Tuesday, 29 April 2014

#282: Allusondrugs - Nervous (single review)



April 28 2014 (Clue Records)


Given that they come from Leeds, it's easy to see how Allusondrugs got their name. Indeed, at times the band sound very much as their name suggests; but whilst the burgeoning student population of their hometown settles into their Saturday night mephedrone binges and Sunday morning K-holes, Allusondrugs opted instead to ply their trade and hone their sound and whilst we're almost positive there's some degree of expanded consciousness at play, their music says far more about the band than their personal choice of evening consumables.

Monday, 28 April 2014

#281: The Hope Edition - Tony Adams Vs The World

Bands that hale from Stockport can often be found baying to the black and white confines that their town offers them; their music an almost direct comparison, never mind metaphor, of the Brutalist architecture, the rampant unemployment and the almost-perpetually grey skies that Stockport is synonymous with. Not so the case with The Hope Edition however. Indeed the clue is in the name, and the optimism that runs thematically (if not lyrically) through the core of their latest offering ‘Tony Adams vs the World’, is infectious. 


This review was originally written for Louder Than War. Click here to read in full.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

#280: Apollo Junction - If I Fell (single review)

Born in the '80s, influenced by the '90s and bored by the '00s, Leeds-based electro-indie outfit Apollo Junction have found their popularity rising over recent months, and it's easy to why. Their infectious blend of anthemic song-writing and polished pop musicality has already won over fans at both XFM and the BBC, the latter of which debuting the band's first single 'Begin' on the Graham Norton show. As such, it seems unquestionable that the band are going anywhere but up, and if their recent release 'If I Fell' is anything to go by, it won't be long before they're a household name.

As far as Apollo Junction go, 'If I Fell' is them not straying, but waltzing into true ballad territory. Gone are the pulsing disco beats of previous releases such as 'Daylight', in their stead, stadium-sized production on the drums, occasional string trills and a brilliantly effective piano line. Lyricism has never been the band's strong point; never bad but hardly poetic. It seems here, however, that there's been a distinct maturing between singles and 'If I Fell' comes off all the better for it. Having eschewed the traditional 'party' vibe of their past output, Apollo Junction exhibit here a never before seen Everyman candour. Like the best song The Twang never wrote it's also easily the band's strongest to date.

In terms of slow and heartfelt indie anthems, it's hardly a barren wasteland should one choose to indulge themselves. But more often than not it seems, at least these days, that said anthems are more the bands ticking boxes on the Make-An-Album worksheet as opposed to wanting to create something special. Indeed it's easier to envision a polo-nosed Fray, Turner or Gallagher counting out cash rather than pining over a relationship. Not so the case with Apollo Junction. They're singing about personal situations and making them universal to the listener, but it could quite easily be the other way round, making universal situations personal. Either way the band have come on leaps and bounds over the year or so they've been on my radar, with each single more impressive than the last. With 'If I Fell' however, it seems these five lads from Leeds have cracked it, and it could very well go to be their breakthrough.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

#279: Elastic Sleep - Leave You (EP review)

Elastic Sleep

Leave You

April 28 2014 (Big Tea Records)


When I first heard Cork-based dream-poppers Elastic Sleep last year, they only had one song - 'Anywhere' - uploaded online at the time, but it was one that left me clamouring to hear more. Thankfully, forthcoming EP 'Leave You' not only sees Elastic Sleep having built upon their sound somewhat, but also having managed to pique the interest of the likes of BBC 6 Music it suggests that 'Leave You' might very well be the release that the lifts the band up a league.

Monday, 14 April 2014

#278: Doe - Sooner (EP review)



March 28 2014 (Keroleen Records)


For a band who have only been together little over a year, London three-piece Doe have recorded and released an impressive amount of material. Bringing in the New Year off the back of a handful of well-received releases, the trio's blend of stripped-back punk and lite-twee has quickly gathered momentum, the overall package tied off neatly by a sugary female vocal. Sweet as it is, however, it is not without a certain degree of bite, furthering the band's DIY approach, and giving extra weight to their punk credentials.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

#277: Sabina - Toujours

For Italian-born, French-raised, multi-lingual artiste Sabina Sciubba, creative freedom is everything. Once vocalist of New York’s Brazilian Girls, Sciubba has now struck solo, relishing in the creative autonomy this has afforded her and as such released a debut record full of rich and varied melody, picture-painting lyricism and an almost tangible level of emotional candour. From opening track “Cinema” to the closing moments of final track “Going Home” eleven tracks later, Toujours takes listeners through a series of varying moods an aesthetics with Sciubba’s dark wit a permanent motif that transcends language barriers.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

#276: Mac DeMarco - Salad Days

Born Vernor Winfield McBriare Smith IV, it's easy to see why Canadian singer/songwriter Mac DeMarco has eschewed his birth name in favour of something far more in keeping with the singer's slacker image. It's difficult these days to find mention of DeMarco's name without the S-word being banded about so readily, thanks in no small part to his 2012 debut 2. Now it seems however, that DeMarco is eager to, not quite shake off any of the slacker ambivalence of his debut, but to build on it, bringing to the fore the luscious melodies of '60s pop and interspersing it with moments of lite-psychedelia and the college rock of more contemporary acts such as Beulah. 

This review was originally written for Far Out Magazine. Click here to read in full.

Monday, 7 April 2014

#275: Catching Up With...The Nankeens (U&I Music Magazine - April Issue)

Raised in Salford but with a swagger to rival any band on the other side of the River Irwell, The Nankeens are one of the more diverse bands gracing the stages across Greater Manchester. Similar to Puppet Rebellion in that they aren't afraid to crank their amps up or dial down and showing their softer side, The Nankeens have been gathering both fans and momentum over the course of the last eighteen months or so, with their most recent shows “leaving the crowd screaming for more”. Furthermore, local label Scruff of the Neck have also caught wind of the buzz surrounding the band, suggesting that 2014 might very well be the year everything comes up Nankeen.

With label interest behind, the band show no signs of slowing down. Having just come out of the studio after recording their second EP, The Nankeens look set to build on an already solid catalogue of tracks. The most recent of which, 'Scenester' featuring an Arctic Monkey's-inspired drawl draped lazily across a chunky bassline and frenetic guitars. A far cry from softer, more candid tracks such as 'I'm Not Playing', a track from their first EP, Autonomy, a fitting name for a record which set them apart from many of their contemporaries, and featured the stripped down and simply titled 'Ukelele Song'. Whilst it could easily have given itself over in to somewhat of a parody, it maintains a complete degree of sincerity and as such is a stand out track in the band's catalogue, despite it's potential flippancy. Another track worth mentioning is 'Reaper' a track which brings to mind Aha Shake Heartbreak-era Kings of Leon before veering into some almost-shoegaze style guitars.

While the overall sound of The Nankeens isn't ground-breaking, both the energy and conviction, and at times the emotional candour, that the band possess makes them stand head and shoulders above some of the very bands they share stages with. It's music for the every-man, there are no added pretensions, no unwarranted ego. Sure their SoundCloud page might well purport that they already deserve the attention they get, but to put it bluntly, they're right. And whilst Manchester already has it's fair share of indie bands, very few stand out the way The Nankeens do, and though they might already have predicted it themselves, they certainly have a bright future ahead them.

U&I: Hi guys, thanks for taking the time out to have a chat with us. U&I: First of all, what's the story behind your name? A quick Google search tells me nankeens are in fact a type of trousers, care to elaborate?

Adam Darby: Well nankeen is a type of Cotton, we did a little research on the mill the we have our rehearsal room in and that is one of the things it used to make back in the day.

U&I: Being from Salford, do you find that people expect your sound to be more in fitting with a certain other band, and are they surprised when they find out how different you are from said band?

AD: I wouldn't say people expect it but I do think they're surprised when they hear us. We don't tow the typical Salford/Manchester line when it comes to our music but I think there is just enough in there.

U&I: You've been in the studio recently recording a new EP, what can we expect from those sessions?

AD: Yeah we've just finished recording a six track EP in The Motor Museum studio. It went really well and is by far our best work to date. It's got two tracks that we don't play live so it's something new for the regulars that come to our gigs, too.

U&I: I've seen talk online surrounding you and local label Scruff of the Neck, include the hashtag #newproject. What's happening there then?

AD: Well at present we haven't got any plans in place with Scruff of the Neck. We've finished recording the EP and once it's been mastered we're going to be looking to see if we can get someone to release it for us. So if there's anyone out there interested reading this, give us a shout!

AD: Yeah we had a really good night, we were out all day with a gang of mates and just carried it on straight to the gig. The crowd were ace and it was good to feed off their energy. The gig was being filmed/documented too, so hopefully that will come across on the video.

As for the noise complaint, I think everyone in Manchester thinks the same - why move into somewhere above a music venue and then complain about the noise? It's ridiculous and hopefully will get laughed out of court, if it gets that far.

U&I: Local band The Ninth Watch were also on the bill that night, and have previously been featured in this very column, but what other local bands are on the up at the moment? Anyone you feel our listeners should be hearing and that you want to big up?

AD: Well I think everyone should check out our mates Skinny Roller who are just starting to make a name for themselves. We have got a headline show at Gorilla in Manchester on the 17th May and we have got them in supporting us along with The High Nines. We also recently got The Fallows on with us at our first gig of the year who were really good, were hoping to do some more gig's with them this year so keep your eyes out for that. Also we have done a few gig's with Jordan Allen recently who is definitely on the up at the moment, you will be hearing more and more of him soon.

U&I: Obviously you've played your fair share of gigs over the last couple of years, but what's your favourite venue to play at? Is it different than your preferred venue to watch a gig at?

AD: Well we don't have a particular favourite, as they have have there own individual feel. A few of our faves recently have been The Castle Hotel and The Eagle Inn for smaller venues, and The Deaf Institute and Night and Day have the best vibe for the middle size venues.

U&I: Your gigs have been fantastically well received of late (and even before that). What have you got lined up over the next couple of months in terms of live stuff? Any festivals planned?

AD: We are hoping to get on to some of the smaller festivals and we're playing a few events at media city again this year once summer arrives. Like I mentioned before, we have our biggest headline show to date on the 17th at Gorilla which will be one you don't want to miss.

U&I: (Whilst you're from Salford and I'm bending the rules a little bit this month, I still think this question is pertinent) Manchester is obviously a city full of up-coming talent across a multitude of genres, but what do you think it is about the city that makes it such a fertile place for a young band to find their roots in?

AD: I think it's just down to the sheer amount of live music venues, there is such a massive unsigned scene in Manchester I mean you could gig 7 nights a week if you really wanted to and the talent is better than most of the signed bands out there. Also the endless list of massive bands that have come out of Manchester and Salford play a big part in inspiring and influencing people to have a go them self, that's how i got started anyway

U&I: Finally any news or exclusives we haven't covered that you'd like to leave our readers with?

AD: Well our newly recorded EP is going to be called Blisters, and we're hoping to have a limited release on vinyl so keep your ears and eyes open.

U&I: Thanks guys, it's been a pleasure.

Photos: Trust A Fox Photography

Friday, 4 April 2014

#274: NARCS - Coast to Coast (single review)

Having impressed tastemakers last year with their debut album ‘Two Birds, One Stone Later’ and its resulting launch show, Leeds-based four-piece NARCS have just released ‘Coast To Coast’, the final single to be taken from ‘Two Birds…’. Described as “the swansong of an old couple who refuse to face  modern reality”, ‘Coast To Coast’ is one of the band’s strongest singles to date, the crisp production complimenting the candour of the lyricism fantastically.

This review was originally written for Hooting & Howling. Click here to read in full.