Tuesday, 26 November 2013

#214: TOY - Join the Dots


Join The Dots

December 9 2013 (Heavenly Recordings)


The first track on the second album from London's TOY is seven minutes given over entirely to an almost sinister ensemble of psychedelic and ominous background whirrs, a relentless hi-hat beat, and abrasive, sporadic guitar work. It's an intimidating introduction for someone who is completely unfamiliar with a band who have always been in my peripheral, but never my focus. As it happens, however, the seven minutes of 'Conductor' prove to be vastly different from what the rest of the album has to offer.

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

Monday, 25 November 2013

#213: Casual Sex - The Bastard Beat (EP review)

Casual Sex

The Bastard Beat

November 25 2013 (We Can Still Picnic/Tri-Trone)


The Facebook page of Glaswegian quartet Casual Sex, declares the music the band are making as 'sleaze' - nothing more, nothing less, and it's easy to see why. 'The Bastard Beat' EP is chock-full of dirty basslines, off-kilter grooves and lyricism that harbours all the bite and snarl of punk. It's dirty and guttural, but in the best kind of way.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

#212: Dave Hause - Gorilla, Manchester - 16/11/13

Gig review: Dave Hause - Gorilla, Manchester - 16/11/13

This review was originally written for Muso's Guide. Click the link above to read in full.

#211: The Others, Night & Day, Manchester - 14/11/13 (in photos)

Once again we were provided with some pictures courtesy of the deft hands of Trust-A-Fox. This time saw the return of The Others to Manchester, taking to the stage of the Night & Day, along with with Black Sonic Revolver. As always it proved to be a good night with some great bands on the bill.

Check out The Others on Twitter

Friday, 22 November 2013

#210: Wooden Shjips - Back to Land

Having never been privy to the sounds and stylings of San Fran psych-rockers Wooden Shjips before now, I approached this review with some degree of caution. Not because I’m adverse to hearing something unfamiliar, of course, but because with words such as ‘experimental’ surrounding the band, one simply didn’t know what to expect. As it happens, however, Back to Land, the band’s fourth album, proves to be a far easier and more cohesive listen than anticipated; gone are the 8 minute freak-out jams of previous releases, allowing for a more streamlined, almost concise record, all the while keeping the band’s psy-soaked idiosyncrasies intact.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

#209: Catching Up With...Landmarks (U&I Music Magazine - November Issue)

Whilst Manchester has been emblazoned on to the psyche of mainstream musical consciousness for last 30 years, it's musical output has always teetered on the brink of being, well, somewhat bitter and cynical. Despite being a city famed for providing us with some of the most maudlin and miserable acts in musical history, as the nights draw in, Manchester is currently enjoying bathing in some so-cal sunshine in the form of pop-punk five-piece Landmarks.

Rather than baying to the bleak English milieu within which the band was birthed, Landmarks are offsetting the stereotypical Manchester sound, anglicising what is quintessentially an American aesthetic perfectly. Stories of growing up and growing old are all part and parcel of pop-punk predication, yet often, tales of adolescent Americana fall flat on English ears due to the differences in culture. Landmarks, however, are seeking to bridge that gap, fusing their own personal experiences of growing up in and around Manchester, with a musical backdrop inspired by the likes of Set Your Goals or Four Year Strong.

Like any true pop-punk band, Landmarks are filled with a relentless tenacity and tireless work ethic that has seen them complete both their debut EP Running On Empty and their first tour in support of Action. However, not satisfied with that alone, the band are currently back in Manchester writing new material ready for the new year.

Perhaps one of the most appealing traits that Landmarks have, is their ability to effortlessly switch between aesthetics. Songs such as 'Living for the Weekend' purport a sense of youthful exuberance that goes hand in hand with sheer energy of the band, whilst 'Lullaby' or 'Growing Pains' exhibit a much more introspective side to the band, belying their relatively young age and suggesting that there's more to them than just another pop-punk band.

Indeed, whilst Manchester will always be synonymous with indie, one can't help but think that with bands like Landmarks making waves steadily, the city is currently feeling the beginnings of a real scene formulating, something more akin to the DIY/house-show movement in The States than has ever really been felt within Manchester and it's surrounding areas before now. Should that be the case, it goes without saying that Landmarks will be at the forefront, spearheading a well deserved pop-punk resurgence that hasn't been seen in the UK for years.

U&I: Hi guys, thanks for taking the time out to talk to us. Manchester is a city full of music, but it doesn't seem to have much of an established pop-punk scene. Do you think there's the beginnings of a scene formulating in and around the city?

Brad: I would hope so! There’s a lot of talented musicians in Manchester but you’re right, there doesn’t seem to be a strong pop punk scene. I can think of us, Civilians, Boston Manor (from Blackpool but not too far away) and not many more. Hopefully, with the success of bands like The Wonder Years and The Story So Far though that will change and hopefully we can be at the forefront of it!

Adam: There's always going to be a scene however big or small, Manchester is one of the capitals for music, which is lucky for us. Diverse with its crowd in what they listen to, people are generally open minded and the chance for something big to formulate is always possible, no matter what genre or scene.

McCormick: I don't think there is enough people supporting the local scene anywhere to be honest, whether it's pop punk, metal or jazz fusion. There are too man people sat at home moaning about how bored they are on social media rather than going out and getting involved. Saying that though I have noticed a lot more punk rock bands emerging over the past few years, and with the rise of the new angsty pop punk bands from the states making a name for themselves over here hopefully things will pick up!

U&I: What do you think it is about Manchester that creates so many different and varied types of music?

Adam: It's peoples ability to try something new, listen to something they might not normally go for and then allow that to influence their own music they write. There is never a band that holds exactly the same sound which is what I love about this place.

McCormick: I think it's because there are so many venues and different niche markets, there is something for everyone. Also if you have a wide music taste you could be in one place watching a acoustic act and ten minutes down the road you could go and catch the most brutal hardcore band you've ever heard of.

U&I: Obviously while it does have a fairly rich musical culture, there is a huge amount of indie bands doing the rounds within the city. What made you decide it was pop-punk you wanted to play and has that impacted on the amount of shows you can get, or the number of people you play ?

Brad: Well we grew up listening to that type of music so it just made sense to start a pop punk band. We wanted to re-create the feelings we got when listening to New Found Glory or another band along those lines and pass them on to a new generation, with a bit of a British element added in there. It is hard though to make a splash in a city that doesn’t have a large pop punk scene but we still get some really good shows and play to awesome crowds!

Liam: I myself live breath and eat pop punk and have always loved it and wanted to be part of it as a kid growing up I remember my first pop punk show (bowling for soup) and just thought wow this I what I want to do

McCormick: I think I properly got into punk rock from the Tony Hawks soundtracks playing them games as a kid, since then I was hooked and spent several hours each day learning NoFX and Pennywise songs on my guitar. Me and Adam started our first band in 2003 and since then have been playing together, I’d rather play something I love and enjoy to like-minded people than something I don't have a passion for.

U&I: Being a pop-punk band there must be other, local bands within the genre you've played with, care to mention a few of you're favourites?

Brad: There’s Civilians, a band who released their debut EP last year, we’ve played with them and they’re cool guys playing good tunes. Boston Manor are from nearby (Blackpool) as well and their début EP is amazing, they’ll go on to big things in the future. Through Colour (though maybe not so much pop punk) are also really talented and nice guys. Check out their EP ‘Somnium’, there’s some great songs on there.

McCormick: The guys pretty much nailed it here as far as local bands go but if you're into your acoustic stuff (think Joey Cape/Tony Sly and Chuck Ragan) You should Check our James F Hattersley and Jimmy Holland. I've had a blast playing with Actions, Hot Damn, Boston Manor, Through Colour just to name a few.

U&I: You've just released your EP 'Running On Empty'. How did that go down?

Brad: We’ve actually self-recorded and self-released it! The drums were tracked at Salford University and we did the rest in Adam and James’s basement over the summer. It was fun yet trying at times but we love how it’s turned out! The response has been pretty awesome as well, especially your review. Thanks for that by the way!

McCormick: It was really tough to write the songs, then record the songs, then mix the songs, by the end of it your ears give up and by the end of it I had no idea what was too loud/quiet in the mix. But we were broke and needed to get the ball rolling so I battled though and the guys seem happy with it so I'm pretty pleased with that. I'll never be recording my own band again though, thats for sure!

U&I: You're currently out on your first ever tour in support of the record. How does that feel? And what have been some of the highlights so far?

Brad: It’s a great experience. We thought it might be difficult at first, 5 guys in a Ford Focus for days but it’s actually been really fun. Harrow was great, we didn’t expect so many people to turn up and buy merch so that was a nice surprise. Manchester was amazing as well, everyone came down to show their support and got into it. The boys in Actions are such nice guys as well, we feel like we’ve known them forever. Playing battleshots after the Manchester show was definitely a highlight for me.

McCormick: It feels great to be playing different cities to a fresh new crowd every night, my throat on the other hand doesn't feel great, I'm really grateful for everyone with an open door that put us up for the night though! I loved getting all the boys from Actions up on stage to sing along to a 5ive cover with us on the last night.

U&I: You've been in several bands in the past, how do Landmarks differ from those?

Brad: I was in an indie-pop-rock band (if you had to classify it) called Dead Kicks playing bass and that was fun for the few years it lasted. In Landmarks I have more of a hand in writing songs though so that’s always nice. Don’t get me wrong, I played a part in Dead Kicks writing but it’s cool to be able to get out what I want to say sometimes.

Adam: In this band I feel all 5 of us want this like we've never before, the 5 of us together with our personalities blend well too and we know this could be our one chance

McCormick: For the first time being in a band I feel like we have something new to offer with our sound. I love the lyrics Brad writes too, when listening to bands lyrics are an important thing for me, if I can relate to the song it's gonna make it's way onto my iPod so hopefully other people feel the same way about our music.

U&I: Here's a stock question I ask every band now: What would be in your ideal rider and why?

Brad: Barburrito’s! Because me and Tom discovered recently what a great hangover cure is. A copy of FIFA 14 and a PS3 because I could beat all these guys and gloat and probably just beer. I try to avoid spirits.

Liam: Barburrito 100%

Adam: 20 chicken nuggets no more…no less

McCormick: Heaps of Mexican food would be awesome, maybe Tony Hawks 2 so I can beat the guys at something.

Tom: All I really want on a rider after being on tour is some plug sockets!

U&I: What do Landmarks have planned for the future? Any plans on a full-length record yet? Forthcoming gigs/tour plans?

Brad: We have a few more shows coming up outside of Manchester and a pretty special one in the city that we’ll be announcing soon. As far as a debut goes I think we need to get to grips with our sound a little more first and build more of a following before we go into that.

Adam: Were ganna be writing a lot over the next few months and heading into the infamous blueprint studio’s in January to record a new EP. As well as that we've got shows over the winter and some big support slots in the new year. Plus some big ideas to possibly invade Europe next summer

McCormick: Like Brad said I think we need to develop our sound a bit more before thinking about a full length, in the meantime we have some studio time booked for early 2013 so hopefully we'll have another EP or maybe a split out early next year.

U&I: Finally, any last parting words for our readers?

Adam: Watch this Space

McCormick: If you're bored sat inside one night, go to a show, even if you're broke there is always something free going on. If you liked a bands set or EP you heard online, let the band know.

Friday, 15 November 2013

#207: Catching Up With...Tess Parks

Interview: Tess Parks

This interview was originally conducted for Muso's Guide, click the link above to see what we chatted about.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

#206: Friday Club - Friday Club (EP review)

Friday Club

Friday Club

October 31 2013 (self-release)


Birmingham three-piece Friday Club have come a huge way since they were first brought to my attention earlier in the year.With a seeming inability to create anything but positive vibes, they have already conquered the B-Town scene with an almost raucous disregard for convention that sets them apart from many of their city's other successes. Now, with a new self-titled EP under their belt, the band look set to build on their already solid foundations in a brilliant way.

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

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

#205: Catching Up With...The Savage Nomads

The Savage Nomads are a band who have been doing the rounds for quite sometime now. Championing support from some fairly high-profile names, as well as taking their own brand of indie around the country playing some equally high profile shows. Their latest single 'Jaded Edges' is three minutes of pure indie-pop, complete with synth hooks and hand claps. It's a far cry from their previous releases, yet it also feels like the band's most realised release to date and encapsulates the youthful energy that The Savage Nomads perpetuate perfect.

Monday, 11 November 2013

#204: The Rifles - Minute Mile (single review)

The Rifles

Minute Mile

November 11 2013 (Cooking Vinyl Records)


London four-piece The Rifles have been doing the rounds in some iteration or another for almost ten years now. In that time they've garnered some friends in pretty high places, such as Paul Weller and, the band that inspired them, Oasis, they've scored fairly highly in the UK Album Charts and even, allegedly, been in trouble with the Mafia. Now, ahead of their fourth album 'None the Wiser', and back with their original line-up, The Rifles are set to release new single 'Minute Mile', three and a half minutes of charmingly inoffensive indie-pop that's as indebted to American indie, as it is it's British counterpart. 

#203: The Bedroom Hour, Night & Day, Manchester - 2/11/13 (Photo-review)

Local Manchester photographer Trust A Fox, once again lent us his skills and headed down to the Night & Day Café in order to shoot The Bedroom Hour, a band who we've been championing over at Life's A Beech for almost a year now. Needless to say the show was cracking outing for the lads, and one which he's captured brilliantly.

The Bedroom Hour on Twitter

Friday, 8 November 2013

#202: Catching Up With...Stylusboy

Interview: Stylusboy

This interview was originally written for Muso's Guide. Click the link above to read in full.

#201: The Battles of Winter - Standing at the Floodgates

The Battles Of Winter

Standing At The Floodgates

November 4 2013 (self-released, digital)


Though plagued with “derailments too numerous to mention”, London-based The Battles Of Winter have, after several years of self-reinvention, finally released their debut album 'Standing At the Floodgates'. Where lesser bands may have broken under the pressures that beset the recording process, the finished product here is an album that feels as coherent as it is concise. Though made up of only eight tracks, '...Floodgates' is a record in which their tenacity, paramount to said recording process, is palpable in each and every track, with the band exhibiting a sense of confidence and self-assurance that could only stem from overcoming the obstacles they've faced over the last few years.

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

#200: Bear's Den - Deaf Institute, Manchester - (4/11/13)

Gig review: Bear's Den, Deaf Institute, Manchester - 4/11/13

This review was originally written for Muso's Guide. Click the link above to read in full.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

#199: Tess Parks - Blood Hot

Album review: Tess Parks - Blood Hot (2013)

This review was originally written for Muso's Guide. Click here to read in full.

#198: Feed the Kid - Ducie Bridge Black Room, Manchester - 1/11/13 (Photo-review)

Manchester based photographer Trust A Fox, once again leant his deft hand to our blog and caught the city's very own Feed the Kid in the intimate setting of MRO Black Room, above Ducie Bridge. Having formed early last year, the band have already earned critical acclaim from the likes of Terry Christian and if their reputation was anything to go, tonight was going to prove to be brilliant.

Feed the Kid on Twitter

All photos courtesy of Trust A Fox

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

#197: Introducing...LUNGS

Having formed dream-pop duo LUNGS in early 2012 with singer Suzie Blake, it seems that the departure of MC Lord Magrão from indie-rockers Guillemots was almost inevitable, even if he didn’t know it yet. With the new found freedom at their disposal, it took LUNGS roughly six weeks from the date of Magrão’s departure to release their debut single ‘Faraway’, establishing an aesthetic birthed from the cloying conditions occasionally found when part of a band. There’s a sense of freedom within their music, exhibited by Magrão and Blake both; a definite feeling of emancipation  that can only stem from finding yourself with complete creative control.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

#196: Stylusboy - Hospitality For Hope


Hospitality for Hope

November 18 2013 (Wild Sound Recordings)


Just under five months ago, I reviewed the most recent EP from Coventry-based acoustic folk duo, Stylusboy. Four tracks and 15 minutes was all it took for me to realise that I was in the midst of something special; lush textures, rich harmonies, an irresistible penchant for lo-fi aesthetics and above all, a huge level of stripped down romance that ultimately made for a timeless record. Fast-forward 18 weeks and as the opening notes of their first full-length, Hospitality for Hope, begin to ring out, I can already feel the smile, a permanent fixture throughout my last review, return, brought on by the familiarity of Steve Jones and Rachel Grisedale's effortless vocal duality. It's a welcome return for the duo, whose tireless work ethic and sheer passion for their craft is palpable across every aspect of their debut. 

Saturday, 2 November 2013

#195: Kilto Take - Resolute

Kilto Take


November 25 2013 (Medical Records)


Like many bands of the last 12 months, Kilto Take have an appreciation for all things 80s. However, what separates the Herefordshire three-piece apart from their nostalgic contemporaries is their refusal to bend to the current trends within the industry. Unlike their peers, their appreciation of the era stems from the likes of early-U2, and Echo and the Bunnymen to name but two, and as such they eschew the reliance on synth and 80s club beats in favour of a more traditional, guitar driven aesthetic. Indeed, their penchant for a more traditional sound provides the band with an air of maturity that far outreaches their years. However, while they're obviously indebted to the sounds of the 1980s, Kilto Take refuse to simply ape the era's indie royalty and instead find themselves drawing from a wealth of more contemporary influences, such as Muse and Interpol.