29 Jul 2015

Sleaford Mods / Key Markets (album review)

Whether you’ve read about them slagging off Slaves, ranting about the government or absolutely slaying Glastonbury, chances are you’ve heard a lot about Sleaford Mods in the last couple of months. Sure, some of it is clever PR stuff but they genuinely deserve attention and they have a lot to say. Reading and watching interviews with them is refreshing, vocalist Jason Williamson is as honest and blunt as he is in his lyrics and beat-maker Andrew Fearn is far more eloquent and intelligent than his catchy but crude music and questionable onstage dancing suggest. This exciting cocktail of intelligence, exasperation and honesty is what brought Sleaford Mods to their first big critical success after many attempts with last year’s Divide and Exit. A nationwide tour later, the pair have returned with Key Markets to a surprising but promising amount of hype.

Opening the album is Live Tonight, which could fool you into thinking that the group haven’t stepped up at all from Divide and Exit. Williamson’s bark phlegms out venom whilst Fearn’s backdrop is a catchy bassline and tinny drums. Business as usual. Enjoyable? Yes. But thankfully it gets even better from here onwards. 2nd track No One’s Bothered has a manic drum beat, varied vocal deliveries from Williamson and an incredibly catchy hook. It’s an early-album highlight and probably their most accessible song to date. This sort of beat is clearly a sound that Fearn is keen on, with quite a few tracks on the album sounding very similar to it. I’d have to put it down as a criticism that as excellent as the sound is, when repeated over too many songs it becomes uninspired to say the least. On the other end of the band’s spectrum is the heavy, swaggering beat of Silly Me. Incredibly it features actual singing from Williamson, in the same sort of way that Mark E Smith sings. In fact this song has a lot in common with The Fall; with the chugging bass and accent-heavy vocals are massively reminiscent of the group. As with a lot of this album’s lyrics, Silly Me is vicious and sarcastic. You’d shit yourself if you were on the other end of Williamson’s frustration but sitting safely in the confines of a CD, his words are seriously entertaining.

Key Markets is sweary, vulgar and occasionally crude. I’m pretty sure Tarantula Deadly Cargo is at least partially about farting, though I could be wrong. “Cunt”, “fuck” and “shit” are thrown around like toys from a pram. The language is aimed at everyone and everything, whether offending the listener, Boris on a bike (“quick, knock the cunt over!”) or poor old Ed Miliband the album is full of rage. Sadly, sometimes the lyrics end up teetering on the edge of becoming tiresome and repetitive and the band’s strong political and social opinions occasionally become lost behind a thick oozing layer of vulgarity and humour. At times it’s as though Sleaford Mods are afraid of becoming too bookish and informed; for example; calling Ed Miliband ugly and saying he “wants the country in tatters” does seem like quite an obvious and easy way to get a laugh. In fairness it is pretty fucking funny, as is most of this album. There’s a real schadenfreude involved when laughing at Williamson’s contempt and frustration with the world, and his lyrics roll off the tongue brilliantly. His vocal delivery is somewhere between having a chat with a mate in a shithole pub selling watered down shots, and screaming obscenities at the referee from the touchline of a non-league football ground.

Despite the band’s best attempts at making it otherwise, Key Markets is a pleasant listening experience. Never verging into uncomfortably angry territory and stuffed full with accessible minimalist beats it’s classic Sleaford Mods at their best. Combining this with a few more ambitious and melodic songs, the pair have taken the next step to their world domination. Once these two unlikely heroes are in charge however, I’m not sure how long we’ll all last before being nuked into oblivion for our own good. What’s the price of a few more billion people down the gutter if it gets rid of Boris too, eh? As long as it’s soundtracked by Sleaford Mods, I don’t care.


(written by ruben clark)

CULT CLASSIC ALBUMS #5 - WU LYF - Go Tell Fire To The Mountain

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The last straight-up indie rock band to really do something special, for me, is the elusive, now sadly split-up WU LYF. Formed in the latter half of the 2000's (as in the decade, duh), WU LYF were a Manchester band that strayed far from the spotlight, notoriously creating a lot of mysticism around them for that very reason. They weren't really big on social media, or revealing their names, or anything like that, and I think because this led to them having a devout following that's still there now, they're really one of British music's last (as in latest) cult bands. They were reluctant to release anything about them to the press, declined major labels to self-record their one and only album, and their fierce DIY ethic is something that each and every band should look up to.

They released one album that received mixed critical reviews when it came out, but more importantly it led to lots and lots of people falling in love with the mystical Manchester quartet, hence the fact that, to about 0.1% of teenage indie music fans, WU LYF are like, everything.

Go Tell Fire To the Mountain sounds, well, huge, and open, and vast, because it was recorded in an echoey old church to combat the bog-standard sound they were making in the studio. And the instrumentation adds to that, with Ellery James Roberts' (frontman) righteous organ prevalent all the way through, and the drums sound being completely distant and primal.

And it's brought into another world with Roberts' barked vocals - they're animalistic, halfway between a ravenous, barking wolf and Tom Waits absolutely on one (see the track Whistling Past the Graveyard off his Blue Valentine album for what I mean). It's completely out there, reaching proper Zappa-y-Beefheart-y levels of unstoppable charisma, and from the first barks of L Y F to the last grunts of Heavy Pop, Roberts' vocals are completely encapsulating.

WU LYF are powerful, and their music is even more so; no more is this apparent than on We Bros. An uplifting, beautiful song, it's not just Roberts' barked vocals that do the job here, but it's the beautiful collaboration when the band members sing along together, and it never, ever fails to give me goosebumps. It's got a beautiful kinda comradery to it, wait, no - a beautiful kinship to it.

Such a sad puppy dog starts off with the same organ that just washes over you as the listener, before the drums get a-marching, and the song progresses into a beautiful moment of reflection for the band. Similarly, the tranquil intro to Concrete Gold, despite Roberts' impassioned vocals, is amongst the most beautiful pieces of music created post-2010, with it's last few piano chimes haunting you right to the very core.

On this album, nigh on every track is a classic; it'll take you more than a few listens to warm to it, because for a potentially commercially viable indie record, it's pretty challenging - I mean I really didn't like this, or them at first. 14 Crowns For Me & Your Friends is deeply forlorn, and creates a real atmosphere, without the lyrics being in any way comprehensible. At the same time, the beautiful closer Heavy Pop does exactly the same thing - it's raw, it's heartfelt, and by it's conclusion you're left short of breath at the amazing LP you just witnessed.

Not long after the release of this record, we're talking about a year, WU LYF split up in typical WU LYF fashion; a letter, and a beautiful new song T R I U M P H. It's really terrible to see a band that could have given us so much amazing music split, but I guess the fact this (assuming you don't count this free demo collection you can nab by joining this group) is the only real remnant of one of the 21st century's most magical bands makes it even more special. It's easy to get lost in the myths and pretensions that the press thrusted onto this band, but ultimately, if you just let the music do the talking, get ready to fall in love with this band and everything about them.

here's a contemporary (mid-2010) unraveling of the band if you wanna try understand what it was like unpiecing the WU LYF enigma - give it a read

hear the full album on youtube here

read the rest of our cult classics series
1. sparklehorse - vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot
2. explosions in the sky - the earth is not a cold dead place
3. grandaddy - the sophtware slump
4. ambulance ltd - lp

(written by calum cashin)

26 Jul 2015

Trash / 4 Miles (single review)

Noise pop at it’s finest, immediately throwing you into an atmosphere of happy days, 4 miles has beachy hooks and layers of melodies that make for a warm sound of summer. “tell me what’s life when it ain’t no fun” Trash’s lyrics contain an optimism that is contagious, and make it almost impossible to be unhappy whilst listening to this track.

This song is has a more developed sound than their previous Pretty Swish EP showing the boys progression into more complicated sounds. The recording of their songs are so clean and neat it makes it hard to believe that Trash have only been together for around a year. Trash is pretty misleading as a band name because there is nothing trashy about their music at all; it’s definitely more sparkly than dirty. This a brilliant song from the Chesterfield four piece, and I think they are definitely ones to look out for.

They have their second EP ‘Urban Glow’ being released in August which you can preorder here.

(Written by Isobel McLeod)

Oufit / Slowness (album review)

Beautiful, tranquil pop songs that combine thumping danceable basslines with fizzy sounding synthesisers are what make the latest Outfit album one of the most well thought out indie pop records of 2015. It's their second record, and they've thrown away the general catchiness and some of the pop sensibilities that made them critical darlings when their first album came out, and instead have made something a lot more beautiful, if a bit less accessible.

The electrifying song Smart Thing gives the first side of the record one of it's best out-and-out pop songs, which wouldn't be outta place in a *slightly alternative* club setting, but the tone's immediately dropped into the cloudy uncertainty of the meserising Boy and the forlorn short, haunting, almost segue that is Wired or Vertigo.

Later on, the ghostly Genderless has a similar effect, making the listener feel almost as if they're floating, and as you get towards the end of the record the dreamlike state that Outfit put you in reaches a peak with penultimate track Cold Light Home, before you finally hear the absolute highlight of Outfit's career with closer Swam Out - a beautiful seven minute track that begins with some beautiful thin vocals and some basic, slow piano melodies, before the post-rocky guitar sounds submerse you in that dreamlike, hypnotised state that the band strive for for the duration of this record.

It's not entirely like, perfect; it's genuinely a record you've gotta feel in the right mood for, because the whole thing captures a kind of beautiful sadness (or captures a kind of sadness and makes it sound beautiful with synthesisers). As well as that, a few songs in the middle feel a bit shapeless, and I guess a few tracks, i.e Framed, Happy Birthday do feel kind of like album fillers, but in the end this is a very beautiful album that, if you give a lot of patience, will be extremely rewarding to you.



24 Jul 2015

Monotony / Monotony (EP review)


Monotony are the absolute archetype of what punk rock should be in 2015; brash, uncompromising, and, well, monotonous. The band's music is so simple, but really, really effective with it's mighty bleak dullset tones and it's punk-rock attitudes.

To me, the Monotony 12' is one of the best releases of the past few years I'd describe as being in the straight up 'punk' genre. Whilst I think the most of the music made in that genre in 2015 is very much a sloppy pastiche of everything that's come before it, I feel that like Eagulls and Savages, Monotony manage to transcend that, so their sound feels a lot more fresh. Like, you've got your thudding, thumping bassline present in almost every track, and the disaffected, impassioned vocals, BUT you've also got gritty, woozy guitar solos like on Back To The Castle, and tracks like Wrong have a brilliant, strutting, frantic feel that just make them feel really exciting.

The band are just so incredibly tight all the way through, which again, like Eagulls and Savages, is why they're just a joy to listen to. There's a lot of great, powerful musicianship in this band, and everything just... fits. The frontman's Lydon-post-Pistols monotonous vocals create the perfect atmosphere of bleakness and hopelessness, whilst the guitar is just so cagey, like a more ravenous version of Sumner's scratchy dystopic Unknown Pleasures guitar lines, and the rumbling basslines, well, they're just something really special, hypnotic, and actually kind of like, danceable.

Monotony, who are essentially the side project of Sauna Youth (a similarly AMAZING band), are the absolute real deal. I really like them, and even though the majority of 'punk rock' I hear today is about as challenging and political as a cup of tea with too much milk in, this is a bleak every-thing-is-going-wrong record that's enjoyable, fun, and absolutely essential to anyone that's into the likes of Eagulls, Holograms and Iceage.


you can pre-order the monotony ep by monotony here. it comes on a 12' piece of vinyl that has the same 6 tracks pressed on each side...

(written by calum cashin)

Lower / At The Endless Party (single review)

The second-sons of the new wave of Danish bands, Lower, have announced a new EP, called I’m a Lazy Son… but I’m the Only Son, to be released in September. A track taken from the EP, At the Endless Party, was released as a preview and a hint at things to come.

An ice-cold piano chord repeats, surrounded by silence, announcing the arrival of a brittle bass-line and skeletal, barbed guitar. A plaintive voice mourns a life of bottomless glasses of liquor, endless smiling faces and a blurring of night and day, alone in a crowd of many. The dread and resentment sweeps up into a bloom of crushing sadness, with tinkling from a grief-stricken piano, before it falls back into lingering silence.

(written by jonah hartley)

23 Jul 2015

Cold Ocean Lies / The Game (single review)

This single The Game by four-piece all male-band Cold Ocean Lies is pretty great. Honestly, I'd never heard of these guys before now but after listening to this and a few other tracks, they're almost certainly ones to watch out for. This brand of indie rock has been done many, many times and Cold Ocean Lies are offering just that in their own way.

The production on the track is very clean cut, the introduction builds and swells and all in all the track does grow. I do think there is room for the band to hollow out their sound and offer something a little more exciting, and maybe expand on the shoegaze and alternative rock influences. Perhaps they could, in future, offer a different vein of the traditional indie rock, away from the norm - having listened to their other tracks on soundcloud they have the ability to do this and create something really exciting, but they're a bit short on The Game. I really enjoy the vocals on the track and the music does have a rawness that will probably give Cold Ocean Lies the edge over lots of over-produced indie bands. There's a lot of energy stemming from this track and it's sure to make a lot of people eager to hear more, as this band are inevitably going to get a lot bigger soon. Overall, it's been done before, but this is a pretty great single!

(written by rachel tindall)

Devils / Black Clouds (single review)

Opening with a menacing riff that just really means business, you're immediately thrust into the menacing post-Drenge two-piece rock music of new Manc-based band Devils, with no real option of escaping their dark, strutting sound. Owing more influence-wise to the colossal riffing of the likes of Black Sabbath and AC/DC than the more classic rock leaning indie bands of today (i.e. Arctic Monkeys, QOTSA, current Foals incarnation) that they probably sound a bit more like, this is a seriously formidable 4 minute blast of rock 'n' roll.

Black Clouds is the new single by unsigned two-piece Devils, a teenage duo who are already causing massive ripples on social media and beyond with their riff-heavy rock music and distinctive two-piece setup. Black Clouds adds to an already strong, energetic back catalogue by a band with a hell of a lot of potential; you'd be crazy not to earmark the teenage two-piece as a band that could possibly make a bit of a splash in the future of British rock music.

It's not sophisticated, delicate, or even that clever, but this single is an incredibly fun, incredibly memorable, incredibly promising bit of music by a band you seriously need to check out this very second. 

(written by calum cashin)

CULT CLASSIC ALBUMS #4 - Ambulance Ltd - LP

OK so I'll admit that, unlike the previous 3 albums we've covered, this album isn't as renowned, but I think ultimately its long-lasting appeal has survived for the same reason as them. Ambulance Ltd's only album, 2004's LP is the epitome of a lost classic. Back in 2003, they were the hottest new thing there was; hailing from New York, they seemed naturally to be the next great band from NYC (after the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Strokes basically owned the first few years of the 2000's), but due to a lot of problems - i.e their label going bankrupt, inner band tensions, and writer's block - they never managed to release a follow up, even though they were technically still a band til 7 or 8 years after the release of this record. They could've been great, they would've been great and they should've been great, but due to all the problems that faced them, they're just a band that everyone's forgotten about.

But the thing is, Ambulance Ltd were actually fucking phenomenal, and what you can do is enjoy the incredible output of the band - so here's a celebratory post about the incredible LP album, which, coming out 11 years ago, sounds every bit as modern, and essential, as it did when it came out to great reviews in 2004.

LP is something I stumbled on by accident, at my part time job at Southampton's Oxfam record shop, as an interesting looking CD to review. It's classically understated on it's cover, but inside, you put the disc on and you're greeted with one of the best, most overlooked albums of the early noughties.

Opening with the self-assured, riffing guitar instrumental Yoga Means Union, there's something straight away about LP that makes it sound like classic from the off. It's huge, reverb-laden sound is powerful, and gripping, and like the instrumentals that open Bossanova (Pixies) and Oshin (DIIV), there are enough infectious, catchy melodies to make it just as interesting as a song with like, words.

Primitive (the way I treat you) is the second song on the record, and it's the obvious pop hit; lyrically sharp with a Wilco-esque strut, it's Ambulance Ltd's absolute fucker of an earworm that you can't quite get outta your head. Whilst it's then followed by another two pop songs Anecdote and Heavy Lifting, the further you get into this record, the more interesting it gets.

My personal highlight is the (I hate describing songs as this but) HUGE dream-pop track Swim, which is textbook 80's college radio stuff with a few shimmery dream-pop guitar lines. It demonstrates the band's really outta this world sound, and is one of the most innovative songs on the record, because lots of bands sound a bit like that these days (think everyone from Beach Fossils to Alvvays).

As well as that, Sugar Pill is brilliantly atmospheric; for about 10 seconds it sounds like the first piece of music, Screenshot, from the most recent Swans record, before some menacing guitar riffs chip in, complimented by singer Marcus Congleton's higher-than-usual vocal tones to make it the absolute archetype for cool indie rock that sounds like it's come straight from a cool New York nightclub. Am I going to say Arctic Monkeys completely ripped this track off for the entirety of their AM record? Yes OF COURSE NOT, but it's that sorta thing done to a much slicker, dreamier, BETTER degree.

Absolutely every song on this record has some merit to it; the wispy math-rock of Stay Tuned is gorgeous, whilst Young Urban sounds like something that beach-pop groups The Drums or Splashh would kill to have written. LP is almost certainly a record that people are just going to forget about in 10, 20 years time, but whilst there's enough existing copies for me to have to review one in a charity shop, there's hope that this absolute gem of an album will be remembered for years to come...

It's everything that [insert Strokes album you found most disappointing here] should slash could have been, and something you just really need to hear right now.

#1 Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot - Sparklehorse
#2 The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place - Explosions In The Sky
#3 The Sophtware Slump - Grandaddy 


22 Jul 2015

Citadel Festival - an overview

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Last Sunday on a sunny afternoon, Victoria Park opened its gates to host Citadel festival, a new and exciting day event by the same organisers as Wilderness and Lovebox. Pinned to be an event  full of cultural experiences it was clear the day would not just a showcase of some of the best live acts around. Stalls of all varieties lined the edges of the festival grounds but along with the usual food and drink stands some were dedicated to some of East London's fashion scene selling vintage clothing and jewellery. Free Art Workshops were also available along with a fun roller disco, steam porting activities like volleyball and the ‘Sunday Papers’ (a afternoon of different talks about news and the sections of the newspaper).

The live music on offer was spread among 3 stages (main, Soundcrash and Communion) with acts such as Honeyblood, Rhodes, Dan Croll, Bear’s Den and Nick Mulvey performing on the Communion Stage, making it probably the most exciting of the three. There was also a 'Despacio Dance Tent' playing dancey house music to anyone who dared to enter the humid, darkened room. However the main buzz of the festival was surrounded by its headliners, made evident seen by the amount of band tees I saw over the space of the event. Earlier on in the year Ben Howard and Bombay Bicycle Club were announced as Citadel's headliners and as the area around the main stage was filled up before their sets it was easy to see which festival goers were there for which act.

A surprise to many, Bombay played first and kicked off the early evening by playing their usual festival set of crowd pleasing tunes to a crowd who accepted them with open arms. Jack Steadman thanked the fans many times, telling them how this was one of their only three festivals of the year which made the whole event extra special to all those involved. Always Like This went down well with the crowd as most of them danced in time to the brass band accompaniment. However with all festivals there was members of the crowd that were clearly only there to get a good spot for the following act. Almost mirroring their Wednesday night set - minus the encores and a few others - the band smashed their hour long slot and left their audience wishing and wanting more.

40 minutes after Bombay left the stage, Ben Howard appeared to the crowd of cheering fans. With a set 30 minutes longer than anyone who came before him, the entire audience was captivated by his voice and melodic music. Songs such as I Forgot Where We Were and Time Is Dancing were embraced eagerly by Howard's adoring fans, but to some disappointment the set was not divided well between his both albums - only 3 songs came from the more folky Every Kingdom. However, this small fact did not ruin the night for anyone there. Before Howard reappeared for his final few songs the crowd screamed and cheered whilst singing the opening tune of The Wolves only for him the reappear and go straight into this very same song, which was in turn followed by the upbeat Keep Your Head  up. His final song Esmerelda was a beautiful way to end such a perfect day. As the masses of people left the dust covered park many were still singing along to Howard's perfect lyrics.

Grim Disco - Give & Go (single review)

Grim Disco, a great four piece from Birmingham, have released their debut single ‘Give & Go’ this last week.This song is brilliant with a bass line that will stay in your head for hours.Singer,David Damms, has a voice that I think sounds as if it belongs in the 80s which is one of the things I love about this song. Although Grim Disco are very post-punk, but the recent 'btown scene' hasn’t entirely escaped them, because in some parts of this track there are hints of fellow brummie band Peace (especially in the oddly catchy basslines). In the song, influences such as Joy Division, The Cure and even bits of early U2 are very apparent to compliment that.

They recently supported Best Friends at their Birmingham show, and judging from twitter, they went down a hit. Grim Disco are quite different from the majority of the upcoming music scene at the moment which is exciting, and I look forward to hearing their next release.

(written by isobel mcleod)

20 Jul 2015

Lucy Rose / Work It Out (album review)

Lucy Rose's new album 'Work It Out' is a thoroughly fun record and a more pop-orientated step away from it's folk-filled predecessor, 'Like I Used To'...

Produced by Rich Cooper, known for his work with Mumford & Sons and Tom Odell, and recorded in London's Snap Studios Work It Out is Lucy Rose's energetic second offering. Opening with an initial feeling of sparse melancholy, the first track For You builds to a colourful crescendo before throwing listeners straight into Rose's bouncy new single Our Eyes. Rose herself has admitted that she has pushed herself "more than ever before", exploring new sonic horizons whilst stating that Work It Out illustrates how she has developed and changed as a person and a musician.

With catchy choruses from songs such as Like An Arrow and Cover Up sewn elegantly together with her lighter melodic interlude Fly High, Work It Out sees Rose
fully hitting the song writing potential we saw demonstrated by her debut, successfully casting off her shackles as "Bombay Bicycle Club backing singer". Her sophomore record has proven Lucy Rose is willing to venture into new territory in order to attain her personal optimum, whilst not straying too far from her musical roots in her efforts to carve her own quietly-inventive niche into the musical landscape.


Lucy Rose has confirmed she will be embarking on an extensive autumn tour, so get down for it.
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(written by chris minihan)

10 amazing singles from 2015 that might have slipped under your radar

Last week we unveiled our favourite albums of the year so far, but albums aren't everything - here's a list I've put together of singles that have completely blown me outta the water, but might not be on your radar. Scroll right to the bottom to hear them all in a big playlist...

Sunflower Bean - I Hear Voices
Sunflower Bean are a cool trio from New York that make dreamy psychedelic punk a la DIIV and Beach Fossils. Their debut EP dropped earlier this year, and although it's fantastic, this is (for me) their best work so far; beautiful vocals, dreamy guitars, and an already evident brilliant chemistry show that Sunflower Beans are really one for the future.

Hooton Tennis Club - Kathleen Sat on the Arm of Her Favourite Chair
Out on Heavenly records now, Hooton's most recent release is a glorious gem of catchy indie pop. Their sound revolves around fuzzy, scuzzy guitars welded into the structure of a two and a bit minute pop song, and Katleen... is just the perfect example of this; it was on 6music's playlist for ages, and every time it came on I got up outta my chair to have a bit of a groove.

Melt Dunes - Epicaricacy 
8 minutes of dark, stomping psychedelia from one of our favourite small bands in the world, Epicaricacy is the second single by Southampton quartet Melt Dunes. It's a hypnotic, mesmerising number that, although reaches it's full power in a live environment, contains lots of brilliant guitar motifs and dark atmospheres, and is probably in my top 5 songs of the year so far.

The Wytches - Wastybois
OK, so The Wytches aren't really a band that could generally slip under ours, or anyone else's radar, but due to the lowkey release of this RSD 7' some people might have missed this one. It's The Wytches at their most furious yet, Kristian belts out every note, and the music in the meltdown-type middle 8 bit is so damn ANGRY that it would terrify even people big into Swans.

Birdskulls - Good Enough
Operating outta Brighton, Birdskulls are a three-piece that make skater-type 21st century grunge music, much like Bloody Knees. I think this is their most accomplished track yet, and seeing as they've got a new album on the way later this year, it makes that seem really, really promising.

The Vryll Society - Deep Blue Skies
Liverpool psych band The Vyrll Society are a really promising act, as they've already toured the country alone and with semi-commercial psych five piece Blossoms. This is a free single you can download if you sign up to their mailing list, and it's a dreamy, bluesy track that's a really escapist number too.

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Babe Punch - Snake Tongue
Released much earlier this year, the debut single by teenage riot grrrl band Babe Punch caused quite a stir when it came out. It's a grungey, venomous homage to the likes of Babes In Toyland and Sleater-Kinney and, alongside the slightly catchier b-side Fixation, it shows a lot of promise for this young band

RA! - Oh Unhappy Bella
The title track from their debut album, Oh Unhappy Bella is an emotionally gripping example of the 'suicide pop' that Southampton collective RA! release. It's dark, raw, and really, really great.

Cherry Glazerr - Sip Of Poison
Cherry Glazerr are a noise rock trio, kinda big in overly-hipster-type communities and all that, but unlike a lot of bands with that sorta demographic they're actually really, really good. This is probably the noisiest song they've released, and is available free here, as part of Adult Swim's singles program...

Spring King - City 
Not necessarily a single, but the lead track from their most recent EP, this is a really excellent track by a band who I've otherwise not heard anything by that I've liked. It's a furiously quick indie rock track that, thanks to some really spot on production, sounds a quite dreamy in the same way that DIIV's Oshin does, or Viet Cong's song Silhouettes.

(written by calum cashin)

19 Jul 2015

Battery Hens / Guts (EP review)

Guts EP cover art

Portsmouth-based band Battery Hens are one of the local scenes finest bands, and for that matter, one of the angriest. Guts is not only their second EP, and one of my favourite local releases of the year, but it's DEFINITELY the best thing I've ever won in a raffle (check this gig review because of it's said raffle).

The first three songs on this showcase the Battery Hens we know and love; Fuck Things is a frighteningly angry 140 second burst of visceral grunge, and Towards the Sun is an equally furious punk song - on both, the band I'd compare them both to would be Brighton-based grunge outfit The Wytches, but even noisier and even more hate-filled.

But the last two songs of the EP, DNR and Stuck are where Battery Hens venture into uncharted territory. DNR's 5 minute duration begins with trademark Battery Hens punk rock, which slowly blends into a tense, shoegaze-inspired atmosphere as the song kinda bleeds out to the spoken repetitive phrase 'do not resuscitate' in a way that's almost soothing and relaxing, which is not something you'd expect from a Battery Hens record.

Similarly Stuck adds to the EP by being a 7 minutes of noise that's a nice halfway point between the energy of the first three songs and the (still pretty gruesome) dream-pop of DNR. It's what I'd say was the perfect way to end the Guts EP, which is the most promising release yet by one of the south's most promising bands.


Battery Hens' GUTS EP is available here from bandcamp as either an mp3 download, or as a CD that comes with stickers and a DVD and a lyric book. Get yours here

(written by calum cashin)

Blissfields Fest: A review

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The antithesis of a large festival, with scarcely known headliners (bar that of Glass Animals and the Horrors), Blissfields was something all together more personal.

At first glance the line up appeared disappointing, when in fact, the blossoming acts consisting of the likes of Spring King and Gengahr (to name a few), made Blissfields more than just a (Peter Symonds) students' solace. With the theme 'somewhere in time' shaping the weekend the multitude of craft tents, and record player to be used at your own discretion illustrated that the Bliss family had carefully planned the festival. This was a festival not only sun soaked, but also drenched in the kind of specific details that can lure in festival goers.

Hammocks, a Shisha bar with open mic, and relaxed 'larch stage' transforming into a throwback disco at night, not to mention the extra terrestrial, out of this world,  'area 51' DJ tent, plus a party Double Decker, made the whole experience diverse in its entirety.
Headliners, to name a few, included Ghostpoet, Cosmo Sheldrake, Glass Animals, The Horrors and the Dub Distols, all of them giving paramount energy and conviction to their performances. Immediately at around 4pm (late enough to be moderately waved from the atmosphere, heat and cider consumption)  we were thrown into the hypnotic set of the Dub Pistols. Looking like your fathers, but sounding altogether more youthful, their trumpets and rap medley had Blissfields bopping manically.

I would also like to briefly mention the produced genius of Cosmo Sheldrake (a 20 odd year old producer) whose song Rich was probably the greatest discovery of the weekend for me. He aptly took to the main stage at lunch time Saturday.

However, The most significant headliner for me, (I would be here hours if I were to mention every great act) was Glass Animals...

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Seemingly jaded by the heat, I noticed  that it was not only me who happened to be chanting along to Glass Animals's Gooey. The Saturday night headliners, (following The Horrors from the Friday) transported the Hampshire countryside to a place feeling altogether more tropical. The synthy satisfaction mellowed out the crowd, and I don't think it would be wrong to say the entire set was 'euphorically chilled' . Twisting hand movements accompanied the bands melodic and calming set, made the set beautifully memorable.

In essence, Blissfields was interesting and social. With Pimms in hand, sun glasses on, the aptly 'blissful' weather, diverse range of acts and activities... not to mention an altogether sociable and warming atmosphere made for a great weekend.

(written by grace goslin)

Swim Deep / Grand Affection (single review)

Birmingham’s psychedelic dreamers Swim Deep have bought out a new single from there upcoming album Mothers called Grand Affection; a song full of synths and sparkling melodies. Where the quintets debut Where The Heaven We Are had a more guitar based sound all the singles so far from ‘Mothers’ have been electronic and spacey.Swim Deep have always been known for their summery sound, and this is continued in Grand Affection. When speaking about both the album and single frontman Austin Williams has said “There are a lot of gospel influence in the vocals and acid house in the beats. We’ve tried to put a lot of different genres into the album like that.”.This is very apparent and show Swim Deep’s evolution from a typical guitar based indie band to a band with a much more exploratory sound.

I really like this single because it shows the bands new directions, but also includes some of their older sounds, for example where the guitars come through and the synths are balanced out. I think the band have made a bold move in being more creative and trying out different genres because it would have been very easy for them to just make another safe indie album, which is definitely respectable. The album Mothers is out on the 18th September, and judging from the singles released so far I imagine it’s going to be a good one.

(written by isobel mcleod)

18 Jul 2015

Gwenno / Y Dydd Olaf (album review)

This is the first album by brand new Heavenly Recs signing Gwenno Saunders, whose music as a solo musician has only really been 'out there' for a matter of months. But despite this, Gwenno's attracted herself a fairly large amount of press attention, and her debut is something I was so happy to be able to get my hands on early to review.

As an English speaker, the first striking thing about the album is that (bar a song in Cornish) Gwenno sings strictly in Welsh - but luckily, however, this doesn't detract from the musical brilliance of it, and Gwenno's celestial voice works as a beautiful instrument, much like Liz Fraser on the early Cocteaus records.

The album has a really cosmic, spacey sound, and because of this it's a really great listen that you can really lose yourself in. Gwenno's old band, The Pipettes, troubled the higher reaches of the UK charts with 4 hit singles in the mid-noughties, and not surprisingly for an album like Y Dydd Olaf,  I'd say that by stark contrast it's probably the most anti-commercial pop record you could still call a 'pop record' ever. It has obvious touchpoints in the otherworldly quirks of Broadcast, the motorik krautrock of NEU! and the ethereal dreaminess of Slowdive, but despite this, it's fresh and genuinely unlike anything else you've ever heard.

The bright Stwff has some really oddly hypnotic percussion sounds that remind me of Stealing Sheep's Greed, whilst a fairly danceable bassline turns it into the kinda track you just can't help but dance to. And the track that precedes it, Golau Arall, gets a bit of a similar effect with a similarly fantastic bassline, and - like on the rest of the record - it has a really fantastic drum sound thanks to some brilliant production.

Every single song on Y Dydd Olaf has it's own beautiful post-apocalyptic charm; from the Cornish-sung closer Amser, which is what I'd imagine 23rd century synthpop to sound like, to hypnotic opener Chwyldro, which has been floating around the internet a year or two, there are no fillers on Y Dydd Olaf.

Obviously being signed to Heavenly Recs, Gwenno's potential audience of krautheads and psych fans is going to be quite large; but has she alienated her audience by singing in a language that 95% of them can't understand? OF COURSE NOT. Through the use of her gorgeous voice and beautiful delivery, Gwenno's otherworldly debut transports you elsewhere - you don't need to be able to understand the words, because the music is so wonderful that you just can't help but love every single one second of Y Dydd Olaf's 44 minute runtime.


(written by calum cashin)

Stealing Sheep just put up two new songs on their soundcloud and they're more better and more beautiful than life itself

It probably hasn't escaped your noticing, if you check up on our blog often, that Liverpool psych-pop trio Stealing Sheep are one of our absolute favourite bands at the moment. We gave their Not Real album a rave review, put it #4 in our albums of the year so far post, and wrote a dazzling review of their amazing live show last month.

Now, as bonus tracks for their most recent release, Stealing Sheep have uploaded two brand new tracks to their soundcloud, serving as a sonic treat to any fans of the band, music, and feeling good in general.

The first is called Mountain of Souls, and as you'd expect it features the beautiful harmonies of all three singers in the band (I think). Unlike most of the Not Real album though, which is produced perfectly (and all the better for it) Mountain of Souls is a much more lo-fi recording instrumentally, which makes it a really refreshing listen. Sure, everyone's voice sounds completely gorgeous, but it goes atop instrumentation that is a lot more atmospheric, quirky, and angular.

The second is Setting Sun, which wasn't on the album again, but it's really surprising that it wasn't because it sounds altogether more complete, with much more prominent synths and similarly luscious harmonies. It doesn't quite reach the absolutely mesmerising heights of Not Real, it's - like Mountain of Souls - a really welcome addition to the back catalogue of a band who have, in their fairly short career, already released two nigh-on classic albums.

(written by calum cashin)

Vapour Trail introduces : spotlight on three slightly more obscure guitar bands you should know about

Gone are the days when the charts were dominated by musicians genuinely loving what they do. It's a subject that receives constant attention as people wistfully reminisce about a time where the top 40 wasn't so manafactured and over produced. In an attempt to bring back this so called real music, bands such as Royal Blood and Catfish and the Bottlemen receive a great deal of airplay. Even so, the generic 'it sounds a bit like Oasis/The Strokes/Arctic Monkeys' description that it's easy to lump on these shows just how repetitive mainstream indie guitar music is getting. Here are 3 of the more obscure bands of this guitar music genre you should check out (or you'll hear about someway or another soon enough). Don’t get me wrong, ‘real music’ makes me sound a little ignorant, of course there’s not really much limit to what can qualify as music, but for me, a band writing music amongst themselves is what I personally appreciate most.

1.) VANT
A London-based four-piece offering a truly energetic and exciting sound. Although they too have been compared to the likes of the Strokes, (although really, who hasn’t these days?) VANT aren't one of those bands you can pin definite influences too. Their sound is new and exciting and, unlike a lot of the consumerist pop dominating the charts, and relationship-central indie bands that dominate the music press, their songs discuss more important subjects; frontman Mattie sings about things he cares about. Debut single Parasite is a meagre 1:25 long, and left DJ Zane Lowe reaching for the repeat button 3 times in only one show. Second single Do You Know Me? first graced my ears a few weeks back after Annie Mac played it on late night Radio 1. It was one of those rare instant love moments. So far these two singles are the bands only releases, but with a recent record deal with Parlophone, VANT are only just getting started.

2.) The Family Rain
At the more blues-y end of the spectrum sits The Family Rain, a Bath trio comprised of brothers Will, Ollie and Tim. On a late night Youtube discovery session last year, I stumbled across the band’s debut single Trust me...I'm a Genius, intrigued by the song title I then fell in love with singles Feel Better (FRANK) and  Reason to Die. I'd never really heard anything like it, their classic rock sound is infused with something unique, employing intense riffs and witty wordplay to blend the blues and rock genres smoothly and effortlessly together. Perhaps it’s also frontman Will’s snarling and ferocious vocals that have the ability to be softer and melodic as well as intense, or simply the fact that the band are genuine. Interviews with the brothers will have you fall a little bit in love. Their Jim Abbiss produced debut album Under the Volcano is a real musical treat.

3.) The Bohicas
Perhaps more of a recognisable name as the band have been furiously backed by the NME in recent times, with the sparky Essex fourpiece doing an acoustic session for the magazine’s Youtube channel. The Bohicas are the epitome of cool, clad in leather jackets and playing what’s really just fun indie rock music, they’re everything you’d expect from a band signed to the same record company as Arctic Monkeys. Their biggest hit to date To Die For is energetic and packed with a real punch. The Bohicas aren’t really what you’d call a meaningful band, and they’re a bit samey if I’m honest, but if you’re looking for feel-good songs with guitar riffs you simply have to dance too and a drum beat you simply can t help but tap your foot to, the Bohicas are where to look.

(written by imogen carter de jong)

Bombay Bicycle Club @ Liverpool Guild of Students, Mountford Hall (live review)

I have always been a fan of Bombay Bicycle Club, so when I discovered their pre-festival warm up gig was less than an hours drive away, I jumped at the chance to see them again, and just like before they blew me away. This isn't just a band who play music, they live and breathe it - you can tell by the fact that the past six months has been the longest they have spent without playing a gig, ever.

During the support, Cash+David, the crowd was mellow with quite buzz of excitement of what was yet to come. However as soon as Jack Steadman and co appeared and launched into the opening chords to Overdone were heard the room burst to life. As per, there was never a dull moment whilst the band was on stage; Steadman brought in some audience participation for people to climb up onto shoulders, and the vibrant background made the gig a more colourful and visually brilliant experience.

A good mixture of new and old tracks were played along with favourites such as Shuffle, Luna, Carry Me and Always Like This. Instead of Lucy Rose and Rae Morris who appear on the bands albums, vocal accompaniment for tracks such as Luna and Home By Now was sung by the talented Liz Laurence from support act Cash+David. After 14 songs the band exited the stage, only for the crowd to scream a mixture of 'we want more' and "I'M NOT WHOLE" a repetitive lyric in Always Like This. After a short, tense wait the band returned to a screaming and enthusiastic crowd.

Guitarist Jamie MacColl reassured fans that it would not just be a short encore and spoke of how they wouldn't get the chance to play loads of older songs at the festivals. With this prompt, the band launched into tracks voted by the fans online such as 16 and Cancel on me (which was no.1 on the vote); Open House, a song record back in 2007 for the band's EP was also played to a cheering crowd, for it was a rare song to hear live and one I hadn't yet had the pleasure of experiencing live. For their final song Bombay played The Giantess, the closing song from their debut album, before they merged it into the albums opening track, Emergency Contraception Blues. Overall the night was a mixture of crazy mosh circles and dedicated Bombay fans raving in a venue with a capacity of around 2,000. If there was in any way a downer on the night, it had nothing to do with Bombay Bicycle Club; it was the exhausting humidity of the room. Yet this did not stop Bombay playing to their greatest potential or the crowd from having the time of their life experiencing one of the best bands on the circuit.

17 Jul 2015

Tame Impala / Currents (album review)

Let's be honest, Tame Impala are absolute giants of 21st century music; they don't quite have the album sales of Arctic Monkeys or Kasabian, but as far as raw, musical innovation goes, Tame Impala's first two albums were absolutely world beating. Like, Lonerism, in it's 3 year existence has already practically become a classic in the same way that Loveless or The Clash are classics; everything from the cover art, to the opening whispers are so musically iconic. So with Tame Impala back for their third album, as far as progressive, forward-thinking music goes, this might well be the biggest release of the year.
Over the past 6 months, Kevin Parker's hardly been quiet about the fact he wants to change direction musically, so with the promise of an 'electronic' Tame Impala record Currents was something lots of people were seriously excited for. I think the talk of Tame Impala changing direction was incredibly exciting to me too, because they really honed their sound on Lonerism and if a fairly drastic reshuffle could be pulled off then I genuinely think it could be enough so that people talk about the Aussie band as some of the decade's greatest.

The album's opener Let It Happen has been with us for ages; it's the first single, and chances are it's on your iPod because it was free to anyone with an email address. It was certainly fitting off the billing Parker gave his new material; it had a stomping drum loop section that was basically a euphoric psychedelic ascension into heaven; but it also (like Parker said he wanted) could have been played in a club. Nicely mesmerising, but nicely danceable. I heard this song and I was really excited for Currents to come out.

Then the second single came out; Cause I'm A Man. This wasn't quite the same kettle of fish. It's basically a bit of the self-criticism we no and luv from Kevin Parker, but kinda lyrically evolving into a full-on crisis of his masculinity. I mean, the lyrics aren't really special or anything, but considering the song's called that, it's like, very inoffensive. And musically, it's kinda, eh - it's dreamy, well-produced, and the instrumentation is brilliantly arranged, but it's just so inoffensive and underwhelming, which I'm really sad to say is the story for quite a lot of Currents.

Tracks like New Person, Same Old Mistakes (the last song on the album), and The Moment are very much slow, and unexciting album tracks that are very well done, and very clean, but just not very exciting. Like it's good, ethereal background music, but if you sit down excited to listen to these songs you're 100% likely to get bored.

And lyrically, the album's not quite what Lonerism was, and it's just quite likely to make you scream "FFS Kevin, I GET THAT YOU DON'T WANT TO WRITE SONGS LIKE ELEPHANT ANYMORE", because the vast majority of songs on this album repeat the same message of "I've changed, and stuff" over and over again. From Let It Happen's self-aware addressing of public viewpoints of the band's musical direction ("all this running around/Trying to cover my shadow [...] I can't take it much longer"), to Yes I'm Changing's "they say people never change but that's bullshit" (and title), to the very last song's "I feel like a brand new person!", Kevin Parker tirelessly goes over somes words that figuratively go on and on about the musical direction of Tame Impala. And especially on Cause I'm A Man and Eventually, the vocals just don't sound very nice - they're kinda sung in falsetto and sound really nauseating.

I don't want to just sit here and slag this record off, because ultimately it is a quite a good album; a bit disappointing for Tame Impala, but it's still arranged and produced perfectly, and it's relatively simple to just get lost in it, because apart from maybe the run of the songs from Gossip, through slightly creepy Past Life, to Cause I'm A Man, where the album feels kind of disjointed, it's a nicely flowing album that has a really hypnotic quality. Love Paranoia, although similarly inoffensive, is a really great, hypnotic pop song, and despite the fact that it's in the middle of that bit of the album where nothing really flows properly and there's a couple of redundant segue sections, The Less I Know The Better might just be my favourite song on the album.

Ultimately, this isn't a positive review of a record I expected much more from, but a number of things just let this record down too much for me. Nothing's really particularly exciting, and like The War On Drugs' album last year, it opens with a stunning 8 minute masterclass, and the rest of the record can't quite keep up (although both albums drew in/will draw in lots of praise). When Parker's voice gets too nasal and nauseating and he goes into that falsetto it really puts me off the sound of the luscious instrumentation, and the fact that he's saying over and over about changing and stuff, it'd probably be better without the whole high pitched voice thing.

I know I don't really like this album as much as I'd have liked a Lonerism Part Two, but despite the fact I don't like this record, the brave change of genre gives me high hopes for the future of Tame Impala (much more than it would have done it was like their past psych-pop efforts). I think this band's next stuff will be far more exciting, and I'm really optimistic about their future. Not a great album, but a promising one.


(written by calum cashin)

Top 5 Matt Corby songs

Matt Corby is an Australian musician, with a voice almost at good as Jeff Buckley's and music bustling with souls and passion. I don't see a lot of people talking about him, which really should change because he is quite honestly brilliant. Believe it or not he was actually a contest on Australian Idol, let's say he's progressed massively since then. He's a singer-songwriter, yes, but with a bit of a difference that makes him exciting and intriguing. Check out 5 of his songs (unlike most top fives these aren't in any order, just hear them all).

Red Balloon - I found this in the depths of YouTube whilst trying to find a track of Matt's I hadn't yet heard. It's romantic, sweet & tender, the lyrics are lovely ('as the night dos slowly drift away to darken someone else's day') as is the guitar on this track. And the vocals at the end are so hauntingly beautiful. I can only find live versions of this song, but nonetheless it's wonderful. Hear it here

Trick Of The Light - This track is super funky and demonstrates how versatile Matt is as a musician. It's infectious and groovy, there's even BEATBOXING. He growls through the track, soul oozing through it deliciously. There's a blues edge to this one, if it's a hint at what his new material could sound like then bring it on. Hear it here

Souls a'fire - Just about my favourite Matt Corby song (at the moment anyway). It's big, smooth but rough around the edges. Again, it's just so soulful and his vocal range is out of this world, and he shows it off here. You can feel the passion through a studio recording, I can only imagine what he's like live. Hear it here

Untitled - I'm going to bang on about how incredible this guy's voice is again, but seriously, it's seriously impressive. He just hits these huge notes with ease and grace but delivers such raw emotion with that power. This song for me is more about the vocals than anything, and they're astounding so just listen. Hear it here

Runaway - Another new(ish) track that hits you in the face with its energy, power and sheer style. It slowly builds, the layering is great and it just radiates passion. Again I love the guitar on this one, and it's the new sound creeping in. This one shows that the guy knows how to write a great song and perform it brilliantly. Hear it here

So yeah, there's some music for you to have a gander at, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Let's all just hope and pray that Matt releases some new stuff soon, I would really appreciate that. ALSO CAN I GET SOME RECOGNITION FOR NOT MENTIONING HOW UTTERLY GORGEOUS THE MAN IS UNTIL THIS POINT.

(written by rachel tindall)

Various Artists / Hip & Miss (album review)

Hip & Miss cover art

Hip & Miss is a free compilation available now from the little DIY label Street Hassle (you can save yourself the bother of reading this review by downloading it here and putting it on your iPod). It's twelve songs long, spans just under 40 minutes, and collects fragments from all around the UK (and in one case, France) that, whilst covering a range of genres, are firmly routed in messy guitar music. Although it's very fragmented; polished studio songs, complimented by stripped back acoustic songs, with a couple of rough demos thrown into the mix; it feels like a really complete package, and it's genuinely a really enjoyable listen.

Opening with one of Dark Willow's incredibly poetic grunge songs, Scum, you're sent wafting down into a spiral of (albeit dreamy) angst and self-depreciation. It's one of those rare tracks where almost rapped poetry is complimented brilliantly by some guitar noodling. The whole teenage angst thing isn't only strong here, because it continues through almost every other song, and it makes the whole of Hip & Miss feel like a culty film soundtrack.

The compilation does mix in a few other genres; the unnerving electronica of Parisian Tamara Goukassova takes you by surprise on first listen, and Monk Breton's O You nearly feels out of place with it's classical guitar (although because it's the last track it's kinda like a nice sunset ending), but ULTIMATELY the strength of this set of songs lies in the solid indie guitar efforts...

Bleached Blonde's catchy Strokesian jangle-pop is almost classic sounding, and has a real energy to it, and Beds in Parks' I'm A Warhol is a piece of brilliant, lively lo-fi pop a la The Velvet Underground - but the highlight of the whole comp comes from Double Denim, a Bristol band, whose Living In A Dream is just the perfect mixture of shoegaze and jangly indie pop, sounding quite a lot like Beach Fossils or Wild Nothing.

That said, almost everything on this thing is brilliant in it's own way; sure, Frank's Shallow End is a rough, thrashy cut that sounds like it's been recorded in a cave, but underneath the mesmeric noise it's a genuinely brilliant pop song. And sure, I'm not really at all into the Tamara Goukassova or Porridge Radio tracks individually, but as a complete package, there are enough brilliant tracks for you to listen all the way through with ease (and get a hell of a lot of enjoyment on the way).

Hip & Miss is a compilation that will resonate hugely with it's (probably) teenage fanbase, and is a hugely cohesive collection of songs. Some tracks are only alright, but let's be honest, if you can't get some enjoyment out of Brolan's Liars-like Your Body Will Be Freed or Double Denim's dreamy thrash music then you're completely doomed.


(written by Calum Cashin)

15 Jul 2015

5 albums to still come out in 2015 that could easily be our album of the year

Okay, so we just announced that our album of the year was My Love Is Cool by Wolf Alice, and whilst god, that's a brilliant album, it's still not the complete package, really. I mean, there's still some albums to come that I think may just be tonnes better than anything we've already heard this year. To Pimp A Butterfly is probably the most forward thinking, innovative record we've heard all year, but even that, with the releases that some artists have planned could quite easily be toppled.
But maybe first read our albums of the year so far post

Sun Coming Down - Ought
Due: 18th September
Last year Ought put out their debut album More Than Any Other Day, and well, it was just about the best debut of the year (although Poppy wouldn't let me put it ahead of Eagulls or The Wytches on our end of year list). Full of quirky, post-modern-leaning lyrics, deeply hypnotic rhythms, and slowly building song structures, it was such an interesting album, and even though all the songs were 6 minutes long, they fly by like nothing else you've ever heard. Now, they're back, with Sun Coming Up, their sophomore record. They've showcased Beautiful Blue Sky in every live set they've played this past year, so logically it was the first track for them to share online; and here it is - a driving NEU!-meets-sad-David-Byrne masterpiece that spans 8 hectic minutes of uncertainty, that seems to challenge notions of the everyday in the same way that last year's song Today More Than Any Other Day does.
Will it definitely be any good? This is one release I can say with certainty will be amazing, the first song is great, the band are incredible, and there's no reason to suggest this won't be a good follow-up to their debut.
What songs do we know will be on it? Full tracklist was announced; Men For Miles, Passionate Turn, The Combo, Sun's Coming Down, Beautiful Blue Sky, Celebration, On The Line, Never Better

Is the is are - DIIV
Due: September/October
OK, so unlike Ought, DIIV haven't been particularly productive in the studio over the past couple of years, because by the time that this album comes out, it'll have been THREE YEARS since they released any new music. What's cool though, is that they've managed to maintain a devoted fanbase despite any controversy, and their new album is awaited really eagerly despite it's shitty confusing title. This album will probably contain more of the same as Oshin, and whilst I'm sure they want to be a bit more ambitious, DIIV keeping their same Oshin sound will by no means be a bad thing (here's a good pointer as to why, our Oshin review). Whatever Cole Smith and co go for,
Will it definitely be good? It should be really good, but it might also be really shit. Their sound was really unremarkable at Field Day, and the oldies stood out, but there's some brilliant tracks floating around YouTube.
What songs do we know will be on it? Probably along the lines of; Dust, Waste of Breath, Bendy, Doused pt. II, Dopamine, Under the sun, Out of Mind, Incarnate Devil & Loose Ends
[there is no cover art announced or songs released from this record yet]

SWISH - Kanye West
The follow-up to Yeezus, one of Kanye's most divisive records yet is expected to drop this year, although no one knows when. It's set to feature the likes of Paul McCartney (good ol' Kanye, giving underground artists a break, eh?), Bruno Mars, and Sia (amongst others). If I'm honest, the singles so far haven't wowed me, in the way the singles from some of his other albums are wow-ing, but really, this man is a genius responsible for some of the greatest albums of all time, so we'll just let him do his thing and give the final product a spin when it's finally out.
Will it definitely be good? I have no idea. It could potentially be average, dull and mediocre, or it could potentially be life changingly good. Who knows?
What songs do we know will be on it? Genius.com is banking on it being something like this; Wolves, New Life, All Day, Piss On Your Grave, A long wait, Want it all, Feel Like That, Can You Be Real, Touch, Owe Us, Interrupt the party, Always, Remember How, Only One & Say Anything with the possibility of FourFiveSeconds and God Level also being involved. It also volunteers this as a probable bit of cover art.

Anthems For Doomed Youth - The Libertines
Due: September 4th
The Libertines' first album in well over a decade, this was announced after the band's third and most successful attempt at a reunion. It takes it's name from a work of Wilfred Owen, and - I'll bolster my point by saying the lead single is named after a Rudyard Kipling poem - it seems kinda like the literature the band are referencing is getting less and less over your head; the constant Wilde and Stoppard references have been tossed aside for stuff I've definitely done at GCSE - all this means that LP4 is going to be the best Very Hungry Caterpillar tribute going. But in all seriousness, the band seem serious about this record, they're clean, they're working happily together again, and even if this record is shit, we'll always have the old stuff.
Will it definitely be very good? No, in all probability it won't be worth the hype... but you never know, it could be a classic.
What songs are going to be on it? The official tracklist reads like Barbarians, Gunga Din, Fame and Fortune, Anthem for doomed youth, You're My Waterloo, Belly of the Beast, Iceman, Heart of the Matter, Fury of Chonburi, The Milkman's Horse, Glasgow Coma Scale Blues, Dead For Love

Anthems For Doomed Youth Libertines Album Cover.jpg

Due: September 4th
FIDLAR are now notorious for their live shows being furious, uncompromising warzones, and even though you'd assume their main target audience was just pretentious indie types that listen only to Burger Records and have some kind of weed poster in their suburban home, they're actually going quite a long way to appeal to fans of hardcore and punk. They've released a couple of songs from their second record, and whilst it's more of the same, if FIDLAR can actually apply their live mayhem to a record THIS WILL BE BRILLIANT.
Will it definitely be good? It'll definitely be fun, it could be great and a lot of fun, and it could be a mess and a lot of fun. Who knows?
What songs are going to be on it? Official tracklist reads a little like this; 40oz on repeat, Punks, West Coast, Why Generation, Sober, Leave Me Alone, Drone, Overdose, Hey Johnny, Stupid Decisions, Bad Medicines, Bad Habits.

[written by calum cashin]

14 Jul 2015

If You're Upset About Kim K Being On The Front Of Rolling Stone You're Either A Misogynist Or A Boring Old Fart

If you hate the fact that Kim Kardashian is on the latest cover of Rolling Stone magazine, you're either a (probably internalised) misogynist, or a boring old fart.

5 hours or so ago, iconic crooner Sinead O’Connor posted a facebook update concerning anupcoming issue of Rolling Stone magazine, or more specifically, it’s cover star.

The latest person to grace the cover of the influential mag is Kim Kardashian. Being a businesswoman, model, and absolute MASTER of selfies; she’s never been one to shy away from the limelight. But not without an absolute ton of backlash, of course.

For what is sure to be a positive move in Kim’s career (go Kim!!!!), comes an avalanche of hate. O’Connor, who after some research, seems a wee bit old fashioned when it comes to women being sexual beings in any way shape or form, proudly declared Kardashian to be a “cunt”, and then made it official; Music, which is in no way a sentient being, is DEAD. Shock horror.

It's a shame to see someone as prolific as O'Connor, someone who I ONCE admired, slinging girl on girl hate around like no tomorrow. In a world where girls are brought up to be constantly in competition with each other, to be ashamed of being sexual beings, and to feel guilty for being body-confident or revealing their body,  there's no need for any more.

I decided to trawl through the “BoycottRollingStone” hashtag on Facebook, what I was met with what dire...

"When I was a kid I used to look forward to every issue of Rolling Stone Magazine…"

Fantastic, Granddad. When I was a kid I used to piss the bed. The times have changed, and pop culture has changed with it. Deal with it.

"Can someone tell me what a whore does on the cover of what used to be a great music magazine? She should be on Playboy... not Rolling Stone"

I’m pretty sure Rolling Stone STILL is a great music magazine, alongside featuring other bits and pieces.
So, it's totally fine for a lad-bantering band like Catfish And The Bottlemen to use their confusing amount of influence to ask women in the audience to take their tops off (the request in itself if wrong and sleazy, but if you want to whip it off for the “lids”, fair enough), but as soon as a woman reveals some cleavage (hopefully) with her consent, she gets called a whore, etc.? It's heartbreaking to hear this drivel coming from another woman.

“I ask: Is she a musician? Is she part of a musical group? Is she a producer or a music entrepreneur? ... I affirm she is a pair of prosthetic breast, a huge ass and nothing else...”
Last time I checked, it wasn’t just musical bodies featured in Rolling Stone magazine.

Kim Kardashian is worth more than her aesthetic features, as attractive as they are. She is a successful businesswoman who bounced back from having a possibly life ruining sex tape leak occur, which takes a hell of a lot of bravery. I admire her greatly for that, and I’m sure millions of people across the world do, too.

Also, if I could get my “prosthetic breast” and “huge ass” out and get paid millions for it, I would. We all would. Don’t deny it.

I couldn’t bear to scroll any further down the page. It’s a slut-shaming, misogynistic hate fest, with some occasional, brief relief. I wouldn’t waste your time.

We live in a world where it’s okay for sexual predators such as Terry Richardson to shoot magazine covers as iconic as these, but the second that a woman reveals herself, making the choice HERSELF and NOT TO PLEASE ANYBODY ELSE, all hell breaks loose.

I shouldn’t even have to point out how male-dominated the music industry is, let alone the entire world. None of this would have happened if it were Dave Grohl or the Arctic Monkeys being featured on the cover, but that would be pretty boring, wouldn’t it?

What saddens me the most is that the same people making all of these misogynistic comments probably starting salivating uncontrollably and clapping like seals when she broke the internet with THAT picture.

(written by Molly Chard)

Top 5 Hole songs

Hole are one of my favourite bands and really underrated in my personal opinion. This was definitely not an easy decision, but here are my top Hole songs from all over their career. If you’ve never listened then these should be some good tracks to start with, and if you are already a fan of Courtney Love and co. then let me know if I’ve missed any out.

5. Good Sister - Bad Sister (off Pretty On The Inside 1991)
One of the songs off Hole’s debut album which is almost as rough, raucous and edgy as Courtney Love herself. Opening with the title lyrics you are immediately thrown into a raw noise of Love’s shouting vocals and heavy guitars. This is the longest song on the album so has more dimensions than some other tracks, like the drop in the middle of the song where the band’s softer side comes through. A song that is a bit overshadowed by some of the more popular songs on the album such as Teenage Whore, but brilliant nonetheless.

4. Letter To God (off Nobody’s Daughter 2010)
Firstly, this song makes me want to cry, it’s so beautiful which isn’t something that necessarily comes to mind when you first think of Hole. Courtney sounds almost vulnerable and it’s very stripped back. Starting with just broken chords the song is prayer like which adds to the purity of it. A really emotional song that just proves how great Courtney Love’s lyrical ability is.

3. Doll Parts (off Live Through This 1994)
A really dark song off Hole’s second album, and probably most renowned album. The lyrics are very personal as Love wrote it about her insecurities about her relationship with Kurt Cobain. “Someday you will ache like I ache” is repeated throughout the song which highlights the intensity of their relationship.

2. Celebrity Skin (off Celebrity Skin 1998)
A definite anthem in their catalogue off their third album Celebrity Skin. This song has basically all you want in an alt-rock track with great hooks and brilliant lyrics which explains why it is one of Hole’s most popular songs and how it reached top of the US’ Billboard Modern Rock Tracks. Celebrity Skin is a wonderful album as a whole, and a bit more accessible than the first two albums.

1. Violet (off Live Through This 1994)
A ridiculously difficult decision as petty much all Hole songs are amazing in my opinion, but Violet tops it for me. Another one off Live Through This, this track shows Hole’s progression from a noise band to something more melodic. Even with this the song is still full of attitude and edge. Violet is also about one of Love’s relationships, but with Billy Corgan (The Smashing Pumpkins). In later years Love describes it as “a song about a jerk” which explains the obvious anger present in the song. Even though it is off the same album as Doll Parts the song is very different, and brings the rougher, heavier elements to Live Through This like the songs on the debut Pretty On The Inside. An insanely great song from an amazing band.

(written by isobel mcleod)

Best Friends / Hot. Reckless. Totally Insane. (album review)

I'll be honest, I was really ready to hate this album. Its title has only four words, but two full stops, which is extremely intimidating. I'd always pictured them as a band are a kind of summer-beach-deep-swimming-pop band, which is kind of everything I just don't want to hear. And finally, I'd heard their earlier songs, because they were going to be supported by a band I really like (Birdskulls) and I was painfully underwhelmed. So really, I didn't think this record would even be worth my time, and it'd just be a kind of messy indie record without any real substance. But hey, I'm happy to admit that I was so wrong about it all.

Hot. Reckless. Totally Insane. is the debut record of one of Sheffield's leading DIY bands, Best Friends. They've never really seemed that interesting to me, Best Friends, but now, a week or so after their debut's dropped, I can't help but be wowed by them; their music is just the absolute epitome of fun summer pop; you can keep yr Circa Waves and Swim Deeps. This band are the real deal as far as summery beachy indie rock comes, and whilst like all other bands a bit like this, their sound can be traced back to the first Drums EP, unlike a lot of those bands, this really isn't a bad thing.

Unlike lots of the bands I've already mentioned, at times, Best Friends are more than happy to turn up the fuzz and make grungier surf-rock, as opposed to the surfy indie pop that you'd expect if you went on their soundcloud and clicked on the first song you saw (which would be Cold Shapes, the worst song on the album). Nope; they're a different kettle of fish. Their sound on Hot. Reckless. Totally Insane. may revolve a lot around simple drum patterns and rumbling basslines, but ultimately it's an album rich in dynamic variety that you can easily listen to a few times without getting bored.

And it's not like it's all even the same. There's a lovely 2 song streak of Dr Mario and Baba Vanga that both utilise a kinda post-rocky guitar tone that sounds deliberately otherworldly; like someone's held Explosions in the Sky at gun point and told them to write a pop song.

If You Think Too Much Your Brain Will Fall Out is pretty much a scuzzy fuzzy manifesto for the band. It's like, don't think about shit because it's better when you don't think, which is kind of what this album's about; if you think about it too much it gets boring, but like US contemporaries FIDLAR and Wavves, this record is just bloody good fun if you let it happen. With this attitude, even their debut single Nosebleeds (which bored me the first time round) is a fun, danceable example of warm, fuzzy beach rock.

And unlike the sorta summer-pop UK bands that I wouldn't poke with a stick (OK some of them aren't that bad), a lot of Best Friends' songs have a loose, different song structure. Opener Fake Spit has an overlong intro that, like Cross the breeze by Sonic Youth or Goin' Against Your Mind by Built To Spill, seems to search around sonically for it's sound before exploding with some verse-chorus type stuff that goes on for about as long as the intro does... And then you've got Orange Juice, the classic post-punk album-slash-set closer; it just kinda escalates, from a hangover of messy guitars to a self-assured sonic assault of Mudhoneying proportions.

Sure, it's not innovative, boundary pushing stuff, but it's a really enjoyable, pretty intense listen, that'll blow releases by Swim Deep (definitely), Wavves (most certainly) and (probably) FIDLAR out the water because in terms of being a brilliant fuzzed out surf-punk record that makes Summer seem less of a no-black-jeans inconvenience and more of a great season to have barbecues and go to the beach, it's untouchable. If you like summery music and having a good time, this is a hot, reckless, and totally insane record that really is worth your time.


(written by calum cashin)