28 Sep 2015

Hinds and The Parrots' double video - reviewed and raved about

Following the hit record store day release, Spanish indie rockers Hinds and The Parrots have released a double video of Hinds’cover of Thee Headcoats’ song Davey Crockett and Parrots’ cover of The Almighty Defenders song All My Loving.

This video encapsulates the wild energy that both bands have become loved for. Marc Oller directed the video and it was produced by Canada; Canada have also done a video for She & Him video with the song Stay Awhile. In the video the bands are shot being together around a skatepark, general streets and it finished in a home as if it was taken whilst a group of friends on a night out. Throughout the whole thing it just looks like fun, and personally I now really wanna go out with them!

With Hinds’ album Leave Me Alone set to be released on January 8th 2016 with Mom+Pop / Lucky Number, and The Very Best Of Hinds EP already out there is a lot of hype around these girls. They’re setting off on a US tour soon with a proposed UK tour on the way in February there is a lot to look forward to.

The Parrots are also a busy band with some solo UK dates as well as support dates set with Spring King and the Hooton Tennis Club.

here’s the link to the video
and here is Hinds’ website for more information about ep and album preorders as well as gig dates

(written by isobel mcleod)

The top 5 Pavement songs

Pavement defined a decade of messy haired indie college rock, with their tight playing, catchy melodies, and of course, the masterful wit and poetry of Stephen Malkmus. For many people they were just one of the most important bands of their youth, and a lot of the lyrics resonate today, whilst lots of the playing still sounds sleek and very modern. I thought I'd put together my favourite 5 tracks by one of the most legendary indie rock bands for all to see, so have a read of the Top 5 Pavement tracks.

5. Conduit For Sale (off Slanted and Enchanted)
Ranting and rambling, this is the song that some people cite as them ripping The Fall of the most... maybe they have a point, but it's pure ranting poetry, and maybe the best album track on their debut. Tentative guitar trembles give way for Malkmus' barbaric battle cry of I'M TRYING I''M TRYING, showcasing the band at their most raucous and rough and just plain ANGRY. Even Mark E Smith would be proud of the rambling sonnetry, and it's just a brilliant track you can't ignore on the album.

4. Major Leagues (EP title track)
We've seen the California band at their most angry, and this is them at their most resigned, and most sad. Dreamy melodies are backed up by forlorn lyrics like 'wet sand on moderate clay, relationships hey hey hey'. This was their last single/EP, and maybe a really apt goodbye; the lyrics don't entirely chart that, but the general mood is there; again, this song is just notable for the pure poetry of Stephen & the gang.

3. Unseen Power of the Picket Fence (Shady Lane b-side)
Pavement are just so happy to role out the indie rock diss tracks, which in an ultra conservative lets-just-sing-about-getting-fucked-up-then-getting-fucked attitude led scene is just really fucking cool. here they lay into REM, and it's just glorious scuzzy fuzzy indie rock angst hitting you in the fact gloriously.

2. Filmore Jive (off Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain)
OK, ok, so listen to THIS live version of this windy windy masterpiece. It's one of Pavement's most ambitious songs almost at seven minutes in the studio, and topping 10 in some live environments. the last track off of what is PROBABLY, of all their masterpieces, considered Pavement's magnum opus, Crooked Rain. The guitar work here is absolutely killer, and it's been pastiched again and again with it's killer dynamics; as recently as last month FIDLAR were closing their Too album with a song that did exactly the same, and gosh it was just flawless.

1. Range Life
THE ULTIMATE WHITE INDIE BOY DISS TRACK, this is a ramshackle jangle-pop odyssey that just starts off with Malkmus taking a pop at the whole touring lifestyle, before escalating in a kinda slacker carefree manner to him just taking a rightful pop at the Smashing Pumpkins (who he 'really couldn't give a fuck' about) and Stone Temple Pilots ('elegant bachelors'). In response Billy Corgan said something back at Pavement along the lines of 'Pavement suck, who wakes up with a Pavement tune in their head?' WELL BILLY I DO. And so does anyone that's ever heard Cut Your Hair or Shady Lane. In fact, almost all of Pavement's back catalogue is something that you can sing back. It's all much catchier than anything on The Smashing Pumpkins' 3 hour long angst-grunge albums anyway. But the point is, this is a steadfast classic by one of the greatest alternative rock bands of all time.

further listening!
Summer Babe - flawless slacker pop that is just the ultimate lazy love song
All My Friends - sadly not an LCD Soundsystem cover, it's a proper college-rock hidden gem
Elevate Me Later - musical euphoria to help crack open the beast that is Crooked Rain...
Shady Lane - another indie pop gem that climaxes with the cries of 'oh my god, oh your god, ETC'
Frontwards - early EP track with a really great feel good momentum
Same Way of Saying - Guided by Voices style lo-fi with typically poetic lyrics

[ written by calum cashin ]

27 Sep 2015

Houdini Dax / Naughty Nation (album review)

Bouncing back from a horrendous few months involving thousands of pounds worth of equipment stolen, Welsh pop-rockers Houdini Dax have been around the block for a few years, showcasing their care-free, ripe anthems, and new album Naughty Nation incorporates elements of surf, indie and pop to create a fun, free spirited record worthy of a few listens.
Apple Tree marks the start of the 10-track collection and it’s fuzzy guitars and distant harmonica voices, make for arguably the album’s highlight, capped off with a noisy solo and some swinging vocal harmonies.
Good Old Fashioned Maniac is a sweet pop tune- vintage vibes ooze from the guitar melodies and charming vocals tinged with an upbeat and summery quality.

The closer and title track Naughty Nation is another outstander, this time capturing lead vocalist Jack Butler’s quality as both a guitarist and lyricist. 

For fans of feel-good, sunny Indie, Naughty Nation is an album for you.


(written by oscar sault)

Introducing Guerilla Toss, the biggest name in mind-melting rage-psych

A raucous cross between warped post-Loveless soundscapes and a throbbing, determined momentum, Guerilla Toss are a band from New York to really get excited about. They're signed to DFA records, who you might know as the label that released the greatest indie rock album of the 21st century with LCD Soundsystem's Sound Of Silver, and are poised to release one of the year's most interesting EPs, in October's Flood Dosed.

As well as Sam Lisabeth's dystopic synth tones, pummelled out to give the band's instrumentation its distinctive sound, frontwoman Kassie Nicholson also helps to give Guerilla Toss a sound like no other, with her frenzied vocals that are somewhere between the yelps of Delta 5 and the sheer anger and frustration of Kathleen Hanna and Karen O at their primal bests.

Guerilla Toss are like no other band you'll hear, with not only a distinctive sound of their own, but also with their long, winding song structures. Their music is challenging, loud, and it certainly couldn't be described as inoffensive, but like NYC forebearers Sonic Youth, Liars and Black Dice, Guerilla Toss push boundaries to make some of the most exciting music you'll hear today.

their flood dosed ep is out october 8th via dfa records
you can listen to it here
and find them on twitter @guerilla_toss

(written by calum cashin)

26 Sep 2015

Mercury Rev / The Light In You (album review)

Maybe the best way to start this review is with the following statement: even as a huge fan of shoegaze, dream-pop and US indie rock around the time the Rev really hit their stride, I only actually properly listened to Mercury Rev for the first time a few months ago when I found Deserter Songs at a car boot in Sleaford (where there, disappointingly, was no mods). For this reason, I'm not really sure I have any idea what the previous output of this band sounds like, and I'm just going to review this record for what it is; 11 songs and 45 minutes, and nothing more.

Opening with Queen Of Swans, The Light In You sounds so mystical and really shimmery; not like anything of this world really. The lead vocals of John Donohue are kinda like Wayne Coyne's on Soft Bulletin, and sound really neurotic, but are just so beautifully complimented by the instrumental arrangement that this just sounds so dreamy.

For the whole of the record, bar a few tracks, Mercury Rev's latest record just feels like a whistlestop sonic tour of woozy, misty dreamworld - strings and things and harmonic vocals combined with some ethereal production essentially give this the ultimate dream-pop sound, being incredibly dreamy without losing any of its pop sensibility.

The Light In You is just a largely euphoric record, but there are particular high points. Emotional Free Fall is a song that just has a lot of swaying momentum, taking queues even from more modern shoegaze bands like DIIV and Sunflower Bean, and Central Park East, although being earmarked as a bit of a duff track by some journalists, just has a wonderful feel to it all the way through - this band are so prolific at creating a really mesmerising blanket of sounds.

Maybe the album does have some bad tracks on it - or rather some that sound SO unbelievably outta place. Sunflower is a really odd cinematic jazz track that with a rampant horn section, sounds like the arranged marriage of the later Miles Davis albums and The Teardrop Explodes. Similarly, almost comic book Rainy Day Record is a bit of an odd choice for album closer, following the undeniably beautiful dream-pop ditty Moth Light with some almost childish northern soul stomp. Both Rainy Day Record and Sunflower are good enough songs, but I can't help but feel that they could have come earlier on the record so that the record could have ended in a relaxing satisfying way.

That said, there's no doubt that this is a collection of 11 really wonderful songs, and it's inspired me to seek out more Mercury Rev. I'm assuming this is their trademark sound, but it's a really perfect example of dream-pop tinged sad American indie rock, and if you need some more of that in your life (like I definitely do) then get in touch with The Rev.


(written by calum cashin)

24 Sep 2015

Birdskulls / Trickle (album review)

Maybe it's exactly what you'd expect, but the debut LP by Brighton skate punks Birdskulls is an absolutely essential listen, really.

You might know them for their brilliant 3 minute singles Rolling Tongue and Good Enough, so maybe you'd be forgiven for expecting this to be a procession of half-shouted punk rock sung by someone that sounds like they're definitely better than you are at riding a skateboard. But really, in terms of structure and style, Trickle, the band's first full length is full of ambition, skill, and real honed proto-punk perfection.

There's a couple of 2 minute dinner-bringers a la Ramones with attitude problems, coming in the form of the title track and opener Poltergeist, the latter of which REALLY channels Placebo too, teenage angst et al.

On the other end of the spectrum, there's a few longer tracks; final number Coma Hospital is maybe the most brutal track on here, a real hard-riffing number before it fades out to a fuzzy ocean of noise. Again, after a bit of a buildup of emotion brewing, Thursday is also pretty dense with riffs, which are complimented by some fantastic drumming and some jangly guitars that help give the whole thing a range of emotional dynamics.

However, the time Birdskulls are most comfortable and most accomplished is on the ravenous no holds barred could-be-singles - rumbler Good Enough is about as Nirvana as Birdskulls get with vocals and guitar thrashes that channel Kurt Cobain, and Sever is just a really, really solid work of fuzzy guitar rock.

It's a really solid album that doesn't even begin to get repetitive while you listen to it. Birdskulls are an incredibly talented trio, and well, as far as bands that go for the classic 'punk' sound go, this band are the cream of the pile.


you can stream the whole album below

[written by calum cashin]

22 Sep 2015

The Japanese House : an overview of your new favourite artist

The Japanese House: “I didn’t want the mystery to become bigger than the music; I’m not wearing a balaclava”

Amber Bain is the ambiguous voice and creative brain behind The Japanese House. Google searches reveal little more than this, giving her music an intense mystery waiting to be solved or discovered.

I cannot help but wish to plug in my headphones in a dark, or dimly lit incense filled room only to overwhelm my mind with her captivating noise. The whole production of their music seems pretentiously spiritual and soothing. The Japanese House are borderline impossible to describe, but they most definitely incorporate a mix of low ethereal harmonies, layered with enough beats and synths to passionately sway or bop to.

The six singles released by The Japanese House are fragmented installments that create the kind of story where imagination is the only limit. An accurate but horrendous cliché, not even Bain’s produced haunting voice reveals any sort of identity, only originality.

It is not hard to hear the very poppy production of which the culprits are the likes of Mathew Healy and George Daniel. However, this doesn’t distract from the beauty of what The Japanese House have created, simply adds to the pages of an unfinished story. The cover art gives a sense of a dystopian LA or similar location, reflecting the sense that the music they are creating is both pop and the opposite simultaneously. In reflection the Japanese Houses’ ambiguity adds to their uniqueness making them conclusively likeable.

You can listen to some below here - so burn some overpowering incense and enjoy

(written by grace goslin)

Sonic A.M. / Magnet (single review)

Sonic A.M are a Holmes Chapel based Grunge Pop trio who have released their second single since a power packed run of August dates at venues such as Zanzibar, Liverpool and Night and Day Café, Manchester. 
The band are influenced by major indie successes like The Cribs and Modest Mouse, and they operate with a strict DIY ethic therefore recording and releasing all their songs themselves. 
The new song Magnet is great. It's full of different riffs that subtly compliment one another - the song notably sounds original and different, this is sometimes hard to achieve with such a strict DIY ethic. The song features an in-depth analysis on music culture in today's society and how this can be identified as almost a product. With lyrics that oppose alternative modern music (which is complimented by heavy riffs) gives the song and listeners a new perspective expertly. 
'Magnet'  takes an effortless insight into the underground music scene in North West America (Portland/Olympia), and this inspiration is portrayed throughout the song. 
With the song due to be released on Spotify & iTunes make sure you give it a listen. They're an awesome band that deserves recognition.
it's a free download here, so you don't actually have any excuse

The V2s' swirling new video for YOU DON'T KNOW ME is further proof the psych band are ones to latch onto

One of the more exciting guitar bands on the south coast as it is, The V2s' debut single (which we reviewed and loved earlier this month). Full of fuzz that just belongs in 1970's Detroit and some brash, angsty vocals, the teenage band's ode to drunken conversations with strangers just got a bit of a reboot with a video that basically just compliments the band's sound perfectly with lots of swirling psychedelic colours and DIY ghost imagery. And what's more, Mac DeMarco's mum is a fan of the Bournemouth band, so with us and Agnes as their biggest fans, the V2s have got some pretty credible backing.

You can watch the review for the brilliant single below...

listen to more V2s here
they're playing The Joiners in Southampton on Thursday - event page is just here

(written by calum cashin)

The Iain Duncan Smiths / Pig's Mouth Strikes Again (song review)

Tribute bands aren't normally the best place to hear music, but I think with this London-based Smiths this phrase is completely rubbished. The Iain Duncan Smiths are a breath of fresh air; last week we reviewed their debut album, and gave it a might 8.3 score in the process, and already, they're back with more fiercely political antics.

If you've not heard about #PigGate, where have you been? Allegations from a pretty reliable-seeming source have said that our actual prime minister had sexual relations with a pig. That was dead.

The internet's been flooded with jokes and memes, some bloody good, and some just bloody awful. But maybe the best reaction to it is this; Pig's Mouth Strikes Again, the latest Iain Duncan Smiths release. A two minute blast of acoustic fury, this is the perfect way to repurpose an old classic.

What's more, I bet Morrissey thinks it's fucking brilliant.

(check out their soundcloud for more anti-tory pop gems)

(written by calum cashin)

21 Sep 2015

The world won't listen - Morrissey @ Hammersmith Apollo, London (live review)

By a strange twist of fate, I ended up seeing Morrissey at the Hammersmith Apollo last night, and his performance was almost flawless. As a former devotee of The Smiths and a past idoliser of the man in question, I enjoyed the experience, but in many ways it was an eye opener. Morrissey is one of those people who could stand still on a stage, in complete silence, and you’d still feel his presence. Of course the set was good, because however aged he may be, he is still the same man who fronted The Smiths, shook up the mainstream with his solo career and is one of the most controversial and original individuals in the English vernacular and then some.

Amidst the hits and stage antics – which saw longstanding guitarist Boz Boorer wind up behind the drums – this show was far more political than Morrissey’s jaunt at the O2. In a slightly smaller venue, every point hits harder and people’s reactions are more evident. The painful ambiguity behind Morrissey’s stance towards racial equality was addressed; before he came on, a video of Young, Gifted and Black by Bob and Marcia was played, if you can take anything from that. It felt like this was finally an attempt to clean the slate, which was to some extent openly confirmed by the song, Ganglord. A sleek attack on police brutality, the track concerned features the line, ‘they say: “To protect and serve,” but what they really mean to say is: “Get back to the ghetto,” with the accompaniment of a montage of American police brutality, the majority of which, by no strange coincidence, happens to be against African Americans. Regardless of Morrissey’s position as a white man, now considerably well off, I think it’s important for someone with such a large audience to say these things.

And now I come to my comments on the audience, who are the central motivation for this article and who caused by far the most confusion of the night, Morrissey’s boot-cut jeans aside. Before World Peace Is None of Your Business, Morrissey congratulated Jeremy Corbyn’s stance against the monarchy and his resolve in abstaining from that jingoistic emetic we call our national anthem. A good number of people booed, with various expletives more distinctly audible than others. I dismissed this; it would be naïve to see someone as widely popular as Morrissey and expect everyone to hold the appropriate views. Nonetheless, I found it disheartening.

The instance that really drove the knife in came before The World Is Full of Crashing Bores, ironically. Morrissey commented on the Conservative government, and asked ‘are you happy?’ rhetorically, obviously, but many people took it upon themselves to cheer. A woman standing next to me shouted ‘yes!’ along with some nonsense about taxes. Hang on a second. You’ve come to see the man who was interrogated for writing Margaret on the Guillotine, but you’re a proud Tory? Are you even listening to the words? Do you know where you are? If you’re looking for indiscriminate entertainment why would you choose Morrissey? I hear Gary Barlow is Conservative friendly.

Towards the end of the set, Morrissey sang his obligatory rendition of Meat Is Murder, which – as you would expect – was ignored by a large number of people.

As a clip of a cow being abused before its torturous slaughter flickered on the screen behind the band, he asked ‘do you care?’ to which the answer was clearly ‘no’ for a lot of people. Some people turned away from the screen, literally turning a blind eye.

This is very judgemental in some ways, and it’s probably not true of many people who were there. For me it was the final part of a revelation, which has been a long time coming. When I first started listening to Morrissey, I saw him as a bastion of reason; if people connect with these words like I do, then they must have the same views as me. Clearly they do not. ‘They’ are now largely middle aged, almost exclusively white, and simply want some pleasant music to put on in the background. Maybe the numerous controversies surrounding Morrissey’s personal views have attracted people the same way I was, but to them, ‘Morrissey’ means something else. It took a brilliant show and an ordinary audience to make me realise just how observant it was to call an album The World Won’t Listen.


20 Sep 2015

The NME Has Turned Into The New Labour Of Music Magazines And I'm Worried Jeremy Corbyn Can't Fix It

1997 was a time for a lotta political change in Britain; it signaled the ousting of the Tories after about 20 years of Thatcher & co's political stranglehold. Tony Blair was elected in on a landslide, by moving the core of the Labour party to the centre a notch, and everything seemed really great for Britain. Dandy.

Fast forward to some elections and an illegal war later - Tony Blair and the New Labour movement subalternated the voices of the left wing, and left all the political parties seeming just like homogeneous fuck pies that were completely indistinguishable from one another.

Similarly, flash back to the 1980's and 1990's. The music magazine known as the New Musical Express is one of the most important things for underground music. It's a weekly paper that comprehensively informs everyone of indie, alternative, hip-hop and noise music in a way that's only tackled by niche online publications these days. I don't want to go on and on about how great the NME was before I was born, but to lots of people it was hugely important collecting loads of reviews, gig previews, and big features on bands that are just really exciting, and at the time were driving on the alternative music of Great Britain. Really alternative artists were on the cover and were completely made by the positive press that papers like the NME granted them.

And again, fast forward to the present day; it's a really important week for the New Musical Express; it's going to be free for all to get. If you were like me and walking the busy streets of London (or any other city for that matter), you'll probably have had the magazine thrust under your nose by someone with a great megaphone. Once I was handed the mag I immediately had a scan of it - and I was immediately disappointed, because it had quite literally BECOME NEW LABOUR.

Over the past 10 or so years, the music covered in the NME has probably tottered closer and closer to the mainstream; this is shown by Rihanna's presence on the front cover - which isn't something I'm wholly against because she's a successful talented pop star - instead of the presence of artists that are, for want of a better word, more interesting. As well as this, this week's comes with a whole section on the Big Bang Theory, a feature in which well-dressed people are asked what they're wearing and what they're listening to (shout out to Jamie-Leigh from that section though, for listening to Micachu and The Shapes) and a sort of 'things we like' section, which is a seemingly half baked advertorial.

I guess that all the focus on this instead of any actual music coverage is the latest in a line of ideas to make more people consume the whole music magazine, to go with it's really well-to-do NME.com website, but really, the whole thing just feels a bit half arsed and not very specialist at all. Instead of focusing on what it really set out to do, provide really good coverage on new music and the like, it's just here to provide OK coverage on lots of stuff, which means that on the whole it's just not all that interesting a read for me, even as someone really interested in new music, old music, and even the sorta fashion and film areas they're trying to branch out in.

I don't think the New Musical Express' foray into film and fashion is necessarily a bad thing, but seeing as the coverage on music that the magazine grants suffers so badly for it, maybe they shouldn't be so all over featuring whatever else. For example; as recent as a year ago, the music review section was really quite spot on (whatever your opinion on the stuff that's being reviewed), because it was conscise and offered actual insight on the content of the albums, live shows and festivals being reviewed. With the new issue and all its *~aesthetic~*, though, the reviews have been cut down to only covering a few pages, with only the two 'biggest' getting more than a sentence on them. For example, the new Mercury Rev's review literally offers no information about it other than a sentence of paraphrased press release, and a two star rating - come on NME, to fuck did you actually listen to that album.

So ultimately, NME has moved so far away from its 'heyday' that it's almost unrecognisable, offering a really small amount of press coverage for young underground bands and artists that aren't just four white boys with guitars covering Last Nite. It's been kinda like this for a while I know, but the new rebranding is another drastic slip of quality for the NME in it's newfound mission to please everyone a little bit instead of please a small audience a hell of a lot.

Oh, and it shouldn't be exempt from criticism because it's 'free'. CRACK magazine is free and it's fucking brilliant. Loud And Quiet is free and it's fucking brilliant. DIY magazine is free and it's fucking brilliant. And Vapour Trail is... alright, but certainly free. NME is now very much the New Labour of music magazines, and if it takes Jeremy Corbyn putting Beach House or Savages on the cover with his bear hands, then that's what it takes to make the NME worth it's price tag of £0.00 again.

you can pick up the NME from pretty much every major city's hmv, topman, uni and transport station, but i'm not really sure it's worth it. instead visit your local record shop and pick up a crack magazine or a diy magazine

(written by calum cashin)

19 Sep 2015

Brighton's latest sonic export - why Black Honey are one band you should get to know...


Over the past few years, Brighton has produced some of the freshest talent to grace the indie music scene; with bands such as The Wytches and The Magic Gang creating catchy new tunes. Four piece Black Honey have certainly exceeded expectations of the tired stereotype 'another' indie band, and if their huge talent has anything to do with it, they'll be just as big as the two earlier bands for next Summer's festival season.
You could say that the band have sort of 'come out of nowhere',  however, they come bearing gifts of kitschy, funk-pop influenced tracks that are to be featured on their debut EP. Black Honey have clearly established their sound - tracks like 'Madonna' has elements of grungy sludge and 70s funk guitar riffs, which works well along side an incredibly poetic, however dominant, vocal. This poetic dominance is showcased best in the track 'sleep forever' where courageously talented lead Izzy B Phillips shows us that she means business. Maybe putting it a little too simply, her vocals have similarities with Wolf Alice's Ellie Rowsell and Alvvays' Molly Rankin, which, with them being two of indie music's best singers.

This summer has proved to be a huge success for the band, with slots at Ynot festival, Kendall Calling and Reading and Leeds; their popularity with teens has grown enormously. Proving to be unmissable at festivals this year; Black Honey have announced autumn tour dates to branch out again and do what the band does best. Be sure to catch Black Honey at one of their shows this October!

(written by ruby kenwright)

18 Sep 2015

Why you just might fall for The Love Company

At the moment people seem to like their guitars sparse and very slightly jangly, and their rhythms spacious and breezy. If this is the case, you’ll love The Love Company with all your heart.

The most recent project of Ryan Tennant (previously from Drawl, whom there is a very slight chance you may be aware of), The Love Company is preparing to burst into the world with a new album, which, if the demo recordings on Soundcloud are anything to go by, will arrest your mind and flip it round for a while.    

Much of what I have typed could be perceived as flagrant, but I insist that after hearing the weaving guitars and waves of vocals harmonies on May Your Last Days Be Golden, the gently pulsing synthesizers of Go onto Better Things, you’ll only be able to say positive things about The Love Company.

Whilst Ryan has undoubtedly worshiped at the much-frequented altars of Connan Mockasin and Mac DeMarco, songs like Breathe and Interval come as something new, with a ‘post-folk’, almost Coney Island Baby tint.

As an entirety, the Love Company Demos are voluminous and truly individual – even if lots of people are using chorus pedals at the moment, they’re not in the same league. If you listen to The Love Company, you’ll probably like them, and if you like them you can thank them by keeping an eye out for what they do next.

(written by jonah hartley)

The Iain Duncan Smiths / Devils Tunes: The Very Worst of the IainDuncan Smiths (album review)

Sometimes classics just shouldn't be touched, is a view that maybe more than just a few people share. But as the frontman of Iain Duncan Smith themed Smiths tribute band The Iain Duncan Smiths cries "I'm so happy with my place in the cabinet, but heaven knows you're miserable now… in my life I spend my time making vulnerable people die" on third track Heaven Knows Your Miserabe Now it's plain to see that this band has definitely breathed a whole new life into 15 individual Smiths songs. I think maybe because the band repurpose the original classics with a similar left-wing angle to the one which The Smiths originally came from in the 1980's, albeit in a way that's much larger than life, this tribute band just feels so RIGHT.

The Iain Duncan Smiths' first album came out via soundcloud recently, and it's already what I'd describe as one of the great instances in which comedy and music have crossed over. The most of the songs on the album are reworking a of singles and well known classics, with a couple of odder album tracks, written from the perspective of Iain Duncan Smith - the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions - tackling a range of political and social issues that the Tory politician has (or would theoretically) face in the role that so many people have signed a petition to get him removed from. With song titles including Still Ill (No Sick Pay), Priti Patel Makes Graves and This Balanced Plan, it's obvious that this album is a wonderfully eloquent, politically astute comedy record. 

Throughout the album, lyrical gems like "you can't go out tonight because you haven't got a pound to spare" and "Girlfriend in a coma I know, I know, she's really fit for work" wittily mock both Duncan Smith's work and more widely the Tory government in a way that's really creative and really brilliant. During my first listen to this album I found myself grinning for the entire duration, and whilst it does lose its novelty quite quickly, I'm just generally glad it exists. Overall Devil's Tunes is as good as any comedy album could ever be, and like I say, although the novelty wears off, for 45 minutes it's just the best anti-Tory-scum satire in the business. 


17 Sep 2015

FRANK / Shallow End (single review)

Shallow End / The Hanged Man cover art

Frank’s highly anticipated single Shallow End has arrived! There was a few complications along the way, but it’s here and it’s brilliant. Shallow End is full of all the noise, energy and grunge that you'd expect from the Birmingham band. What more can you want?

Opening with only a few seconds of fuzzy bass Frank go straight into the shouting of “You smoke too much weed / Go cry yourself to sleep”. It is clear why this song took longer to record, mix and master than the b-side, as this track is very developed with it's sophisticated production, distorted riffs and the range of vocals. A lot of angst comes through in the low repetition of “Why do I try?” which makes it easy to compare the band to the likes of Mudhoney and Dirty-era Sonic Youth.

This track is a lot more refined than the original demo yet hasn’t lost any of the original edge. Both Shallow End and b-side The Hanged Man make this debut one to be proud of. Personally I’m really excited to see what comes next from Frank because they’re definitely ones to watch out for.

yr able to buy cassettes and cds of this single which includes b-side The Hanged Man and artwork from Poppy Marriott from their bandcamp

(written by isobel mcleod)

16 Sep 2015

DIIV / Dopamine (single review)

DIIV are an odd band; three years ago they released a really solid, if not formulaic, debut album that is still one of the best shoegaze revival albums out there. As good as it was though, the band's fanbase didn't really start to grow this side of the pond til about a year or so after, as the brilliance of their record got out and all. Now, having played about 7 shows since the record Oshin and having released zero songs since then, the band have a seemingly huge cult teenage following, and I don't really have an explanation as to why - the mythology surrounding the band just seemed to grow and grow with them doing precisely nothing, so much like the way that The Libertines weren't big enough to headline festivals, then broke up, then were, the New York band are now writing music for a really big audience.

So whilst they've not been releasing music, and only on occasion increasing their notoriety by getting in tussles and being arrested for carrying large amounts of Class A drugs, DIIV haven't really done anything to better themselves since their 2012 debut. So in a way that was just incredibly pessimistic, I just expected their forthcoming sophomore album to be a bit disappointing, because as we've just learnt with The Libs' new album, having a huge mythology around you only serves to make your inevitably average albums even more disappointing. 

However, I think with their new single; DIIV might just have put out music that justifies the hype, pretention, and fucking long wait surrounding the release of true new album Is The Is Are, which is meant to be out this autumn at some point. At first listen, you might think that with Dopamin the band have maybe shown a lack of ambition - the opening motifs sound like an Oshin offcut, but the more you get into the song and the more you listen to it, you can hear that the band have really developed their sound for it. Unlike Oshin, where the songs kinda have one mood for the whole duration, which does serve to entrance the listener,  with the middle of Dopamine, DIIV hit you with an evocative mood change, brilliantly layered harmonic guitars and a serene keyboard part. It's a really nice track, where the band have just developed what they had before and not really ventured into the unknown, which is cool to be honest, because it's a sound they've just honed so much. 

I think this track is a really solid single that gives fans of the band something that's been on the cards a long time - some new DIIV music. I think to justify all the hype around them, they'd have to - as promised in some interviews - explore a range of moods and sounds with their new album, but if nothing else this release proved that DIIV are just GOOD. Very good. And their new album might be too.

(written by calum cashin)

14 Sep 2015

Flyte / Please Eloise (single review)

Funky guitar riffs and fitting lyrics are not the only component in sweet abundance throughout London formed Indie Pop band Flyte’s  newest single.

 A band recently recognised for supporting Bombay Bicycle Club, Flyte are sure to be capturing a fairly bog standard audience as well as that of the more alternative crowd with the almost sickeningly poppy yet loveable Please Eloise. Cliché to the many great songs the pay homage to some sort of long lost female lover Please Eloise is no different. The memorable chorus; strong uplifting harmonies, and tropical cover art,might bring a decent summer to the UK yet! Often donning a flower patterned shirt and accompanying baby blue guitar, frontman Will Taylor looks much like the he might be a visual embodiment of their newest single.

Released only marginally too late to be the epic summer tune it might have been, I should hope this single draws a significant amount of well-deserved attention to the band.

hear it here
(written by grace goslin)

The Libertines / Anthems For Doomed Youth (album review)

I remember back in yesteryear when I was avoiding reading Of Mice and Men at GCSE and I kept hearing this word “microcosm” being thrown around the classroom. Well I think it turned out to be a fancy word for “snapshot” or maybe “slice” or whatever, I don’t know. I got a B. Honestly I could be way off the mark here but for arguments sake let’s pretend I’m right. Anyways, with The Libertines there are plenty of snapshots that represent the band as a whole; for example there is of course *that* famous photograph of Pete and Carl slumped into each other drunkenly showing off their tattoos. Peter (fresh out of prison) is looking rough and shying away from the photographer but defiantly displaying his “Libertine” tattoo whilst Carl bravely poses into the camera trying to hold the photoshoot together and look cool doing so. The first song on Up The Bracket was the sound of young men  trying their very hardest to start a riot and have a good time, because that’s exactly what the band were back then in 2002. Similarly the first song from their self-titled record was a perfect depiction of the band at the time: two best friends falling out love, unable to deal with the realities of their increasing fame.

The opening track of Anthems For Doomed Youth is Barbarians, and it’s the sound of a relationship being rebuilt and a musical partnership being reformed. The crisp, mature production and tamed guitars are evidence of the band flirting with middle age whilst the hopeful lyrics and entwined vocals hark back to the The Libertines’ early-noughties heyday. Once again the first track is a sign of what is in store for the rest of the album, but in truth that’s not an entirely inspiring omen. As impressively professional as the production of this record is, it doesn’t really suit Doherty and Barat’s songwriting or their tendencies for charmingly imperfect musicianship. It’s like the first two albums were solid, exciting songs hidden behind a layer of aggressive clatterings and yelps but on Anthems the scraps have been torn off and the songs are laid bare. Sadly, on more than one occasion they really don’t hold up well enough. Barbarians is a prime example of this with it’s lazy hamfisted choruses and forgettable guitarwork, although it’s one redeeming feature is the refreshingly honest autobiographical lyrics which the band have always specialised in. Thankfully the next few tracks are a huge improvement on the opener and maintain its excellent lyrics. Gunga Din and Anthems For Doomed Youth in particular balance self-aware, honest lyricism with moving  displays of imagery and poetry. The former is a hugely overproduced hi-fi reggae infused swagger where Pete and Carl address their respective demons; the latter an ever-rising intense ballad analysing the pair’s relationship in the early days. They’re both extremely strong tracks which also translated well live at Reading Festival, although not so much at Electric Ballroom… ha.

Throughout the album it’s clear that The Libertines are now at their best when addressing the present day. The more mature, fully formed songs are the true highlights whereas filler tracks Fury Of Chonburi, Belly Of The Beast and the aforementioned Barbarians sound like cheap throwbacks to an era best left to be remembered nostalgically. It’s somewhat ironic then that the oldest song on the album, You’re My Waterloo is such an album highlight. The Doherty-penned number which dates back to 1999 is a perfect love song written about fellow frontman Carl, and it gets given the full gleaming valet service in this latest version. Pete’s surprisingly stunning vocal performance is accompanied by powerful piano, moving strings and a fantastic climactic guitar solo. Between the slow-burning highlights and the rushed throwback lowpoints of the album, there’s a collection of 5 or so perfectly enjoyable tracks each with their own respective charms and shortcomings. The gently strummed Iceman features strong vocal performances and a solid chorus though the lyrics are occasionally teenage and clumsy. Glasgow Coma Scale Blues rattles along at a thousand miles an hour with so much more purpose than the other high-tempo songs on the album but it’s still not exciting enough to be a real standout and Heart Of The Matter sounds like a middle-aged Time For Heroes. The album is closed with the sobering and impressive Dead For Love, which is easily the darkest The Libs have sounded since the twisted (B-side to Up The Bracket) Plan A.

Expectations for the album were generally quite low, and the boys have managed to pull out a group of songs far better than all of the omens seemed to suggest they were capable of in 2015. There will be many people who severely wanted to love this album and there are certainly loveable moments, but there is also a good case to be made by anybody who wanted to hate the album. Overall it’s an enjoyable listen, a massive relief to have the boys back in business and a hugely exciting sign of things to come if the band take their time to put out a fourth album. There’s a lyric in Heart Of The Matter where Doherty sings “With all the battering it’s taken/I’m surprised it’s still ticking”, this presumably about his poor, abused heart but the same could be said for The Libertines themselves. After a true rollercoaster of being lambasted by the media, falling in and out of  with each other and battling against their respective demons The Libertines have produced an album far better than even the most optimistic fan could have hoped for. Many happy returns.


12 Sep 2015

Hooton Tennis Club / Highest Point In Cliff Town (album review)

As the cheerful, poppy intro to Hooton Tennis Club’s second single 'Kathleen Sat On The Arm of Her Favourite Chair' fills my living room downstairs, I hear someone lurch toward the volume button. It’s my mum, reaching eagerly to turn it up a notch. Like me, she has Radio 6 to thank for sudden adoration for the Chester band. On a daily basis, the song gets played a handful of times, and on almost every occasion one of us turns the volume up to dance around happily to the irreverent indie-pop the band supplies. Singing and laughing along to lyrics like ‘even if you’re lonely we can go for a walk in the park, or maybe go swimming’, it became our summer soundtrack, the sunny storytelling titles reminiscent of a Wes Anderson film or children’s novel.

Their sound is undeniably, dare I say, generic: happy and brimming with jangly guitar, not unlike Swim Deep’s hazy debut, but on Highest Point in Clifftown, the Hooton bunch pack a little more punch. It's the sense of nostalgia that resonates with my mother and I. From growing up in small towns, the foursome capture a perfect snapshot of that teenage mundanity. “I spent the best days of my life/travelling on trains and drawing cartoons”, frontman Ryan declares on 'Kathleen...'.

Don’t be put off, it’s not all lazy, hazy indie. The band’s third single 'P.O.W.E.R.F.U.L P.I.E.R.R.E' is fuelled by alt-rock riffs whilst still maintaining the ebullient air the that carries on through rest of the record. They don’t disappoint on the cheery titles either; 'Something Much Quicker Than Anyone But Jennifer Could Ever Imagine' and '...And then Camilla Drew Fourteen Dots On Her Knee' fill you with intrigue and don’t disappoint with their melodious teenage lyrics.

Of course, it’s incredibly easy to just dub the band ‘slacker indie/rock’, but look beneath the surface and there’s something quintessentially British and eccentric hidden within Clifftown. Pale comparisons to American bands of the same genre can of course be detected, but Hooton Tennis Club have something truly unique under their belt - the ‘heard it all before’ guitar is simply an act, for their witty anecdotal lyrics are the real masterpiece.


Words: Imogen Carter de Jong

11 Sep 2015

Communions & Shame @ Electrowerkz, London (live review)

Before starting this article concerning Communions’ second London show, at Electrowerkz in Islington, I must admit that I am hugely biased in their favour. If you desire to read a level and systematic essay on the event, you won’t find it here.

For me, Communions are an incredibly welcome prospect, not only to the world of guitar-pop, but also to the world in general; they sound like nothing else around at the moment, nothing else sounds like them.

I found myself looking forward to seeing the Danish quartet much more than I usually do with new bands. Often they have to progress and mature before reaching their full potential, but Communions come as a fully formed unit. The last time I saw them has stuck with me as particularly significant, and their recent self-titled EP only serves to strengthen their magnetism.

The first band of the night are more than deserving of significant praise in an article dedicated to another band. Shame, South Londoners and previous support act for the likes of Fat White Family and Evans the Death, have a kind of teenage sleaze about them that I associate with music festivals: Lots of baggy shirts and unidentifiable substances. Their hyperactive rock ‘n’ roll, which straddles on the fence of Angelic Upstarts-esque punk, recalls all sorts of people, but not strongly enough to call it derivative. The presence of their frontman was a spectacle in its self, with some spiritually invasive and hypnotic jogging on the spot. Imagine a villain from a 1970’s children’s programme in the body of an angry, hard-as-nails ‘Jack the Lad’ – as my grandmother would say.

Almost an antithesis to Shame, Communions took to the stage in a wash of red and blue lights with the opening chords of a new song, followed by the more familiar Wherever. The recent evolution in Communions’ sound has produced a spate of gargantuan pop jewels, somewhere in-between New Order and The Smiths. This sounds like a lazy comparison, but that’s the only way I feel is ample in describing how capacious yet full the songs are; take the emotional stimulation of tracks like Perfect Kiss or Ceremony, and merge them with the intricacies and adeptness of something like Still Ill and you are closer to understanding a vital part of Communions’ sound.

Since previous gigs and sessions, the band actually has somewhat matured. They haven’t changed their sound, ultimately, but they have refined it, discarding the entirety of their debut EP, Cobblestones, from the set, leaving the past behind and heralding in the future. They played a smattering of new songs, amidst tracks taken from both releases since signing to Tough Love. The new songs seem to be a continuation of their recent EP, but bigger and with the benefit of more experience. Once you get past the alienation of not knowing them, it’s hard not to get lost amongst the weaving guitars and pulsating rhythm section.

The high point of the night, however, was facilitated under the veil of some impressively overactive smoke machines. There was more smoke than I have ever witnessed at a gig, and so the atmosphere for the later part of the set was unlike anything I have witnessed either. Both Out of My World and Forget It’s a Dream are archetypal indie songs that can only come from a diligent and dedicated approach to music. It’s easy to pin everything on The Stone Roses, The Smiths and New Order, but the truth is that Communions have much more depth and originality. There is aplomb to their performance and an overwhelming sense that every one of them knows exactly what they’re doing.

(written by jonah hartley)

10 Sep 2015

FRANK / The Hanged Man (song review)

Frank are easily one of the best and one of my favourite teenage bands around right now. Their noisy Hole and Dirty-era Sonic Youth influenced indie rock makes their demos incredibly exciting and fresh.

Unlike many younger bands who can sometimes come across as slightly formulaic, Frank’s music is very diverse meaning this b-side, from their upcoming debut single Shallow EndThe Hanged Man sounds completely different to their earlier demos such as Take It Easy. Singer, Meg Ronan’s dreamy voice and repetitive guitars give this track the ability to put you into a trance. Equally, the distortion compliments the song's sinister name as it creates a slight dark and mysterious atmosphere.

This song is released as the b-side to debut single Shallow End which has already been streamed as a demo on Frank’s Soundcloud and if that is anything to go by, this is going to be a brilliant single as both tracks set to be on it seem really strong.

The single is available to order off their bandcamp on digital download, CD and limited edition cassette.

Also Frank will be headlining at the Rainbow tomorrow (Friday) in Birmingham which is definitely not one to miss!

CASSETTE STORE DAY : 5 releases to make you dust off your tape players

Cassette Store Day is an annual event that's been with us for a couple of years now. Every year, like on the more notorious Record Store Day, bands and labels submit one off cassette tapes that are made available in the UK on this day. Whilst the merits of the cassette tape as a medium are up for debate, there's certainly some really cool releases for you to get your hands on.

Gengahr - A Dream Outside
Arguably the best thing about cassettes, easily beating their sound quality and the fact they degrade dramatically after enough uses, is that they look really wonderful. Gengahr's dreamy indie-pop debut is essential for this reason; look at the beautiful artwork - one of the year's best album covers - and think how much better it'd look on a little cassette. Oh yeah, it's a great album too.

Various Artists - The Secret Seventh 
This is a really ambitious release from the indie label Alcopop! records. What it is, kinda like an old fashioned mixtape, is a compilation of artists that are submitting their music to Alcopop! It will have 7 songs on it; the first 6 the same on every comp - songs by The Orielles, Zooz, Cotillion, Helen Love, Get Inuit and The Spills on each - but the 7th will be a submission from one of the many artists submitting music to Alcopop! There's going to be 50 pressed and a different track on each. Exciting.

Alex G - Beach Music
Philadelphia bedroom artist Alex G's seventh album is out 9th October, and you'll be able to hear it on cassette not long after that by snapping this one up on Cassette Store Day. Expect lo-fi pop gems and a lot of dreamy nostalgia inducing guitar lines.

Girl Band - Holding Hands With Jamie
DO I NEED TO EXPLAIN WHY THIS IS EXCITING?! Rough Trade signings Girl Band are one of the best new bands on the circuit, and their debut is out this month, so CSD gives you a chance to snap it up a bit after it's out. I have no idea what it holds, but it'll be BLOODY GOOD, and probably the number one thing to get on the 17th October.

NARCS are an alt-rock band from Leeds that notoriously recorded their debut album in two days a couple of years back. This release, via CLUE records is a new 'un from the three-piece, and is definitely worth keeping an eye out for.

cassette store day is happening in the uk on 17th october
visit the official site for more details visit the official site

(written by calum cashin)

9 Sep 2015

Ought / Sun Coming Down (album review)

Lots of bands try to put their own unique spin on the classic 'post-punk' sound, with some of the best of those being Liars, Sauna Youth and Eagulls. However, with their ambitious song structures, off-kilter post-modern lyrics, and frontman Tim Darcy's unique persona and voice, Ought are probably the most exciting, fresh post-punk bands on the circuit today. With their first album, More Than Any Other Day, the band established themselves as a really exciting band, and over the course of 8 well-written songs with some pretty special lyrics, riffs and chord progressions, their first album was a very accomplished piece of work (#10 in our albums of the year!). However, 15 months down the line, they're ready to put out their sophomore album, Sun Coming Down - an equally warped post-punk record, which although emerging quickly from the aftermath of their second, doesn't feel in any way rushed - in fact, it's really a record that sees the young Canadian band come of age.

Opener Men For Miles is maybe the fastest guitar track on the record, which sees frontman Tim Darcy's lyrics as sharp as ever. "Excuse me?" he asks "Is there a chance you could bring this whole fucker down" over some youthful guitar thrashes and a fairly driving bassline. The fact that it's probably the most energetic, vicious track on the record lines it up with their debut album's opener Pleasant Heart, which is an uncharacteristically angry riff fest.

Throughout the record Ought are altogether happy to change directions and speed at the flick of a finger. Track 2 is a somber affair called Passionate Turn that is probably the slowest number on the record with the most glistening harmonic chords that are quite a staple of Ought's sound. Track 3, The Combo and later on the record, Celebration, are two shorter tracks that are the most dramatic moves away from the sound on their first album, with their Fall-esque vocals, and their distorted guitar parts. Although Ought cover a lot of musical ground on this album, it's still very much perfectly honed in every area, just like More Than Any Other Day, but even from there, the band have stepped it all up a gear.

The highlights, Men For Miles aside, come from the two songs Beautiful Blue Sky and Sun Coming Down, which are just Ought at their most... Oughtlike. Beautiful Blue Sky is an eight minute long escalater that begins with Darcy's simple vocal of "Look at the light coming down over your shoulders/what is that sensation?", before building up to the frantic questioning of "How's your family? How's the job? How's the house? How's the job? How's your husband?", and the bold statement of "I am no longer afraid to die.../ and I'm no longer afraid to dance tonight". It's Ought at their most ambitious, their most charismatic, and really, at their most beautiful, as the song is actually one of the most life affirming songs I've heard all year.

The title track's slow, distorted wheeze is again so musically brilliant, but what makes it better is Tim Darcy's performance of his lyrics. "My neighbour caught the sun/It was about the size of a beach ball" is just so instantly memorable, and so endearingly quirky, and is probably my favourite Ought lyric since the should-be-indie-disco-floorfiller-but-isn't New Calm Pt 2's "Who invited Paul Simon? I didn't invite him!"

The lyrics to this album are, like some of the earlier stuff by this band, full of contrasts and those odd thoughts about small decisions. From Beautiful Blue Sky, where Tim kinda implies that the decision between dancing and not dancing is just as important as whether or not you should be afraid to die, which is similar to the importance foisted upon the decision of whether to buy "two percent or whole milk" in the Today More Than Any Other Day song. Again this is present throughout Sun Coming Down, as the album is just jam packed with lyrics that make you think, and is all the better for it - he might claim to be "Talking out my arse" on the title track, but Tim Darcy's lyrics are some of the coolest and most literate in music today.

Their first album is what I'd describe as the epitome of a modern classic; memorable, tight, fresh, and full of lots of brilliant, well written songs. But even more amazingly, Sun Coming Down is one up from that; it's another modern classic that's even more instantly memorable, even more quirky and even more brilliant. Ought are a really special, unique band, and this record reflects that - make sure you get it next week.


you can preorder the album SUN COMING DOWN from here
it's out on 18th september and you really really should buy it
you can read about why this band stole our fest at end of the road here

(written by calum cashin)

FIDLAR / Too (album review)

After a whole two years since their self titled debut, FIDLAR come back with Too, exactly what you'd expect; a skate punk album fuelled with energy, angst, drinks and drugs.

When the first single 40oz On Repeat was released, as well as being the first track on Too, it was obvious this album was going to be just as fast paced and exciting as FIDLAR. 40oz On Repeat’s lyrics are incredibly bittersweet, but even with the hopelessness is Carter’s vocals this song is definitely an anthem at every FIDLAR gig. It’s the sort of song you can shout along to when you feel shit and it will actually make you feel better, which is probably exactly the way the band feel when singing it, because the year or two before the release of this record were pretty bittersweet.

Punks is next with 10 x more anger and bite. Every lyric is screamed making this song much much heavier than any other tracks on the album, but even so the backing of melodic guitars ease the force of Carter's ferocious vocals.

West Coast, a revamped older track, could easily be the soundtrack to any rebellious teenage summer. I think the lyrics are so clever as most people can relate to “I should try get a life / but I don’t want that 9 to 5” at some stage in their life.

After the pace of the first 3 songs the start of Why Generation is a bit of a break, however seeing as this is FIDLAR, the relaxed feel doesn’t last long and as the chorus kicks in so does the energy and noise. There’s definite development in this song, especially in the verses where there is more concentration on the melody than the energy. On the other end of the seriousness spectrum, Sober, their pop-punk influences such as blink-182 come across specifically in the argument-like narration at the beginning.

Producer Jay Joyce’s work is apparent in Leave Me Alone with the sharply defined, blues-esque bass line, and the cleaner sound to the drop rather than the slightly dirty feel their debut has. Don’t get me wrong though, this song is still part of the wonderful garage punk that FIDLAR are known and loved across the country for.

Overdose is incredibly emotionally caustic, unlike the previous FIDLAR songs that show drug use as a social, fun experience. FIDLAR show the darker side to substance abuse with this song; “I’m just gonna stay stuck inside my head / And I just wish that i was dead”. The single guitar notes that play throughout the song make the song sound rawer and the vocals even more vulnerable. Especially towards the end the quartet use distortion and repetition which create an incredibly dark atmosphere to the song which really powerful.

The simple vocal style on Hey Johnny mean this song wouldn’t sound out of place on a Black Lips album. There is quite a release of tension in this song after the heaviness of Overdose which they do so well with the surfey guitar riffs.

The lyrics in the whole album have a slight sour twist but the regret certainly comes out in Stupid Decisions. The reflective tone is clear from the start in the steady bass and slow, relaxed drum beat.
FIDLAR can’t keep the more grown up tone going for very long as in the next song Bad Medicine the energy is back in the fuzzy guitar and fast pace.

Bad Habits caps off the album on quite a sombre tone, but still feels huge and like a future live favourite because of the way the guitars disappear and then come back punchier and stronger than ever towards the end. It does however highlight how the band aren’t just a group of teenagers anymore and are starting to think about facing being adults - it's not all just teenage angst, but a lot of genuine worry about their future comes through in their music.

FIDLAR have come on massively since their debut album as the songs on that all are quite similar, whereas Too explores different styles, and also can get quite emotional at times. It's a much more ambitious album, but if you liked the first FIDLAR album, you'll probably love this.


(written by isobel mcleod)

7 Sep 2015

END OF THE ROAD 2015 REVIEW - the festival's top 10 sets

With it's own unique, twee charm, End of the Road is unlike most of the UK's other major festivals. Wild peacocks roam the ground, fairy lights adorn a large percentage of tents, and everything has been designed meticulously so that every spot is as aesthetically pleasing as possible. This year, as well as the exquisite setting, End of the Road brought one of the best festival line ups I've ever laid eyes on to the table, featuring everything from Sufjan Stevens' first ever UK festival slot, to intimate performances from the likes of Palma Violets, Marika Hackman and Jacco Gardner, to a huge smattering of bands we regularly feature on the blog. As a last great weekend before starting uni, I went to enjoy End of the Road for the second year in a row, and here are my top ten highlights.

10. Palma Violets (Tipi Stage, Thursday night)
The first major set of the festival, Palma Violets' set was one of the most fun of the whole festival. Opening with a few album tracks from Danger in the Club, the Lambeth quartet's messy renditions of songs from their debut was what really made the band's set fantastic on the tiny Tipi stage. Musically, the quartet were weathered by a long summer and not really all too together, but they had enough energy to make sure EOTR was opened in style.
Best moment: Chilli Jesson's acoustic rendition of Jacket Song or the storming Tom the drum

9. Girlpool (Big Top, Saturday afternoon)
Teenage two-piece Girlpool are one of the year's coolest breakout bands, and their bass-and-guitar-only sound is refreshing and youthful. They managed to nearly fill their alloted 45 minute slot by playing almost the entirety of their debut record Before the World Was Big, and adding a few energetic new tracks into the mix. There was something so wonderfully endearing about the chemistry of Cleo and Harmony, who filled the gap in between songs with really infectiously enthusiastic antidotes, but that's not to say they weren't musically brilliant; the tracks from their album were just every bit as lovely and heartfelt live.
Best moment: Cherry Picking was super-heartwreching live, but a new number was brilliantly energetic

8. Dolores Haze (Big Top, Saturday morning)
Dolores Haze are a Swedish four-piece whose grungy indie rock lit up the Saturday morning. Combining scratchy dystopic guitars with rumbling basslines, the band were incredibly tight and the frontwoman, dressed as Wonder Woman, had such a cool, sassy quality to her spat out vocals. It was a really tough decision choosing between these and Hooton Tennis Club, but they really smashed it.
Best moment: I have no idea what any of their songs are called, but the last one with a stabby synth track was something special.

7. The Fat White Family (Tipi Stage, Saturday night)
Secret sets are always slightly exciting, but nothing quite prepares you for the excitement of seeing the likes of the Fat White Family flounce out at 2AM to wreak havoc. This set, unlike their earlier one, was more of a rarities and new material one, opening with a strutting version of Wet Hot Beef, a split single they did a while back, playing a couple of unfamiliar (possibly new) ones, and then closing with an album track, maybe this set shouldn't have been the spectacular shot of adrenaline that it was, but due to the amazing charisma and appetite for destruction this band have, it was one of the highlights of the whole festival. Lias willed the crowd on to the stage during the closer Bomb Disneyland with such a chaotic result that within a minute there was 6 security guards on stage launching drunk teenagers back into the crowd.
Best moment: The Fat Whites' bassist trying to put his bass round the neck of the security guard during Bomb Disneyland

6. Metz (Big Top, Friday evening)
Definitely the noisiest set of the whole festival, this three piece put more energy into their set than anyone else and as a result sounding much more vicious than any of their studio output. Held together by the absolutely incredible, almost hypnotic drumming of Hayden Menzies, the band's noise-influenced punk rock was uncompromised and pretty much polarised the audience; lots of people were scared off, but lots of people thought Metz were an incredible force.
Best moment: a sizeable chunk of new material from their new record Metz II, Acetate being the highlight

5. The Black Tambourines (Big Top, Sunday morning)
Thrashy Falmouth, Cornwall-based surf rock, The Black Tambourines are literally the tightest indie rock group in Britain today. Playing a set made up almost entirely of new material from their latest record, the DIY band's chemistry was completely stunning; the three singing frontmen pinging around the stage and playing some of the most energetic guitar lines this side of the Atlantic, whilst all three of them belted out some pretty strong vocals all the way through the set.
Best moment: almost every song was brand new, which makes their new record seem even more promising...

4. Sufjan Stevens (Woods Stage, Saturday night)
Never have I felt so honoured to see a headliner at a festival as I did standing there watching the elusive Sufjan's immensely beautiful set. Heavily rooted in material from his perfect new album Carrie & Lowell, Sufjan was backed by a luscious section of arrangements that added orchestral and electronic touches to bits of his set; Carrie & Lowell, Should have known better and Fourth of July were all amongst the highlights of new songs, before he closed with a beautiful neo-classical noise segment that made sure that the whole thing ended as magically as it began. Sufjan is amongst the best singer-songwriters in the world, and his beautiful lyrics and beautiful voice combined with a wonderful setting just made for one of the most special performances of the weekend.
Best moment: the euphoric version of Chicago that he played penultimately, rich in (I think) gorgeous analogue synth sounds

3. Stealing Sheep (Garden Stage, Saturday afternoon)
You don't need to look too far down this blog to see just how much we love this Liverpool three-piece - potentially the loveliest band I've ever met making potentially the loveliest electronic psych-pop going. Their set on the Garden Stage showcased everything I love about them, with their brilliant chemistry, wonderfully written off-kilter pop songs, and their brilliant musicianship, as all three members exchanged synths, guitars and drum pads to make their trademark sound.
Best moment: the closer Shut Eye, or the brilliantly danceable Sequence

2. Fat White Family (Big Top, Saturday evening)
Their chaotic secret set was probably the most hectic of the weekend, but it was with this one that they showcased just why they're the most exciting band, and the most important artists in the country right now. Opening with a powerful version of Auto Neutron, and charging into the brilliantly energetic Is It Raining In Your Mouth? the Fat Whites started with so much momentum that never really subsided. I Am Mark E Smith had it's regular menacing strut, Touch The Leather was as beautifully sickly as ever, and Bomb Disneyland was just it's regular psychobilly blitz - all of which led me to one conclusion; you just can't beat the Fat White Family as a live band, they're so incredible.
Best moment: Lias fondling himself whilst belting out the lyrics to Bomb Disneyland, probably.

Embedded image permalink1. Ought (Garden stage, Friday afternoon)
Canadian art-punks Ought haven't really done much in the way of UK shows during the year and a half I've been obsessed with them, so I knew that when I finally did see them around teatime on Friday it would be kinda make or break. But during their set, it was impossible not to completely fall in love with them. Their 10 song set was split evenly between new songs from their forthcoming Sun Coming Down album (which is out next week, and seeing as we got sent a copy of it last week and are gonna review it soon, we can promise it's perfect) and their first record More Than Any Other Day (which was one of my favourite 2 or 3 albums of last year). The new songs sounded brilliant, with a pummeling hypnotic Beautiful Blue Sky and the fiddly Men For Miles being the highlights, whilst the old ones were nothing short of gold; the crowd chanted back the lyrics to Today More Than Any Other Day and Habit, whilst Pleasant Heart was a brilliant visceral opener. However, the highlight from a set of really high lights came as the band stormed through Gemini. As they finished, you couldn't help but feel Ought really are one of the best underground bands at the moment, they've got it all - brilliantly put together songs, brilliant musicianship, and in Tim Beeler. the perfect frontman, as charismatic as he is camp, and the perfect cross between Ian Curtis and Agent Cooper from Twin Peaks... Ought were almost certainly my band of the weekend.
Best moment: Hearing Ought's new material in a live setting; Celebration and Sun Coming Down come into their own as songs in a live setting.

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end of the road is probably the loveliest festival in the whole of the uk, and early bird tickets are available for next year very soon - i highly recommend you prioritise it over reading or latitude next year. 

(images sourced from twitter - i didn't take them and don't own them - contact us if you want us to take any of them down)
(written by calum cashin)