31 Oct 2015

Meet Black Honey (photos)


Photos: Poppy Marriott

Spook School / Try To Be Hopeful (album review)

I guess it's normal for fairly young bands to come across as struggling to come to terms with their identity and whatnot, as all those cliches are almost old hat in indie and alternative music. But with Spook School, lyrically one of the most important, inspiring, and accomplished indie bands on the circuit right now, those assertions are a little more accurate than they are for most bands.    

For those just reading this review because I've begged you to in a tweet that don't really know who the band are, the lead vocalist of Spook School, Nye Todd, is a trans man has been undergoing testosterone since the recording of this record has been in the works. This means that not only does his vocal change from track to track - sounding so different between my two favourites Burn Masculinity and Binary (with the ever so thick Scottish accent being a constant) - but it also means lyrically the themes explored go much deeper than your average messy-haired indie pop love song.

But whilst doing this, the band really don't abandon a sense of fun, with messy love song I wanna kiss you making its way in their, increasing the record's fun factor by a hundred times. By the same token though, the band, even when taking calculated pops at the uber-macho nature of the patriarchal society, of which Try To Be Hopeful comments on so astutely on Burn Masculinity ('and I've got to accept that I'm inheriting a privelege I should be aware off/so I'll burn burn burn burn masculinity'), do so over the top of that C86 sugar-coated jangle-pop that their Fortuna POP label so effortlessly put out.

Musically, it's just as on point as it is lyrically - Hookworms' MJ is at his best again - with songs like Everybody Needs To Be In Love and Books and Hooks and Movements are really brilliant fuzzy indie pop gems that you can dance around your room, and even tracks like Binary where the vocals are pushed right up in the mix (as they should be!), the music is just danceable and enjoyable and captures that energetic teenage movement that bands like Joanna Gruesome and Sauna Youth have a complete mastery of.

This record is such a brilliant album, and it deserves to have so much more of an audience than it does, because Spook School are just the perfect band who cover issues and themes that need covering so brilliantly. Do yourselves a favour and buy this LP.


(written by calum cashin)

30 Oct 2015

All Years Leaving : Kagoule, Chastity Belt and Speedy Ortiz in Birmingham (live review)

Birmingham’s annual all years leaving festival was held over the 22nd and 23rd at the hare and hounds pub by DIY and This Is Tmrw. This year the main headliners were The Wytches on the Friday and East India Youth on the Saturday. 

I was only able to go for part of the Friday night, but I was incredibly lucky to see three of my favourite bands; Kagoule, Chastity Belt and Speedy Ortiz. All three bands were amazing (as expected), and it was brilliant to see them in a relatively small venue.     

Kagoule were the first band I saw and they kicked things off with Adjust The Way, a song that the band have been playing for a while. The event was 18+ which meant that the crowd were quite still throughout. Next were Glue and Gush, also quite early songs that feature on debut record Urth. The band sounded very united; they still have their grungey edge but more mature than when I last saw them in July. Kagoule unveiled a new song called Pharmacy towards the end of the set which included all the energy of the songs on Urth but with more complicated guitar riffs and a slightly tighter sound. They ended on It Knows It which made for a very rounded and positive finish to their set.Personally I felt that Kagoule would work better with a younger,more responsive audience seeing as all three band members had a lot of energy that wasn’t reciprocated by the majority of the crowd, but it was a great set nonetheless.

Chastity Belt played next,opening with Drone from their second album Time To Go Home. This song created a very promising atmosphere for the rest of their set as they sounded brilliant filling the whole room with an undeniable excitement. Like the album order, Trapped was second in the set followed by Cool Slut. Both songs sounded great with a sense of angst coming through heavily.After Lydia, Chastity Belt played a new song which left anticipation for the release of new material in the near future. The song had a similar sound to the tracks off Time To Go Home with a very upbeat tempo, but less anger than some of the songs on No Regerts for example. The penultimate song was Time To Go Home which deserved a much greater response than it received. Finally Chastity Belt played Joke, and like the rest of the set all the girls didn’t hold back on anything. The set was reasonably short and sadly didn’t include any songs off their first album,but even so it was really good. I’m hoping they play again soon because they are definitely one of the best live bands I have seen.

The last band I saw were Speedy Ortiz which, like Chastity Belt, was a quite surreal experience. Tiger Tank was first in the set, and it was crazy. Sadie looked incredible wearing blue lipstick and her voice sounded just as amazing.Casper-1995 followed which was beautiful, all the guitars flowed together perfectly and the whole room was filled with a sense of calm happiness. From new album Foil Deer, The Graduates and Raising The Skate were next, both of which are destined to be anthemic songs in Speedy Ortiz’s repertoire due to the singalong choruses and catchy riffs.There is a good balance between songs off their first and second album with the next three songs being Puffer,Zig and Plough. Mister Difficult was a highlight for me because it really showcases their lyrical ability which is quite underrated by many.After Mister Difficult, they played Silver Spring a really early song from the 2012 Sports EP which showed how the band have grown and developed over the years. The opening to Swell Content certainly caught the attention of the mature crowd as it was full of energy and excitement. The set was closed with Pioneer Spine and Ka-Prow which ended the night on a definite high. I never thought I’d be able to see Speedy Ortiz let alone in such an intimate venue, and in my opinion they played incredibly. 

The line up was absolutely insane and featured all brilliant bands. I think it was a shame that the gig was 18+, however it was a great experience anyway. Overall, three excellent bands that I think deserve a lot more recognition for their talent. 

Swim Deep / Mothers (album review)

“This song's about being on acid” tweets Swim Deep's Austin 'Ozzy' Williams prior to the release of the B-town band's latest LP: 'Mothers'. To say it's different to where they were 2 years ago would be a tad of an understatement: the band's 2013 debut was a lazy hazy daydream, whereas now the hazy nature of their songs is more of the tell tale psychedelia type. The sweethearts of indie pop that served as the soundtrack to EVERYBODY's 2013 summer (don't tell me you haven't danced around your room to Honey, on more than one occasion), but those days are gone but not forgotten. Ozzy's softly spoken lyrics can be subtly detected underneath it all, a nod to their past selves, but one listen to Fuehio Boogie in all its 8 minutes of cacophonous abstract glory, and you're transported to a land only explored in this sorta before by more full on psych bands like Tame Impala and Pond.

The album is experimental to say the least, the band venture into utterly euphoric territory, there's the recognisable hooks, laced with synth in the poppiest numbers Namaste and To My Brother, and crazy sci-fi tinged big numbers in Forever Spacemen.

To My Brother sparkles, it literally glimmers in synth, possibly even being dubbed 'groovy'. It's funky and a perfect slice of pop, heavily influenced, like a lot of the album, by neo-psychedelic culture. The 80s game show themed video to accompany Namaste is fun filled with cameos from fellow indie band frontman Fred Macpherson, magic man Paul Daniels, Ozzy's mum and drummer Zach's dad. Swim Deep play the house band on fictional game show Don't Like Yours Much complete with questionable clothing choices (check out Cav's eyeliner and James' hair).

The album's opener One Great Song and I Could Changed the World sees frontman Ozzy use his signature delicate vocals as an instrument in their own right – cooing softly 'have I said why I love the sunrise?' a continuation of the inevitably positive vibes that come hand in hand with a Swim Deep album.

Green Conduit is softer, more melancholy, with acoustic guitar being plucked softly opening the song, seemingly out of place hidden amongst the big dance numbers the rest of the album offers. 'Hotel California' continues on in the same vein, opening softly with lyrics and harmonies reminiscent of more Where the Heaven are We territory.

Mothers is drenched in synth. There's simply no other description for it. Every song tingles, there simply isn't enough adjectives to describe the mix of twinkling, ticking, fuzzy sounds that accompany Ozzy's voice. Filler tracks are present, Heavenly Moment never finds its feet and Everything is Possible whilst pleasant enough, doesn't pack punch.

Swim Deep have furthered their indie teenybopper stride, but for anyone who held the dreaminess of Where the Heaven Are We close to their heart will  never love a second album in the same way. In terms of raw pop singles, nothing is quite as memorable as the early tracks, but ultimately it's a successful piece of experimentation that will surprise a lot of cynics.


28 Oct 2015

The Vryll Society / Pangea (EP review)

With the possibility of the Stone Roses' potential Third Coming on the lips of lots of major publications, I'm going to throw this out there - when you've got The Vyrll Society making the greatest 'baggy' indie rock for decades, who needs a band that have been inactive for well over twenty years to come back and do what the Vrylls are doing a tiny bit worse?

Taking just the right bits of the Stone Roses' aesthetic, namely the frontman's Ian Brown swagger that gets playful without ever being obnoxious, and blending it with dreamy, abstract guitars that come halfway between the bagginess of The Charlatans and Blur's Leisure with the ethereality of The Cocteau Twins, making for some of the best revivalist rock and roll in the country today.

Pangea is their first proper full EP, and it's a blinder that captures their live sound perfectly. The highlight is the vibrant number Coshh that gets that Madchester swagger going in full swing to a sonic backdrop of some shoegazing guitars and instrumental screams. It's the Vrylls at the peak of their powers, and explains just why so many people are entranced by them and their live shows.

The Egg sees them expand their sonic palette, with a winding song structure that sounds a bit like Shine On You Crazy Diamond meets Do You Remember by The Horrors, which is a perfect recipe for lusciously textured indie pop, whilst Metropolis is almost like I'd imagine Wilco to sound like if someone spiked their drinks with LSD as they walked out to perform - everything's brilliantly written, and it sounds almost as if Americana music is melting.

Air is maybe the track that's best known from the EP, and will appeal most to standard indie rock fans, with its sassy delivery and its leather clad strut, but it's maybe most appealing to me because it's the song on which frontman Michael Ellis sounds at his most like Ride's Mark Gardener; it's probably the EP's only real filler track, but it's by no means a bad song.

This as a first EP has come such a long way from the basic bluesiness of the Deep Blue Skies single, and offers four cuts that show the band to be a really accomplished force already, that could really release a very good album very soon. They might seem a bit too Stone Roses onstage, but I assure you, there's nothing the Roses could do if they got back in the studio that could parallel the Pangea EP by The Vryll Society.


(written by calum cashin)

27 Oct 2015

a blog post on the history of riot grrrl

With the revival of 90’s culture and fashion creeping into aspects of today’s society, it’s hard to ignore the fact that feminism and girl empowerment are amongst the hot topics of the youth. From Lily Allen’s much-discussed Hard Out Here and Beyonce’s latest album referencing feminist issues, it’s clear that feminism has become almost fashionable, everyone’s talking about it, and most female musicians don’t just simply want to be seen as music icons – but instead – feminist icons.

But women have been fighting the feminist fight through the medium of music for many years now, it’s nothing new, despite the trend, and I think everyone should be informed of the women and ‘grrrls’ who have been at this – often with little credibility – for decades now.


The 1970s: punk rock – a liberating and exciting musical movement – is born. Mixing youthful rebellion and anti-authoritarian ideologies with fast, hard-edged music, it’s quickly becoming a major cultural phenomenon, but with acts such as New York Dolls, Sex Pistols, Ramones, and The Clash dictating the scene, it’s apparent that males are predominantly and automatically assumed to be the voices of anarchy and revolution.

Or so it seemed…

The stance that “punk was not for girls” sparked in itself a catalyst of female rebellion against the rebellion – and so an array of female punk and rock musicians such as Joan Jett (and The Runaways), Siouxsie Sioux, Poly Styrene (and X-ray Spex), The Slits, The Raincoats, Patti Smith, Chrissie Hynde, Mecca Normal, Lydia Lunch, and Fifth Column to name but a few, helped establish the musical foundation on which the riot grrrl ethos would (some years) later be built on.


‘Riot grrrl’ is far more than just a music genre; it is a political stance, cultural movement, and lifestyle.
BECAUSE we girls want to create mediums that speak to US. We are tired of boy band after boy band, boy zine after boy zine, boy punk after boy punk after boy… BECAUSE we need to talk to each other. Communication and inclusion is the key. We will never know if we don’t break the code of silence… BECAUSE in every form of media we see ourselves slapped, decapitated, laughed at, objectified, raped, trivialized, pushed, ignored, stereotyped, kicked, scorned, molested, silenced, invalidated, knifed, shot, choked and killed. BECAUSE a safe space needs to be created for girls where we can open our eyes and reach out to each other without being threatened by this sexist society and our day to day bullshit
Young women (especially those involved in underground music scenes), in Seattle and Olympia, Washington, begin to articulate their feminist thoughts and desires through creating punk-rock fanzines (a DIY publication produced and circulated by fans for fans) and forming bands. Due to the undeniable misogyny in the punk culture, these women feel to represent their own interests and thoughts, they have to create their own music and art.

Kathleen Hanna, a twenty-two year old native of Portland, Oregon, is working as a stripper to support herself, and volunteering at a women’s shelter. She hooks up with zinester and friend Tobi Vail who’s been writing about her own experiences and struggles:

“I feel completely left out of the realm of everything that is so important to me. And I know that this is partly because punk rock is for and by boys mostly…”

After recruiting their friend Kathi Wilcox, the duo start working on a zine called Bikini Kill (which would eventually become a band, who, along with Bratmobile, are exclusively credited in many people’s minds as the creators and instigators of the whole riot grrrl movement).


The riot grrrl movement allowed women their own space to create music and make political statements about the issues they were facing in the punk rock community as well as in society. They used their music and publications to express their views on issues such as patriarchy, double standards against women, rape, domestic abuse, sexuality, and female empowerment.

Women in the movement would often attempt to re-appropriate derogatory phrases like ‘cunt’, ‘bitch’, ‘dyke’ and ‘slut’, writing them proudly on their skin with lipstick or sharpie.

Bands associated with ‘Riot Grrrl’ include Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, Excuse 17, Sleater-Kinney, Adickdid, Bangs, The Butchies, Calamity Jane, Dickless, Emily’s Sassy Lime, Fifth Column, The Frumpies, Heavens to Betsy, Huggy Bear, and L7. In addition to the music scene; zines, DIY ethic, art, political action, and activism are a big part of the movement.


By the mid-nineties, riot grrrl had severely declined. Many within the movement felt that the mainstream media had completely misrepresented their message, and that the politically radical aspects of riot grrrl had been subverted by the likes of the Spice Girls and their “girl power” message. The term ‘Riot Grrrl’ was often applied to less political female-fronted alternative rock acts such as Babes in Toyland, The Breeders, PJ Harvey, Hole, and even No Doubt.

The legacy of riot grrrl is clearly visible in society today; as numerous girls and women (and men!) worldwide cite the movement as an interest or an influence to their lives and/or their work. Some are self-proclaimed riot grrrls (and riot boys), others are admirers, some play in riot grrrl tribute bands, others simply listen to and enjoy the music of a subculture thats impact has spanned two decades.

Starwheel: ones to watch, with their stargazing, astral demos

With that wonderful warped dream-pop feel to their cosmic demos, Derby's Starwheel are already among the most exciting young bands I've heard in a while. This week has seen them upload their first material to their soundcloud page, and where they do have that lo-fi recording quality, echoey guitars not unlike Ride's on Polar Bear and blissed-out vocals set them apart from the rest of the crowd.

Their soundcloud currently yields two demos, which you can stream below, so burn so incense, lie back and let it all overcome you slowly. Drip Feed is a well crafted 3 minutes of fluff-on-the-needle noise-pop, that sounds like Touched by MBV made into a proper song, whilst When I Know is one pulsating long number, channeling a constant hazy, lazy atmosphere for it's whole duration.

The band are only at that formative stage, but the seeds have been sown for them to do something pretty special with these two dreamy demos.

(written by calum cashin)

Nicole Dollanganger / Natural Born Losers (album review)

I have only ever reviewed one album negatively. That album was AM by Arctic Monkeys. At the time I felt the public had to be warned; if some unsuspecting victim stumbled across One for the Road, like a mouse at the lair of a trap-door spider, it was my duty to save them.

Ultimately, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to give an album a bad review, especially if no one’s forcing you to write about it. If you wouldn’t feel comfortable telling the band why you don’t like their album in real life, you’re essentially Hitler in a conspicuously oversized shirt – which most music journalists are – for giving it a bad review.

Against my better judgement and conscience I have decided to write about another album I am not sure about. After a handful of listens to Natural Born Losers by Nicole Dollanganger, her fourth album and the first (and ostensibly the only) release on Grimes’ Eerie Organization label, I wasn’t able to decide if I liked it or not.

There is something bittersweet about Natural Born Losers; bitter like the life of Miss Havisham and sickly sweet like one too many fairy cakes. There is an element of Southern Gothic underneath Nicole Dollanganger’s candyfloss voice, like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre coated in glitter, which takes a while to fully comprehend. The album’s opening line, “I shot an angel with my father’s rifle” goes a long way to confirm any judgements you might have made based on the album art: A portrait of someone wearing a gimp mask against a background of pink flowers, looking longingly into the camera lens goes a long way to describe what I’m trying to explain.  

Undoubtedly Nicole acknowledges this simultaneous embrace and aberration of ‘white trash’ and if she didn’t the album would be something else entirely. Almost every song deals with it in some way, most obviously in White Trashing, Poacher’s Pride and American Tradition, serving as a symbol for the imperfections and regretted realities of the songwriter’s

On Angels of Porn II she admits: “My bedroom smells of rotted food and I guess so do I, it’s harder to be good in here than it is to starve and die,” which is as direct and abrasively honest as one possibly can be. There is a running notion that vulgarity equals honesty and vice versa, and honesty is not necessarily an ugly thing.

The uncomfortable side to Natural Born Losers, the side represented by the gimp mask, is also the most appealing. If it weren’t for the aggressive, almost confrontational honesty, the innocence of Nicole Dollanganger’s wispy voice would be lost and therefore meaningless. I have made up my mind that the album is meant to be uncomfortable and difficult at times, but that’s where the appeal lies. If you think there’s something terrifying about decayed china-dolls and the bleak realities of life then Natural Born Losers is a lesson you need to learn.  


(written by jonah hartley)

26 Oct 2015

Fuzz / II (album review)

Fuzz was a project of Ty Segall that I was worried he'd never revive, after all, the man has a lot of fingers in a lot of pies, and maybe he'd take his Fuzz finger out the Fuzz pie to make that one of his only unpied fingers. Almost a year on from his last release, Manipulator (which grazed the top 10 of our AOTY list, if I remember correctly), comes Fuzz II. It's an hourlong, and the follow-up to Fuzz, one of the most dynamic, exciting rock records of the past five years.
Unlike Segall's solo efforts, Manipulator, Melted and Goodbye Bread to cherry pick some high points, Fuzz's sound is moved away from brilliant, tight pop song writing, and instead of Segall being the lead melody writer, that job is handed over to Charles Mootheart, whilst Ty does what can only be described as GBH to a set of drums. Incredibly exciting as a live prospect, you can't help but feel that, like maybe METZ or The Fat White Family, a lot of the live intensity is lost in translation to the studio record.

Live, Fuzz are stop-start, with incessant sonic assault after incessant sonic assault, but here, especially over the course of an hour, this effort is a bit on the wayward and so much of the intensity is just gone. Take Let It Live, which I'm sure is a beast of a track in a live environment, and it's lazy solo; there's nothing incredibly exciting going on, but a bit of a self indulgent solo riffing slowly, which essentially packs no punch and just sounds a bit on the lazy side; you know that this band call some serious shots live, but bits like this are just so unexciting.

Similarly, Bringer of Light constantly threatens to break out into the hard riffing intensity that you got from the first record, but it's just full of half formed riffs, and motifs that look like they might be dramatic a bit, and then peter out. On Jack the Maggot, Segall's acid-washed vocals take on some kinda newfound nauseating-ness, and whilst the soloage is pretty brilliant, this is really kinda subpar material from a band whose return I was really excited about.

I mean, obviously there are moments of brilliant hard riffing garage rock, where everything falls into place; Pipe has a brilliant riff, and Red Flag feels like a psyched up oi-punk number, with all the long winded, long winding solos trimmed off, getting straight to the point in an intense frenzy. Oh, and the sprawling II, a 14 minute fuzzed out epic is actually among the best things I've heard by the band, and whilst as the final song, 53 minutes in, you could think that it's too little too late, it's a really satisfying track that almost redeems the album of all its filler material, prog guitar lickouts, and lack of energy at points. It's almost certainly the high point of the album, a storming non-stop freakout! Exactly what you need from Fuzz.

I do like a few songs on this album, and it's a long shot from being bad, but most the riffs are forgettable, lots of the long instrumental sections are tired and weary, and too much of this album drags for this to be a great follow-up to the ever-so-fun rock out that is the first album Fuzz. From the outside, looking in, maybe it seems like this band are compared to Black Sabbath too readily, but ultimately, for too much of this album, it does really, really feel like if you closed your eyes and told yourself it was a Sabbath rarities collection, it definitely wouldn't be too much of a stretch for the imagination.


(written by calum cashin)

The Black Tambourines / Freedom (album review)

Have you seen The Black Tambourines live? Because the way you read this review will totally depend on that; for those who haven't, me labelling them as 'the tightest band you'll see' seems like a bit of kop out hyperbole, but if you've seen them you'll know all about their absolutely incredible chemistry as a band in a live environment, seeing them fizz around the stage hammering out some of the most energetic surf-rock you'll ever hear.  

The whole of the Freedom album buzzes with an inescapable immediacy that is almost unparalleled in the whole indie rock genre at this point in time. Stripped back of all pretension, this is just a really raw - albeit cleanly recorded - record of some pummeling energetic tracks, which are blended with a few more chilled out sun drenched numbers like Namaste and Cool Out.

However, like in a live environment, it's the songs that are just complete sonic powerhouses, like I Wanna Stay Away, Lost and Sister, that are the undoubted highlights. A brilliant mix between the Ramones and more recent surf punk bands Wavves and FIDLAR, there is so much energy in these songs, losing nothing in the recording process. I think whilst those two US bands I mentioned are probably the world leaders (alongside Ty Segall, when he feels like it) in angsty surf punk, The Black Tambourines are Britain's premium band of this type. They just don't run outta energy.

Whilst listening to Freedom isn't as scintillating as seeing the band rock out in a live environment, this record is probably the best surf rock record I've heard all year. This makes me wanna try pick up skateboarding, cut holes in my jeans, and go weeks without washing my hair. A brilliant indie guitar album that I cannot find a single fault in.


(written by calum cashin)

25 Oct 2015

10 songs I'd physically kill someone to hear for the first time again

There's very few experiences just as amazing as hearing a song you'll love for the rest of your life for the first time. Like, maybe most recently I remember hearing Ought's Beautiful Blue Sky for the first time through computer speakers at work, and Viet Cong's Death whilst out on my bicycle. These are songs I'm fairly sure I'll always love to bits because they are masterpieces in their own right, but there are some songs I've heard that I just wish I could hear for the first time over and over again. Here's a list of such songs, and the measures I'd go through to hear them for the first time again. [disclaimer : some of these might resort to hyperbole, a bit, maybe]

LCD Soundsystem - All My Friends
This is so cliche, but it's just one of the best few songs ever written. Never has music been this euphoric, with that whole sorta pushing on momentum. Leaving home this September, it's something I'd love to have been able to hear for the first time around this period - imagine feeling just a little bit down, and just allowing this masterpiece to overcome you slowly and euphorically. I'd literally saw a traffic warden in two to be able to hear it for the first time, and saw them in two just before rush hour at that.

Beach House - Myth
Recently I've fallen so, so in love with Beach House and I'm 99% sure that they've put out enough great records to be Officially The Best Band Of This Decade. This song is the one song of theirs, as well as Norway which isn't quite as good, which I loved to pieces before this major Beach House obsession took hold. A really, really beautiful dream-pop song that is just one spiritual journey, sounding kind of like what I'd imagine being a cloud is like with the whole movement thing being really cloudlike, and Victoria Legrand's voice just being like a beautiful shower of rain after a game of football. To hear this for the first time again, I'd happily punch a dolphin in the nose. It'd be so worth it.

Slowdive - When The Sun Hits
Another shoegazey number, this is the sorta poppy number from the Souvlaki album that revolves around a slow trickling verse and then a powerful chorus that just really hits me. I've heard it a million times and it still sounds fresh, but if I could make it sound a little bit fresher it would probably be worth killing someone, but maybe a bad person like Theresa May or Michael McIntyre.

Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit
I don't think I'd kill anyone to find out, but I reckon it would be really, really incredible to hear this for the first time aged maybe 16 or 17 having never ever grown up hearing it round every corner. In my home, this song was everywhere growing up. It was on the CD player a lot. On the radio. In the fridge. I had to buy a nightlight to make sure it wasn't out to get me while I lay in bed, aged 6 or 7. But now, I'm thinking maybe I'd at least take a small child's action man away to test my theory out.

My Bloody Valentine - Sometimes
This is just a song I love to bits, but can't really listen to because it reminds me of people from the past. Unlike most MBV, which I just find unlistenable because during my first S H O E G A Z E R phase, I played Loveless on repeat and it got played so many times that it was just unbearable. But Sometimes is different, because it's just that much better than everything else they ever did, as a pop song, and a euphoric sonic masterpiece, and to be able to listen to it without welling up with sentimentality, well, to be able to do that I'd definitely at least seriously wound someone I deeply love, like Chris Packham or Flavor Flav.

The Smiths - This Charming Man
Again, I grew up hearing the Smiths occasionally, living in a 6music powered house, and GOD I FUCKING HATED THEM. Morrissey's droney voice. Chimey guitars that didn't sound very much like Arctic Monkeys at all. Lyrics about charming men. This was all recipe for my 10 year old self to hate The Smiths, I HATED THEM. But when I turned about 14, adolescence happened, and for two years straight I just loved The Smiths so much, and I felt like only Morrissey got me. If I could delete every memory from BOTH those phases of my life and put This Charming Man on having never heard it before, I would definitely fire bomb a post office.

The Housemartins - Happy Hour
Imagine having never heard The Housemartins. Imagine. What a world awaits you. This is on the list because it's quite literally ecstacy in the format of a pop song, and hearing it for the first time again would be like, the same as trying a mug full of Jack Daniels aged 13 for the first time. It's just that important. I would go back in time and kill JFK myself to hear it again, because it's just that amazing.

The Kinks - Lola
"Wait. This isn't a normal boring love song is it?! Is it?! OH GOD NO, IT'S NOT". I'd kill to have that realisation about this #2 single from the early seventies. Every 12 year old music fans goes through this, and I'd definitely wrestle Cecil the Lion to the ground if it meant I could hear it for the first time once more. But it's not just the realisation of what the subject matter is, IMAGINE HAVING THAT CHORUS IN YOUR HEAD FOR THE FIRST TIME ALL OVER AGAIN. Okay, I'm sold, where's my lion wrestling suit at?

Grandaddy - The Crystal Lake
BBC 6 used this as a soundbed for TIME, and I feel like the majesty of its amazing outro was just ruined because of this. The BBC owe me the pleasure of hearing this without going 'ahhhhh, it's that soundbed, isn't it?' and because of this I think they should make George Osbourne sleep with the fishes on behalf of me, because they owe me big time, and realistically, I'm never going to unhear that synth as the backing music to Marc Riley's show. GIVE ME JUSTICE. I WANT JUSTICE.

Led Zeppelin - Stairway To Heaven
This is quite literally the most overrated song of all time, made worse by the fact it's an out and out ripoff of a song by Spirit, who are also not very good. You name it, and I'll kill it, if it means getting back all the minutes I've spent trying to work out what's so great about this song.

(written by calum cashin)

Miley Cyrus / Miley Cyrus & her Dead Petz (album review)

It's Sunday. It's the end of a really dossy week at uni that, despite having it's stressful moments hasn't really done a lot to knacker me. So I felt like I needed to be challenged, so this morning I took up the challenge of listening to ALL of Miley Cyrus' new album. For those of you that don't know, it's a 90 minute record called Miley Cyrus and her Dead Petz, and was made with help from The Flaming Lips. It's truly awful as a piece of art, but y'know, I thought I'd listen to it all the way through and write my thoughts on it, because as well as being every bit as terrible as an album like this should be, it's also the best thing ever. So, cup of coffee in hand, I sat down with the album to get to really know what was going on with it.

Dooo It is a really appalling pop song that kind of has some nice musical beats underlying, but maybe from the first 'yeah I smoke pot!!!!!' vocals at the start, I knew this would be the longest 90 minutes of my life. It would be exactly the same as being stuck down a mine, in Chile, for months, and feel twice as long. But y'know, when it was followed with the rather lovely, slow dreampop number Karen Don't Be Sad, it opened up the idea that this might not be the worst album ever. It has a nice Yoshimi quality, and whilst being average, is actually quite nice to listen to - and similarly with next track The Floyd Song - the vocals are drenched in reverb and effects and kind of easy to ignore and just treat as a semi important instrument in one big Flaming Lips track. All was going okay, I thought, the main negative being that it was just bad, but good enough to be not enjoyably bad. It's okay though, soon enough I found out it was definitely appalling enough to be bad in a fun way.

Over the next few tracks, our gal Miley sings some songs about space in a way that sounds like she's taking the piss out of bands like the Lips or Pond, when really she's trying to just seriously sing some proper ballads about space, in which she tries to put her finger on 'something in the way you fuck me'. That's deep, man, that's deep. It gets even deeper on the next song Space boots, where she talks about someone looking 'cute' in a 'space suit', and by this point this album firmly reaches the point where it's so appalling that it's enjoyable - kinda, with Miley's appalling vocal/lyric combo atop a pretty nice instrumental - with some gradual Lips melodies giving this a kinda relaxing feel to it, if you can ignore Miley's unoriginal lyrics to this, where she just doesn't really get over the fact 'boot' and 'suit' rhyme.

Pitchfork call Fucking Fucked Up a 'pointless witch-house skid mark', and well, that it is, but at 50 or so seconds it doesn't really go on long enough for me to form an actual opinion, all I know is that once it ended I wish I was over. But after that, if it wasn't already enough after Dooo It's opening motif, Miley's look-at-what-an-eccentric-STONER-I-am personality that theneedledrop tears right into the swing of things; on BB Talk, our heroine Miley gets political with lyrics like 'I love you, stop baby talking' and getting deep into conversations about 'monkey emojis', which is some pretty deep shit. Don't vote for Kanye, vote for this gal.

At Fweaky, maybe a track that could have been commercially released by her label with a few swear words blotted out, I took a breather, made myself some damn fine (Aldi's own brand prison-stylé) coffee as a reward for getting this far. On Bang Me Box, the next song on the journey that Cyrus is leading us on whether we wanna go on it or not, Miley gets really overtly sexual, and far from me to chastise women for having some kinda sexuality, but via the lyrics of Miley Cyrus the whole sex thing is something I'd maybe pay to never hear again.

Milky Milky Milk is the most Flaming Lips that the album gets, with Miley's vocals being really low in the mix, and some warped, out there synths and pressing beats. I was wondering wait; is this so bad I'm enjoying it? Or am I enjoying it? Hmmmm.

This question was answered towards the end of the song as Miley's vocals took centre stage a bit more, and she took on board the persona of someone that can sing about 'milky milky milk' with a straight face. This is definitely so bad it's good. That phrase was invented for this kind of artistic abomination. This hypothesis was again furthered as Miley burst into Cyrus Skies, a five minute centrepiece of the album. Not in two years of reviewing albums have I felt so offended by a record.

Slab of Butter is a very cliched pop number with a cool Lipsian breakdown to keep you hangin' on in there, and I'm So Drunk is a little segue that ought to be too short to be offensively bad, but Miley gives it a good go. A really good go.

BUT ALAS, around I Forgive Yiew, I begin to forgive yiew Miley. You're not all that bad Miley. You're just trying a bit too very hard, it's a phase we all go through this, only Miley has Wayne Coyne as a pal to make a 90 minute album out of the peak of her I Don't Know Who I Am phase. And this album is ultimately endearing, with its general playful feel, and even though 99% of the lyrics are shite (with 1% of them being 'surprisingly ok'), Miley gives it a good go to do what she wants to do with this album. Although the lovely Beach House ripoff of Karen Don't Be Sad seems a long way away at this point, I can't stay mad at this album for too long, because it's just an enjoyable amount of batshit to combat the fact it's an unenjoyable amount of BAD.

I Get So Scared and Lighter continue the whole It's So Bad You Can't Help But Smile thing, both of them going for the heartstring tug, and ultimately not quite succeeding but being intriguing enough for you not to tune out, which I'm sure is Miley's most realistic goal. Although Lighter's lyrics ('when I need a fire, you are my lighter') are so bad that maybe it's for the best if you do tune out. The lyrics for all of this album are truly awful, but this is a low ebb, kind of surpassing the whole enjoyably bad thing, and just being poor.

At this point, Calum had reached his limit, took a half time breather and some beans on toast, and resumed with Tangerine, which features the first guest star Big Sean, who sounds about as uninterested at this point as most of Miley Cyrus' fanbase does. It is, however, one of those songs that goes for the emotional angle, and it's actually quite good. It's still a bit on the odd side hearing Miley sing through what sounds like an intercom over the top of an overblown strings section. This song also acted as something that showed just how long double albums are, and why bands would rather record a half an hour long record than an hour and a half one.

Tiger Dreams sees her collaborating with Ariel Pink, which excited me a little, but not too much, because I feel like Ariel Pink holds the same sorta place in my heart as Miley. Sure yr alrite mate, but yr just a bit of a tosser. But still, this is another song you can tell yourself is the Flaming Lips, and I guess this is for the best, probably, and is among the best on the album because you can't really fault it, it's just an average psych number, although I don't really see what Ariel Pink is doing.

Throughout the album Miley only really sings about the nonsensical bollocks of dreams that she probably didn't actually have, how edgy she is for smoking weed, having sex, SPACE, and occasionally she touches on fictional animals. This is something that kind of seems annoying from the offset, but ultimately it's almost relieving that nothing ever gets too heavy, and you're never challenged by any lyrics.

1 Sun came on, and I realised SHIT, I'm approaching the end of an epic journey, things will never be the same again. 1 Sun is either the best song or the worst song on the album, in which our Miley gets #deep - 'we only have 1 sun, 1 moon, 1 me, 1 you' - yet again. 'Can't you see the clouds are dying?' she sings, becoming the latest in a line of singers that basically just, makes nothing statements that might be linked to a half wish for world peace, or might just be a stoner realisation that it might just be best to treat shit right. Who knows? Miley's lyrics are just so terrible that even looking into them this much makes you realise just how bad they are.

Pablow the Blowfish is a highlight, a high watermark for civilisation, in which Miley sings a love song to a blowfish she loves. She gets sad because her real life on land friends eat her not so real life sea friends. I think this is the first time it's obvious her lyrics aren't one hundred percent serious, which is almost concerning, considering what the first 80 minutes of this album were like. It's also where she sounds most emotional, again, slightly concerning. This is just a slightly concerning album on the whole really. I mean you hear stories of child stars 'losing it', but at least Macaulay Culkin never put together a 90 minute album of psychedelic pop when he went off the rails.

Penultimate song sees the most pretentious point on our journey, which says a hell of a lot; it's just an atmospheric piece called Miley Tibetan Bowlzzz or something like that, and I feel like it's something that is just best we never mention ever again. Sweet. On closer, Miley FINALLY writes a vaguely moving song, Twinkle Song, which sees her ask 'what does it mean? What does it mean?' which is a question many of her fans are left with after this record. I mean, she gets more into screaming 'WHAT DOES IT MEAN?' at the end, and it's even more horrific than anything Adele could ever produce, even at her most horrific. Miley Cyrus sound appalling here, properly absolutely appalling, at her absolute worst, even for this album.

But maybe it's a fitting close to the record; it's horrible, it's vulgar, her voice is appalling, and the lyrics are even worse than you could ever imagine lyrics could be. But y'know what? Who cares. There might be no good songs on it, it might be unlistenable, and I might certainly never want to hear it again, but Miley Cyrus and her Dead Petz is A MODERN DAY MASTERPIECE. Over 90 unlistenable minutes, in which Miley Cyrus creates some of the worst music imaginable, she leads you on a spiritual journey that will ultimately make you appreciate the silence more than ever before. I've listened to 2 hourlong albums by Swans, and things like Sunn o))) but nothing could quite prepare me for this; it's sonic torture that Michael Gira could only dream of doing, almost nightmarish, but for the same reason, the greatest work of art since the Starry Night on the Rhone.

I might add though, it is admirably ambitious, and I do quite like the idea of a really batshit album like this, but ultimately, too much of it is unlistenable psychedelic pop with about as much depth as an Oasis b-side, even with the advent of the Flaming Lips means that this isn't quite the fun listen it should be. Kudos Miley, good go, but maybe put a little more thought into it next time.

for the record, this album is also going to be awarded a 10 out of 10, as well as a 0 out of 10, to go with the review score you're about to read - or probably have read - below


(written by calum cashin)

24 Oct 2015

Deafheaven / New Bermuda (album review)

DEAFHEAVEN. Deafheaven. D E A F H E A V E N. My kinda metal band. The most divisive-seeming metal band in the world are despised by a lotta metal purists, for ummm, dressing a bit like they're in an M and S advert, instead of dressing a bit more 'tribally', and including some wider influences in their sound, but musically they're among the most innovative, ruthless fuckers operating in world music today. This is their third or fourth full length release, following some more standard ones that nobody listened to THEN the masterpiece that is Sunbather, 2013's finest non-My Bloody Valentine release.

Removing all the pretensions that the more theatrical aspects of metal are associated with, Deafheaven are probably the only band to make this kinda frightening racket that you could comfortably have a pint (or cocktail pitcher) with at 'spoons; they're fronted by someone called George Clarke, and he certainly doesn't wear any masks or capes, while the rest of the band don't seem to have any stage names which prophecise death and suffering on those that don't believe in metal. I bet the Motley Crue would fucking hate them.

This new album is called New Bermuda, and it does what Sunbather did ever so will; venomous, cutting black metal that, like one big Scalextric set, whizzes 'round and 'round viciously, before flying off the metaphorical track into blissful, euphoric dream-pop. No more is this apparent than on the opening suite, Brought To Water, which mixes George Clarke's hissing screams and some lethal black metal riffing with gorgeous jangly bits, that come in abruptly, but begin to seamlessly blend in with Clarke's vocals towards the end of the song.

Starting the other way round, Baby Blue is seemingly more tender, starting off with what could really be a Galaxie 500 instrumental swish, but the guitar gets a tiny bit more monotonous, and dreamy, and start to build, and you know what's coming; Deafheaven aren't going to give you a ten minute long dream-pop song; nope; Baby Blue builds to showcase one of Clarke's most intense vocal deliveries, with big guitar riffs making the song sound just downright MASSIVE. Their sound here is maybe the best I've heard it, incorporating the swirling guitars of Ride, the building intensity of Godspeed! and some vocals that the likes of Oli Sykes and Corey Taylor could have only have ever dreamed of delivering.

Every single song (or maybe 'suite' is a more appropriate word) on this album, of which there are five, manages to deliver that heavy, visceral black metal Deafheaven are notorious for, and fuse it with ethereal euphoria in a way that never seems obvious, or predictable, and is absolutely heavenly. For the 47 minutes of its runtime, it's one of those rare albums that remain absolutely gripping from start to finish, every second being part of one big journey. Sure, you can take the easy, elitist, that's-not-metal-because option, dismiss it as 'hipster metal', and get on with your day, but if you do, maybe you need to have a good long look in the mirror, take your cape off and in an ever-so-sophisticated way, remove your head from your arse.


(written by calum cashin)

eight more really cool bands you should totally listen to

The other day, our writer Rachel wrote a really wonderful piece on some recommended listening, which you can read here. It included some pretty great bands and some future obsessions, so it's only right that I write about eight bands myself that are a bit *~under the radar~*, so I can get a load of people into some more bands I absolutely love.

I'll start the ball rolling with an artist that I only listened to for the first time this week; that's because jennylee AKA Jenny Lee Lindberg of Warpaint only unveiled her debut solo song this week. It's called Never and it's a scuzzy little number that features some dreamy textures and deepset vocals you'd probably become accustomed to with Warpaint. However, it's a lot rawer than any of the Warpaint stuff, and thanks to some really powerful vocals, it's a nice mish-mash of lo-fi slacker rock and intense Kate Bush-stylé mystical wailing pop. It's really gonna be exciting to see what the jennylee album, right on! is like, because I'm sure it'll be great.

Long haired angsty love songs that would be perfect for nineties cult films, York based janglepoppers DIRTYGIRL are among the most amazing young bands I've heard recently. The four piece just put out a split EP with slacker-pop group c r u m b s, which features the two gems Transition and Blindfold, and is really essential listening. The band have Girlpool-like luscious vocal harmonies and their music is just so, so danceable; it really wouldn't surprise me if they got big real quick.

Subpop's premier angsty grunge band at the moment are known as Strange Wilds, and through raw energy, the power trio's reverb laden sound is nothing short of fantastic. A nice waypoint between Pavement and Bleach-era Nirvana, this band are a must hear for fans of noisy guitar music, and really put everything into it. Pronoia is one of their thrashier numbers, and I think potentially (bar the latest Beach House record's opening track), it's potentially the best track that everyone's favourite Seattle label has put out this year, whilst the lighter Starved For is equally essential, and another track you've just gotta listen to now - they've just put out an album, too, which is moving up my NEED TO HEAR list slowly but surely.

Similarly sludgy, Sweden's Dolores Haze are one of the most exciting new bands on the circuit; in fact, we've got a review of their debut coming fairly soon, which we can't wait to share. They're a four piece that sound a lot like Hole or Dirty era Sonic Youth, with those rough guitar lines, vocals that sound both youthful and sassy, as well as lyrics that are every bit as provocative as the band's name suggests. Frontwoman Groovy Nicks (I'm assuming that's a stage name for some reason) is just the coolest frontwoman, and the most hypnotic stage presence, who, last time I saw live, was dressed as Wonder Woman. Dolores Haze's debut is on it's way, but for now check this track out;

You know earlier I said that Subpop were everyone's favourite Seattle label; well, I was being hasty and I was being WRONG. Hardly Art records is home to Protomartyr, Shannon and the Clams and Tacocat, as well as Chastity Belt, who are the next band I'm going to get overexcited about. Chastity Belt are an effortlessly cool indie band from Seattle who make brilliant indie music a la Shop Assistants and The Housemartins with a real urban feel to it. Fronted by Julia Shapiro, whose vivid lyrics give a brilliant sense of being at all these cool parties and whatever that she sings about, Chastity Belt released one of the best indie records of the year, if not the best, with Time To Go Home. 

Coming into a bit more notoriety after their KEXP session, Las Robertas are a really cool band of turbo charged Costa Rican rockstars combine the furiously energetic punk of Sauna Youth, similar guitar sounds in tow, and the laidback vocal deliveries of The Brian Jonestown Massacre, with the frontwoman's voice being just as luscious as Anton Newcombe's to listen to. Their most recent release is the The Feel EP, whose title track is genius; rumbling basslines, brilliant guitar tones, and a great bassline. Las Robertas are one of the best bands on the scene, and they've got so many potential fans out there, because their veering on dreamy vocals and veering on punk instrumentation means that this is just perfect for anyone that likes guitar music.

Slacker prince of the west of the US, Stephen Steinbrink is a guy with a lotta talent. I found out about him via the complimentary mix CD that you get with Girlpool's latest Before The World Was Big album, and I couldn't help but fall in love with him. His music is essentially pop music, for people with skateboards. It's generally nice, but pretty off kilter, with lots of weird sounds mixing it all up. It Takes A Lot To Change A Mind is such a gorgeous song, and on every song Stephen has a nice, laid back vocal delivery that's just hypnotic.

Finally, The Spook School are a Scottish band that I literally found out about on Thursday. Essentially, they're a four-piece, who deal with really important issues facing trans people in their songs, which are all written collaboratively. This month saw the release of their second album, Try To Be Hopeful, which features some powerful songwriting that both tackles the issues of gender identity head on and captures a real punk energy. Songs like Burn Masculinity and Binary are probably the standout songs I've heard by them so far, but the entirety of their output is essential listening, and they're my new favourite band, I'd say, probably. I love them to bits and you will too.

this list was compiled by me, calum cashin, and all the respective bands have songs embedded with them! if you wanna know more about any band or artist, don't hesitate to give us an email or whatnot on the vapourtrailblog address! 

Girls Against Groping - we NEED to stamp out sexual harassment at gigs and Girls Against are pushing for it

In passing weeks there has been a new buzz on Twitter as word spread about groping taking place at multiple Peace gigs. Until recently I hadn't heard of many cases of sexual assault at live events, and I’d always assumed that gigs were safe due to the amount of security at the venue and the general progressive attitude that surrounds music. There was talk a few months ago about it taking place at a few Drenge gigs, but other than that I’d heard nothing. Yet as I searched deeper and found occurrence after occurrence I came to a realisation, the issue hasn't became more common in the past few years, it is just becoming more talked about as many of its victims have started to speak up.

Imagine you are at a gig for one of your favourite bands in the world. Everything is perfect; the music, the atmosphere, the venue; nothing can ruin your night. Except that is when the guy behind you believes that it his right to put his hands on you and touch you inappropriately. We’re not talking about the accidental kind where because of the lack of space someone is pushed up to you, here they normally apologies and move away within seconds. But if that person leaves their hands on you for more than a minute and tries to proceed further it is a criminal sexual assault. The last thing any girl wants is to be touched without her permission, never mind the location, and the constant worry that this might happen whilst attending a gig; something which is meant to be fun and an enjoyable event; can ruin your evening and put you off going all together.

Whilst attending an event last week, I was flung into a mosh pit, without even thinking a moved to stand next to a group of girls. The fact that girls feel they have to stand in big groups together to avoid situations in which they feel threatened and vulnerable is a disappointment. In the age we live in it is disgusting that things such as sexual harassment and groping is still an ongoing thing. I’ve even heard of situations where certain bands and artists refuse to crowd surf due to they have been assaulted and violated in the past.

Knowing that girls needed a campaign to raise awareness and stop sexual harassment from taking place at gigs @girlsagainst was formed and took twitter by storm. Gaining 800+ followers in just over 24 hours (and at time of writing it's at 3,216), they have already received support from the likes of Peace, Ratboy, Baby Strange, Sundara Karma and Drenge. We here at Vapour Trail had the chance to speak to the girls about the all important issue…

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Hannah (@Hdans1975)
We can’t believe the support we’ve got; it’s insane we’re always freaking out on the group chat, aha. After we saw the support I got following my experience of being sexually harassed at Peace was made public we decided to do something. We’d always wanted to do something together so it just kind of happened. We’ve all had this group chat for about three months so it was pretty easy to figure out it would only be us to run the main thing. Not that we want to exclude people; it’s a collaborative project so we’re asking for suggestions on what people want to see us do.

(The support of so many bands and artists) is incredible! Like I said we can’t really wrap our heads around it, we didn’t expect this much at all or so quickly. These are the guys we listen to and we’re DMing them and they all seem really enthusiastic so we’re super happy. It makes us feel like we’re being listened to and that this isn’t a shot in the dark.

There have been a few things (that have shocked the group). The fact that someone tweeted us and said that they had no idea this stuff even went on was crazy. We really want to bring awareness and educate people so it was kind of positive and negative! And again just the amount of people who have tweeted us and how honest and open they’re being. I didn’t tell any of the girls what had actually happened to me for ages so it makes us feel really proud and happy that people trust us enough to tell us this.

(To raise awareness) we’ll have badges made ASAP; we’re having a meeting next Sunday when we’re all back home so our goals will be set out in detail then. We 100% want to raise awareness, get bands involved. All of us are writers so we’re working on some poetry and articles on other feminist issues. We’d like to get involved with security companies and people like Ticketmaster as well eventually. We have such a great platform so we want to use it to its’ full potential.

If you do have an experience like this at a gig, we would say to speak to somebody, contact or have someone contact the venue/ band. Bottling it up is the worst thing so we think it’s good that we’re here if people want to discuss it to someone they don’t know without being judged because sometimes I feel that’s easier. Everyone’s different so we can’t generalise but that would be the basic advice I would give.

Ava (@vanmccann)
Austin, singer of Swim Deep, with members of @girlsagainst -
he gave the campaign a shout out from onstage at that gig...
None of us can believe the amount of support we've received already, it's so overwhelming! At Peace, I had a really bad experience of being groped by somebody that I know and I found it very difficult to open up and talk about. However, after seeing the support Hannah got following her experience of being sexually harassed at the same gig, we decided we wanted to do something. The session to start this account was made pretty quickly as we realised that this is becoming a growing issue and we figured that creating Girls Against would be a good way to raise awareness of this. The fact that we have gained nearly 2000 followers since the account started only a few days ago is insane; none of us can believe it! We have even received a huge amount of support from many bands including Drenge, Rat Boy, Jaws, Sundara Karma, Swim Deep and Slaves which is absolutely amazing! Peace in particular have been amazing, the support we've had from them is unreal. We all think that making badges is a really great way to spread awareness of this as we have already had a lot requests for them. Like I said, I have experienced sexual harassment at a gig and the only advice I can give is to talk to someone about it. For me, bottling it up was the worst thing I could've done as it was constantly on my mind and bringing me down but once I finally spoke about it. I felt so much better for it. I realise that it is very difficult for most people to talk about, which is why I feel this account will benefit a lot of people as we are always here to discuss it. We have already received a lot of DMs of people sharing stories which makes me feel proud as it means that we are begging to raise awareness of this and people are feeling more comfortable about opening up to it!

Bea (@float4ever)
The motivation basically came from the other girls experience at the Peace gig in Glasgow. We were close friends already and wanted to do something together to stop this happening again. We all agreed that it would be a brilliant idea and in no way expected it to be as successful as it has been!

The support from bands is unreal, we can't believe it! Sometimes we have to remember to be professional when contacting them which is a crazy thought, it's literally a dream and we're so grateful that they recognise what an important issue this is.
Experiences have definitely been a big shock, it's scary to think about how often this is happening - an even more reason to keep fighting. The support has shocked me too! I can't believe how many people have got behind us in such a short space of time.

Raising awareness is really important to create a safety bubble around going to gigs and to make sure nobody there feels uneasy or anxious about attention; we want to put a stop to groping all together!
(On the topic of who met Peace…) It was me who met Peace! It was surreal! I was honoured by their kindness and interest into the cause and I'm so glad we have a band such as them behind us. They made me feel like doing this was all worthwhile and I feel blessed to have had face to face contact with them about such an important cause.

Badges is the first step (for their plan to raise awareness) yes! We want to somehow create a sort of universal sign that can be used to warn security and the crowd if someone around them is at risk of under threat, we are still working on this though. Hopefully in the future we may even be able to set up stalls at gigs or festivals to really let everyone know about the campaign and to hopefully stop harassers from attending.
(if someone gets assaulted at a gig) I would suggest letting people around you know, and security and then, at last resort, moving to somewhere you feel more comfortable. We understand moving at a gig is extremely difficult and not ideal which is why we are working on ways security can help this.

Anna (@L0VESICK)
We started up the account after Peace noticed Hannah's story; we realised how common it is, and knew that we had to take some kind of action. We've all been friends for months, and as we're all huge music fans and gig goers we knew we had to do something!

It's such an honour (to see some many bands support them), especially because it's band we all love, knowing that people we look up to support us! I saw Swim Deep with Ava the other night and hearing them give us a shoutout felt surreal; to know that that was for US! It's unbelievable, and we are so grateful.
Some stories have been quite hard to hear - but it's why we're doing this. We have to know what's happened in order to help. Between the five of us, we've all experienced harassment in some way, so we have to relive past experiences which can be difficult, but if it's to help other people then that's what we have to do.

Raising awareness means other victims can realise they aren't alone; it's the same with any form of harassment. Many don't realise just how common it is. We want to collect statistics to have hard hitting facts to show people who deny or overlook the problem. As we've just started out, we've yet to form a proper plan. However, we want to contact venues and security companies and raise awareness for the issue. We also want bands to show their support, which so far they have done very well, so that people can hear about the problem directly from the artists. There are many very high hopes we have for this campaign, as we're quite optimistic, but we need to take it one step at a time!

If you are assaulted at a gig, I would recommend firstly letting the person know that you know, so they don't think they're getting away with it, but I wouldn't get physical or aggressive as that can get dangerous. Instead, give them a look and move away. Alert security as well; do not let it spiral out of control.

Anni (@queenkrule)
After Hannah spoke out about her experience at Peace I had the idea that we make badges to give out at gigs so that everyone showed their intolerance toward the issue. We then realised that many other people had similar experiences to Hannah's, so thought it best to make a campaign to try and help as many people as possible. We were always a group so we thought it best to do this together - these girls are some of my best friends and I know I could trust them with everything.

It's amazing to have support from people whose music we admire so much. It gives a good insight into their character knowing they too want to fight sexual harassment - I have placed my faith in the right people! It also means we can generate an even louder conversation - awareness will really help eradicate groping at gigs, we think.

It's been really troubling to see just how many people have had bad experiences at gigs, and to hear the details has been equally difficult. It is sad, but it motivates us even more because we know we have the opportunity to help so many people.

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Girls Against with the band Spector
So many people have been clueless to this behaviour, so the more people learn that this is happening, the more people can look out for each other when they're at gigs, to potentially help someone in an unsafe situation.

We were so excited when Sam invited Bea to talk to them about the campaign. Just knowing how much they really care about this has been so refreshing - we feel as though we are being listened to and that we can really do something to end this.

We are working on establishing a solid safety plan should someone find them in that sort of situation at a gig. We are trying our best to just offer a safe place for victims to speak about their experiences, and to generate a loud and clear conversation - our community won't tolerate this kind of behaviour any longer.

It's difficult to know what to do in the situation. Some people act out aggressively whereas others just freeze, unsure of how to react - I'd suggest that you contact a member of security. Sometimes they can be wonderful and they punish the perpetrator accordingly - however, sometimes they don't do a very good job. If you feel like you need to, leave the crowd, get away from the person harassing you. You may feel as though you'd regret missing out on the gig, but your safety should be the top priority.

Vapour Trail writers
Ruby (@musicandkievs)
After an hour of searching the entirety that is the Internet, we found that there was no go-to websites which allows you to report or talk about your personal violation (apart from @girlsagainst raising needed awareness and contacting venues to talk about experiences people have had) this clearly shows how much the issue isn't recognised as seriously as it should be; In worst cases, people see this activity taking place and turn a blind eye to it, almost normalising the issue. I am just glad that @girlsagaisnt are finally speaking out about these crimes and accumulating the right sort of support.

Why should girls feel scared or objectified in a place you'd think would be safe, surrounded by likeminded people and security? I for one think these recent accounts need to be recognised pivotally by security therefore making it their responsibility to try and keep us safe to the best of their ability.

In the mean time, we can do our bit to show support, awareness and unity by following the page on Twitter, purchasing a girls against badge (due to be released relatively soon) and keeping an eye out at future gigs, if you do see this going on, do your best to alert someone with authority.

Caroline (@xylolime)
So what are the girls actually doing to stop groping? Well, @girlsagainst are looking to raise awareness for venues to have a say and get involved with the campaign and they’re planning on contacting various artists and security companies as well as promoters in order to get a safety plan settled. On top of that they’re spreading their message and trying to get as many influential people on board as possible.

The campaign has received a lot of support from multiple indie bands including Circa Waves, Peace and Swim Deep who have all spoken out on stage against groping at gigs. This has resulted in @girlsagainst reaching more than three thousand followers within two weeks of existing, which is an incredible start to eradicating a disgusting crime, as it shows people are taking it seriously, talking about it and raising awareness of the problem. The page gains hundreds of followers daily and continues to get bands and artists on board, and a lot of people are speaking out and sharing stories about their own experiences with groping and sexual harassment at gigs. The stories being shared are beyond disgusting and incredibly unsettling to read and it’s so scary to think of this happening in an environment that’s meant to be safe and fun. Something’s got to change immediately.

So is this only happening at indie gigs? No, not at all. But the vast majority of the stories about sexual harassment at gigs emerging on the Internet these days have happened at indie gigs. This could be due to the fact that indie crowds have a tendency to be a bit more rowdy/aggressive/overly enthusiastic than the crowds at i.e. acoustic gigs. But by no means does this mean sexual harassment/groping doesn’t happen anywhere else, it merely just means fewer to no people have spoken out, yet, about it happening elsewhere.

this article was put together by the amazing jess fleming - who you can find here
sexual harassment at gigs is such an issue, and if you experience it, @girlsagainst are a really wonderful group of individuals that are open to talk to anyone about their experiences, and help any individual victims of sexual harassment at gigs, which should a hundred percent be safe havens for everyone to have a good time

23 Oct 2015

eight really cool bands you should totally listen to

new music is something we all think is really important to get out there, so here's a bunch of really cool new bands for you that you should totally listen to...

Painted Caves are a four piece from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, signed to Amarrass Records, who
combine traditional Arab music and fuse it seamlessly with kaleidoscopic folk-rock. Their swirling tracks scope out a dreamy psychedelic landscape, with lovely lyrics, especially in the song The Ocean ('There will never be another you/is this the end, where we begin?') The complexity of their music, the various layers  to it and the mind-bending way they have melded so many genres, make this band a joy to listen to. No one else is currently making music that sounds like this, the uniqueness of what they're doing is pretty refreshing, their album Painted Caves is fantastic, and well worth a listen.

Shakey Graves is Alejandro Rose-Garcia, the Gentleman from Texas, who plays rock, roll, blues and country with an impressive flair and charisma. He literally oozes passion, watch his KEXP here to see what I mean, also his cover of Kiss The Girl, is pretty special, so I'd recommend watching it just for that. The mayor of his town has actually proclaimed the 9th of February every year 'Shakey Graves Day', in which Shakey puts on a festival-style-thing, in which he and various local acts perform. Graves' lyrics need to be mentioned, they're witty and wry, '22 with nothing to do but spend my hard earned money on you so I will/yes I will, yes I will, yes I surely will /Church and stuff church and stuff /I never thought god would call my bluff but he did /Yes he did, yes he god damn did' from 'Stereotypes of A Blue Collar Male', for example. He's a vibrant character in amongst a stagnant, overflowing pool of singer-songwriter dudes with guitars, and he's really bloody good.

Public Service Broadcasting take samples from old public service information films and propaganda, then integrate music to accompany it, sounds strange but it works so well. The duo, from London, claim to be 'teaching the lessons of the past with the music of the future', their live shows involve old TV sets displaying these old films with space-age electro music blaring over the top. They're connecting lost generations to this lost generation, beaming the past straight into our earphones in an attempt to Inform, Educate and Entertain us.

Midnight Magpie are a band from Birmingham, I recently caught them at a local gig and they killed it, I thoroughly enjoyed their set. It's pretty hard to describe their sound without using the word eccentric, I guess you could call it avant-garde jazz with a smattering of rock thrown in for good measure. I saw them cover Tom Waits' Blue Valentine beautifully, with a huge amount of respect for the original recording, which I love. The lead vocalist, Heather May Corvid, has a roar of a voice but it's also haunting and delicate, she was mesmerising. They just released the Cosmotropica EP, which has fantastic artwork and the song Rita's Baby, which I'm currently in love with.  Honestly, just check these guys out because I think they're on the cusp of something big here.

Institute hail from Austin, Texas and make post-punk music with bundles of attitude and self-pity. Their album Catharsis makes for good listening, even if it is a little same-y. The lyrics are a little flat, wallowing in the typical punk cliché of pent up teenage anger and self-hatred, BUT the blistering guitars and wild drumming certainly make up for that. The vocals can be seriously intense on the record, I'm pretty sure on the opening track for the first 30 seconds Moses Brown just wails. They're an exciting band with vast amounts of vitriol, they feel as if they're drenched in blood, sweat and spit.

Dr Dog clearly take influence from the 60s, which in my mind can only be a very good thing indeed. The band are a melting pot of psychedelia and folk rock, who recorded their most recent album in their own band-built studio. Their sound is somewhat breezy, with groovy undertones, which can make listening intriguing with all the various twists and turns offered to you by the band. Their 7th album, Be The Void has this track on it which I adore called 'That Old Black Hole', it's sublime both lyrically and melodically. If you like The Beach Boys, Dr Dog are probably your new favourite band.

POW! are signed to Castleface (Ty Seagall, White Fence, Damaged Bug) and originate from San Francisco, so already, pretty cool. Their album Fight Fire is packed with punky synths, sharp lyrics and tons of floaty atmospherics. 'Liquid Daydream' fuzzes with a raw energy that seems almost disorderly, but in a good way. They are frantic with a political/social commentary, making them all the more compelling as a band. Their songs feel somewhat gothic - dark and twisted, a festering clump of sound bourne from a group of creatives who are kind of pissed off at the world.

Flyte are probably what you would label as 'indie-pop', but I personally think that  there are more layers to the band than that. They have such a prowess when it comes to their music, with intricate harmonies and melodies scoping out a lovely dreamscape for the listener. They've supported Bombay Bicycle Club on tour and for me, were the perfect opener, upbeat and feel good. There is depth to the band, especially lyrically, the image contained within their words is magic ('Through revolving doors/Where the high rise sink/And the mothers smoke/Over kitchen sinks' 'Light Me Up') Flyte comment on modern life, the world I grew up in, which resonates with me hugely, it's probably one of the reasons I like them so much. They are silently brewing away, bubbling at the surface but soon the pan is going to overflow as they are only getting better.

this list was lovingly put together by the wonderful rachel tindall, who you can find on twitter here