It's been ten years since Maximo Park released A Certain Trigger, their seminal debut. Arguably a defining record of the mid-'00s indie boom, a lot has changed since Paul Smith and co scissor-kicked their way on the pages of NME. Many of their contemporaries have split up or faded in to obscurity, whilst others have been catapulted in to mega-stardom. Maximo Park on the other hand, have done none of those things. Instead they've tread comfortable waters, releasing a steady stream of albums, toured regularly and been celebrated by an ardent yet modest by comparison fan-base.
Sunday, 29 November 2015
As far as musical cities go, Manchester is arguably one of the world’s most famous. This is something which in recent years, has proved to be a double-edged sword for the city’s musical output. Far too many bands these days are preoccupied with reliving the heady days of the ’90s, appropriating the baggy aesthetic in order to leave their mark within the burgeoning pages of Manchester’s musical legacy. But for those bands who haven’t grown up in the city, its history is far less intoxicating, allowing for individuality and integrity both to bleed through their work.
Seattle’s Chastity Belt might at first appear an odd choice of support for the restrained indie of Death Cab for Cutie, but tonight the girls seemed to have reigned in their trademarked rattling garage punk, in favour of a more subdued version aimed at appealing to the now ageing emo contingent in attendance tonight. Fortunately whilst the band seem to have lost some of the snarl and swagger that they harboured on record, they retain much of the pseudo-pop charm that made them great to begin with.
Occupying the murky middle ground between melody and cacophony must be a tiring job, but much like the musical schizophrenics they are, it’s something Leeds’ Forever Cult manage with a vehement tenacity. Coming quickly off the back of previous single Antonio Banderas, the band’s latest release Tunnel Vision is a warped slacker anthem much like we’ve come to expect from FC. Falling somewhere in between the wonky pop of early Nirvana cuts and the abrasiveness of Big Black.
With the clocks going back tonight, you could be forgiven for thinking that with shorter days comes the inevitable bleakness of an English winter. And though you might be right, and I certainly wouldn’t bet against the fact, Warrington’s Viola Beach are a band for whom seasons mean nothing. Operating within a bubble of perpetual summer, their upbeat indie oikishness draws parallels to the likes of Rat Boy, and their latest single Swings and Waterslides is a perfect slice of optimistic slacker-pop that’s sure to offset the cold weather just enough to see us through to their next release. We caught up with the band to find out a little more about them.
With her 2010 debut Lights, Ellie Goulding instantly asserted herself as a solid mainstream artist while managing to retain a somewhat independent spirit. Despite having the backing of Polydor, it was a record that bristled with moody atmospherics not often seen in the Top 40.
Spending time with 'Pure Mood'. the fifth album from Texan shoegazers Ringo Deathstarr, is much like spending time under the influence of ketamine. Like the dissociative, it lulls listeners in to a false sense of dream-like security before bludgeoning them with amorphous walls of discord; feeling both natural, yet completely synthesized, it's a record of lush and expansive soundscapes juxtaposed against the oppressive throbs and drones made staple by the genre's pioneers. Though while there are obvious harkenings to the likes of Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine, 'Pure Mood' is very much its own beast entirely.
Based on title alone, it’s clear that Washington’s Gems are a band unafraid to explore the darker side of life. Itself a reference to Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club, ‘Kill The One You Love’ is dark, confessional, and at times, otherworldly. Much like the novel from which it takes its name, it’s bound together by narrative strands of love, death and fatalism.
This review was originally written for DIY. Click here to read in full.
Monday, 9 November 2015
An album built around the paradoxical combination of self-deprecation and self-satisfaction, Big Wow is, by its very nature, a record at odds with itself from the word go. A cacophonous and lightly psychedelic foray in to the realms of lo-fi indie, Rory Attwell has managed to create a record ripe with all the conventions of a DIY bedroom production, while still managing to mask the wealth of subtle nuances that play out beneath its rough exterior.
Given that Teens of Style is a debut of sorts, you’d be forgiven for assuming that the record’s inherent looseness stems not from aesthetic decision, but lack of experience on the behalf of Car Seat Headrest.
Despite coming just months after the band’s debut LP, Seems Unfair marks a surprising step-up from Trust Fund, and though the DIY twee sensibility of No One’s Coming For Us is still present in swathes, it’s far from a record comprised of that album’s cast offs.
Thursday, 5 November 2015
Image: Katie Clare
When The Cribs last played Manchester back in February, the show was as raucous and as sweaty affair as one might imagine; the ground floor of The Ritz becoming a heaving throng, sweat dripping and limbs flailing. What else you may have noticed if you were at that show, is how the then-new tracks, 'An Ivory Hand' or 'Pink Snow' for instance, despite fitting in with established tracks sonically, brought about a lull in the proceedings thanks to the crowd's unfamiliarity with the material. But, six months have passed since then, and the material from From All My Sisters now sits snugly in The Cribs' canon, as if it had been there from the start.
Image: Lee Hammond
Having followed Bear's Den for a number of years now, it's encouraging to see them grow from the little-known folk three-piece they were, in to the rapidly accelerating force they're becoming. And, as if their burgeoning visibility isn't proof enough, tonight's venue has been up-scaled from Academy 2 to The Ritz, in order to accommodate the fans that clamored for tickets. Indeed such an up-scaling in venue certainly attests to the band's popularity, whilst keeping fans happy, but where does it leave Bear's Den themselves? Can a band that thrives on intimacy make a venue such as The Ritz feel as intimate as those early shows at the likes of The Deaf Institute or Ruby Lounge?
With the clocks going back tonight, you could be forgiven for thinking that with shorter days comes the inevitable bleakness of an English winter. And though you might be right, and I certainly wouldn’t bet against the fact, Warrington’s Viola Beach are a band for whom seasons mean nothing. Operating within a bubble of perpetual summer, their upbeat indie oikishness draws parallels to the likes of Rat Boy, and their latest single Swings and Waterslides is a perfect slice of optimistic slacker-pop that’s sure to offset the cold weather just enough to see us through to their next release.
We caught up with the band to find out a little more about them.
Despite not one of their four members being old enough to drink yet, Leicester-based Midcity are a band far more realised than their tender years would have you believe.
Having recorded all previous material in a garage, their aptly titled 'Honed' EP marks their first foray into the studio, allowing them to polish the rough edges of their demos whilst retaining the dynamic nature of that initial sound. As such, the finished product is one that's remarkably mature for a band of such a collectively young age; the record's three tracks veering from moody indie to ambitious post-rock with apparent ease.
It's somewhat fitting that first track on Cat Bear Tree's latest EP is called 'Adult'. Having come a long way since the DIY recordings of their debut back in 2013, 'Settled In Our Hearts', and indeed the track that opens it, is the sound of a band having truly found their feet, completed the maturing process hinted at on last year's 'Spaces In Between' and as such, allowed their sound to become fully-realised in the process.