, surprisingly, Cole Smith is dealing with it all really well. It seems that kicking Perez out of the band might be a very real possibility, and in my eyes it's necessary for the band to do this to move on and still be a band that appeal to the masses of liberal minded music fans. I've been a huge fan of DIIV for a couple of years, and continue to be at the moment, but if Perez is in the band by the end of the year I'll really struggle to support them in the way I did, and I think this sentiment is probably echoed by lots of other fans my age. The 'social justice warriors' we are and all.



But still, whilst Cole Smith is an active protester for racial equality, it'd be likely he won't stand for the bigotry of the bassist. I'd like to see Devin Ruben Perez kicked out of this band and the trendy underground music scene, because there's just no place for him and his horrible, vile views. There is no place in music for people like that. In fact, not just in music, anywhere really.

Bar the disgusting maggot of a man that is Devin Perez, I wish DIIV all my best as a fan of the band and hope they move on from this. And hey! If DIIV need a new bassist that dresses like a tramp and can only rip off Joy Division, someone hit them up for me.

(written by calum cashin)

VT MIXTAPES #2 / 2014 INDIE

2014 has been a cracking year for indie bands. There's been some phenomenal debut albums, some equally amazing EP's and even a couple of top-notch singles. This playlist compiles our favourite songs from this years' most beautifully indie bands.



1. All Dragged Up / Honeyblood
To keep all their uniqueness while producing a perfect pop song is an art, and Honeyblood have sure as hell mastered it. "Why won't you grow up?" Stina sings down the mic over a catchy combination of riffs and rhythms, ensuring that people will sing along at every live shows these two girls play. 

2. Storms / Wolf Alice
One out of two of the songs on this playlist that hasn't come from a debut album, this was the second track off Wolf Alice's second EP; Creature Songs. It's rocky, riotus and rowdy, and totally mental live. Ellie's voice sounds angelic, despite being layered over heavy guitar thrashes from Joff and Theo and smashes and crashed from Joel on the drums. It's up there with the best songs Wolf Alice have ever recorded. 


3. The Guesser / Temples
This song is the perfect example of 'sing-a-long-psych' music. One of the strongest tracks from Temples debut album Sun Structures, it's enough to in-keep with Temple's sound, but individual to stand on it's own while showing off the musical talents of this glitter-soaked band. 


4. Falls Away / Childhood
Full of summery vibes to get you dancing on even the darkest days, Childhood's dreamy pop songs finally all came together on the masterpiece that is their debut album, Lacuna. Falls Away is a conglomeration of whimsical melodies mixed with whispery vocals that transports you back to hazy summer days.


5. Mood Bomb / Superfood
The latest single from the newest IT band. Resurrecting the long dead 'B-TOWN' scene and giving it's good name back, Superfood have owned 2014, and are set to do even better in 2015. The release of their debut album generated one of the biggest hypes in a long time and the songs on Don't Say That are worthy, including this track which is easily one of the best.

6. Surround You / Jaws
JAWS debut album Be Slowly played host to a ton of new tracks, as well as some re-vamped singles, such as next track, Surround You. Full of FX pedals and synthy piano keys raining down upon a killer beat and clever guitar tricks, it's stunningly surfy and euphonious and an absolute joy to listen to. 


7. Long Hair / Drowners
Imagine The Smiths and The Strokes in a head on head collision in downtown New York and you've got Drowners' sound. Despite the album not being the strongest as a whole, the singles to come out of it are all fantastically upbeat, happy and first-rate, and Long Hair is no exception. It is a mere 2 minutes long but everything that happens within those 120 seconds is uniquely brilliant. 


8. I Wanna Dance (But I Don't Know How) / Skaters
Starting with a kick-ass bass riff before launching straight into a rowdy chorus and then calming it down again, this song has more ups and downs than a rollercoaster. This is the exact reason it's so great. It's the best track off Skaters debut, Manhattan and combines the pop, rock and indie genres perfectly.

9. Nervous Energy / Slaves
Ok this is the only exception to the 2014 rule. Slaves have only really been shoved into the public eye in this year, so despite being released in 2013, this is my favourite song they've done and it deserves its spot. It's chaotic, manic and full of filthy riffs and drum thrashes. Holding out hope that this makes an appearance on a new album in 2015. 


10. Crying Clown / The Wytches
The best riff to come out of any album this year, this track is the penultimate track from Annabel Dream Reader and recipient of my 'which song gets the best mosh going' award. "Graveyard girls/swinging a bag like a pendulum" is growled over a deathly dark and dirty melody in Kristen Bell's gritty voice. It's one hell of a song. 


11. Who Needs You / The Orwells
The perfect way to finish their Reading set, and the perfect way to finish off this playlist. The Orwells are totally mental and this is reflected in this song. It's like the perfect anarchist pop song and one to be remembered as a song from one of our favourite 2014 albums. 



(WRITTEN BY POPPY MARRIOTT)

NEARLY ALL THESE TRACKS COME FROM ALBUMS IN OUR TOP 40 ALBUMS OF 2014 CHECK OUT THE FULL LISTS HERE FOR YOURSELF


12 Dec 2014

Top Ten Live Performances of 2014 (Part One: Poppy's)

2014 has been a pretty intense year gig-wise. I've seen some incredible bands in Norwich of all places as well as being lucky enough to attend some of the most important and historic music events this year. Alongside these gigs, I also went to Reading, Latitude and 1980's Reload Fest, so sit back, relax, and prepare for an impressive, diverse and just a massively showy-offy list of the ten best live sets I saw this year.



10. Superfood @ Norwich, Waterfront
This is an odd one, because it was actually a support slot. Having seen Superfood earlier in the year and absolutely loving every second of it, I was excited to see them again in a better venue. Despite playing a mere 6 songs, they completely smashed it. They got the crowd going as mad -if not more- than Temples, and I haven't seen a better support act since the first time I saw Telegram. To say I was impressed doesn't even begin to cover it, and the combination of Superfood's massive hits and their sheer passion and energy in everything they do made for one hell of a live set. Read a full review of their set here...
Highlights: TV, Right On Satellite, Superfood

9. Wytches and Telegram @ Norwich Arts Centre
Having a band as incredible as Telegram support an equally stunning band like The Wytches already guarantees you a great night. Stick that line-up in a 290 capacity venue with no barrier  and you've got the best small gig I've been to since Palma Violets last year. Telegram opened and even though they began their set playing to about 40 people, as soon as their glam tinged tracks leaked through the venue, they drew in a crowd which filled the place tighter than Telegram's jeans. When the Welsh rockers departed and the Wytches took to the stage, the pandemonium began. The whole gig is a blur of sweat, hair, blood and eyeliner, but none more memorable than set closer, Crying Clown. THAT RIFF. Telegram and The Wytches crushed this gig and I cannot wait for the chance to see both these bands live again.
Highlights: Follow, Rule Number One, (Telegram) Gravedweller, Holy Tightrope, Crying Clown (Wytches)




8. Human League @ Reload Festival
For a shitty generic 80's festival just outside of Norwich, getting a band like Human League headlining is impressive. And no matter how many neon tutu's, leg-warmers and head bobbers I saw would dampen the insanity of Human League's set. Being one of the bands I have loved and adored since I started listening to music, it was an amazing opportunity to get to see them live. Even more so because they played my favourite HL song ever: Being Boiled. Accidentally opening up a massive dance pit with my mum of all people, we got everyone down and grooving to the electronic eccentricities of Human League. And of course, Don't You Want Me was hilariously fun to sing a long to.
Highlights: Being Boiled, Mirror Man, Don't You Want Me


7. Wolf Alice @ BST Hyde Park
Picking a best Wolf Alice set was pretty difficult because having seen them live multiple times this year, they've only got better. It was a toss-up between this set or their Reading set, but this one was just so much more special. They strutted on full of attitude and appreciation and instantaneously caused havoc with the insane opener that is Moaning Lisa's Smile before showing off a few new songs while chucking in their classics like Storms and She before closing their set with the fucking flawless, Fluffy.  Having known and adored this band since late 2012 when they first played to 40 people, watching them fill the Barclaycard Theatre to top capacity at a Libertines support slot, was absolutely incredible. The band played phenomenally and the crowd lapped up every second of it, indulging in the stunningly chaotic sound that Wolf Alice do so well. Truly proud of this band and how far they have come.
Highlights: Moaning Lisa's Smile, Lighters, Bros, Fluffy




6. Arctic Monkeys @ Finsbury Park
Say what you want about Arctic Monkeys now, I'd probably agree. AM was a crap album and their Reading set was a huge let down, but their two shows at Finsbury Park will forever stick out as amazing. I went on the second night and after queuing for a ridiculous amount of time to get to the front, I couldn't wait for them to get their arrogant, northern arses on stage. Opening with Do I Wanna Know? before flying through a set, which despite including FAR too many album tracks, was still amazing. Classics like Dancefloor, Flourescent Adolescent and 505 ensured the die-hard fans were happy, before pulling a huge surprise out of the bag and bringing a 'slightly' intoxicated Miles Kane onto the stage to do an acoustic rendition of Standing Next To Me. The set ended with Alex Turner yelling "FINSBURY FUCKING PARK ARE YOU MINE?" before throwing the 50,000 person crowd into a final five minutes of fast and ferocious frenzy. The Monkeys may have gone downhill from then on, but my god was this gig special. 
Highlights: Brianstorm, She's Thunderstorms, Dancefloor, Standing Next To Me, R U Mine?



5. The Libertines @ BST Hyde Park
Nobody cared that this wasn't the best musically, or it didn't flow well because there were so many stop and starts. Sure it got a bit annoying, but it didn't matter. It was The Libertines, playing their first show in nearly 10 years (if you miss out the weird 1-day reunion for Reading in 2010) and you could just tell how much it meant to the people there. It was more about seeing the band live and my god did they smash it. Playing to 65,000 people, 80% of them who were more than likely on some sort of drugs and keeping the atmosphere going despite having to continually stop and start the show was a bloody impressive thing to do, and no other band could have handled it as well as The Libertines did. Amazing. 
Highlights: What A Waster, Can't Stand Me Now, Don't Look Back Into The Sun

4. Slowdive @ Latitude Festival
Seeing Slowdive live was not only the single-most euphoric experience of my life, but it was equal to a spiritual awakening. The second they began with their self titled opener, I was immediately lost in dream state which did not finish long after the last chords of their final song, a Syd Barrett cover, Golden Hair. The lengthy feedback over layers of reverb and FX pedals and laced in Rachel Goswell's angelic vocals was enough to throw every member of the audience into a shoegaze haze. The transition from Souvlaki Space Station into When The Sun Hits is hallucination inducingly stunning as suddenly you're in a distant dream like world soundtracked by one of the most influential shoegaze bands ever. An experience like no other, and worthy of my #2 best festival slot of all time. 
Highlights: Avalyn, Souvlaki Space Station, Golden Hair




3. Palma Violets @ Reading
My favourite overall festival slot ever, Palma Violets headlined the Festival Republic stage on the Friday night and completely tore up the place. Literally. I mean there was absolute carnage. Having seen Palmas once before, I sort of knew what to expect, but the energy between Sam and Chilli on stage is something you need to see to believe. Their songs get the crowd going like no other and despite being constantly compared to hundreds of different bands, they still have such a unique sound. They sounds even better live than on record if that's even possible and definitely a band I would recommend to anyone to see live. 
Highlights: We Found Love, Best Of Friends, 14

2. The Libertines @ Ally Pally
After seeing Libertines at Hyde Park, there was no way in hell I was missing them on their other England shows. I eagerly snapped up tickets for the first night after Peace were announced as support and couldn't wait to see them again. The opening chords of The Delaney was all it took to kick off the rowdiest yet most exciting gig I have ever attended. Peter, Carl, John and Gary were on top form, the atmosphere being leaps and bounds ahead of Hyde Park despite being 1/6th of the size. Good Old Days as my favourite Libertines song was a standout moment for me with some of my favourite lyrics ever written being sang by over 12,000 people in unison. "If you've lost your faith in love and music/oh the end won't be long" will forever send shivers down my spine. However, the real magic moment came in the encore when they played a song they haven't played for over 10 years in any sets at all. You're My Waterloo is just one of those songs. I am not ashamed to say I cried, it was a beautiful moment and one I will remember forever, much like the rest of this set. 
Check out the full review from both myself and Cal here...
Highlights: Time For Heroes, The Boy Looked At Johnny, Can't Stand Me Now, The Good Old Days, You're My Waterloo




1. Morrissey @ The O2 Arena
Is this one really a surprise? Did anyone expect anything different? Of course not. This show was the most overwhelming, magical, meaningful performance I have ever seen in my whole life, let alone just 2014. I'm still having difficulty finding the words to describe how emotional it was in case you couldn't tell already. Despite being flawless live and the atmosphere being so incredible, it was the first -and possibly the last- time I saw my idol and the musical figure who changed my life and it was forever be my all time best live show. 
Read a full review of my #1 slot here..
Highlights: Queen Is Dead, Trouble Loves Me, Asleep, Everyday Is Like Sunday


























(written by Poppy Marriott)

9 Dec 2014

The Wands at Lennon's, Southampton (live review)



Just weeks after the release of the debut album The Dawn, Danish psych band The Wands took to Lennon's for their last UK show of 2014. With support coming solely from local space-rockers Elephantantrum, who are quite possibly the most exciting band to emerge from the south coast, The Wands' Southampton show was poised to be a brilliant celebration of some of the best psychedelia around.

Elephantantrum's 30 minute support slot was both experimental and assured, but absolutely mesmerising. The first 'song' spanned 20 minutes of their set, and sounded a bit like the space-rock feel of Spiritualized mixed with the psychedelic tones of Wooden Shjips and Temples. The rest of their slot was just as energetic throughout, and their unique set showed just why Elephantantrum are one of the greatest new bands on the scene at the moment.

The Wands, playing as a five piece clambered onto the tiny stage at about 10 to midnight. Although they started their set in the most laid back of manners - starting their set by playing over the top of the music that had been playing in between sets - The Wands' unique stage presence showed immediately as the tall danes strolled on the stage with long hair flowing.

They opened with And Full Of Colours off their album; a number with retro-sounding guitars that sounded oddly futuristic due to the cosmic organ sounds of the keyboard. They followed it with newest single, Sound of The Machine - a jerky 3 minute long pop song that saw The Wands properly getting into their groove.

The next few numbers were all much in the same vain; short, almost pop structured songs that were equal parts 13th Floor Elevators and The Black Angels. But after that, the nature of the show changed completely as frontman Christian Skibdal announced 'this is an old one'. In contrast to the first half of the set, The Wands' next song - the superbly titled Hello I Know The Blow You Grow Is Magic - was a 6 minute psych-out that saw the band at their most Pink Floydian.

The band picked up their customised, hand-painted instruments for the final number, the sprawling Name Of The Mountain. In this woozy psychedelic track, The Wands showed just why they're one of the most exciting upcoming bands on the circuit. Skibdal's robotic voice towered brilliantly over the top of the sun-kissed melodies, making the closer probably the best song in their entire set. Although the crowd wasn't the biggest, the band's cosmic set must have been one of the best to come to the venue over the past few years.

16/20

(written by calum cashin)

5 Dec 2014

TEMPLES / SUPERFOOD (live review)

When Temples annouced they were coming to Norwich, I was psyched. Don't even get me started on how excited I was when Superfood were announced as support. This gig was bound to be glittery, groovy and simply glorious. 





Superfood stormed the stage at 8.30, walking on to an insane amount of noise compared to a regular support band. This was no regular support band. This was Superfood. Opening with the absolute anthem that is Bubbles before letting loose and sending the crowd crazy with 90’s-esque-sing-a-long TV. It was clear this wasn’t going to be a calm gig with mosh pits and mass shoving erupting as quickly as the set began. Melting came next and the crowd went mental. The Superfood love continued into You Can Believe which is one of the grooviest tracks off their new album before crashing into new single Mood Bomb. For a ‘support bands new single,’’ Superfood sure got enough people yelling “Forever and a day/theres got to be a way.” Right On Satellite was the penultimate track and from the second that the intro started there was an enormous crowd surge and a monstrous mosh pit ensued. Closing the set was their debut single, aptly titled, Superfood. Raisins are like mysteries gang of ten” sang Dom down the mic, along with about 600 other voices. Did anyone know what it meant? No. Did anyone care? Absolutely not. Certainly not Superfood who are the happiest band I have ever seen as the crowd screech YOU’RE ALWAYS HUNGRY right back at the beaming band. Even though they played a mere seven songs, it was a chaotic, energetic set full of enthusiasm and love for what they do. We even got to chat to them afterwards again and they remain the nicest band ever. 



Temples floated onto the stage on a sea of good hair and glitter and were greeted by deafening screams and shouts. They flew into the title track from their debut album Sun Structures and the carnage began. Replicated in the psychedelic wiles of Prism and my personal favourite album track, A Question Isn’t Answered before the psych side of things is in a head on head collision with their 60’s and 70’s influences to create the work of art that is The Golden Throne. Up there with Temples’ most loved singles, Colours To Life came next and you are reminded of their ability to write a fucking good pop song. 

The Guesser into Ankh into Move With The Season pretty much classed as a spiritual experience, all soundtrack by the glittery saint that is, James Bagshaw. Possibly the most well known song came next, Keep In The Dark. Not only is it just a perfect pop song with every influence combining together to create the anthem, but it is adored amongst Temples fans. The final two songs came in the form of Sand Dance and Shelter Song which couldn’t been a better end to a main set. 

The glittery goth kings returned to the stage to play two more songs. “This is a slow one, please sing a long if you know the words” requested Bagshaw before launching into beautiful ballad Fragment’s Light. It’s psych, shoegazey, musically stunning and Bagshaw’s voice layered over the melodic magic just completes it to make it one of their strongest songs. The final song was Mesmerise which of course kicked the crowd straight back into action and got everyone going one last time.




A fantastic gig by two fantastic bands and one that will stand out in my mind as one of the best small gigs ever. 

Rating: 17/20

(written by Poppy Marriott)

Photo cred to Andi Sapey for the photos of Superfood.
http://www.andisapey.co.uk/

3 Dec 2014

Five sixties garage-psych tracks that will CHANGE YOUR LIFE

I think when a lot of people say they love the sixties, they mean"Yeah! I love the sixties! The Beatles 'n' shit!" And that's cool, The Beatles were pretty great, and so were The Stones and The Kinks, and that's really not an issue. But what kinda sucks is that at the same time across the pond, loads of bands were making great, timeless music that doesn't have the audience you'd perhaps say it deserves. So I compiled a list of 5 essential garage rock tracks that everyone should hear, (not a concise list of everything that happened during that era) that could potentially change someone's life. Kinda. And it's worth your while listening to them, because not one of them spans three minutes.

1. Liar, Liar - THE CASTAWAYS

The Castaways are pretty much one hit wonders, and this track demonstrates why the one hit was a hit. In fact, I'd go so far to say that, with it's organ-driven sound and the best backing vocals in the world, it's one of the greatest tracks ever consigned to vinyl. It's less than two minutes long, and not a second of it's wasted; a quick blast of infectious organ and you're straight into the "LIAR! LIAR! PANTS ON FIRE/NOSE IS LONGER THAN A TELEPHONE WIRE" bit, which is just genius. And every time the instrumentation backs down the backing vocalist (fun fact: it's the male guitarist singing in falsetto - imagine being able to sing like that) hits again with that chorus - this song is not just one of the best garage psych tracks, but it's one the best tracks.

2. Alone Again Or - LOVE

First things first, the title; it's pretty fucking cool that the title has that 'Or' at the end of it. It kinda reminds me of the scene in High Fidelity where Jack Black's character and John Cusack spend a scene yelling about what the word 'yet' meant at the end of a sentence. What's also pretty fucking cool about this song is the instrumentation; it's made more dramatic with righteous, righteous trumpets - frontman Arthur Lee's father was a cornet player in a jazz band, which explains the jazzy influence. It's danceable, and it defies all logic that this wasn't a high charting pop hit - but today, however, it's regarded as a masterpiece and rightly so.

3. You're Gonna Miss Me - THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR ELEVATORS

Speaking of High Fidelity, this is the track from the opening credits, and in my personal opinion, this band were the greatest of the sixties, bollocks to The Beatles! Fronted by the charismatic Roky Erickson, the Elevators made a handful of genius albums between 1966 and the start of the seventies. Although they're renowned by loads of critics, and people like The Jesus and Mary Chain and Julian Cope have spoken about their amazing influence, this track stands out as both their most renowned and a good starting point for anyone wanting to get into them. It's 150 seconds of spite, and one of the best songs of the whole decade - there's a lot going on, too, because there's that weird sound in the background that's on all their songs.

4. Strychnine - THE SONICS

The Sonics were probably the heaviest of the bands that made psych-garage, and Stychnine is probably (along with Psycho) the song that defines them. They're pretty much renowned for their heavy approach, as they pretty much blast their way through this number in a way that was completely unprecedented at that time. At the time it was released, Strychnine was as near to a punk anthem as humanly possible for the underground sector of American music fans; a big fuck you to conformity, and something completely different to everything else around at that time.

5. Candy and a Currant Bun - PINK FLOYD
Basically, Syd Barrett-led Pink Floyd were just the best band in the whole of Britain around the time that all of this was going on Stateside. Whilst it's not exactly the same as the other 4 tracks on this list, Candy and a Currant Bun is a psyched out masterpiece with definite garage influences. Just listen to that strutting rhythm and Barrett's brilliant intonation in the verses juxtaposed with the rasps of the chorus; the b-side to Arnold Layne showcases that Syd's Floyd would have blended in well with the US underground. The flipside to Candy... is just as psyched out; the more renowned Arnold Layne relies strongly on an infectious hook, whilst Candy has a bit more depth - that organ sound is a work of genius, and it's just a terrible that Syd's career and life went the way they did afterwards.

(WRITTEN BY CALUM CASHIN)

1 Dec 2014

2014's best reunions... our Top Five

Bands break up every year, and every year bands get back together. Well, I'm not certain, but I think 2014 might just be the best year for these reunions. Last year was pretty great, with Mazzy Star and Slint and Neutral Milk Hotel, but I reckon. for me, this year trumps it. It's hard to say, but despite an S Club 7 reunion, here are our top 5 of this year's reunions to show that perhaps it has been a great year for bands getting back together...

5. American Football
American Football practically invented emo as a genre. Formed in Illinois, 1997, they only actually put out one album, 1999's self-titled. This year, they put out a deluxe version of that album, and then teased with a bit of writing on their webpage, AND BAM! They've now played their first dates of the twenty-first century, and you've got to hope they're going to play more, because they've not played any UK dates since their split... I can only hope.

4. Babes In Toyland
People go on about Hole as being the angriest, grimmest (a good kind of grim) sounding all-girl grunge group of the nineties, but gosh, they're wrong. Babes In Toyland are one of the most amazing groups spawned from that era. They sound absolutely furious, and fronted by the venomous Kat Bjellend, they released 3 angry angry albums in the early nineties - the best probably being Fontanelle. At the end of July this year, they announced in an interview that they'd get back together to write new material and play some shows. Although at the moment, they're only playing one date, in California, this band's reunion is something to take note of. Because just how amazing would it be to see them live?

3. Slowdive
God, now we're into the incredibly exciting reunions - one of my all time favourites, Slowdive. Before the start of the year, not many people I know were into Slowdive at all, and now, now that their beautiful music has found a new audience, it's hard to find someone that isn't a fan of the legendary shoegazers. It's fantastic to see so many people getting into music that would have otherwise been ignored and brushed under the carpet, and since Slowdive got back together at the beginning of the year they've been viewed somewhat as a band of lost treasures emerging to lots of new fans. To a lot of acclaim, Slowdive have embarked on a large scale tour of the US, played a handful of festivals all over Europe, and in December they're set to hit London for a couple of dates at The Forum. Their reunion has thrust their beautiful music to a large amount of new fans, and what's more is that they've said new material might just be on the way. Eek.



2. The Libertines
Earlier this year, on hearing that The Libertines were getting back together I was very cynical. 'Again?!?' I thought, recalling an NME interview about them never getting back together in about 2011. It seemed that The Libertines were back together for the money, because I can recall Doherty saying so in an interview. But as time wore on, with the Hyde Park show being destructive, the Benicassim show being legendary and the truly amazing Ally Pally shows, it looks like the band are in it for more than the money. It's great to see that Pete Doherty's cleaning up his act a bit, and it's even cooler to know that they're now writing for a new Libertines album. The Libertines first proper attempt at a reunion is looking promising already, but judgement day isn't until LP3 hits the shelves.



1. Ride
Ride is a special one for me personally. For a good couple of years, this Oxford quartet have been my favourite band in the world. The music they released in the nineties; the wispy shoegaze and Byrds-y alt-rock alike; has been the soundtrack to the last 30 months of my life, so it's only natural that a Ride reunion is the most exciting thing that's happened to me all year. Ride announced, earlier this month, that they'd be back for good and that they'd be playing London's Field Day with Patti Smith and DIIV, which is so cool. As expected they announced a Manc, Barras and LDN date to supplement the reunion, but unexpectedly, everything sold out in like two seconds. It almost confirms that my favourite are as well loved by other people as they are by me, and it makes the prospect of Vapour Trail, Leave Them All Behind and Chelsea Girl live really amazing... Ride's reformation has made me really excited for what 2014 holds and I hope it's the same for other people...



(written by calum cashin)