Interview – Annie Taylor

Ahead of the release of their debut album Sweet Mortality next month, we had a chat with grunge-psych-pop quartet Annie Taylor. Named after the first person to survive going over Niagara Falls in a barrel, the band are fast making a name of their own with their energy filled tunes and performances; get to know them better here…

Introduce us to Annie Taylor, who’s involved in the band?

We are a four-piece band from Zurich, Switzerland. There is Tobi on the guitar, Michael on the bass, Jan on the drums and I (Gini) am singing and playing guitar.

How are things with you, is lockdown still easing in Zurich?

Currently, it seems like people are getting aware again, that we are still in the middle of an ongoing pandemic. I guess everyone is longing to get back to their usual nightlife habits, but at the moment it looks like there will be no big events taking place anytime soon. But who knows? Could all be different by tomorrow…

And musically how have you managed to keep things going this year?

It was like being on a rollercoaster! We had so many plans in the beginning of 2020 that we were looking forward to: US tour, shows in the UK and festivals in Switzerland. Having the whole US tour and basically all festivals cancelled was a real bummer. And on top of that we also had to reschedule the release of our first album, which was not an easy decision… But on the other hand we suddenly had so much time again to spend with loved ones, writing music or just hanging around. It was a pretty busy time for us in the past year, so this ‘just hanging around’ phase was actually also pretty cool.

Your album Sweet Mortality is due for release in September – tell us about it, what have been the highlights of making the LP?

This was the first time that we actually recorded in a proper studio, where the sole focus was the making of this album. In the beginning of the band it was hard to pay for a studio, so on the previous recordings we got lucky to work with sound-engineering students, that needed some projects to work on in order to improve their skill set. This time, it was completely different. We recorded with engineer and producer David Langhard the first single of the album (17 Days) and it just instantly clicked. Spending time with him and recording at Dala Studios was a blast and I can’t wait to return! The whole production of the album recordings, artwork, music video and so on was really exciting and we also had a lot of support from very talented friends who helped us out wherever they could.

You have a vinyl option for the album, why do you think vinyl’s so popular again?

In our digital world, we are able to listen to whatever we want at any time. But I think it rocks when you go to a concert and buy a vinyl so you can actually hold the music in your hands. I guess it’s also a reminder of the good old times – vinyl forever!

Which other artists have been on your lockdown playlist?

We actually made a lockdown playlist and it turned out as a wild mix of everything! There’s songs of our favourite artists like Wolf Alice, Bleached or Amyl and the Sniffers on it, but also we discovered a lot of unknown artists during the lockdown, which made it on the playlist (I am very happy about getting introduced to Jessica Lea Mayfield!). You can listen to the playlist here:


And what’s your local music scene like, where have you rehearsed and played since the band started and who’s helped you along the way?

There are a lot of really nice venues in Zurich which are hosting a lot of amazing artists. So we are actually very spoiled, when it comes to listening to live music. A lot of touring bands make a quick stop in Zurich, which is awesome! We were lucky to open for bands that we are looking up to, like Sugar Candy Mountain or Sunflower Bean.

Thanks to the lockdown we finally cleaned out our rehearsal space, where we are practicing A LOT. It’s a shelter without windows, in an industrial basement. It’s not the nicest place to hang out, but it’s comfy. Sometimes we also have friends over and every once in a while our label daddy Piet (Taxi Gauche Records) or our booking and MGMT team from Young and Aspiring are popping round with some refreshments, i.e. cold beers.

Any album, any film and any book – what do you choose?

Jan’s pick: The movie Hidden Figures – it’s a very powerful movie about kick ass women and black community power.

Michael’s pick: Motörhead –1916, favorite album ever.

Tobi’s pick: The Ozzy Book. Why? I think this is the only book he ever read, lol.

Gini’s pick: I am hooked on the crime podcasts by GEO Epoche – it’s about historical crimes from the past.

Lastly, what are your hopes and plans for Annie Taylor over the coming year?

Right now, all we are hoping for is that the venues are surviving the pandemic and we can go play shows again.

You can pre-order Sweet Mortality prior to its release on 4th September via Taxi Gauche Records. Catch up with Annie Taylor here and check out latest release Where the Grass is Greener below.

Interview by Siobhan
Band photo © Piet Alder

13th August 2020

A Song for the Times – i refuse to die

Sydney Sprague, a Phoenix, Arizona singer-songwriter, has just released i refuse to die from her upcoming album Maybe I’ll See You at The End of The World. The title is a line from the song End of the World, written two years ago. All this music was written and recorded prior to the pandemic so it seems even more significant for the times we are living in.

Sydney started playing guitar at 11, appearing at coffee shops and malls with the support of her parents. Her dad was often her roadie as well. She moved to Austin, Texas at 18 for a short while before returning to continue writing and performing in Phoenix for the last 10 years. She has released 3 EPs since 2015. I’ve been fortunate to see her many times at Phoenix venues before everything shut down. It’s been fun to watch her grow musically and get to know her.

In January of this year Sydney headed up to Seattle, Washington for a month to work with producer/engineer Sam Rosson to record the album. She was joined by Chuck Morriss III, on bass and synth, and Josh Morin, on drums, both musicians from Jared and The Mill, a band out of Phoenix. Once the project was done, it was mixed by Mike Lepe and now is just waiting for release.

Sydney wrote i refuse to die in December prior to recording, to force herself to remain positive and not wait for the other shoe to drop. The song starts softly, switches to uptempo, then returns to the beginning tempo. She explores what is necessary to keep moving forward.

Because of the limitation placed on being safely in one place, Sydney created a video for the song by using a green screen, using her phone and spending two weeks learning how to use the software to create the video with Rachael (Ray Squared Productions) Smith helping with the news ticker. Set up as a news broadcast, Sydney and Chuck are the newscasters. It is a fun visual interpretation of the song that brings some lightness into these dark times we are living in. The song is on all streaming platforms; you can watch the video below and find more from Sydney Sprague here.

Words and photos (taken prior to lockdown) © Jennifer Mullins

10th August 2020

New Music – Hallan + Medium Love + Susan

New releases – Hallan, Medium Love, Susan

Hallan – Modern England (single)

Released today, Hallan’s latest single Modern England takes an askance look at the paradox of the nation, questioning what’s important as people stumble through life changing events whilst clinging on to social media trends and likes. The band describe the track thus, “With so many strange and vapid trends gripping the nation sometimes you have to take it all in and find some humour beneath the surface. Pugs and face changing apps. What’s that all about? And how could we forget Brexit? It’s a good job we all have our red passports. But then again does anyone in the country have a clue what’s ever going on? Maybe it’ll all blow over if I stick to my microwave dinner and keep my eyes on the screen.” Hallan sit alongside contemporaries like Squid and Shame, both in terms of musical style and observational lyrical content. It’s a real pity that there’s no opportunity to see these new tracks live right now, but don’t let this band pass you by as they seem to be producing consistently quality songs.

 

Hallan

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Medium Love – Overcoming Shyness (EP)

Releasing their debut EP today, Medium Love proffer four tracks filled with sun-kissed guitar riffs and hazy indie-pop that would ironically be perfect for a sunny day at a festival – alas, we can still only dream. Born from the break up of trippy songsters Big Deal, there are unsurprisingly some similarities in the harmonies but the overall sound feels clearer and more absorbent. With a hint of nostalgia and changes in pace between each of the tracks, Overcoming Shyness is a solid introduction to the band, displaying their ability to capture different moods and emotions in the blink of an eye. Vocalist Kacey Underwood says, “Most of my songs come to me in dreams – they are the soundtrack, sometimes I write about what happened in the dream or how it made me feel, I keep a phone by my bed to spit in all out before it evaporates into dream dust”. Take a listen to some captured dream dust here.

 

Medium Love

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Susan – Rose (single)

Hypnotic track Rose is the fourth in a series of monthly releases from Susan, an experimental pop artist who is creating an innovative mix of haunting melodies entangled with an ominous electro/guitar cacophony of sound. That may suggest something a bit disturbing but the result is really quite beautiful. Each monthly release will be backed with a visual created by different artists and videographers; this looks like a project that is definitely worth taking some time out to discover and embrace in all its other-worldly charms. Susan says, Rose is a track written about finding yourself within spaces where self love isn’t acceptable; Eventually pushing you to a place where you experience a higher knowledge of self. It’s about realising your worth through self doubt and depreciation… It needed to invoke the unsettling feeling of not understanding deeply who you are.”

 

Susan

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Words by Siobhan

7th August 2020

 

Album Review – The Psychedelic Furs

The Psychedelic Furs – Made of Rain

Way back amongst a plethora of snarling punk and poppier new wave outfits, The Psychedelic Furs immediately stood out; so much more than the three chord backdrop of the era and Richard Butler’s gravelly vocal bringing a rich, haunting hook, his brother Tim adding deep bass-tones. The dark undertone of tracks like Sister Europe and President Gas stands up all these years later, the haze of Love My Way embedded as a time stamp of the early 80s.

Several decades later then it seems somehow unlikely that they could be producing an album that can still make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, but here we are with Made of Rain, a collection of songs that sound every bit as valid against today’s oddly dystopian background.

Opening track The Boy who Invented Rock and Roll is a strong starter awash with jagged synths, fading into the gritty couplets of Don’t Believe, an updated version of a sound that is unmistakably The Psychedelic Furs. There’s a lot to take in as the album progresses and its mood swings from the upbeat Come All Ye Faithful to the more anthemic Turn Your Back on Me, that would surely provoke a lighters in the air moment live if only people didn’t just use the flashlight on their phones these days.

All in all, Made of Rain is a very welcome return from a band that could easily have chosen to eat out on past triumphs but instead have put together a whole new dining experience for fans past and present. In many cases a long absence is best left to continue, but kudos to the Butler brothers and their new ensemble, this is a happy reunion and adds some fresh content to the songbook without taking anything away from its beautiful past.

Made Of Rain is released tomorrow, 31st July, on Cooking Vinyl. The album will be available on gatefold double 12” vinyl, CD, cassette and digital download with exclusive and signed items available from the band’s Official Store. Link to pre-order and pending tour dates here; watch the video for Come All Ye Faithful below.

Review by Siobhan
Photo © Matthew Reeves

30th July 2020

Album Review – Fontaines DC

Fontaines DC – A Hero’s Death

As a debut album Dogrel more than did its job, a loud, unrepentant punch into the world full of bravado and disquiet, plunging Fontaines DC into mass market idolatry with extensive touring and a saturated fanbase. There are still people shouting about the fact that it hasn’t made this year’s Mercury list despite being on last year’s; a fan favourite for sure.

But make no mistake, Fontaines DC are not here to play puppets to anyone’s expectations, it’s surely no coincidence that the lead track on new album A Hero’s Death contains the repeated refrain ‘I don’t belong to anyone’ and it’s clear from the outset that this album has a whole different sound.

Still the familiarity of the Mark E Smith-esque swagger shines through on recent single Televised Mind and Living in America, but delve into the other songs and you’ll find unexpected hints of Wire, Leonard Cohen and Throbbing Gristle. The angst is still there but it manifests itself through controlled balladry and contemplation, notably mid-album on side by side tracks You Said and Oh Such a Spring.

When you’ve found a winning formula, it’s a bold move to leave it to one side, but the world is a very different place to what it was a year ago and A Hero’s Death feels like a much better fit right now. It’s only a tricky second album if you try to replicate the first one and there’s no danger of that here. Throw your presumptions aside and enjoy the new incarnation.

UK tour dates are planned for May 2021 and the band have just announced outstore performances for Resident in Brighton and Banquet Records in Kingston in November, updated regulations allowing.

A Hero’s Death is out via Partisan Records this Friday 31st July – preorder link here. You can watch its first performance streamed in A Night at Montrose, Dublin on Monday 3rd August; all album purchases from the Fontaines DC store by 9pm on 2nd will receive an access code beforehand. Watch the video for Televised Mind below.

Review by Siobhan

28th July 2020

 

HENGE – New Single & Bluedot Festival Livestream

HENGE – Exo single launch & livestream from Bluedot Festival

Today, inter-galactic rock troupe Henge release their latest single Exo, the lead track from their pending new album ExoKosm, cited as ‘another exploration into the band’s unique interplanetary sound known as Cosmic Dross’. Incorporating the talents of their audience, the animated music video for Exo has been created with art made by their loyal human fanbase, who had the opportunity to submit illustrations in return for a special edition HENGE comic book.

While tour dates are being rescheduled, you can dip into the cosmic world of HENGE tomorrow, 25th July, as they take part in Bluedot Festival’s A Weekend in Outer Space online extravaganza; be sure to park your virtual spaceships in an orderly line.

Photographer Ingrid Turner’s images from previous shows will give you an inkling that this is likely to be no run of the mill Saturday morning…

Video for Exo below

Catch up with HENGE here and check out the full details of Bluedot’s weekender

Photos by Ingrid Turner

24th July 2020

The Blinders – New Album & Livestream

The Blinders – Fantasies of a Stay at Home Psychopath

On Friday, The Blinders released their new album Fantasies of a Stay at Home Psychopath. Last night, they followed this with a streamed launch which only served to reinforce how much we’re all missing live music. The band are renowned for giving a blistering performance and, despite the obvious lack of opportunity to interact with fans on this occasion, their trademark energy and intensity were still very much to the forefront.

Following on from first album Columbia, the new offering feels like the band have had time to consider and incorporate their influences into their own brand of alt-rock with a heavy noir twist. The result is a departure from the debut and begs to be seen live in the flesh. Tour dates scheduled for March will doubtless sell out in no time. But for now, the livestream from their Manchester studio has whet the appetite, ably abetted on the night by the complimentary skills of Eoghan Clifford on guitar, Paris Taylor on backing vocals and percussion, Thomas Castrey on drums and Callum Chesterman on keys.

Fantasies of a Stay at Home Psychopath is a reflection of the shades of societal dystopia that come from living in the shadow of Brexit, the climate crisis and the global pandemic, a bizarre situation that prompts justified angry anthems. Lunatic (With A Loaded Gun) calls on the disturbing imagery of Trump’s separation policies… ‘there are children in cages on Monday’s front pages’ and the metaphorical loaded gun crashes through the tribal drums and half spoken vocal. The Doors-esque Black Glass draws towards the final track In This Decade, where things slow to a pensive contemplation of the fragility of the environment we live in… ‘for in this decade there’s no knowing if there’s gonna be a tomorrow’. All in all, the album is a journey through the increasingly varied aspects of The Blinders’ repertoire, and a welcome addition to the bleak background but certainly not creatively challenged facade of 2020.

Fantasies of a Stay at Home Psychopath is available now via Modern Sky UK – purchase the album and tour tickets here.

Words by Siobhan

21st July 2020

New Music – Silverbacks + Pet Grotesque + Erasure

New releases – Silverbacks, Pet Grotesque, Erasure

Silverbacks – Fad (album)

Following the slow drip of tantalising singles over the last couple of years, Dublin’s Silverbacks finally release their much anticipated album Fad today. If you’ve not heard the band before, opening track Dunkirk is a fine introduction, all spiky guitars and spoken lyrics, flavours of The Fall and Sonic Youth easing their way throughout the song. Further into the album, Just In The Band depicts the tale of Bowie and Iggy Pop’s friendship which is surely worthy of consideration. Lots of influences abound but Silverbacks manage to shape -shift these into their own enigmatic sound, a fad worth getting involved in.

Fad is available now on Bandcamp or via your local record shop. Live dates are being rescheduled for 2021, in the meantime check out the album and watch the video for  Pink Tide here. 

Silverbacks

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Pet Grotesque – Scratch (single)

Most recently seen as touring keys player in Goat Girl and a member of Tiña, featuring on Speedy Wunderground’s latest excellent release, Pet Grotesque has spent much of lockdown working on his second album. If new track Scratch is anything to go by, it will be one to watch out for. Mixing gnarly psych undertones with dreamy lo-fi pop sensibilities, Scratch sounds like the soundtrack to a balmy summer evening with just a hint of menace. The forthcoming album is mixed by PVA’s Josh Baxter, promising another layer of genre-fused finesse.

Listen here

Pet Grotesque

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Erasure – Shot A Satellite (single)

Stalwarts of electro-pop, Erasure release a new track this week as a precursor to their album The Neon, due to be launched into the world next month. Long time fans of the band need not worry that they’ve strayed too far from what they know and love. If anything, Shot A Satellite is testament to the heady days of the 80’s dancefloor, looking set to stick in your head and prompt a listen to material old and new. Speaking about the new songs and the use of older instruments and machines, Vince Clarke says, “There’s a warmth to them. There’s also a real beauty in putting different analogue synthesisers together, too – a Pro-One, a Sequential Circuits, a Moog – they give this lovely sheen… It was about refreshing my love – hopefully our love – of great pop. I want kids now to hear these songs! I wanted to recharge that feeling that pop can come from anyone.”

The Neon is scheduled for release on 21st August via Mute Records, you can pre-order the album here and watch the video for Shot A Satellite below.

Erasure

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Words by Siobhan
Photos via Prescription PR, Majesty PR, Sonic PR

17th July 2020

Album Review – The Streets

The Streets – None Of Us Are Getting Out Of This Life Alive 

“Stand by me my apprentice; be brave, clenched fists”

The concluding lines of Turn the Page, the opening track of Original Pirate Material, Mike Skinner’s game-changing debut album under the moniker The Streets, which turned eighteen this past March. 2020 sees his prophecy fulfilled, as None of Us are Getting Out of This Life Alive sees him recruit some of UK music’s most exciting acts to collaborate on what is the first record by The Streets in nearly a decade.

It’s difficult to differentiate what constitutes as ‘The Streets’ and a project by ‘Mike Skinner’ in the years since he retired the moniker in 2011; I’d imagine Skinner isn’t exactly sure where the line is himself, and this new mixtape provides no clear answers. On the face of it, it doesn’t scream an album by The Streets; whilst the infamous clipper lighter logo adorns the cover, the kitchen-sink imagery of lonely bus stops or Goliath tower blocks that they bordered don’t feature, instead it sits entangled by a brazen gold chain, a trophy to recognise Skinner’s impact on UK music, and a tease into the young heirs who he’s brought along as proof being in the pudding. However, as a collaborative project it possesses a palpable creative spirit and fun energy but also a sloppiness (the latter of which could not be said of Original Pirate Material or A Grand Don’t Come for Free) and surprisingly the most jarring part of the mixtape is often Skinner himself.

His idiosyncratic style, only a step away from spoken word but with a documentarian eye for detail that captured early 2000’s youth culture so definitively, here stands out often as clumsy and wonky when placed alongside some of the slicker features. If this were your introduction to The Streets it would be hard not to think that Skinner is failing to keep up with the kids, at times the difference in tone and rhythm borders on embarrassing. It doesn’t help that it’s stylistically all over the place and inconsistent in production too, for example the titular track with Bristol punks IDLES should have been a towering, punishing success but disappointingly sounds tepid and brittle. On the other hand, the wobbly dubstep of Eskimo Ice with Kasien is the polar opposite; hard, loud and face-scrunch inducing.

As for the features, it’s where the mixtape shines for the most part and Skinner should be given credit for finding space and allowing for their personalities to flourish, even if it works against him personally in a number of cases, though one is left wondering for what reason the highly anticipated Slowthai duet did not make the cut, with him being often labelled as the true heir to Skinner’s crown. Initial listens are a little harsh, but after a few playbacks it would be hard to argue that Skinner has nothing left to offer UK music in 2020, especially when sparring one-liners with Ms Banks on You Can’t Afford Me – “She talks about her ex so much even I miss him” / “I ain’t gonna allow you mate, not even a little, I’m from M&S babes, you got a better chance at Lidl’s” or when weaving around a meditative Everything is Borrowed style beat on Falling Down with Hak Bakar.

Skinner is at his best when crafting a narrative, it’s when his conversational style is at its most charming and effective and this formula here doesn’t allow for such, but if there’s a running theme at all it would be technology; specifically phones. Not the first time Skinner has mused on mobiles, they appear throughout his past work and interestingly can be used to date the projects; the early 2000’s struggle of standing by the door of a club to get signal on Blinded by The Lights or developing a nervous apathy for the introduction of camera phones in the mid-2000s for the fear of being caught in some toilet cubicle hedonism in When You Wasn’t Famous. The same can be said here, his unique view on the 21st century appendage is viewed through a focused 2020 lens and results in the most interesting lyrical moments, as in his references to ghosting and watching Instagram stories Skinner is delightfully honest; like many of us, his phone is always in his hand, though as he says outright, if you think he’s ignoring you, he is.

So, in the end NOUAGOOTLA only muddies the waters further of what The Streets exactly are in 2020; a return to music in the form of a mixtape of rap duets in which the features often outshine the lead should, on paper, be a disaster. But much like the chain on the cover, it’s different than before but there is gold that can be found gleaming through, after the first few awkward listens. 

None of Us are Getting Out of This Life Alive is out now on Island Records; more details and link to buy tickets to a livestream performance from London on 6th August here – watch the album sampler below.

Review by Ryan Bell

16th July 2020

 

Interview – LEECHES

As psych-surfers Leeches release their singles collection Easy, we had a chat about musical influences, how they’re coping with lockdown and painting along with Bob Ross. At times like these it’s important to hold very serious conversations, and it’s highly likely that someone, somewhere is doing exactly that.

Leeches are Jack Pearce (bass/vocals), Ben Lowe (guitar/vocals) and Frank Waloszek (drums) and that much at least is true – probably. Here goes…

Hey, how are things with all of you – where have you been spending lockdown?

Jack: I’ve been in a shed in my parents garden keeping myself busy with my Only Fans account.

Ben: As I have not been able to drive my Porsche around the south of France lately, I have not been in the best mood.

Frank: I stay as far away from Jack and Ben as humanely possible, filthy cretins, they definitely have Coronavirus.

Your singles collection Easy was released last week, tell us about it…

Frank: Well actually… as far as I was concerned, it was supposed to be a Jazz Fusion album called Pints as an Act of Persistence but due to pressure from the record label, our manager, and Jack/Ben we had to scrap that idea and it became a heavy rock singles collection instead, but it’s still pretty good to be honest.

Jack: It was originally meant to be a pure Jazz Fusion piece but Frank insisted on making it more accessible, and kept threatening to leave the band so we settled on this.

Ben: It was always our (mine and Jack’s) dream to be the biggest band on Clarendon Road. Then Frank was enrolled as percussion I remember, and we moved on to Ascham Road. We progressed to barking on both these roads riff by delightful riff, singing and whistling as we strode. Alfie Tyson-Brown, a butcher by trade, took us under his meaty wings and turned our gaze to larger streets, upon which he showed us not only how to rock, but how to roll upon these new avenues, the likes of which we had never seen the like of which. Christian and Alex, the knights of Bristol at the time, the striders ahead,  knew of even brighter pastures. We now want to bark on these roads when Boris says “Yeah alright”.

How difficult is it releasing music when you can’t get out to promote it?

Jack: It is hard to know how it will land and would be nice to tour it, but it means we can work on stuff like the music video and go through old unfinished tracks. Every artist is in the same boat though, it’s been amazing seeing how people have worked around it.

Frank: About as difficult as it was playing to a venue full of debauched wasters who had no recollection of the gig the following morning.

There’s a track called Bob Ross, have you ever tried to paint along with him?

Frank: Of course.

Jack: Wouldn’t dream of it.

Ben: Due to an ongoing court case, I’ve been advised to answer no comment to this question.

You’ve been with Leisure Records for a while now, how did you first start working with them?

Frank: It all happened so fast. I was auditioned for the band, and when we were certain it was going to work the next thing we were travelling up to Bristol and London, just all over the place really, networking with all these real characters, you know… and somehow they were making it all happen. It was greatly uplifting to discover such a conglomerate of proactive, cultured folk. Jack and Ben had already done most of the hard work when I joined the band. I was quite literally the leech.

Ben: Christian and Alex from Leisured Recordings threw big money on the table and my accountant told me this was my only option after what happened with the last label.

Jack: Please see Frank’s answer.

Musical influences – what are your earliest memories of listening to music as kids and which artists do you count as long term favourites?

Jack: When I was little, my folks would listen to Euphoria compilations and REM while we drove around, I think that had a big influence on me. That and getting into all forms of dance and psych-rock, Sabbath’s first two albums and early Chemical Brothers got a proper rinsing.

Frank: Anything that was on cassette cause it got played in the car. Devo was the first band I ever really ‘got into’. After that it was Weather Report.

Is 2020 the weirdest year ever and can you pick out some good bits amongst all the mayhem?

Frank: Yeah, it is the weirdest year. On the bright side – I think the impact of this Coronavirus has overtly exposed a lot of serious inadequacies and hypocrisy in politics and the economy on a global scale, to say the least. There’s nowhere to hide it; we have to pay up and counter-weigh all the broken aspects of the system to make things work and it shows. Hopefully it’ll ignite a change for the better. Because I think people everywhere are beyond fed up with all the horseshit – we all share that in common, albeit with different agendas.

Jack: Frank put it really nicely. It’s definitely a catalyst of a year, I just hope things pick up in the right direction.

And assuming things revert to normal at some stage, what’s next for Leeches?

Frank: Who knows… I mean, beyond getting around to making that Jazz Fusion album we never completed… I don’t know.

Jack: We will be going under the new name of Scalping.

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Easy is out now via Leisure Records, you can buy it here and watch the video for All of the People below.

 

Catch up with LEECHES here

Interview by Siobhan
Band photo © Rowan Allen

8th July 2020

New Music – Beach Riot + In Earnest

New releases – Beach Riot, In Earnest

Beach Riot – Wrong Impression (single)

Proving to be another great signing for Alcopop!, Beach Riot’s latest offering brings not just music but retro gaming skills to the table. Wrong Impression showcases the band’s trademark mix of fuzzy grunge and new wave harmonies, a suggestion of what might happen if their Brighton neighbours Blood Red Shoes and Demob Happy were poured into the melting pot.

The single is released alongside a specially designed retro style Instagram filter arcade game. To play along, search ‘CATNIP 3000’ on Instagram filters and share your high scores with the band. Not only do you get to fly a spaceship but there’s a prize up for grabs for the record-breaker, details to follow but it probably won’t be a spaceship.

Commenting on the new track, the band say: ’Imagine that you had the chance to go back in time to tell your younger self that you turned out alright. You’d do it, right? You’d give your old self some much needed advice and encouragement, and then be on your way? As we can’t go back in time, maybe take a moment. Next time you catch yourself in a reflection let yourself know it’s gonna be OK now. Love yourself’.

The only beach riot you should be involved in right now, Wrong Impression is released via Alcopop! Records.

Beach Riot

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In Earnest – Come Upstairs (single)

In Earnest continue to tackle the reality of living with mental health issues in a very honest, uncomplicated way. The Southend trio are made up of Sarah (vox, keys), Thomas (vox, guitar) and Toby (violin, guitar) and together they create music that manages to be delicate and reassuring at the same time. New single Come Upstairs is the epitome of this.

Written from Thomas’s perspective, as he urges Sarah not to give up hope, he says, ‘In the wake of my partner’s mental health struggles, it feels like I spend every waking moment trying to keep a brave or positive face on and there are times when I find it difficult to maintain my own identity. We’re gradually learning how to combat negative thinking, but I’m usually the one who takes the weight and pulls her out of waves of depression.’

The track has a feel of Goo Goo Dolls’ Iris and addresses a situation that many people will recognise and empathise with; a reminder that there’s always someone there to talk to and keep things at a level that feels ok.

Aside of the message, it’s a great song and promises more to look forward to when the band release their forthcoming EP later this year.

In Earnest

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Words by Siobhan
Photos via In Earnest and Wall of Sound PR

3rd July 2020

 

Album Review – Dream Wife: So When You Gonna…

Dream Wife – So When You Gonna…

Wasting no time on a gradual build, Dream Wife’s latest Album So When You Gonna storms straight into opening track Sports!, and there’s little let up from thereon in. There’s a hint of earlier singles Hey Heartbreaker and FUU but with a slicker production and overall sound, courtesy of producer and mixer Marta Salogni (Björk, FKA Twigs), engineer Grace Banks (David Wrench, Marika Hackman) and mastering engineer Heba Kadry (Princess Nokia, Beach House). ‘It was amazing to work with this community of womxn on this album who are supporting each other in an industry that is so male-dominated. It was a way of us practicing what we preach. It felt like an honour to be able to deliver this baby with these three amazing midwives,’ says guitarist Alice Go. ‘What would you call the opposite of gate-keeping? Facilitator? Enabler? It’s all about opening the gates,’ adds bassist Bella Podpadec.

The punk ethic confronting societal issues head on is absolutely still apparent and now sits neatly alongside poppier tunes on which it’s hard not to contemplate the influence of vocalist Rakel Mjöll’s Icelandic compatriots The Sugar Cubes, notably on the trio of U Do U, RHRN and Old Flame. However, don’t settle too far into your seat because these are followed by the explosive collision that is the title track (video below). A stand out for me is Homesick, three minutes of Viv Albertine meets Karen O whilst spinning on the Waltzers. If this were a gig, the finale of After the Rain would be a fitting close to the evening, its minimal keynotes providing the perfect backdrop to emphasise the piercing vocal; the message ‘It’s my choice, my life… it’s my body, my right’ evocative of Dream Wife’s continuing message that gender should be no barrier to who you are and what you do. Speaking of barriers, this is an album that will have the one at the front of the stage bouncing when we reach a point where live music can be enjoyed again. Currently the three-piece are set to tour across the UK then around Europe in April and May 2021 – keep your fingers and toes crossed.

So When You Gonna… is out on 3rd July via Lucky Number Music – you can pre-order here or, from Friday, maybe pop to your newly re-opened local record shop to pick up a copy if you’re lucky enough to have one nearby. Watch the video for Sports! below.

Review by Siobhan
Band photo © Sarah Piantadosi

30th June 2020

 

New Music – Bo Ningen + Tugboat Captain

New releases – Bo Ningen, Tugboat Captain

Bo Ningen – Sudden Fictions (album)

For those familiar with the band, it will be no surprise that Bo Ningen have created an album that will leave you with no option other than to sit up and pay attention. What may be more unexpected is the diversity of music as Sudden Fictions take you through a journey of different genres and sonic references. From the opening assault of the lead track You Make a Mark Like a Calf Branding to the jarring psych-rock of Zankoku, it’s clear that the whole record is a complex, intriguing piece of art. It manages to sound like a classic and completely new simultaneously and will hold your attention from start to finish. The weird and wonderful world of Bo Ningen just took a leap further than any of us might have imagined.

Sudden Fictions is out today on Alcopop! Records – purchase here and listen to Zanzoku below.

Bo Ningen

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Tugboat Captain – (single)

With a departure from their lo-fi beginnings, Tugboat Captain’s new release No Plans (For This Year) blends a much deeper, layered musical background to form a track that would drop happily into the 60s’ summer of love and harmony. Noting that it had the feel of an updated, uptempo Eleanor Rigby, it was interesting then to see that the band have been recording at Abbey Road. Coincidence or otherwise, the new sound may have its inspiration in the past but is perhaps more akin to contemporaries like Foxygen and The Lemon Twigs. The title may suggest a lockdown lullaby but the song was actually written 18 months ago. A perhaps prophetic, solid single with a crescendo of a finale; check it out below.

Tugboat Captain’s debut album Rut is due for release on 16th October via Double A-Side Records. Listen to No Plans (For This Year) below and purchase here.

Tugboat Captain

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Words by Siobhan

26th June 2020

Album Review – Pottery: Welcome to Bobby’s Motel

Pottery – Welcome to Bobby’s Motel

The latest offering of post-punk revivalism from Partisan Records comes in the form of Welcome to Bobby’s Motel, the debut album from Montreal based five-piece Pottery, who made waves in 2019 thanks to the release of their EP No. 1, as well as touring alongside label-mates Fontaines DC and American art-punks Parquet Courts.

Listening through Bobby’s Motel, it’s evident that the latter left a strong impression on the band, who have enlisted the production talents of Jonathan Scheneke, who worked on Parquet Courts brilliant 2018 album Wide Awake! From this, it makes sense that Wide Awake and Bobby’s Motel both share a playfulness in approach to genre and performance, and in just under forty minutes Pottery toy around with elements of groovy dance rock and spiky post-punk, adding flourishes of disco and glimpses of psychedelic rock, with an impressive degree of consistency.

I say impressive and not perfect, as Pottery’s genre gear changes occasionally work against them, resulting in the flow of a song stalling and preventing it from reaching its full potential. Thankfully, there are twice as many instances where this is not the case, the foremost being the sizzling Hot Heater, which breaks out of its relatively straightforward first half and convulses into a glorious dance-rock freak-out that echoes Stop Making Sense-era Talking Heads, another influence detected running throughout Bobby’s Motel.

From then onwards Pottery don’t let up, possessing an infectious energy and a palpable sense of sweltering performance (appropriate for the many references to heat and temperature), the band rarely stop for breath aside from Reflection and the sweet dream-pop ballad finale Hot Like Jungle.

As for themes, you’d be forgiven to believe at first glance Pottery were releasing a narrative album but that’s not the case; Bobby and his titular motel are less literal figures and more metaphors for human existence, the grit and grime and the exuberant shade of joy in the face of often overpowering shadow. In the release notes it’s described as ‘an all-encompassing alternative reality that the band have built themselves, for everyone else’ which does read as an excuse to throw as much as possible at the wall to see what sticks and have the most fun in doing so. The good thing is the last part cannot be disputed, Bobby’s Motel is packed with quick tempoed tunes that are undeniable in their ability to literally move the listener; try and sit still during Hot Heater, Texas Drums Pt 1&2 and Bobby’s Forecast and prepare to fail miserably.

It’s the albums strongest component, that even in the moments where the transitions fail to click or when a chorus lacks a solid punch, it’s still projected with the kind of compelling energy that you’d only find in a jam session gone wild, a band caught up in the moment, which despite sounding tedious, makes Welcome To Bobby’s Motel a joyous listen for the most part.

Welcome to Bobby’s Motel is out tomorrow via Partisan Records; you can order the album in various formats here and listen to Hot Heater below.

Review by Ryan Bell

25th June 2020

Interview – The Red Stains

Making waves on the Manchester music scene and beyond, The Red Stains bring a fresh blast of energy with their spiky tunes and brusque, incisive lyrics. Get to know them better here, then keep them on your radar when live music kicks off again…

Give us a quick intro to The Red Stains, who’s involved & where did it all begin?

The Red Stains are a Manchester based contemporary post-punk band. We started playing together last year. Our names are Natalie Emslie, singer, Sterling Kelly, bass, Ella Powell, synths and guitar, Ben Dutton, drums.

How’s lockdown been treating you, are you all ok?

Thanks for asking, nobody ever asks us if we are okay in interviews! We miss the pub and we are looking forward to being able to play together soon for the first time in ages.

Tell us about your recent single Mannequin

It’s a song about objectification and more specifically the objectification that you experience when you are a woman. It takes the piss out of the way that women are judged solely by their appearance.

Ella: The synths are fun to play cause it’s not following traditional chord structures.
Sterling: This is the fastest bass line out of all the Red Stains songs in our set. It’s kind of gritty and I see it as controlled anger.
Ben: For me it’s opposite to Sterling. It’s probably the simplest song in our set. It’s constantly keeping time, being the metronome for the band.
Natalie: It’s a protest against all the arseholes that have done me wrong in life. It’s a very powerful and personal song to me. When I play it I feel bloody untouchable and reminded how strong we are. We are nobody’s mannequins, nobody’s toys!

There are lots of venues struggling to keep afloat right now, are there any local to you that you want to give a shout out to?

Yes, our local favourite is The Peer Hat in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. It’s basically our second home. There is also the Night & Day Cafe, which is where we are going to play our postponed single launch, hopefully in October. We can’t wait!

And where else do you like to spend your time around Manchester?

We like the Greggs at Piccadilly Gardens.

Mannequin reminds me of The Slits, who else have you been likened to – any surprises?

We have been likened to The Fall, but that is not a surprise. We have heard it said that Natalie has an Ian Curtis stare and Sterling’s bass playing has been compared to JJ Burnel.

Last album/playlist any of you listened to?

Ben: The Professionals – I Didn’t See It Coming
Sterling: Nova Twins – Nova Twins EP
Ella: Kelly Lee Owens – Kelly Lee Owens
Nat: Felt – Let The Snakes Crinkle Their Heads To Death

As well as the music, you’re also putting together a zine called JAM TARTS, what’s that all about?

We wanted our friends and wider community to be involved in making art with The Red Stains. It’s fun and care-free with the goal of making art accessible to everyone, contributors and readers alike.

I guess future plans depend a bit on how things progress with the easing of lockdown but what are you hoping the rest of the year holds for The Red Stains?

We hope to record another single, to play our postponed single launch and generally just go back to gigging and being a band.

Catch up with The Red Stains here and listen to Mannequin below

Interview by Siobhan
Photo © Andi Callen 

18th June 2020

New Music – Asylums + Gum Country + Nijuu

New releases – Asylums, Gum Country, NIJUU

Asylums – Platitudes (single)

Flying the DIY flag for Southend on Sea, Asylums have shared their latest single Platitudes, adding to their already impressive catalogue of infectious punk edged tunes. Energy is never in short supply where the band are concerned and the track is a welcome burst of bouncing riffs and raw emotion in the vocals. The video is made up from spliced home recordings of gigs and festivals and makes the promise of a return to live music sometime in the future look all the more inviting. When the chance permits, keep Asylums at the forefront of acts to catch live.

Platitudes is the third track taken their forthcoming album Genetic Cabaret, recorded with legendary producer Steve Albini. Genetic Cabaret is released on 17th July via Cool Thing Records – you can pre-order a copy here. In the meantime, watch the video for Platitudes below.

Asylums

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Gum Country – Talking to my Plants (single)

Jangle-indie pop is high on the agenda for Canada’s Gum Country, and their latest single Talking to my Plants is laden with fuzzy guitars and honeyed vocals. The band’s own description of their music as ‘harsh twee’ is a fair one, and a dulcet-toned track inspired by a fondness for gardening fits the bill well. Their sound is evocative of Stereolab and the soft side of Sonic Youth , the song an indicator of more delicacies to come on their pending album Somewhere.

Talking to my Plants is out now, listen below. You can pre-order Somewhere ahead of its release on 19th June here.

 Gum Country

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Nijuu – Nijuu in the Sea (EP)

Korean dream-pop artist Nijuu has shared Blue, the lead track from her soon to be released debut EP, suggesting an eclectic mix of hazy soundscapes will be forthcoming. Incorporating recorded elements from nature to air-conditioning units, this looks set to be ambience with added impact. The vocals on Blue float seamlessly alongside the minimal instrumentation, and beg comparison towards the likes of Cocteau Twins or Mazzy Star, reflecting the continuing theme of the sea throughout the EP – you can almost feel the waves lapping over your feet.

Nijuu in the Sea will be released on 25th June via State51 Conspiracy; for now listen to Blue here.

Nijuu

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Words by Siobhan
Photos: Asylums © Kana Waiwaiku, Gum Country via One Beat PR, Nijuu via Yes Please PR

12th June 2020

Interview – Doomshakalaka

Introducing Doomshakalaka, maybe better known to some of you as Paul Rafferty, previously of Hot Club de Paris, the indie rock outfit once described in The Guardian as ’abstruse and charming in equal measure’. With his debut self-titled album set for release, we asked what’s gone into its 10 years in the making and got some top tips for a trip to Liverpool…

You’ve been involved in the music industry for a while now, how was the idea of Doomshakalaka as a new project born?

The idea for Doomshakalaka came about around 2011. I’d been writing bits of music here and there that wasn’t suitable for my band at the time (Hot Club de Paris) and once that folded, I wanted to make music without the compromises that you might encounter in a band. When you’re writing as a group you’re attempting to satisfy all the member’s creative visions. The reason the Doomshakalaka record took so long was because it turns out that those series of compromises is what makes writing quicker and easier.

Your album is out tomorrow, it feels like you’ve put a lot of yourself into its making – how personal is it and who else has helped you make it happen?

I guess all ‘solo’ records are pretty personal affairs but this feels particularly so as I recorded all of the material as well as writing and performing it. I mixed it and then designed all of the artwork so I’ve probably put more of myself into this record than a lot of people would. It’s certainly more input than I’m used to so there was a steep learning curve with regard to figuring out how to manage my expectations as a creative person, in line with a lot of technical stuff I was learning about how to record music. My friend Tom English played the drums and provided a much needed voice of reason / encouragement / enthusiasm, without which I might still be recording it now.

Is there a track that stands out for you and what’s it about?

At this point on a good day I love all of the songs in equal measure and on a bad day I hate all of the songs in equal measure. I’ll choose the song Black Balloons. I like the linear arrangement and organic space in it. It feels like I was writing in quite an unabashed, unconstrained way that I feel is a tough zone to get into. I think a lot of writers feel like they’re playing full-contact sport for Team Zeitgeist and it’s sometimes difficult to remember to make whatever the fuck you want. The lyric started as a joke; my girlfriend finds it amusing that I often mention people’s birthdays or birthday parties in songs, and I wanted to write something that might make her laugh. It all went a bit dramatic though and started to be about gunshots and dreaming about your house burning down.


Has lockdown affected your release plans at all?

There were no plans to play this record live as I don’t have a band as yet, so we’re just pressing on regardless of lockdown. It’s kind of tough to make videos for the singles in this situation but restriction often presents better ideas so I’m not too bothered.

Tell us about the video for lead track One Last Saturday Night which features you walking with your dog – is it right that it was shot by your girlfriend on an iPhone?

Yeah, we made it during the initial stages of lockdown. I was recovering from a particularly unpleasant surgery where I’d had a scarred nerve removed from the ball of my foot which is why I’m on crutches in the video. We needed to make something near the house, preferably whilst we walked our dog and not too strenuous, so it was the best we could muster in the circumstances. Turns out she has a very steady hand, plus we’re isolated together so she was the perfect choice for DOP.

And how’s your foot now, will we see you undertaking a series of increasingly difficult sports activities on subsequent videos?

There is 0% risk of me doing anything strenuous on camera.

Liverpool’s normally a pretty busy city – outside of quarantine where are favourite places to go?

Most of my favourite places to go tend to involve food or coffee or both. I really like eating at The Bagelry and most recently Meatless. I like the coffee at Belzan and it’s only a 30 second walk from my studio. I walk my dog everyday in Sefton Park which is beautiful at any point of the day. My favourite gallery is probably The Walker, so I’ve been missing going there during lockdown. If I’m in that part of town I love going to Lovelocks which has brilliant coffee and insane cake. Defend Vinyl is a great record shop in the south of the city and I often spend a couple of hours chatting with the owner about the second hand records he’s acquired. Venue-wise, everywhere I used to go when I was more into going out has been turned into flats, plus I barely drink now so I’m not particularly connected to any bars / pubs / venues. I have quite bad tinnitus these days, so I choose the gigs I attend quite carefully.

Once restrictions are lifted, what’s next for Doomshakalaka?

I’ve been writing a new Doomshakala record! I’m planning a different process this time; simpler songs, quicker bouts of writing and to record the material live with a band. I’ve got some excellent musicians lined up to populate my band and help me record the record so I’m very excited about it. We’re looking at recording it in October. I’m hoping the restrictions will be lifted without reinstatement by then, but you can never be too sure considering our government’s harrowing approach to protecting people’s health. Other than that, I’m thinking about getting a haircut.

Doomshakalaka is released tomorrow, 5th June, on Moshi Moshi Records. You can pre-order the album here and watch the video for One Last Saturday Night below.

Interview by Siobhan
Header photo © Nick Duckett via One Beat PR

4th June 2020