31 May 2015

Slaves / Are You Satisfied? (album review)

First things first, Slaves; all-male Kent punk duo, comprised of stand-up drummer Isaac Holman and tattoo-artist guitarist Laurie Vincent. But of course, if you're reading this review you probably knew that. And if you've seen them live, you'll know they are literally one of the best bands on the circuit, genuinely deserving of fame and a major record deal. They're bursting with energy, and anger, and they're genuinely hilarious in between songs, which is strangely rare. They're a highly talented band who are completely venomous live, but hey! What you're reading now is a review of their debut record Are You Satisfied?, which is out tomorrow via major label EMI.

From the off, the album seems like something that could potentially be exciting. It's kicked off with The Hunter, which is an anti-climate change banger with a seriously menacing strut, and it's proceeded by Cheer Up London, another fantastic primitive post-Pistols punk number that just rips the piss outta gloomy London commuters. These are both pretty solid songs, even brilliant, and (as anyone who reads this blog a lot will know, I'm yearning for a band to tackle political issues) the subject matter is fairly important, and sets the rest of the album up to be maybe one of few Radio 1 friendly records to tackle political matters head on.

From there maybe, there's a couple more brilliant tracks; Sockets is a thrashy angsty l-u-v song of the crude skinhead variety, and even Despair and Traffic has enough of a oomph to it to ensure that the first four songs on the album are brilliant. But I guess, unfortunately, the record kind of begins to get stale around this point, as it kind of really begins to lose it's edge, and the lack of variety in Slaves' armory becomes really apparent.

It's all really same-as-but-not-quite-as-good-as-the-first-song from here - bar the acoustic title track, which is a weak 90 second acoustic hiccup - which is a shame really. The album tracks in the middle look away from climate change and the political stuff you want them to tackle and veer to sorta individual anecdotes that generally portray negative female stereotypes. Essentially the lyrics are a bit empty, and now that I mention it, the political statements are a bit nothing-y too. The 'experts' keeping our 'donations'? Hmmm. 'Don't trust the flies, they're government spies'?!? These aren't the statements of some people that know what they're angry about.

Slaves are certainly angry, but I don't think they're particularly sure what they're angry about. I mean they're not too fond of the 9 to 5 jobs types, but the seering apathy kind of wears thin after a while, like there's nothing they really suggest as a solution, and at times they seem to just  hate everyone with a 9 to 5 job instead of the system that favours them.

But I guess maybe the fact that they are so bloody angry is quite an asset too. Early single Hey is a live highlight, and the frightening riffs brighten the second half of the record right up, but it's wedged in between punch-free fillers Wow!!! 7AM and Live Like An Animal (which, to be fair, isn't as bad), which aren't anywhere near as catchy, fun or menacing as the singles.

As well, the production's kind of suspect. The clean cut singles are so squeaky clean that you'd be able to see your face in them, whilst the other songs are a bit more scrappy in their production with bits of white noise botched on at the beginning, and it just feels a bit forced.

And one more thing - where's Debbie's car at? That's another track that could have really improved this album.

So to conclude: all the fantastic, simple Slaves singles are here (although the 'LOOK LAURIE, MANTA RAYS' bit of ...Manta Ray is scrapped), but they're definitely the highlights. It's really easy to get bored of this record before finishing it, because every song is the same kinda thing, and because the lyrics get less interesting as the record goes on. But hey, it does mean that an angry punk band are being exposed to large amounts of people (even like Radio 1 crowds and stuff), which, even if they're far from perfect, can't be a bad thing. This record is an okay start for an otherwise incredible live band, so maybe if they sharpen up their lyrics, add a bit of variety, and maybe get even angrier, Slaves could be on for something pretty special in the future. But for now, they've put out a mediocre record and the best way to understand why they're so deserving of a major label deal is to go and see them live, because they're playing literally every festival in the world, ever.

Am I satisfied with this record? Not really, no.


(written by calum cashin)

23 May 2015


OK so literally everyone loves Eurovision. For one night a year you can enjoy crappy Euro-pop sang by elaborately dressed people from countries that you've only heard of because England have drawn nil-nil with them in EC qualifiers.

Now there's no denying that Eurovision is fun no matter what your music taste is, but really, for the rest of the year, no one wants to listen 24/7 to Azerbaijani boy-bands and Moldovan divas, really. So what I went and did was scout out some great, new bands from all over the continent that you will LOVE. Here's some bands from Europe that you probably haven't heard, but probably will love.

From Denmark, psych-garage revivalists BABY JESUS
Baby Jesus kick this list off, and they're a band we've covered before on Vapour Trail, back a few months ago, when we gave their debut self-titled album more than 9/10. Basically, they're a mysterious 5-piece, and their sound relies on a screaming organ, no nonsense, hard-hitting rock and roll, and reverb drenched guitars. Their album's had like, like, 38 (not joking) plays on soundcloud, and that's just nuts. They're an incredible band, and their whole debut is available for streaming right here.

FFO: The Stooges, The Velvets, Hookworms, first album era Horrors, Les Rallizes Denudes

As well as that, Denmark's capital is home to THE WANDS
Another band from Denmark, psyching it right up is The Wands, who make angular psych-pop that combines wandering organ parts and robotic voices. Last year, they owned everything, their album The Dawn was our #8 of best LP all the year, and I think their gig in a local Southampton haunt was one of my gigs of the year too. They're incredible, and whilst their album's quite pop-songy, live their songs are sprawling live space-jams.

FFO: Revolver, The Doors, Syd's Floyd, The Teardrop Explodes

This band literally make music so beautiful it pains me, it's kind of like Slowdive cranked to the next level in terms of ambience and electric sounds. Their track Suddenlines appeared on a compilation I had to review, and it's still in my head now.

FFO: Slowdive, Kid A, Aphex Twin, Mogwai

And representing Russia, euphoric shoegazers PINKSHINYULTRABLAST
Pinkshinyultrablast are a band it took me a bit of time to take to; after reading someone in the Shoegaze, Nu-gaze And FASCISTS facebook group bill it as 'this generation's Loveless', they'd already indirectly given my cringe reflex such a workout I could clench my face into a fist. BUT NOW, later on, this band and their incredible euphoric, post-rock tones completely made me fall in love with them. It's very much what you've heard before, but it's a brilliant mbv/Ride/APTBS homage that you can't help but fall in love with.

FFO: My Bloody Valentine, Medicine, Ride, A Place To Bury Strangers, Explosions In The Sky

Ireland's offering; the almighty stomp of GIRL BAND
Look, everyone reading probably knows who Girl Band is, but because this is some kind of indie-psych-punk-DIY I thought using Ireland's space to plug them some more was the thing to do. Girl Band have guitar tones that are more on the techno side than anything, but they're wedged into angry punk songs with amazing energy, and they're just sorting out their album SO IT'S ALL VERY EXCITING.

FFO: Eagulls, Gang Of Four, Sonic Youth

Finland is home to THE SCENES
This band supported Bo Ningen not long ago, AND FUCK, they were amazing. A six piece with two guitarists, a sax-cum-keys player, and a singer that is quite literally a reborn 70's Iggy Pop. Their music is frenzied, experimental indie rock. They're a live act more than anything else, so if you get a chance to see The Scenes GET THE FUCK ON IT.

FFO: The Hives, The Stooges, The Cramps

The first band from France I've one for is HEREMETIC DELIGHT
They're some more shoegazers with a really nice sound. Like, it's the perfect balance between the reverby crunchy fuzz rock of Spacemen 3 and the total melting ethereality of My Bloody Valentine. Their singer also has a gorgeous and it kind of reminds me of Alanna from Joanna Gruesome, and whilst maybe overall you can gauge that they're kind of nothing new, listening to them is a lovely experience - just hear this Cure cover they do.

FFO: DIIV, My Bloody Valentine, Joanna Gruesome, Fleetwood Mac

And also, you can't forget about MELODY'S ECHO CHAMBER
They're equally beautiful. I'm not actually sure if they're just the singer (whose name is Melody) or a whole band, but really either way the focal point is the singer; she has a voice which is similar to Trish Keenan's, and it leads the album into all kinds of gorgeous territory. I think they're putting out new material this year, so tighten ur seatbelts.

FFO: Mazzy Star, Broadcast, Widowspeak, GUM

Iceland's hottest new hopes are the incredible bubblegum-noise punks SINGAPORE SLING
Their garagey sound has it's roots in 60's psych garage, but ultimately it's more like the bright post-punk of the Teardrop Explodes and the fuzzy noise of Psychocandy. Although they've released a handful of albums already, they're criminally underrated over here in the UK, so check them out.

FFO: Teardrop Explodes, Joanna Gruesome, Suicide, Jesus and Mary Chain

Italy is a real hotspot for new bands ATM, the first is the grungedelic GO!ZILLA
They're an excellent rock and roll band that sound a bit like uhhh, you know The Horrors in the Mighty Boosh? Yeah, they're like an IRL Black Tubes. They're murky, surfy hypnotic sound is in a league of it's own, and the Firenze-based fuzzsters have a new album out now, called Sinking In Your Sea. A similar band to check out though too, are the Newcandys, signed to Fuzz Club, Italy's seemingly

FFO: King Gizzard, Fuzz, A Place To Bury Strangers, Joy Division

Slightly more obviously, no one's shut up about Spain's HINDS this year...
And it's not without reason; HINDS are quite rightfully being lauded as a really exciting indie-pop act. They come from Spain, but they've already played over here numerous times, and are booked for loads of festivals. They've got a bit of a garagey sounds with enough pop sensibilities to appeal to a broader audience, so don't be surprised to see them blow right up.

FFO: Peace, Warpaint, Foals

FINALLY, the one that's hardest to pick. The UK's entry to the post
For this I'll go for my absolute favourite upcoming band in the whole wide world, YAK. A classic power trio that make psychotic neo-psychedelia. At times they sound rampant and world-ending, then daydreamy, and then gothic and Nick Cave-ian. Basically, their incredible live shows, where stuff gets broken and speakers get blown, make them the most must see band there is, and there studio stuff is remarkable. If big things don't happen for Yak I'll be amazed, but for now you should check them out and love them as much as I love them.

FFO: Ty Segall, Velvet Underground, Drenge, Wytches


Thanks for reading this, and if ur in such a band - from Europe, or otherwise, email us @ vapourtrailblog@gmail.com


20 May 2015

LATITUDE FESTIVAL : 3rd announcement

The latest Latitude announcement is the one that truly shows off that it really isnt 'just a music festival.' The new names show some of the biggest names in comedy, literature and art. Over 100 new names were just announced, so I have highlighted my personal recommendations for each genre.

Andrew Maxwell, Russell Kane, Jason Byre and Joanna Griffin

Ignition, Rubberbandits, Panti Bliss and Paul Currie & Lou Sanders

Andrew Marr, Frank Turner (author), Kate Mosse & Dr John Mullan and Edith Bowman

Special Mention: The V&A will be bringing the magic of the Alexander McQueen 'Savage Beauty' exhibition to Latitude this year, and this will definitely one of the major highlights of this year.

Jaz Colemen, Sarah Bennetto and William McLellan

Sheffield Doc/Fest presents 'Sounds of the Cosmos', Emilie Bernard and Ross Sutherland.

For those of you who don't know, Latitude Festival has a secluded area within one of the woodlands on sight. It contains plays, events and live music and is all part of making it one of the most magical festivals in the world.

A curious invitation presents 'The Faerie Tale Ball', Sam Wyer & Laura Drake-Chambers

Guerilla Science presents 'Fire Organ : Seeing Sound.'

Dylan's Mobile Bookstore

(all image copyright Latitude Festival© 2015 Festival Republic)

19 May 2015

teenagers suck / a playlist for teens, by teens

Don't be fooled by the name, this is a playlist that (mostly) highlights the good things about being a teenager, whether it's a new sense of freedom or becoming aware of your new found powers as a teenage girl.

14 May 2015

Joanna Gruesome / Peanut Butter (album review)

Chances are, you're reading this review because I tweeted the link four or five times, and you just wanted me to stop. And if that's true, and you're following me on twitter, chances are you're also at an age where you're currently asphyxiated by exams and drowning in stress, right? Well, if that's the case, THIS HERE IS YOUR CURE, Joanna Gruesome's second LP Peanut Butter.

JOANNA GRUESOME ... Peanut Butter (Fortuna Pop)

It's a tad more grown up than their last LP, Weird Sister, but it's still absolutely crammed with angst, screechy guitars, and loud bit/quiet bit vocals, so it's still the perfect record to put on and escape from all that shitty exam stress in a bubble of bubblegum-punk rock.

I think what really made me excited for this LP was last year's lead single; Psykick Espionage, which they put out at as a split 7' inside a comic book, with Perfect Pussy. Psykick Espionage is two minutes of intense shouting a socks-knocking-off guitar riff. And it's also #3 on our songs of the year 2k 15 list, so the point is it's pretty fucking great.

But anyway, like, 8 months on, here were and it's included on the band's sophomore LP, along with uhhh 20 other minutes of music in the shape of 9 other songs.

Peanut Butter has a nice amount of variety. Last Year is every bit as pummeling as Psykick Espionage, and Don't Wanna Relax begins with some heavy guitarry white noise, that sounds a bit like Pandora's Box probably did, before the stormy sounds clear for what is actually one of the band's most melodic numbers.

Although I'd probably, if I had to, describe Joanna Gruesome, with a genre, I'd say they were definitely in the realm of punk but it's the nice, pretty, melodic songs - which make sure that Peanut Butter is the really dynamic varied album it is - are amongst the best. Hey! I Wanna Be Yr Best Friend is maybe even my favourite song on the whole entire album, and Jamie (Luvver) has some of the loveliest harmonies you're likely to find in guitar music. In fact, on the whole, Alanna McArdle's voice is fantastic, filling the LPs with really gorgeous vocal hooks.

Hmm, see I probably prefer their debut, which is one of my favourite records of the past 3 or 4 years, and how it's pretty much a caricature of teen angst (because I am an angsty teen), but this isn't far off. It's still got that sort of feel to it, but it's much easier for the unangst-riddled unteen to listen to, as even during the punky fast numbers it's an incredibly melodic record with it's jingly-jangly C86 indie sound. It's another great album by a great band, another great bit of record production by MJ (from Hookworms), and most of all it's the perfect 22 minute long exam stress antidote.


[written by calum cashin]

10 May 2015

24 years on, we should look to Julian Cope's Peggy Suicide for guidance

Tory government. NHS to be dismantled. Human rights act to be axed. Fox hunting ban to be repealed. Mental health funding to be cut. EU in/out referendum inevitable. It's a bad time to an immigrant, poor, young, ill, old, female, someone in need of some human rights, or a cute little orange creature with four legs. Oh, or someone that cares about any of those groups as well. Basically it's a bad time to be a human being with blood running through your veins.

As well as that, the protestation isn't what it could be. Yep, there are a number of fantastic protest marches (which have been tainted by media misrepresentation) that exercise the democratic right to protest, and lots of people have taken to the internet to kind of hate the Tories together, like a collective consciousness of hate. But one thing that is lacking, to me, I guess, is a lot of real protest music.

A recent NME issue highlighted this. Whilst in maybe the 80's (Thatcher's Britain), bands that were leading lights in British alternative music would sing about the oppression and inequality of Thatcherite Britain - look at The Smiths, as an obvious example. But now, this doesn't really happen - it does happen, in some places - Sleaford Mods, the Fat Whites, and Young Fathers to give examples, but it certainly happens less. Faris, from The Horrors, said that politics didn't really affect him, and that voting was for people with no imagination, whilst a great number of bands just showed apathy towards politics and the people at the top. And you can't resent individual bands for not wanting to engage with politics in their music, for whatever reason, but it just kinda sucks that there's no art to aid the process of walking around, resenting David Cameron.

But does this mean (bar the aforementioned artists) that there's no music that politically aligns with my (and everyone else's) anti-Tory agenda? Hell no. I mean, obviously you've got your punk music - the sheer anger that the likes of The Pistols, Crass, The Clash, the Dead Kennedys, and X-Ray Spex loaded their music with, that certainly resonates with me, today. And anything remotely escapist does, too. But there's an album that, amongst all this Tory suffocation, is more relevant today than it's ever been, and that is Julian Cope's 1991 socio-political masterpiece Peggy Suicide. And if you're now tempted to stop reading in a "who is this Julian Cope guy" manner, don't. Keep reading and bear with me.

Julian Cope, alumni of bubblegummy post-punk band The Teardrop Explodes, had a run of success in the 80's - tongue-in-cheek garage-rockpop megahit World Shut Your Mouth is the best example of this - before fizzling out of the public eye for a bit. In 1989 he released the Skellington album, which was recorded in a day or two, and then following that, the Droolian album, which was similarly lo-fi, and was available only in Texas, with all the proceeds going to Roky Erickson (of the 13th Floor Elevators) and his legal battle (he'd been wrongly accused of mail theft - charges were ultimately dropped).

BUT ANYWAY. In 1990 or so, when Cope was being pressed by his label Island, to come up with more material, a lot of the same shit that's going on now was happening. Thatcher's poll tax - which was like a council tax that favours the rich - was one of Cope's main issues. Basically, from what I (as a state educated teenager born in 1997) understand, it was a single tax rate for anyone, no matter what their income. It's really symptomatic of the general Tory ideology that the more hard-working you are, the more you earn - something that still underlies the Tory policies that have led to poor people's deaths. During the recording of Peggy Suicide Cope was at his most political - even being at the forefront of the Poll Tax riots, dressed as his 8-foot alter ego, Sqwubbsy. Calum, I hear you say, how can a man of average height have an 8 foot alter ego? Well...

But why is this album relevant to us in 2015, under a government? Well, the 80 minute double album not only spans many, many genres but it reads like a left-wing manifesto - a more equal Labour manifesto, or a stronger Green 'un. Cope sings about the Leperskin hag that was the leader at the time of recording, Margaret Thatcher in a way much more venomous than Morrissey or Billy Bragg could manage. But as well as that, he tackles climate change, police brutality, animal welfare, and humanity's general exploitation of Mother Earth. That explains the name too, as Cope has said "nowadays, I call Mother Earth Peggy Suicide".

The double album starts with the acoustic-but-with-organ bits track Pristeen - which sounds explicitly sexual at first, but nope - it's a metaphor, for how mankind is treating the Earth. "Trusting in me was your major mistake" Cope sings, and he's right. A government that doesn't invest in saving the planet (the current Tories are pro-fracking) shouldn't be trusted to rule over this section of the planet. Hanging Out and Hung Up To Dry Cope yells "Winter's getting warmer", a seemingly obvious fact again, but Cope's hatred of humanity's destruction of the planet is still something that really resonates, and with our government's proposed cuts on climate change (although tbf Dave reckons climate change is a problem) it's so important that people realise the planet is mortal, and home to not just humans. We're all hanging out and hung up on the line to dry.

The environmental message is strong all the way through though, which is so important in 2015, you know? "Each day we get closer to the big bad fire", Julian warns on Double Vegetation. And the enviro-hippie bullshit that could bring your local Tory MP to tears keeps coming...

On a later album Cope barks "COS MY CAR IS A POLLUTER, AND IT'S MESSING UP MY FUTURE", but he tones his Autogeddon ideas down for Peggy. Drive, She Said pokes fun at the ridiculousness of driving everywhere. It's a slightly less sophisticated alternative to crawling everywhere, really. Julian adopts the persona of a shrivel-cocked proto Clarkson, as he calls Peggy Suicide (that is Mother Earth) a "piggy". It's also a simple out and out rock song, which I'm surprised didn't penetrate the charts. Oh oh, and Mike Joyce (Smiths innit) drummed on this one (and Hanging Out...).

In fact, despite a lot of it's politically charged, it's largely an accessible pop album, so it's so easy to get into. East Easy Rider, a track that uses the metaphor of an easy rider riding to the planet's doom - but also has a hella funky hippity hoppity groove, and that kind of escalating anger thing that Cope does so well. If you're wondering, it's my favourite song to sing in the shower, off of this album. And If You Loved Me At All and Beautiful Love are poppy, boppy pop songs that focus more on humanity's human relationships, rather than humanity's lack of humanity. Brilliant pop songs, Beautiful Love actually got Julian into the top 40, and it's obvious why because it's just a nice piano driven janglepop song.

BUT NO, serious issues, it tackles even more. Back to the Poll Tax riots. Soldier Blue is amongst the most poignant critiques of militant policing. The police turned up to it as though they were going into war, instead of trying to contain some people that believed in equality. God, believing in equality, and fairness. I'm so glad that the Tories set militant police and seriously injured hundreds of those people for exercising their democratic rights. Protesting about unfairness? How dare they? Anyway, that all ties into today and yesterday, when the mainstream media turned away their focus from the thousands and thousands of peaceful protesters walking through London in their cardies and their dungarees, and onto the sole protester that vandalised the war memorial. Which is obviously the main issue, because the long dead's memory is so, so much more important than the people who are literally dying because the Toy government and their Welfare state can't-slash-won't help them.

Western Front CE1992 paints the picture of a dystopian world with just a few words. "It will all wash down, it'll wash down when it rains" is so concise but profound, and Julian himself says it reflects that horrible attitude that all the big companies have to everything; 'ahhh, it'll all wash away, it'll be fine, it's not our responsibility'.

Anyway, I'm realising I'm waffling on and on, which is not cool. I could go through each of the tracks and talk about why they're completely relevant today - almost all of them are. You can buy a copy, and the booklet/sleeve will be completely covered in Julian's political writings.

But anyway, there are two out-and-out anti-Thatcher numbers (both penned and recorded before her ousting). Listen to them, and replace the she-pronouns with he-pronouns, and you've got yourself a 100% bona fide post-election apathy anthem. Firstly, Leperskin is pure fucking anger - that's how we all feel at Cameron right now, right? It's sort of baggy-acid-PUNK as the Happy Mondays-esque groove gets more frantic, and Julian begins to rattle off a furious rant about Thatcher - "SHE'S AN APISTOLIC HAG, SHE'S AN APISTOLIC HAG!" he cries - it's one huge, angry fuck you to Margaret Thatcher and her horrible government, and it resonates today, as a still-relevant FUCK YOU to David Cameron and his nearly-as horrible government.

And lastly, track 4 of side 1 is my absolute favourite (except the batshit crazy spacerock number Safesurfer that hasn't made it's way into my rant), it's a first person monologue, stripped down acoustically - Julian wanders through every street, every road in the land, to find it's been ravaged over the course of Thatcherite Britain. "The hatred she inspired, had to be seen to be believed" is maybe the most poignant line, and to a bit of a lesser extent it's the same with our current government.

Anyway, if you've reached the end you deserve a medal, and also an end to the Tory government. But to conclude, like actually conclude, this album is a political masterpiece that anyone can look to for how it things could and should be. It's a real shame that, even though lots of the band I love are politically charged, there aren't quite so many protest songs at the forefront of music.

Anyway, make sure you give this album a listen - it's all on YouTube, and spotify, but it's really something that you'd be all the better for owning. I hope I'm not alone in my statement, but Peggy Suicide really is the most relevant album of the generation, from a different generation. Even for someone born in 1997, Peggy Suicide's political message is one of the most poignant of any that any album can offer me today.

BUY THE HARD COPY HERE (and the mp3's too)
LISTEN TO IT HERE - YOUTUBE, SPOTIFY - BELOW, watch an interview where Cope discusses the making, Tory inequality, and the bicycle as a songwriting tool.

(written by calum cashin)

3 May 2015

Palma Violets @ Norwich Waterfront (live review)

Palma Violets round 3 took me back to the venue in which I saw them first. A year and a half ago four hooligans blew away an audience of sweaty, beer soaked teenagers, despite having barely left adolescence themselves. At this show, it was the same band with the same high-energy, chaotic larks and anthemic tracks, but the boys were no longer boys.

Opening with new track Secrets of America before launching into the familiar Rattlesnake Highway, it was clear the magic had not been lost. The crowd went crazy for every screeching riff and crash of the drums and sang along to the point that Sam [Fryer] could hardly be heard over the screaming audience. It was clear that night that the crowd was up for anything. Old songs, new songs, covers? Absolutely fine whatever, the audience lapped it up and went totally batshit. The classics like We Found Love and Tom The Drum, were just as incredible as expected, but English Tongue and Matador caused equally as much excitement and chaos. The main set came to a close with my all-time favourite PV's song, Johnny Bagga' Donuts. It was a blur of sweat, beer, blood, screaming and half of the band jumping into the crowd. As they walked off stage, the rapturous chanting began. "PALMA, PALMA VIOLETS, PALMA VIOLETS, PALMA PALMA VIOLETS" went on for a few minutes before they walked back on stage and launched straight into Danger In The Club. A definite highlight came during this song, when their roadie suddenly appeared on stage and performed the short harmonica solo, much to everyone's astonishment.

The set finished with 14 and as it was the last chance of the night to go absolutely mental, the crowd took that opportunity. There was countless crowd surfers, (including Harry Violent who made an appearance at the end) limbs and hair flying everywhere and the crowd yelling lyrics at the top of their lungs and from the bottoms of their hearts. It was a truly special moment to experience and it proved to everyone in that room that this band are here to stay.


(written by Poppy Marriott) 

CLUES / Confused/Mr Wayne (single review)

Although maybe it's not had the breakthrough bands that respective scenes in Leeds, Birmingham, or even Brighton, the Hampshire coast is home to many, many great bands at the moment. You've got Wild Smiles, who released one of 2014's standout debut LPs, as well as surf-punks FEVER, psych-band Dead Rabbits, and the grebo sleaze of Rickyfitts. But now, although we've mentioned them on Vapour Trail before, CLUES are here and ready to make their mark on the scene with their debut single, Confused/Mr Wayne. Both tracks are already on their soundcloud, and both show a brilliant indie rock band at their best.

Confused is the first track; it's the brighter, most upbeat of the two, and through escalating guitar sounds it also reaches a bit of a state of euphoria in that kind of math-rock way that Two Steps Twice by Foals does. As well as that though, it's powered by some brilliant vocals - on Confused they're like Telegram's Matt Saunders, and combine with the guitar part to make for some sun-kissed perfection.

The other track is Mr Wayne, which has a much more punky edge. Here, the vocals sound more like Jason Pierce's on Spiritualized's Come Together, and the guitar is a lot rawer, driving the track through the stages in a kind of Cribs-meet-Stooges way. It's incredibly energetic, probably the highlight of the two, and just generally a fantastic out and out pop song.

Although they're a very young band, CLUES are remarkably assured, and have a much more polished sound than almost any band their age I've ever heard. As well as that, the songs are perfectly structured, short and punchy, with all the right influences. With this release the band have laid down the formations for future material to be really, really exciting.

Follow CLUES on their twitter, here

[written by calum cashin].

Palma Violets / Danger In The Club (album review)

Another over-hyped NME buzz band? Hell no, London-quartet Palma Violets have coolly downplayed any potential hype surrounding them to establish themselves as one of the UK's most solid indie bands. Unlike the likes of Catfish & the Bottlemen, Foals, and Circa Waves, the more traditional of the current indie scene's 'hype bands' Palma Violets' sound is rooted well away from the early noughties and deep in Cali surf rock and CBGB's punk rock.

The follow-up to 180, their acclaimed debut, Danger In The Club comes out this Monday, and for me it aims to advance the full-throttle punk-rock elements that are highly present in their live shows, that are only underlying on 180. I think, yeah, 180 was a very good debut; full of fantastic pop songs, well arranged, but altogether a bit too well-groomed for a band famed for playing impromptu gigs of (Canadian 70's punk band) Hot Nasties covers. However though, that raw sound that Palma Violets have has forced it's way through here.

The album is littered with highlights, with a handful of potential singles floating around. The best of these could be Girl You Couldn't Do Much Better (On The Beach); it sounds like a Mick Jones-sung Clash song, with the band motoring along with a lot of energy, doing exactly what 180 failed to do; capture the gusto of the live show, before it abruptly fizzles out like A Forest by The Cure. Similarly, Gout! Gang! Go! is a belter, powered by a Chilli Jesson bassline that's all over the shop and a chorus that's close enough to a football chant to please the proper lad demographic of the Palmas.

Over the past couple of years, Palma Violets have lazily been compared over and over to The Libertines. I mean, yeah. They've got two frontmen... and uhhh, they're both bands? The most of this album completely defies that, with straight-up door-smashing dinner-bringing rough guitars that have the musical clout of 1000 Libertines. But on one occasion, they let that slip; Secrets Of America just sounds so Libertines. It's a combo of the up-down intonation patterns, the way that the frontmen toss the vocal parts between each other, and the slight euphoria of the middle 8 guitar part. Whilst maybe this wouldn't be a great touch if the rest of the album sounded like The Libertines, but with the rest of the album being a bit of an homage to the surfers and the new wavers, it's a bit of an indie rock gem.

I've already mentioned the definite punk rock influence, but it's the main focal point of the Palma Violets sound. Hollywood is a sister piece to The Ramones' version of California Sun (which PV covered as a b-side), and Peter and the Gun has that stand-offish feel that the first few Bunnymen albums has. However, despite this, the lyrics generally stray closer to the topics of drinking alcohol, and awkward relationships and whatever, instead of any issues tackled by punk rock. There's no anarchy, there's no politics, and there's just a general depthlessness to the lyrics of a lot of the songs. The consequence? Well, Danger In The Club isn't a bona fide punk record, and that might alienate some of the target audience, but that's largely okay, Palma Violets don't want to form a new world order with their new LP. No, Palma Violets just want to have make a fun, energetic indie rock record, and that's just what they've done. It's almost meaningless chaos, it's throwaway punk, and that's what makes it such an enjoyable listen.

But to compliment the straight out Television pastiche, on lots of songs (English Tongue, Matador), Pete Mayhew's keys ensure that this is a brilliant sounding record. In the late 60's and 70's, the likes of The Velvet Underground, The Modern Lovers, The Seeds, The Doors and The Strangers used keyboards/organs to compliment guitars perfectly, and this is the case again, it's probably the best feature of the album. English Tongue's punchy gospel organ is punchy in the same way that Liar Liar by The Castaways is, and it has lyrics that are literary and narrative, and therefore all the better. I didn't like it at first, but it's a fantastic track that closes the album in style.

I'll be honest; it's not all brilliant. Some songs are so weak, and almost parodies of the surf-punk they so successfully pay homage to on most of the album. Walking Home is an overproduced, lazy bassline-driven song with some of the most unimaginative lyrics you've ever heard. And on the opposite end of the scale, Matador is just a bit of a mess, all the instruments swirling around together to create some sludgy dissonance. And ummm, the 23 second drunken chanting, Sweet Violets, that opens the album? What's with that?!

But what, that's just a few weak tracks. The rest of Danger In The Club is a choc-a-block with brilliant, chaotic, drunken, stomping pop songs. You'd struggle not to get straight into the raw surf of Hollywood, the menacing grit of Danger In The Club, or the all round brilliance of Secrets of America, Gout! Gang! Go! or English Tongue. I think on this album, Lambeth's finest have gone for a much rawer sound, and they're all the better for it.


You can't stream it officially yet, but we had a look 'round and someone's uploaded it to their soundcloud... (we'll update this when there's something a tad more official, but seriously you've got to hear this album) 

[written by calum cashin]