29 Feb 2016

We've Got Bad Blood : An Essay on Taylor Swift

Ask me a few months ago my stance on Taylor Swift and I'd probably pour out something sickly sweet about adoring her; being in awe of her flawless transition from country queen to pop princess... 

I Like It When You Sleep.. / The 1975 (album review)

London pretentio-ponces The 1975 are undoubtedly one of the most prolific bands of this generation, having developed a cult following since their 2013 breakthrough. On this, their second album, pop culture and self-obsession are sucked through a neon pink wormhole of hairspray and subtext, to mixed results. 

28 Feb 2016

ENTRODUCING #8 - Dollhouse

A band we've featured on Vapour Trail before, the subject of today's ENTRODUCING column are Dollhouse, who hail from the West Country and are remarkable for mixed a disjointed cosmic sound with more standard song structures to create something that you can't really pin a genre tag down on.

For the Calendar : Records to look forward to in 2016

I think the majority of nice, normal people don't really keep a mental list of records that they're looking forward to in the near future. It's okay though, because yr favourite pretentious music blogger, that is me Calum, does just that, and has compiled them all into a nice long list for all to read. Here's a selection of could-be-great records to look forward to this year.

27 Feb 2016

De Staat / O (album review)

As anyone who’d read my li'l piece on some cool Dutch and Belgian bands you ought to check out might remember, De Staat are my absolute favorite Dutch band. Suffice to say that my expectations for O, their fourth studio album, were huge. So the fact that I’m writing this review more than a month after it’s release is in part because I got increasingly busy, but also because at first listens, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it.

Palms & Pelicans / Comfortable (single review)

New single “Comfortable” by Southampton band “Palms and Pelicans” is a dreamy audible whirlpool that has an intriguingly engrossing feel to it.

Telstar Sound Drone / Drugs Help (single review)

This is a track oozing with reverb, the fuzz slithering through it like something possessed. It's spacey and big, the sound swelling like a storm cloud, readying itself to pour psychedelia upon us.

26 Feb 2016

Parquet Courts - Berlin Got Blurry (single review)

Parquet Courts have just another new single from upcoming LP, Human Performance, and it's a blazing display of American rock and roll. It's a song that belongs in a Tarantino film, with it's juicy opening riff and commercial, poppy twang. This isn't your typical Parquet Courts song musically, it's teetering on being catchy- especially with the smatterings of synth underneath the bouncing reverby guitar.


Ellery Roberts; the gravelly voiced frontman of WU LYF, the 2010's finest cult band; recently released his first track in quite a while under the moniker of LUH (Lost Under Heaven). For the reason that the song was really quite touching to me, LUH are today's featured ENTRODUCING artist...

25 Feb 2016

Field Day number 10 - the best lineup of the Summer? (certainly my favourite)

On a personal level, I'm really rarely completely satisfied with a whole festival lineup - sure, there's always a few bands on every major lineup, but largely it's hard for me to see a whole festival lineup that completely and utterly nurtures every musical want and need of my fairly (but not ridiculously) off-kilter taste in music.

ENTRODUCING #6 - Dressmaker

Time for another band I'm obsessed with to be brought to the foray with the ENTRODUCING column... Dressmaker are a four-piece from East London who are so abrasive, invasive and furious that they might just singlehandedly restore your faith in noisy guitar music.

Lush - Out Of Control - the verdict on their first new song of the third millennia

Around the 1990CE mark, the cultural phenonema known as shoegazing burst onto the scene, a spearing attack led by the prongs of the likes of Ride, Slowdive, Lush, Chapterhouse and My Bloody Valentine. It was the premier scene in British indie music for a good one and a half/two years, existing in its own sonic sphere with it's own distinct otherworldly sound. But it didn't last, and the British music press turned on these bands in favour of more regressive, sexy Britpop which lacked the forward thinking of the shoegaze bands and kind of led to every single shoegaze band fizzling out at their own pace whilst people paid their actual real hard earned money to see Cast.

24 Feb 2016

V FESTIVAL, 21 years and Still Going Strong.

V Festival. Not the sort of festival we here at Vapour Trail would cover right? Well, this years line-up  for V's 21st year plays host to some of the biggest stars around in music. today, and I am more than impressed.

Foals : Live at Birmingham Barclaycard Arena

I went into this concert with very high expectations, everyone who I've spoken to that has seen Foals always bangs on about how utterly enthralling their gigs are - now, I see what all the fuss is about. Now, unfortunately I missed both Peace's first DJ set and Everything Everything, because I am a complete flake and complications with whereabouts of tickets. I plonked myself fairly central in the crowd, anticipating that I would be just behind the inevitable mosh pits. How wrong I was…

Savages : Live at Cambridge Junction

Is there any band today better suited to their name than Anglo/French fem-rockers Savages? We think not. Just weeks after the release of their second LP Adore Life, tonight their UK tour brings them to Cambridge Junction where they tear through an unforgettable set of face-melting songs and formidable stage antics. We were there to explore the vicious world of these rock legends in the making. 

Eagulls / My Life In Rewind (song review)

Slow moving soft melodic motifs, shimmering guitar parts, and the occasional deep-set vocal; is this the fucking Cocteau Twins? Leeds' premier post-punk band, Eagulls have unveiled the second song from their forthcoming sophomore album. It's a complete curveball, the new song My Life In Rewind, sounding essentially like a song from Disintergration or Heaven or Las Vegas bar the obnoxiously nonchalant vocals of frontman George Mitchell.

23 Feb 2016

Trainspotting - the iconic soundtrack's 5 best cuts

Trainspotting; a soundtrack that people just won't stop banging on about. When Danny Boyle's almost lighthearted cinematic take on Irvine Welsh's debut novel of the same name hit cinemas 20 years ago (to the day) I'm not quite so sure that the personnel involved were wary that we'd still be banging on about the soundtrack all these years later. You've probably read 20 articles on Trainspotting today, so I won't bore you by regurgitating what a masterpiece of literature slash cinema it is, and you've probably read a good 3 articles on its soundtrack also. But this particular article is the one you should read all the way through for lots of fun and interesting reasons like, ummm, you've lost interest already, haven't you?

Family Scraps - a tender, beautiful Hookworms solo project

In 2013 and 2014, Hookworms released 2 tyrannical records of thrashy noise-rock, punctuated in part by the speed-injecting organ-work, distorted wailed vocals and recording technique of frontman MJ. 2014's The Hum was our first ever Vapour Trail album of the year, and their 2013 debut is from where I take my twitter handle. But on frontman MJ's first foray into solo work since these records, under the alias Family Scraps removes the fields of reverb, and shifts focus onto tender lyrics and forlorn songwriting.

22 Feb 2016


Few new acts breaking onto the scene today ooze such charm and charisma as fresh-faced four-piece Public Access TV, a bunch of retro rockers from New York City. Their steady release of lo-fi indie bangers over the past couple of years has garnered them a considerable following on home turf and overseas. With a debut album finished and in the shops soon, frontman John Eatherly and drummer Pete Star sat down with Vapour Trail to chat shit and talk business. 

21 Feb 2016

Sunflower Bean / Human Ceremony (album review)

From the ever lucrative New York music scene, Sunflower Bean have emerged with a debut worthy of the hype that already surrounded them. From track to track they manage to bridge gaps between genres with a constant flare and a fuzzy kinda grace.

With dreamy psychedelic points such as opener Human Ceremony and Creation Myth, the vocals of bassist Julia Cumming and guitarist Nick Kivlen work hand in hand, with Cumming’s swooning, pristine falsetto and Kilven’s rougher, darker counter parts. On top of synths and guitar riffs drenched in reverb Sunflower Bean are reminiscent of Rumours era Fleetwood Mac.

ENTRODUCING #5 - Mystified

ENTRODUCING COLUMN NUMBER 5, after a month or so's break, I thought I'd come back and write almost daily columns on some small bands I'm mad about. Before my li'l hiatus, we had a bit on Loaded, who are a London psych band - by the same token then, here's an intro to Mystified. They're a three-piece that make intense garage rock revival music, not unlike The Sonics or The Velvet Underground (White Light era), and fans of anything psych, rock, or even metal will be well into them. I first saw them play at the Finsbury, in North London, where they were disarmingly good, and absolutely a cut above any of my expectations for them...

20 Feb 2016

Catfish and the Bottlemen's New Song Might Just Radicalise You Against Indie Guitar Music

You know how the first Strokes album is a quite literally life changing exponent of indie music, crucial to the point in human history we arrive at here today. And then the second album is really, really good, in spite of a bit of a slip in quality. And the one after that is good, but again, a big slip in quality. And for the rest of their records (bar arguably the slightly challenging Comedown Machine) they follow a downwards trajectory where the band seemed to actively regress against developing their sound in any way, shape or form. OK...

Telegram / Operator (album review)

Never have my feelings been so mixed on a record as they are with Telegram's debut album Operator, which I feel like I've been waiting a lifetime for. Culpable of doing the thing that annoys me most about debut albums, this record has seven songs on it previously released as singles or b-sides, and begins with a streak of instantly familiar singles. But this doesn't phase me quite as much as it should, because although Telegram's debut is made up mainly of songs that have been released one by one every six months over the past few years, it makes for a cohesive record of well crafted songs.

The Fat White Family @ Brixton Windmill (live review)

On the dawn of their first UK tour since the release of their incredible Songs For Our Mothers (which I gave a 10/10 in this review here), The Fat White Family hammered through a fucking incredible set at The Windmill - a tiny Brixton pub frequented by the band. Tickets sold out in a snap, and on a rainy night in Brixton, the most exciting, crucial band in the whole of the country set up shop for the night in a 120 capacity venue.

Already Victorious - Why Yak's Debut Is Set To Be One Of The Albums Of The Year

It's really rare that I'll brag about being one of the first people to tip a band, but by the time that London three-piece noiseniks Yak had put out their scintillating debut single Hungry Heart, I'd seen them 3 times and got the t shirt to prove it. As an angsty teen music blogger, they're one of the first bands I've been able to really get behind, and see develop fast but slow, y'know?

18 Feb 2016

Superbrat / Dawn On the Coast (EP Review)

Californian surfer rock four piece Superbrat have recently released their debut EP ‘Dawn On The Coast’. This EP could easily soundtrack a John Hughes film with it’s references to hating gym, school dances and the struggles of boys which makes sense as a lot of inspiration for it comes from a 90s series The Baby-Sitters Club. This series was about a group of girls in middle school, and ,as the name suggests, ran a baby-sitting club for the neighbourhood. 

Clues / What's To Come (EP review)

The debut EP by Southampton-based garage rockers Clues arrived in my inbox yesterday, and after a few listens I can confirm it's everything you wanted from a messy guitar band and a bit more. Bristling with youth, energy, and a kind of swagger that Palma Violets captured our imaginations with a few years ago on their debut record.

17 Feb 2016

Shipping Forecast / S-F (album review)

There's something really magical about Falmouth six-piece The Shipping Forecast, and on their new album simply titled S-F , their guitar-based sounds are coated with such spirituality and mysticism that each listen to its wailing ambiances and trembling climaxes make it feel like a religious experience. Their sound is 1 part Godspeed You! Black Emperor, 1 part Daughter, 1 part Anna Von Hausswolff and 1 part Mogwai, merging the forlorn songsmithstry with climaxing harridan blows and enchantress wails.

15 Feb 2016


Handmade Festival. A totally independent music and arts festival that takes place on May bank holiday in the city of Leicester. The team behind H.F say that "their aim is to find the best new and forward thinking music, comedy, art, film, performance and photography and bring it all together for one weekend." 

14 Feb 2016

A conversation with ABBY about Berlin, international success and their album HEXAGON

“The basic emotion connecting us - a mixture of melancholy and a grin, that’s the four of us.”

A little tribute to Viola Beach

In a year gripped by the death of lots of people in the music industry, you can't help but come to the realisation that the death of talented artists is something that you can never really get to used to. The death of all four members of Warrington indie-pop group Viola Beach and their manager is something I'm really struggling to come to terms with for a twisted variety of reasons, but I think essentially it's just quite important at a time like this to remember their music and, if you've not come across it before, give their ever-so-catchy indie pop numbers a while.

13 Feb 2016

Ty Segall / Emotional Mugger (album review)

Ty Segall is back, and somehow more shocking than ever with his new, almost-a-concept-album-but-not-quite, album Emotional Mugger. The whole thing is a chaotic wall of sound, that he somehow maintains control over and meanders into an album of non-stop blistering guitar driven tracks. 

Lost Dawn / Fever (album review)

Falmouth surf rock band Lost Dawn put out their Fever album this week, and whilst it doesn't really pack a huge amount of surprises, if you're a fan of anything of the thrashy surfy ilk then it is so for you that you should put it on right now.

Falmouth: Cornwall's Thriving Music Scene and the Compilation Documenting It

Cornwall; quite literally the last place on the British Isles you'd expect an exciting, fresh music scene to spring up – and maybe it is quite literally the last place a music scene has sprung up. Obviously, the north of the country has given us everything from Madchester to acid house to Liverpool's neo-psychedelia of the eighties, while London has been a cultural epicentre for as long as cultural epicentres as go back. As well as that, Southampton and Portsmouth's DIY scene is going strong and Bristol and Brighton have produced as many great bands as any other city in the country. So although it did at first surprise me that the seaside town of Falmouth, Cornwall its own bustling, self-contained music scene, maybe it's about time that Cornish youth had a sound of their own.

12 Feb 2016

Parquet Courts / Dust (single review)

Dust begins as your typical Parquet Courts track, a baseline to sink your teeth into, dry, gritty lyrics and their brazen, punk attitude, but towards the end it descends into the new dissonant Monastic Living vibe they have begun to hollow out for themselves. It's a hint of the new album, Human Performance, which is seemingly going to be the band commenting on the overwhelmingness of, well, everything really. Austin Brown has said the track and album focus on the "unavoidable noise of NYC that can be maddening, the kind of the impossible struggle against clutter, whether it’s physical or mental or social." This may explain the sounds of traffic at the end of Dust, it is an example of the city cluttering up everything, including art.

This track sounds a little like anxiety to me, but that may just be a personal reading. Dust is a release that shows Parquet Courts are still angsty and angry, but this isn't anywhere near their best or most exciting track - if anything it's almost bland until you reach the end, but it's an indication of where they're headed. The new album could be a punch in the face for us all, a sudden, alarming shock of abrasive noise, or it could fall flat, as this track sort of has, for me. I'm hoping that Parquet Courts will still shock us, like they did with the Monastic Living EP, with this next album. I believe in you boys!

Words: Rachel Tindall

11 Feb 2016

exclusive : stream 'Human', the debut single of scottish dream-pop band WYLDE

Scottish dream-pop band Wylde haven't really existed for all that long, but are already brewing up a bit of a storm among fans of the genre. There's no way to get away from it at first - the band are really the absolute product of their influences - right down to album artwork with a pattern which resembles Slowdive's debut EP. But when woozy revivalism is done so well, you can't help but admirably cock your head, listen a few times through and feel completely entranced.

Human is a track which blends the confrontational and the ethereal - a rough and ready rhythm section at war with towering, descending dream-pop guitar motifs and subtle warped textures shouldn't make for the best listen, but here it just works. Otherworldly vocals only add to the mystique created, with the howls of Hookworms' MJ probably the best reference point.

Maybe a bit rough round the edges, this is an incredibly promising track that really excited me the from first time I listened to it, which is why I'm delighted to be able to offer an exclusive stream of it below...

you can follow WYLDE on twitter - @wyldeband

6 Feb 2016


Off the back of two phenomenal singles, ‘The Answer’ and ‘Parking Lot’, voice of a generation in the making Mattie Vant is readying his band’s debut album. His lyrics, which address classism, religion, politics and more, coupled with the band’s phenomenally energetic live show, have put VANT on the musical map as frontrunners in the ones to watch league of 2016. On the brink of their inevitable ascent to great things, we asked Mattie about the past, present and glistening future of planet earth’s most promising new four-piece.


It's happening. Festival announcement season has well and truly arrived. With some of the best line-ups I have EVER SEEN on show for this year, this summer's festivals promise to be some of the best yet. We take a look at recent reveals for festivals all around the world.

BEST KEPT SECRET : Amsterdam, June 17th-19th.

BKS never fails to impress with it's diverse line-ups, boasting some of the best talent from all around the world. Taking place in Hilvarenbeek, (South Netherlands) the latest announcement ensures that this line-up is already seriously impressive. Take a look:

Jamie xx, Dinosaur JR, Band of Horses, Low, Wolf Parade, Sleaford Mods Moon Duo, Rat Boy and Blossoms are some of the 38 new names for Best Kept Secret. Besides these names come The Slow Show, Ezra Furman, Wild Nothing, Koreless, BADBADNOTGOOD, Oneohtrix Point Never, Beach House, Beaty Heart, C Duncan, Bombino, Ho99o9, Israel Nash, Julien Baker, Petite Meller, Sevdaliza, Ryley Walker, Danny L Harle, Slow Magic Glass Animals and The Japanese House.

THE GREAT ESCAPE : Brighton, May 19th-21st

Every year The Great Escape's line-up crosses my radar as a festival I am so desperate to go to, but have never managed it. With the most recent line-up reveal, I plan to make this year the year I finally go. A conglomeration of some of the freshest talent in the world, this line-up is just about as good as it gets for a small festival.

Highlights confirmed to appear on the core programme so far are: Band of Skulls, Bleached, Blossoms, Cigarettes After Sex, D Double E, Dilly Dally, Lady Leshurr, Mabel, Michael Kiwanuka, Mumdance, Mystery Jets, Ry X, Spring King, St Lucia & The Big Moon.

With another 300+ acts to be revealed in the coming weeks, The Great Escape line-up is shaping up to be the best ever for this independent festival.

Tickets are on sale now, with 2016 being the first year that under 18's are able to attend the festival. Get your tickets here.

TRUCK FESTIVAL : Oxford, 15th-17th July

A classic indie debate. Truck Festival or Latitude? Two incredible festivals that just so happen to fall on exactly the same weekend. I personally have only ever been to Latitude, but a lot of people I know constantly bring up how amazing Truck is and how much more intimate and exciting it is. I don't doubt this for a second, and perhaps this year will be the year I make the journey to Oxford.

The first wave of acts for Truck has just been announced, and it contains a selection of just-about-as-indie-as-you-can-get bands. Two out of three headliners were revealed, and one of them is Vapour Trail favourites, Catfish and the Bottlemen. I needn't say anymore. However, the rest of the line-up (bar a few dodgy acts here and there) more than makes up for the headline act. Acts such as Gnarwolves, Pretty Vicious, Moose Blood, The Magic Gang and Hooton Tennis Club. These acts have one thing in common. They are the crème de la crème of upcoming bands. Truck has a knack for spotting new talent just before they break, and this year is no exception. Not to mention it's incredibly good value, just shy of £90 for 3 full days. (including camping) We'll have to wait for the Latitude line-up to see who's going to win the festival debate this year, but with the first Truck announcement, Oxford is looking like a pretty strong opponent.

Words: Poppy Marriott

4 Feb 2016

Eagulls / Lemontrees (single review)

Almost a whole two years after their debut, Eagulls have released a new single, Lemontrees. Covered in Northern charm, a smattering of post punk and a touch of lo-fi , Lemontrees hosts the guitar based sound Eagulls have been missed for.There is a definite 1980s era Cure feel with George Mitchell’s gloomy vocals and shoegazey guitar motifs. Where earlier releases harnessed very obvious anger and apathy to modern living, Lemontrees has the same fire but it is channelled through the tighter rhythms and clearer lyrics. In no way have Eagulls lost their angst with age , “Share a nations consciousness and just drown our thoughts to sleep” their lyrics still channel a rallying message against the shortcomings of modern life. 

Lemontrees was released with the promise of an upcoming album which personally I think will follow this less aggressive, more atmospheric path leaving behind the vicious bite of the debut. I was surprised by the nature of this track as I must admit I was expecting a similar stormy edge to the likes of Hollow Visions and Yellow Eyes. I think the evolution in their sound is really promising for the future and makes the forthcoming releases even more exciting. 

Along with this release, Eagulls are set to play some intimate UK dates at the start of March which I imagine will be interesting especially with the change in direction of sound that they're demonstrating here.

(written by isobel mcleod)

Nzca Lines / Infinite Summer (album review)

Nzca Lines is the creation of Michael Lovett, an electro-popper from London, he has returned with a follow up album 'Infinite Summer', his first, NZCA/Lines, saw Lovett initially explore the fun genre of synth-pop back in 2012. For the new album, Lovett was joined by guitarists Charlotte Hatherley and Sarah Jones. Infinite Summer is a sleeker, more educated take on the debut, perfectly blended with tracks that have elements that you would typically hear in a dance track, therefore attracting an even broader interest in fans.

The album Infinite Summer appears to be a collection of tracks that have been perfected and polished to the max. Proving to be a huge hit to an already large fan base, the album carries the same greatness and power that the first album created.

Persephone dreams - the single released first off the album, and it did not disappoint, this song packs a punch of modern psychedelia and clearly shows that Lovett is capable of more than just electronic beats. At a quicker tempo is Two Hearts; this song could be compared to Tame Impala's 2015 Cause I'm a Man . The song is a hefty six minutes, during which the track we really get to listen to the different elements that make the song what it is, The power that Nzca Lines carry elevates, and expectations do too...

Two Hearts - this song exceeded all expectations of success, it is amazing. The perfect party song that will make people stop and think 'what is this?' The intro is intrusive and bold, but in the best ways possible. This bolshiness is contrasted with the soft woozy vocals of Lovett; working perfectly. A definite favourite off the album.

Infinite Summer is a stroke of synthesised genius, again contrasted with the soft, endearing vocal of Lovett. When you listen closely, you can hear how all the different aspects come together,with seamless precision.

Fans of all types of music can appreciate this work of electronic, Lovett has just released dates of a UK tour supporting Teleman, the trio will be playing at venues such as The Sugarmill, Stoke and Manchester's Gorilla.


(written by ruby kenwright)

Money / Suicide Songs (album review)

On their second LP 'Suicide Songs', airy indie trio MONEY have crafted an ethereal and melancholy diary of the life of a modern 20-something year old. I Am the Lord is a grand and breath-taking opener, evoking images of sweltering eastern landscapes with a wistful familiarity hugely contrasting the group’s humble Manchester origins. You Look Like A Sad Painting on Both Sides of the Sky is both simple and endearing, bringing a mournful and awe-inspiring highlight to the first half of the album. The stripped back title track Suicide Songs layers solemn brass over an acoustic guitar to a more upbeat effect than one would expect, but sticks to the sombre tone of the album on the whole. The influences of Keaton Henson and Bombay Bicycle Club peer through the haze in more ways than one; frontman Jamie Lee’s vocals haunt and entice with an unavoidable twee-ness about them, and the orchestral backing over which he croons sounds sweet despite its enormousness. MONEY are notably risk free in their reluctance to stray too far from the sorrowful façade they shroud themselves in, but 'Suicide Songs' is a strong second album and an obvious stepping stone on the route to creating a masterpiece.


(Words: Alex Cabré)

3 Feb 2016

Fat White Family / Songs For Our Mothers (album review)

3 years on from their debut record Champagne Holocaust, sleazy narcotic shamen of Brixton Fat White Family have returned to the fore of British music with their second album Songs For Our Mothers. With the manifesto of 'offend the right people', over 10 songs this album projects so much grimy sleaze, Nazi allusions and serial killer sympathy unto the world that you will quite literally need a shower after listening to it. But you know; this is a compliment. After all, I think this band are probably the closest thing that there is to a 'voice of a generation' in 21st century Britain. Everything is fucked up. The Fat White Family are fucked up. These are some fucked up songs for fucked up times.

The songwriting duo of Lias and Saul are at their best here; you know, like a squatter Lennon and McCartney, but darker than they've ever been before. Where the filthiest lyric on their debut was a reference to a '15 year old tongue', that's nothing compared to what's on here - some of the lyrics are as follows; "St (Harold) Shipman decides to exit with pride" and "she looked like Primo Levi sucking the marrow from a bone". You expected darkness, but this is so very black. But you know, the subject matter of Nazis and lethal dose-trigger-happy doctors isn't prevalent because the Fat Whites are those things; they're here to shock, they're here to hold up a mirror to society and make you think; 'wow, everything's really quite fucked up, isn't it?'

There are numerous highlights on this album, but a personal high point is astral opium-pop number Tinfoil Deathstar. With a low down, dark psychedelic groove, it revolves around a plodding motorik bassline and some whizzing synth sounds. "Is that David Clapson," asks Lias Saoudi: "wincing through the glass?" A reference that might have passed you by, but it's a nod to an ex-soldier found dead next to a pile of CVs after the Tory government slashed his benefits for missing a single meeting. It's subject matter that Lias read about, and was so disgusted by that it couldn't go without further exploration. Like I say, things are fucked up. The Fat White Family more than just acknowledge that things are fucked up. They're the most culturally and socially relevant band in the country today, and nothing can convince me otherwise.

Also notable is Deathstar's sonic twin; lead single Whitest Boy On The Beach, a tetchy krautrock influence number that you can sing and dance along to like it's nobody's business. Yeah, this band can tackle the dark inner sanctums of the human psychee, but they can also string together an absolutely phenomenal pop song. See also: Raining In Your Mouth, Touch the Leather.

The Fat Whites throughout the album are jarring, dark and disconcerting, a point that you, me and everybody else has picked up on. Duce and We Must Learn To Rise are two 7 minute noise tracks that plod along in a way that makes them sound like the perfect soundtrack to sacrifice a human being to. When we all sacrifice Osbourne to the powers that be, We Must Learn To Rise will be the light ditty plaguing the airwaves like a communist-cum-occultist call to arms.

But by the same token, the songs that sound lighthearted are so dark that it doesn't even spare a second thought. On Hits Hits Hits, the band take on a sound that parodies slacker-popstar Mac DeMarco - who Lias and Saul said they would 'join ISIS if' he didn't 'withdraw from music and the public eye immediately' - and utilises it in a way that is both dreamy and almost poignant. First listen: 'ah, this is a nice number, good to have a little respite boys.' Third or fourth listen: 'hang on a second, wait, WAIT. I don't think I can deal with this boys.'

As well as Ike and Tina Turner's abusive relationship, ex-soldiers murdered by the government and Nazi generals, the main lyrical theme of this record is the strained relationship of the core duo. Lias and Saul have an odd relationship, and it seemingly puts a bit of a strain on the band. Goodbye Goebbels is a troubled love song sang from the point of view of Hitler spending his last hours in the bunker with the song's titular character. It's supposed to be a jarring, scarring document of Lias and Saul's relationship, with the context's female characters removed to make it more like a fascist version of Withnail & I. And then Hits Hits Hits follows a similar vein, Lias and Saul being personified as Tina and Ike respectively. These are some troubled artists, but the troubled art they're creating is both heartfelt and musically fantastic.

I think it's really difficult to come out and overtly say that one band is the most important there is. I also think it's pointless to do so. And stupid. But while we're living in a country where poverty's on the rise, the poor are being priced out of the capital while politicians increasingly represent the few and the richest 1% reinforce their position, while people are literally starving to death and increasingly dying on the streets, the Fat White Family are the perfect fucked up soundtrack to the fucked up times in which we live. Maybe you can pledge some false importance in your DIIV or Last Shadow Puppets album as you sit far from the squalor facing the majority of Britain, but the Fat Whites are one politically band that perfectly encapsulate dark times in a way that is caustic, crucial and completely musically brilliant.


(written by calum cashin)

DIIV / Is The Is Are (album review)

The second record by Brooklyn dream-pop outfit is one plagued by the narrative as to how it came unto the world. Following the quiet release of dreamy debut Oshin,  the band's fanbase grew and grew, to the point that the band had become one of the most renowned indie bands purely through their lack of presence in the UK. Oshin landed mid-2012 to critical success, but since then, the band have been plagued by worries and difficulties that ultimately contribute to the almost grotesque self-mythology cum cliché that frontman Zachary Cole Smith is determined to live out.

In 2013, amidst a UK tour, Smith and his girlfriend Sky Ferreira were arrested for having a few too many drugs (heroin, ecstasy, etc) in their car. Which was stolen. At the end of the same year they were embroiled in scandal because it came to light that their bassist Devin Ruben Perez had been abusing fellow musicians via the forum of 4chan. For whatever reason, Perez made a half-baked half apology and at that point I became increasingly disillusioned by the band; were they all that great?

At the same time, Smith was using his rare, in-depth interviews as an opportunity to say how daring and different and important the Is The Is Are record would be. He cited Elliott Smith. He said it was going to be much darker, more diverse. It wouldn't just be dream-pop. And above all he said it was 'life or death', and his 'last chance for redemption'. Just let that all sink in a second.

So when formulaic Dopamine - still a brilliant track - dropped, you couldn't help but feel that all this stuff Smith had been saying about changing up his sound was bullshit. Still field leading, Dopamine is an average, summery pop song, with a brilliant middle 8 making it one of the best songs the band have released so far

Following that, they released 4 more songs, all of which hinted that Cole Smith's idea of diversity probably isn't as diverse as you or I's idea of it. Bent and Mire are a bit more off the beaten track, with deadpan Bent probably being a bit of a misfire (it drags on for 6 minutes of dissatisfying whim) and Mire being a solid effort, if not a shameless Sonic Youth slash Primary Colours pastiche. Alongside that came Under the Sun, the epitome of second rate dream-pop (killer middle 8 though), revolving around a relatively simple chord progression and lyrics that are so meaningless that even a page of whining on tumblr couldn't add any anchorage too.

The final song we were shown a preview of (outside of the live environment) was Is The Is Are, which is kind of representative of the rest of the record. Deep bass, emerging from pits of reverb, it's quite aggressive, and I can imagine written for a chaotic live show, an area where DIIV came into their own when touring Oshin. It's structurally quite basic, but yanno; it's still a pretty decent song.

So going into this album, I wouldn't say I had high hopes, but I was definitely expecting an enjoyable listen that was less of a Mire and more of a Valentine ha ha. But what I got was something that was a complete chore to listen to; an hour of identikit dream-pop songs is a bit tough at the best of times, but when every track is indistinguishable from one another, it's a marathon. Listening to this DIIV album enough times to review it properly was so excruciating that I am now radicalized against all forms of revivalist guitar music. In fact, over the course of writing a review, I also emailed the Quietus asking for a work experience. Is The Is Are is that kinda album.

It's not like this is a dire album; it's not. There's about 6 really quite good songs on it, but this should have been through a filter. There is nowhere near enough material on this album to make up a double LP, and a 10 song album would probably be pushing it.

We'll start with the positives; Zachary, what's good? Loose Ends is a gorgeous number, with a brilliant helixing guitar motif - it's like the best tracks on Oshin, you can listen to it for hours and never get tired of it. Blue Boredom is an (although incomplete feeling) absolutely gorgeous track where Sky Ferreira's vox are effortlessly cool, and on aforementioned Dopamine, Mire and also Valentine DIIV reach that kinda notorious dreamy sound that so many bands try and rip off of them.

But the thing is, songs like Yr Too Far and Out of Mind are really so repetitive, and have about as much distinctive character traits as Liam Neeson would if he were playing Chris Martin in a biopic. Dust is turned from a ravenous live beast into a needlessly comlplex dream-pop dead hand wank. The band's sound is generally more conservative throughout the record, more innoffensive, and if this is Cole Smith's 'last chance at redemption', that boy's damned for all eternity.

Removed of context, DIIV's Is The Is Are is a really boring album which I would prefer to never hear again. It drags more than a Singapore Grand Prix, it has more filler than a Damien Rice boxset, and it's high points get lost in the mass sea of insufferably dull tracks. Add the context in - and god, this is the shoegazing Be Here Now. It took 4 years for them to come up with, countless hyperbole and self mythologising drivel on behalf of Smith, and a nauseating amount of hype for this to be an album worth your time.


(written by calum cashin)

1 Feb 2016

Frankie Cosmos : a necessary overview

Every so often, you’ll stumble upon a gem of an artist that you truly listen to, you love, and think, how did this one slip through the net? I’ve been sufficiently vigilant up to this point, but there’s greatness to be found within the spontaneity of discovering an established artist. Already with an album and Ep’s this is one artist that’s truly otherworldly. I had one of those moments with the band fronted by American artist Greta Kline, known better for her star studded pseudonym and band name Frankie Cosmos.

First alerted to me through one Spotify shuffle or another, her work is a fantastic collision of Alvvays when on top form with the modesty of Cat Power and a sense of The Japanese House’s production. It’s almost as if they were established earlier you would have found their music on the Juno Soundtrack.

Their song Buses splash with rain, found on the album Zentropy sees Frankie Cosmos juxtapose an underrated catchy chorus and fitting guitar riffs with a somewhat sad approach to addressing life’s most fervent social issues. At the risk of sounding stereotypical, the whole album is a running social commentary that nearly every teenager can relate to. From listening to her music I think that there is much solace and happiness to be found in her lyrics despite the obvious melancholy tone. I am too “the kind of girl buses splash with rain”, so, Frankie, pass me the bottle of pinot Grigio, sway to your nearly perfect album and channel my inner Mia Wallace.

Greta claims to write each song individually before proposing it to the band, this gives a certain sensitivity to her writing process. Everything about Frankie Cosmos’ music screams efficiency and coherence, sought after qualities for an artist. I will no longer be caught out by the whimsical Frankie Cosmos, and I will make it a new year’s resolution to keep up with the beauty and grace of her music.

(written by grace goslin)

Skin / self-titled EP

New into the world of two pieces are Bristol based Skin; similar to Drenge's earlier work, they are comprised of lead guitarist and singer, Oscar, and drummer, Ezra. Throughout the EP there is a constant grunge edge with lots of distortion, heavy riffs and catchy choruses.

Rebels opens the EP as it means to go on, immediately there are layers of fuzzy guitar and a lot of noise. Telling tales of kids that don’t stick to the law, “we are rebels and we hate you all”, takes the piss out of young teenage angst, and the actions that accompany it. Although heavy and loud ‘Rebels’ has the accessibility of a pop track, like how Nirvana bridged the gap between rock and pop.

Next is Fall From Grace which has the same amount of energy behind it as Rebels had. The lyrics in this track are quite emotive describing the experiences of depression and the influence of relationships upon it. Behind the melody, there is steady, tight drumming which adds more depth and layers into the sound.

The production of this EP has been done brilliantly with enough scuzz to keep the sound raw, but enough polish so the technicality isn’t lost.

Finally the last and longest song is Snake Tongue; the added length allows the band to showcase more skill, and use tonnes of distortion. Just as thrashy as the first two tracks are there is nothing massively different in Snake Tongue however the tempo has pulled back slightly allowing more development in the sound and through the melodies.

It’s exciting to see where Skin will go because in my opinion they have the potential to pick up a substantial fan base. If you'd like some Drenge with a bit of added heaviness I’m pretty sure you’ll like this EP. A very solid debut for Skin and is properly released on the 1st of February and available to pre order on their bandcamp now, and look out for some live dates supporting the UK soon.


(written by Isobel McLeod)