What? You don’t know about Strange Cages? <insert you name> Strange Cages, Strange Cages <insert your name>, I’ll just leave you to get acquainted…



Do you like contemporary music with a retro feel? Yeah? Awesome! Strange Cages are for you then! Hailing from the south’s seaside pleasure centre Brighton, sorry Bournemouth and New Quay, this trio make songs that sound like your favourite bands of yesteryear, but all modern and 2016. “How do they do it thisyearinmusic?” I can hear you ask. Well true believer the answer is simple. They write amazing songs!



Right, imagine if the Sonics, Music Machine, The Cramps, the Lemon Pipers, Count Five and Jimmy Iovine produced it and gave it a delicious pop sheen. OK, ok, there is more to it than that, but this is the crux of it. Loads of organs, loads of wayward guitars, filthy bass, unrelenting drumming and quizzical lyrics and all doused with a shambolic spirit, so you’re on the end of your seat as to whether they’ll make it to the end of the song in one piece.



But this isn’t the best thing. Oh no. Strange Cages are due to release their debut EP. Ego Killer is set for an early August release, which suits everyone at thisyearinmusic fine, and given the sneak peek we’ve heard, it’s going to define our, and possibly your, summer! Lead single Bam Bam Boom is three and a half minutes of what we’ve come to expect, catchy neo-acid-pop fuelled hysteria. A massive bass riffs kicks things off, and is the driving force of this three and a half minute juggernaut, until the rest of the band joins in and its descents into an existential freakout. Yeah, we knew you’d like it…!











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Massa Confusa team up with the best vocalist you don’t know



Once upon a time there was a band call Retriever. They released some exceptional singles and EP’s and then, just when they looked set to release their long waited debut long player they called it a day. I’m not going to lie, it was a dark day. But now their lead singer, Jackie Purver, has teamed up with Massa Confusa to release a single that packs a musical and lyrical punch.



The opening sounds like a funky version of Kasabian’s 2009 single Underdog, but before it all kicks off like a night out in Wetherspoons, Massa Confusa bring things down a bit, thanks to some clever call and response vocals with Purver. Descension then follows this pattern until it’s gradually ends. The real star show however are the lyrics. “You’re a sceptic, I’m robotic”, “You’re neurotic, Yes You’ve got it” and “You’re hallucinate, Supersonic ” it’s an updated version of Spiritualized I Think I’m In Love, but you know, funnier and less lovey dovey.



Rumour has it that Massa Confusa should be releasing another album by the end of the year, which should be a high water mark of 2016. But let’s hope this gives Purver the impetuous and desire to get back in the studio and deliver another slice of forward thinking post-punk.











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In 2011 a Welsh duo Right Hand Left Hand released a debut album called Power Grab. This wasn’t just a clever title, the music within was full of clever ideas and forward thinking composition. In the intervening years Right Hand Left Hand have played countless gigs and festivals and supported Super Furry Animals, Future of the Left, Los Campensinos and the Mae Shi to name an illustrious few. Now they have returned with their second self-titled album Right Hand Left Hand.



Lead single ‘Tarts and Darts’ picks up from where Power Grab left off, but this time they have expanded their sound by adding layer upon layer upon layer upon layer of devastating riffs that starts to redefine post-rock. From the opening layered riff making Right Hand Left Hand sound like a different band. The time off appears to have focused them more and the math elements are more pronounced than on previous tracks. By the half way mark, when ‘Tarts and Darts’ starts to build toward its monumental conclusion, you’re totally swept along with its vim and vision.



The album doesn’t start this way however. ‘Seat 18c’ eases us into the album gently. There is a slight abrasive feel to the proceedings, but through layered guitars and lyrical drumming and percussion ‘Seat 18c’ moves forward until its delightful outro. This then leads in nicely to ‘Fermat’s Last Theorem’. In a matter of seconds the intensity levels have been heightened and there is an element of menace that the opener was missing. Another subtle difference is that there are lyrics. This lyrics don’t just tell a slightly surreal tale, but add a nice change of texture of tone to opening track ‘Seat 18c’. However this break is fleeting as the remainder of the album is mostly instrumental. If ‘Fermat’s Last Theorem’ was heavier and more erratic, ‘Jack Churchill’ is reminiscent of the opener. It’s a slow burner that has more in common with Kasabian’s third album than post-rock. Atmospheric guitars swell while synths throb and bass ripples all the while a massive repetitive beat keeps things moving forward. It’s like Kraftwerk played at 45 RPM!



The ‘War of Jenkins’ Ear’ is a stand out moment. The music acts like soundtrack to a B-Movie or pulp novel classic that never existed. Cinematic synths jostle with gangster-esque guitars to create a feeling of anxiety and danger. You can almost imagine the her Jenkins’ inner monologue pepper this score like Harrison Ford in the original Blade Runner. As the song draws to a close claustrophobic chines usher in the demise of Jenkins, at his own hand. His war, just like the song is over. The album closes with ‘Spring-Heeled Jack’, another cinematic beast. As the song progresses you get the feeling that Jack is creeping up on this next victim, and after he has struck, he flees into the night before anyone can catch him. This is the exact feeling that you feel after the album has finished. Right Hand Left Hand have stalked you, taken you on an exhilarating ride and finally vanished without a trace as soon as it is over.



While intensity underpins this album, but there are pop hooks that stop it from being something to endure to something that you can actually enjoy. The melodies and riffs are catchy and interesting arrangements stop things getting formulaic and boring. Basically Right Hand Left hand are Lightning Bolt’s little brother that followed their blueprint, but added a pop sensibility to it. This is what makes Right Hand Left Hand sounds like the neo-post-rock opus it is!











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Brighton’s favourite live band returns with not only a new EP, but vision too



Since the release of Tano Dragon and thanks to countless gigs, Merlin Tonto have developed their indie prog sound thanks to Owen Thomas’ carefully arranged synth compositions and Miles Boyd and Stefan Eliades’ pulsating bass riffs and off-kilter drumming. But that’s not all, they have also grown not just as musicians, but as songwriters too. This is showcased in the themes of new EP Baotou. Not just content on setting some trippy synth loops to a beat, Baotou has a fully defined concept. When asked recently what Baotou is about, Miles said “The EP title is named after an industrial city in Inner Mongolia which has this huge man made toxic polluted lake, a by-product of all the industrial activity in the area. Apparently it’s created this dystopian, almost like alien environment which we thought really conveyed the sound and imagery of the EP”.



Although Baotou is made up of four songs, it needs to be played in its entirety and as loud as you can to get the full effect. Lead single Time Pilot kicks things off in fine form. It says “So you liked the last EP and have come back for round two? Good. We’re pretty much the same band, but you might notice some subtle differences…” These differences is that the rhythm section is tighter and the electronics more out there and ultimately it feels like a step up. Shimmering Mist opens with, well a shimmering mist of electronic drones and blips until the band comes together in glorious unison for a few moments and then a slow outro beings. Forest Primeval is chocked full of techno influenced pulses and bleeps, that show the bands influences aren’t just Kraut and Prog rock based. As it progresses it teeters on that brink of breaking and self-collapse, but luckily neither happen. Beat the Sun closes the EP with track that on one hand wouldn’t have been out of place on Tano Dragon, but shows how far they’ve come since then.



Over all Baotou sounds like Holy Fuck writing a twenty minute pop song, while Vangelis producers and orchestrates everything from his framework of synths. Their songs bustle with sci-fi motifs and lo-fi indie prog attitude, culminating in a sound that bustles and pulsates along while glitchy blips and hypnotic loops fire around you.



Rumour has it that the rest of 2016 will consist of gigging and writing and recording sessions for their highly anticipated debut album.








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Coosbay return after a six months break with a new hint at their woozy psych future



In January I stumbled a new band. It wasn’t at a gig, nor was it through a recommendation, I found them the old fashioned way by digging and following leads, man I sound like a detective/Batman, and eventually I found Coosbay. I was blow away by their scope and sound. Now they’ve returned with new song Lover.



This southern psych pop group make a laid back woozy sound that, as I said in January, is full of  luscious harmonies, sparse production, questioning lyrics its captivated me like little else has recently. Luckily Lover is more of the same. But this time the scope and scale of their ambitions is much, much larger. At four minutes long Lover slowly twists and skews itself along. Laidback guitars, sounding somewhere between Pink Floyd a-la Dark Side and Manchester’s early 2000’s indie psychers Orange Can, but with the vocals sounding more like Robert Harvey, him from the Music, than before. This works wonderfully well as in frontman George, they have a guitarist and vocalist who knows what he wants to do and more importantly how to do it.



While listening to Lover I’m reminded of the TV show Bored to Death. Coosbay would be the perfect addition to the much rumoured feature length episode/TV Movie. Throughout the series they have always picked quirky forward thinking indie rock, and this is exactly what Coosbay are. Live Coosbay are incendiary, and recorded they answer more questions than they ask. It can only be time before they put out an EP. But until then Why Do I and Lover will do us fine!











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South Korean ethereal dream pop group release the musical equivalent of a freeze pop on a summer day



In two hundred words I’m going to tell you about something wonderful and hopefully make you a fan of this unique and exciting project.



For about a year South Korea’s Janice and the Pink Monkeys have been releasing slices of electronic dream pop. This is personified, and intensified, on their new release This Girl Harriet. Consisting of only three songs, but don’t think you’re being short changed, each track is at least twenty minutes long, we’re taking on a journey through a lurid musical landscape where there are no corners and everything is both fluffy and bubbly. Imagine a longer, slower version of Brian Eno’s classic Deep Blue Day and you’re on the right lines.



As the three songs, Harriet, Harrier Harriet and Never Afraid, take their time slowly snaking and roaming through vivid dreamscapes there isn’t really a stand out moment, apart from the start of This Girl Harriet to its delightful end. There is another reason to adore this EP. During the creative process Janice and the Pink Monkeys wrote, and published a diary about the process. This is a fairly frank, but surreal series of blog posts. If you want more of an insight into this South Korean’s recording procedures click on the link below!



Damn two hundred and fourteen words…








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Cool Ghouls return, but this time they have more fire in their collective bellies



When listen to San Francisco’s Cool Ghouls it’s hard not to think of The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and a whole slew of one single Nuggets band. But don’t be fooled, this isn’t just tapping in to the past because it’s popular and trending.



As frontman Paul McDonald recently said “San Francisco has always been great and hopefully always will be but these days there are things we despise. The lifestyle The Bay once afforded artists has been decimated. This gold-rush of the tech industry is forcing prices up and it’s been a flood of bullshit. Some people are being forcibly displaced, others are disheartened and leave by choice. Our song ‘Never You Mind’ is a reminder to the creative community not to roll over. San Francisco isn’t dead until you let it die in your heart.” So it appears that on their third album, Animals Races, Cool Ghouls have come out fighting. You’d be forgiven, after listening to the comeback track Days that they’ve just released a song full of sunshine and blissed out optimism.



On comeback track Days opens a rhythmic strum of an acoustic guitar before a piano and drums kick in. Imagine a slowed down version of the Velvet Underground classic I’m Waiting for the Man, but with a slight Northern Soul vibe. As the music slowly meanders and chugs along, McDonald’s lyrics get more scathing and biting. “Another day, same as before, and the morning through your window, sheds no light on your door. What’s the use when all you get are days, another gone, another coming yet”.



If this is a sneak peak of Animal Races then we are in for a treat and a response to sugary summer pop songs that won’t keep you warm then the sun goes down.



Animal Races is released 19th August through Melodic








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