Art is Hard and Neurotic Fiction but the jangly in jingle jangle!
As Christmas is right round the corner Bristol’s Art is Hard have decided to give us a present. Well technically they’ve just released the next instalment of their Pin Pal series. This in itself isn’t a surprise, but the surprise is that instead of one single it’s a double A-Side.
The band that is supplying both of these future bangers is Neurotic Fiction. Mediator is a short sharp dose of jangle pop. Neurotic Fiction started as “an excuse for four friends to hang out and write music” and this excuse is paying off as the music they make skirts the thin line between DIY punk pop perfection, which makes sense considering a lot of their songs are “learnt and recorded in one weekend”.
Neurotic Fiction have added themselves to a list that grows longer by the day of bands to watch in 2017. Mediator and Generals, along with their earlier recordings, that this is a band to start getting excited about! Jangle all the way!
Shy Layers release on Growing Bin Records could be the sleeper hit of the year
JD Walsh is a master of melody. He’s sings are chocked full of a pop sensibility that other musicians would love to possess. The real kicker is that he could easily make big and brash summer pop hits, but he’s decided, instead, to make laidback electro pop/Afro-Lounge bangers. They are perfect for playing at BBQ’s, pool parties, or whilst strolling by the sea as the sun sets.
Don’t let the title confuse you as Black and White is anything but! Woozy synths mix with choppy Afro-beat rhythms and heavily vocodered vocals. You don’t really know what’s going on as the Afro-Beat and electronic elements juxtapose, rather than complement each other, but there is a feeling of easy and companionship. Famous Faces feels like a reworking of Fleetwood Mac’s classic Albatross, but you know a synth-lounge. It’s a song for long late night conversations and longer drinks. Stabilized Waves is a woozy and wonky soundtrack to your favourite summer holiday. Lazy melodies and rhythms jostle for your attention, whilst never exerting themselves as the temperature is too high. You can almost see the heat waves coming from the speakers when it plays. This is a fantastic piece of music and when the Afro-Beat guitar kicks in you’ll get even more comfortable on your sun lounger.
Holding it Back picks up the pace a bit with a driving bassline. The beats slowly pop around us while laconic synths engulf us like a summer mist. The vocoder is back, but its inclusion is delightful and really brings Hold it Back together. Bees and Bamboo showcases Walsh’s gift at melody. Throughout its three minute duration Walsh doesn’t hold back. Afro-Beat guitars wash over us continually, as the sea on a shore. Just bubbling below the surface are delicate synths and basslines, but it’s the guitar that is the start of the show here. The album closes with 1977. Again Walsh shows off his softer, melodic side. A shuffling beat welcomes us while a 1970’s-esque vocal keeps everything moving forward.
If any album could be the surprise sleeper hit of the summer, this could be it, but given how you can only get it on vinyl from an indie in Germany, and it isn’t on i-tunes/Amazon might put some people off. Saying that the album is culled from Walsh’s previous two EP’s so it is possible to put it together. Either way this is irrelevant as Walsh has crafted ten songs that appear to be made of pure sunshine and fun. If this doesn’t soundtrack your summer, and if we get one, Indian summer then you’re doing it all wrong!
Shy Layers is out now on Growing Bin Records
Cold Pumas have always been touted to be the business, now, with their new album, they’re living up to the hype
Since their 2012 debut Persistent Malaise Brighton’s Cold Pumas have done the hardest thing. Keeping things on track and staying relevant. This might sound like an easy thing to do, but after that first album comes out and you get a bit of attention, it can sometimes go to a bands head, and by the time album two is released the band have gone off in weird and isolating directions. Remember that band who were once big, oh and that other one who had that song that peoople liked? You know who I mean…
Luckily this isn’t the case on The Hanging Valley. Everything is basically the same, but different. The music is tighter, if that’s possible for a lo-fi indie pop combo, the lyrics get to the chase quicker, but without losing any of their guile and insightfulness and everything is lavishly covered in a filthy Pixies-esque sheen. In short it’s a joy to behold, and listen to.
Listening to Fugue States, and The Hanging Valley, is like reading your own mind’s worse fears and greatest joys. Discouragement, Self-inflicted unemployment, love, the repetition of life’s repetitions, redemption, creative dormancies of romantic contentment, inner-city commute. It’s all there. In thirty eight minutes Cold Pumas describe exactly what it feels like to be alive in 2016, for better or worse. This is their power. They managed to cross class, employment and education and get you right to the crux of the song. And at the end of the day, isn’t that the point…?
The Hanging Valley is released on 19th August on faux Discx/Gringo Records