21 Dec 2016

Christine and the Queens @ Manchester O2 Apollo (live review)

About halfway through her set, Heloise Letissier, dressed in the masculine guise of her alter-ego ‘Christine’, looked out at the audience and said “This is a free space, by the way! You want to be a train, that’s okay. You don’t like your name, you can change it here. You want to be a different gender...’ she swung to the back of the stage and flexed her muscles ‘And I just feel like such a little boy tonight!’

Letissier describes Christine as ‘a better version of herself’, who is freer and more confident (Letissier struggled with social anxiety when she was younger). By dressing like a man on stage she is not only making a stand against the sexualisation of female musicians, but she is also communicating that it’s okay to experiment. ‘Experimentation’ is an important word for Letissier. ’Acceptance’ is another : she has two tattoos, one reads We Accept You and the other One Of Us. (Side note: I am going to refer to Letissier as Christine throughout the rest of this review. It only seems right, considering it is as ‘Christine’ that she writes and performs).

20 Dec 2016

2016: VAPOUR TRAIL'S TOP 50 RECORDS OF THE YEAR


Friends, enemies, people in between; it's that time again. The end of the year is a time for reflection, for thoughts on what we've done and where we can go. At the end of the year you should ask yourself; how did we get here? What went wrong? What went right? What's happened this year that prompts further reflection?

2016 has been a big year year for the human race. This time, we've fucked it and I'm not sure quite how we'll sort it out. A lotta cliche flies around this time of year. And I know that it's not exactly a hot take, the view that we'd fucked it, but we have; we've completely fucked it. Let's see. Donald Trump, Brexit, no more David Bowie, the rise of the far (alt?) right, the death of the Toblerone as we know it, surprise albums becoming the norm, Kodaline headlining festivals, James Corden being taken and appreciated by the America. Yep, we've fucked it.

But let's take a look at music for a bit; you can look at the political situation in your own time. There's been too many deaths of greats and lots of talented musicians; Bowie, Prince, Alan Vega, Leonard Cohen, Emerson, Lake, Phife Dawg, The B-52s' keyboardist, Inspiral Carpets' drummer, and Phobophobes' guitarist George Russell. All absolutely fucking tragic.

But the light at the end of tunnel, the silver lining of the cloud is the host of great records that keep the void at bay. There's dreamy records that act as an escapist paradise from the ensuing void. Others tell the void to do one. Others simply say, "void, this is not how it should be". And then there's some that just give it to you plain and simple; void. Here's a list of our favourite void-plugging records from this year; and because there's a lot, I put them in ascending order, because we're all busy and we all just want to know what the top 5 is and move on.

19 Dec 2016

The Wedding Present / Going, Going...

The Wedding Present's Going, Going… LP, their ninth studio record, hit UK shelves on the band's own Scopitones imprint, and this month on US label Happy Happy Birthday To Me. The indie indie rock legends' latest effort includes 20 tracks, whilst a limited vinyl run's available on HHBTM, the label of course known for championing indie talent from across the country and internationally.

18 Dec 2016

Desert Mountain Tribe: The Musical Equivalent Of A Hot Bath

Desert Mountain Tribe are a psych trio from Croydon-via-Cologne, that make some of the most effortlessly cool garage rock. Think maybe The Charlatans being beamed to you from the other side of the abyss; there's the nonchalant baggy vocals of Jonty Balls, which draw instant comparisons to Tim Burgess, laid bare on top of sheets of psychedelic garage rock noise reminiscent of the BJM or the BRMC.

17 Dec 2016

In Swell: Your New Danish Post-Punk Obsession

What is it with Denmark at the moment? Since Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg signed for Southampton, a handful of brilliant Danish bands (that aren't Iceage, FYI) have made their way into my life. Joining the insatiable no-wave of Pardans and the cosmic psych of The Wands in said obsession is In Swell, a post-punk band that have just released their latest single Miles To Go.

Winter Listening Essential: Ummagma and AR Kane Collaborate On A Beautiful New Track

AR Kane, recently reformed pioneers of the shoegaze genre, are a band very high up my 'need to see' list. As a result, most days I check their twitter to see if there's been any London dates announced. To my delight, yesterday saw the unveiling of this not-so-much-festive, but definitely timely gem of dream-pop:


16 Dec 2016

Babes Never Die: Honeyblood In Conversation

Honeyblood: Stina Tweeddale (vox/guitar) and Cat Myers (drums)
In a year dominated by disaster and pessimism in culture and politics, one unlikely duo have led a rampant musical charge on both sides of the pond, soundtracking this concerningly apocalyptic time with a message of positivity. Returning in October with an incendiary sophomore record titled 'Babes Never Die', Stina Tweeddale and Cat Myers of Honeyblood have spent 2016 blazing their way across the States and home soil, kicking up a storm with their raw and passionate live show, now kitted out with a host of stormy new tracks. Centering around a mantra of Tweeddale's embodied as much in her flesh as her songwriting, the album expands on everything the band's eponymous debut began. Consisting of ten songs with intro and outro tucked neatly either side, it's faster, louder, and less afraid to gnash its teeth where 'Honeyblood' was more reserved.

When I meet the band, they're nearing the end of three months on the road, relaxing post-soundcheck in the modest dressing room upstairs at Norwich Arts Centre. A couple of hours from now, the ornate church hall down below will be overrun with excited fans of all ages, pre-empted it seems by venue staff, as a barrier sits in front of the stage, almost unheard of for this space. Now, the atmosphere is notably calmer. As I get comfortable, Tweeddale produces a bag of carrot sticks from somewhere and tucks in, Myers offers me some free rider booze and we're on our way.

15 Dec 2016

Peter Doherty Live At Kentish Town: Wibbly Wobbly Brilliance

Dearest Vapour Trail reader, I owe you an apology and a confession. This review may not be entirely objective, or even entirely accurate. Instead I will be presenting you with a recollection of events that are pieced together with the help of a few fleeting memories and the shaky YouTube videos. I can however provide some decent context and circumstance, so here we go.

14 Dec 2016

The Megatron Man: On Patrick Cowley, Disco's Lost Cosmic Shaman

Image result for patrick cowley
Hello friends, it's me, Calum. A couple of months ago I wrote a post on the B-52's, and how they're better than't Beatles and that their debut album is one of the greatest albums of all time. Here I am again, championing genius that blurs the lines between great art and novelty; Patrick Cowley, disco's forgotten astral voyager. Patrick Cowley was a disco producer active from the late seventies til his untimely death in 1982 that released 2 seminal full length albums, porn film soundtracks, and a litany of bangers, A look over his discography might reveal nothing special about the man; not a household name, is he? Our Patrick. But give his 1981 opus Megatron Man a listen, and you'll be blown away; left with a grin so wide you might dislocate your jaw.

Originally I fell in love with this for it's colossal sci-fi novelty, before further sonic examination revealed that one Mr Cowley was a pioneer, one of the most forward thinking men behind a set of buttons. A master of 8 minute space jams that thrust the tried and tested disco format into spacey realms you've never heard before. So simple, yet so transportative, so 80s, yet so fresh-sounding today, Cowley's music sounds like a perfect mix of 80s sci-fi futurism and Frankie Goes To Hollywood hi-NRG bangers. When two tribes go to dream of electric sheep, Patrick Cowley is born.

13 Dec 2016

THE VELDT: A Chat With The Resurgent US Shoegazers

2016's been an odd one for the Veldt. The shoegaze band, most prevalent in the nineties announced their return with an EP The Shocking Fuzz of Your Electric Fur. Combining powerful alt-soul with whirring guitars, it was an extravagant statement that put them back on the map. It was produced by Rudy from AR Kane (he might've mentioned it, here), and is totally magnificent.

Fresh from a tour with our favourite band, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, we sat down with Daniel Chavis of the band to have a natter.

8 Dec 2016

A Lush Little Interview... Miki Berenyi talks art and noise

2016 has been a crazy year for Lush. A reformation, a record, and a breakup. The 90s shoegazers rose to prominence in the first half of the nineties for their beautiful ethereal melodies, and their ability to suck you in to a dreamlike state - a cliche, I know, but cliches like that exist only because of bands like Lush.

A couple of days after they played their final show at Manchester Academy, before the band disbanded. I caught up with Miki Berenyi, the band's frontwoman and guitarist, to reflect on 2016; a year that's been a bit crazy for everyone, but for Lush; completely and utterly batshit.

Image result for lush band 2016

2 Dec 2016

Childish Gambino / "Awaken, My Love!" (album review)

Childish Gambino's third album is a complete departure from anything that he has made before, with no rapping to be found and not a single guest appearance, it Glover showing us just what he's capable of.  This record is a vibrant exploration of the genre that looks forward, for example with the release of a 'virtual reality' vinyl,  whilst also delving into past with its 70s inspired funk and soul. There are so many influences at play on this album, from Pink Floyd to Prince to Parliament, and elements of Bowie on the track Zombies, all injected with Gambino's own sound and style.

Sex Swing / Sex Swing (album review)

So uncompromising are cosmic drone uber-group Sex Swing that every single aspect of their self titled debut album teems with the same unforgiving vitriol. Right down to the festering mucus of the cover art, Sex Swing is a complete artwork that brings to the fore the very darkest realms of the human psychee, transforming them into a kind of music that is so evil, so filthy, yet has the ability to transcendentally command the attention of the listener. When you put the Sex Swing record on, you can't turn it off; it's enthralling, bombastic and at this exact point in human history, just what we need.

Sex Swing are a force of nature; from the off, with 12 minute opener A Natural Satellite, they set the uncompromising tone for the rest of the record. Maybe a mix between the intense drone of the Melvins' Lysol and the bustling sci-fi futurism of Stereolab's Dots and Loops (a combination that sounds batshit on paper, but more so in practice). The sax on this track, sounding like the void itself being forced through a brass tube, kicks in midway through the droning composition and doesn't stop its incessant invasion of the sonic field until the very end of the last track.