Thursday, 31 October 2013

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

#193: Coventry's Stylusboy Stream 'Love's Tale' From Forthcoming Debut Album

Ahead of the release of their forthcoming debut album Hospitality for Hope on November 18th , Coventry-based folk duo Stylusboy are streaming 'Love's Tale', 3-and-a-half minutes of irresistible folk pop which features some rerecorded vocals especially for the album.

Make sure to watch out for the forthcoming interview and album review within the next week or so.


Tuesday, 29 October 2013

#192: King Kartel EP Launch - Kraak Gallery, Manchester - 26/10/13 (In Photos)

In a first for this blog, we asked friend, photographer and long-time supporter of all things unsigned, Trust A Fox, to get down and cover Life's A Beech favourites King Kartel's EP release. Here's a selection of photos from the evening and below is a link to hear and buy the EP, as well as a recent interview we did with the band for U&I Magazine.

All Images courtesy of Trust A Fox Photography.

Monday, 28 October 2013

#191: The Witch Hunt - Little Book of Hate (EP review)

The Witch Hunt

Little Book Of Hate

October 31 2013 (Dead Young Records)


Fresh off the back of a summer filled with festivals, Leeds duo The Witch Hunt (comprised of Louisa Osborn and Chris Mulligan) are set to release their debut EP 'Little Book of Hate' to an already burgeoning fanbase. Now, having filled support slots for the likes of Veronica Falls and Wolf Alice, as well as gracing the stages of Reading and Leeds and Tramlines to name but a few, the pair have taken the experiences and opted to fill out their sound by the addition of drums and other such percussion to accompany the driving synth already behind them, providing added texture to an already rich and layered ensemble, making Little Book of Hate the band's most fleshed out endeavour yet.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

#190: Burning Condors - Last Train Home (single review)

Burning Condors

Last Train Home

October 28 2013 (Snakehead Records)


London quartet Burning Condors are a band who are about as close to punk as one can get without jabbing a safety pin through their nose and spitting on people. Hailed as “The four-headed lovechild of the Sex Pistols and the Strokes”, the band are bridging a transatlantic gap, fusing together nostalgic rockabilly with a garage rock aesthetic all the while maintaining a high degree of 'don't give a fuck' swagger that permeates each and every one of their tracks.

This review was originally witten for Little Indie Blogs. Click here to read in full.

Friday, 25 October 2013

#189: Lay It On The Line - Vigilance (EP review)

London’s hardcore punks Lay It On The Line are a band with an impressive amount of releases under their belt given their short time as a band; undoubtedly something that can be attributed to the DIY aesthetic that goes hand in hand with hardcore, and the energy and work ethic it brings with it; ‘Vigilance’, the forth release from the band, is a perfect example of how hardcore should be: intense, brutal, militant and emphatic.

This review was originally written for Punktastic. Click here to read in full.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

#185: Future of the Left - How To Stop Your Brain In An Accident

Future of the Left

How To Stop Your Brain In An Accident

October 21 2013 (Prescriptions)


Formed after the dissolution of seminal post-hardcore band mcklusky (and the lesser known Jarcrew), Cardiff's Future of the Left have been nothing less than prolific in their musical output, releasing on average an album every 18 months since their 2007 début, not counting the plethora of EPs and singles. Now, coming just over six years since their inception the band, in what can only be described as yet another fan-funded success, are set to release their fourth studio album How To Stop Your Brain In An Accident.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

#184: Landmarks - Running on Empty (EP review)

Manchester isn't a city synonymous with punk in the same way it is with other genres, northern soul for instance, indie for another. That isn't to say it hasn't seen a certain degree of talent emerge from the city, perhaps most famously were Buzzcocks for example, or Sonic Boom Six more recently. And while it's fair to say that Manchester is, above all, a city with it's musical heritage lying mainly at the feet of the indie contingency, it would be unfair to dismiss other artists simply because they don't adhere to one's own musical expectations. One such band eschewing the stereotype are Landmarks, a five piece pop-punk outfit who's fast and furious blend of gang-chant vocals and skate-punk guitars are filling a void left open by the complete lack of this kind music within Manchester.

Having been a band since late 2011, it's surprising to see that new 6 track EP Running On Empty is also the band's first. Take that as you will, but the fact of the matter is that the lads in Landmarks have spent those two years honing their skills and making a name for themselves, helped in no small part through a constant stream of high profile support slots for the likes of Such Gold and Hot Damn to name but two.

From opener 'Backpacks and Train-tracks' it's clear that the band posses the youthful energy pivotal to making this kind of music believable. From the chugging guitars to the call-and-response vocals, everything here is quintessentially pop-punk and we're not talking New Found Glory or Simple Plan pop-punk here. It absolutely smacks of bands such as Set Your Goals or The Story So Far , and, put simply, it's infectious.

Gang-chants have always been a seminal part of pop-punk convention and this is something that Landmarks excel at, particularly on third track and first single “Better Men Have Tried and Failed”. From the word go, the band utilise gang-chants to create a huge sense of anthemics, this, coupled with the self-deprecating lyricism makes for a furiously emotive addition to the record. You can almost see the circle-pits forming.

Final track 'Growing Pains' exhibits the most candour of all the six tracks featured and is a memorable way to close Running on Empty. The bass that runs throughout is indicative of early Blink-182 whilst the shared vocal duties only seem to add to the emotion of the track. It's a fine example of just what the band are capable of, and one which leaves listeners clamouring for more.

Having been a fan of pop-punk from an early age, it's not only fantastic to be able to bare witness to the calibre of bands coming up at the moment globally, but to know that there's (at the very least) the beginnings of a scene formulating in Manchester is brilliant. And, if indeed there is a scene formulating, then Landmarks deserve to spearhead it. If not for their irresistible pop hooks and takes-no-prisoners gang-chants, then surely for their insatiable gigging and work ethic. They might not be breaking boundaries with what they do, but it's only a matter of time before Landmarks are breaking hearts, after all, what else do skinny boys in pop-punk bands do?

Check out the bands Twitter here.

This review was orignally written for Punktastic. Click here to see what else they've been up to.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

#180: Introducing...Elastic Sleep

The 1990s was a brilliant time for music with many genres coming in to their own or starting, particularly through the decade's first few years. Of course, grunge found itself at the forefront of the world's attention, whilst smaller genres snuck in behind it. Two such genres were shoegaze, and twee-pop, who both found their footing during the decade and were popularised by band's such as My Bloody Valentine and Heavenly respectively. And whilst both genres are still enjoying relative popularity, at least within their individual scenes, it goes without saying that an amalgamation of the two would inevitably occur, giving birth to dream-pop, a genre taking the laid back almost lazy vocals of twee and fusing them with the less abrasive but no less encompassing instrumentation of shoegaze.

Even though dream-pop isn't exactly enjoying the same amount of popularity of as other genres at the moment, there's still a fair amount of artists, both signed and otherwise, creating the same kind of sonic texturing that transcends your usual alternative rock. One such band, Cork's Elastic Sleep, are more than embracing the genre's lo-fi tendencies, they've absorbed themselves in them.

'Anywhere', the one, tantalising track that the band have uploaded is a perfect example of what makes the genre so irresistible. Ephemeral, breathy vocals perpetuate the hook line “You could be anywhere” throughout the course of the tracks 2 and a quarter minutes; the vocal simplicity is it's beauty and the use of a female vocalist keeps it feeling genuine, there's just something about the timbre of a female vocal that lends itself to the genre so willingly and can probably be attributed to the twee influences that bleed through in to every dream-pop band.

Whilst the vocals are understated and simple, the music on which the vocals paint is far from it. A turbulent canvas of sonic evisceration, the juxtaposition of vocal and instrumentation is as blatant as it could be jarring, should one go in to this not knowing what to expect. It's exciting whilst verging on the violent, all the while at the same time being melodic and inviting, like the metaphorical carrot dangling from a stick, 'Anywhere' leaves us clamouring for more. It's obvious that Elastic Sleep are a band with raw, untapped talent. This, when coupled with their understanding of musical composition makes for fantastic listening and gives one a feeling that this is just the tip of the iceberg, a brief introduction to the band and their idiosyncrasies before they show what their really capable of.

Friday, 11 October 2013

#179: Cults - Static



October 14 2013 (Columbia)


Despite being recorded amidst the throes of a romantic break-up between Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion, the forthcoming album 'Static' from New York duo Cults lacks any of the underlying bitterness expected from an album that's the product of a parting of ways. Indeed, rather than air their own personal grievances, the duo have opted to make a record that, like it's predecessor, is sweet, sugary and encased in a veneer of silky smooth production. However, whilst 2011's self-titled début was full of twee pop twinkles and xylophone fills, 'Static' offers a far less saccharine listening experience, as Follin's trademark sweetness is offset by a more mature undercurrent, particularly on the latter half of the record.

This review was originally written for Little Indie Blogs. Click here to read in full.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

#177: Dark Bells - Want (single review)

Dark Bells


October 21 2013 (RIP Records)


Like their name suggests, there's a distinct melancholic beauty that surrounds Aussie trio Dark Bells. Building on a variety of aesthetics, the band's blend of psych and shoegaze has already earned the favour of the likes of Line of Best Fit or The Quietus and now, with their second single 'Want', Dark Bells look set to make a whole new host of people fall in love with them.

This article was originally written for Little Indie Blogs. Click here to read the full review.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

#176: Mikill Pane - Blame Miss Barclay

Despite being a fan of hip-hop and rap, my experience of writing about and reviewing it is fairly limited. It's with this in mind that I approach my review of the début full-length from Ed Sheeran championed rapper Mikill Pane, with caution. Blame Miss Barclay is 15 tracks of sun-soaked hip-pop that paints pictures of life in the country's capital through often upbeat and optimistic lyricism that's occasionally offset by an austere edge that manages to propel Pane just beyond the commercial pitfalls that befell the likes of Dizzee Rascal's later releases. As a result, this leaves an album that's got a raw, gritty candour about it whilst managing to maintain a commercial quality that will appeal to even the most fair-weather rap fans.

The eponymous 'Blame Miss Barclay' is a solid way in which to kick off proceedings; a rap/metal fusion that packs more than it's fair share of punch and is an ode to a high school teacher to whom Pane credits his love of language, something which becomes evident in later tracks. Conversely, following track 'Roll On' couldn't be more different. Produced by dubstep/grime ensemble True Tiger, the track is a laid back, blissed out dub that features the expected upstrokes and excellently integrated brass that make the track a true Summer beat whilst track three 'Summer in the City' continues the albums high quality and warm vibes even if again, it brings a completely different aesthetic to the table. A chilled out and upbeat affair that brings to mind tracks like Dizzee Rascal and Lily Allen's 'Wanna Be' though thankfully, not as cringey. It's also the first instance in which Pane's lyricism drops somewhat, though only with the occasional bar and never anything worth mentioning specifically.

Though the first few tracks on Blame Miss Barclay are upbeat, celebratory tracks with Pane's humour permeating each, it doesn't take long before his more serious side begins to show through; it's here that the true level of his lyricism begins to become more pronounced. Tracks such as 'No-one Gets Left Behind' or 'Rooftops' seem confessional rather than celebratory and it doesn't seem to matter whether the stories Pane spins are true or not, such is the calibre of his penmanship 'You Don't Know Me' in particular address racism in a narrative that comes across like a less violent Plan B.

It's the juxtaposition of upbeat joie de vivre and confessional yet universal angst that sets Blame Miss Barclay apart from other rappers at the moment but it's never going to a contender to less commercial social commentators such as Akala. That said the commercial viability of the record is obviously an intentional facet and one which will allow Mikill Pane to find fans across the board. Trite rhyme schemes such as one which revolves around beer will deter the most stringent of rap fans, who'll dismiss it as pop music whilst the flow and wordplay on tracks such as 'Dirty Rider' do enough justice to suggest that there's far more to Pane than his poppier elements/

Whilst it's not a perfect album, there's enough going on with Blame Miss Barclay to give it repeat listens were rap your thing. Clever wordplay and a solid flow is occasionally offset by more shakier elements such as easy rhymes or poor schemes but as a whole it's obvious that Pane enjoys what he's doing and he's clearly good at it. The choruses of certain songs seem as if they've had at least some input by the aforementioned Ed Sheeran which isn't strictly a bad thing when the verses they separate are as solid as they are. Definitely an album worth checking out particularly if you have an interest in groups like The Streets or The Mitchell Brothers, there's far worse you could be listening to out there.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

#175: The Barmines - There's Never Any Romance (EP review)

In a city musically overshadowed by northern contemporaries such as Manchester and Liverpool, Leeds-based four-piece The Barmines are stirring things up by brandishing their no-nonsense blend of garage rock and rousing indie with a wild and reckless abandon. After a couple of years honing their sound, the quartet, comprised of two sets of brothers (Rob & Liam, Liam & Andy) are set to unleash their début EP There's Never Any Romance on the world.
northern contemporaries such as Manchester and Liverpool, Leeds-based four-piece

At a little under ten minutes long, the four tracks featured are a short, sharp, shock to the senses, and introduces their no frills attitude brilliantly. Kicking off proceedings is 'Feel Good' a scuzzy, gritty track in which guitars wail with a corrosive fuzz amidst singer Rob Burton's signature snarl. It's straight to the point, and grabs listeners instantly, effortlessly drawing one in to the rest of the EP.

Perhaps the most stand out track on There's Never Any Romance comes in the form of third track 'Hey Runner'. Equal parts punk and indie, the track, like the record it's taken from, is brief, yet still manages to pack a significant amount of punch as a buzz saw rhythm guitars form an abrasive and distorted back drop whilst Rob Burton's trademark vocal is effortlessly draped over it. It's straight up dirty rock 'n' roll, and it's appeal lies in it's simplicity. This isn't music that's going to break boundaries, but when it's as honest and as down to earth as this, it really doesn't need to.

Lyrically The Barmines are fairly straightforward too; there's no Shakespearian-esque wordsmithery at play, but that only serves to add to their chosen aesthetic. It's straightforward guttural indie that's made for filling venues with heaving masses of dancing bodies, something The Barmines will undoubtedly achieve with There's Never Any Romance and while some listeners will understandably comment that they've “heard it all before” the fact of the matter is that rarely will they have heard it done to this standard. Each track hits home and hits hard, pummelling listeners with 2 minutes of raw abrasion before moving on to the next slice of distorted and danceable indie, begging the question why haven't this four-piece from Leeds joined the likes of Kasabian or the Arctic Monkeys in the hallowed halls of indie royalty.

#174: Catching Up With...Puppet Rebellion (U&I Music Magazine - October Issue)

One of the great things about Manchester, and I'm sure the same could be said about other cities too, is the general willingness of those involved with it's unsigned scene to help each other. Sure there's more than enough pay-to-play promoters around too but with cheap venue hire and a distinct sense of solidarity between bands and fans alike they can be avoided. One band, who, having only formed earlier this year have shot to the forefront of the city's scene, are Puppet Rebellion. A five piece who've captured the imagination of Twitter and bloggers nationwide with their energetic live shows and uplifting indie-pop, Puppet Rebellion are seemingly on the up. Having recently enjoyed a support slot for Catfish & The Bottlemen and with their second release of the year on it's way in the next few months it seems as if doors are opening for the band and they couldn't be more deserving.

Bringing a handful of influences to the table, it's clear that Simon Monaghan and co are looking to bring some variation to a genre that can, at times, seem all too full of convention. 'Chemical Friends' the eponymous title track from this Summer's EP release, is a dark and frenetic track which is somewhat indicative of bands like Interpol or Editors whereas 'The Greatest Lie Ever Told' is a more upbeat and optimistic affair and which manages to feel anthemic in the confines of even the smallest venue, making it a highlight of the band's live sets.

For a band who have only been together eight or nine months, it's impressive how tight they are, and their inherent ability to be to be able to switch between aesthetics, if not complete genres, is a testament to the ease they feel playing together. Tracks with more bite, such as the aforementioned 'Chemical Friends' slot in effortlessly beside poppier, more accessible tracks like 'The New Twenty' on both record and stage alike, helping to keep things fresh whilst appealing to fans of different branches of the genre. The intelligent and sharp lyricism combined with a fresh take on a well-trodden genre make Puppet Rebellion one of the most exciting acts to emerge from Manchester in 2013, and with their live shows doing nothing to hamper their reputation it's clear that the band have absolutely no intention of slowing down their ascent to the top of their game.  

First up, Puppet Rebellion is a fairly original name. How did that come about? And does it have the political connotations it seems to?

CRAIG: It's an historical reference coined by the famous historian Shubert Engelberry in relation to an uprising in the small French village of Debaun during the long hot summer of 1611.

SIMON: Aside from old Shubert it also is a call to arms for all people in all walks of life that are feeling controlled, manipulated and powerless.  I can understand the political connotations and that’s the beauty of it because people can take from it what they want to.  There are very personal reasons behind the name but take from it what you will.

Manchester's obviously a city with a lot of stuff going on in terms of the music scene. What do you think it is about the city that has allowed such a scene to form?

CRAIG: I believe certain cities attract certain type of people. Manchester it seems to me is a magnet for musicians and music lovers. I think this probably came about originally due to the city's rich musical heritage but I think the process accelerates when you have an increasing volume of like minded people in a certain place. For example both myself and Paul, our other guitarist are originally from towns in the Midlands. We both moved here independently because of the city.

SIMON: In the old days we were quite a poor industrial city and I think that our scene probably grew from boredom, a lack of money & the hope of achieving something more than what people had.  Nowadays it’s our rich musical heritage that keeps the scene alive.  Legends are made in Manchester.  My own motivation is a mixture of the two.  I want to be remembered in Manchester like Morrissey, Tony Wilson and people like that because I came from nothing.  I want to prove that a lad from Wythenshawe with a tough upbringing, expelled from school and with stereotypically no chance of doing much with his life can achieve something through music.  There is not a better place to do that than Manchester.

'Chemical Friends' was recently played at during half-time at Old Trafford, that must've been a pretty special moment (providing none of you are stringent City fans, of course). How did that happen?

CRAIG: Yeah they've been a few really random things like that which have happened in recent months which has often come about through Simon's dedication to the world of social media. It's really exciting for sure. Luckily one of our friends happened to be at the game, so we've got a live recording too.

SIMON: Just from networking and building relationships.  Nothing more.  In the 9 months that we have been going so far it’s my proudest moment and being a big United fan one that will take some beating.

You're starting to land some fairly high profile gigs, such as supporting Catfish & The Bottlemen at Factory last week (a show I was gutted to miss). Who would you most like to see yourself on a bill with?

CRAIG: To be on the same bill as any of the modern Indie heavyweights like the Strokes or Bloc Party would be pretty special. To be honest though we're pretty happy with the progress we're making in terms of playing gradually higher profile gigs so we're confident we'll be continuing in the right direction going into the new year.

SIMON: My dream gig would be to be on the bill with Interpol or The Horrors.  This is an achievable goaland one we will work our balls off to achieve.

There's a whole host of venues catering for bands of all sizes in Manchester, what are some of your favourites, to play, or indeed watch other bands?

CRAIG: One of the things I personally love about Manchester is the sheer volume of great music venues in a relatively compact area. There are literally tons of places, which is another reason why I think the city is very special in terms of it's link to music. Some of my favourites are; The Deaf Institute, Gorilla and The Roadhouse.

SIMON: I played at the Ritz in a previous band and that was my favourite larger venue but smaller venues I like are The Castle Hotel, Dry Bar and more recently The Soup Kitchen.  Its really hard to single any out as a favourite though as we have so many top venues.  I want us to play at Deaf Institute, Gorilla & Band on the Wall as soon as possible as we have yet to play there.

Being from Manchester there's clearly a whole host of bands that you've gigged with, who are some of your favourites at the moment.

CRAIG: The Slow Readers Club (also from Manchester) are probably the ones I've enjoyed watching the most so far. They have a reasonably similar sound to us though so maybe that's why I like them!

SIMON: Ruby Tuesday, Slydigs & The Mariveaux

It seems as if the 'scene' in Manchester is fairly self-sufficient at the moment with support coming from all areas of the industry. How important do you think this kind of support and envrionment is for up-and-coming bands such as yourselves?

CRAIG: I'm not entirely sure about the specific support from the industry you're referring to. I think the best thing about the Manchester scene is that there are an abundance of music venues and an abundance of people in the city attending live gigs. Ultimately you need both of those things for music to thrive anywhere.

A question I ask all bands now. You've obviously played your fair share of gigs, so presumably drank more than your fair share of free beer. What would be in your ideal rider, and why?

CRAIG: The standard crate of lager is fine by me.

SIMON: I would like a bottle of Blantons Single Barrell which is a bourbon whiskey.  I love bourbon (A little too much sometimes) and if a promoter really wants to build a relationship with us then he needs to get me onside.  This would get me onside.

You recently released an EP to favourable responses. What's next in the pipeline for PR?

CRAIG: We are going back into the studio at the end of November to record four more tracks. This next EP will be a step up from the last one and everyone who listens to it will most likely become instant fans :-)

SIMON: Mirroring what my illustrious colleague said we are proper excited about releasing the 2nd EP.  Learning how to do all this stuff by yourself with no backing is a challenge we are relishing. We have loads of ambitious plans so I recommend you keep an eye out as we are full of surprises.

Finally, any shameless self-promotion you'd like to get out of your system?

CRAIG: The words of Simon Monaghan will soon be ringing around your ears and coming out of your mouth.

SIMON: Craig is the glue that holds things together.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

#173: Hello Frisco - Ain't No Devil, Only God When He's Drunk

Formed from the ashes of the ill-fated yet ultimately well-received pop-punk band Not Katies, Hello Frisco are a no-nonsense genre-warping amalgamation of punk, country and rock 'n' roll that manipulates generic conventions, contorting them to suit their atypical needs. On paper, it's a weird concept and one that might seem somewhat forced or as being different for different's sake. The reality of it though, is a very different story. Punk and country sensibilities are fused together seamlessly and instead of the mish-mash it could have been, Hello Frisco's début album Aint No Devil, Only God When He's Drunk comes across as cheeky and charming and acts as a reminder that you don't have to take yourself too seriously in order to make good music.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

#172: Haim - Days Are Gone


Days Are Gone

September 30 2013 (Polydor)


Often, when there's a buzz surrounding your début album, it adds certain pressures; pressures, it seem, that can make or break an album. When that pressure is having won the BBC Sound of 2013, having fended off the likes of AlunaGeorge and Chvrches to do so, a whole different kind of pressure is brought to the fore. Thankfully, LA's sister act Haim's much anticipated début Days Are Gone was recorded, seemingly oblivious to hype that was mounting around it and is an effortless display of 1990s r'n'b cool, alt-folk melody and subtle yet staple classic rock influences.

This article was originally written for Little Indie Blogs. Click here to read the full review.