Wanda Group return with two dense slabs of ethereal ambient drone

 

 

The Wanda Group have never shied away from pushing boundaries with their blend of drone influenced electronica. New 12” We All Mutate Around The Mountain consists of two tracks, with ingenuously abstract titles like, Usually Mud Or The Womb Of Control and You Correct Your Own Vision And Not Ours, and clocking in at thirty minutes, its business as usual.

 

 

Slowly moving maelstroms of synths envelope effects to create a cerebral celestial soundscape that morphs into another fragment of lurid gyres. As with most abstract EP’s its less about the music and more about your headspace.

 

 

There is a downside to this kind of production though, due to the lack of beats and bass, there isn’t much to grab onto initially, it’s all a bit grey noise, but after repeat listens it become apparent that there is more going on that ethereal vortexes. Subtle melodies and, dare I say, memorable hooks, jump out and you realise this is a complex and intriguing piece of work, rather than something that sounds like the mixture of a kettle boiling and a gas leak.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hypnotic skewed pop takes a detour through 1960’s kitsch

 

 

The saying you should never just a book by its cover is still sadly true. The same is true for music. After spending what seems like eons flicking through records in musty shops you come across something that speaks to you, then when you get home you realise its garish visage was created to draw you in, and before you know it your caught and stuck with it. Like a musical version of the Nepanthes Alata. However this time it all paid off.

 

 

E B U is the latest singing to those sonic enchanters Howling Owl Records. Over the last few year Howling Owl have found the best new musicians out there and given them a home. They’ve also been having a clandestine turf war battle with Record Store Day, and in this hack’s opinion, they’ve made some excellent points and pulled off some key victories. But enough of that, let’s get back to the point in hand. Form looking at the picture of E B U, beret atop a pink bob, face covered by what looks like some kind of S&M mask, you get the impression that this is going to be loud, unnecessarily complicated and ultimately pretentious. All of these things could not be further from the truth.

 

 

Dead of Night starts with a lackadaisical guitar strumming while EBU purrs over the top. Sporadically retro sounding electronic blips and bleeps intersperse the track, you know like the thing you heard in 1960’s Sci-Fi films and TV shows. As the chorus kicks, Dead of Night’s intensity and sexuality gets ratchetted up a notch. The middle eight/solo/outro is sublime and reminiscent of the Forbidden Planet’s tonalities soundtrack.

 

 

I could go on rabbiting about how wonderful, forward thinking and sublime this is, but in truth I won’t as I’d rather just listen to it all day instead. But I will just say this Dead of Night is the sound of Nancy Sinatra tripping balls in the desert with Dennis Hopper in Easy Rider playing along to early electronic albums and soundtracks in dead of night. You get the picture right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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LA resident released third and fully formed album to date on Merge Records

 

 

Lo-fi is on the rise. It appears that an entire generation of musicians are fed up with over produced, auto tuned songs that all sound the same. Mike Krol’s third album Turkey is the antidote to this. Everything about it is in way in the red. The guitars are distorting to the point where you can’t really tell what’s being played. The drums, like Zool, are compressed from the Nth degree. The bass sounds like its being fired out of a can of silly spring, and Krol’s vocals are somewhere between guttural drawls and nasal shrieks.

 

 

One thing that isn’t compromised by these biscuit tin recording and production techniques are the songs. They’re filled with catchy hooks and delightful melodies. Suburban Wasteland and Neighbour Watch paint the picture of living in suburbia, walking about, seeing friends and generally making the best of it. We’ve all heard it before, but the honesty of Krol’s lyrics make this sound like the first time it’s been written about. Left Out is a ditty about social alienation and not fitting into a certain scene, and going off and creating your own one. This is the News is about telling someone you’re committed to them 100%, and Cactuses is best track about cacti since Jacques Dutronc. The album closed with the poignant Piano Shit. A daintily mournful piano is played until Krol says “I didn’t sign up for this shit”. It’s a fitting end to a short blast of lo-fi indie punk.

 

 

At just shy of twenty minutes Turkey is about as tight and lean as it gets. Any superfluous material and notes have been stripped off and all we’re left, in athletic terms, is a match fit album that doesn’t stop until it wins the 100m in less than 8 seconds. This is an album that not only demands repeat listens, but delivers every single time. What to get obsessed about a new album? You could do a lot worse than picking this, you turkey!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Oslo trio channel the past to create a piece of pop majesty

 

 

What is about Scandinavia and their ability to produce delightfully luscious pop music? It must be something to do with the beautiful landscapes or the lunar cycles that gives their inhabitants the impotence to create these wonderfully inventive, yet insanely catchy songs.

 

 

Gold Celeste are no different. Latest single Is This What You Could Not Do? is a glistening and scintillating slab of psych pop excellence. On the surface Is This What You Could Not Do? is a simple song with only a few elements, but on a closer listen you realise its far more complex than drums, bass, vocals and keyboards. The lilting and teetering piano in the back ground gives the piece a constant movement, almost like the gentle rocking of a boat on a fjord, that the drums and vocals effortlessly keep moving forward until its piquant end.

 

 

Gold Celeste’s debut album The Glow is out on September 11th and looks set to be a high water mark, not just in Gold Celeste’s career but in 2015 as well if previous singles Can of Worms and Open Your Eyes and Is This What You Could Not Do? are anything to go by.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Bug returns with the final instalment of his Angels and Devils saga

 

Kevin Martin is a perfectionist. While this means that the music he puts out is flawless, it also means that there is normally a lengthy wait between releases. Until now that is. Last year saw the release on Ninja Tune of the career high Angels and Devils, also that year Martin released the Exit EP and the collaborative 12” Boa/Cold with drone-post-rock guru’s Earth, and now the final part in the Angels and Devils saga Zim Zim Zim has been released, featuring the legendary dancehall DJ Burro Banton.

 

 

Zim Zim Zim opens to woozy sirens, distorted vocals and deep squelchy basslines, then synths, snarling snares and Banton’s vocals enter the mix and Zim Zim Zim steps up a noth. This is everything that we’ve come to expect and admire from The Bug, and the Angels and Devils project. It’s darkly claustrophobic and Banton’s raspy vocals loom over the music, adding a threatening, yet prophetic message.

 

 

The B-Side is an instrumental version of Zim Zim Zim. While musically it’s the same song, without Banton’s vocals, that song takes on a new vibe. Not taking anything away from Banton, but without his lyrics Zim Zim Zim is more malevolent and sinister. Whether we’ll have to wait another five years for the next Bug album will remain to be seen, but Martin if you have any more gems like this in a hard drive, please don’t wait to put them out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What better way to spend a Bank Holiday than listening to live music in a delightful pub

 

 

This weekend sees a four day music and entertainment festival hit the Plough in Ealing. The event, Ploughfest, was organised by TJ Shipton to raise money and awareness for Cystic Fibrosis Trust. Friday night was retro video game night. A Mario Kart 64 tournament was organised, contestants paid to enter and all the money went to the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. Saturday and Sunday see local bands take to the stage for two days live music, and Monday is family day and movie night.

 

 

Saturday got under way thanks to TJ’s Dad Russ Shipton, with a set of dextrously finger picked and strummed classics. Neil Young’s Old Man rubbed shoulders with Simon and Garfunkel, Elvis, but the real stars of the set were when TJ joined his Dad and they covered Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here and B-52’s surreally infectious Rock Lobster. After his set, there was a brief interlude and Chris Sagan took to the stage. Sagan sit somewhere between Bruce Springsteen’s descriptions of ‘real life’ problems and more traditional English singer songwriters. The majority of the set was made up of his own acoustic compositions, but halfway through his set, Sagan was joined by the rest of the Chris Sagan Project. This is when the set went up a gear and a few covers entered the set. The most notable, was a Muse cover that closed the set. During this cover, Sagan showed us the power and clarity of his voice. The audience was notably impressed and gave the biggest applause of the day so far.

 

 

Next up was Two Hands. Everyone here at thisyearinmusic has had a privilege of witnessing Two Hand from their inception to where they are now. Their brand of heavy rhythmic rock gives you faith in the genres future. Instead of trying to pander to the get rich quick band of pop stars and flavour of the month genres, Two Hands have delivered one exceptional EP this year and there is a rumour of another. Their set was peppered with these songs. Waiting kicked things off, Barley Know You follow suit and by Breathe the crowd was in the palm of their collective hands. Stand out track Follow got the loudest reaction. However the most remarkable thing about their set was that drummer Chris Keeling performed with one hand strapped to his shoulder. The fact that you couldn’t tell he was impaired is testament not only to his talent, but the classic ‘show must go on’ attitude that the band possess. The night was rounded off by Du Bellows. This local quartet showed that Ealing’s tradition for blues influenced rock is still alive and well. Over the past few years they have won praise from the likes of Classic Rock to Jimmy Page. Their set was full of songs of love, rejection and redemption. Opening track Burn, is one that many fans thought they’d never hear live again. When it started looks of excitement and disbelief were passed among the crowd. Jack and His Queen followed, another fan favourite. The star of the show was Isa Du Bellows. During this track the band looked at ease and in control of not only their destiny, but the destiny of the massed audience. Three Steps started off ethereal and wispy, thanks to Jade Williams’ delicious vocals, but it was when the rhythm section combined that the song really took off. At the end of the set Du Bellows had nothing left to give and audience knew they had witnessed something special.

 

 

The first day of Ploughfest has been a relatively smooth affair, sadly day two didn’t run a smoothly. The weather wasn’t a pleasant, and dry, as the previous day, but that didn’t stop people having a good time. The main setback was penultimate band Jingo were unable to attend due to unforeseen circumstances, but luckily their slot was filled by Francis Gahan. His gravelly vocalled set really resonated with the collected crowd. The day was closed by Hanwell heroes The Chairs. Frontman Martin Bonner had been present on the previous day, and was helping fun the stage all day. Although his vocals were slightly tired and frazzled, due to organising and orchestrating the day, it really worked with their brand of blues based rock and roll. Their set, which consisted of tracks culled from their aberrant debut EP. Bluesy Song, Hands and Knees, Pendulum, Black and White and Pure Sleeze all got a workout. As with all sets there was a technical hitch when guitars became untuned during Pure. But considering how intricate the guitar work was, it was always going to happen. As with all Chairs sets there were some covers. Francis Gahan joined Bonner and Co. for a rendition of Sam Cooke’s classic Bring it on Home to Me. The juxtaposition between Bonner’s throaty and Gahan’s raspy vocals gave the song a new light and meaning. Next up was Frankie Valli’s Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, the crowed joined in with the rousing chorus. What’s the Sound ended the set and hour after it started. The outro was so powerful drummer Krys Szymanski fell off his stool to riotous laughter and universal acclaim. The second day had drawn to a close. Compared to day one it had been a slightly calamitous affair, but the day should be judged on the power of the music and the crowd’s enjoyment. Everyone left with a smile and one lucky lady left engaged to her partner.

 

 

Today Ploughfest concludes, with live jazz, the raffle and a Back to the Future marathon. So if you are in the Ealing area, and fancy either a delicious Sunday lunch, listening to some enjoyable jazz and watching a classic trilogy, then get on down to the Plough, have fun and give some money to a worthwhile cause.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What’s that you say? Another EP by Bristol’s experimental bon vivant?

 

 

Matt Loveridge, AKA MXLX, has returned with another hunk of experimentalism for our enjoyment. How many times this year have I rewritten this sentence? I dread not to think because that would only be the tip of Loveridge’s incredible output. This time he has refined his prodigious touch into twenty five minutes of jarring discord that contradicts as much as it entertains.

 

 

I Aim to Understand Nothing kicks off in fine MXLX with This is No Place For Me. Ambient noises that sound like knives being sharpened, a classic MXLX motif, morphs into what sounds like the scratching of a record, while in the back ground humming instruments transform into glitchy bleeps and blips. So I Am Leaving transitions perfectly and the blips and beeps get more regimented and organised until it sounds like multiple games of Tetris being played at once. That is until its halfway mark signals a change in arrangement and Loveridge’s haunting vocals wash over us, adding another macabre element.

 

 

Everything Behind features slow premediated basslines, which stalk drone like chanting, while surface noise pops and glitches all around us. It’s as terrifying as it is alluring. This is the power of, not just Loveridge, but of his music. While he is showing us the darker side of our collective nature, he is also treating us to warm tender moments. And All Will Be Well is seven minutes of cacophonous maelstroms, eerie voices that sound like their speaking in tongues until it silently throbs and pulses out at the end.

 

 

I Aim to Understand Nothing is the musical version of MC Esher’s classic frieze Metamorphosis. Just when you think you have a handle on what’s going it, through dexterous and savvy production techniques, it starts to change and mutate into the next section of its life cycle. Together the tracks and title spell out “I Aim to Understand Nothing. This is No Place For Me So I am Leaving Everthing Behind And All Will Be Well.” While this is a slightly worrying insight into Loveridege’s headspace, in a way it’s everything we’ve come to expect from him. We always knew he was darkly comic right, and this is just another tongue in cheek reminder of it. This could be the most concise and cohesive release of Loveridge’s career to date. It bubbles with a musical paean seldom seen and heard in these semi disposable times of soundbites and jingles. While it’s not an easy listen it is rewarding after repeat listens, you just need to put in the effort and you’ll understand its labyrinthine patterns.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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LA quartet try and channel summer on new EP

 

 

You have to give it to Blonde Summer. They’ve tried to do something incredibly hard, capture the feeling of summer in music. That laidback feeling you get the sun is out and the whole day is yours. Anything you want to do, within reason of course, if possible. But like those rare days, Blonde Summer have squandered some of that precious time. Instead of spending longer than you should picking that choosing that perfect outfit and preening, they’ve over thought it and the results aren’t as good as they would have been.

 

 

Opening track to the Paradise EP Ca Kid is a four and a half minutes of driving bass, meandering keyboards and scant guitars. The main problem is with the lyrics. They don’t really say anything and by the end of Ca Kid, they start to rub you the wrong way. Maybe things will be better on the title track Paradise? Sadly not. Again the music is fine enough, but the higher vocal range comes across slight cloying and schmaltzy. The rest of the EP follows this pattern. Even when the music takes a slightly ‘harder’ turn on Blazed, the vocals still grate, and undoes all the good work of the composition. This being said, the Paradise EP has an easy going and unhurried feeling to it that screams “SUMMER”. It’s just the vocals and lyrics that stops this from being a great EP. If Blonde Summer can write some intriguing and provocative lyrics then the sky could be the, preverbal limit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Portland rapper releases his most cohesive and enjoy work to date. FACT!

 

 

If like everyone at thisyearinmusic, Hip-Hop seems to be too slick and over produced at the moment. Yes there are a number of artists who try and push the boundaries and go back to the original ethos of the art form, social commentary, but the majority of contemporary Hip-Hop released least us cold. Lucky the antidote is at hand. Myke Bogan is that antidote.

 

 

Since 2012 the Portland rapper has slowly been making name for himself, his appearance on King Chip’s Royal Tour is testament to this. He’s now released his fourth album Casino Carpet. In short its thirty minutes of lurid samples and laugh out loud lyrics. But don’t mistake for Bogan’s playful tongue in cheek lyrics to mean this is a joke. It isn’t, in fact, he’s deadly serious.

 

 

Opening track Pink Cocaine name checks the Rugrats, Breaking Bad, Philip Seymour Hoffman, religion and the endemic problem of drugs in society. On 6 Beers Bogan opens by saying he finds it funny people “wish they could make songs like I do, but then they wouldn’t be themselves. And that’s not cool”. Imitation is rife in Hip-Hop, and in a world of copy cats and sound-a-likes it’s refreshing to find someone doing their own thing, because it’s what they like rather than it’s what the majority of fans like. Then Bogan talks about hanging out and slowly getting wasted at home, playing FIFA with his favourite teams. Who says American’s don’t like football?

 

 

Stand out track is Beloved. A low tempo track in which Bogan contemplates his life, position in Hip-Hop and how he’s still hungry for success, but not for the usual reasons, i.e. wealth, but so his Grandmother can see him make if before she dies. Bogan’s stye isn’t just refreshing it humanises his music, something not massively seen in Hip-Hop, and grounds his music in reality. How many of us haven’t wanted approval from our family?

 

 

If you like you’re Hip-Hip underground with its tongue in its preverbal smoke filled cheek, then this is for you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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San Francisco’s Painted Palms channel 1980’s synth pop on new album

 

 

Painted Palms debut album Forever was a jaunt into ‘psychedelic’ pop. While it was a pleasant listen, overall it was patchy. Either the music let the songs down or the lyrics did. In all fairness it was a good debut as it showed Painted Palms (of The Palms as their fans fall them) were on to something and it showed room for improvement. They’re now gearing up for the release of their second Horizon. Sadly it’s more of the same, expect this time their influences are glaring and badly executed.

 

 

Generally reviews go into massive details about what the key songs either sound like, their emotive content. I’m going to do this out of obligation, but I’m going to keep it brief. Refractor opens with a vocal harmony, then the synth comes in that sounds a bit similar. This is slightly interesting. About thirty seconds in it stops being interesting and just sounds like Soft Cell/ Erasure. Contact is slightly upbeat, but vapid. Glaciers is just a synth pop reworking of Paint it Black, and no one really wants that. Lead single Disintegrate starts off with a broody synth and bassline. The 4/4 beat is repetitive and about half way through you forget it’s there. The Italian/Madchester piano line feels out of place. We get this is meant to be your big euphoric number, all glow sticks, white gloves and hands in the air, but instead we feel slightly cheated, like when you want a drink in a club and it’s nearly £10 for a bottle of beer and £5 for a water. Waterfall is more of the same, but the lyrics are more tedious and the music sounds like the demo setting on various keyboards.

 

 

Ultimately a feeling of Déjà Vu permeates the album. While you might have heard these songs before, you’ve definitely heard elements of them before. Erasure, the Human League and even Madchester scene are all represented here. The main problem is the Christopher Prudhomme isn’t saying anything with his lyrics. After playing the album four or five times I can’t remember a single banal lyric, expect for the multiple “Ooooooooooooooooooooh’s” he utters. At times it sounds like an unconvincing band in an unconvincing teen comedy set in the 1980’s. You know the scene, there’s a party or school dance and they needed some music, but instead of paying the license for a ‘classic’ song they’ve got a current band who sound a bit 1980’s to play on of their own songs, as the actors dance/fall in love. While there isn’t anything wrong with this kind of music, and if this is your thing, cool, but it comes off feeling try hard and pretentious, sadly as does Horizons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bristol indie pop supergroup Grubs gear up for debut album release

 

 

For a band about to release their debut album, Bristol’s Grubs are getting some serious attention. This isn’t really surprising considering that all three members ply their trades in King of Cats, Trust Fund and Joanna Gruesome, three of the best bands around today.

 

 

While Grubs shares elements of this trinity, they also have its own sound, as last year’s debut single Dec. 15/Gym Shame, released on Cool Your Jets, showed. It was three minutes of catchy pop melodies, luscious vocals and slightly surreal lyrics, and yes both song clocked in three minutes. Now they’re gearing up for the release of their debut album It Must Be Grubs in September, by those purveyors of everything lo-fi and DIY, Reeks of Effort/Tuff Enuff.

 

 

Lead track Windwaker follows the blueprint of Dec. 15/Gym Shame, but its levels of catchiness and melody have been ramped up, it’s psychotically catchy. The vocal harmonies start off sounding cacophonous and disorienting, but after several listens, you realise there is order to what appears to be chaotic noise. The star of the show however is the guitar work. From the intro to the outro, the jangling guitar grabs you by your collar, or shoulders if you aren’t wearing a collar today, and makes you dance and jig with it until it finally lets you go and saunters off to get a cold drink.

 

 

While this is said a lot, almost to the point of it being a cliché, this is an album to get excited about. What’s most exciting about Grubs isn’t that this album is going to be great, it is, but what are they’re going to do next? Hopefully more of the same, but for now with a pun based album title and a happy looking dog on the cover, what more do we want?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Illusive lo-fi troubadour readies new EP for mass consumption

 

 

When talking about Dan the Human’s music for the first time it’s hard to find an entry point. This isn’t because the music is as dense and unfathomable as, say a Sun Ra album, nor does he use surreal imagery in a Captain Beefheart way, and it’s not particularly that abrasive compared to his lo-fi peers, but when first telling people about Dan there isn’t a lot to say other than “He’s pretty lo-fi and pretty good”. In some camps this is all the recommendation needed, and I hope that you are one of these people, because if you are skip to the last paragraph. If not, read on…

 

 

Next month sees Dan release a new EP. So far three tracks have emerged. False Memory, Palindrome and Comic Relief. These three songs are break from Dan’s usual bend of scratchy guitars and discordant vocals. Instead they sound like Tangerine Dream at their most ethereal and Yo La Tengo being produced by Kevin Shields. What’s even more remarkable is how well it all gels together. So far these three songs sit in that ephemeral place where lo-fi soundscapes meet pop.

 

 

Exquisite languid melodies and enervated themes permeate this EP. Dreamlike vocals wash over you but jaunty guitar riffs keep you from drifting off into the ether. If these tracks are anything to go by, then next month’s EP should not only be something to look forward to, but another high water mark in the resurgence of lo-fi music. Comic relief? Not a chance of it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Italian/Icelandic band My Cruel Goro release conventional debut EP

 

 

Debut EP’s are tricky things. Don’t deliver and you’ll alienate your existing fan base, but over deliver and the hype machine goes into overdrive and all future releases might be judged overtly harshly. This is what Italian/Icelandic band My Cruel Goro are facing. After a year on the live Italian circuit, and being compared to The Clash, Stranglers, Ash, Weezer, Arctic Monkeys, and The Jam expectations are high for them to deliver something not just memorably but remarkable.

 

 

Clash kicks things off with a wall of guitars and, almost, deafening drums. So good so far. When the vocals appear they are slightly swamped by the sheer size of the music. When you start like Justin Gatlin out of the blocks you can’t really take your foot off the gas, and there isn’t really anywhere else to go expect straight to the finish line. Crapford follows similar pattern. Both have slight different tempos and textures, but it’s the same song two times. Musically these are formulaic indie punk rockers. Fast guitars, are backed by faster drums. There is nothing wrong with them, but considering My Cruel Goro’s hype more was slightly expected.

 

 

Standout track Glue Buzz redeems itself as the second half of the track is effectively a two and a half instrumental outro. Compositional speaking this is a tour de force as the interplay of the instruments is excellent and their ability to build up, tear down and build up higher is exquisite. It really marks it stand out from the previous two tracks and gives the listener the nod that My Cruel Goro have the potential of being incendiary live, as their glowing reviews hint at.

 

 

While there isn’t anything massively wrong with My Cruel Goro’s debut, the band are proficient at playing and their compositions are solid, what they offer and what you get are two slightly different things. If you are expecting the political message of the Clash, coupled with the caustic attitude of the Ramones, with the melody and playfulness of Ash and Weezer you’re going to be disappointed. What we are left with is overdriven guitars, frenetic drums and discordant vocals. Although there is nothing wrong with this, however given the vivid and sanguine reviews, it feels like a mediocre meal in a Michelin starred restaurant. My Cruel Goro might need to go back to the drawing board me thinks…

 

 

 

 

 

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South coast balladeer returns with retro sounding ode to someone special

 

 

Those musical miscreants at Art is Hard have done it again. Since March their Hand Cut Record Cut has featured the best in new and unsigned bands the country has to offer. HCRC9 is no exception. Husband Material, born from the ashes of Bournemouth band Bos Angeles, are following on from the buzz they created with debut single What Did I Do Wrong, with a giddy and queasy slab of lovelorn pop Bigger Man.

 

 

Opening with what sounds like the Tardis entering a dimension of slow jams and heavy petting, woozy keyboards, translucent guitars and sparse drums enter the mix and Husband Material show why they’re worthy of the praise and hype they’re received this year. At just shy of four minutes Bigger Man slowly bubbles away, full of yearning and passion. It’s the kind of song that DJ’s would play on their Late Night Love shows if they bothered to look away from the tackiness, gaudy and vomit inducing sleazy R&B that permeates their shows. There is real emotion here and with no

 

 

In all honesty Bigger Man sounds like a reworking of Princes’ The Most Beautiful Girl in the World, but instead of the purple one crooning about how he can’t make it through the day without seeing her, if all the stars went out one by one she’d be his guiding light, and how, basically, she is the most beautiful girl in the world, Husband Material head honcho Richard Board’s dulcet vocals simple say “Give it up to you. Give it all to you”. During the opening verses Board laments that “Sometimes I wish I was a bigger man, to be all the things that I know I can”. If Bigger Man and April’s What Did I Do Wrong are anything to go by, you already are.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Binga and Chimpo are slowly becoming a the grime dream team

 

 

A few weeks ago Trigga released, quite possibly, one of the best grime tracks in recent years. Production duties were shared by Chimpo and Sam Binga. They must have enjoyed the experience as they’ve done it again. No Messin is exactly what the titles says. From the opening salvo to the closing volley this is, well basically, sick.

 

 

Opening to a succession of high pitch blips and beeps, this is preceded by a rolling drum beat. After this is all minimal percussion, deep bassline and blip and beeps. While No Messin never quite hits the highs of the Trigga tracks, but it comes pretty close, there is still plenty to engage with. The lyrics are spat out at a furious pace and at times they are thought provoking and poignant. The B-Side is an instrumental version, and it’s this track that really lets us see these production savants at work.

 

 

The real power from No Messin comes from you can’t tell if it’s a Binga or Chimpo track. There are telling signs that either of them could claim that honour, but like a heavy weight title fight that goes the distance, it’s too close to call. Their deft interplay and juxtaposition perfectly complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses. What is evident however, is that these two producers work together perfectly and let’s hope this isn’t the last time we see their names together on a track!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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New Jersey lo-fi maverick follows up last year’s debut with an EP that is as tongue in cheek as it is brilliant

 

 

Authenticity is something that musicians crave. To be considered ‘authentic’ is a holy grail, next to having biggest selling albums, largest gig audiences and longest tours. Very few have ever attainted it because like unicorns, leprechauns and good house albums, few have found them and once you have they vanish forever leaving you mumbling to yourself in forests. One musician who does have it however, you’ve probably never heard of. New Jersey’s Wholewheat is the embodiment of authenticity.

 

 

Since Bob Dylan released his Basement Tapes album in 1975, a collection of songs culled from recordings he made in the basement of the house he was living with The Band, musicians have thought that adding ‘basement’ to a collection of lo-fi songs makes them cool, kooky and interesting. Most of them were actually recorded in proper studios, then made to sound lo-fi later. Wholewheat’s debut album Songs From My Parents Basement, which was actually recorded in his parent’s mold infested basement, was a highlight of 2014. Not only where the songs heart breakingly honest, but they were catchy and infectious. Now he has returned with new release the Ruf Draft EP.

 

 

Heartache and rejection peppers this EP. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Not by a long shot, as Wholewheat is a witty wordsmith, so all his lyrics have a slightly sardonic and self-deprecating vibe to them. The opening lyrics to Just a Little Bit are “Well congratulations, show them they what they won, a bottle of booze, and this loaded gun. The end of the road, is still filled with glory, and Falcao from the Never Ending Story. I’m flat broke, I loaned my conscious to the bank, Asked out this girl, before my heart sank. She’s the type of one, you see in your dreams, she works at the gap, and she folds jeans”. All this is backed by scratchy guitars and astringent lyrics. Absolutely flawless.

 

 

Luckily the rest of the EP is just as satisfying. Paid the Toll feels like a rework of The Beatles-Ticket to Ride (“She’s got a free pass, through my heart, and I already paid the toll”), but more lo-fi and with a sketchy keyboard under it. How can Lyrics like “How can this be, I think I’m happy. For the first time, in my life” be anything but life affirming? The EP closes with Does Love Come with Those Fries, let’s hope fast food restaurants never hear this song, as their might be some lawsuits!

 

 

The Ruf Draft EP inhabits a special place surrounded by Adam Green during his shambling Anti-Folk beginnings, The Flaming Lips when they proclaimed we’re all going to die in a Top 40 pop song, Robert Pollard with a flagrant disregard for recording techniques and Beck’s early work, think One Foot in the Grave and Stereopathetic Soul Manure and you’re close. While Wholewheat is singing about real feelings and emotions there is a whole level of surrealism going on too. And what could be better than that?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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American Alt-Country-Punk quintet release come back single ahead of new album

 

 

Sounding somewhere between the Rolling Stones-Gimme Shelter, The Hold Steady-Chips Ahoy! and Bruce Springsteen-Badlands, Memphis based Lucero’s new single Can’t You Hear Them Howl? is as bombastic as it is catchy. Ben Nichols’ guttural drawl cuts through the clean guitars and punchy horns like a knife through jalapeño mustard!

 

 

Since starting in the late 1990’s Lucero have made a name for themselves by releasing music that can’t be classified as one set genre, but borrows from a host of their loves. However their back catalogue can be split between country ballads, in that beautifully classic sad vein, rapid punkier numbers and full on Soul drenched horn doused belters. Can’t You Hear Them Howl? is somewhere between all three. Lyrically Nichols is pondering life, the universe and everything, while his gravelly vocals wouldn’t be out of place on a Rancid album, yet the horns bring everything back to Memphis’ deep soul traditions, Stax Records in particular. In fact their music has been described as “synthesis of soul, rock, and country that is distinctly Memphisian”. This pretty much sums them up.

 

 

 

In a recent interview Nichols stated “I think the main influence when it comes down to it, the songs at their core, are heavily influenced by classic rock. So basically, we’re a wannabe classic rock band.” If that statement and this comeback track are anything to go by their new album All A Man Should Do, released on ATO Records later this year, should be classic Lucero!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Slime’s debut album showcases not just his proficiency in the studio, but skewed take on composition

 

 

The world of electro pop is pretty dense at the moment. There are some who create great slabs of high quality high concept electro pop, that is so forward thinking and bright that it blinds you, others lock themselves away in dark, cramped bedrooms and make music effectively for themselves. On his debut album Company Slime, real name Wil Archer, is somewhere between the two.

 

 

Opening track Thurible, My Company , In One Year, Down and Tell are more obtuse, using instruments and samples to create layers of texture and shading, rather than fleshing things out in full colour. That being said, there are moments of brilliance, next to passages of torpor, but the good out weights the bad. These tracks aren’t musique concrete or sonic collages but they also aren’t designed with the mainstream or charts in mind. They are for quiet rumination on the way home from work, or for that quiet morning tea after a big night out.

 

 

However the album isn’t just built around these opaque gems. Striding Edge, Hot Dog, Symptoms and At Sea Again are Nu-Soul with their slow jam vibes and hazy lyrics. And finally there are The Way of Asprilla and Patricia’s Stories, which shows that Archer can let rip and write slow bangers too. Throughout the album vocals are used either as background sounds or clever hook, on Patricia’s Stories rapper Jeremiah Jae delivers some of the albums stand out moments.

 

 

Overall Company is a beguiling and complex album. It skews from Prince-esque pop, electro lounge, atmospheric electronica, R&B and even a bit of late night small room too. At times Archer is a more abstract and abrasive, than his peers, Deco Child for example. This is not a bad thing, but where his contemporaries uses lyrics to tell a story Archer uses vocals for tone and texture. Ultimately it doesn’t matter what is being said as long as it conveys either an emotion or feeling. It’s safe to say that on his next album Archer will have all the company he desires through collaborations and remixes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Yonkers chauntress bare souls through existential lyrics and fuzz pedals

 

 

Although Palehound are the three piece indie rock group, it’s technically a one woman show. Ellen Kempner runs tings (if you want to quote Trigga). After listening to debut album Dry Food you realise that something bad has happened to Kempner recently. Well maybe not bad, but not to the script. Although the songs have a downbeat slacker cool lo-fi indie feel, lyrically they are logged full of remorse, self-deprecation, pathos and ultimately enough self-awareness to do something about it.

 

 

Album opener Molly, sounds like Pavement covering Devo, is arguably in the top three songs I’ve heard this year. I don’t mention the other two, as this is all about Palehound and Kempner. At just shy of three minutes it’s nigh on perfect. It makes you want to jump around your lounge, walk to the shops in a baggy threadbare jumper, cook a nice pan of spaghetti stars with Marmite and a host of all other things that conjure your youth. When all that mattered was good music and the promise of better nights out. Basically Kempner is hoping for her luck to change and things to get a bit better. Healthier Folk is an acoustic work out with cacophonous drums and drunk lead guitar. Easy follows with more drunk guitars. A riff that sounds like a beginner playing a scale slowly so they don’t mess up backs up Kempner while she sings her tale of woe and heartache. When the tempo changes and it gets messy you start to feel the level of Kempner’s downer.

 

 

After the upbeat Cinnamon, the remaining four tracks are like a suite of tracks that she that Kempner is trying to get back on track, but we all know it won’t be an easy fix. Dixie is the prettiest song on the album, thanks to its wonky finger picking and lullaby-esque vocals. Cushioned Caging lets Palehand let rip on last time before the albums closer Seekonk. Like Dixie it is fingerpicked, but its far more dextrous than before. When the band come in and play together you do get the feeling that Kempner isn’t alone after all, even if her line “The bed is getting cold again” makes us think otherwise.

 

 

After listening to the album back to back about five times, you can’t work out if the sombre existential lyrics or the excessively melodic guitar riffs are the things that keep you playing it again. Then it hits you, like an unexpected football to the face, it’s both, or neither, or whatever, you don’t care because in twenty eight minutes Palehound have done more than most bands do in a year. Not only are the songs beautifully simple, they invoke an innocence rarely this fully formed. The childlike vocals, ad-hoc strumming patterns, and blistering distortion all makes for an exquisite listen, even if the subject matter makes you want to give Kempner a hug and say “It’s going to be fine”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Manchester based producer delivers an exosphere experience at ground level prices

 

 

Tom Demac appears to have a golden touch at the moment. Having released forward thinking singles on AUS and Glass Table, he’s back with his most ambitious and enjoyable release to date, The Shuttle Awaits on London house and techno label Hypercolour.

 

 

Minimal techno beats and a ringing loop (that sounds like it was lifted from Coldcut’s 1997 classic Space Journey) help to create the feeling of space. Not just that stuff that surrounds the planet Earth, but you know, through their arrangement and position there appears to be a distance between them, thus creating an area where other elements and instruments can successfully fit without sounding like a claustrophobic wall of sound. And fill this space Tom Demac does.

 

 

Next to join the queue outside the shuttle boarding doors is a simple guitar run and some wordless vocals. Ethereal and lurid are the order of the day, as the both slowly shift and mutate before us, the track begins to ramp up the intensity. Gary McClure (him of Working For A Nuclear Free City and American Wrestlers fame) makes a cameo on vocals. Slowly they become decipherable through a heavy use of filtering and production trickery.

 

 

Classic Italian piano stabs, have been cross pollinated with the classic Manchester vibe that made New Order and Working For A Nuclear Free City records something to look forward to and be admired. Demac’s deftness of touch while producing makes The Shuttle Awaits a track that works not just on the dancefloor, but for home listening too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Nashville quartet’s latest album is a svelte version of ad-hoc soundtrack Quartz

 

 

Fly Golden Eagle originally released Quartz as a 26 track two hour monster companion piece to cult classic motion picture The Holy Mountain, funded by John Lennon and George Harrison, it has now been dissected and re-imagined as the 12 track album Quartz Bijou. Sadly tracks ‘Can’t Leave You Alone’, ‘Double Vision’, ‘Ronnie’ and ‘Machine Burger’ have been left out, but Quartz Bijou is a tighter and concise album for it.

 

 

 

Opening with wall of drums, organs and fuzzed out guitar ‘You Look Good To Me’ is reminiscent of Manfred Mann in 1969. A funky soul groove, with marginally esoteric lyrics. The music oozes out of the speakers while Ben Trimble’s vocals soar above everything like, well, a golden eagle. ‘Horse’s Mouth’ follows hot on the heels of ‘You Look Good To Me’. Like its predecessor it’s a psychedelic beast jammed full of throbbing bass, delicate guitar parts so tangled up you’d need a nit comb to straighten them out and an outro that rivals anything released post 1970. ‘Stepping Stone’ sounds like the Soledad Brothers covering T-Rex in the desert while tripping balls. The riffs are colossal and almost collapse under their own weight, the organ sounds like it was lifted from an Electric Prunes album and the bass pulsates. Somehow Trimble’s vocals manage not only be audible, but take centre stage in the song.

 

 

After the slow stomper of ‘Stepping Stone’, ‘Magic Steven’ ramps things up a bit. Despite all the noodling on the organ it’s a standard rock song and not much happens outside of a 4/4 beat. ‘Monolith’ slows the album down again. Given its name, and the previous quartet of tracks, you’d be forgiven for expecting to have your head caved in under the sound and pressure of the composition, however ‘Monolith’ is a slow tender number that is full of longing and what could have been lyrics, apart from a slight psych out blip in the outro, it’s a beautiful ballad. ‘Tangible Intangible’ is another slow burner. On this track Fly Golden Eagle show that they are just as capable writing something melodic as they are brain melting psych.

 

 

‘The Slider’ picks up the pace again, but from here on however the album loses something and starts to sound likes Fyy Golden Eagle are just going through the motions. While ‘The Slider’ is pleasant, as soon as it finishes you can’t really remember anything about it. Which is a shame as the riff has the potential to be an earworm of epic proportions, but somehow manages to fall just short of the task. The next three tracks follow suit and pass into obscurity as soon as they’re finished. Things pick up again with ‘Tehuacana’, which could be the stand out track on the album. In just under six minutes it manages to mix psych, soul, blues, gospel, funk and folk into a relentless track that is hard to ignore and impossible to tap your foot too. The album closes with ‘Death Myth’. From its uplifting beat to opaque guitar licks, it pulls you in and takes you on an instrumental journey until some studio banter “The very last end of it was bad” finishes the track and album.

 

 

 

Quartz Bijou is full of a retro fuzzy charm, but don’t like this deceive you. Fly Golden Eagle are more than four musicians with a penchant for nostalgic sounds. Like the Brian Jonestown Massacre before them, they take idea of another time but thorough their experiences they ground the album in the now. To get the full impact of the album you probably need to go to Mexico and wander around the desert getting lost meeting dwarves and alchemists. Or you could just get a bit woozy and turn it up loud, which ever turns you on really.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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North East local heroes are gearing up for debut EP release

 

 

Coquin Migale have a few things going for them. Firstly, if Socotra is anything to go by, they write forward thinking indie bangers. Secondly in Alex Soper they have a singer whose vocal range has only been hinted at. Thirdly after generating a buzz in their North East home, their setting their sights on the rest of the country. And lastly did I mention they write forward thinking indie bangers.

 

 

Socotra starts off slowly, Soper’s vocals, a clean guitar riff sparse drumming set the scene but down to intricate playing and clever composition it gradually speeds up to create an exhilarating and rousing wall of sound. From there the pattern of clean verse, huge chorus continues until Socotra comes to its logical conclusion.

 

 

While Socotra isn’t anything we’ve not heard before, Coquin Migale do it better than a slew of their peers. Soper’s vocals and guitars merge into one to create a unique wall of sound. It’s still early days for Coquin Migale, but the early signs are promising. If their debut EP contains this level of intensity, passion and glorious walls of sound, we’ll be in for something very special indeed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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West London’s finest release live album ahead of their debut next year

 

 

Live albums are generally flawed. While trying to recreate the live show experience bands come across stagnant, listless and stationary. Of course there are exceptions to the rule, Tom Waits-Nighthawks at the Diner, 65daysofstatic-Escape from New York, Motörhead-No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith and the Jimi Hendrix-Experience Soundtrack all manage to recreate the power and passion of their live sets in the comfort of your home or headphones. Bootleg albums on the other hand, are another matter entirely. Historically bootlegs were illicit recordings made at gigs covertly. Generally the lo-fi recordings contained audio spill from the audience, not just cheering, but snippets of conversation. However these recordings were dynamic, energetic and powerful. They showed people what they were missing out on.

 

 

For their first long player West London’s Du Bellows have released an ‘official’ bootleg titled Transient Electric Volume 1. As with all classic bootlegs, Transient Electric Volume 1 contains the passion and intensity of a Du Bellows live show, but with all the audience participation that goes along with it. Following Silurian Woman, Jack and His Queen continues things in fine form. After a deep bassline courtesy of Rich Leeds, TJ Shipton’s guitar does battle with Jade Williams’ vaporous vocals. Both wrap us in comforting blanket as her tale of love penetrates our psyche all the while underpinned by Dave Watkinson’s clean and effortless drumming. Live favourite Spin, with its sinuous guitar and epic chorus showcasing not only the tightness of the rhythm section, but the power and quality of Williams’ vocals, which the audience clearly approves of.

 

 

The real stars of the show however are Dry Flowers, Silurian Woman and Luminaire. Dry Flowers follows a classic British folk tradition, musically, but it’s the lyrics that really show that Du Bellows are made of. Dry Flowers is dripping in longing, regret and ultimately redemption, again in a folk timeless tradition. Silurian Woman follows this lyrical theme, but musically it’s more contemporary. The final minute is possibly where we hear Du Bellows at their best. Locked in the groove and firing on all cylinders. Like the “Judas” shout at Bob Dylan’s Manchester Free Trade Hall gig, the cheer of “Alright!” before they launch into the final salvo sums up how we feel. This is the power of a bootleg. If Dry Flowers and Silurian Woman hint at Du Bellows past, then Luminaire shows their future. Heavier and far more rhythmic than anything they’ve committed to tape before, it essentially smoulders with passion and intent. If this is the quality of their new songs, please sir can I have another!

 

 

There are downsides to Transient Electric Volume 1 though. Live favourite Isa Du Bellow’s omission from the album is glairing. While we all totally understand that if you play the same song every night it’ll get boring, but not including it on Transient Electric Volume 1, feels like a missed trick. Having said that, if this is the first in a series of bootlegs let’s hope it gets included in a future volume. Having said that Transient Electric Volume 1 is a great snapshot of a band, finding their form and delivering night after night of exquisite life performances, and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters!

 

 

Transient Electric Volume 1 is available to download from the link below

 

https://www.musicglue.com/du-bellows/products/transient-electric-vol-1/

 

 

 

 

 

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London duo release second album in less than a year. The sound might have changed, but the quality hasn’t

 

 

James Hoare and Jack Cooper AKA Ultimate Painting, have returned less than a year after releasing their self-titled debut. This time they’ve stripped things down a bit more, that gorgeous lo-fi feedback has been replaced by something far more powerful. Exquisite song writing.

 

 

After ten seconds of Green Lines you realise you’re in for a smooth ride. Kodiak’s carefree and buoyant guitar and drum combo is the musical equivalent of driving to the beach in the early morning, as the slowly warming sun and cool breeze hit your face through the open window. The day is full of unlimited possibilities, but one thing is certain, it’ll be fun. Lead single (I’ve Got The) Sectioned Blues follows a similar blueprint, and delivers a perky jovial rhythm that delivers a similar vibe to Kodiak. Two From the Vault with its laconic guitar riffs and lackadaisical drumming is the perfect soundtrack to any BBQ. Stand out track Woken By Noises sounds like a re-working of Bob Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues. Jaunty guitar and driving drums back up an engaging and charming story.

 

 

Green Lanes is a great example of laidback indie rock; which ranks up there with the plethora of classic indie folk rock like the Velvet Underground’s Loaded, Lupen Crooks’ British Folk Tales and Flying Burrito Brother’s Burrito Deluxe. The only real downside is that there is hardly any change in texture and tempo, so after about six or seven songs Green Lanes starts to drag a bit. The quality of song writing doesn’t drop, it’s just that after twenty minutes of listening to the same thing, it starts to get samey, until Woken By Noises, that changes gear slightly.

 

 

That being said, Green Lanes is a strong album that showcases not just the dextrous playing of Hoare and Cooper, but their ability as storytellers. There are a few motifs that remind you of Courtney Barnett’s all conquering debut, but not in a bad way, or enough to make you change records. Each of the twelve tracks that make up Green Lanes, are filled with vivid and rich language that it’s nigh on impossible not to be swept up with Ultimate Painting’s charm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Five albums in for Canada’s experimental indie pop savant

 

 

Right, let’s not mess about here, as this is exactly what Slim Twig has done on his fifth album, Thank You For Sticking’ with Twig. This is Twig’s, AKA Canadian Max Turnbull, most cohesive album. It takes his ability to make sample based music, plus his deft touch for original composition, and mixes them together to create forty minutes where you can hardly see the joins.

 

 

Opening track Slippin’ Slidn’ is a love letter everything glam. Fuzzy beats, merge with even crunching guitars while he layers it with synths, surface noise and wailing vocals. Textiles on Mainstreet showcases Twig’s ear for melody and pastiching Beatlesesque songwriting. Stone Rollin’ (Musical Emotion) is one of the simplest songs on the album and one of the most effective. Through limited elements, keyboards, vocals and some effects, Turnbull displays thanks to a subtle touch how to get the most emotional outpouring with limited effort.

 

 

Fog of Sex (N.S.I.S.) takes a Clockwork Orange sample and skews it into a sleazy pop monster. Think Beck on Midnite Vultures with slowed down T-Rex riffs and you’re close. Out of My Mind does exactly what the title says. It sounds like an episode of the Clangers when they have a party, started tripping balls and the Soup Dragon decides to freak everyone out by speaking in tongues. Live In, Live on Your Era is a relatively standard song in comparison to the rest of the album. Massive 1970’s MOR riffs mingle with woozy vocals and slightly psych production. Cannabis is a freakout jam based around Serge Gainsbourg’s track of the same name.

 

 

Thank You For Sticking’ with Twig is a psych pop gem, that gets better with each listen. Only through repeated listens can you start to gleam the complicated layers of music, sound and noise Turnbull uses to create his sonic wonders. The only downside is that at times it gets lost under the weight of its ideas. Every production trick in the book sounds like it’s been used on this album, which is great, but the album doesn’t flow as well as it could. By removing a few techniques and effects the songs would have room to breathe and, at times, not feel so compacted. Having said that, the scope of the project should be commended and when it works, it’s some of the best music released this year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Deaf Wish issue statement of intent, or is that contempt, with debut album on Sub Pop

 

 

When bands get signed by a big label it can sometimes end in disaster. They feel that because of this new exposure they have to redefine the wheel, sonically speaking, and deliver something career defining. Sometimes this works other times they release something that alienates their existing fans as it’s such a departure from what made them great in the first place. Luckily Deaf Wish has chosen to carry on with the single mindedness that got them here, to Sub Pop, in the first place and release and album that is chocked full of feedback, slightly nihilistic lyrics, massive drums and surging guitars.

 

 

The Whip openings with droney vocals and a repetitive guitar riff. Slowly the song descends into guttural bass and scratchy guitars. In short it shows that they’re not letting this new deal go to their head. Sounding like the Stooges and Sonic Youth The Whip crashes and flails about, until halfway through a reflective clean guitar riff helps add texture, and a moment of calm to an otherwise claustrophobic cacophony of an opener. Newness Again sounds like a re-working of Link Wray’s Rumble with its staccato intro and limited but cramped solo. Title track Pain is classic Stooge rock. The bare minimum of chords have been used as possible. Instead of those weird sleigh bells on I Wanna Be You Dog, a layer of feedback has been added. The last four tracks should be labelled the SY DN Suite, as they are pure Sonic Youth. Even down to the guitar tone and singing style. Penultimate track Dead Air is basically six and a half minute feedback instrumental interspersed with massive drums and driving bass. Closing track Calypso slows things down a bit, but its juddering outro is sublime.

 

 

On Pain, Deaf Wish have successfully deconstructed rock music. It sounds like they’ve taken apart each element of a ‘band’ and gone off on their own, reimagined it and when they came to record the album, they each played their parts and that was the song, regardless of if it works with the other elements. Luckily for us it works bloody and well and what we’ve been given is thirty minutes that is abrasive, dissonant, atonal, with undecipherable lyrics it’s strangely warming. The only downside is that Deaf Wish’s influences are too pronounced on some tracks, making them sound like reimagined covers, rather than original compositions. Having said that Pain is a great album and shows that Deaf Wish have no desire to sell out and change their sound now they’re signed to Sub Pop. The only real pain here is firstly waiting for a follow up and wondering where they can go?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tropical bass quintet hint at the future while looking at the past

 

 

Cross pollination of traditional music and Western culture isn’t anything new, or surprising. Anyone who has been to a Hindu festival or Africa will know that their music permeants drum heavy rhythm with hypnotic horns. Brian Jones was one of the first to merge the two when he recorded and produced the first Master Musicians of Joujouka album in 1968. At first it sounds like both are playing against each other with the effect to disorient you, but after long exposure you realise that the two are playing as one, and the desired effect is to put you into a similar trance as the players. Kuenta i Tambu, or KiT for short, are the latest in the rich tapestry of World Music to mix their heritage and their loves. On the new Muchu Danki EP, the Curaçao quintet showcase what they’re capable of and the results are as fun as they are rooty.

 

 

The Muchu Danki EP is practically fluorescent. Or as close to fluorescent as music can get. Deep bass weaves with ritual tambú rhythms to create music that has one foot in the past and one on the dancefloor. Peace of Mind and Where to Go both start off sounding all Euro sex pop. After a minute Peace of Mind goes two-step and dancefloor subs almost make you forget the opening slavo. The rest of the track is a call and response between the pop verses and EDM choruses. Where to Go sticks in the classic pop mould and sadly it’s lack of variation is its undoing. In short it’s too pedestrian.

 

 

The EP’s stand out track is Muchu Danki. Tradition goes arm in arm with club culture as tribal chants and rhythms are given a filth workout, very similar to Nozinja on his excellent debut earlier this year, you can never quite tell who is having the upper hand in this knock down drag out match between two contrasting cultures. Ultimately it doesn’t matter as the song is a proper banger and deserves to be played again and again at loud and louder volume. Closing track Mi Kueru follows the same blue print as the title track, but never quite reaches the perfect synergy of it. Though the tempo is faster, there is less going on and it sounds like any bedroom producer could have churned it out trying to work out how their new kit works.

 

 

KiT make something that fits perfectly between European bass, moombahton and traditional Afro Caribbean music. The emphasis is on tribal rhythms, dance production and lots of day-glo fun. The Muchu Danki EP does have its flaws, but sadly these are only brought to light by its incredible highs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Manchester legend gets time to shine thanks to producer fans

 

 

In certain circles Trigga is as big as they get. For the past five to ten years he’s flawlessly MC-ed and appeared on handfuls of tracks and at live events. Now he’s having a well-earned moment in the sun thanks to a couple of his biggest supporters, up and coming rappers/producers, namley Chimpo and Sam Binga, with debut single Who Run Tingz/MCR on Ninja Tune offshoot Girls Music.

 

 

To put it mildly, it’s a monster. It should have enough filthy beats and dirty bassline for Grime purists, but it’s also catchy as hell, meaning that once you’ve heard it, it’s hard not to play it again and again and again. Who Run Tingz is basically a love letter to Trigga and Chimpo’s home of Manchester, while bigging up the producers and MC’s who are currently on the scene at the moment while local scenes Sheffield, Leeds, and Nottingham all get a mention too.

 

 

The B-Side MCR, again about his home of Manchester, is chocka block of dirty basslines and filthy breakbeats. But, just like Who Run Tingz, it’s the lyrical content that is the main event. Any track that name checks JD Sports, New Order, Marks and Spencer’s, Joy Division and ex Manchester United defender Wes Brown, gets my seal of approval!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Aussie’s lead the way with forward thinking indie rock

 

 

At the moment there is a lot of good music coming from Down Under. Tama Impala, Courtney Barnett and Moontown Records are all releasing exciting and insanely catchy records. Now Perth’s Rat Column is looking to add their name to that list.

 

 

On their new EP, Fooling Around, they’ve cleaned up their brand of droney indie psych and made is all sharp and jaunty. This change in sounds works really well with these four songs. Before they sounded like The Warlocks covering The Jesus and Mary Chain, but now it’s Roxy Music Meets the Strokes. And what’s more it sounds amazing!

 

 

Title track Fooling Around kicks things off in fine form. At over seven minutes you’d be expected to think it’d drag and drone, but surprisingly its flits and skips until its logical conclusion. Yes there are extended droney instrumental parts, but it all works for the benefit of the song and you hardly realise it’s length until it draws to a close and you realise you’re teas gone cold.

 

 

Should I Leave You Alone? is the sound of the Jesus and Mary Chain being fed into a tape machine that not only eats the tape, but spits it out all disjointed, then is fed back in again. As the loops become more muddled before a heart-breaking guitar line comes in and balances it all out until it reverbs itself out at the end.

 

 

Ultimately this is the sound of a band who don’t care what the rest of the world are doing, very much like Furness in America, they’re on their own making the music they love and if anyone else likes it, awesome, and if not, awesome as they sound like their having a great time making it. Fooling around? No chance they’re just waiting for the new world to catch up with their musical vision.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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East London slacker collective kick summer into check with new EP

 

 

Some albums and EP’s feel like damp squibs after the initial hype and weeks of waiting for the release day. Others feel like a breath of fresh air on a particularly hot and muggy day in the city. You know those days when you can smell the underground downwind from 1000 meters, your shoes get all tacky on the tarmac and you have to get a restraining order for your underwear as they got to intimate. Then that sudden change of breeze and everything cools down for a bit and you can get to the nearest spot of shade, have a pleasant moment in an otherwise baffling and baking day. The new Zooz EP is that breath of fresh air.

 

 

Another Day in the Sun opens to the sound of waves crashing on the shore while twangy shimmering guitars underpin the melancholic lyrics “Just another day in the sun. I come undone”, lyrics that are half sung, half confessed. Acoustic guitars build and brood until they sound like 50ft tall waves and you can see Mike and Kieron atop playing their instruments while they gracefully surf to shore. The whole thing closes to the sound of nattering seagulls. It’s business as usual on True Love. Deeply personal lyrics ground the whole piece while incandescent guitars and drums glisten around them. The only downside is the outro is too abrupt and kills the song too quickly. Surf in the Storm brings the EP to a close. Just like how a star player that is left until the end to be introduced, so the other members get their time in the sun before being eclipsed, Surf in the Storm does this. It doesn’t boast, or mock the other songs, but we all know who the main event is.

 

 

Like most bands who make music that is slightly off-kilter to the mainstream, Zooz had an instant buzz and there was a clamouring by labels for the band to sign to them for that all important first single. Luckily Kieron and Mike chose those purveyors of all things lo-fi and great Superfan 99. Let’s hope this partnership continues for another couple of days in the sun and doesn’t end in wipeout.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Spanish New Gazers provide an alternative soundtrack for the Costa Del Rock

 

 

Recently there has been a renaissance in Spain for all things indie. Bands like Beach Beach and The Parrots have been putting out glorious releases that not only embrace their collective influences and loves but sound phenomenal. Now The Zephyr Bones are joining this every growing list.

 

 

Clocking in at just twelve minutes the Wishes/Fishes EP delivers massive impact over a short period of time. Musically it is uplifting and jangling and after listening to it you’re Vitamin D levels feel raised. But all is not what it seems. With song titles as Weird Summer, Get Away From the Coast and Let’s Spit Our Bones into the Sea, gives a hint that all is not well. Could this be a package tour organised and curated by David Lynch or JG Ballard?

 

 

Opening track Weird Summer sees the drums and guitars call and response against each other. This works really well as you’re anticipating the next attack of either drums of guitars. The chorus is sublime “It’s the weirdest summer we ever had”. Get Away From the Coast follows on the New Gazing vibes. Slower and more refined it’s the musical version of sunbathing, late night seafood tapas dinners, while holiday psychosis breaks out on the tables around you. Los Cocodrilos has a drone quality to it as the rhythm section barely gets out of first gear, but this change in tone shows off that The Zephyr Bones don’t just do bangers. The star of the show however is Let’s Spit Our Bones into the Sea. Sounding similar to Blur-She’s So High, the song twists and turns, very much like the Vuelta a España, until the delightful outro.

 

 

Wishes/Fishes isn’t your usual Spanish summer holiday soundtrack. Instead of massive beats and maracas, crunching guitars jostle with lurid synths while under pinning whole thing by vocals that drift over you, like subtle hint of sea salt in the air as your walk to and from the sea front restaurant as the sun slowly sets behind a fishing port or marina.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Teen’s from American’s Heartland up the ante on new EP

 

 

Furnsss have done something very clever. They’ve pulled off the oldest trick in the book. Making some look easy. While their music sounds like half-baked jam tracks, they aren’t, and their playing is slapdash and amateur, it’s not, they’ve given the impression that they don’t care, or this is some joke. In a way this might be true, but you don’t joke around with songs of this quality.

 

 

Since the end of June we’ve been counting down to the release of Furnsss’ new EP New Moves. Like their previous releases it’s a disjointed ramble through slacker rock, lo-fi indie, while being peppered with melodious hooks and catchy guitar lines. Considering that the band graduated from high school this year, it’s even more impressive.

 

 

The themes of New Moves are nothing new, teenage angst, unrequited love and having fun with friends, but what is different is the starkly honest lyrics, they almost seem like a stream of consciousness at times, and the level and scope of musicality. Instead of writing songs in the vein of anthemic stadium rock bands, or blending Socio-political punk pop or riffing to an inch of their lives, Furnsss have chosen to follow a path not as well trodden. Namely fuzzed out shambolic lo-fi indie.

 

 

Where Furnsss differ from their peers is not only that they have something to say, they do, but the way they approach composition is refreshing. Instead of a wall of feedback, hundred miles an hour drums and shouty raspy vocals, they’ve cocooned themselves in displaced guitar lines, confused organs and abject vocals to create an atmosphere of coherent mayhem.

 

 

In a short period of time Furnsss are slowly amassing a loyal cult following. This is backed up by New Moves being released on cooler than thou New York label 80N7. If Furnsss keep their heads down and keep squirreling away in basements, garages and low rent rehearsal rooms, they’ll have material that will surpass their already flawless back catalogue. Oh how I envy their position…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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8bit ghetto swag bass music

 

 

Over the past few years French producer Big Dope P has been making a name for himself on the bass music scene. When not remixing the crème de la crème he’s playing all over the world for adoring crowds. In April he released the amazing Hit Da Blokk EP, somehow he’s now managed to find time to create a track for Activia Benz’ ilovesingles.club.

 

 

Still Hood showcases his unique brand of bass heavy Hip-Hop and electro beats that have set him aside from his peers. Opening with woozy synths, but it isn’t until thirty seconds in when the track starts to come into its own. Heavily flanged samples rub shoulders with heavy basslines and downtempo beats. A retro feel permeates the music, and the backing track sounds like it was lifted straight from a NES game. If anyone ever made a soundsystem out of Game Boy speakers, this would be the music they played through it.

 

 

The only thing that slightly ruins the track are the vocals. They don’t really say anything and the Still Hood refrain would have been find on its own. Having said that this is another example of if you look underneath the commercial top layer of electronica and dance music, there is plenty of good stuff going on.

 

 

 

 

 

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As the 30th Ealing Jazz Festival rolls on, all eyes are on the South Stage to provide its usual blend of quirky, dance oriented jazz for Saturday afternoon and evening. This year they’ve surpassed themselves as there are some hidden gems, if you need an antidote to the main stage.

 

 

Lydian Collective

 

 

Kicking Saturday afternoon off in fine fashion are the Lydian Collective. Their brand of instrumental fusion should have enough groove and intricacy for jazz connoisseurs as well as people enjoying listening to music in the sun. Be at the South Stage from 14:30 or miss out on something remarkable!

 

 

 

 

Paul Carmichael’s Flight

 

 

On the Main Stage from 15:45 Paul Carmichael’s Flight are adding some funky grooves to the proceedings. It’s jazz with a soul pop twist thanks for guest vocalist Vanessa Haynes. They’ll be doing numbers from their album Wax is Melting as well as some well-known and lesser known covers. This has lazy Saturday afternoon written all over it!

 

 

 

 

Smitty’s Big Four

 

 

Smitty’s Big Four bring the good times with their Dixieland flavours. What’s most striking about the Big Four is their age. The whole band are virtuosos in their respective disciplines but they’re hungry for success and that all important round of applause at the end of every song. They’ll be on stage on the South Stage from 16:00. It’s perfect music for a late lunch, or a mid-afternoon bop.

 

 

 

 

Immigrant Swing

 

 

Following on the heels of Smitty’s Big Four its Immigrant Swing. This Bristol based Riot Swing outfit somehow incorporate Gypsy Jazz, Blues, Mediterranean Folk and Hip Hop to every song without it ever sounding cluttered or forced. MCspokeMao’s version of beat poetry is something that needs to be seen live! Oh you better bring your dancing shoes that this one might get jiggy…

 

 

 

 

Nomad Collective

 

 

Just when you thought that the South Stage couldn’t get any more diverse and eclectic Nomad Collective come along. Slowing things down a bit after Immigrant Swing, their brand of laidback global jazz is the perfect thing to sit and rest your tired feet. With over a dozen members from various countries around the World all making London their home, Nomad Collective isn’t just a name, it’s a way of life. Come, sit and chill to their world music vibes.

 

 

 

 

The Fontanas

 

The Fontanas bring the South Stage to a close the only way they know how, with a Latin street party. What the Fontanas do best isn’t just reserved to jazz circles, oh no, what they do best is bring collectives of people together and get them to dance and have a good time. Their unique brand of upbeat Latin infused Ska is the perfect way to end a great day of live music.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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New York Neo-Psychedelic trio come up with the good on new single, as if they wouldn’t…

 

 

Something has to be said for keeping it simple. Intro, verses, choruses and outro. That’s exactly what Sunflower Bean deliver on new single ‘I Heart Voices’. On paper this might not sound that exciting, but listening to it is another thing. Opening with a steady thumpy bass riff until the guitar and drums join in, things look to be going on a Sabbath vein until a minute in they change gear and Sunflower Bean let rip. Before they were poodling around keeping to the speed limit, then they’re speeding around the M25 with the top down.

 

 

What separates Sunflower Bean apart from their peers is in Julia Cumming and Nick Kivlen they have an upfront that rivals anyone else. Their call and response vocals are mesmerising and the complement each perfectly. Cumming’s higher range floats delicately above Kiveln’s more monotone delivery. They also have the musical chops to dish out massive slabs of riffage, and know when to reel it in and slow it down. I Hear Voice is a masterclass in this.

 

 

After hearing something that is nigh on perfect you start to worry. Not whether they are the real deal, they are, but where can they go from here? Hopefully from the toilet circuit to the main stage! In four minutes they’ve decimated their competition. As Beyoncé once sang “Baby, you doin’ something right, You just cancelled every other man here”, remove man and insert band and B’s got it right!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The 30th Ealing Blues Festival properly underway today. If last year’s festival is anything to go by the range and variety of musicians will cement the Ealing Jazz Festival even further with not only finding the best established acts in the world of jazz, but also the next generation of young and up and coming musicians.

 

 

Nick Mills and the Blue Note Project

 

 

Taking to the main stage at 17:45 on Thursday Nick Mills’ Blue Note Project will kick things off in a classic jazz vein taking influence from the legendrary Blue Note label’s 1960’s releases. Fans of Art Blakey, Joe Henderson and Horace Silver should check this set out!

 

 

 

 

Jeh

 

 

Jeh aren’t for everyone, but they need to be seen though. While they have a jazz background they pull in elements from electronica and noise rock to create something beautiful but changeling. They will be gracing the South Stage from 19:30 on Thursday.

 

 

Selectric

 

 

Everyone at thisyearinmusic is a big fan of Selectric. Fundamentally what Selectric do is use jazz time signatures, but add a horn and string section to, along with Math-Rock influences to create something infuriatingly catchy. If you can picture Jaga Jazzist covering Silver Mt. Zion and adding a pop twist, you’re on the right tracks. They close the South Stage from 21:00 on Thursday.

 

 

 

 

Ray Gelato Giants

 

 

After that noise and confusion of the South Stage, why not end Thursday with some high energy swing curtesy of the Ray Gelato Giants. Ray has been playing at festivals all over the world since 1988, so he knows how to put on a good show!

 

 

 

 

So there you have Thursday’s line up for the 30th Ealing Jazz Festival. I’ll see you by the South Stage for some jazz and delicious jerk chicken!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Telegram show they aren’t a flash in the pan with new single

 

 

After jumping into our collective consciousness earlier in the year with the wonderfully catch and filthy Inside Outside on Speedy Wunderground, Telegram are back with new single Aeons. Following on from Inside Outside, Aeons shows this wasn’t a one-time deal.

 

 

The Post-Punk has been turned up, but not at the expense of the song’s pop sensibility. Think Gang of Four covering Sweet. Massive chugging riffs do battle with Matt Saunders’ jittering vocals to create something that is as off settling as it is captivating, like the feeling you get when you watch a wildlife documentary and a predator is chasing its prey. You know deep down what’s going to happen, the orca is going to toy and then eat the seal, but you can’t not watch. The same is true for Aeons. From the opening slabs of guitars and vocals, you have to follow it through to the end, regardless of how much the intensity gets cranked.

 

 

Whether Telegram will be remembered for aeons will remain to be see, but three singles in, they’ve definitely started to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. The big test will be when they eventually release their debut long player. Will Telegram’s verve for glam inspired incendiary indie motorik goodness be overkill on an album? We’ll have to wait and see, but given the strength of these three singles, it should be worth hanging around for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Debut EP from West London riffsmiths showcases their indie blues skills to the Nth degree

 

 

The Chairs are progressive. Their live shows ooze it and debut EP rams it down your throat. While the riffs aren’t as psychotic as on previous releases, there is an overriding vibe that pervades their music. It’s the sound of four young men, who are passionate about music, extremely proficient at playing and don’t want to take the easy route. Their music is rooted in the blues, their time signatures aren’t. Jazz and prog influences pepper their sets. Coming from Ealing, the spiritual home of contemporary music, and being influenced by bands such as Radiohead and the Mars Volta isn’t a bad thing either.

 

The Opening track on The Chairs EP Long Live the King is a pretty acoustic number, think Ry Cooder’s Paris Texas soundtrack and you’re close, which declares that “the blues is the most important music on the planet”. After this opening sojourn the EP gets going in earnest. Bluesy Song does what it says on the tin. Its infectious riff is everything we’ve come to expect from lead guitarist Russell Newman’s playing. In Martin Bonner The Chairs not only have a charismatic frontman, but the kind of voice that sounds like he’s spent his life gargling gravel, eating lit cigarettes an washing it all down with cheap whiskey. On Bluesy Song he not only shows us what he can do, but gives his voice a decent work out. Hands and Knees follows on in the same vein, but the guitars are crunchier and sound larger than life. Pendulum is an optimistic jaunt about the power of positive thinking. As Bonner sings “One of these days it’s gonna swing back my way” you generally believe him and want things to get better. However said blues is depressing needs to hear this. Black and White has an indie disco vibe to it. Krys Szymanski’s hypnotic drumming is the real star of the show. If Black and White was all about Szymanski, Pure Sleeze all about Michael McLoughlin’s pulsating bass work. On the first listen you don’t realise his importance in the back, but after a few successive playbacks you are drawn to it.

 

 

Ultimately The Chairs EP is a perfectly captures their incendiary live shows, but not at the expense of their deft interplay and musical vision. Lyrically The Chairs EP is all about life, love, the universe and everything. In a way you feel sorry for Bonner and co as relationship problems pepper each song, and you want them to be happy, but would they write as emotive songs though? One of the downsides is that you don’t really witness the power and range of Bonner’s voice or the virtuosity nature of Newman’s playing. Also the prog elements have been toned down for more standard composition and production. Debut single What’s the Sound? sounded like the Mars Volta covering the Rolling Stones classic Paint it Black, a couple of tracks like that wouldn’t have gone a miss. However The Chairs EP is everything that we’ve come to expect from West London’s best hidden secret. Let’s hope a follow up isn’t too long in the offing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Last August David Hyde & Neil Bassett, AKA Hyde and Beast released second album ‘Keep Moving’, a slice of 1960’s psychdelica, 1970’s Glam rock/Folk Country and charming pop sensibilities. It was unexpected, and like most unexpected things, totally refreshing. They have now returned with a new EP ‘Hard Times Good Times’. Does the title reference the slightly dour atmosphere that’s recently permeated Hyde and Bassett’s private lives (break up’s and bereavements) during the ‘Keep Moving‘ sessions? We can only speculate, but possibly.

 

Title track ‘Hard Times Good Times’ starts things with a catchy fuzzed out guitar riff and giddy blast of horns that demands to be played as loud as possible, and threatens to go on forever. “Hard Times, Hard times I’m just trying to make you hear me. Hard Times, Hard times when you look you don’t even see me”. However, after an exquisite slowed down instrumental section it’s juxtaposed by the refrain “Good Times, Good Times now you are walking by my side, Good Times, Good Times my feelings for you I don’t hide” are sung. So maybe things, like the weather, are picking up?

 

‘Everything You Want’ sounds like Chas and Dave after they’ve been reading a shed load of Albert Camus and decided to write a break up song. “I tidied up and I tidied out. I never thought about the things I didn’t think about. I chased you up and you chased me out. You never thought about the things you didn’t think about”, but, you know, not quite as Rockney. Never Get to Heaven has a Mungo Jerry-In the Summertime vibe to it. Catchy, but slightly melancholic. Bouncy jaunty guitars coupled with a flute solo makes Never to Heaven a content for song of the Summer. Get Up feels like a reworking of T-Rex’s Pewter Suitor but even more plinky guitars, if that is possible!

 

Despite the jaunty vibes, heartache isn’t ever too far away for this duo. This is the crux of their music, they pick you up with incredible melodies and harmonies whilst bringing you down with heart breaking lyrics, that someone how make you smile. If there is an EP that embodies the Summer this is it. It’s the musical equivalent of an unrequited Summer Holiday crush by the sea. You spend your time making your move, but ultimately the feelings are not returned. You feel sad but the next day you’re fine as the Sun is out, the sea is blue and see someone else who takes your fancy. Plus there are flamingos on the cover. What more could you want?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Landon alt indie pop trio Peluché live up to the hype on new single

 

 

Hype can be a curse. When you release anything it is examined under a microscope, and if its deemed to be less than your previous efforts, you are written off and your career might be over before it started. Just look at whatshisname and thatbandwiththehairandtightjeans. Luckily Peluché not only live up the hype on new single The Guy with the Gammy Eye, they exceed it.

 

 

In five minutes Peluché ardently slant from pop, disco, psychedelica, indie and dance effortlessly whiler simultaneously drifting back to their original idea, then the process starts again. The Guy with the Gammy Eye starts with lead singer Rhapsody Gonzalez is stuck in a shoegazing voetex, while Amy Maskell and Sophie Lowe try to dislodge her by throwing in immense riffs and loops. Once Gonzalez is freed and back with the band the song really comes alive. Surreal lyrics and a smudge of paranoia are backed with dancey psych pop. Oh and when it changes tempo, it’s like having the best dream, waking up and realising it was real.

 

 

Dan Carey, mastermind behind Speedy Wunderground, has picked another amazing up and coming band and inflicted his ‘pure’ idea of producing, the song was written and recorded in 24 hours. This isn’t where Carey’s influence ends, oh no, the swarmatron gets another outing, you know that bit that sounds like a swarm of bees have taken refuge in the studio? That’s the swarmatron.

 

 

As with all Speedy releases this is limited to 250, so better get in now or you’ll lose out on August 10th when it’s officially released…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Eclectic psychedelic electronica producer returns with fifth album next month

 

 

Kelpe records sound like no one else. You can never quite put your finger on it, but you know immediately its Kelpe. In the past he’s brand of psychedelic downbeat electronic hip-hop has grabs you by your ears and not let go until the final seconds of the last track. Kelpe’s 2013 album Forth: The Golden Eagle was a high water mark of the year and his best work so far. It showcased not only his ability to pick the choicest cuts to sample, but also to pick them apart. Lead track Double of Everything, taken from his fifth album The Curved Line follows this pattern.

 

 

Opening with a haunting piano and plenty of glitch, Double of Everything slowly builds up until a subtle wall of sound has been created. Tight breakbeats and illusive basslines form a tight backbone for the tracks synths to swell and recede. Paradoxically it’s ethereal, but in your face. Like a Ghost materialising to scare you, then disappearing as soon as you’re a whimpering wreck with no memory of what happened. At times it sounds like a reworking of the Radiohead classic Everything in its Right Place, but you know less guitary and more haunting and beaty.

 

 

Whether the rest of the album will be in this vein remains to be seen, but so far Kelpe has given us something to look forward to next month. Not only the promise of another flawless album, but another insight into the mind of one of the most underrated producers working today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Day Wave’s debut EP proves that all that glitters is not gold

 

 

“I’m not a kid anymore” is the opening line on Jackson Philips AKA Day Wave’s debut EP. This line permeates the entire Headcase EP. Throughout its five tracks and twenty minutes Day Wave is constantly coming to terms with being an adult, leaving behind the boundaries of childhood and now not really sure what to do with his time. As he continues on opening track Nothing at All “I wake up at 1. So what am I good for? Besides trying to have fun. I do whatever I want, But I still want more. I do whatever I want, Why am I still bored?” What makes this even more effective is the gloriously upbeat music that backs it. Jangling guitars cut through slabs of synths and drum beats.

 

 

Total Zombie is classic break up song. Lines like “Just turn around and then you’ll walk away”, “Let me close your heart, it just takes time” and “Cause I’m such a total zombie, and you’re gone, honey” could only have been written by someone who has had their heart broken. We Try But We Don’t Fit is the EP’s stand out track. With lyrics like “I made a mess, with all of my friends. I Made a mess, and I’ll do it again” It’s an ode to never learning from mistakes and not caring.

 

 

Day Wave’s debut is a perfect snap shot of someone coming of age, and realising they can’t just muck about with their friends getting into petty scrapes and having late nights anymore. They need a purpose or they’ll go mad from boredom. Through insightful lyrics, Day Wave also shows us that he’s not a tourist, and these are things that he’s either lived through, or totally believes in. And it’s this level of authenticity that makes Headcase and exciting listen and Day Wave and exhilarating prospect for the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Folktronic duo find the sweet spot with debut album

 

 

Whenever producers emerge from the desk it always tricky. Yes you might be able to make other people’s songs sound great, but do you have the chops yourself? Some have been successful in creating wonderful albums David Sitek springs to mind, others haven’t been so luckly. Mark Ronson’s Record Collection is a notable damp squib. Now Andy Savours is stepping out of the mixing desk’s shadow and onto the main stage. You might not know Savours name, but if you’ve heard Sigur Ros, My Bloody Valentine or the Horrors recently you might have heard his work. Savours isn’t going along though, he’s teamed up with Birmingham singer songwriter Ali Forbes to form Malpas.

 

 

Malpas’ debut album Rain River Sea is ten tracks of downbeat folktronica, that likes of which hasn’t been heard since Tunng mid 2000’s. The songs sound simple at first Forbes’ vocals and an acoustic guitar wrapped up in a bubble of soft electronica. However the more you delve, the more layers you find. Basslines disguised as synth loops pepper the tracks and harmonies fade in and out at the drop of a hat.

 

 

Lead single Under Her Sails kicks this off in fine form with a twinkling xylophone loop and hand claps until bittersweet vocals and an acoustic guitar enter the mix. The outro is exquisite, with maelstrom-esque synths swirling through the delicate vocals deliver. Where the River Runs follows the good impression of Under Her Sails. It’s more of the same. Melancholy drips through Forbes’ vocals, and through strings and driving bass Savours creates the fitting backing. On new song Sea Decide Forbes shows off his vocal range. When he hits the higher range of his falsetto spectrum Malpas are evocative of Matt Hales from Aqualung but you know, more glitchy.

 

 

Old favourite Promise keeps the album bubbling over with another luscious production from Savours. The Green Light is another slab of downbeat folktronica. The beats are crunchier than on previous songs, and this change in texture is much needed, as the previous five tracks had the consistency of fog. You can see if, but there is nothing to stop you travelling through it. Stand out track Spiders ups the tempo, but just then you think Malpas are about to break out the big guns, the intensity slightly drops and the whole process starts again. The album closes with another new song June Exit Strategy. A plinky plonky riff conjures up Summer walks through country lanes, while hazy synths provide a spot of shade from the baking sun for a reflective rest.

 

 

 

Rain River Sea is at its best when Forbes and Savours are sparing with each other. Forbes throws in a pretty chord progression and Savours blocks and counters with some production trickery. The only real downside to the album is that six of its ten tracks had already been released on previous singles and EP’s. While this is fine for new combers, older followers might have been hoping for a few more new tracks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sophomore album from Lucy Rose sees her musical change direction, is it for the better though?

 

 

In 2010 Lucy Rose appeared on the periphery of the UK music scene. After performing backing vocals with Bombay Bicycle Club she got the attention of Columbia Records and slowly started releasing a string of tracks and singles culminating with her debut album Like I Used To in 2012. The influence and comparisons to Joni Mitchell and Suzanne Vega were as pronounced as her accent.

 

 

She has now returned with her second album Work It Out. While its business as usual, there are some subtle differences going on. Rose recorded her debut album at her parent’s house in Warwickshire. At times it was just her voice and a guitar, so the recordings have an intimate feel to them, almost confessional. This time Rose recorded in Snap Studios with Rich Cooper at the helm. The sound is fuller, and there is more emphasis on a band sound too.

 

 

For You opens the album and it plays to Rose’s strengths. Subtle chord changes with a soaring vocal let us know that success hasn’t changed her song writing, she’s still grounded. Musically though it all changed around the two minute mark. From nowhere breakbeats appear and that song sounds like a remix that would have been shoved on a single in 1999 to make it look like you were getting value for money. Sadly this is the formula for the rest of the album. Our Eyes opens with a poor beat and terrible guitar effects. Like an Arrow is a jaunty number, and just when you think it’s going to remain in a twee-indie folk vein, it goes all Leona Lewis. Nebraska is the stand out track as it’s the most honest, but with all its strings, strumming and mournful piano it does little to remove the bad taste of the previous trio of song. Köln has hints of Kings of Leon with the dainty guitar work, and anthemic echoy chorus, however that beat is back and strips all the poetry and passion out of the track. My Life feels like Rose had had enough of being over produced and stripped things back a bit, but it’s a far cry from what made her debut interesting in the first place. The album closes with Into the Wild and it’s just Rose and a guitar for the most part, and the album ends on a nice note. Shame it couldn’t have started on one.

 

 

 

Work It Out shows that Rose has improved as a songwriter and her voice hasn’t lost any of its power or beauty, when she deviates away from an acoustic ballad the message gets slightly lost. While the compositions and production is fine, the inclusion of synthetic beats distracts. Also the music sounds slightly dated, think late 1990’s tender pop and you’re on the right track. Whether it was Rose’s choice at this slight change in direction or ‘management’ will remain to be seen, but whoever made the decision, made the wrong one. All the charm and grace of her debut has been diluted and what we are left with is music that will soundtrack your lunch or shopping experience somewhere gaudy with ideas above its station. Let’s hope the same isn’t true for Rose and she has time to work it out for her next album.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Electro mavericks team up for latest Activa Benz single club

 

 

Is Honey Soaker a term of abuse, or flattery, chances are we’ll never know. In a weird way I don’t really care, as I’m going to start using it describe anything that is slightly Day-Glo, upbeat, synthy or generally amazing. Luckily all these things make up, possibly my favourite collaboration of the year, Iglooghost and Toby Gale’s new addition to the Activia Benz ilovesingles.club series.

 

 

So far this year Iglooghost has been responsible two of my favourite releases. Firstly his solo outing for ilovesingles.club Inca Cheekbones. It was two and a half minutes of blissed out breakbeats, glitched samples and childlike samples, all drenched in loving technicolour that can only be attained by eating too many Percy Pigs and quaffing a litre of Cherry 7up. Then he teamed up with Mr. Yote for the Milk Empire EP. Two tracks over twenty four minutes of forward thinking bass music. Toby Gale is no slouch either, as last years The Good of the Night release proves. It was seven tracks of lurid ambient dreamwave electronica, the likes of which we’ve not heard for a long time.

 

 

Honey Soaker is the perfect match of these contrasting mavericks. Gale supplies layers of ethereal wool synth texture for Iglooghost to fit inside the parameters of his rigid, acid washed breakbeats and cartoon like vocal shenanigans. Basically it’s the sound of being hit in the face with a fully pumped up SuperSoaker 100 full of glitter and flumps while someone films it for youtube while auto-tuning you before uploading it. Yeah, well Honey Soaker!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posthumous release for Aberdeen’s lost electronic master

 

 

This is a something I’ve been thinking about writing for a while now. Every time I start I can’t get past the first few lines, but now I have a reason to follow through. In December 5th 2015 Ewan Robertson AKA Offshore died while undergoing heart surgery for treatment of Marfan Syndrome*. Whenever anyone dies it’s sad, but Robertson death was totally unexpected, and the shock took a while to get over. He was a gifted graphic designer, musician and his critically acclaimed debut album Bake Haus had been out less than a month on Big Dada Records.

 

 

Two and a half years later Big Dada have announced the release of the Robertson’s follow up Offshore. It was rumoured that Robertson had started working on a follow up at the time of his death, and Big Dada have confirmed that “the tracks were all more or less completed before his death in 2012”. With the help of Robertson’s family and partner Big Dada have pieced the album together and it will be released on the 14th August. While on one can be 100% sure if this album is what Robertson originally intended to release is anyone’s guess, but it’s as close to it that can be achieved now. Artists including Ikonika, Amon Tobin, Blue Daisy, Slugabed, Mamiko Moto, Lockah and Enchante have all contributed remixes for the project.

 

 

Lead single Off Peak is classic Offshore. As with most of his output it bustles with tight beats, laid back basslines, and melodic loops. It’s not as in your face as his early Disboot and Stuff releases, nor as bouncy as his Big Dada EP’s and album, but instead it contains elements of beauty, tender flourishes of warmth and compassion hitherto missing in his work. Ultimately it can only hint at what might have been, yet celebrates his rare and erudite talent.

 

 

All proceeds from Offshore are going to the Marfan Trust at his family’s behest.

 

 

*Marfan’s a disorder that affects the body’s connective tissue

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Nashville instrumental duo let the instruments do the talking on new EP

 

 

It’s hard not to like Steelism. Firstly they are masters of their instruments. Jeremy Fetzer on guitar and Spencer Cullum on steel pedal guitar. Secondly they make the kind of music that makes you smile. Their brand of retro instrumentalism brings up the excitement and enjoyment of hearing Ennio Morricone, Booker T and the MG’s, Keith Mansfield, Marc 4, Rogério Duprat, Luis Bacalov and Daniele Luppi for the first time. Their music is almost otherworldly, as sounds both retro and contemporary at the same time.

 

 

New EP The Drawing Room: Volume 1 draws from all these sources and more. The album opens with the every faithful voice of Emma Clarke informing us that we are at Hounslow Central on the Piccadilly Line. Then a driving beat kicks, reminiscent to that of the tube itself, in and Fetzer and Cullum do their stuff. Though there are no words, you get a sense of movement, confusion, danger and friendship. So like every journey on the tube then. The Serge follows hot on The Tube’s heels. Featuring Brendan Benson making a cameo, it’s more of the same, but without Clarke’s vocals sample. The song feels like it was lifted from the spaghetti western soundtrack, when the hero and anti-hero finally put their differences and through a montage of them shooting cans, riding horses, playing cards, eating beans, fighting unshaven heathens out to make their fortune rustling, and generally being the good hero and likable anti-hero they get ready for the final showdown. It’s nothing short of genius!

 

 

Tintagel slows things down a bit, and shows this duo have a softer side. As we all know Tintagel was the castle where King Arthur, his round table and knights lived. This track taps into this idea of myth and legend. The rhythm section is ticking over nicely as Fetzer and Cullum trade riffs on their respective guitars, while a joyous piano patters longingly in the background. A true delight! The Informant, as the name suggests, if a slightly darker broody beast. Men in trench coats, monochrome bars filled with thick grey walls of smoke and treacherous woman leading you one way so they can get the money and run all come to mind, but then again I do live in Ealing, the home of the British film industry in the oldie days, and that’s how we like things ‘round here. I we had our way this would be the official soundtrack to last orders! The Drawing Room closes things with a luscious and tender ballad. This is the sound of a band playing for the love of it, and it shows.

 

 

After hearing the Drawing Room: Volume 1 you immediately want to hear Volume 2. Sadly this hasn’t been conceived yet you’ll have to settle with the excellent the Intoxicating Sound of Pedal Steel and Guitar and last year’s 615 to Fame. Let’s hope this Nashville duo don’t leave Volume 2 too long, as this is too good not to deserve a sequel!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Canadian quartet’s debut album shows lo-fi ain’t dead!

 

Whine of the Mystic is the debut album from Nova Scotia natives Nap Eyes. The whole album feels like a rehearsal that has been recorded so that they can play it back later and separate the wheat from the chaff. Luckily as there isn’t any chaff,so they uploaded it anyway. Whine of the Mystic is one of the most enjoyable and insightful albums released this year. Showcasing not just their disdain for recording techniques, but for the world they live in too.

 

 

Yes while listening to opening track Dark Creedence you get the feeling that Lou Reed isn’t really dead. He faked his death and now lives in Halifax playing Guided By Voices covers for fun with his mates. Make Something tells us to do something nice for someone today, for no other reason than you can. While this might not be the coolest topic of a song this year, it is one that says more about our cynical times than we care to realise. “Do it now, do it then, it doesn’t matter when” Nigel Chapman croons. Tribal Thoughts is one of the albums stand out tracks. Sounding like any Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream, but you know, lo-fi and a bit tipsy.The rest of Whine of the Mystic follows this narrative pattern with Chapman bemoaning about his lot in life, but also revelling in it. Guitar riffs that shouldn’t work interject with tight sparse drumming. Nap Eye’s have reinvented Johnny Cash’s Boom Chicka Boom sound for the barroom generation. The album closes with No Fear of Hellfire. Through jumbled guitars and drums, and rambling lyrics it brings the album to an almost perfect close.

 

 

This is an album for late night drinking sessions, or late night drives, but never at the same time. The droney guitars and Chapman’s monotone vocals speak perfectly to someone who is locked into a simple task that will take hours, namely getting hammered or travelling long distances. The rhythmic drums, almost train like at times, will synchronise perfectly when road signs whizz past in the darkness and the constant flash of lampposts through the windscreen keep you from falling sleep. The woozy nature of the guitars fits perfectly into someone needing a soundtrack for boozing. As you get more and more inebriated it all starts to make sense and sound in tune, making it the best thing you’ve ever heard!

 

 

Where Nap Eyes go from here is anyone guess. Rumour has it there is another album in the offing this year. Given the strength of Whine of the Mystic’s ram shackled charm, chances are it’ll be another slice of barroom philosophising set to a displaced beat and off kilter guitars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Space Pop debut album has the power to get into orbit, but will it burn up in re-entry…

 

 

The Polaris Experience isn’t your average pop album, but then again Gene Serene isn’t your average pop star. Taking its inspiration from the Mars One Project (a Dutch idea that people could sign up for a one way ticket to Mars in 2027) the album tells the tale of love on a dying planet, a war breaks out and the couple take their chances try to escape Earth after being put in suspended animation. Again this isn’t your average pop album. Themes of love, technology and human interaction are explored, but all within the confines of pop’s musical backdrop.

 

 

One of the main reasons why the album works so well is down to Serene’s choice of producer and engineer Bob Earland. While Earland might not be one of the biggest names in music, he does have a CV that many producers would die for by working with the Radiophonic Workshop. Thanks to his vision and knowledge of vintage synths and sounds he was able to help bring to life the sounds that Serene had in her head.

 

 

The album opens with blips, glitches and loops that set the scene perfectly. You know from the album title and opening ten seconds that this is going to be an interesting ride. When Serene delicately whispers “Time stands still” repeatedly as the song slowly builds layers upon layers of sounds and texture around her, you start to get the full idea of not just the level or production, but of the vision and scope of the album. Travel a Million Miles has a Sheffield synth pop feel to it. As the song threads its way through the narrative of the piece you almost expect Phil Oakley to come in for the chorus. Singularity is glitch pop at its most potent. Serene’s vocals intertwine with chine loops and a lackadaisical bass. When the chorus kicks in you realise this should be in contention for pop song of the year in five months.

 

 

 

 

No War is a more sombre affair, but that isn’t to say it’s without its charm and hooks. Military drums guide you through the Malaise of Serene’s anti-war message. Hold Me is a masterclass of minimal production. There are very few elements on display here, but through Earland’s deft touch it really brings the emotion out of lyrics. The album closes with Weightlessess and Heavily Dream. These slabs of ethereal pop really bring this complex story to its logical conclusion.

 

 

While this is a brave album to make in 2015, it does have its flaws, as all concept albums have in fairness. While the music is exquisite, sublime and celestial the lyrics don’t always follow suit. We all understand that they have to tell the bigger story, at times you feel like crying out for at least one pop song that doesn’t fit so rigidly to the story. Saying that Serene’s vocals are always in keeping with the music. There is a touch of Annie Lennox here too. Not only is it felt in Serene’s vocals, but also the ability to play around with up-to-the-minute technology, but to create something that has warmth and feeling to it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Boys do it again with another slice of bedroom Summer pop

 

 

West London’s Boys are up to their usual tricks and have unleashed another slice of woozy lo-fi surf pop. Ocean has a starker sound than previous singles Summer of Love, Off to New York City and Nice Guys, which showcases Boys ability to not just write lo-fi bedroom pop.

 

 

Bewildered melodies convolute and twist around wistful and melancholic vocals providing the perfect soundtrack to quiet moments of introspection after a glorious day. In short Ocean conjures up walking along the prom as the Sun descends and disappears into the sea on the horizon. The air is slightly cooler and this results in goosebumps on you bare legs. You quicken your pace and head toward the nearest beacon of warmth to plot your next move. Well that’s how I found it anyway.

 

 

 

Despite the problem their name poses to search for them online, the future for Boys, along with the West London live scene looks healthy. If they are capable of writing music of this quality and emotional depth at this stage of their career, it can’t be long before a debut long player graces our ears.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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So just like the summer, August has come and gone. So what have we learnt?

 

 

Mr. David Viner’s welcome return shows that despite he’s aged, his ability to write thought provoking music hasn’t gone

Dave Cloud’s last album is an absolute masterpiece and a fitting way to end such an adhoc and inspiring career

The Zephyr Bones are another in a list of Spanish bands to release forward thinking indie

Rat Columns’ blend of droney rock isn’t just a joy to listen to, but a pleasure to get obsessed by

Trigga, Chimpo and Sam Binga, combined is possible one of the greatest combinations in Grime and UK Hip-Hop

Slim Twig’s slightly skewed eclectic pop music sets him apart from the rest of the pack

Fly Golden Eagle channel 1970’s glam with psych leanings to create one of the most interesting and playable albums of the year

Tom DeMac’s blend of future house is setting dance floors and headphones on fire

Slime’s brand of murky electronica Hip-Hop shows that the UK scene is alive and well

Wholewheat’s new EP pushes lo-fi in new directions

 

 

In live news Du Bellows, Two Hands and The Chairs continue to show that the West London music scene is just warming up and the best is yet to come, as all three start to plot their next slew of releases

 

 

 

 

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