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singles/eps - june 2015


 

Mammoth Penguins - 'Propped Up'

You can always rely on Fortuna Pop to provide the classic indie track the weekend isn't complete without, and 'Propped Up' fairly rattles along like vintage Wedding Present, except with a female vocalist. The sort of pared down no frills hi octane one take indie that we aren't hearing enough of these days.
https://soundcloud.com/fortuna-pop/mammoth-penguins-propped-up

JG


Martha - 'Move To Durham And Never Leave'

Vegan indie-punks Martha are actually from Durham and Roger Whittaker, you ain't going nowhere. Why they open the track with a sample of Rush's 'Spirit Of Radio' isn't really obvious until about halfway through when the track turns into more or less a cover version of the Rush song, leaving me to wonder if the 'vegan indie-punks' description is really accurate, perhaps it should say 'band dedicated to jokey interpretations of 1970s prog metal that are only pretending to be punks and probably aren't even real vegans either'. Enough to make you want to move to Darlington.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fH3mE5crzLI

JG


Los Plantronics - 'Red Hot'

From Norway, and Los Plantronics can certainly pick a song to cover that couldn't fail even if it was played on kazoo and one string banjo, Billy Lee Riley's original is a mainstay of the vintage vinyl circuit and Los Plantronics give it a big band mariachi treatment that'll shake the floor at any Ceroc class, particularly as there are no less than 16 Plantronics knocking 'Red Hot' back into shape. Like it needs it. I've included a clip of the original track just to prove what geniuses Los Plantronics are.
https://soundcloud.com/jansen-plateproduksjon/los-plantronics-red-hot

JG


PINS - 'Everyone Says'

Really boring afternoon round at PINS apartment, nothing to do except lounge around sipping wine and inhaling menthol cigs, reading Noam Chomsky, rearranging the ornaments, bathing in a tub filled with eucalyptus leaves while wearing a one piece swimsuit and filming everything on a b/w 16mm film camera. Oh, and writing a gloomy sounding ballad about what everyone is saying about them.

JG


Stealing Signs - 'Hide And Seek'

Talk about bigging up your publicity, 'they remind me of the sort of indie music I listened to growing up' says celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, 'they' being Stealing Signs. Perhaps Sainsbury's favourite pasta practitioner is really wanting to share his own CD collection with us sometime, although I'm unsure exactly who Stealing Signs are reminding him of (aside from sort of Vampire Weekend a bit). As it is, 'Hide And Seek' might find you recalling the heady daze of the mid 90s up to and including Shed 7, but comments like that from Mr Oliver just make it a bit more difficult for bands like Stealing Signs to make an impression of their own. They are quite good but no, they aren't the new Biffy Clyro. Stop that. Now.

JG


Amateur Best - 'Marzipan'

If you took a Daft Punk track, speeded it up and then added your own vocal the results would sound a lot like the latest offering from Amateur Best. It's too fast to dance to, too slow for techno, has a contrived sounding lyric that mostly consists of repeating the word 'marzipan' and a vocoder comes on right when you thought the track couldn't get any more tacky, with an actual cheese factor of 8.5. This is making 'Marzipan' sound like the sort of deranged sampled stuff that Bentley Rhythm Ace used to churn out back in the day and it would not surprise me if one or more of BRA were involved somewhere in its making although some of you will actually like 'Marzipan' so I won't get too offensively sarcastic about it.

JG


The Catenary Wires – ‘Throw Another Love Song on the Fire”

Amelia Fletcher (ex-Talulah Gosh, Heavenly, Marine Research, Tender Trap…) has returned to the music scene with her latest incarnation as one half of the duo The Catenary Wires. She’s joined by her partner-in-life Rob Pursey who – shock – was also in those aforementioned bands. Amelia and Rob formed The Catenary Wires in 2014 when they moved from London to Bristol and began to bang out tunes on their daughter’s small guitar. This led to bigger things, like playing live, and the recent release of their debut mini-album, Red Red Skies, on Elefant Records (and in the U.S., on Matinée Recordings).

The main delight that runs through all of those above-listed bands is Amelia’s shy, sweet, and delicate vocal tone, whether bolstered by indie rock guitars and trenchant lyrics or upbeat twee-pop stylings. Amelia and Rob tone it down on the 8-track Red Red Skies, shading their absorbing indie alt-folk with melancholic, but bright vocal harmonies, bittersweet lyrics, and hushed acoustic guitar strum. A perfect example of this is ‘Throw Another Love Song on the Fire’, where Rob takes on main vocal duties, while Amelia provides lovely backing and, at times, twinning vocal lines. Rob’s sing-talking vocals are deep and a nice contrast to Amelia’s lighter and more winsome delivery as he intones “…I am cold and lonely / and these flames are the only / warmth inside.”
http://www.thecatenarywires.com/

Jen Dan


The Vintage Caravan - 'Crazy Horses'

From Iceland, are Vintage Caravan the new Spinal Tap? The trio have 'created a truly demented masterpiece' that's only missing a fake stone circle and dancing dwarves to remind us of what heavy metal comedy is all about. Perhaps an interview with Vintage Caravan would turn out as comedic as the 80s movie, the video itself isn't exactly playing for belly laughs and the song is alright for a hair metal track but, within the visual gags of the 'Crazy Horses' video there's a bit of a serious drama rearing its plot somewhere, something like 'son is member of rock band, mum and dad want him to work in a bank, big arguments and subplot about sinister goings on at a nearby paddock'. No it isn't the Osmonds song.

JG


Direct Divide – ‘Tide Is Rising’

Direct Divide, the violin-driven alt-rock trio from Monterey, California, will be releasing its upcoming EP Own Your Ocean on July 24th. Razz (vocals, strings), Kevin Proctor (guitar, synths, keyboards), and Valdemar Huguet (drums) play a distinctive type of symphonic rock that is dynamic and appealing. The band originally formed in Seattle, but after touring throughout 2014, the band members decided to settle in Monterey for the recording of their next offering.

Razz’s powerful vocals grace the 5-track EP and are bolstered even further by energetic rock guitar, violin, and drums. Four of the tunes on Own Your Ocean are fast-paced, high-energy numbers, but it’s the slower, Evanescence-like ‘Tide Is Rising’ that stands out. Razz sings in a softer, more reflective tone amid lilting guitar lines and a subdued drum beat on the verses. On the chorus sections she questions “I’m uncovering my soul / Should I change my whole world?” in a bright, sharply emotive tone as violin strings match her vocal poignancy.
https://www.facebook.com/DirectDivide?fref=ts

Jen Dan


Troyka - 'Arcades'

Every now and again a trio of musicians release a concept album with a sci-fi theme and Troyka's 'Ornithophobia' is one such, based as it is around a theme of animal experimentation going horribly wrong and unleashing large umbers of bird headed human hybrids upon the land. Whether this would ever make for a workable film plot is another question but, storyline aside, you can just sit back and appreciate Troyka's nu-groove post rock/jazz fusion sound, which they're really quite good with.

JG


Samuel Claiborne – ‘Hurt’

Electro-acoustic alt-rock artist Samuel Claiborne, who hails from Rosendale, New York, has a long list of credits to his name including poet, composer, graphic designer, and photographer. He was part of the No Wave music scene in the 1980s and is a former quadriplegic who has translated his experiences while being paralyzed and his gratitude for his recovery into song. Samuel has just released his latest album, Love, Lust, and Genocide, which delves into such themes as politics, sexuality, and spirituality.

The track ‘Hurt’ is a highlight off the 9-song album due to the interesting contrast between Samuel’s soporific, drawn out vocals and the sometimes piercingly sharp guitar lines. The vibe is hushed and shadowy at the song’s start as a measured, syncopated beat keeps time. A contemplative bass line (from guest bassist Craig Hazen) plays against more abrasive guitar lines. Samuel slowly sing-talks his bleak lyrics in a full-of-regret tone, revealing his descent into drug use to wipe out his memories and how he has ended up hurting the ones he loves. He tries “…to kill it all away / but I remember everything / What have I become?”
http://www.samuelclaiborne.com/

Jen Dan


YAK - Plastic People (EP)

If anyone remembers the excitement of the early noughties when bands such as Liars, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster et al first bounced onto the scene, well it looks as though the next wave is almost here. I was buzzing when Fat White Family and Sleaford Mods arrived, but YAK have proved that the music comes first before the antics. “Plastic People” is a monstrous beast of a tune combining The Strokes, Mudhoney, Doors, Iggy and better yet Hawkwind. There are so many hooks and jousting guitars coming at you that no matter how low you duck, you’re doomed!! The middle eight is out of this world; displaying rapid drums, hypnotic bass lines and a Gong style production that would even alert the likes of Steve Hillage. “Smile” surfaces Link Wray; whilst he arm wrestles with Mick Jagger, after tumbling down a hill with Lux Interior. A song that would suit the come down of a peyote binge at the grand canyon. At times calm, but then wildly erratic! “Distortion” is a slow motion tidal wave that takes out 20 towns in one crash. There’s reminiscence of ‘Surfer Rosa’ era Pixies here and seems the perfect train to go out on. I cannot wait for the album.

Gavin Tate


 

Hop Along - 'Powerful Man'

From Philadelphia, literate art punk with echoes of Throwing Muses, Madder Rose and Smashing Pumpkins and a cool looking animated video that isn't quite on Youtube yet, but the song itself is strong enough to catch your attentions without the charcoal and photo visuals with its stop start rhythm and Verlaine inflected guitar lines. There's a Youtube song preview the without the full video so you can do some hopping of your own along to Hop Along's tale of an affair with an older gentleman, 'I was eighteen' sings Frances Quinlan. Probably quite funny if a hopping dance caught on at the bands gigs.

JG


 

Crocodiles - 'Crybaby Demon'

I saw and heard this track a few weeks ago, and thought yeah alright, very very late 80s Mary Chain (including an almost note perfect Reid type vocal) but there are always days when I feel like sticking on my tattered and worn copy of 'Automatic' and 'Crybaby Demon' could slide nearly unnoticed into an expanded reissue of the JAMCs 1989 album, what with its 'she's the virgin sorrow / swallows up my trash' lyric, a chorus about 'getting so high', guitar feedback and everything. 0 for originality, about 10 for accuracy.

JG


 

Vennart - 'Don't Forget The Joker'

I reviewed one of Vennart's tracks last month and here he is again, and getting a feature in the London evening newspaper which should tell anyone a lot about how, after almost fifteen years of slogging it out with Oceansize and then Biffy Clyro, he's a credible presence in the music world today. 'Don't Forget The Joker' also has a former member of the Wildhearts involved and I always had a bit of time for a band I saw perform a rousing set at a gig almost a decade ago. 'It's got weird noises on it' says Vennart in the press release, but has it a tune? Well, it does sound a bit like the Biffy thing of the previous track I heard but it's a more measured guitar song that has more in common with John Cougar Mellencamp than a post grunge thrashabout. Not so many weird things going on in the background either.

JG


Poema - 'Go Away'

Poema are the Nashville based sisters Elle and Shealeen Puckett and 'Go Away' is a track from their EP - or mini album as it has five tracks - 'Pretty Speeches'. It says Nashville in the PR so I'm expecting something a bit alt.country, or perhaps even a sort of country/electronic crossover type of sound (if that exists) and yes, with its generated rhythms and wailing slide guitar it seems as if Poema have actually come up with something a bit different in the laidback summery electropop groove department. 'If you're gonna go away / go away' sing the Puckett sisters but you'll probably feel like staying just to hear their softly phrased voices and guitars.
https://soundcloud.com/poemamusic/go-away

JG


Turtle - 'The Floor / Full Colours' EP

I think its usual for an EP to only have one track featured as its title, and as I'm about to listen to it I'm wondering if it's a double sided single with added remixes or couldn't Turtle decide what to call the first track? The monochromatic sleeve hints at all kinds of doomy darkwave taking place within it and yes it does appear that Turtle is a bit of a Cure fan until 'The Floor' brings its summery chorus to provide a bassy rhythmic counterpoint to the gritty sounding and guitar based song verses. This is probably more difficult to do well than it appears although it also gets a bit samey just after the halfway mark, leaving me to speculate on how so much electropop of varying types really has become a little to formulaic. Also it turns out that 'The Floor' is a single from the EP. Really, it's alright for this sort of stuff but the sequencers take the song over and it's just another bouncy club track.
https://soundcloud.com/weareturtle/the-floor

JG


Cheat Codes - 'Senses'

My download of 'Senses' is quite probably the radio edit, which places the emphasis on the actual song rather than one of the probably several club remixes of the track that will emerge of the next month or two, as 'Senses' is exactly the sort of track that yells 'remix me' loudly, what with its crunching drum lines and bleepy synth effects. You'll probably hear a much longer version of it minus the vocal of guest artiste Lostboycrow later this summer.
https://soundcloud.com/cheatcodesmusic/senses-feat-lostboycrow

JG


 

The Dead Heavys - 'Liquidator'

From Ireland and sounding neither Heavy nor Dead, a mix of summery guitar pop, propulsive funk and a bit of bite to the lyrics, plus the video was probably produced by Banksy. 'They make you hate / as they steal your fate' runs the chorus with some bluesy backing vocals to underline the themes and it all resonates with monochromatic vigour.

JG


Idlewild - 'Every Little Means Trust'

I was a bit pleased to hear that Idlewild had put themselves back together, one of my first review gigs had them appearing and I've always held them in some regard. Comparisons with the Grateful Dead are pushing the metaphorical envelope a little far though, even for such seasoned troubadors as Roddy Woomble and the other four Idlers, if only because over three decades The Dead (as their fans would refer to them) made a lot of music which didn't always sound the same. To make the comparison more complete, the PR has released an acoustic version of 'Every Little Means Trust' for reviewing purposes with the proper single available from all good internet music sites and it's a quite good take on a song that while it might more resemble CSNY (look them up) bodes well for the return of a band that the late 90s would have been very slightly duller without.
https://soundcloud.com/idlewildtheband/every-little-means-trust/

JG


October Drift - 'You Are, You Are'

Making a very big noise what with a sell out tour and a word of mouth fanbase that has them apparently set for actual greatness, October Drift bring the synth fuelled Emo sound with confidence and not too much overbearing chundering, which happens in the rock scene every now and again. Reminds me of several other songs that I like, don't be surprised if they turn into the new Kasabian.

JG


August And After - 'Wolves'

If I had 50p for every song/album/band that has used the words Wolf, Wolves or some other derivative of the name of everyone's favourite non-UK resident woodland scavenger that I've heard of in the last year, I think I'd have about £26. Aside from that, the enduring fascination that bands seem to have with an animal that, let's be honest, you would only usually see or hear in a wildlife documentary or at the zoo if you lived in say Chiswick/Stockport/Bristol or anywhere else this side of the channel tunnel, is something that deserves comment of some sort. August And After, to their credit, merely imply the existence of the wolf as an unseen and distant creature, perhaps as a metaphor of the unknown, mysterious and slightly worrying world away from their own existences. As to the song, it's a mellow folksy number taken at a leisurely pace and I was quite relieved that none of the band lapsed into imitation howling at its conclusion. Perhaps though, it is now time for the Moths, Badgers and indeed Foxes to make their influences heard more widely.

JG


Mantras - Boulevard

Opens with electronic snare taps, followed by a monotone rotating riff, not that far off that of ‘She Sells Sanctuary’ by The Cult. The vocal is reminiscent of Greg Gilbert of The Delays, whilst being carried across a barbed wire fence wrapped in bass hooks and John Squire (Seahorses) era licks. B-side “We’re Alive” has some surprising sudden stop-starts and sounds like it could’ve been a Kula Shaker demo from the early 90s. Hailing from Brighton, the Mantras are proving you don’t have to be overly obscure, when in fact you can quite easily write indie club stompers.

Gavin Tate


Spoilers - Try Try Try

I reviewed their 3 track cassette a while back and since then, they’ve filled London venues with their infectious racket, been snapped up by the influential Fat Cat Records, and have had mentions in the New Musical Express of all publications. “Try Try Try” is a massive up-step from the 3 Songs Tape, whilst displaying; Fugazi style hooks and Mudhoney spells, that would have you jumping through the roof. After hearing this progression, I’m more than confident this lot are here to stay! Dig for this tune.

Gavin Tate


Grimm Grimm - Knowing (Church Version feat. Bo Ningen)

There’s a Lightning Bolt meets Ex Models feel to “Knowing” as this collaboration blends dirge and gospel. The vocal backs up the elephant stampede, followed by minimal synth action and high rising keys. It’s almost reminiscent of a church carol from the Home Alone films (the good ones that is). I saw Bo Ningen at Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona exactly a year ago funnily enough and they were flat out, so this really wasn’t what I was expecting at all, and that’s always a good thing no?

Gavin Tate