Friday, 29 March 2013

#74: Cold War Kids - Dear Miss Lonelyhearts

Californian quartet Cold War Kids found their fame the old fashioned way. Almost-constant touring, punctuated only by breaks to record an album or an EP, before then hitting the road again has earned them a loyal following both in their native America and overseas. Now after three albums and 11 singles, they release album number four, entitled ‘Dear Miss Lonelyhearts‘.

This article was originally written for Hooting & Howling. To read the full review, and more, click here.

#73: The Strokes - Comedown Machine

New York-based band The Strokes really need no introduction. They've been making their garage-enthused rock 'n' roll since 2001, with their debut EP sparking one of the largest bidding wars amongst labels in recent history. Their first full length entitled Is This It has received global critical acclaim and earned the band numerous awards. Now 12 years, four albums and countless airmiles later, the band release their fifth studio albumComedown Machine. Not only is it a milestone album for the band, but it marks the end of the bands contract with RCA marking the end of an era, and the start of something new.

Going off the strength of album opener 'Tap Out' you could be forgiven for thinking The Strokes have fallen back in to the trappings of their ill-fated 4th album Angles. However there is something sufficiently more salient about 'Tap Out' than any of the songs featured on the aforementioned. However it is a departure from their garage-rock roots. Something that's upheld by the eclectic and unusually understated 'One Way Trigger' which features an erratic synth pattern and almost falsetto vocals. It's certainly different and a far cry from the Television-esque Is This It but there's still something about the track which remains particularly Strokes-like.

'Made in Japan' is particularly evocative of pre-First Impressions of Earth recordings. Casablancas' signature arrogant swagger is back in almost-full force, although there's a distinct lacking of confidence when compared to their earlier albums. The last minute of the track is easily the highlight as the song picks up and features some chunky bass work courtesy of Nikolai Fraiture.

If 'Made in Japan' is the band almost back to their roots then the track that follows '80s Comedown Machine' is certainly The Strokes we've all come to know and love. The chorus even dares to get heavier than most of their repertoire with a particularly lo-fi vocal making this easily one of the stand-out tracks from the album and a contender for a further single while '50-50- is a chance of pace and at a second under five minutes is also the longest track on Comedown Machine. It's understated vocals coupled with the excellently produced drums throughout make this a personal highlight and possibility of a classic in the making. Halfway through the song soars to unexpected highs and shines with an atypical aesthetic.

Without dissecting and analysing every single track on the album, it's difficult to convey just what this album sounds like. It's all at once undeniably The Strokes, but it's not The Strokes as you know them. Given their contract is up; this could be the band foreshadowing the road their planning on taking now they're free of the constrains of a label. There's still elements of the ballsy garage rock there, but there's also a newer, shinier veneer that the band have encased themselves in. The inclusion of a synth might well deter people who have buried their heads in the sands of the first two albums, certainly on their initial listens, but Comedown Machine is an album that will grow on you. From the preprogrammed Casio-beats to Casablanca's atypical vocal parts across the majority of the album, it's certainly a bold move for a band who's last album didn't fair nearly as well as those that preceded it, but if it's the music they want to make, who are we to stop them. Eclectic and erratic, different and dance-y, there's surely something for even the most stringent of fans.


Wednesday, 27 March 2013

#72: Biffy Clyro - M.E.N Arena, Manchester - 25/03/13

Live review: Biffy Clyro @ M.E.N Arena, Manchester - 25/03/13

This article was originally written for Muso's Guide. To read the review in full, and more, click the link above.

#71: Top 5 Unsigned - 27/03/13

Deadbeat Echoes

Hailing from Winsford, North West, Deadbeat Echoes draw on a multiplicity of influences from across the decades. Their blend of indie sensibility and garage rock mentality is something seriously special and will appeal to both fans of bands such as Kasabian or Arctic Monkeys whilst still managing to keep their sound autonomous. Most recent single 'No Bones' features a bass and guitar combo that's surprisingly evocative of Dead Kennedys whilst singer Jack Fearon signature drawl is timeless. Definitely a band worth keeping an eye on.



Manchester-based Lowline are a band who have been doing the rounds for quite some time. Choosing to "to furrow an altogether grittier, darker path" through the city's toilet circuit, the band have developed a loyal and devout following over the course of their career. It's easy to see why the band have received praise from such esteemed publications as NME, The Guardian and of course, the ever-reputable Sun. Their music is dark and gritty with a slight degree of understated vocal polish. Worth catching before their undoubtable breakthrough happens.


Those Makeshift Heroes

Those Makeshift Heroes are a band with a "sound as big as their personalities". Purporting themselves as a Biffy Clyro-esque band isn't strictly true. The big sounding choruses are there, as is the frenetic drumming, but TMH are very much their own band. Driving guitars crunch and slide in to accessible pop-rock choruses that shine and gleam, just waiting for the Kerrang! audience to pick up on them.


The Nankeens

Salford's The Nankeens are making the kind of music that puts them head and shoulders above their contemporaries. Singer Adam Darby sounds like an English Caleb Followill particularly on 'Reaper', a breathe of fresh air in a city saturated with Gallagher imitations. There music is an eclectic blend of understated aesthetic, chunky bass and driving guitars. Darby's vocals are fraught and loaded at all times, suggesting serious passion for what the band are doing.


Blind Drivers

Sheffield's Blind Drivers are a band who are guaranteed to make you dance. The evocative vocals and feel-good choruses make for an ultimate Summer party band. With most bands from Sheff, there seems to be an unwritten rule for reviewers to compare them to the city's patron saint Alex Turner. Thankfully that isn't the case here, and vocalist Matt Thompson really sets himself apart from any unwarranted comparisons by means of an ultimately superior vocal range.


Tuesday, 26 March 2013

#70: Birds Vs Planes - Narrow Angles (EP review)

Since forming in 2006, Carlisle-based quintet Birds Vs Planes have developed a fan base across the north of England, before breaking out of the local scene and following in the footsteps of bands such as Wild Beasts and Little Comets in garnering fans nationwide. Now, following up their first single 'Sew Up the Sky' the band release their début EP Narrow Angles on Music Bakery records.

This article was originally written for Little Indie Blog. To read the full review, and more, click here.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

#69: Low Tide Theory - The Big Sky

It seems these days that more and more bands are finding themselves indebted entirely to the 1980s. There's and ever-growing reliance on synth patterns and effected vocals that, if truth be told, is growing really quite tiresome. Thankfully North Devon's Low Tide Theory manage to encapsulate an era, rather than emulate it. Take that as you will, but personally I've more time for a band who have perfected the nuanced conventions of a genre as opposed to just cottoning on to the obvious aspects and calling it a day.

This article was originally written for Little Indie Blog. To read the full review, and more, click here.

Friday, 22 March 2013

#68: Shannon Hope - Shannon Hope (EP review)

Bury St Edmunds isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you think of DIY punk aesthetic, but that’s just where once punk, now folk singer/songwriter Shannon Hope honed her trade and developed her talents as a musician. Now, eschewing the aggression of her former bands, Hope releases her self-titled début solo EP.

This article was originally written for God is In the TV Zine. To read the full review, and others, click here.

#67: At the Drive-In - Acrobatic Tenement

Album review: At the Drive-In - Acrobat Tenement (2013)

This article was originally written for Muso's Guide. To read the full article, and more, click the link above.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

#66: Mt. Wolf - Hypolight (EP review)

In a year in which both electro and folk have dominated radio airwaves, it was only a matter of time before someone fused the two together. Enter South London-based quartet, Mt. Wolf and their eclectic blend of quaint folk, ambient atmospherics and moody bass. Their début EP entitled Life Size Ghosts was met with favourable reviews, earning them comparisons to likes of Alt-J and The XX. Now with their sophomore EP Hypolight, the band look set to uphold the same positive praise that they found with their début.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

#65: David Bowie - The Next Day

David Robert Jones, better known as David Bowie has been gracing the British public with various blends of his music since 1962. After a multiplicity of failed releases with several ill-fated blues bands, Bowie struck out on his own in 1967 and never looked back. His albums have spanned both genres and generations, garnering him legions of fans across the world. From his flamboyant androgyny through the 1970s and his involvement with the new romantics in the 1980s right down to his production of soundtracks and even starring in films himself there's not much that Bowie hasn't done over the course of his 50 year career. Now, 45 years after his self titled début, he releases his 20th studio album,The Next Day.

Fans awaited this album with baited breath, given that it's been a decade since he had last released album and even longer since he last released one worthy of his own legacy. After quietly leaking 'Where Are We Know?' on his 66th birthday, many thought The Next Day would be a continuation of the single. The truth is, the majority of tracks featured across the album are nothing at all like the single. Whereas 'Where Are We Know?' is perhaps meant to be Bowie's very own 'Perfect Day' minus the heroin, the rest of the album is an eclectic mish-mash of varying genres; much like his career.

Fourth track 'Love is Lost' is synth heavy and emphatic, a crunchy guitar perpetuates the intro while the verses are unmistakeably Bowie. The whole song is a dark and broody affair which encapsulates the alienation ultimately felt by Bowie himself throughout the course of his career. The song reaches a crashing climax featuring multi-layered vocals and impressive harmonising that adds to the overall aesthetic. Track 8, on the other hand, 'I'd Rather Be High' is brilliantly upbeat and is one of the best vocal performances on the album. A dreamy chorus springs to mind some of Bowie's earlier work and would be perfectly suited to a Summer's evening in a beer garden. The guitar leaves behind the chunky riffs that populate a lot of the tracks on The Next Day and is melodic and harmonious, taking a cue from some of the more contemporary indie-pop bands.

'Dancing Out In Space' features some fantastic brass work, even if the drumming falls a little flat as it rarely changes. Uplifting and melodic, the silky smooth jazz-fused veneer is given an edge in the form of Bowie's vocals which are somewhat abrasive, keeping in fitting with a song that's disconcerting and different, but one which is sure to grow on you.

'(You Will) Set the World on Fire' is just all out classic rock. A chunky guitar riff drives the song forward throughout the first half and hears the vocals sounding particularly sleazy. The second half of the album however, takes a change as he's joined on vocals by Gail Ann Dorsey and Janice Pendarvis, and though the driving guitars are still there, particularly in the solo, the male/female dichotomy gives further edge to a song that would have come off as formulaic and filler without it.

'You Feel So Lonely You Could Die' is perhaps the song on the album most similar to first single 'Where Are We Now?'with a higher degree of optimism and much more uplifting. The song closes spectacularly with further appearances from Dorsey and Pendarvis.

Long time fans of Bowie, who felt somewhat slighted by the single take from The Next Day will be pleased to know that this album is a veritable orgy of different influences and moods, rarely straying in to the slow and mournful realms exhibited by 'Where Are We Know?' In fact, unlike many of Bowie's contemporaries, whom try and capture the sounds of their heyday and rehash the same old formula, here Bowie has branched out and incorporated a multitude of styles across the 14 tracks. While not quite reaching the same levels of avant-garde of some of his 1990s outings, The Next Day is still quite an experimental album, particularly with last track 'Heat' which needs to be heard to understood; words won't do it justice. This album earned Bowie his first number one since 1993's Black Tie White Noise and it's easy to see why. This whole album is something that needs to be listened to in it's entirety several times to allow the almost bipolar nature of it to fully sink in. This isn't Bowie at his best, but it's bloody close and a damn fine comeback album.

#64: Top 5 Unsigned - 19/03/13

Tingle in the Netherlands

Manchester duo, Tingle in the Netherlands are creating an unusual blend of atmospheric electronic dream-pop that lacks any of the broody darkness perpetuated by their synth-tinged contemporaries. Sounding like Kraftwerk if they did the soundtrack to a perverted Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy definitely works for this duo. Eclectic, tongue-in-cheek, somewhat sleazy, definitely game-changing, Tingle in the Netherlands are a band to keep an eye on. For fans of Le Tigre and Tegan and Sara.


Friday Club

Hailing from Birmingham, Friday Club's indie-pop sensibilities will appeal to fans of bands such as The Libertines, The Jam and any member of indie royalty. 'Fall Down Kids' has a distinct garage rock vibe to it, sounding at times like a British Ramones. The band are relatively new on the scene and would benefit hugely from some wider exposure. That said they're a band with bucket-loads of potential and with a new EP on the horizon they should get the publicity they deserve.


Bad Cardigan

Blackburn-based acoustic duo Bad Cardigan are a band that have been on my radar for a few weeks now, and a band I've never had chance to cover. The musical virtuosity and lyricism these two exhibit is really quite phenomenal. Subtle guitars decorate and ornament almost-poetic lyrics across the vast majority of their tracks. Quaint and candid with a good degree of colloquialism, Bad Cardigan are a band who are bound to go places.


King Kartel

King Kartel are a band without compromise. Based between Newry and Manchester allows singer Hugh McCreesh's vocals to stand out amongst the usual Gallagher-tinged accents of other Manc bands. Their music is as loud as it is radio-friendly. Heavier songs such as 'All Talk No Trousers' leads in to Kasabian territory whilst 'Aftershock' is the no-holds-barred party anthem that every indie band has in their repotoire. Having seen McCreesh's earlier band The Genuine Articles, I know that at least a few of these lads are capable of producing the same sound live as they can on CD. Quality lads making quality music. Don't let them go unnoticed.


Lost Cassettes

Huddersfield-based Lost Cassettes are injecting a big can-do, fuck you punk attitude in to West Yorkshire. Fast paced and aggressive, the band are combining the best elements of punk, garage rock and indie in to an amalgamation that dares you not to dance. Sounding like like a contemporary Buzzcocks or Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers, Lost Cassettes are a band best listened to loudly with an inordinate amount of cider.


Check out last week's Top 5 Unsigned!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

#63: London Grammar - Metal & Dust (EP review)

EP review: London Grammar - Metal & Dust (2013)

This article was originally written for Hooting & Howling. To read the full review, and more, click the link above.

Friday, 15 March 2013

#62: Introducing...Van Susans

Bromley quintet Van Susans have gone from strength to strength following the release of their 2012 début 'Paused in the Moment', which earned them support from the likes of XFM and BBC6 music. Drawing on a number of different influences, including Jimmy Eat World and Jack's Mannequin amongst others, it's easy to see how the band have come to sound like they do. Melodic and radio-friendly instrumentation serves as the backdrop for candid lyrics that show singer Olly Andrews wears his heart firmly on his sleeve at all times.

This article was originally written for Little Indie Blogs. To read the rest of the review, and more, click here.

#61: Introducing...Tim Scott

Influenced by a multitude of classic guitarists such as Carlos Santana; Joe Satriani and Jeff Beck, Tim Scott, creator of the ‘guitar mashing’ genre has been making a constant presence in the world of guitar from 2001 onwards. After quitting the covers band Tim played in, he treated himself to a bass and some drums before building himself a studio and setting about making his plans for world domination. Now a solo artist in his own right, Tim has been combining guitars with dance music since he was head-hunted by DJ Judge Jules to collaborate with and eventually perform at the Radio 1 weekend in Ibiza. Now, 8 years on, his dizzying blend of guitar-dance otherwise known as ‘guitar mashing’ has seen him go from strength to strength.

This article was written for Ears On. To read the rest of the review, and more, click here


Thursday, 14 March 2013

#60: Jacob's Mouse - The Dot (EP review)

While only being a band for four or five years, Suffolk-based three-piece, Jacob's Mouse left behind a slew of singles, extended plays and albums. Comprised of identical twins Hugo and Jebb Boothby, and singer/drummer Sam Marsh, Jacob's Mouse abrasive lo-fi indie never found the same kind of commercial success as their contemporaries. Now almost 25 years after the release of début EP, the band is reissuing the aforementioned The Dot EP and their début LP, No Fish Shop Parking.

The first track on the EP is 'Sign' and it doesn't take long before the band's trademark abrasive aggression sets in. Marsh's vocals here are nothing but raw; sounding as if they've been coated in something caustic. The ever-present crackle of feedback, when coupled with the vocals, adds to overall aesthetic of the track, making it sound more archaic than it is whilst still upholding the same degree of resonance it had upon release.

'Enterprise' unsurprisingly carries on in a similar vein. Sounding somewhat like The Black Keys playing old Nirvana covers through a busted PA does nothing to mar the bands credibility. The bass rattles at breakneck speed throughout the song and sounds surprisingly clean when compared with that of the crunchy guitar and vocal crackle that perpetuates both song and album.

'Ho-hum' is a particularly 80s tinged affair, and one in which the breakneck speed of The Dot EP takes a breather; at least during the verses. A discordant synth punctuates where the bass doesn't, carrying the song towards inevitable eviscerating choruses. It's in the chorus that this song really makes a name for itself. All the instruments meet in a harmonious cacophony, with Marsh's acid-tinged vocal layer taking no prisoners over the top.

The final track on The Dot is also the longest. Clocking in at just over four minutes 'Microflesh' is also probably the strongest track on the record. A surprisingly melodic synth is again the strongest and most prominent instrument featured, at least for the first half. The instrumentation of the second two minutes sees the song become a swirling sandstorm of a track, slowly eroding whatever it touches. The wall of sound at the end of the song really does it justice, as erratic guitars sweep and soar over feedback and vocal alike.

The best thing about reissues, is an entirely new generation of music fans get to experience records which otherwise might have gone under their radar. Given the fact that The Dot EP and I are effectively the same age, coupled with the relatively obscurity the band operated in, it's hardly surprising that I hadn't heard of Jacob's Mouse before. That said however, if it wasn't for the reissues I wouldn't have had a chance to experience a record that burns at a blistering pace. It's a record that harbours the aggression and the passion of hardcore coupling it with the lofi experimentalism of post-punk and blends them together in an amalgam of brains and brawn; of head and heart. The obvious low production quality might well leave the record open to detractors, but given the fact it was recorded in 1990, I still think it sounds exceptionally fresh, even by today's standards. If you don't check out this EP, you're missing out on something truly special.


#59: Jointpop - Superapple (single review)

Formed in Trinidad & Tobago in 1996, Santa Cruz’s Jointpop are experienced hands in the music game. They merge a multitude of different influence to forge their very own blend of weed enthused melodic, classic rock. The bands Facebook page describes them as sounding like “The Clash being molested by The Beatles while smokin’ with Bob Marley” and this is a pretty fair description of their music.

This article was written for Music Review Unsigned. To read the rest of the review and more, click here.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

#58: Introducing...Apollo Junction

Hailing from both London and Leeds you could be forgiven for thinking that Apollo Junction’s sound might be as split as their geographical location. However, the five-piece make their own brand of delightfully inoffensive electro indie pop that transcends the usual 80s obsessed synth sound in favour of something much more melodic and memorable. 

This article was originally written for Little Indie Blogs. Read the rest of the review, and others, by clicking here.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

#57: Top 5 Unsigned - 12/03/13

Skeleton Suite

Hailing from Manchester, UK, Skeleton Suite are making a unique blend of intense walls of sound and snatched moments of candidness. Songs such as 'Sloth' blend abrasive, aggressive guitars with vocals that bring to mind early Kasabian records. Their chorus are hugely intense affairs that are at times as caustic as they can be uplifting. There's a raw energy that bubbles beneath a surface that at times shimmers like 1990s shoegaze.


Woodman Stone

Woodman Stone are a band who have been on my radar for a number of weeks. Light-hearted lyricism merges with diverse and varied instrumentation. Sounding somewhat like a bridge between The Smiths and bizarrely enough, Neutral Milk Hotel makes for some seriously compelling Summer listening. While possibly not for everyone, their uniquely twee aesthetic is something anyone who considers themselves a musician, or even just a music fan, should spend some time with.

Underwater Picnic 

Galway's Underwater Picnic have been a band since 2009, since then, they've practised and honed their math-rock sensibilities. Now, seasoned in what they do, they make the kind of music fans of early Foals will just about lose their shit over. Angular and erratic guitars dance over determined drums, all the while vocalist and guitarist Ben Rogan upholds a unique vocal that sets them apart from their contemporaries. 


Scotland's Bombskare are doing Ska the way it should be, that is, there's fucking hundreds of them in the band. Not literally hundreds but, well, you get the point. Plethora of band members aside, Bombskare are sure to get you dusting off anything remotely checker-board and skanking the night away like the best of us. Uplifting calypso-esque organs punctuate the off-notes, while a number of vocalists add depth to the vocal tracks, particularly in 'All Dogs Go To Heaven'. Fun and summery and definitely the silver lining to any dark cloud. Fantastic stuff.

Cross Wires

Bethnal Green based Cross Wires really surprised me the first time I heard them. Knowing exactly when to play a note and when to mute one, or one let ring, is a under appreciated skill amongst contemporary musicians, or it at least seems to be. However, 'From the Bowery to Bethnal Green' exhibits this skill brilliantly, when coupled with some excellent effects and a tenacious drummer it makes Cross Wires something really fresh and exciting, Jonathan Chapman's vocals drip with an energy like that of Buzzcocks and suggest harbours a distinctly poetic feel to his lyrics. Definitely a band that needs more attention. Unfortunately their sound cloud doesn't allow me to share a specific song, so I'll just post the link instead.

Check out last week's Top 5 Unsigned!

Monday, 11 March 2013

#56: Orphan Boy - Ruby Lounge, Manchester - 09/03/13

Manchester is a city that is steeped in musical history; it's birthed a plethora of bands and even it's own somewhat debatable genre of music. It's no surprise then, that occasionally you get a gig when the line-up of bands is of such a calibre that it's impossible not to attend. Tonight, at the Ruby Lounge, is one such night. Headlining the bill are Cleethorpes-born, Manchester-bred Orphan Boy who have just completed their second album, a follow up to YEAR Shop Local entitled Passion, Pain and Loyalty. Supporting them are Midlands based The Antics, and local Manc bands Frazer King and Velocets.

First to tonight's stage are Life's A Beech regulars Velocets. Hailing from Stockport, the band play a kind of post-indie that occasionally finds itself bordering on shoegaze although never quite straying . Opening with their first single 'Sophie' is a safe bet to appease a crowd that's still on the thin side, something we can attribute to the 7:45 start time. They change it up with the inclusion of a song so new it's yet to be named, while fan-favourites such as the rip-roaring 'Tell It To Your Kids' and the candid 'Naked' fit in to the set-list like the future classics they are. Velocets are one of the most exciting bands making the rounds at the minute; a breath of fresh air in an scene that's seen it all before. If you haven't checked them out already, you should definitely do so this year.

Second on the bill were The Antics, who blend classic rock style guitar licks with Happy Monday's type vocals in a fusion of sleaze, sex and the obligatory colloquial accent. Playing to a venue that has begun to fill up, the band serves to warm the crowd up nicely as the anticipation begins to mount. The band round their set off with 'Party's Over' but for the crowd, it's really only just beginning.

The third band to take to the stage are Manchester's Frazer King, a quirky and eclectic six piece. By this point the venue is pretty much at max capacity, again they serve as a more than fitting appetizer to tonight's main course. Crowd and band alike by now have sunk their fair share of ciders, and as the band glide effortlessly through the likes of 'Rocking the Cradle' and 'Eunoch Growl', it's clear that the bar has been set particularly high for Orphan Boy.

Finally, as the anticipation in the venue almost reaches breaking point, tonight's headliners hit the stage, opening with the first song from their forthcoming album 'Letter for Annie' in which huge sounding verses are mixed with candid lyrics amidst distinctively crunchy feedback. The crowd reaction to Orphan Boy is as expected for a band back on the road after a three month break and is aided by the size of the venue that only adds to the atmosphere which is palpable. A mixture of old and new songs punctuate Orphan Boy's set, with the likes of older tracks such as 'Middle Class Roots' fitting in neatly next to newer, more recent affairs such as 'Harbour Lights' and 'Popsong'. It's been almost five years since the release of Orphan Boy's début album, but the older songs still sound just as fresh and pack just as much of a punch as the newer tracks which, in turn, exhibits a maturity in their song writing, progressing from 'council rock' to the newly established 'lad art'. The fact that these guys can just coin genres is a testament to their sense of humour, obviously you're not going to find a section in your local record store devoted to 'post-post-punk' but it's a name that fits their music, and it exhibits a distinct sense of light-hearted cheekiness to the band which sets them apart from a their contemporaries.

It's clear tonight that those in the crowd have witnessed three bands which are definitely on the up and up, and headliners, Orphan Boy, who have been missing in action until really quite recently. That said though, it's good to have them back on the scene, and what a way they've gone about it, cementing their name in to the hearts and minds of Manchester's music fans, all the while laying the next stones on the path way to nationwide recognition. Keep on going lads, it's definitely going to pay off.


#55: Spectres - Hunger

Being described by Artrocker magazine as a “tornado tearing through a nail factory” while their Facebook bio simply states 'We are loud', Bristol-based four-piece Spectres are making music without compromise. Blending sheer abrasive walls of noise with ephemeral vocals that glide above the face-melting evisceration beneath them, seemingly unfazed. Their sophomore EP entitled Hunger is a step in a more experimental direction after 2011's Family and sees the dichotomy of understated vocals and balls to the wall noise really come to fruition.

This article was originally written for Little Indie Blogs. Read the rest of the review, and others, by clicking here.

#54: They Might Be Giants - Nanobots

Album review: They Might Be Giants - Nanobots (2013)

This article was originally written for Muso's Guide. Clink the link above to read the full review and more.

Friday, 8 March 2013

#53: Johnny Marr - The Messenger

Johnny Marr is a man who really needs no introduction. He's played in a myriad of bands spanning his thirty year career including Modest Mouse and The Cribs as well as a little-known Manchester band called The Smiths. He has an impressive total of 18 studio albums already under his belt with forthcoming album The  Messenger, his first outing as a solo performer, making it 19.

The album opens with 'The Right Thing Right'. A Pete Townshend sounding guitar fills this song from start to finish and is easily the highlight of this song. Marr's vocals are perfectly adequate but there is obviously a reason he plays guitar more than he sings. Despite the punchy guitar riffs and an effective solo the song seems to fall short. The first track on every album needs a sense of immediacy, something that grabs you; draws you in. Ironically, lacking that, 'The Right Thing Right' just feels wrong.

The first single taken from the album is 'Upstarts' and thankfully it fairs better than some of the tracks on this album. There is more energy and urgency here. Drawing comparisons with the likes of fellow Mancunians Buzzcocks. Marr's vocals are an improvement here, sounding almost Ramones like, especially in the chorus. Following track 'Lockdown' is again another impressive effort and features an incredibly nostalgic guitar, however, you can't help but feel that the song wouldn't benefit from Morrisey'swarbles if not his lyricism.

'Sun and Moon' is another stand out song on the album. A ballsy bass riff rumbles along propelling forward a track which is all out sleaze. The abrasive solo is a particular highlight, as well as Marr's vocals, surprisingly enough.

This isn't strictly a bad first effort from the former Smiths' guitarist, there's some solid songs featured across the course of the 12  tracks. However, maybe it's because of the buzz surrounding the album and it fell victim to it's own hype, but it just feels a little flat. Marr's guitar playing is obviously on top form. It's a nostalgic return, in most part, to his jangly roots, and that is something for which we can be thankful.

Unfortunately there just seems to something missing from The Messenger. Like 'The Right Thing Right' there's nothing here that particularly grabs your attention; there's nothing you've not heard before. It was a case of starting as you mean to go on for Marr which is a shame given the average nature of the song which set the standard. At least he's consistent if nothing else.


Wednesday, 6 March 2013

#52: The Lunar Pilots - Point of No Return

Essex's The Lunar Pilots are band who have managed to encapsulate a multitude of sounds and aesthetics in a little under an hour. Their debut album Point of No Return spans 15 tracks and 40 years; taking you on a journey of genres, sometimes all in one song. Comprised of Brien Edwards, Paul High, David Elsworth, Keith High and Conor Bailey, this quintet draw on a range of sounds from bands such as The Who right through to more contemporary acts such as Ash.

#51: Top 5 Unsigned - 06/03/13

Hearse Pileup

Aside from their brilliant name. London based trio Hearse Pileup are making the kind of music that your mothers warned you about. It's fast, guttural, and above all sleazy. Harnessing the energy and rawness of the likes of The Stooges and MC5 it's easy to see why Hearse Pileup are turning heads.

Unfortunately the recordings on SoundCloud are live and so the quality isn't all that great. But what is evident is the passion and the fervour which go in to Hearse Pileups shows as well as their recordings. 'Generation Y' below is taken from the bands most recent recording and exhibits a DIY sentiment that will be familiar to fans of Black Flag 

Visit the band's website by clicking here

Alfie's Dad

Claiming that they're old enough to be One Direction's dads on their bio gives us a small insight in to Manchester-based Alfie's Dad's sense of humour; they're cheeky, charming and they make a hell of a noise. Fusing together jangly indie-pop guitars and occasional classic rock sentiments the band really know how to party.

Their début EP Lost Boys features three tracks including 'Whistleblower'. It's a slower song than the previous two on the EP, but it's excellent nevertheless. The lyricism here is candid, haunting and shows a maturity not even exhibited by many of the band's peers. Lost Boys is a  seriously good EP worth spending 20 minutes checking out.

Visit the band's website by clicking here

Coroner for the Police

Describing themselves as "a 1920s mobster rock-punk band with a penchant for a good suit." Coroner for the Police have not only invented their genre, but they've made it a bloody good one. Bringing to the forefront elements of bands such as Queens of the Stoneage and The Raconteurs one things for sure is that this is  balls to the wall rock and roll that doesn't take any prisoners.

Taken from their excellently named Gentlemen's Relish EP, 'Rope' is a short, sharp kick in the ribs that delivers a swift blow in the manner of The Black Keys. The climax is a cacophony of sand and sleaze that will have you clamouring for a bourbon afterwards.  Coronor for the Police are exactly what desert-rock is all about. 

Apollo Junction

Leeds-based Apollo Junction are a band I've been meaning to cover for a good while now but never found myself having time. This, however, if the first of two features I'll be doing on them. The second coming later in the week for Little Indie Blogs. The band make the kind of melodic indie-pop that makes you long for summer and that first pint in a beer garden.

Fusing electro with the traditional band format is't anything new, bands with a synth seem to be ten a penny these days, However Apollo Junction shirk the current trend for moody 80s ambience and instead perpetuate their music with a distinct optimism that can't be ignored. 'I Want To Be A Mystery' sounds like you've heard it before and you probably should have. 3 minutes of pure pop mastery.

Stilits Foster

Stilts Foster is another act that have been on my radar for a while now. I've never included a singer/songwriter on my blog before so was hesitant about including one before now. However after finally getting round to checking out Stilts Foster, it was fairly clear I had to include him.

His music is frought, candid, heartfelt and perfect. One man and an acoustic guitar can do wonderful things, as has been proven time and time again over the decades and Stilts is no exception. You seriously owe it yourself to listen to his stuff if you haven't already. For fans of Bon Iver and Iron & Wine, just don't expect a carbon copy; Stilts has far more balls about him that that.