Sunday, 29 May 2016

#572: Festivals & Football Stickers - Catching Up With Los Campesinos!

When XFM’s John Kennedy gave Los Campesinos! their radio debut in the form of We Throw Parties, You Throw Knives, it was arguably my ‘Teenage Kicks moment’. A little young to have been able to truly appreciate Peel any way but posthumously, it seems fitting that another John should provide me with such a moment. That was ten years ago now, and while many of the acts I was introduced to by Kennedy have since been lost to the grey haze of memory, or imploded under their own arrogance, Los Campesinos! have successfully stood the test of time, releasing a steady stream of albums backed by annual tours.

#571: Malcolm Middleton - Summer of '13

Despite a complete unfamiliarity with the work of Arab Strap, Malcolm Middleton’s solo material is something that’s been on my periphery for almost a decade now. Seemingly built around a deft balance of hope and hopelessness, Middleton’s usual solo fare dealt in feelings of the downtrodden and the desperate, all offset by major key meanderings. It’s somewhat of a pleasant surprise then, that Summer of ’13, his first solo outing in nine years, harbours a sunnier disposition than previous offerings, allowing optimism only previously hinted at, to flourish.

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

Monday, 23 May 2016

#570: Minor Victories - Self-Titled

The idea of the supergroup is an archaic one. Born out of the in-band disputes and inflated egos of the late 60s and 70s, it's a term arguably only as relevant now as the bands for which it was coined. Sure, the likes of Foo Fighters, or more recently Atoms for Peace, could be considered as such, but in doing so we make the assumption that whatever a band releases will be of a better or equal quality to the material released by the sum of its parts. Fortunately for us, the music industry is a fickle business, allowing me to get away with the following blatant contradiction:

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

#569: The fin. - Through the Deep

That Japanese dream-poppers The fin. “just want to be seen as borderless” is no coincidence. First drawn to the band by incorrect assumptions of an Eastern mystique woven in to their compositions, it was for reasons the exact opposite that I fell in love. Much like myself being first attracted on promises of Eastern exotica, The fin. themselves create a Europhile hybrid of electro-pop and shoegaze – influenced heavily by both the genre's heavyweights, and the western culture they came from.

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

#568: Bivouac - Sweet Heart Deal (single review)

While it’s all well and good to find an intelligent angle for a music review, making a connection to the current Zeitgeist or a reference to the bigger picture, sometimes a release comes along that shatters any plans or preconceived notions a writer might have. Sweet Heart Deal, the comeback single from cult alt-rockers Bivouac is one such release.

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

#567: Modern Baseball - Holy Ghost

I grew up on pop-punk. It shaped my music taste and arguably attributed to an annoying over-sensitivity that remains today. I also grew out of it though, somewhere around the time Billie-Joe Armstrong began the long ascent up his own arsehole and fart jokes and references to incest stopped being funny. Or so I thought.

#566: Mutual Benefit - To Skip A Sinking Stone

An album of two distinct halves, ‘Skip A Sinking Stone’ is made for extended listening sessions, flipping the sides over on a record. Its first half, taking place in the year that proceed Mutual Benefit’s debut LP, finds Jordan Lee in what could be considered a settled life – something manifested in its breezy instrumentation and major key meanderings. The second half however sees Lee in New York, gifted with having the time to work on the new record full-time, but dogged by a growing depression, and a downturn in the relationship that delicately colours the first half.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

#565: Eagulls - Ullages

When Leeds-based quartet Eagulls released their self-titled debut back in 2014, I'd just completed a three year degree in the city. During those three years it became increasingly obvious that, as far as cities go, Leeds wasn't enjoying the same sort kind of rejuvenation as its counterparts further down the M62, and that there was a general consensus of discontent. This feeling was something encapsulated perfectly on Eagulls' debut; a brooding aphorism that provided a voice to the disenchanted while depicting a city apparently resigned to its industrial roots.

#564: Arbor Labour Union - I Hear You

Falling somewhere in between Pixies at their most unhinged and The Velvet Underground at their most propulsive, Georgia's Arbor Labor Union create a kind of psychedelic Southern rock, engrained with grooves and peppered with hallucinogenic imagery. Releasing their first record under the name of Pinecones, the four-piece have since taken root and developed in to the hypnotic, and hugely upbeat and off-kilter outfit they are today.

#563: The Coathangers - Nosebleed Weekend

Though it comes across with all the energy and urgency of a debut record, stick with it and 'Nosebleed Weekend' gently reveals the ten-year career which has preceded it. Formed as a four-piece in Atlanta in 2006, The Coathangers' ambitions went little further than having fun with friends, something which was manifest in the irreverent and angular garage-punk of the band's early releases, and can still be felt in their records even now.

Friday, 6 May 2016

#562: RM Hubbert - Telling the Trees

With his collaborative Scottish Album of the Year winner Thirteen Lost & Found, RM Hubbert, or Hubby as he’s more affectionately known, reconnected with old musician friends, holing themselves “in a room for 6 hours, as we tried to capture our reconnection”. With Telling the Trees, Hubby not only revisits that format, but turns it on its head.

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

#561: Introducing...RedRooms

Though RedRooms certainly seem to occupy some of the darkest corners of Manchester’s indie scene, such darkness rarely extends further than their imagery. And though love and death are prevalent themes, the music itself is built around a strong emphasis on melody, resulting in a rich juxtaposition that belies the band’s relatively young years.

#560: Slow Riot - Trophy Wife (single review)

“Nice to meet you in the morning, when you greet me with a fist” begins guitarist/vocalist Niall Clancy, instantaneously setting the prevailing tone for single. A track about being in a relationship for all the wrong reasons, Trophy Wife exhibits the same, familiar darkness as their debut EP Cathedral, bringing to mind such post-punk royalty as Wire and Television whilst retaining an air of contemporary acts such as Eagulls.