Interview – Winter

A trance-like treat for your ears, Winter’s new psych-pop album Endless Space (Between You & I)  looks set to be a perfect summer backdrop. We chatted about music, quarantine and influences ranging from My Bloody Valentine to Marisa Monte…

Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into making music…

I am a Los Angeles based artist and make bilingual dream pop. I started writing songs when I was 12 and have been doing it ever since. My project Winter is the culmination of beautiful melodies, fluttering guitars and an other-worldly sensibility. Music is the air I breathe and everything I see. It’s been a part of me my whole life. 

Born in Brazil, living in LA, you must have an interesting mix of musical influences – who are some of your favourite artists past and present?

Yes! There’s such a spectrum of music and artists that I enjoy. I would say I’m greatly inspired by Cocteau Twins, My Bloody Valentine, Starflyer 59, Lilys and bands from Sarah Records but I also love Brazilian artists such as Boogarins, Marisa Monte, Caetano, Gal Costa… It’s a big list but I would say my taste ranges from Brazilian MPB to east coast indie rock to ambient and noise music and I’ve been recently really getting into electronic music.

Your album Endless Space (Between You and I) is now set for release at the end of July, how has quarantine affected your plans and how does it feel to be launching new music in the current environment?

It’s strange but I think there are some pros and cons to it. I think a big part of releasing music right now is coming to terms with it being a whole new playing field. The old formula of putting out a record and touring it isn’t a possibility, so it’s an exciting and experimental time to figure out what are new things you can do. Letting go and being okay with change is going to be really important. I see it as an exciting time but I’m also a total optimist, haha. My record title seems to fit perfectly with the quarantine themes so I think this context will actually benefit the music and the whole other-worldly escapism that this record can provide.

You’ve just shared the title track, what’s the reaction been like?

It’s been great! We’ve actually released three singles so far and it feels exciting to put each song out month by month. It’s a darker, more magical aesthetic for Winter. Both music videos so far I’m playing different characters and alluding to fairy tales or archetypes so it’s been cool to tell those stories through my music. I’m always making a different type of record so I don’t expect old Winter fans to all like it. I think if you like ambient, psych, dream pop this record will be a treat for you!

And how are things with you, where are you and are you able to see friends or family?

I’m in Los Angeles. I feel pretty lucky because I live in a neighborhood that has two parks and a lot of sunshine and space so I’m able to walk around and even talk with neighbours and friends from a distance when I’m in the outdoors. My family lives in different places so I definitely miss them a lot. I’ve gone through so many different emotional states during this quarantine but I finally feel like I’m comfortable in my own skin and accepting that I just have to take things day by day.

Talk us through a few of the album tracks – what’s the story behind them?

Well, a lot of the songs are inspired by nature, poetry and the tarot. The themes of this record are very expansive and I would say Healing is probably the only song that feels more like a nowadays sort of topic – it’s basically being ‘ghosted’. All the other songs have more grandiose timeless stories. In The Z Plane, Bem No Fundo and Constellation all talk about a Utopian dream world. Pure Magician was inspired by the tarot card of the magician. Here I Am Existing was inspired by a poem by Mary J Oliver. I’m curious once the record is out to hear people’s connection to the songs because I did intentionally leave room for interpretation. 

One album, one film, one book – what would you choose?

I’m so bad with this type of question because I’m always going through different phases, haha, but here goes!
Yo La Tengo – I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One
Amélie Poulain
Bluets by Maggie Nelson

And what are your plans for whenever things get back to normal?

I don’t really have any! Play shows? See my family? Eat a delicious dinner at my favourite restaurant…

Endless Space (Between You & I) will be released on 24th July via Bar/None Records. You can pre-order the album here. In the meantime, catch up with Winter and watch the video for the title track below.

Interview by Siobhan
Photos via One Beat PR

28th May 2020

Interview – Charlie’s Hand Movements

Whatever your favoured genre, you’re likely to find something that pleases you in amidst the 38 tracks that make up Nuclear Tapes, the eclectic new album from Charlie’s Hand Movements. Intrigued by the mix of musical styles and amused by their bio citing them as a ‘deeply unsuccessful Ayrshire & Essex based alternative pop band’, we felt compelled to catch up with them to find out more…

Give us an introduction to Charlie’s Hand Movements…

Lance: Charlie’s Hand Movements are Adam Gardner and Lance Keeble; an alt pop duo from Essex, now split between Essex and Ayrshire. Met in art college, bonded over mutual taste in music, discovered we were each making weird bedroom pop on the sly, started making even weirder bedroom pop together, released our first record in 2013, a couple of others and here we are now.

Your third album Nuclear Tapes is out today. Not content with just being an album though or even a double album, it’s a triple album with a whopping 38 tracks. Where did it all begin?

Lance: The desire to make a long record was in part inspired by the excesses of 70s’ prog double albums, but equally a nod of reverence to recent hip hop records like Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly and Frank Ocean’s Blonde. Hip hop seems to really be paving the way for concept-style albums with an emphasis on overarching narrative told through diverse arrangements and production styles. Their willingness to throw in short skits to break up more complex tracks is something we’re fascinated by. We became pretty obsessed with 90s’ alternative rock band Mansun’s Six, with its spasmodic shifts in tone. I think we’ve always been interested in how humour and irreverence can lend a sort of relief to heavier themes too, and we’re not afraid to explore that, sometimes within the same song.

Tell us about the mix of genres involved and who or what has influenced you along the way?

Lance: I’ve always loved ambient music but for me it becomes particularly powerful when thrown into unexpected contexts. We use our quieter, atmospheric pieces as a tool to pull back the focus. They’re like little breathers I guess, little digestive aids for the more angular songs. There’s a silliness, a goofiness to a number of the songs, usually betraying a darker theme underneath. New Age Nuclear (which finds itself as an unfinished, truncated mix due to some kind of artistic mis-step in which we couldn’t capture its original energy) for example, was a kind of a Philly soul jam for an imagined evangelist church broadcast, set in the 1980s, complete with caustic gated drums and soggy synthesizers. We loved what The Flaming Lips were doing on Embryonic, throwing down some noisy jams and pulling songs out of the wreckage.

Adam: We were quite sure at the beginning that it was going to be some kind of ridiculously overblown concept album that, really, we had absolutely no right to make. Songs sprawling out and going wherever they wanted to, sometimes morphing into something else or just cutting out abruptly. Fleet Foxes put out Crack-Up around the time we were making this too – another big one for us – as they were really changing up what they were doing with song structures and the audience’s expectations for what a Fleet Foxes record should sound like. Not that we have ever come close to having an audience of course.

Some bands don’t stay together for as long as this project has taken, what’s your secret?

Lance: For us I think it’s always been about the thrill of recording, not knowing what’s going to transpire. Could be regrettable, could be beautiful. Some tracks like Suddenly…Fog! and Departures and Nowhere Near are instrumentally one-take improvisations. These moments have always acted as some kind of therapy for Adam and I; we just stop talking to each other, set-up a few instruments and just play whatever. Like actual musicians or something. Speaking of which – the brilliant Mick Gawthorp provided a number of saxophone performances, each illuminating and often steering the songs into new territories. 80% Bad Boy, for example, originally was a scuzzy stoner rock pastiche befitting of its title, but Mick’s sax left us no choice but to transform it into the haphazard slice of cosmic jazz you hear now.

So how will you celebrate the release – where will you both be?

Adam: Each time that we put something out into the real world we usually just message each other back and forth saying things like, ‘Is it crap?’ I mean, we barely have any followers and don’t shift many units so to speak, so it’s more just that anticipation and hope that somebody will connect with it. This is a project that has a lot of emotional baggage for us, I think more than each of us understood until very recently, so I’ll definitely be checking my phone. Knowing Lance, he’ll be in the woods looking at slugs or counting birds.

And how has lockdown impacted on you, in terms of making music and personally, have you found any positives

Lance: In some ways the lockdown may have been the catalyst for us to release Nuclear Tapes, a project we had somewhat given up on due to the perhaps over-ambitious nature of it. These times of fear and uncertainty maybe forced us to reflect on the project and see its merits as a work of spirited self-indulgence. There are mistakes, scratch vocals, rough mixes, strong ideas which fell apart, but there’s some heart there I think.

Adam: My wife and I have a one-year-old boy so it’s kind of like two months (and counting) of being held to ransom in our own home by a teething, unreasonable dictator if I’m honest. Days are long and nights are usually longer, but it does have its moments too. Ha. In terms of music, Lance and I are about to start swapping files remotely for the next project, so I think we’re in a good place.

To Zoom or not to Zoom?

Lance: I’m a zoom, I think Adam is a no-zoom. He sees the bigger picture better than me. I’m a details man, but I get lost in it more often than not and Adam has to pull me out.

Adam: I think Lance has fundamentally misunderstood this question. He knows surprisingly little about what’s happening in the wider world at any given time. I think we’re in the minority that haven’t Zoomed yet though, although we did video call over Messenger a few weeks ago with mixed results. I’m open to Zoom, but we haven’t even discovered Snapchat yet, so we might Zoom by 2030.

Fingers crossed that all our favourite venues survive, where would you love to play when things open up and who’d be on the line-up – you & anyone else you want?

Adam: I’m sure there are plenty of people far more qualified than us to talk about this, but it seems independent venues had things hard enough as it was before the pandemic hit, so it’s an especially cruel blow. We haven’t played to a room full of people for a few years now though, so in that respect the lockdown hasn’t changed much for us, but there are some great small venues we’d love to play. In Southend on Sea – which is where we’re from – there’s a really vibrant scene based around a really cool venue called The Railway Hotel. I moved to Scotland in January though, so I’m looking forward to seeing what’s about once/if we come out of the other side of this. As for other people, Cool Thing Records have some really interesting stuff going on in Essex, and we’re big fans of a guy named MG Boulter who’s well worth checking out (he’s also got a new record out soon!)

And what’s next for Charlie’s Hand Movements, how do you follow Nuclear Tapes?

Lance: Now we live far apart, we’ll be working in a different way; sending skeletal song ideas back and forth, adding and subtracting remotely from our home set-ups. It’ll be exciting to see how this moves our sound forward. In the meantime we’re looking to release a much leaner, more compact album later this year.

Adam: It’s exciting though… and in the same way that this project was kind of a reaction to stuff we’d done before, we now have no choice but to approach things differently again. Definitely something more concise too – Nuclear Tapes was our attempt at making a maximalist blowout that followed every idea, even the questionable ones (of which there are many) and it got way out of hand. I mean, it’s long, pretentious, and completely self-indulgent at times, but we’re not Radiohead (as much as we’d love to be) so we’ve got to at least please ourselves. I like that we don’t have any idea of what the next thing will end up being though… I think that’s how it should be. Having said all that, there is another, more palatable, 10-track album that we made alongside this one that might see light of day soon in some form too. I guess we just want to make stuff that we think is good, and that keeps going to places we haven’t been before.

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Find Charlie’s Hand Movements on Twitter and Instagram

You can listen to and purchase Nuclear Tapes now:
Bandcamp

Interview by Siobhan
Photos via Charlie’s Hand Movements

22nd May 2020

New Music – Enjoyable Listens + Pizza Daddy + YNYS

New releases – Enjoyable Listens, Pizza Daddy, YNYS

Enjoyable Listens (Summer Hit) – single

Is it summer yet, which month is it – who knows? Nonetheless, Enjoyable Listens released new single Summer Hit on Friday, and if nothing else is making you feel like digging out your shades and staring moodily at the garden birds in the sun then this should do the trick. There’s a definite 80s’ aura around the song, think Talk Talk vocals with elements of The Cure’s pop melancholy leading the music. Having provided support for both British Sea Power and The Orielles, Enjoyable Listens create a sound that could easily span both fan-bases and much wider. Take a few minutes out to sit back and let this waft over you, then repeat.

More from Enjoyable Listens here

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Pizza Daddy – Too Many Boyfriends (single)

If you google Pizza Daddy be prepared to check out some tasty Trip Advisor reviews for Margheritas and garlic bread, but persevere and you’ll be treated to some newly released music from the London duo of the same name. Having gained their dream-pop stripes with past outfit BOYS, Ross Pearce and Mike Stothard are moving forward with a new project and a more contemporary take on a similar style. The story of polygamous worries, Too Many Boyfriends is a heady mix of jangly guitars and indie angst and sets Pizza Daddy up nicely as ones to watch. 

You can find Pizza Daddy here

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YNYS – Aros am Byth (single)

Opening in style with a big synth-meets-soul break, the new single from YNYS merges genres to present a laid back indie psych-pop tune that is sure to grab your attention. Aros am Byth (Waiting Forever) captures the essence of The Isley Brothers’ classic Summer Breeze and pulls it through time to produce something very current. Singer-songwriter Dylan Hughes explains, ‘The sound I was trying to get was Jeff Lynne taking over the studio after being at a Tame Impala listening party’. It certainly sounds as though Mr Blue Sky enjoyed the experience. Aros am Byth is out now on Libertino Records.

Check out YNYS here

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Words by Siobhan

19th May 2020

New Music – The Ninth Wave + Fontaines DC

New releases – The Ninth Wave / Fontaines DC

The Ninth Wave – Happy Days! (single)

Released today, The Ninth Wave’s latest single Happy Days! suggests a more experimental tone for their upcoming EP. Skillfully aided on production by Horrors’ frontman and all round black leather clad legend Faris Badwan, the track strolls across a backdrop of instrumental chasms, a foot still in 80s’ electro-glam but a step out to a more immersive, pulsating overall sound. Also present is the influence of Max Heyes who mixed the track; echoes of past clients Bloc Party’s early work notable on the gradual build of drums. One of the most exciting bands around, with this track The Ninth Wave continue to challenge the expected as they undoubtedly head to bigger things.

The band explain, ‘Happy Days! is a song of ups and downs. At its core, the lyrics shine a torchlight on the murky highs and lows of life. We wanted to make something harsher and more direct than songs we had written before, and this came together relatively quickly.

The flow of the song really captures what we were trying to get across with the lyrics: there’s a rumbling undertow throughout the whole song, interspersed with ethereal ambient sections and culminating in big nasty crushing beats. We were all agreed that this should be the first song from our new EP to let people hear, and hopefully they’re not frightened away.’

Listen to Happy Days! here

The Ninth Wave

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Fontaines DC – A Hero’s Death (single)

Fontaines DC had quite the year in 2019, their debut LP Dogrel  high on many album of the year lists. Jumping straight back in with new music, the band have shared A Hero’s Death, title track for their second album due in July. The trademark spoken lyrics are back, the repeated refrain ‘Life ain’t always empty’ a harsh reality mixed with a glimmer of hope as things currently stand. Musically, the backing riff is more Strokes than the early punk simplicity of previous tracks, the intro a promise of something special that doesn’t disappoint on arrival. The starring role in the video is taken by Aidan Gillen, a clear indicator of the band’s popularity. It feels like this track is building the suspense of a rollercoaster climb, the rest of the journey will inevitably be worth waiting for.

Talking about the song and video, vocalist Grian Chatten says, ‘The song is a list of rules for the self, they’re principles for self-prescribed happiness that can often hang by a thread. It’s ostensibly a positive message, but with repetition comes different meanings, that’s what happens to mantras when you test them over and over. There’s this balance between sincerity and insincerity as the song goes on and you see that in the music video as well. That’s why there’s a lot of shifting from major key to minor key. The idea was influenced by a lot of the advertising I was seeing – the repetitive nature of these uplifting messages that take on a surreal and scary feel the more you see them.

The title came from a line in a play by Brendan Behan, and I wrote the lyrics during a time where I felt consumed by the need to write something else to alleviate the fear that I would never be able follow up Dogrel. But more broadly it’s about the battle between happiness and depression, and the trust issues that can form tied to both of those feelings.’

Watch the video for A Hero’s Death here

Fontaines DC

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Words by Siobhan

6th May 2020

 

 

Interview – Genie Genie

Released on Friday, Genie Genie’s debut single Lust Over You is a majestic hybrid of glam punk with eastern influence – find out more here as we chat about the making of the track and plans for the future…

Give us an introduction to Genie Genie…

Genie Genie is a new project I have been working on over the past year, I’ve been involved in the music scene for about five years with a previous band and I felt now was the time to launch my solo project! It’s a weird and wonderful mash up of everything that’s inspired me over the past few years really. I wanted to be as expressive and creative as possible.

How long has the project been in the making and who has helped you to get things off the ground?

Genie Genie sprouted as an idea in my head probably about a year ago but that was literally just messing around with some shitty ideas, it more or less became a reality when I took my demos to Olympic Hall Studios in London. I worked with James Grant who runs the studio on the recording of the tracks and he was the most helpful guy I could have had, he was a huge part in this process, it wouldn’t be the final product without him! He woke me up from the studio floor every morning too so that was lovely…

Your debut single Lust Over You was released on Friday, what’s the story behind it?

The tune is one of the first things I ever got down as a demo, as cliché as it sounds I was just trying to write about how I felt, writing lyrics at this point was quite new to me so I needed to base it off some sort of experience. It’s sort of a story of affection. It focuses on how a lustful experience can affect you and how complex such emotion can be I guess.

Lust Over You feels like it has a mix of musical influences ranging across different eras, which artists have made a big impact in your life and who else are you listening to currently?

Yea, it’s definitely got a large range of influences has this one. Artists like T-Rex, Transglobal Underground and Jamouriquai inspire me and have a big impact on me, they are so different to each other so it’s cool to be inspired in different ways. Currently I’m listening to a weird range of stuff, really into Faux Real, Virgin Prunes and a load of Indian and middle eastern stuff too.

How has the whole quarantine situation affected the release of the single, were you tempted to wait or does this feel like a good time to get creative?

I was very tempted to wait but then thought if not now, when. I think after this is over so many artists are going to be releasing stuff so there will be a whole load of stuff flying around and it will be hard to make an impact. In terms of creativity it’s been wonderful. I’ve been writing a lot over the past few weeks for sure.

And when restrictions are lifted do you have plans to get out onto the live circuit?

Yes! I have plans for a show once this is all over, I’m so excited to get weird on stage again! Big Genie Genie party when we’re all back out…

Favourite venue and/or one that you’d love to play in one day?

My favourite venue would of course have to be The Brudenell Social Club, I’ve played and been to some crazy gigs at that place! I’d love to play Moth Club sometime soon, that venue is class.

Aside from music, what’s keeping you going through lockdown and what’s the one thing you miss the most?

I think music is the ONLY thing that is keeping me going through this. The thought of being able to go to the pub after it’s all over is definitely a helping hand too… I miss going to gigs massively, I need some live music asap!

And where can people find you and follow your progress?

Over on Instagram and Facebook…

Follow Genie Genie on the links above and listen to Lust Over You here

 

Interview by Siobhan

4th May 2020

Album Review – Diet Cig: Do You Wonder About Me?

Album Review – Diet Cig: Do You Wonder About Me?

There’s often a tendency for bands to rush out their second album to keep momentum running. Diet Cig, however, have opted for a three year gap before releasing Do You Wonder About Me? into the world and this has given them the time and space to find the direction they want to take. The selection of rock infused singalong pop songs offers a wave of positivity, and with opening tracks Thriving and Who Are You? propels a current twist on past UK indie treasures The Primitives and The Darling Buds. 

The tone softens on Priority Mail as the vocal is highlighted only with soft piano keys as a backdrop, then Flash Flood brings on board a guitar wall and feedback that shake any sense of this being a one dimensional body of work. Closing track Night Terrors (Reprise), gives a fittingly atmospheric ending, wrapping up the new fresh version of Diet Cig that this album brings; the energy still bursting through but with a maturity that reflects the work put into its making. As vocalist Alex Luciano says ‘You’re laughing! You’re crying! You’re dancing! You’re feeling emotional! We wanna bring it all.’ 

Do You Wonder About Me? is out now via Frenchkiss Records.You can get the latest news from Diet Cig and order the album here – watch the video for Thriving below.

Words by Siobhan

2nd May 2020

New Music – Walt Disco + Spice + The Know

New releases – Walt Disco / SPICE / The Know

Walt Disco – Cut Your Hair (single)

Welcome back to the wonderful world of Walt Disco, with a definite surge on this track away from Walt and straight into the open arms of Disco. Like the sparkling love child of David Byrne and Donna Summer, Cut Your Hair is a flamboyant, pulsating piece of genius with a vocal to pierce your soul and all executed in under two and a half minutes. A finer message for the days of quarantine will be hard to find. Walt Disco’s debut EP is expected later in the year; pop on your glitter boots and wait patiently.

Walt Disco

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Spice – First Feeling (single)

As a precursor to their debut self-titled album in July, Spice have shared its lead track First Feeling. The new project from members of Ceremony and Sabretooth Zombie brings a fusion of soft melodies against layers of  whoozy guitars and Californian haze. The track takes a step up from its low key grungy intro to move between post-punk and a softer psych framework. It will be interesting to see what comes next from this meeting of minds; definitely one to watch. Spice will be released on Dais Records on 17th July.

Spice

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The Know – Someday Maybe (single)

The Know, made up from husband and wife team Daniel Knowles and Jennifer Farmer, bring their adaptation of dreamy shoegaze pop to the table with new single Someday Maybe. Think Cocteau Twins meet the Mary Chain beneath the LA sun and you’ll be somewhere along the road that leads to their music. The video for the track features Howard Mordoh, aka The LA Rocker, seemingly something of a legend on their local music scene – we all have a Howard who shows up at our local venues and this serves as a happy reminder of those gig-filled days of the not so distant but much missed past. The band’s debut EP wearetheknow is set for release on 18th May.

The Know

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Words by Siobhan

1st May 2020

 

Album Review – Ist Ist: Architecture

Album Review – Ist Ist: Architecture

From the opening menacing notes of lead track Wolves, it is clear that Ist Ist’s debut album Architecture is not for background listening. The now familiar dark undertone of their music is immediately present, beautifully balanced by the changing pace and multi-layered instrumentation throughout the album. There is a theatricality about the songs that engulfs the listener and their placement is such that it feels like a piece of work that should be ingested from start to finish; no shuffling tracks here.

As the tempo quickens on You’re Mine, thoughts of early Sisters of Mercy come to mind then, again, there is a sidestep to synth-driven Black taking you to a whole different era. Recent single Silence embodies the sound of Ist Ist; a glance back to the more melancholy side of 80’s new wave with an updated twist that creates something new; the sound of hope amongst the desolation of whatever this is that we’re living through right now.

The refrain of penultimate track Under Your Skin seems particularly apt as this collection of songs very definitely compels its way into your mind. Closing with the poignantly haunting Slowly We Escape, the end credits maintain all the intensity of this much anticipated 10 track anthology. Architecture has been a long time in the making and proves itself worthy of the wait; an album to be played and replayed often.

Architecture is out today via Kind Violence Records – for more details and to purchase the album follow this link. Watch the video for Wolves below.

Words by Siobhan

1st May 2020

New Music – Ist Ist + Melenas + Diet Cig + Doomshakalaka

New releases – Ist Ist, Melenas, Diet Cig, Doomshakalaka

Ist Ist – Silence (single)

Ahead of the release of their much anticipated debut album Architecture in a week’s time, Ist Ist’s new single is out today. Silence is the latest in a succession of strong tracks from the band, the intro reflecting back the sound of past Manchester neighbours Joy Division. However despite some inevitable comparisons, Ist Ist are developing their own very recognisable style, a dark optimism creeping through their lyrics and music that suggests the album will be an accomplished body of work. There are live dates in the pipeline for October/November and in the meantime, in lieu of a regular launch event, the band will host a listening party at 7pm on the eve of release, 30th April – details on Facebook.

Architecture by Ist Ist will be released on 1st May via Kind Violence Records; pre-order here and watch the video for Silence  below

Ist Ist

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Melenas – Primer Tiempo (single)

If some European electro indie-pop sounds like it might make the world a better place right now, then the new single from Melenas may be just what you’re looking for. Hailing from Pamlona in Spain, the four piece are adept at creating simple, catchy tunes that hold the sophistication of the likes of Stereolab and Saint Etienne. Discussing latest track Primer Tiempo, the band explain, ‘The song talks about the moment before making a decision, the moment BEFORE EVERYTHING. You are in your bedroom, and you feel there is a fight between your dreams and your desire to make them happen. You walk around your bedroom and you listen to songs that talk about the same feelings that you have, just to encourage yourself to ‘do it, do it, do it, tell that person something now!’ When you finally do it, it works! Later, you will remember that moment, which was the Primer Tiempo, the first time.’

Dias Raros by Melenas will be released digitally on 8th May, with physical orders following from 5th June via Trouble in Mind Records; pre-order here and watch the video for Primer Tiempo below

Melenas

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Diet Cig – Who Are You? (single)

With their latest single Who Are You? Diet Cig offer up a sugar coated ode to being treated badly, an unlikely combination that triumphs good over bad in three and half minutes. Their music has developed to sound more self-assured and unashamedly pop infused. Second album Do You Wonder About Me? is released next week and promises to lift the spirits with tunes reminiscent of The Photos or Altered Images with some New York sass; tour dates are currently rescheduled for the Autumn. Speaking about the single, the band say, ‘Who Are You?’ is for anyone who’s ever received a completely self-serving apology from someone who’s hurt them. I learned that healing doesn’t wait for an ‘I’m sorry’ to appear, and it can feel silly to have one arrive when you’re completely over it. This song takes these bad feelings and turns them into a fun upbeat jam to dance around in your kitchen to!’

Do You Wonder About Me? by Diet Cig is out on 1st May via Frenchkiss Records; pre-order here and listen to the audio for Who Are You? below

Diet Cig

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Doomshakalaka – One Last Saturday Night (single)

One Last Saturday Night is out now from Doomshakalaka, the brainchild of Paul Rafferty, who you may be familiar with as the former vocalist and bassist for Liverpool indie outfit Hot Club De Paris. The track forms part of a collection of songs that have been in the making since 2011 and will finally greet the world on his upcoming album. With track titles including The Lost Homework of Isabella Perez and I’ll Kill You Motherfucker, there must surely be high hopes for the rest of its content. One Last Saturday Night builds suspense as you wait for the vocal to kick in and, when it finally does, it’s satisfyingly refreshing with hints of nostalgia to a mix of eras past. Paul explains, ‘It’s a love letter to the past and the feeling of possibility we experience in youth. Adulthood is a cliff we sleepwalk off and responsibility lurks below. You can try and fall for as long as you want, but at some point you’ll plunge into the analogous sea. What if you could go back for one last lost weekend, before the free fall of real life and responsibility?’ It’s worthy of note that the video was shot in line with current quarantine restrictions by his girlfriend on an iPhone whilst Paul and scene-stealer Pettibon the dog took a walk near their home; an impressive use of daily exercise.

The self-titled album from Doomshakalaka is released on 5th June via Moshi Moshi Records; pre-order here and watch the video for One Last Saturday Night  below

Doomshakalaka

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Words by Siobhan

24th April 2020

 

Interview – In Earnest

Using the intensity of depression and loneliness to create a beautifully hypnotic song, In Earnest release their new single Put Me Under into the world today. We chatted to Sarah to find out more about what makes the band tick and their plans for new music and ice cream…

Introduce us to In Earnest – who’s involved and how did you get together as a band?

In Earnest consists of guitarist/vocalist Thomas, violinist/guitarist Toby and myself, Sarah, on keys/vocals, based in sunny Southend-on-Sea, Essex. Thomas and I are the songwriters, bringing our individual songs into the rehearsal room to work on as a group. We were all in a band beforehand, but our new outfit focuses on writing about mental health and encouraging conversations around the topic.

Your debut single Put Me Under is released today. It’s a very personal track addressing coping with depression – how hard is it to express this openly?

Having suffered with mental illness for 10 years now, I’ve got used to speaking openly about it over the years. I started a blog about 5 years ago on the subject and have written a lot of songs about mental health, but it is still a little daunting. My brain constantly steers towards negative thoughts all the time, so I naturally think no-one will like what I create!

Do you have a message for anyone struggling with their mental health under isolation?

I think, lockdown or not, it’s so important to look after your mental health, so now is a great time to sit back and evaluate. There are a lot of self-care guides out there, but what has helped me the most is doing a little bit of yoga each day and eating well. It has pretty much taken me 10 years of struggling and a month of isolation to make me realise this!

And how are you all doing – are you finding ways to still make music either together or separately?

Thomas and I live together, so luckily we get to play a lot of music with each other at home. We are currently working on a collaboration with Toby, remotely of course!

Put Me Under is the first track from your upcoming EP – can you tell us more about what to expect?

Our next single will be a song called Come Upstairs, which follows on nicely from Put Me Under. It is from Tom’s perspective and is the story of how he copes with me and my mental illness. The entire 6-track EP is due in the latter stages of 2020 – you can expect to hear deep lyrics, keys solos and most definitely our producer (Peter Waterman) singing backing vocals.

What were your musical influences growing up and which other artists have you been listening to lately?

I mostly grew up listening to The Beatles and McFly, so pop music was where I began. My Dad has been a drummer on the local music scene since before I was born, so I really looked up to him as I found my feet in the music world (between being dragged to soundchecks and being deafened by tuning drums!) Lately I admire the sombre tones of Phoebe Bridgers, Dodie and Elliot Smith.

Are you planning live dates when things start to open up again?

Absolutely! A few of our gigs have been rescheduled to later in the year, but we are so excited to get back into rehearsals and just being a band again.

And when lockdown is over, what are you most looking forward to?

Above all else, going down to Southend seafront and getting ice creams…

You can find more from In Earnest here and listen to Put Me Under below. If you’re staying in tonight and, let’s face it we all are, join the band for their single launch party on Instagram and Facebook at 8pm 

Interview by Siobhan
Promo photos by Soundcastle Media, single artwork by Thomas Eatherton

17th April 2020

Interview – Car Boot Sale

With the release of their latest single One of These Days, London based Car Boot Sale continue to add to their impressive catalogue of soulful indie-pop tracks. We caught up with them to chat about making music before, during and after isolation…

Introduce us to Car Boot Sale – who’s involved and does your name come from a love of haggling on a wet Saturday morning?

Jim and Ciaran here, we’re two housemates that have been working on music together for the past couple of years. Car Boot Sale started as a recording project but has become more of a band since we started playing live with our pals. (Shout out to Jamie, Tim and Bryn!)

Neither of us are really morning people, so the name came from the fact that our sound and influences were quite disparate and varied, just like the stuff that’s sold at a car boot sale. We also didn’t want it to sound too serious and thought Car Boot Sale was a pretty silly name for a band.

Your new single One of These Days is out now; you’ve described it as being ‘An ode to dreaming, about maintaining an optimistic view of the future that you can carry through difficult times’. That seems incredibly apt for right now – when did you write the song and what was the inspiration?

This song was written last summer, just after we’d spent the weekend at All Points East Festival. We’d been listening to Toro Y Moi on repeat around about that time and seeing him live was mind blowing, we both felt super inspired by his band and performance and came away wanting to write a song that reflected that. The line ‘One of these days I’ll be where you’re standing’ was sort of the inner voice that was in our heads during the set.

How are things with both of you – what’s helping you through isolation?

We’re all good, but currently quarantining separately, having to do the whole the online thing feels a little odd. Jim’s been tinkering away on some demos and has invested in some quite smart looking AstroTurf for the 2ft square balcony. Ciaran’s learning bass and bought one off Gumtree. When he went to collect it he had to post the cash through the letterbox and step away, luckily the guy was legitimate and left the bass outside for Ciaran to disinfect afterwards haha!

There are obviously no gigs or festivals happening now or any time soon. If you could play with any other artists who would you love to share a line-up with?

Jim – Lionel Ritchie would be amazing. We’re huge Tame Impala fans, or perhaps someone like Whitney or Tops or Parcels. There’s too many great bands to choose from!

You have Theo Verney mixing and mastering for you – are you fans of each other’s music, what influence does he have on your work?

We’ve been big fans of Theo’s songs and mixes for a while actually! Ciaran followed him on Instagram a couple years back and really hoped we’d get a chance to work together, so as fate would have it, Theo got in touch and offered to mix a track as a test.

When it came back we were both pretty blown away as we’d been doing all the mixing ourselves up until that point. It felt like we were hearing ourselves properly for the first time which was really cool. He’s also got a sick new band called Public Body.

An abridged version of Desert Island Discs – you’re allowed 3 albums, 1 book and a luxury item of your choice, what will you take?

We like our classic songwriters, so we thought we’d take some albums that have already stood the test of time:
David Bowie – Hunky Dory
Gerry Raffety – City to City
Neil Young – After the Gold Rush

We’re not really huge readers so perhaps it’s best if we take some sort of survival guide, otherwise I think we’d be in trouble.

Jim – Our old housemate left us with a huge painting of a sunburnt David Beckham. I think I’d bring that just to wind Ciaran up – he hates it! (I also reckon we could fashion a shelter out of it).

What are your plans when lockdown is lifted in terms of releasing more music and live dates?

We’ve got a bunch of songs demoed and we were planning to go into the studio with Theo around May, obviously that’s been pushed back so hopefully we’ll still get them recorded this summer. I can imagine we’re going to be really rusty after a couple of months not gigging, so as soon as lockdown is over we’ll be back in the practise room!

And what are you most looking forward to when we’re all allowed out again?

Playing gigs, watching gigs, beers in the park with mates, all the simple joys of life really!

Check out One of These Days below and more from Car Boot Sale here

Interview by Siobhan
Photos via Car Boot Sale

16th April 2020

Album Review – The Strokes: The New Abnormal

Album Review – The Strokes: The New Abnormal

What do The Strokes mean in 2020? It’s almost 20 years since their toweringly influential debut album Is This It? was released, still heralded as the defining picture of rock in the 2000s by many. Adored critically and commercially, it spearheaded a garage rock renaissance, spawned affectionate imitators and inspired an impressionistic youth the world over: Alex Turner wasn’t the only one who wanted to be one of The Strokes.

Though unavoidable, it’s perhaps a little unfair to compare every subsequent Strokes release to their debut, as history has often told, longevity after such a perfect start is never simple. Despite 2003’s follow up Room on Fire managing to pack a similar punch, quality control over subsequent releases was patchy and for much of the last decade it seemed like a new Strokes release was the last thing on some of the group’s minds.

Thankfully though, The New Abnormal sees the band at last singing along to the same hymnbook, one that’s conducted by an appreciation for ‘80s New York cool, complete with Basquiat artwork; it’s a hymnbook written in graffiti aside a rattling subway train. When lead vocalist (and reigning coolest name of all-time champion) Julian Casablancas asks, “and the ‘80s song, how did it go?” on Brooklyn Bridge to Chorus, one might as well retort back that it appears on this album! Both The Psychedelic Furs and Generation X receive songwriting nods for Eternal Summer and Bad Decisions respectively, with the latter’s chorus built upon a lovely interpolation of Dancing with Myself, though it’s hard not to get caught mis-singing the original “If I had the chance, I’d ask the world to dance” line which sadly has no counterpart here.

The album opens with the somewhat sedate The Adults are Talking, which despite not doing anything wrong itself, feels like a missed opportunity against a song like At The Door which would have made for a more brazen opener, and is just one of the many highlights which come from Casablancas seemingly having a ball behind the microphone. It’s impressive hearing him shift from a pop-punk drawl on Brooklyn Bridge To Chorus to a funk-pop falsetto on Endless Summer and he manages to elevate Selfless, Not the Same Anymore and Ode To The Mets to heights unimaginable with another indie rock vocalist.

Familiar Strokes’ elements remain rooted to the group’s sound, there’s plenty of clunky yet danceable guitar riffs, watery arpeggios and driving basslines throughout, though it seems Casablancas has brought a little something of his other project, The Voidz, into the mix; Eternal Summer, Why Are Sundays So Depressing? and At the Door wouldn’t have sounded out of place on their mostly brilliant and a little bonkers last album, Virtue. As for misfires, there’s little in the music to not be enamoured by, though with most of the track-list sitting around the 4-6 minute mark and often seeming to be finishing for a good minute or two before they eventually fizzle out; some trimming around the edges wouldn’t have gone amiss.

As to what The Strokes mean in 2020, it’s still a little unclear, these days they’re more commonly found adorning the cover of countless ’noughties indie’ Spotify playlists, crystalised still in that golden period of garage rock revivalism. But with a little help from career revitalisation specialist Rick Rubin, The New Abnormal (a somewhat poignantly apt title for our times) is at least The Strokes’ most cohesive and fun sounding record in over a decade.

The New Abnormal is out now via Cult and RCA Records.You can get the latest news from The Strokes and order the album here – watch the video for At the Door below.

Words by Ryan Bell

14th April 2020

Interview – Activity

With the release of their debut LP Unmask Whoever, Activity bring an intensity rarely found in such a new project. The tracks are at times darkly poignant yet also strangely reassuring with their cathartic brand of art rock. We talked to vocalist Travis about the album, the impact of lockdown and future plans…

Your album Unmask Whoever has just been released, tell us about it and how it all came together…

We started the band very loosely, having no idea what was going to happen or what kind of music it would be. Things came together through lots and lots of jamming. People would bring in little shards of ideas, or a sequence on a sampler or something, and we’d just work on it without ideas about what would be off limits. I guess we’d started to form some kind of identity for ourselves. When we recorded with Jeff Berner (of Psychic TV), he totally got what we were going for and made everything much better.

I imagine when you planned the release you had no idea of what would be happening in the world – how has the Covid-19 pandemic affected your plans and projects as a band?

Yeah, everything, our tour dates, etc. is on hold until it’s safe to resume. Obviously, for everyone’s sake we hope that will be sooner rather than later but it would be ridiculous to try and tour or play shows now. So, without being in a room with each other, we’re just trying to keep going, sending recordings to each other, like I imagine a lot of bands are.

And how are you all doing – what’s the situation like where you are?

We’re in New York and Philadelphia, so it’s intense and scary here and we know lots of people getting sick. I would imagine it’s pretty similar to anywhere that’s been hit (or will be hit) hard.

Unmask Whoever has a very filmic feel; if your music ended up as a soundtrack for film or TV where would you like to see it being used?

I suppose it would depend on the song, but maybe a montage of unsuccessful bank heists, or a party in a forest, or the end credits.

It feels like, more than ever, music is a really important thing to provide some familiarity and comfort – what are your go-to albums that you wouldn’t want to be without?

For me personally, a few all timers are:
Pastels – Illumination
Grouper – Alien Observer
John Coltrane – Crescent
Alice Coltrane – Monastic Trio
Faust – IV
They’re not necessarily the most emotional sounding records, but I get a lot of comfort from them. I’m curious what the other Activity folks would say actually. I’m gonna ask them.

Amidst the tough times we’re in, how can people best continue to support you as artists and the music scene in general?

I think this really applies at all times, but buying records or downloads and not just streaming things makes an immense difference for musicians who are just getting by. Ordering directly from Bandcamp, or a band’s record label, or an independent record store means the world. When we can do so again, going to shows is obviously great too, but in the meantime, ordering records is great!

And what are your plans when things head back to normal, what’s next for Activity?

To start working on the songs we were starting to write before we had to cut ourselves off from each other!

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Unmask Whoever is available now on Western Records
Watch the video for Calls Your Name below

Interview by Siobhan
Photo by Ebru Yildiz via One Beat PR

7th April 2020

Album Review – Night House: Everyone is Watching from Afar

Album Release – Night House: Everyone is Watching from Afar

With what must surely be one of the most aptly named albums around in the current environment, Night House have released their debut LP, Everyone is Watching from Afar. Having been likened to Tom Waits, Radiohead and the genius of Brian Eno, the Brighton collective make music drawn from deep-felt lyrics backed by the ambience of electro-orchestral melodies.

Opening track To Be With sets the pace for the album’s storytelling with Nicholas Williams’ falsetto calling to mind the stark emotion of Antony and the Johnsons. The variety of instruments used throughout (including harpist Ellie Ford on The Roots in The Wires) make for a multi-layered listening experience, with Bloodlines adding a gentle country feel of melancholy. However, don’t be led to think that this album is anything other than uplifting; a complicated but beautiful piece of work that is well worth taking some time out for.

As is the unavoidable norm right now, some planned live dates have been put on hold. In the interim you can find more from Night House here and watch the live video for Bloodlines below.

Everyone is Watching from Afar is out now on Back in the Woods Records 

Review by Siobhan
Photo by Alice Humphreys via A Badge of Friendship PR

30th March 2020