31 Aug 2015

The Libertines @ Reading festival (live review)


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The Libertines returned to play Reading Festival for only the 2nd time in the last 10 years, but unlike their reunion in 2010, this felt sincere and genuine. Their first stint as a band saw them amassing a cult following and despite all of the tabloid exposure, they broke up before they could truly hit the heights that they deserved. Exactly 11 years on from the release of their 2nd album they took to the main stage of Reading to close the whole festival. Quite how they rose in popularity so sharply in the last decade is almost a mystery, but based on tonight’s performance they are absolutely worthy of their re-found fame.

To tell the truth, it was an electric night before the band had even come on stage. The Cribs, The Maccabees, Jamie T and Kendrick Lamar (especially Kendrick) got the crowd into a frenzy and by the time The Libs’ now-traditional entrance music was played there were already arms, lighters and flares aloft. To the sound of Vera Lynn and the applause of thousands The Libertines stumbled onto the stage and burst into long-time set opener Horrorshow. Straight away it was clear that the band were going to be on good form. The whole set was a much tighter performance than 2014’s Hyde Park and Ally Pally shows, their experiences at Glastonbury and headlining around Europe had clearly taken the band onto the next level. Whilst they had always been on the same wavelength, this time around they were completely in tune with each other. As charming as their shambolic sound was, by the time Can’t Stand Me Now rolled around I couldn’t help but think how great it was to hear them playing as an actual, functioning, in-tune band.

Embedded image permalinkThe ever-building Campaign Of Hate was excellent and truly highlighted how far the band have progressed musically. Keeping in time perfectly as the song rose in tempo again and again, it was a genuine musical spectacle and led into Time For Heroes perfectly. Naturally, Time For Heroes was an absolute treat. So much so that before the beautiful Music When The Lights Go Out, Carl lead the boys into the bridge of Time For Heroes for a 2nd time. Following Music When The Lights Go Out Gary Powell produced an absolutely killer drum solo, he really has aged like a fine wine and carried the band impeccably; both his charisma and musical ability have become vital to The Libertines’ live show.

The audience were treated to 3 new songs from Anthems for Doomed Youth and one new-old one, in You’re My Waterloo. An absolute set highlight at Ally Pally last year, You’re My Waterloo has been given a makeover that Gok Wan would be proud of, now featuring a cello and a piano it was a set highlight and gave Peter a chance to show off his ever-underrated vocal talents. Whilst both Fame and Fortune and Anthems For Doomed Youth were enjoyable live, they were completely outshone by Gunga Din. It’s entirely possible that for the newest generation of Libs fans, this is the first song they fell in love with by them and it showed. The chorus was belted out by band and audience alike, a lovely contrast on the rather tame album cut of the song.

In truth the crowd fell relatively flat towards the end of the set, 4 days of dancing had probably taking it out of the festivalgoers and the combo of Tell The King and Anthems For Doomed Youth did little to ignite the crowd back into life. Ending the main set with The Good Old Days was more than enough to really kick things back into gear, the emotionally charged mic-sharing in the choruses and frenzied outro ensured that the audience demanded an encore. And what an encore they got. Any band who can end a 90 minute set with such energy as displayed in the fantastic finale of Up The Bracket, What A Waster, Don’t Look Back Into The Sun and I Get Along are surely worthy headliners of any festival in the world. Whilst the whole set was thoroughly enjoyable, the encore was truly in another league. The high-tempo vocals of Up The Bracket and What A Waster were delivered perfectly by Pete, Carl and the audience alike before that familiar drum intro to DLBITS launched what was probably the singalong of the weekend. All topped off with that magnificent “fuck ‘em” before Gary perched on Pete’s shoulders and the band took their lengthy applause.

Setlist:
Horrorshow 
Vertigo 
The Delaney 
Can't Stand Me Now 
Campaign of Hate 
Time for Heroes 
Music When the Lights Go Out 
Begging 
What Katie Did 
Gunga Din 
Boys in the Band 
The Ha Ha Wall 
You're My Waterloo 
Last Post on the Bugle 
Death on the Stairs 
Tell the King 
Anthem For Doomed Youth 
The Good Old Days 
Encore
Fame and Fortune 
Up the Bracket 
What a Waster 
Don't Look Back Into the Sun 
I Get Along 

(written by ruben clark)

29 Aug 2015

Foals / What Went Down (album review)


Foals are a band who are on the brink of glory. Debut album Antidotes sprung them up a few steps on the ladder, Total Life Forever took them further although in hindsight it was the sound of a band in transition, then Holy Fire catapulted them into the big time. The humungous Inhaler topped NME’s song of the year chart and My Number wasn’t too far behind it. Not to mention the unquestionably beautiful Spanish Sahara. Yannis and his band of Oxford hippies were headlining at Alexandra Palace, sitting atop the bill at European festivals and they probably got played on Match of the Day. And then there was silence as Foals disappeared away from the fans, away from the music and away from each other. For a band as intense, loud and rock ‘n' roll as Foals, a little time off is probably very healthy. So naturally when they returned it was with a triumphant, ballsy fanfare: What Went Down.

“I BURIED MY HEART IN A HOLE IN THE GROUND/WITH THE LIGHTS AND THE ROSES AND THE COWARDS DOWNTOWN”. The title track begins with a shouted declaration, three heavy chords and three cymbals smashing. What follows for the remainder of the song is a masterpiece in both songwriting and production. The song rises and falls without ever being predictable or cliche, Yannis’ voice darts between a growl and a yelp and it all comes together in the end to a thrilling finale. Not a bad way to announce your musical return to the world and not a bad way to open an album either. As the poppier My Number follows the massive Inhaler on Holy Fire, song 2 from What Went Down is a dancier, lighter song full of trademark Foals twitchy riffs and heavy bass drums. At it’s heart Mountain At My Gates is a pop song full of melody, catchy hooks and whistleable riffs. Whilst it could have easily been relegated to purely being an album track or b-side, by the end of the song it’s clear that it is so, so much more. What elevates this song to recieve airplay and surely be a regular feature of Foals’ live shows is how fantastically all the instruments and melodies add up to become far greater than any of them could individually. As with the whole of the album, Mountain At My Gates sounds so full and rich. Of course Foals know all about quiet/loud dynamics (Two Steps, Twice) and encorperate them throughout the album but when they want to be loud and they want to sound huge, they fully pull it off. Credit does have to go to every technical person working in the studio on this album, it is sonically perfect. The producer (James Ford) does his job perfectly, he ensures that it’s impossible to imagine the songs sounding any different to how he’s produced them on this record. That’s how impressive it is.

Birch Tree and Give It All are the 3rd and 4th songs on the album and between them they conclude what is by far and away the best 20 minutes that What Went Down has to offer. From this point onwards things begin to feel all too familar. Math-rock throwbacks to Antidotes come thick and fast in Albatross, Snake Oil and Night Swimmers but the riffs that once sounded so inticing and fresh now sound tired and underwhelming after hearing what Foals were capable of in the first chapter of the album. Whilst the middle of this album is certainly not unpleasant to listen to, it certainly runs low on ideas. Thankfully things do pick up, but surprisingly it’s not a heavy number that pulls things back on track. The beautiful, melanchonic London Thunder eventually demands the listener to begin engaging with the album again. Lead by a keyboard and a very impressive vocal performance, comparisons to Spanish Sahara are understandable if not lazy. The following Lonely Hunter is not a standout track but certainly is an advancement on the mid-album bores of Night Swimmers etc. Interestingly on this track the drums sound more electronic and garage-y whilst the falsetto vocals take a backseat, overpowered by the rest of the band’s sound. Although granted that’s not the most flattering description of a song, it does work well and it serves as a decent transition song away from the show-stopping London Thunder. The concluding track A Knife In The Ocean is a ginorumous song full of layered synths, a fantastic drum performance and a straining, ambitious vocal take from Yannis. It serves as a grand closer to the album and clocking at nearly 7 minutes, the song sweetly takes it’s time in reaching it’s climatic ending.

On What Went Down when Foals get it right, they absolutely nail it. Whether it’s goosebumps in London Thunder or clenched fists in the title track, there are certainly some genuinely fantastic songs on this album. It’s masterfully and carefully produced, sounding excellent through both tinny earphones or expensive hi-fi, Yannis’ vocals throughout are the best they have ever been and as ever drummer Jack Bevan puts in a very convincing shift. Whilst there are no objectively bad tracks on this album, there are sadly a few which only deserve a minor amount of attention in comparison to the album’s dizzy highs. Clocking in at nearly 50 minutes, the 10 songs perhaps attempt to do too much and with an average of length of 5 minutes the weaker tracks could benefit from a little streamlining and shortening. What Went Down and A Knife In The Ocean are both excellent examples of Foals’ expertise in creating longer constantly shifting soundscapes, almost every song on the album attempts to recreate that to a degree but sadly it does occasionally fall short. The five or so standout tracks are so wonderfully crafted and so full of emotion that they will no doubt be lapped up at Foals gigs around the world, whilst the rest will be treasured only by a dedicated few. What Went Down  is yet another step in the right direction for Foals, but it doesn’t quite fulfill the potential of it’s highlights.

7.0/10 

27 Aug 2015

Beesley - Empty (song review)

Wakefield’s Beesley are an odd band. They seem to be highly regarded and many people know who they are but they’ve never managed to quite break out from being local, despite having over a thousand likes on Facebook and with individual band members successfully promoting their music over social media sites. Beesley have also proved difficult to trap in one genre and have been described as ‘Indie’, ‘Emogaze’ and ‘Emo Punk’ amongst other things mainly due to the diverse yet forlorn nature of the material they've put out.

Beesley's new track Empty was previously available as a free download sandwiched between two other tracks on their Bandcamp-released Blossom Demo. However, this new version of the 3-minute release is a re-recorded and smoother effort, featuring an alternative, silkier, take on the vocals by lead singer and guitarist James Nager. 

Following recent uploads: Sunshine, Ruin and White Wall, Beesley continue their momentum, merging the use of jangly guitars, emo-rock influenced string bends and chords, plus a cymbal-heavy drum performance. The 4 piece’s main strength is surely the flawless rhythm section; Blue Thorn and Josh Hall’s contributions with drums and bass guitar respectively.  

Beesley’s vocals can be an acquired taste at times, and Nager’s voice frequently lacks punch, adopting a purposefully lazy quality. However this works because of the loud-quiet-loud nature of Beesley’s work, mastered by bands such as Pixies or Bleach-era Nirvana, and should be taken as a compliment by the frontman. The backup vocals on Empty shadow Nager’s main efforts effectively and these details are what provides Beesley with their sound- if you are familiar with the group you would agree that they could release all manner of obscure covers and they would still be instantly recognizable.

Empty is not as enjoyable a listen as Sunshine or Greyscale Sunset, but Beesley’s music has a nostalgic quality which always has you returning for more, and this is very much the case here. 

Beesley’s debut 6 track EP is due for release imminently, but the band have in fact split due to personal commitments so unfortunately this will be their last action as a band.  Regardless, their tunes are worth a listen for any fan of grungey punk music.

Listen to ‘Empty’ here
Find Beesley at https://beesley.bandcamp.com

26 Aug 2015

Foals : a retrospective ahead of their new album

With only a few days to go until Foals release their fourth album I thought I would take a chance to look back over the bands previous albums and, with the help of the internet and an online survey, find out what truly makes them one of the greatest bands of our current generation. Whether you found out about this band from your best mate, family, as a suggestion on Spotify or youtube, or even on an aeroplane not many people can deny that they haven't heard any of this bands music at one time or another.



ANTIDOTES
Released back in March 2008 Antidotes is the album that caused critics to label Foals as an indie pop / math rock band. With their quirky, repeatable lyrics and a unique sound you can see how they attracted such a huge fanbase and hit the number 3 spot in the UK album chart. Ironically, Hummer, the song that produced the first buzz for the band after it was featured on Skins is not on the main album and only available as a bonus track, when asked about this in past Yannis has said "There are too many albums today where you release 5 singles before the album even comes out”. The band mixed the album themselves, recording in unorthodox ways such as vocals being sung and recorded whilst moving around the room to drums recorded in the alleyways of Brooklyn in the middle of the night on cassette tape recorders before being reprocessed.

The whole of Antidotes is easy flowing and jam-packed with sounds weather it be guitars, keyboards, percussion, brass instruments, white noise or Yannis and the rest of the band’s easy to chant vocals. Foals wanted to ‘use the studio as an instrument’ and create an album in which you can immerse yourself. From the albums upbeat attitude it is clear that these are some of songs Foals probably tested out on their friends whilst playing at house parties in Oxford (here / here). Years later this album still has importance in the bands live performances; songs such as Two Steps Twice and Red Sock Pugie are still fan favourites at gigs and festival sets.  On some levels this album reminds me of early stuff by the likes of The Wombats in terms of their youngness, and the fact that it wouldn't really be an indie club night without them - even Yannis’ voice sounds completely different to their later songs, as it's got considerably.

For me, like many others, it was around the release of Antidotes when I first heard about Foals, after seeing the very funny and confusing video for Cassius (if you haven't seen it its the one where Yannis does some weird dancing and there is a lot of floating real life hearts). However in later years the song from this album that sticks out for me is Two Steps Twice for the way it builds up throughout the track and you are just waiting for the moment when it all goes off.




TOTAL LIFE FOREVER
In May 2010 the band took a leap and returned with a new and different sounding album. Where most bands start out alternative and become more mainstream, Foals took the opposing route. Gone was the repetitive indie disco tracks with brass and horn instruments, and in its place a dreamy and slow record. A tamer version of their first album with longer songs and more meaning, whimsical lyrics, yet still with a hint of math rock and those Foals-y sounding guitars as seen on upbeat songs like Miami and the sharp drums and funky tune of His Orient. The album gives the band a more mature and ambitious sound, seen in the change of how Yannis uses his voice who has mentioned in the past that he never ractually wanted to be on vocals in the band.

Described by Yannis as "tropical prog" and "like the dream of an eagle dying”, Total Life Forever may not be everyone's cup of tea but it does include one of the band’s most loved and most raved about song, Spanish Sahara. A song where Foals completely upped their game and yet sound nothing like band that produced indie disco banger Cassius. Spanish Sahara heightens whatever emotions you are feeling and can help you get lost in the music.

Most songs are ever changing and has an array of intensities as it builds up and gathers pace (prime examples are Spanish Sahara, After Glow and Blue Blood). TLF is indeed a headphones album in which you can shut out the world and get fully engrossed in the music. Ending the album are relaxing songs 2 Trees and What Remains which only confirms that Foals are forever evolving and will never produce a similar sounding album twice.

HOLY FIRE
Nearly 5 years after their debut record, Holy Fire was let out onto the world in February 2013; a truly indie rock record with harder sounding guitars and a more complex sound showing that the band has grown up massively since Antidotes. For most people this is their favourite Foals album and on many levels I think that could be true. With a mixture of fast upbeat tracks and slower ones which make you think, this album is a sharp balance between Antidotes and Total Life Forever. Dance-y and funky My Number is a throwback to Antidotes but with less cryptic lyrics (“You don’t have my number, we don’t need each other now” is really about Yannis changing his phone number after a break up) whilst Everytime to me feels like it could have been on Total Life Forever.

Prelude starts slow and builds in a way every album opener should and is followed by the biblically big Inhaler with its mesmerising guitars, heavy drum beat and Yannis’ screaming lyrics. An album with honester and clearer lyrics, the bands producers Flood and Moulder would trick them by recording their rehearsal takes for it gave the record a more “uninhibited sound”. Yet it is a track like Milk and Black Spiders which stood out for me with its dreamy sound and emotive lyrics “because I've been around 2 times to find that you're the only friend i need” that stand out for me.

If anyone could predict what Foals new album without hearing it I think Holy Fire is the closest thing to their newer sound; the band have stepped out of the category they were first put in and remind me of Bombay Bicycle Club in the sense that every album seems to overtake the next, getting more sophisticated.

Whilst some people are hesitant about the new album thinking it may not top Holy Fire due to a change in creative direction; after hearing tracks such as What Went Down and Mountain At My Gates I think Foals have the ability to make this their best album yet. However we’ll all just have to wait and see.

foals' new album is out this friday - stay tuned for our review



(written by Jess Fleming)

Dollhouse / Laudanum (single review)

Dollhouse are one of my absolute favourite young bands at the moment, making some of the more exciting indie rock about at the moment. Heavily guided by some confrontational drumming, aquatic guitar tones reminiscent of DIIV, and the distinctive vocals of frontman Zak, Dollhouse are a really promising band that get more and more exciting with everything new they reveal, with my personal favourite song being the synth powered Colour Me Blue.
 
This past week saw the Stroud four piece unveil the new song Laudanum, which sees the band experimenting more and more with song structures as it moves from section to section in a way that is much less verse-chorus-verse than their previous songs.

Thanks to the longer song structure, the song is much more laid back than the likes of Colour Me Blue, making it a lot less confrontational, but equally hypnotic, nabbing elements of the current NYC dream-pop scene and more classic alternative singer songwriter stuff (there's a bridge section that sounds like it could be lifted straight off of the Dreamt For Light Years... album by Sparklehorse). It's less immediate than other stuff, and arguably lacks the same punch, but Laudanum is further proof that Dollhouse are really promising, and also a band that have their own distinctive sound.



track dollhouse down on facebook here to get updates on shows and stuff

(written by calum cashin)

The V2's / You Don't Know Me (single review)

Fuzzy alternative guitar music at it's finest and freshest, You Don't Know Me by the V2's is one of the most exciting songs to come outta the south coast this summer.

Scuzzy guitars, that are halfway between noodly Bebop-Deluxe classic rock and 90's alternative slacker rock like Guided By Voices and early Pavement, beautifully compliment the echoey vocals to create something that's dark, subsuming and overall fun. They hail from the seaside town of Bournemouth, and that sorta sun-drenched sound comes accross in this single.

It's the first taste we've got of a band that have got a bright future ahead of them, and with them heading out to a fair few live dates along the south (have a look here to see if they're gonna play near you).



(written by calum cashin)

Vapour Trail introduces... 3 bands from in and around the South-West

Ravetank
Ravetank’s main man Nathan Howard, the man behind Son of Jupiter and the former bassist of nofuncl,ub, has been busy giving his Bandcamp a new look, new sound makeover resulting in three new EPs.


Several songs have survived from the projects’ previous incarnation but now have a polished finish to them- ‘Villa 838’ and ‘American Ninja Delivery Girl’ have both previously been posted to different mediums. Moreover, although the new recordings are better than ever before without a doubt, these tracks mentioned are still the ones that shine.

Another track on Ravetank’s initial full EP, ‘Don’t Be a Slave to That Grind’, also featured on Ravetank’s 2014 full length album ‘The Mysteries of Buffaloism’ but the album was removed from Bandcamp following the reboot.

Rewind to June and the first EP including new recordings, Nathan’s ‘Acoustic Renditions’ was a bit of an disappointment due to the minimal recording polishes and the fact that Ravetank can be let down a little by the limited vocal ability shown by the 20 year old- the stripped back format doesn’t suit Ravetank in my opinion.  However, the follow up EPs complete with percussion and bass are the strongest recordings yet for sure and show the production know-how of Nathan, the force behind the project.

Ravetank also plays infrequent local live gigs (in and around Bath) so be on the lookout if you want to catch tracks off of his EPs ‘Novel Songs for Novel People’ and ‘Ravetank’ plus some unique takes on classics such as ‘Mr Tambourine Man’.

You can download Ravetank’s EPs for free here
Nathan Howard also posts additional content on his YouTube channel.

Damaged Goods
Bristol teens Damaged Goods are causing a racket on the local live scene at the moment, with successful dates at notorious venues The Fleece and The Thunderbolt already recorded on their impressive resume.

With a broad range of influences including Buzzcocks, Hendrix and Green Day, Alt rockers Damaged Goods are set to release their debut EP shortly featuring tracks which have been extensively played live over the last few years including ‘Alcohol Assassin’ and ‘Bad Day’. Lead singer Ewan’s charismatic vocals and crunchy chord progressions are the backbone behind some seriously catchy tunes.

The post-punk 4 piece’s infectious, plug-in-and-play, pop songs have earned them a place in the final of the Underdog’s prestigious battle of the bands competition for a thousand pounds, set to take place at the end of August.

Gaining a steady  and loyal following, you can assure that there will be hype come the release of their debut EP towards the end of the year.

You can find Damaged Goods here
Listen to Damaged Good’s preview track ‘Bad Day’ here

The Mirrors
Hailing from the same part of Bristol as Damaged Goods (above), 5 piece Indie-Poppers The Mirrors play to their strengths by utilizing lead singer Maggy’s charming vocals and guitarist Fred Purse’s shimmering 6 string tones.

Combining elements of Dream Pop, Psych and Indie, The Mirrors have some super addictive riffs and hooks in their repertoire, their tracks ‘Strutter’ and ‘Who Will Ever Know’ racking up listens on Soundcloud and their live shows present a hazy selection of well crafted jams, several near to 5 minutes or over in length owing to their psych roots. The group cite unsurprising influences such as Tame Impala and The Flaming Lips, one listen and you would be guess these two would be present , but also more subtle inspirations like Elvis and Mozart. The inclusion of synth and keyboards in their mix, at the hand of Joe Lyon, generates an alluring dimension to their sound.

Although an Alternative group, The Mirrors are not a typical rock band so don’t expect many overly distorted punky moments from their debut EP (although 60s-style fuzz tones are equipped tastefully for effectively-constructed guitar solos). Instead a series of kaleidoscopic and often delicate numbers- this is what The Mirrors pull off expertly and there is sure to be considerable acclaim on future releases.

Following sets at quirky and reputable venues across Bristol- the likes of The Louisiana and the Tobacco Factory, The Mirrors also managed to reach the semi final of the Underdog competition this year. It is plain to see, however, that in 12 months time, they may just have the experience and fanbase to go all the way to the top spot of the contest and beyond.  Watch this space.

You can listen to them on their soundcloud here (including a free download of the song below)
Follow updates from The Mirrors here




Dead End Friends / Beat Yourself Up (EP review)



Huddersfield’s two piece Dead End Friends have recently released their EP, Beat Yourself Up. This EP is full of angry grunge and a tonne of noise.

Beat Yourself Up opens with Kiss The Boy; a heavy garage rock song with frontman Danny Sharp’s shouts cutting through the relentless guitar chords, and the chorus in this track is proof that there’s no such thing as too many cymbal crashes.

Second on the EP is I’m Romantic with guitar riffs reminiscent of early Strokes. In the middle of this song the pace eases a bit which puts helps to put focus on the high musical ability of both Danny Sharp and drummer Nick Clark.

Next up is Feel Special, the leading single on the EP and it’s apparent why. This is an excellent song with different layers and techniques which create a lot of depth in just over 3 minutes. Throughout the song there are definite elements of Drenge especially in the beginning with how the drums are introduced on top of the guitar. Towards the end of the song there is a simple but very effective build up into the final section which I can imagine creates an amazing air of suspense and excitement when played live.

Finally the longest track on the EP is Scissors which is a bit more restrained than the any of the other songs. The vocals on this track are quite Kristian Bell-esque which creates a good mix on this EP so all the songs have different characteristics to them.

A great EP that is a lot more complex and developed than a lot of the other more raw, noisy two-piece bands on the scene at the moment. Judging from the quality of Beat Yourself Up, Dead End Friends have a promising future ahead of them.

A digital copy is available to purchase on their bandcamp site

8.0/10


21 Aug 2015

DRINKS / Hermits on Holiday (album review)


DRINKS are a project of Welsh singer Cate Le Bon and American psych musician Tim Presley (AKA White Fence) that signed to Heavenly recs earlier this year. Their sound is relatively summery, in that it's full of sun-kissed melodies, but is done in a kind of odd, dystopic, simple way, making for an album you've really gotta listen to over and over before you can really work out if you like it or not.

Most the songs on Hermits on Holiday follow a kind metronomic formula - everything fits into the same sort of ticking-tocking rhythm, and as a result, the whole thing has the tendency to really hypnotise the listener. She Walks So Fast is so oddly charming, with it's steady repetition of Presley's opening guitar noodle and with Le Bon's beautiful, deadpan voice.

Overall though, the album is an incredibly playful, carefree experience that more than anything shows two talented musicians having a bit of fun. The nonsensical lyrics of Tim, do i like that dog are a far stretch from the tight garage psych of white fence, but are a bit better off for that. As artists, the pair don't take themselves too seriously, which makes the record just a bit of fun, and a nice playful listen.

But despite this, it does still feel really quite formulaic, with the same patterns smattered all over the record, and on a few tracks, there are lots of instrumental passages where not a huge amount happens before Tim's cool voice comes back. As well as that, where it's not a wholly serious affair, if you're listening to it because you want the creative minds of two brilliant individuals to produce an album that's as brilliant artistically as anything they've done before, you'll leave the experience of Hermits on Holiday bitterly disappointed because it's full of nonsense lyrics, almost comic-larger than life personas, and a few songs that feel kind of half written (or at least like they were written in less time than they take to perform).

Don't let any of those negatives get you down though; it's a really nice summer album, which avoids cliches well to be a very accomplished record. It is what it is; it's a bit of fun, it's some talented musicians messing around, it's a summer side project. But Hermits on Holiday is a lovely release and it's kind of exciting that the duo are taking it out on the road this summer.

7.0/10

listen to the charming title track below 



(written by calum cashin)

Kagoule / Urth (album review)



Kagoule are three friends from Nottingham that have grown up together and created Urth; a stunning debut album.The songs on this album unite different sides of guitar music; some grunge elements in the fuzzy guitars, an indie feel in the jangly melodies and vocals, and a punk attitude in the band’s energy and raw edge.

Urth opens with the brilliant Gush. There are some contrasts in this song; firstly, between the male and female vocals which immediately show that there is more depth to Kagoule than your standard alt-rock band. Also there’s a contrast in the relaxed feel of the verses to the heavy rock chorus which creates a very dynamic sound throughout the whole song.

Next on the album is Adjust The Way, one of the band’s earlier songs which was released with It Knows It. Grunge influences such as Pixies and Sonic Youth come through much more in this song with the combination of Lucy Hatter and Cai Burns’ vocals, like in both Sonic Youth and Pixies where you have the mixture of Kim Gordon/Thurston Moore’s and Kim Deal/Black Francis' vocals strong, resonate vocals.

Glue and Damp Sand follow; Cai Burns’ incredible guitar skills shine through in Glue, especially in the savage drops towards the end (his great ability has lead him to be named in Oscar’s top 5 underrated indie guitarists). Damp Sand is a has slightly more of a pop sensibility to it than the other songs on the album, which makes it stand out from the bunch, as well as showing Kagoule’s diverse range of songwriting. I’ve spoken about contrasts in their work before, but next up is Empty Mug which is a much heavier song with more rock elements, and there is an apparent influence from the likes of fellow midlanders Drenge with the shouted lyrics and guitar emphasis.

Greenbeefo is a great instrumental track which surprised me when I first listened to it because I didn’t expect it at all, as well as being a brilliant song it provides a very smooth transition into Centralwing. This is one of my favourites on Urth due to it’s incredibly strong chorus, and the development throughout the song in the melodies. Kagoule's latest single Made Of Concrete is next which is possibly the most typically indie song on the album, as well as being one of the catchiest. Open Mouth is very chilled out, throughout which is different to most other songs because they usually have a heavy chorus, or a heavier verse. One of the best things about Urth is that there is variation in every song so there is a constant sense of excitement as there is no chance of getting bored whilst listening to it. Although they are a relatively young, their music is developed, as shown in Mike and It Knows It through lyrics that actually make you think, as well as excellent drumming. Finally, closing the album is Blue Sun, a song which would sound out of place if it wasn’t for Burns’ unique voice. Blue Sun is Cai on his own with his guitar and is very stripped back compared to the other tracks which creates another dimension in Urth.

This is definitely one of my favourite albums so far this year, and I think it is completely wonderful. I love how they have incorporated different styles, so no song sounds the same at all. This album could easily give Kagoule the publicity to become a major band on the indie circuit in my opinion, because they are quite unlike many other bands at the moment.

20 Aug 2015

Electric River / The Faith and Patience (album review)



London trio (Formerly 4 piece) Electric River’s debut album The Faith and Patience is the product of years of hard work, yet the 2014 release is still almost unsettlingly underground and under appreciated.

The collection of 12 songs features tracks toured around the UK for some years, as well as the singles the band had previously posted on their YouTube page such as Calling Out, Hold Your Nerve and Keep the Engine Burning. These songs have clearly been chosen as singles on merit as these provide the most enjoyable moments on the record alongside The Fixer and Chorus of Fire - a frequent closer to their short but sweet live shows.

As a guitarist myself, it would be unfair not to mention Will Whisson’s imaginative guitar playing throughout the album, drawing inspiration from Dire Straits’ Mark Knopfler and Pearl Jam. His collection of melodic licks and riffs combined with clear, bright guitar tones are the basis for the band’s comparisons to the likes of The Gaslight Anthem, however they still sound fresh and offer a unique and new take on indie rock guitar, sweeping aside generic chord progressions and simple strumming patterns.  His frequent overdriven tones combined with the subtle use of a springy delay pedal enhance his complex solos and lead parts.

It would also be stupid not to mention vocalist/bassist Sponge’s powerful vocal style and solid basslines which consistently rumble beneath Whisson’s crunchy, crisp lead lines. His vocal delivery on tracks such as Cold and Leap of Faith are weighty and authoritative and pair with his punchy, defined basslines.

Alex Mayland’s drumming contributions are also compelling and present his abilities and range of dynamics, from the loud and large choruses of Chorus of Fire to the quieter sections of Watersong.

One negative side to the album in my opinion is the choice of tracklisting - the album goes from strength to strength showcasing the band’s talents for a pop/rock song for the first 7 or so tracks but fails to provide the conviction and punch for the remainder of the record, and tails off slightly nearer the finale. However, this is one of the only downsides in an otherwise phenomenal debut which has somehow failed to break through into even semi-mainstream circles, highlighting how hidden gems can so often be overlooked by the media and prestigious record labels.

The band also manages where many bands fail by having a sense of style; each member looks unmistakably cool in promo shots and the like. Their live shows are also an energetic spectacle with Whisson cranking out classic guitar shop moves and throwing himself about during his solo moments, not unlike a rabid dog, which are subject to change from night to night.

In conclusion, Electric River’s debut is a promising collection of pop rock anthems with a underlying sense of punk rock still managing to shine through. Their brand of indie offers a louder, prouder alternative to many other favourites with indie crowds right now and it’s a shame they have just over a thousand Spotify listens and less than five thousand Facebook likes. The boys have however promised a follow up record despite their limited success with the mainstream thus far. And I for one cannot wait.

8.5/10

this album is available to stream on spotify here

(written by Oscar Sault)

The Wytches / Thunder Lizard's Reprieve (EP review)

Prior to the release of their scuzzy, grunge-influenced debut last year, Annabel Dream Reader, Brighton trio The Wytches released their most overlooked effort to date; the atmospheric, doom-ridden cassette-only Thunder Lizard Revisited EP - it got considerably less attention than their debut, but is an equally essential release for any fans of the band. Now, a year on from their debut album, The Wytches are giving Thunder Lizard a reprieve, as that title is yet again sported by the band. Available as a completely free download, Thunder Lizard Reprieve dropped yesterday via Scion AV's soundcloud.

Opening with a song that's been with us since record store day, and their blistering NME tour performances, Wastybois violently opens The Wytches' first release of 2015. It's got more venom, menace, and malice than anything on last year's debut, and thanks to a storming psychobilly rhythm, some apocalyptic drum breakdowns, and some of Kristian Bell's rawest vocals to date, it's the perfect Wytches track, and maybe the first thing they've done that actually captures the sheer scale of their live vitriol. It's so fucking raw, and so fucking good.

Its cantering power is again matched in the outro of the otherwise stand-offish DADFAC# instrumental, that makes the blood rush with some absolutely storming sounds all 'round, showing that the band are one of the tightest and most capable on the circuit.

On the other end of the scale, showing that the band do waltzing Elliott Smith-esque type numbers just as well, If Not For Money is very much similar to last year's album track Weights and Ties, with more powerful lyrics and a more deadpan, deeply mixed vocal sound, and some very complimentary organ sounds.

With their near-perfect Annabel Dream Reader debut not too long since released, you'd think that The Wytches would have to go the extra mile to better the sound that made sure they were last year's breakout band, and with Thunder Lizard's Reprieve, they've done just that. The vocals are rawer, much more snarling, and the band's vicious menace that they'd previously only demonstrated live is much more apparent here. The Wytches are the perfect band right now, and this is probably their most honed effort to date. As well as that though, they show promise to evolve constantly, as they've said that LP2 will sound nothing like this, meaning that the band still have some surprise punches to pack yet.

10/10



(WRITTEN BY CALUM CASHIN)

19 Aug 2015

indie music's five most underrated guitarists

Many people nowadays assume indie rock to all be Noel Gallagher-influenced 3 chord strumming, leading to many axe-wielding geniuses to be written off and not get the credit they deserve for being the driving force behind their respective bands and creating some incredibly interesting sounds. This is a list of some of indie music's most talented guitarists, and why they're making some of the more interesting noise in the UK right now.

5. Cai – Kagoule
Kagoule are relatively new to the game, however they are already recruiting a number of followers due to the constant flow of brilliant singles powered by an amalgamation of their grunge and britpop influences. Perhaps the main driving force behind the band is the lead vocalist and guitarist Cai. His use of a distorted Fender Strat helps to concoct a raw and edgy sound that the band carry over from their early singles through to their debut album Urth. Cai favours fuzzy lead lines, which often include warping string bends, and smooth transitioning slides between chords.

4. Jon Victor – Gengahr
Although the secondary guitarist and vocalist in Gengahr, Felix Bushe, generally handles the delicate fingerpicking and shimmering chordwork that makes up the most iconic sections Gengahr’s dreamy brand of indie pop (think She’s a Witch's intro or the Fill My Gums With Blood verse parts), John Victor is a genuine candidate for the UKs next alt-music guitar great, following in the footsteps of the likes of John Squire and Andy Bell, both of whom clearly influence his band. His studio sound is more understated but his raucous live tones and his torturing of the fretboard are thereason for Gengahr’s live shows are some of the UK's most hyped. His cool-headed but frequent approach to effects aid Gengahr’s dreamy sound at times but Victor can also flick on the quartet’s heavier side with his fuzz laden solos which still maintain a strong sense of melody.

3. Freddy Cowan – The Vaccines
Despite The Vaccines more recently adopting a more polished, synth-heavy quality to their songs, Freddy Cowan is still one of the most dynamic guitarists to rise from mainstream alternative music in the last few years. From the crusty opening riff of Bad Mood to the winding lead lines in Handsome, Cowan has the knowledge and skill to always find a place for a overdriven six string yet keep a personal spin on Indie and Punk guitar sounds and keep Justin and Co sounding a little bit different. He also has his own signature model of guitar from Farida Guitars.

2. Josh Hayward – The Horrors
Probably the obvious choice for a list such as this, Joshua Hayward's contributions to the Horrors is the very essence of the band alongside the synth foreground. His love of shoegaze guitar techniques and sounds of the 90s power his unique guitar sound and lack of regard for the rules when it comes to what is considered normal for indie rock guitar music. 2009 album Primary Colours is full to the brim of ‘chord gliding’ pastiched straight out of Kevin Shields' arsenal. However, Joshua keeps his guitar sound completely unique due to his competence with electronics and the fact that he creates most effects pedal that he records or uses live himself. His stompbox ridden soundscapes and lead sections battle the Horrors' psych pop which is rife with synth, to earn his place on the list.

1. Kristian Bell – The Wytches
The Brighton threesome’s brooding front man Kristian Bell is often praised for his vocal ability and style but overlooked for his fearsome guitar sound, which is the kingpin of the Wytches’ raw, gnarly blare. Little is known about his exact setup but whatever it is produces a loud and aggressive wall of noise. Kristian’s sound is almost a demented twist on surf guitar (he uses similar Fender guitars and amps to those who are interested). He deserves his place on the list due to his imaginative riffs based around eastern-sounding scales reminiscent of Nirvana's debut single Love Buzz. Kristian acts as the abrasive force behind the Wytches, and is due more recognition for his creativity with strangling an electric or fitting together distant, creepy chords rather than exclusively for his  lyricism and talent for screaming.



(written by oscar sault)

15 Aug 2015

FKA twigs / M3LL155X (EP review)


After the critically acclaimed and Mercury Prize nominated debut LP1 last year, we see a return of twigs, but this time everything is louder, bigger and more theatrical. M3LL15X sees her break away from the softness and sultriness, while still sticking to singing on themes of love and lust, and exploring more prominent beats and R&B styles, which are more prominent as they once took the background. The name of the EP derives from the name Mellissa, which is twigs’ personal female energy and M3LL15X is a way of separating it from herself.

With two of the five tracks previously released, glass & patron and figure 8, we had some idea of what was in store before the surprise release on the 13th August. Track 2, i’m your doll has been around since twigs was 18, discovering her sound and working with local producers in London, and the EP itself has been completed since November last year, but twigs waited until the touring of LP1 had finished for its release.

in time, track 3 was debuted on Annie Mac’s BBC Radio 1 show before the surprise release on Wednesday, where we see a brasher side of twigs, with her repeating “You’ve got a goddamn nerve.”, and the beats used are louder and faster than those that she has used before, and is a great contrast to her work on EP2.

The EP is only improved by twigs’ visual work on it, releasing a 16 minute long video, with music videos for the first 4 tracks, including the previously unveiled video for ‘glass & patron’. Including images of twigs posing as a sex doll and appearances from Michèle Lamy as an anglerfish, it shows that her talents do not only lie musically, but as a performer, an artist and a director, and serves as a great aid to the music, rather than distracting and pulling away from it.

The short-film can be viewed here, and the EP is available for streaming here.

9.0/10

(written by Maya Flew)

14 Aug 2015

Top 5 Elliott Smith songs

I think broadly, while my music taste is really diverse and I don't have favourite genres, I have a tendency to prefer loud, shouty guitar bands over stripped down singer-songwriters. However, with Elliott Smith, a singer-songwriter who so perfectly captured that slightly-rustic, fragile, beautiful American indie sound that Sparklehorse, Modest Mouse and the like are also so brilliant at. With what was sometimes just a guitar, and other times a much more elaborate arrangement, Elliott Smith made some of the most beautiful underground music of his generation, right up until his tragic death in 2003. He's my favourite singer-songwriter, and here is my favourite five of his songs.


5. Let's Get Lost (off From A Basement On A Hill, 2004)
Whilst Elliott might be best known for his sadder numbers, this is a stripped down escapist number full of life and optimism. In it, Smith wants to Find some beautiful place to get lost, and in delivering the sentiment he genuinely sounds really like someone that wants to find, well, some beautiful place to get lost. It's maybe one of Smith's lesser known gems, coming out on his posthumous 2004 album From A Basement On A Hill, but it's certainly a beautiful song.

4. Rose Parade (off Either/Or, 1997)
I've always said the album from which this comes is one of the best albums ever released, every single song on it is absolute gold. From the frantic Pictures of Me, to the bleak, dark 2.45AM, to the very end with the upbeat balladry of Say Yes, every second of Either/Or is perfect. Rose Parade is one of my favourite cuts from the album, and like #5 in the countdown, it's one of Elliott's less downbeat tracks - from what I make of it, Elliott's at some kinda parade and is so introverted that he's overthinking everything and can't take his mind off the trumpeter that got too drunk the night before to focus on playing. It's a really melodically lovely track that features some really brilliant lyrics.

3. Roman Candle (off Roman Candle, 1994)
The archetypal early Elliott composition, Roman Candle is the point in the countdown at which I stop talking about his more upbeat songs. Roman Candle is the dark, frustrated opener from his first album as a solo musician, and it contains all of those themes people associate with Elliott Smith; the feelings of rejection he puts across in this song are so raw and moving, and he sounds so brittle as he sings 'I wanna hurt him/I wanna give him pain/I'm a Roman Candle... head full of flames', but as though he's a quiet guy that's been storing up rage and anger all his life. It's a fucking powerful track.

2. Needle In The Hay (off Elliott Smith, 1995)
Right, so maybe this is a bit more of an obvious pick for a top Elliott Smith track, this is one of those songs that you indie kids might know from the Wes Anderson film, The Royal Tenenbaums, because it's in that oh-so-cheery scene where the hot guy (whose name escapes me) attempts suicide. It's one of Smith's most well-known songs, and I guess the meaning of this stripped back solo track is very open to interpretation, but a lot of the lines in it really hit me hard. 'So leave me alone/You ought to be proud that I’m getting good marks' is just so cutting, because it implies that he's talking to a parent about what is probably heroin addiction, and it's just a heartbreaking track. Despite this though, like all of his music, there's a certain beauty achieved with Elliott's low-key sincerity and his almost whispered vocal delivery, and again, like all his music, it's so easy to get lost in.

1. Between the Bars (off Either/Or, 1997)
So this one probably won't be a surprise to anyone that follows me on twitter and checks my 3AM tweets regularly that this is my absolute favourite, because I've definitely informed the world about how great this is many post-midnight times before. But even though I'm trying to think of a way to say this without resorting to hyperbole but that's downright impossible. This 2.28 punch of crippling sadness is one of the greatest songs ever written, with every single second of it being evocative, crushingly sad, and almost frantic, so not a second is wasted as Elliott's beautiful voice just washes over you. It was kinda tough picking a favourite song by one of my favourite artists, but this is a completely transcendent masterpiece that (sad) people will be listening to forever and ever.


RIP Elliott.

the sound of a place - soundtracking a walk through central london

As an introduction to this slightly more obscure piece I thought I would explain my inspiration for this writing. A lonely Saturday, an early rise, I decided I wouldn’t simply stay at home, I would venture outwards. London has always been a fascination of mine, and going alone (with all the time in the world) gave me piece of mind to fit together any activities with the songs and moods that I felt aptly accompanied my day. Armed with my headphones and enthusiasm I went on my way, taking pictures of some of the places I visited. Make of this journey what you will… this was my day in music.

The journey
The Bus : When waiting in anticipation for a day or event to begin, I often sway towards a sort of scatty and erratic type of song (A song that will only intensify the feeling of excitement). So perhaps predictably I turned to  British Intelligence by  Jamie T. Ultimately, the thrashing lyrics of “and they wont catch no one so they wont catch me” gave me an inner sense of “f**k it I’m going to do this” . I also wouldn’t be surprised if passers-by saw me doing some kind of dance in anticipation and revelation. Jamie T often has this power in his music, that I am  sure not only affects me, but it creates that infinite buzzing sense. I feel this was a perfectly apt choice for a  somewhat bumpy and sickening bus journey to the train station.

Train : Opposite to my bus journey, the train was somewhat more relaxed. The rolling hills passe me by, and calmed me continually throughout the journey. For this I chose the first instillation of Mac Demarco’s new mini album Another One. Highly anticipated, and fresh off the press The way you’d love her is a beautiful song and with Mac’s signature rough and ready tone this is not only a perfect song in general, but perfect for this moment.

Arrival : There’s something about walking through the ticket gates at Waterloo that makes me insanely happy. Therefore, it was a natural choice to listen to the ironic tone of Happy by Misty Miller. A somewhat underrated female artist, Miller’s song Happy starts off as what seems to be an oxymoronic confession of sadness and happiness. Confusing indeed, but excellently crafted and wholly underappreciated. I cannot wait to hear more of Misty Miller, she deserves to be recognised.


Southbank walk
As I wandered aimlessly across London I walked all along Southbank.  A delightful walk filled with bright colours and culture. I thought it only right to pick Between Cans by Hinds as a reflection of the multicultural vibrancy of the city. Labelled as garage rock, Madrid formed Hinds have a certain European twang and interest to their work. Supporting Glass Animals on their up and coming tour, it's once again great to see an all female band launching themselves to inevitable success.


Covent garden
After breathlessly hauling myself up the Covent Garden steps, I stumbled upon a tiny bakery selling pastries and drinks, and sat, central Covent Garden sipping on my over priced London orange juice. This moment was all about watching the busy people of London that passed my seated self. And for this exact reason I picked one of Little Comets’ more refined songs B and B from their most recent album Hope is just a state of mind. Rich in everything harmony related the songs narrative is mainly frustrated and political, two things I think can be associated with London.


Butterfly exhibition
Perhaps one of the more random of destinations, I found myself in South Kensington visiting a butterfly exhibition. For a random moment, I have chosen an utterly random song… Not a crime by Gogol Bordello is a gypsy punk fusion and it is weird yet wonderful. The harsh, almost screaming of the lead vocals and accompanying tambourines really shouldn’t work, but still gives you a sense of *time to dance*.


Chelsea
I merely walked though Chelsea. However it had an air of classiness about it and for this I felt like there was no other voice to match the moment than Lana Del Rey. Carmen is song where her oozy vocals further melt the ears into easy submission. Almost hypnotic, I felt entranced listening to Lana’s voice through my headphones full volume. I felt obliged to listen to her command to “put my lipstick on”.

Show – Miss Saigon
As a controversial lover of musicals, I managed to get cheap tickets for Miss Saigon in Leicester square. For this moment I am picking a song from the musical, “last night of the world”, a totally emotive and moving song from an emotionally challenging musical. I recommend to any musical lover to book tickets.

Home
The journey home was one of complete darkness, and totally alone. For this I picked a song from Gengahr’s new album, which is totally haunting, and whimsically beautiful. She’s a Witch, contemplates “maybe she’ll sink, maybe she’ll fly”, and this philosophical thought of the night was totally correct for this conclusive journey back home, and back to reality. The second song for the 1 hr journey was a retrospective choice, of The Cat Empire’s Chariot.  A song that builds, chariot is the perfect song to accompany any moment in my opinion, especially a lonely late night train journey of contemplation.


(written by grace goslin)

11 Aug 2015

The Maccabees / Marks To Prove It (album review)



The British indie powerhouse band The Maccabees have returned after a few years with their latest offering Marks To Prove It. While their previous album Given To The Wild provided escapism and vastness, Marks To Prove It is based on the closer to home area of Elephant & Castle in Central London. The record has a sophisticated edge and stands out as unique.

They burst back onto the scene, literally in terms of sound, with the loud and fast paced title track Marks To Prove It as the first single. The rough snare of the guitar, twanging riffs and machine gun drumbeat creates a chaotic atmosphere reflective of the busy London streets. It has a very gnarled feel to it setting it completely apart from the soft floaty sounds of Given To The Wild. 

This tougher sound is also present in the darker Spit It Out. It starts with a slow tempo and soft vocals but builds up to explosion of guitar and drums, and the repetition of the lyrics “spit it out” with an angry like chanting quality. It’s a song with progression from something quiet and subtle, becoming very loud and filled with rage.

The album still has its more toned down moments. On Slow Sun the stripped back piano with Orlando’s soft vocals creates a sound that is very dreamy. It has a domesticated theme with the lyrics “waiting up for you, cup of tea for you, that’s real love” “now more than ever, romance in shit weather, the ordinary glory of real love” creating a very relatable atmosphere, that has a simplistic element of beauty. It makes me think of an epic romance in an ordinary location of a London flat.

Silence and Pioneering Systems similarly implement more stripped back instrumentals to create a simplistic and calming sound that feels relatively unaltered. Rather than forming an ethereal wonderland, they remind us of environments we’re familiar with and would fit in well with many people’s own surroundings and ways of life. The faint sampled sounds of trains, cars and chatter in Slow Sun and what sounds like a woman giving directions on Silence assures the Elephant & Castle base of the record.

Something Like Happiness is an explosive and euphoric track with a joyous and loud chorus. The blaring trumpets, epic riffs the twinkling of piano gives the song an uplifting youthful energy. The build up of layers of sounds creates a brilliant energy making this one of the high points of the record. It has an anthemic quality that The Maccabees recreate consistently on all of their albums similar to songs such as X Ray, Pelican and Love You Better.

WW1 Portraits has some of The Maccabees strongest song writing yet littered with poetic metaphors. The tune strangely reminds me of a fairground ride giving an old fashioned innocent quality to it. The sentimental theme and the structure reminded me vaguely of the much lighter cutesy early single of theirs Toothpaste Kisses but it has infinitely more depth and complexity. The initial medium tempo raises and peaks with flares of loud guitar riffs and vocals filled with passion. It’s a song that strikes me as fascinating and thought provoking with a rich intensity of sound.

The Maccabees have managed to produce another brilliant record with a lot of character to it that manages to stand out as distinctive in the Indie Rock genre.  The long wait for new material has definitely paid off, and “Marks To Prove It” is a strong evolution of the band’s work.

8.5/10

10 Aug 2015

Will the Real Slim Shady Please Leave Women the Fuck Alone


Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE who listens to music has one or two guilty pleasures. I refrain from using that term, because if you enjoy something, why feel guilty about it? But, regarding the artists that I’m about to mention, I genuinely feel guilt in the pit of my stomach when I listen to them, no matter how intoxicated I am at the time.

We live in a world where violence against women is still a thing that we have to live with daily. Considering many of us can’t walk home at night without giving ourselves whiplash from looking behind us so often, I think it’s disgusting that so many artists think it’s ok to glamourise and even normalise misogyny, as well as even condoning murder.

I reckon I chose to finally get around to writing this article at a good time. Having just released his first album in 16 years, Dr. Dre has recruited a rather flashy list of special guests to star on the album. Despite the rather hefty wait, for me, the album release, despite musical content, isn’t worthy of much celebration. One of those guests is Eminem, a repeat offender for including couldn’t-care-less misogyny in his lyrics. Eminem raps about raping and killing woman with as much ease as you would have singing about normal everyday things; I for one find that horrifying.

On penultimate track Medicine Man, Eminem dishes out the rather pleasant line of "Ain't no one safe from, non-believers there ain't none/I even make the bitches I rape cum".  What a way to show power and status, eh? Let’s also mention a skit by Dre at the end of Loose Cannons; it seems to depict him murdering and burying a woman. It worries me slightly that that’s the result of the best part of two decade’s work.

I could probably fill up half of Vapour Trail with examples of Eminem’s drivel, but only a few more spring to my currently-very-tired mind. In Roman’s Revenge, a collab with Nicki Minaj, there’s so much blatant women-hating venom that’s I’m surprised and slightly concerned why Minaj worked with him in the first place. "You don't like it then peel off, bitch/Every last woman on Earth I'll kill off, and I still wouldn't fuck you, slut.” Charming. I doubt she’d want anything to do with you anyway after you’ve killed all of the women on earth, to be honest.
 
Another example, pretty much an entire song’s worth, is So Much Better from Eminem’s eighth studio album, released in 2013. Recorded when he was 40 year’s of age, you would think that the lyrical content would reflect the intelligence/general human decency of someone of that age, but, apparently not. To save putting the entire song in quotation marks, I’ve included a fun little hyperlink to the complete lyrics.

Another prolific artist who seems to get away with spouting murderous rage is Tyler, The Creator. Also having a good few paragraphs worth of misogynistic content in his songs, it’ll be easier on my freakishly small hands to hyperlink you to one of his most well known offences, “Sandwitches”. Such a promising song title, too.

Having drifited in and out of interest in Tyler and his music, it appeared to me that with his latest album offering, that he has matured in himself and his songwriting, but according to reports saying that he’s been banned from visiting Austrailia, to which he retorted by calling a feminist campaign organiser a “cunt” and a “fucking whore”, I’m not too sure anymore.

So, what’s the excuse for these artists being able to get away with rapping about what would land any normal person in prison? Not figured it out yet? They’re in character! I would never have guessed. Rapping under the guise of Slim Shady and Tyler,The Creator these two, amongst countless others, are allowed to rap/sing about anything they want, because they’re in character, so they obviously don’t mean it!

Regardless of if you’re in character of not, why rap about raping and killing women when there’s trillions of other things you could rap about? I, for one, don’t understand the appeal. Sure, it's 'just a story', but that's symptomatic of the sexist views that are so important to our culture - there are considerably less stories in songs about men getting murdered, and when they are, their gender is rarely in any way a factor, unlike Eminem and his discontent for 'bitches' and 'sluts'. And furthermore, why do the majority seem to accept it so easily? Yes, violence against women etc. is a thing that occurs nearly every second, and something that some of us spend a good portion of our lives avoiding/preparing for/protecting ourselves against, but that doesn’t mean that it needs to be glamourised, normalised, or sang about so matter of factly by people who will most likely never experience it.

If artists are so insistent that all of the misogynist drivel they project so matter of factly is acceptable, due to a guise, maybe next time they should include a warning before every song, or, y’know, not sing about raping and killing women in the first place. That'd be nice.

(written by molly chard)