30 Mar 2015

Drenge / Undertow (album review)

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Drenge's furious debut first hit the shelves in 2013, and as well as being one of the standout LPs of that year, it also showcased them as one of the brightest upcoming noisemongers in the UK. At the same time too, they were touring, and bringing their hectic live show all over the country, and that was phenomenal too - so as far as I was aware, the sound that the Sheff-based brothers had honed was one of the angriest and freshest in the business, and they really could do no wrong. View this content on guardian's website

So here, in 2015, Drenge are back with a brand new album, and hearing their old stuff you'd expect more of the same, yes? Energy, hooks, and adrenaline, yes? But no, the angst is traded for ambition, because on Undertow Drenge have not only increased the amount of members by 50%, but also tried to reinvent their sound completely. 

View this content on guardian's websiteLead single We Can Do What We Want first gave a bit of lie to this; there, their original heavy blues thrash was garnished with a psychobilly influence. To me, it was clunkier and much more conservative than their earlier material, although it did poise Undertow to be a bit of a make or break record. A dramatic change in sound could have led to a fresh, natural, exciting masterpiece, or it could have alternatively been an uncomfortable  attempt at reinvention, you know?

Whilst I'd say Undertow falls between the two, it's certainly closer to the latter. I don't think Drenge are entirely comfortable sounding throughout the record, and - maybe obviously - this is down to the change in personnel. The addition of bass leaves some of the songs, like Never Awake or The Woods, sounding like a bit of a mess. The guitar and the bass are just too similar, and it's all a bit of a mess sonically. As well as that, throughout the drum sound isn't quite what it was on the Drenge LP; at times, where it could be menacing, it sounds like it was recorded underwater. Whilst the feel that the Loveless brothers and co are going for is obviously different from the rampant stomp of their debut, they all too frequently miss the mark of the dark, murky sound that they're striving for. 

The record isn't completely without merit, in fact, it's far from that. Drenge do have some brilliant dystopian pop songs at their disposal. Favourite Son has got to be the highlight, a venomous 150 seconds where they get that sinister sound completely on point, but Standing In The Cold is brilliant too. It's dark rock 'n' roll that hints at the woozy psych of The Black Angels, and Eoin Loveless' vocals sound pained, and on a record where they're otherwise a bit overly dull and monotone, very sincere. I'd also say that this is the lyrical high point, because whilst Drenge aren't known for brilliant lyrics, they're especially tenuous throughout the rest of the record; after all, the chorus to The Woods is just the Lord's Prayer, and who wants to hear that sang over a bit of clunky riffing?

So yes, even though I concede that I think that Drenge have maybe missed their mark with the new record, there are positives to take away from the whole affair. For a start, the sound is way out; they've taken off a lot of the raw edge that made the debut so great, and not really replaced it with anything. Where Drenge's debut was a passionate affair of barked vocals and stomping chemistry, this is a bit of a dissonant, disjointed album. Still, you can't deny that underneath it all is still a brilliant band making an uncharacteristically mediocre record by their standards, and not a band who have altogether lost it. I guess the thing to will be to wait it out and see how Undertow fairs in a live environment; will it's underlying brutality come out, or will it's stodginess see Drenge play a set rich in old tunes? Drenge will be more than worth catching whatever, but also we'll see if the album makes more since in the flesh, which is almost necessary because after many, many listens, I'm still not feeling this one.


UNDERTOW is out in the UK on April 6th via Infectious - it's streaming HERE

(written by calum cashin)

Bel Esprit / Island (song review)

Two of the things I'm most passionate about are incredible music, and a thriving local music scene - and as maybe you'd imagine if you voyage regularly to The Joiners, in Southampton this happens a lot.

Here we've got one of the Southampton music scene's best bands' latest song Island. Bel Esprit take their name from TS Elliot's monetary fund, and are currently signed to 25 Hour Convenience Store - a label run by Gary Powell of The Libertines. Apart from the title track, Island is the first offering from their forthcoming EP Lose My Mind, and it's already shaping up brilliantly, and will really put the Southampton quartet on the map.

The song itself is subtle, yet brilliant. To begin with it's bright indie-pop at it's most atmospheric, with the maths rock of Foals and Men's Needs... era Cribs being obvious touchpoints, with skiffly drums harrying the song along in a way that makes it incredibly danceable. But from there, it builds up with hypnotic vocals, infectious hooks throughout and and even a screechy yet subdued guitar solo towards the end.

Bel Esprit are one of the finest upcoming bands in the business, and their new EP should help other people see that, and Island's an integral part of that. Already we've heard the title track, which is equally fantastic, so all that's left now is to hear the rest of the stunning EP that is the debut of this brilliant band. 

Already this year, they smashed it at the battle of the bands which sealed them a spot at Southampton's Common People, and are about to go on their first proper UK tour (dates below). From the outside it looks like things are coming together for this 4-piece, who make some of the brightest indie, most hopeful sounding music I've heard in a while.

Hear the new song ISLAND here

1st April – The Joiners, Southampton
2nd April – Sixty Million Postcards, Bournemouth
3rd April – Barfly, London
4th April – The Sanctuary, Basingstoke
8th April – The Wheatsheaf, Oxford
9th April – The Railway, Winchester


25 Mar 2015

The Cribs: top 25 songs

For All My Sisters, The Cribs first album in 3 years and their 6th LP ever came out yesterday, and it's, well, perfect. The Cribs, through six brilliant albums are one of the few bands who've been so consistent over the past 10 or 15 years, so here, on the eve of the release of All My Sisters, I compiled a list of the best 10 Cribs songs. So here they are, in descending order, the greatest 10 songs by the indomitable Wakefield trio.

1. BE SAFE (from Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever, 2007)
Men's Needs... is The Cribs perfect pop album; but they're The Cribs, they couldn't just release an album with 12 indie-rock pop tunes, nope. This six minute work of brilliance features the monologue of Lee Ranaldo, Sonic Youth guitarist, making this into an almost unique (I can't think of anything to rival it other than the Dead Kennedys' Kinky Sex... and Kurt Cobain/William Burroughs' The Priest They Called Him) fusion of spoken word and alternative rock. Ranaldo's monologue is absolutely cutting; if you're hearing them for the first time they'll send a shiver down your spine, and they're amongst the more poignant introspective lyrics of the past ten years; "One of those fucking awful black days when nothing is pleasing and everything that happens is an excuse for anger" his deadpan dullset tone begins, cutting through you like a dagger. "These are the days when I hate the world hate the rich, hate the happy, hate the complacent, the TV watchers, the beer drinkers, the satisfied ones", he continues through as the song escalates, the misery completely incessant.But to match that, it has the huge chorus that makes The Cribs' songs such brilliant pop songs. Wait no, it's even greater, maybe the greatest; Ryan Jarman belts out 'I KNOW A PLACE WE CAN GO WHERE YOU'LL FALL IN LOVE SO HARD THAT YOU'LL WISH YOU WERE DEAD', getting more furious and more intense each time. Be Safe is a complete modern masterpiece, and a live favourite too. Every. Single. Listen. It's absolutely flawless, but maybe the bit that gets me every time is the conversation you catch at the very end as the feedback bleeds out; Gary goes "that were great by me", and his brother Ryan can only reply with "mine were alright, not m'best one, but 'o cares?", and with that The Cribs greatest song finishes, the members way too modest to know that what they've just sang was a work of brilliance.

2. MIRROR KISSERS (from The New Fellas, 2005)
In 2005, the indie rock scene was as close to the middle of the road as it's possible to ever be; it's as Razorlight and The Kaiser Chiefs were guided to mediocrity by a gigantic spirit level. So essentially, the New Fellas album is a punk rock album that completely kicks against all the scenesters and posers, and is probably their most venomous album to date. Mirror Kissers is the number one cut from it, an absolute explosion of Johnny Ramone guitars, and a scintillating bassline with vocals to match, which come mainly from Gary Jarman here. Rallying cries against the 'hipster type' are narcotically venomous, and as a song on the whole, it's guaranteed to increase your heart rate a sizeable amount.

3. MEN'S NEEDS (from Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever, 2007)
Another cut from their 2007 album to which this is one of the title tracks, Men's Needs is all about that riff. It's explosive, vibrant, and above all, frontman Ryan Jarman manages to belt the lyrics out off key whilst riffing away. If only I could transcribe this fucking riff man, you'd understand how great it is, but then again, if you're reading this post you'll have almost definitely played it to death. But as well as that, a dissonant chorus is grand, and Jarman gives it large with lyrics that actively condemn #lad culture. It probably won't surprise you to find out that it's The Cribs most commercially successful song, actually charting at #17, which is pretty cool in itself.

4. PINK SNOW (from All My Sisters, 2015)
From their new album, Pink Snow is the masterpiece closing proceedings in the most magnificent way. At almost 8 minutes it's The Cribs longest song, and it's composed perfectly. A forlorn guitar line builds, builds, and builds, until Jarman's vocals build into a roar, and the whole thing explodes into a woozy, transcendent chorus. It's incessant, it's climatic, and it's a modern day masterpiece that shows that The Cribs will never not have the power to wow.

5. CITY OF BUGS (from Ignore The Ignorant, 2009)
If the band ever did release an album that was subpar, and I've not decided whether they have or not yet, it's their fourth; Ignore The Ignorant. That's because it's all a bit samey, the singles are mediocre, and, overall, the line-up was breached and The Cribs were no longer a power trio, for this is the album they made with Johnny Marr. But one great thing to come from that was this; the band's set closer even today, this transcendent 6 minute masterpiece. Ryan Jarman's voice is at it's absolute coolest as he sings over fairly chilled out verses, and it's even cooler still as he raucously erupts over the climaxing chorus. Big statement here, but I think bar maybe The Queen Is Dead and Panic, this is the greatest song Marr has ever played on, it's a stunning stadium filler that sounds genius even now.

6. BACK TO THE BOLTHOLE (from In The Belly of The Brazen Bull, 2012)
I think at one point Ryan Jarman said this is his favourite of the songs he's written, and it's easy to see why. It's such a passionate number, and it sees heavy guitars drowned out by piercing vocals. I think the lyrics are bitter breakup lyrics, after Jarman's split with longterm girlfriend Kate Nash, as the heaviness is complimented by forlorn lyrics in quiet places, with sighing guitars. I think it sees Ryan Jarman at his most passionate, and it shows off that despite maybe not having a conventially great voice, he's an incredible talent.

7. THE WRONG WAY TO BE (from The New Fellas, 2005)
Another number from The New Fellas about the contemporary scene, this is a Wakefieldian battle cry against all the hipsters and the scenesters and whatnot. It's probably the most ambitious song on the album, it's broken up by football-y chants by bassist Gary, and driven on by semi-spoken Ryan Jarman vocals, with a scratchy guitar bit that just builds up and up and up. Maybe not the most obvious choice from their 2005 albumto be labelled as this, but this, my friends, is a banger.

8. ANOTHER NUMBER (from The Cribs, 2004)
The whole of the band's debut is maybe less brimming with the live energy that is contained by their second record, which followed 15 months later, but from that record came perhaps the band's best loved song. If you've ever been to a Cribs gig, you'll know that; the way that the crowd erupts every time they play it is obvious enough, but the "BA BA DA DA BA BA DA" of the riff is always, always, always chanted by fans before, after and during the gigs, and it's pretty powerful. As well as a riff that is maybe the early noughties' deepest burrowing earworm, it also gives you a taste of the Jarman falsetto, which is a treat for anyone really.

9. DON'T YOU WANNA BE RELEVANT (double A-side single w/ Our Bovine Public, 2007)
Classic Cribs, I think this one's maybe where Ross Jarman's fantastic drumming is at it's best, harrying this punk number on and on. It's the b-side/double a-side to Bovine, and like that, it's one huge FUCK YOU to the Pigeon Detectives, and other lad-ish bands of that ilk, and as you'd expect, it does it with an absolute venom that really reflects a CBGB's punk influence they had at that time. This is probably the best Cribs non-album track, and it's absolutely fantastic, as well as giving a subtle heads up to the band's own best commercial success.

10. OUR BOVINE PUBLIC (from Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever, 2007)
HEY! It's the other part of that double A-side that is literally one huge fuck you to the Pigeon Detectives. Why did The Cribs resent the PDs so much? Well, I'm 90% sure it stems from the wet t-shirt contests they held on stage at this point (ewww), as well as the fact their Cribs-influence, and Cribs-covers achieved them a decent amount of fame. Just like Don't You Wanna Be Relevant? dismisses them with a cynical "yr onstage antics out in leeds/were tailor-made to suit men’s needs", on this Jarman roars with "you'd never exist if you wasn't generic" to put the band (and other similar bands) right down. This track's musically brilliant too, like The Teardrop Explodes' Passionate Friend, the vocals, the drums, the guitars, they all explode into life at once, in a furious frenzy.

The best of the rest

11. HEY SCENESTERS (from The New Fellas, 2005)
This pulse-racing punk song is pure Johnny Thunders, and an injection of pure energy. It, as a song, was also the reason that Johnny Marr, for better or worse, joined the band for a bit.

12. COME ON, BE A NO ONE (from in The Belly Of The Brazen Bull, 2012)
An anthemic pop song that sees The Cribs singing something that would fill stadiums and top charts at the helm of someone else. Note this is maybe Jarman's best pronunctiation of 'you' - "for youuuuu-way-ayyyyyy".

13. YOU'RE GONNA LOSE US (non-album single, 2006)
The Cribs are brilliant at parodying lad culture, and this, a bridging single between New Fellas and Men's Needs... - "WHEN I'M DRUNK AND BEIN' AN ASSHOLE, THAT DON'T MEAN 'AV' GOT NO CLASS THOUGH".

14. SUMMER OF CHANCES (from For All My Sisters, 2015)
Maybe the second best cut from the new record, a simplistic verse is blown away by the chants of "nature versus nurture, which one is the stronger?"

15. CHI-TOWN (from In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull, 2012)
A screech of feedback begins this explosive number, and BAM! Fairly generic rhyming couplets are punctuated by raucous production make it a brilliant lose-your-shit number, but the best thing about it is that it led to THIS. (click the link. it'll change your life)

16. ADVICE FOR A ROVING ARTIST (b-side to You're Gonna Lose Us, 2006)
An indie rock meets spoken word collab between the band and friend Jon Slade, the title says it all really, a proper good DIY track here.

17. SHOOT THE POETS (from Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever, 2007)
A gorgeous semi-acoustic number that closes the band's third album, Jarman also rolls off the brilliant couple 'cut your losses, shoot the poets'.

18. I'M ALRIGHT ME (from The New Fellas, 2005)

19. DIFFERENT ANGLE (from For All My Sisters, 2015)
Complete with ooh-ooh-oohs, this is an 80's inspired pop song that's completely and utterly perfect, this is the song from their new album that captures their pop influence in the nicest way.

20. HARI KARI (from Ignore The Ignorant, 2009)
The catchiest (probably) song in their whole discography, Hari Kari is a fucking banger that (I think) enforces some of the underlying feminist principles of the band, as it advocates the pro-choice movement.

21. ON A HOTEL WALL (b-side to Glitters Like Gold, 2012)
This chug-a-long b-side is an unusually scratchy Cribs number, and sees Ryan and Gary swapping instruments - hence that bassline that just wants to be heard.
22. MAJOR'S TITLING VICTORY (from Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever, 2007)
The angriest punk song on their poppiest album, the name was born out of the label's decision not to release a song called purely 'MTV', it features Ryan Jarman's raucous screams as he tears the ex-music TV channel,

23. BABY DON'T SWEAT (from The Cribs, 2004)
Some garage-y riffing, Baby Don't Sweat is the point at which The early Cribs begun to find their feet. It definitely has an undeniably cool rhythm to it, that alongside lo fi vocals, sounds remarkably like the last Parquet Courts album.

24. I SHOULD HAVE HELPED (from In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull, 2012)
A heartbreaking acoustic number from their fifth album, this was something Ryan put together after hearing a fan he met outside the corn exchange had commited suicide. It's a simple, but beautiful elegy.

25. YOU & I (from The Cribs, 2004)
Glorious, underrated and lo-fi, this pop song is a beautifully simplistic love song, that features basic, basic lyrics and a real C86 sound.

HEY HEY, that's that over, if you agreed, or disagreed it'd be cool to hear some feedback, and if this just whet your appetite for more Cribs, I made this list into a playlist.

(written by calum cashin)

23 Mar 2015

Menace Beach at Norwich Arts Centre (live review)

Before Friday Night night, I thought it was impossible for a band to play less that 45 minutes and for it to be as impressive as the regular 90 minute slot. But sure as heck, Menace Beach proved that wrong. They came on stage and reeked havoc in short two minute blasts placing them up there with some of the best bands I have ever seen live. They didn't just meet my [already incredibly high] expectations, they smashed them out of the water. Opening with the screeching scuzz-fest that is Teenage Jesus before keeping the chaos going with Dig It Up. One of the major highlights of the short set had to be, Tastes Like Medicine and the crowd would agree with me. For a crowd of about 200 people, carnage wasn't expected, but it happened anyway. Voices filled the room, singing along with the rare lyrics you can actually make out from the guitars and once it had began it didn't stop until the band walked off stage. Other highlights included the oh-so-90's, Tennis Court, and my personal favourite from the album, Come On, Give Up. The set came to a close with the rowdiest, fastest and loudest song MB have ever made. Lowtalkin' was the perfect end to a perfect set.

We had a brief chance to chat with Ryan and Liza after the gig and I have to say that they are two of the most genuine people I have ever met. We thanked them for the show and talked about the record and you could tell they really appreciated every compliment we payed them and well deserved of course. Overall the show was phenomenal and I cannot wait for the opportunity to see them again.

Support came from:
Teen Brains

19 Mar 2015

Kanye West Is The Perfect Headliner For Glastonbury And You're Stupid To Think Otherwise

"Kanye West to headline the Saturday night of Britain's biggest music festival? It's a bloody outrage! Get some real music instead! This is outrageous! Where can I sell my ticket? Can a change.org petition help me? Agh, why don't they make Oasis reform to play? Or get The Who in again? Or even let Kasabian play for the second year in a row? Glastonbury's a proper music festival, for proper music! This isn't in the spirit of Glastonbury! Come on lads, sign our petition and we'll get fucking The Royal Bloods to play it instead! Down with Kanye! Down with Kanye!"

Those were my exact thoughts on hearing that Kanye West had been announced for Glastonbury this week, to a tee. Oh wait, nope. No, my thoughts were the complete opposite, as I trawled through the internet getting (maybe not so) irrationally angry at idiots who couldn't deal with the fact Kanye had been announced to play Glastonbury. It genuinely seemed to really annoy people all over the internet that perhaps the biggest hip-hop artist in the world was to play Glastonbury. I mean, one guy even started an online petition to dismantle him from the top spot, in the hope of dredging up some classic rock bands like Fleetwood Mac. Normally, I'd just try and let bygones be bygones and get on with it, but the ignorance, and even racism in some cases, shown by people that want a different headliner is just too blood-boiling to ignore. Kanye West deserves to be on the Glastonbury bill as much as any other artists operating in the world today.

So why should Kanye be at Glastonbury? Well for starters, he's released a total of 6 albums, each of them being somewhere between "pretty damn good" (808s and Heartbreak) to "absolute work of genius" (My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy), which is something you really can't ignore. You find all too often that big festivals keep digging up staid artists who've not released any new material for years and years to headline, which, if it's done all the time, is seemingly toxic to contemporary, hard-working bands and artists. People like the dickhead starting that petition (and commenters who agree) offer the suggestions of The Who and Fleetwood Mac as potential 'Kanye replacements' - but what have these bands done over the past 10 years? Actually, make that 30 years. And it's still fuck all. Kanye West is an artist making great music at present, working on new material. Love his music, hate his music, or somewhere in between, Kanye's certainly hard-working enough to headline any festival in the world.

But why else do arrogant fuckboys think Kanye West isn't fit to headline Glastonbury? Here's some of the most common, stupid and ignorant reasons that some of the lesser-brained members of the music-consuming public don't want the hip-hop artist to smash it on the Saturday.

Right, yes. Argument number one - you could get some proper lads to reunite just for Glastonbury! Because this is the spirit of Glasto, right? Middle class white boys playing revivalist rock and roll on guitars? Obviously you can't be a real music-er if you don't play the guitar. After all, wasn't it the world's best, and most totally original band Royal Blood who said 'music made with computers isn't real music'?

Another reason people think Kanye West shouldn't be playing? He's an outspoken 'dickhead'. Why not get some civilised, down-to-earth gents like Liam Gallagher to play. I mean, last year Metallica played, and that Lars Ulrich, isn't he a lovely chap? Oh, and Kasabian headlined it too. They're totally not the IRL version of Spinal Tap, right? 

The point is, whether you think Kanye West is a dickhead, he's a talented artist, and his outspoken views don't affect the artistic merit of his work. And yeah, I concede I probably wouldn't want to have anything more than a cup of coffee with Kanye, at least he has a personality you can admire from a distance; he's certainly got a lot more charisma than any of last year's headliners, the Foo Fighters, and Lionel Richie (this year's other confirmed acts) combined. Also 'is a 100% dickhead' no grammatical sense makes. 

Ah yes, classic. The whole This-Isn't-Indie-Rock-So-It-Must-Be-Stupid approach. But is Kanye West's music anti-intellectual or is this just scolding ignorance? I'd have to argue that Kanye West writes and makes music on an intellectual level much higher than the fucking Foo Fighters, or Kasabian. He samples from great, historical artists respectfully; for example, on MBDTF alone, West borrows from the likes of King Crimson, Smokey Robinson and Bon Iver, and those artists between them practically epitomise 'intellectual music', as our Jason calls it, within their own fields. And anyone who has ever listened to a Kanye West song will know that lyrically he's more than competent - I'm definiely no expert, but I don't think Oasis or The Stone Roses ever wrote any lyrics as great as those in Power. Nope, it looks like this commenter's another fuckwit unhappy that a black hip-hop artist has secured a slot that could have gone to a bunch of fat, old white men singing about their generation, and how, even at the youthful age of 70+ they hope they die before they get old.

No Comment.

Real musicians can only play Glastonbury, right? Rules is rules. Play all your instruments or GTFO. Oh no haha it's fine for Lady Gaga to play. And Morrissey, it was fine for him to play despite not being a musician (assuming that this commenter is discrediting Kanye for not being a 'musician' for not playing instruments). Even David Bowie performed without playing any instruments, in a period where he'd scarecly play much of the instruments on his records. So you've hardly got to play your own instruments for Glasto to work. And as for the phrase 'real music'. Don't get me started. Don't start. Don't even. If you've got to classify what you listen to strictly as 'real music' then maybe you don't deserve the ability to hear. 

To be fair to Kim, of Hemel Hemstead, I don't really have a counter argument for this one. Although I bet it's bigger than Dave Grohl's.

Wait: you think Kanye has no understanding of the music he's making? You reckon he just says the words over the top of music completely composed by other people? That he has no artistic say in the sound or production of his music? Alas no; West, in a field where production is so key, puts a huge amount into intricate production, as well as taking the main writing credit in everything he puts out. Take Power, again, from 5th album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Kanye West put literally hundreds of hours into the production, and as a result it's incredible. Did Oasis and The Who produce their own records? As far as I'm aware, to fuck did they? And if any have slipped away from my memory, it's hard to believe anything produced by Pete Townsend could sound as fine-tuned as Power, or Stronger or Jesus Walks, eh? I think a lot of the resentment towards Kanye West's cred as a 'musician' is born completely out of ignorance. You've got to think our Jake, the commenter here can't have that great an understanding of music if this is his legitimate view instead of a sensationalist statement. This is exactly why, my friend, Kanye is headlining Glastonbury and you're not.

Finally, the spirit of the festival, just what is that? For me, the spirit of the festival is in progression, and not sticking to one style of music. It's more about embracing other types of art, which is exactly why there are so many stages all around the site that give you an opportunity to embrace different kinds of music, you know? The spirit of Glastonbury doesn't lie in reforming bands of old, white men, and it doesn't lie in indie guitar rock. 

I mean, ANYWAY if the spirit of Glastonbury lies in one genre, it'd be the soft-rocking psychedelia that the peace pipe blowing hippies of 1970 listened to in their tepees. If you really care so much about 'The Spirit of Glastonbury', petition to cancel the Foo Fighters, and get a hologram of Marc Bolan (cutting out all the post-'70 'electric shit') to play instead.

And if you're really into the spirit of the festival, why are you happy to pay £220 to go to a 'free' festival? 

And look. I'll reason with you now. I love indie guitar rock, as much as anyone commenting does. My favourite bands are Ride, Pavement and Sonic Youth, and maybe I'd sign a petition if I thought they'd get them to headline Glastonbury. But really, it's stupid, horrible and immature to try and dismantle Kanye West from that headline slot. It's stupid to suggest that this incredibly talented artist isn't fit to headline Glastonbury, when he's released more great, original albums than assistant headliners the Foo Fighters.
And hey, five or six years back, when Jay-Z took the headline slot, everyone was cynical, but all the doubters were completely silenced. For me, Kanye is just as talented, and you can't deny that. But despite this, you don't HAVE to like Kanye West, it's all subjective, but with this post I'm asking you to appreciate that he's highly talented despite the fact his music is slightly different to the conventional headliner. Saying that he's not fit to headline Glastonbury would be disrespectful, especially seeing as Foo Fighters (i.e. an all-male, all-white rock band who I'd describe as falling somewhere on the spectrum between 'average' and 'middle-of-the-road') got onto the bill without anyone batting an eyelid. AND HEY, if you don't like Kanye West, there are going to be many, many stages that will have something different for you. 

Ultimately this post is wibbly-wobbly ramble, but the moral is: I like Kanye West, and if you don't, that's cool, but if you want to start a petition to get him kicked off the Glastonbury bill then maybe it's best you crawl into a hovel and don't leave until natural selection kills you off. Maybe we should start a petition, us open-minded people that can deal with someone who isn't an all-male, all-white rock band headlining a major festival. We'll call it 'Petition To Get Foo Fighters Replaced By Jazz Band'.

If you're reading through this article to laugh because I don't appreciate 'real music', here's a petition for you.

But if you think petitioning to get Kanye replaced by 'a rock band' because you think you're a 'real music' fan is ironic, stupid, bigoted and elitist, here's a better one.

18 Mar 2015

Courtney Barnett / Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit (album review)

In 2013, with her debut not-quite-an-album The Sea of Split Peas, singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett established herself as one of the finest wordsmiths in modern music; through witty, vivid and pictorial lyrics she crafted some of the nicest pop songs of that year. Avant Gardener's recall of an allergic reaction is heralded as her best work to date, forlorn Out Of The Woodwork's piano-accompanied despair is brilliant, and History Eraser is a real rock 'n' roll gem that saw her first showcase that brilliant low-key stream of consciousness lyrics that have since become a big part of her songwriting.

But that was 2013; here, in 2015, Courtney's releasing her full debut, and even from 2013's effort, Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes Just Sit is a huge step forward. She's maintained her dry wit, cynical self-analysis and her ability to write brilliant little songs with an anecdotal quality, but she's also musically streamlined her sound musically so that her Aussie accent comes out a lot cleaner over the top of the slacker guitar sound that her band perfects. 

Opening track Elevator Operator exhibits Barnett's brilliance as a raconteur as she recites the tale of a businessman and a neurotic young man meeting on the rooftop of a block of flats to talk about life. It's the detail in the lyrics that make it so wonderful; "I like to imagine I'm playing Sim City/the people look like ants from up here/and the wind's the only traffic up here" is one of my favourites on the whole album. In a similar vane, Depreston tells the tale of first-time home buyers, and it shows the same level of wit, and similarly brilliant lyrics; "we don't need to be around all these coffee shops (...) now we've got that percolator/never made a latte greater."

But as well as that, Barnett's topics stray from funny little anecdotes; like in Elevator Operator, she trivialises her otherness in Nobody Really Cares If You Don't Go To The Party, and in Pedestrian At Best she blasts her way through indecision in a stream-of-consciousness way, accompanied by some genuinely exhillarating guitars. 

The lead single Pedestrian At Best is the fastest, most rock-based song on the album, with 7 minute epic Small Poppies and Kim's Caravan being at the complete other end of the spectrum. Both of them are kind of centrepieces for the album, and are both whimsical dreamy numbers that are forlorn more than anything. Maybe that's the best thing about this album; it certainly has variety, and Courtney exhibits a huge dynamics of emotions throughout. Courtney Barnett is one of the most talented singer-songwriters in world music today, and this just proves it. Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit is an incredibly accomplished debut with 11 fantastic songs that show off her incredible talent.



FROOT / Marina + The Diamonds (album review)

The third studio album from electro-pop darling Marina + The Diamonds is proof that pop music is alive and well. ‘Froot’ is full of catchy hooks, choruses to die for and so much dance-ability, it’s impossible to dance when listening. 

Don’t be fooled though, it’s not your typical pop music, ‘Froot’ has dark undertones, tackling personal issues in the most playful way possible. Things take a tear-jerking turn on track 6, Happy. “I found what I'd been looking for in myself/Found a life worth living for someone else/Never thought that I could be, I could be happy” Seemingly anomalous with it's deep lyrics amongst the rest of the positively pop-y album, Marina bares her soul and it’s truly stunning, but this is not the only time. Blue’s catchy chorus tells us “I don’t want to be blue anymore” and the opening lines of Forget tell us that “there’s a force that carries me on.” It’s the inner workings of Marina's heart coated in modern dance music, and in true Marina style, it's phenomenal. Although the album is leaps and bounds on from the excessive characterisation of Electra Heart, it’s still modelled in the same way. ‘Froot’ feels like a more mature version of her two previous albums, and she has definitely not lost her talent for writing a perfect pop song. 

Marina + The Diamonds is often overlooked as a pop artist, but I think the success that 'Froot' has already had despite being out only a few days shows that this is finally her time.

Highlights: Froot, I'm A Ruin, Happy, Savages


17 Mar 2015

TEENAGE RIOT: ten top notch teenage bands

I know loads of people are in bands as teenagers, but recently I've seen a handful of bands around that are both formed purely of teenagers and absolutely fucking phenomenal - I mean, obviously age doesn't make your music better or worse, or any more or less 'valid', but I find it cool as, and even slightly inspiring that people my age and younger are making great music. So like every other time I think about something in depth, I decided teenage bands would be something I'd write myself a blog post on. So this is the product; a post on teenage bands. But as well as that, I went and playlisted it into a mixtape for you all to get your fix of teenage talent, check that out. 

The first of these? Riot grrrls BABE PUNCH put their new single up a week or two ago to fantastic reaction, so it's only fitting that they should be up first in this post. They're a 5 piece from Nottinghamshire, they're currently gigging in and around Notts, but the main talking point here's gotta be their debut single Snake Tongue; it's both snarlingly furious and slickly produced, and actually among the best debut singles I've heard in a while. For a little more, click here.

Down here in Southampton, another absolutely brilliant band making a lot of noise at the moment are HOWLAND with their own brand of energetic, catchy indie rock. Currently they're priming themselves to record their debut single, which will most likely be the double a-side of Waiting For You/Concrete Maze, and alongside that they're playing a few dates in and around the Southampton/Winchester/Basingstoke area. Hit them up on soundcloud for a solitary live version, or follow twitter to stay tuned on the Howland front.

Staying on the south coast, neighbouring Portsmouth is home to CLUES, who make indie rock with a psychedelic influence. Just this week, they put up the brilliant Telegram-esque Confused just this weekend, and for a debut track, it's really something to get excited about. Bounding along at breakneck pace, it's driven by a rumbling, yet melodic bassline, which quite pleasantly draws the attention from the low-mix vocals in a way that really works. For a band that only emerged on social media this week, CLUES are set to make a big splash very, so maybe stay tuned in to their twitter for updates and new songs.

Another band, this one from Dorking, in Surrey, made up of teenagers are VINYL STAIRCASE. Vinyl Staircase are heavily influenced by a lot of psychedelia, stating Pond, Sunflower Bean and The Horrors as two main influences, but at the moment their sound is much more rooted somewhere between C86 janglepop and the more modern 'maths-rock' of indie bands like Foals. At the moment, they've released a few EPs, all of which are available on their soundcloud, but with their sound always developing it's quite possible that they'll get a lot more psychedelic in the near future.

Moving up the country a bit now, to the capital. South London is home to the quintet known as SHAME, whose members are all about 17 or 18. SHAME are already muscling their way into the subversive London psych scene with their psych-pop, which in itself varies between a lot between their only two soundclouded songs; the summery JAWS sound of Furry Freaks is infectious, and at the other end of the spectrum Repoman is a frenzied and garage post-Stooges freakout. Already they've played with the likes of The Fat White Family (who we talk about being in love with here) and Telegram (who we're in love with also), which is incredible because they're two of the best bands to emerge from London this decade. Quite possibly on their way to great things, SHAME have a hell of a lot of potential to be The Next Big Thing.

Making a lot of noise too is Brum based five-piece FRANK, who combine the thrashy grungey sounds of Hole, Bikini Kill, and The Stooges, with a more melodic shoegaze or psych influence to make something that, even in the rough live demos on their soundcloud, sounds really something to take note of. Their soundcloud is the first place for you to go to check out their sound, whilst their facebook is their main means of social media. 

JuneauWhat some younger bands generally lack, despite a real energy is a sensibility for writing great lyrics - but that's not always the case. JUNEAU are a lyrically fantastic songwriting duo from Derby, whose sole track, so far, features vivid lyrics over the top of dreamy accoustic guitars to make an incredibly mature sound that wouldn't be out of place on the 6music lunchtime show. Maybe the best point of comparison for them is to imagine a waypoint between Laura Marling or Courtney Barnett, because, with their nigh-on photographic lyrics (which you can hear on their first demo Spit It Out (nab it for free here)), they're a beautiful blend of those two singer-songwriters. Like their facebook et al, to keep up to date as they record more new and exciting material.

A 3-piece that make some of the most interesting, freakout sounds of all the bands on this list, WAVEFORMS are a Braintree-based band that make great music. With a vast cannon of influences, their current highlight to date is the energetic drumdriven indie-pop gem Oliver 1.1.0, which you can stream on their soundcloud right here, alongside a bubblegum Tame Impala cover. Oliver... sees Beatles-esque harmonies, which occasionally overlap in a way that sounds almost like Gang Of Four

Also worth shouting about though, are DOLLHOUSE, a four-piece who combine electronica with conventional stompy psych pop in a way that's not dissimilar to Caribou or Django Django, or maybe the Fat White Family on ecstasy. Driving on and on, their music's nothing short of effect-laden, and as a consequence hypnotic. From the west, the quartet are gigging at the moment, so check out their facebook for more.

Last, but definitely not least, THE OLDER GIRLS are a Bournemouth duo that lyrically fantastic, catchy music of the indie rock persuasion. Their soundcloud is littered with acoustic sketches, live versions, demoes and fully formed pop songs that you'll (well I) find it easy to listen to for ages and ages. As well as that, they're supporting one of the South's best bands this April, playing a support slot on Bel Esprit's debut EP (which we'll review soon) launch show at The Joiners, and you should definitely come down for that if you can.

As much as each of these bands really is fantastic, there are loads of bands made up of the world's younger musicians. If you're in such a band DROP US AN EMAIL, and we'll get your stuff out there.


12 Mar 2015

LATITUDE 2015 : Line Up Revealed

Latitude Festival is Suffolk's boutique answer to Glastonbury, only a quarter of the size. This year is the 10th anniversary of the festival, so since the beginning we have been promised huge headliners and new surprises. Finally, after months of waiting, the line-up was released. And my God it's good.

The Friday main stage headline act are Latitude veterans, Alt J. Alt J have played Latitude many a time, working their way up the stages until finally reaching headline status. Other notable acts in the Obelisk Arena is indie-dance pioneer Caribou and dreamy electronic indie-rock band Wild Beasts, but with a handful of acts to still be announced for Friday main stage, this day alone promises to play host to some of the strongest bands around today.  The BBC 6 Music Stage will be graced by the likes Django Django, Public Service Broadcasting, Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Soak, before headliner Jon Hopkins plays the final Friday slot.

Saturday on the BBC 6 Music Stage is possibly the strongest set of acts playing on after another. With the exception of one act. But thats a personal thing, we won't get into that now. Explosive duo Drenge kick off proceedings before living legend, Thurston Moore takes to the stage. Sun Kil Moon, Wolf Alice, Savages and Catfish and the Bottlemen all play their part in leading up to what I already know will be a phenomenal headline slot from The Vaccines. Topping the bill over on the main stage are 90's trip-hoppers, Portishead. Saturday main stage is the best day for singer-songwriters, with the likes of James Blake, Laura Marling and Lianna La Havas all making what promise to be triumphant returns to the Suffolk festival.

Sunday holds one of the biggest headliners this festival has ever seen. Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds will close the 10th edition of Latitude, with electro-rockers SBTRKT closing the BBC 6 Music Stage. But the big names don't stop there, prior to the headline slot, living legends Manic Street Preachers will take to the Obelisk Arena as well as others. On the BBC 6 Music Stage, 'Sound of 2015' winners Years and Years will bring their summery dance-pop before the incredibly talented eccentric, La Roux plays the final sub-headline slot.

Other artists playing the i-Arena include; Jack Garratt, Marika Hackman, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Gengahr and Curtis Harding. 

Latitude is always known for being 'more than a music festival' and this rings true as their comedy line-up is just as full of all-stars as their music acts. Jason Manford, Jack Dee, Alan Davis, Nina Conti and Josh Widdicome are among the high-billers.

The special guests for this year are equally as fantastic. John Cooper Clarke, Simon Armitage and George the Poet are the stand outs, and as more and more acts and guests are announced, this festival is looking like one of the very best line-ups for 2015.

Overall, Latitude is the most magical festival I have ever had the pleasure of attending, and I am lucky enough to have seen it grow and grow and grow since 2006 to the point that it has reached now. This year promises to be the very best one yet and I could not recommend it more.
See the full line-up here: http://www.latitudefestival.com/line-up
And buy your tickets here: http://www.latitudefestival.com/tickets

9 Mar 2015

The NME Tour's Four Bands Smashed It, But Who Smashed It The Most?

Whilst I don't particularly dislike the magazine that is the NME, I've got to concede that the best thing they do every year is put these Awards Tour dos on. Last year they sent Interpol, Temples and Royal Blood across the country, and the year before it was Django Django, Peace and Palma Violets. But this year, they really upped their game - as I'm sure you'll know (and if not, I went and did some writing about it) this year Palma Violets were the headline act, and with them they brought the Fat White Family, Slaves, and The Wytches.

Immediately, it looks like a best band from this bunch will be hard to pick, so I went to not one date, but two to try and find out which of these bands was the best.

Headlining the tour was Lambeth's Palma Violets; clearly one of the most loved bands on the circuit at the minute. They closed the bill each night with a 45 minute set, which was actually the same length as the set that penultimate band on the bill, The Fat White Family played for. Playing 35 and 30 minute sets respectively were Slaves and The Wytches, so each band had a fairly equal platform to exert their musicianship, with a long enough set to blow the roof off the two venues I saw them at - those being Portsmouth's Pyramids and the Kentish Town Forum.
Photo: Andy Ford/NME

The Wytches, it's well documented, are one of my favourite bands to emerge over the past 12 months. They opened both nights, and, proving they're some of the most skilled musicians in UK music, they played completely different sets each night; although both dates did see them smash their way through Gravedweller, new one Horseback and The Holy Tightrope. They were completely stunning each night, and so loud, furious and angry that you can't not take notice of them. However, it seemed like, in Portsmouth specifically, their surf-doom stylings frightened off a fair few of the lad-rock football casuals there only to see Palma Violets. Whilst this is certainly an added bonus, it didn't mean that the band's crowd reaction left a lot to be desired, despite their furious set.

Next was hotly tipped act Slaves, who you'd better get used to, because they're going to be everywhere over the next year. Their set was potentially the biggest surprise, because the band do genuinely really belt it out in a way that's impossible to ignore. Maybe the only criticism is that they didn't mix it up at all; in Portsmouth their phenomenal set knocked me for six, but (bar Isaac's question of "which is the preferred biscuit in Portsmouth?", which didn't make it to Portsmouth) all the on stage chit chat was the same - almost to the word, as I can now almost word-for-word recap the story behind Where's Your Car Debbie? and I'm now familiar with the peculiar ritualistic chanting at the start of Feed The Manta Ray. But not to discredit Slaves, the crowd loved it perhaps more than The Fat Whites and The Wytches, and they were really incredible - they deserve all the fame they're going to get, really.

However, from my point of view, the band that certainly stole the show in London, and maybe Portsmouth as well,  was The Fat White Family. I think everyone will agree that their studio stuff, namely their debut record Champagne Holocaust leaves a lot to be desired on it's own. It's slow, the vocals sound unenthusiastic instead of dark and sinister, and the production really takes the edge of off it. But live, live the Fat Whites' sound is incredible; it's thick, hypnotic, visceral, and of course, it's accompanied by the onstage antics of frontman Lias, who, is a complete genius. The echoey psychedelia of the band was made only better by Lias' manic strutting, stripping, and howling, as he kind of resembled a bit of a squatter Iggy Pop onstage. Their set's highlights (in Portsmouth) involved Lias 'touching himself' up against the drumkit to I Am Mark E Smith, and album tracks Bomb Disneyland and Is It Raining In Your Mouth? were belted out in a way that was almost incomparable to the LP version, but in a really, really good way. Alongside the fact that their roadie threw out a decent amount of free bread, they were the most charismatic, enigmatic performers, and I'd say if the NME tour was a battle of the bands they'd have probably, in London when they were at their greasy best, weaselled the victory.

But then again, would they have won it? Palma Violets closed the tour, and they were everything you wanted from them and more. Maybe they were a bit reluctant to play new songs - Girl You Couldn't Do Much Much Better On The Beach made an appearance in London, and both dates saw incredible renditions of Danger In The Club - and instead composed their sets in a tight, perfectly honed manner, using lots of 180 material. Both nights, they exploded onto the stage with Rattlesnake Highway, immediately making the fizzling chemistry between frontman Sam Fryer and bassist Chilli Jesson the focal point. Their sets took an emphatic, adoring audience through their debut record, and you'd have to go pretty far to find a crowd that love a band that much. Throughout Last Of The Summer Wine, the crowd sat ready to leap up, during Chicken Dippers, a circle pit the size of Lake Superior formed in the middle of the venues, and Best of Friends, Tom The Drum and 14 saw the Palma faithful belt out every lyric. They weren't as energetic as Slaves, as brutal as The Wytches, or as tight as the Fat Whites, but Palma Violets were completely brilliant; as far as indie rock goes, they're the real deal, and their sets on the NME tour were so symptomatic of that. 

All 4 bands, fantastic choices on the part of the NME were great, and the fact that the crowd embraced them all was an added bonus. For sure, they all smashed it, but deciding on which band smashed it most is something I can't quite do. On the first date, Slaves caught me off guard by being so worth the hype that surrounds them, so maybe I'd say that they owned the P'mouth date, but in London for their homecoming, The Fat Whites really took it up a notch to be the best on that night. And both The Wytches and Palma Violets were consistently brilliant, so really, to answer the question I put forward in the title of this post, they were all smashed it the most.

Actually, fuck it, The Fat White Family. They were the best. They smashed it the most.

Photo: Andy Hughes/NME

(written by calum cashin)

8 Mar 2015


The first time I saw Wolf Alice as a headline act was in a tiny venue with about 80 people in. I'd seen them support Peace to even less people the year before, but following the release of their debut single Fluffy they embarked on a April/May tour in 2013 and I was lucky enough to catch them live. Since those two shows, I've seen them 6 times and finally, the day has come that they have announced their debut album.

Having the privilege to watch a band grow for almost three years has been amazing and the journey has only just begun. The album entitled My Love Is Cool comes out on the 22nd June following a massive UK tour in March/April. The band have debuted the first single to come from this album, Giant Peach and although it was released as part of the VEVO Introduces in December, this is the slicker, studio version. And my God it's good. The riffs are darker, the breakdown is chaotic and they have never sounded tighter musically as a band.

In an interview with the NME, the band spoke about My Love Is Cool and said"it's 100 per cent not a grunge record" and that "it will surprise people" They also spoke about how they've been experimenting with playing their instruments and using their voices differently. As far as the old singles making an appearance on the LP, I wouldn't count on it. They've been playing some of those songs since 2012 and if, as they say they are, trying to move on and become a band who doesn't succumb to guitar band stereotypes, then they will more than likely leave the singles behind. Gone are the Fluffy days, this is the time of Giant Peach, Swallow Tale, Lisbon and Silk. No doubt some of the songs they've been debuting at live shows will make an appearance such as You're A Germ.

Since the very first time I ever Wolf Alice and saw them live, I've known that they'll go far. Ellie has one of the most uniquely strong voices I've ever heard and Joff and Theo know how to write and perform a catchy as hell melody. Add in Joel to drive the whole operation with his chaotic drumming and you've got yourself the next biggest band to storm the UK. Three years ago I watched them thrash out a messy version of Fluffy to about 20 people and now in 2015, they've sold out Shepherd's Bush Empire in London and countless other venues around the country. I cannot put into words how grateful I am to have watched this band grow and grow and grow, and I know that the second My Love Is Cool is released, Wolf Alice will blow up and I couldn't be more proud.

STREAM GIANT PEACH HERE: https://soundcloud.com/wolfalice/giant-peach
BUY TICKETS FOR THEIR TOUR HERE: http://wolfalice.co.uk/live/

7 Mar 2015

BABE PUNCH / Snake Tongue (single review)

Riot grrrl punk rock as a movement of the 90's was one of the single most empowering in the history of music; it not only gave young female musicians a platform on which they were equal to men, but it was a female dominated genre that gunned to dismantle the patriarchy. And yes, I know that was the 90's, but even in 2015, not only are the messages that Hole, Babes In Toyland and L7 sang about still relevant, but the spirit of riot grrrl punk rock is still so prevalent in underground music.

BABE PUNCH are a five-piece riot grrrl band from Nottinghamshire-ish whose members are all, despite their venomous, angry sound, still at school in their mid and early teens. Out today came Snake Tongue, their debut single, and it's fantastic. Loud, dissonant guitars, a stomping rhythm section and uncompromising feminist make it a scintillating listen. It's not just a great release for a group of people even younger than me, but it's a great track that might just be amongst the best new music I've heard all year.

Available to stream,  Snake Tongue's out now via BABE PUNCH's soundcloud. Check it out, fall in love with them, and support this incredible, incredibly young band. If you thought that The Strypes were pretty neat for being a band of people in their mid-teens, you're going to think BABE PUNCH are the most amazing thing in the world.

...it's no wonder Mike Joyce is a fan.

More From Babe Punch
There are a handful of live songs on soundcloud
Follow them on twitter for more updates
Like their facebook page for gig news

Yak/The Black Tambourines/FEVER @ Lennon's, Southampton (live review)

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(Originally posted to http://psychedelialimited.co.uk)
There's a lot of talk at the moment about whether British guitar music has the future that maybe other genres have (although I think it's certainly here to stay). But on the bill that took to Lennon's,Southampton on February 28th, were three bands that could singlehandedly reignite anybody's passion for guitar music.

Openers FEVER are no strangers to people of Southampton; the local lads played a blistering short set that showcased just why they're probably the best local band on the circuit. Their short set felt a lot homelier than the rest of the gig, with lots of jokes exchanged between the songs, and whilst their set was outstanding as a whole, the Ramones-y pop of Why? was probably the highlight, and the scornful breakup track Shellshock saw them at their snarling best.

The Black Tambourines stumbled onto the stage next, and with them they brought an indescribable amount of energy. The Falmouth four-piece's sound is almost unique; they combine echoes of The Beach Boys and The Modern Lovers' classic US sound and the garagey fuzz of Wavves and FIDLAR in a way that's more energetic than those all combined. They were dynamic, and whilst they only played Crosseyed from their year-old debut album, the rest of their set was still incredibly tight. The last few songs were the highlights; solid 2 minute indie pop songs dragged out over 5 minutes via frenzied bluesy jam outros were just fantastic, and the amazing chemistry of The Black Tambourines made seeing them well worth the wait.

But as good as The Black Tambourines were, which was bloody great, they were about to be outdone on a grand, grand scale. Even by the way they set up, you know Yak were going to be great. Where the rhythm section, although amazing, was fairly bog-standard in personnel, frontman Oli Burslem set up a huge pedalboard and a portable organ poised in a really awkward angle.

Yak have a lot of hype surrounding them at the minute, because the pulsing sounds of their debut tracks are inescapable, but they went against that at the start of the show - their opening gambit was a long, stomping psyched-out number that saw Burslem mumbling down the mic whilst occasionally slamming his hand down on his organ.

After the opener, Yak got a bit of momentum going; they played another woozy number, but followed it with their debut single, Hungry Heart. In short, live, Hungry Heart was phenomenal, a real explosion of punk sound that just doesn't didn't recede until the very end. It was such an intense live song, and it's furious energy was a bit too much for the speaker system. Various equipment just couldn't take it, with leads, speakers and amps going completely, whilst the drummer beat so much into the drums that it was a surprise it made it to the end of the set.

Maybe it'd have been more apt for them to cover Left Speaker Blown by Liars next, but instead, with the equipment partially back to working order, Yak launched into a fuzzy, scuzzy version of the psych rock classic that is 21st Century Schizoid Man by King Crimson. Unlike the melodic original, Yak's 21st Century Schizoid Man was brutal, and it did more to do the equipment in further, because it led to a couple of minutes of delays whilst the band tried to get some life back into their instruments.

But after that, for the last two songs were more powerful than ever, as Yak closed their set in maybe the best way any band could. Penultimately came their second cover version of the night; Blindness (the greatest song) by The Fall saw Yak is a song that revolves around a throbbing bassline and some great guitar sounds, but at the helm of Yak it became even more of a viceral bad acid trip - the bass was thick and dirty, the drums were on edge, and everything else was just perfect.

The ever-humble Oli Burslem thanked the audience sincerely, before Yak propelled themselves into Plastic People - the song that really put them on the map, and a song which is the perfect set closer. It began like a regular, slightly danceable indie rock song, before it escalated manically to be a crazy psychotic, psychedelic rock number. The band's immense noise built up and up to the set's climax to conclude it, with the whole band really, really going for it, long hair swishing all over the place. Live, 'Plastic People' was much more mesmerising than it's studio counterpart, and as the band walked off the stage to the layers of feedback the half-dead instruments were giving off, you couldn't help but feel that Yak are really something special. Despite being on a line-up with incredible support, they shone through brightly to prove that despite being followed by a large amount of hype, London based band Yak are one to watch over the coming year

(Photo creds (for the last photo) Psychedelia South) 

I'd also like to give big thank you to Psychedelia South for putting on Yak, TBT and Fever, and treating me like an actual proper press bloke in the process.

(written by calum cashin)

1 Mar 2015

FEBRUARY : A Month In Singles

Palma Violets / Danger In The Club
With an opening melody that almost echoes a nursery rhyme, the comeback single from Lambeth rockers Palma Violets is a grown up version of their chaotic and explosive LP, 180. It’s fast, furious and you can hear all the influences brilliantly. With a brief harmonica solo in the middle, it’ll be interesting to hear how well this is replicated live, but for now, Palmas are back and on top form.

The Cribs / Burning For No-one
The next single from The Cribs’ comeback album is exactly what you’d expect. Gorgeously melodic, lyrically clever and put simply, just a bloody good song. The video features the band swimming with pigs and no matter how bizarre that may seem, it captures the happy care-free attitude of this song.

Yak / Hungry Heart
Complete mayhem is guaranteed when Yak are onstage. The London 3-piece got their record deal on the strength of one song and that's quite something. Fat Possum signed them because Plastic People was so great, but after that they upped their game, and took it to the next level with Hungry Heart, the perfect song for their debut single. It's is a whirling three minutes of what we'd describe as "psychosis rock" meets psychedelic punk. It's crazy, and it's exciting, and it's one of the more amazing songs to emerge this decade.

The Wombats / Emoticons
A whiny and distorted riff layered over an electronic pop beat opens the next single from The Wombats’ next album. It’s a slower and less chaotic that the previous single Greek Tragedy but it’s just as catchy. The Wombats’ are taking Glitterbug in a much poppier direction and although some of the die-hard fans may not like it, I think this is a progressive development for the band and I cannot wait to see where it goes next.

Marina and The Diamonds / I'm A Ruin
The newest release from FROOT is an electro-pop ballad with a venomous bite. “I’ll ruin, yeah I’ll ruin you/I’ve been doing things I shouldn’t do.” The lyrics don’t echo the squeaky clean melody, in fact quite the opposite. It’s a strong single and I look forward to the reveal of the rest of LP3.

Swim Deep / To My Brother
Swim Deep's comeback takes them in a space-y electro direction, miles away from their feel-good, sun-kissed indie pop debut from 2013. It's not miles away from their -almost-slightly-shoegazey-influences- in She Changes The Weather but it's completely fresh and it's definitely working for them. They sound tight musically and it holds great promise for the future of Swim Deep. 

Haim and Calvin Harris / Pray To God
A huge electro pop tune with an indie girl band twist, Pray To God is on course to be the sound of the summer. Taken from Calvin Harris' newest album, it stand out from the rest of his classic electronic because of the Haim girls who take it from being just another pop song with their angelic layered vocals. Also listen carefully and you'll hear the sampled riff from Stevie Nicks' Edge of Seventeen.

Florence + the Machine / What Kind Of Man
Florence burst back onto the scene this month with her dreamy ethereal vocals dripping in electronic energy, making for a phenomenal 3 minutes of the freshest take on pop music there is. With Florence playing new music at intimate shows and the reviews being nothing but incredible popular, I look forward to her next single and in time, the album.  

Only Real / Can't Get Happy
After announcing his debut album, Only Real dropped Can't Get Happy and I personally think it's one of his best tracks to date. This jangle-pop melody would otherwise fade into the background if it not for an out of place chord here and despite being incredibly strong, the riffs are surprisingly not the highlight of the song. The highly accented lyrics spat out over the guitars take this track from very good, to absolutely brilliant. Definitely one of the artists to look out for in 2015, big things are ahead. 

Slaves / Feed The Manta-ray
The Jamie-T-meets-Drenge two piece, Slaves, have released a brand spanking new chaotic anthem. Feed The Manta-ray is full of filthy riffs, entertaining lyrics [see: "GOD I FUCKING HATE YOU TIM" or "I DON'T REALLY HATE YOU TIM"] This is the first single from their next album Are You Satisfied and it proves that this punk duo are only getting better. 

Circa Waves / T-Shirt Weather
The newest single from Circa's debut album [release date 30th March 2015] reeks of festivals and summer and makes you dream of the sunny season. It's fun, fresh and young and a real step-up for this band. Their debut album comes out next month and I have every faith it will do nothing but benefit them. 

Zola Jesus / Hunger
Hunger opens with an brass based electronic riff which remains the driving force of this entire track. It's sassy,  Zola's voice sounds incredibly strong and it shows off her potential to grow as an artist. With this exceptional song now under her belt, there's no limitations to where she can go. 

Theme Park / Something Good
The new single from Theme Park comes away from their dreamy guitar pop releases from the past two years and throws it into a whole new ball game. There's layers of synths and artificial rhythm sections intertwined with the original guitars and drums. It's another song that makes you long for summer and with a track like this, I predict they'll be popping up at many festivals up and down the country. 

Kid Wave / Wonderlust
Kid Wave are one of my personal favourite up-and-coming bands. I think they fit the perfect indie band stereotype but they have something about them that makes them stand out from the rest. It's slacker-rock meets the 90's meets dream-pop and they're all bathing in the golden rays, a million miles away from Sweden where two of the band members originate from. Kid Wave's debut album Wonderlust comes out on the 1st June this year and it has potential to be one of the best releases of this year.

Piano Wire / Are You The Vaccine?

Over here at Vapour Trail we are passionate about helping up-and-coming bands get the recognition they deserve. Piano Wire are absolute favourites of ours and their debut album shows off just how talented they are. It's the finest in chaotic noise-pop and well worth a listen. This band will go far and they deserve every bit of success they get. 

Best Coast / California Nights
Newest single California Nights is five minutes of Bethany's [Cosentino] dreamy vocals laid over a melody which shows Best Coast's progression as a band. Gone are the days of just plain surf-pop, this shows off all their alt-rock influences from the 90's and the result? A mesmerising and ethereal track that holds great promise for Best Coast's next album.

Honeyblood / No Big Deal
Honeyblood's debut album was one of the absolute stand outs of last year. The two piece girl band burst onto the scene and since then they've worked hard to keep the hype around them going. This new single does exactly that. No Big Deal is slower than most of the songs on their debut and this style really works for them. Stina's [Tweeddale] voice sounds angelic but still retains the strength she always has. 

(written by Poppy Marriott)