Monthly Archives: June 2015

Midwestern London exile’s 6th album is an eclectic and charming jaunt into 1960’s Beat Pop



Piney Gir is hard to pigeonhole. This is down to her chameleon like attitude to music. As Piney eloquently puts it “If you appreciate many types of music, why only limit yourself to one thing all the time?” New album Mr Hyde’s Wild Ride is twelve perfectly crafted slices indie-pop, but they are underpinned pop, psychedelia, country, kraut rock, folk, electro, with fuzzed out guitars and a smile on her face.



Golden Rules opens with an angelic choir that is met head-on by chugging guitars and infectious fuzzy riffs. Piney’s warm and welcoming vocals deliver something that is part nursery rhyme/part life lesson “It’s not a question of time, it’s just the way that it goes. All that glitters is not gold” she sings. Golden Rules sets up the album perfectly. This is exactly what you’re going to get. However if you listen closely you realise that the songs are linked around a heroine and her loves and losses. Tilt a Whirl sounds like fairground music produced by Joe Meek. Ugly Bones feels like an updated Southern waltz, but with more melancholy levels at an album high. The album closes with a repirse of Golden Rules, with its swirling guitars and violin gives Mr Hyde’s Wild Ride a fitting end.



There is a retro cool vibe that permeates every track. This is in part down to it being recorded in Stereolab’s studio. You can almost imagine Piney and the band decked out in the finest 1960’s garb, playing authentic instruments of the time and the takes are immediately pressed on to 7” singles and the play backed on a Dansette.



The real star of the album is Piney and her delicious vocals. They are the equitant of an ice cold lemonade after a swim on a hot day. Juxtaposed with the music, you feel quenched, but at the same time you feel greedy and want more. As will all twee indie, it does begin to grate due to lack of variety, and like too much lemonade it begins to hurt your teeth and head, but these feelings don’t last long and then you’re back enjoying the album. Mr Hyde’s Wild Ride has been released at the perfect time, Summer is here and this is the perfect soundtrack.








London producer confirms influences on emotionally charged single



London based Sinah sounds like she was weaned on minimal techno and trip-hop as a child. Of course I have no way of proving this sweeping statement, however if you listen to her latest single Loveless, it all becomes apparent. Broody slow tempo basslines are juxtaposed with off-colour beats, while her high register vocals soar and float above everything giving light and space to an otherwise claustrophobic experience.



If this sounds all doom and gloom, then I’ve done something wrong. Loveless, and B-Side Potters are life affirming. The piano and sitar combined create an uplifting feeling that’s hard to just focus on the melancholy melodies Sinha has layered beneath them. Potters is somewhat a dubby affair, more so than Loveless, but this showcases Sinah’s ability not just as a producer, but as an arranger too.



Yes at times Loveless does sound remarkably like Massive Attack’s monumental Teardrop, from the rhythmic beat, maelstrom-esque synths/keyboards and hushed vocals. While this isn’t a bad thing, the influences are a little too obvious at times. Having said that Loveless/Potters are incredible playable and show why Sinah has been getting the hype she has. 2015 looks set to be the year when Sinah shines!








West London troubadours show its business as usual after a rocky few weeks



When you get into a band you, rightly or wrongly, expect it to stay that way for ever. Things very rarely work out like that. For every Super Furry Animals you gets dozens of Blurs, Soft Machines and Sugarbabes. I thought Du Bellows were rock solid as a quintet, but in May guitarist Darley Mylan left the band. The details are still hazy, and it’s not my place list them here, but something wasn’t quite right. The last few times I saw them live I noticed that Mylan’s behaviour was getting more and more ad hoc and his attire more and more outlandish. While I don’t have a problem with people in bands dressing up, I do start to worry if the rest if the band don’t join in as well.



As soon as I heard the news I thought to myself “How’s it going to work now?” Despite his appearance and on stage verbal ditherings, Mylan’s guitar playing really held the songs together and from a few ‘simple’ notes or riffs he could change the feel of a song, adding emotion or emphasising the empathy of the lyrics. Last night at the Troubadour, in West London, was the first time I’d seen the band since his departure. Although I’d spoke to people who has seen them since about the changes and a few members about what to expect the next time I see them, I still wasn’t 100%, in my head at least, how it was going to pan out.



The Troubadour was rammed and due to the heat outside, it felt like a Turkish bath at times. But a Turkish bath you could drink and listen to great music in. Opening act was Finish singer songwriter Tomi Saario. He was fine, in a James Bay/Morrison/Blunt kinda way. Basically you’ve heard it all before, even down the to the ubiquity cover of Leonard Cohen/Jeff Buckley’s Hallelujah. Next up was London based Lauren Ray. Her set was piano/keyboard driven and while her songs were pleasant there wasn’t much in the way of feeling or variety to her set. If Ray was your mate it would be great to go and see her perform, sadly she isn’t so after a few songs I started to clock watch.



Du Bellows too to the stage about 9:30 and for the next forty minutes they had the audience eating out of the palm of their collective hands. Old favourites like Dry Flowers and Isa rubbed shoulders with new tracks. Now I know what you’re thinking, was Mylan’s absence noticeable? The answer is yes, but maybe not for the reasons you think. The first difference was rhythm guitarist TJ Shipton had interspersed his dextrous playing with elements and lines from Mylan’s parts. Also bassist Richard Leeds had also begun to incorporate old guitar runs in his playing, at times if felt like Leeds was playing rhythm guitar with his bass. David Watkinson’s drumming had also grown to fill the gaps left by Mylan’s. But the major change was Jade Williams seemed comfortable at the front, with her beautiful hybrid of ethereal, yet profound vocals taking centre stage. After they finished the stage was rubble and the remaining bands looks slightly worried as to how they’d follow that up, which they sadly couldn’t.



So it’s business as usual with Du Bellows. They’re still making euphoric and anthemic driven rock, think Fleetwood Mac with Geezer Butler and Richie Blackmore and you’re close. Yes there were two or three moments where Mylan was missed, but I know that the band are well aware of these blackspots and are thinking of inventive ways to fill them in. What’s more the new material sounded phenomenal. It can only be a short time until one of West London’s best hidden secrets bursts out and take their place on main stages across the country.







After a 15 year recording hiatus Loop return with first of a trio of releases



Late 2013 saw Loop take to the stage in the first time in over a decade to perform and curate the last All Tomorrow’s Parties festival at Camber Sands. After this monumental show we all hoped that new material would surface. In June 2014 Loop announced that they would be disbanding. Our hopes died with that email. However the very next day Loop’s frontman Robert Hampson announced that two new songs had been written and they would carry on with a new line up.



This week finally sees the release of the first new material since 1990 in the shape of Array 1. The new line up consists of Hampson on guitar and vocals, Hugo Morgan on bass, Neil Maskell on drums and Dan Boyd on guitar. At times it feels like not much has changed, sound wise, this feels like the most immediate and exciting line up since the heady mid 1980’s releases.



Precession starts Array 1 with a heavy repetitive guitar riff, while the bass bubbles underneath and the drums counter point the dense of guitars. At times this is an impenetrable five minutes and very little is going to tell the passages apart. This however is part of its charm. There have been a lot of pretenders to the drone throne, but few have the impact and brunt of Loop. Aphelion has an Indian vibe to it, but it follows the same blueprint of Precession. This is another five minutes of opaque drone. Coma sees the band start to extend instrumental pieces, so that they resemble lurid soundscapes rather than cohesive pieces of music. Give the title however it all works. The star of the show is Radial. If Coma was a lurid soundscape, Radial is Avant-Garde by comparison. At just shy of twenty minutes it takes its time setting the scene and gently building up to its lusciously monumental peak, before a slow and subtle outro brings everything to close. This played live has the prospect to never end and get to deafening proportions.



This is everything we’ve come to expect from Hampson and co, and in a weird way the wait has been worth it. The only real downside to the release are the vocals. Unlike so many other Loop releases these feel like an afterthought, and sadly the songs would have been better as instrumentals. The real highlights are when Hampson, Morgan, Maskell and Boyd just play, and their decisive interplay creates swaths of melody and noise. This is the first of a trio of releases promised for 2015, and another appearance at ATP’s Iceland festival. If their recent dates and 2013 ATP’s performance is anything to go by, this will be another chapter to add to the almost mythic canon of Loop.







New York’s premier lo-fi label release new 7” by Connecticut quintet



80N7 have done it again. In March they released the fantastic debut album by Jake Rollins. It was thirty four minutes of bedroom pop meets slacker lo-fi that put your faith back in independent music. Now they’ve returned with a the New Moves 7” from a teenage Connecticut quintet Furnsss.



Opening with the line “I’m just a kid, but life’s not a nightmare” Furnsss deliver stream of consciousness lyrics over fuzzed out melodies and crunching bass and drums. Considering that band is comprised of teenagers this is heady stuff, as they’re showcasing a level of musically and world view that is older than their years. Yes at times Slow Dark Water sounds like Pavement, or some kids trying to be Pavement in a friend’s garage, but what’s really wrong with that? Given the strength of this, and last year’s debut album Silent Gold, Furnsss are way ahead of the game.



The only downside to New Moves is that it isn’t out until August but Slow Dark Water, and last year’s Silent Gold should be able to hold us all until then!



Pre-order the 7” at 80N7, but hurry as stocks are limited!







Independent label continues compilation saga with tender fourth volume



The good people at Killing Moon Records have returned with the fourth volume in the New Moons saga. As with Volumes the previous volumes, they’ve showed us the best new, unsigned and undiscovered bands kicking around today. On previous albums they’ve stuck to indie, emo and rock, but on volume IV they’ve branched out to dream-pop, post-rock, neo soul and hip-hop.



Opening track Lake Summerene, by the aptly named Record Start gets things going in fine form. A heavy chugging riff permeants the track and the joyful vocal harmonies add a great addition to what was already a killer track. Best Thing by Sykes is a slice of forward thinking electro pop. 1980’s keyboard stabs intertwine with a surging bassline. The Kenneths update the power punk/pop formula and create something that is as infectious as it is playable. Killing Moon resident Remi Miles shows again why he is a shining light in the UK music scene. Boy Scout slow things down a bit with their slightly ambient, slightly electro skewed take in pop. Racing Glaciers close the album with the exquisite What I Saw. This slow burning indie pop song really put you through the ringer with its charged emotion and intricate playing.



Melody, melancholy and compassion run through New Moons: Volume IV. This is a subtle change from the bombastic visceral nature of volumes one to three. A couple of the tracks feel slightly out of place though. Moors’ track Gas sticks out like a sore thumb. While there is nothing particularly wrong with Gas, it’s a competent hip-hop track, next to lucid dream-pop, full on bangers and neo soul, it doesn’t really work. Yes we get that Killing Moon are trying to show us what else their into other than guitars, that’s cool, but maybe put out a comp that reflects this, instead of trying to segue it on to this album. Also its position as the second track shows that they’re happy to get it out of the way quickly, so the rest of the album flows. If this comp is anything to go by, the future looks bright for this London indie even if the music leads you believe something else.







The Death of Pop release this Summer’s anthem with a twist



The Death of Pop are masters of writing songs that sound fantastic. They’ve always done it. Tell Me My Name is an insanely catchy, but moving song. Kiss Me Quickly carries more of a kick than its name belies. Whenever is a full on banger, chocked full of harmonies and woozy guitar-lines.



Over the winter they’ve been hibernating in various studios and rehearsal rooms plotting their next move. The first fruits of their labour, the Bubble Bath EP, is due for release in July, and it looks to continue their tradition of releasing exquisitely sounding music. To mark this announcement Rayban Party has been thrust out into the world. It’s a fast, frenetic slice of summer indie pop. What’s more form the opening lyrical guitar riff, to its beautiful harmonies Rayban Party is irrationally addictive. It screams “SUMMER IS HERE! CALL EVERYONE ONE AND LET’S HAVE A BBQ IN THE SUN.”



However if you dig a little deeper, you get a considerably different message. While the music is a gorgeous wash of summer fun, the vocals on the other hand are delivered with a sardonic deadpan precision last heard by Messer’s Bruce and Hicks. Rayban Party is a call to arms against the torpidity and banality of modern culture. It’s a middle finger to anyone who aspires and admires the moral ambiguity that the Entourage and Made in Chelsea is pushing. The army of ‘hipsters’ who think just because they’re wearing bright orange Raybans it makes them somehow aloof from the rest of humanity and it’s their given right to twat about with their mate Tarquin in financial sales.



Sorry about that, I don’t know what came over me. Rayban Party is basically a protest song dressed up as a massive slice of Summer shoegazing fun. You can either see the irony and despondence in the lyrics or you can just think it’s about you and your Bru’s having a great time with your guns out in the sun wearing your sunnies. It’s down to you.







South West school leavers look set to start a revolution

When Art is Hard started their mission statement was simple. Finding out and releasing music by exciting South West Bands. As they put it “f you didn’t live in Devon, Dorset, Cornwall or Somerset your name wasn’t down and you weren’t coming in” As with all great sweeping statements, it didn’t last long, but they have always keep their eyes, and ears, in their catchment area. For the sixth edition of the Hand Cut Record Club, quickly becoming my main reason for time to speed forward every two to three weeks, they’ve picked a band close to their heart and more importantly close to their home. Dog meet the world, the world this is Dog.

This trio from Devon haven’t been around too long but they are looking to create a stir. Debut track Pills appeared online three months ago, and with its lazy 1990’s slacker cool ethos it’s almost impossible not to play on a loop for hours. It showed that while Devon might be off the musical map, historically speaking, that there are band out there who, well, don’t care and are making achingly gorgeous music.

New song All Dressed Up Not Dancing, Hand Cut Record Club #6, shows a deft skill for melancholy and understatement. For three and a half minutes the song bubbles along and rarely gets out of second gear, until the turmoil laden outro. Yes it doesn’t need it, that’s not the point. This is lo-fi, and lo-key slacker pop at its best. What’s most surprising is that the jaunty keyboard is the star of the show, it gives All Dressed Up Not Dancing space to breath as it isn’t being over powered by an oppressive guitar and limited vocals.

What Dog represent is a feeling that you don’t need to come from cultural hotspots like London, Manchester, Leeds or Brighton to get noticed and make vibrantly exciting music. This isn’t the last we’ve heard from this Devon trio, and that is something we should all get dressed up and dance about!




Italian Chillwave duo deliver the goods, and more on their exquisite second album

Chillwave is a bit of a dirty word. This is partly down to a lack of understanding on what the genre can and should be. Anything that has retro synths and dreamlike vocals gets banded under the Chillwave moniker. Most of it isn’t that great, but every now and again something is released that gives you faith in the genre. A Copy for Collapse’s second album Waiting For does this in droves.

The title track kicks things off in fine fashion. A simple repetitive keyboard loop plays while other elements, bass, beat, feedback, FX, are slowly brought in to give the track body, purpose and meaning. The last thing to the be added are the vocals. The lyric is just a repetition of “Waiting For”. After a subtle and dexterous build up the track comes alive as all the incorporated elements buzz and intertwine to create something that not only sets up the album perfectly, but is thoroughly enjoyable. Confusion is up next, through piercing keyboard stabs and surging bass, reminiscent of Joy Division at their most claustrophobic, the tracks builds to a woozy beast that lives up to its name. OK, there is structure and it all follows a pattern and cycle, but it is organised disorientation.

The rest of the album follows this blueprint of stark, airless confined production with woozy sythns, wonky bass and vocals compressed and echoy to the point of being almost indecipherable. Grey Sunday closes the album, sounding like classic New Order, but Witch Housey at the same time. It’s sinister, oppressive and with the haunted vocals terrifyingly playable!

The only real downside to Waiting For is that you really have to wait until late night to enjoy it. And even then you need to be constantly driving round the North Circular, with the streetlamps flashing over you like a lazer reading a barcode. It’s been two years since A Copy for Collapse released their debut and this has definitely been worth waiting for!




Nashville indie rockers don’t suffer fools gladly on new incendiary single

Bully are exciting. It’s that simple. Lead by singer songwriter producer Alicia Bognanno, their songs have a take-no-prisoners vibe to them that’s hard not to admire. Walls of feedback interlace catchy sludge pop riffs to make Bully something not just to enjoy, but to admire too.

Too Tough is Bognanno laying into people “who don’t have the nerve to live up to their mistakes” she said recently. With lyrics like “Stop trying to blame everyone else” and “You’re trying to wear me down” this is a pretty apt description.

While there is nothing particular new or original about Bully, it’s just the L7/Babes in Toyland blueprint with a poppier twist, their self-produced debut album Feels Like could be one of the highlights of the year, if previous singles Trying and I Remember are anything to go by. The time feels right to get excited about angry lyrics over smouldering guitars and drums.