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

Interstellar Food Drive – Online

Interstellar Food Drive Online, 20th June 2020

For a number of years now, Portsmouth’s Strong Island Recordings have hosted a day of live music in exchange for donations to the local foodbank. With gigs and festivals still currently a pipe dream, on Saturday they took their Interstellar Food Drive online, in collaboration with Pie & Vinyl, Honeymooner Records, Velvet Candy, Hard of Hearing Music and Thank God For Sinners, bringing streamed performances from artists around the world. The event ran in association with Love Record Stores Day and encouraged donations to the Trussell Trust and other charities.

LA Peach

Tom Bryan

Given that the novelty of taking photos of the beach has long since worn thin, I thought it would be good to shoot some musicians again so spent a strange chunk of the afternoon pointing my camera at computer screens. And yes, I’m aware there’s such a thing as a screenshot but if people are doing photo shoots over Zoom then why not. Oddly, I found I still defaulted to my favoured slightly to the left front of stage position, make of that what you will.

Thyla, Sunfruits, Freya Beer

Hussy, Tugboat Captain

Rosie Alena

As well as seeing favourite bands, a lot of us are missing that chance to find something new, and the food drive gave just that opportunity with a whole bunch of talent from far and wide. Kicking things off, an Australian trio of laid-back psych from Sunfruits, kaleidoscopic riffs from Dear Doonan and some fine indie tunes from Badgers. Closer to home, there were great mini sets from local south coast artists including Megan Linford, Barbudo, Ban Summers, Public Body and Thyla. A stunning showcase from Speedy Wunderground’s new kids on the block Tiña (header photo) suggests that they will very definitely be on the ones to watch list, and no less chaos and ripped denim than you would expect from the illustrious Lynks Afrikka, proving that sofa performance is not to be taken lightly. Too many more to mention individually (see poster for complete line up) but suffice to say that every artist was well worth the watch and I have to give a shout out to LA Peach for the shower cap and shades combo, sure to catch on.

Lynks Afrikka

Fake Turins, Megan Linford, LIME

Tropa Magica

The final set came from LA’s Tropa Magica, closing an excellent day with some suitably festival fuelled cumbian-punk. Am so looking forward to when we can do all this in person again but, for now, if you haven’t had the chance yet, you can watch the full stream on the YouTube link here. If you’re able, you can donate directly to the causes listed below via their links.

The Trussell Trust
Helping food banks to provide practical support to people in crisis

Brixton Soup Kitchen
A Brixton based service for the homeless and people in need

Portsmouth Hive
A local cooperative from the voluntary and community sector helping people to build independence

Words and photos by Siobhan

22nd June 2020

New Music – Sunflower Thieves + Happyness + Bo Ningen (feat Bobby Gillespie)

New releases – Sunflower Thieves, Happyness, Bo Ningen (feat Bobby Gillespie)

Sunflower Thieves – Hide and Seek (single)

Leeds based duo Sunflower Thieves release their new single today. Continuing their melodic musings with another track filled with haunting harmonies, Hide and Seek is the kind of song that will drift in and out of your consciousness and leave you feeling all the better for it. The band note that the song is about ‘wanting to escape back to childhood bliss when life becomes a little difficult’, something we can probably all relate to at the moment. Listen below.

Sunflower Thieves

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Happyness – Seeing Eye Dog (video)

Following the release of their accomplished album Floatr at the start of the month, Happyness have shared a video for previous single Seeing Eye Dog. Created in isolation, the digitally animated graphics provide a suitably kaleidoscopic background to the band’s mix of fuzzy riffs, feedback and delicate vocals. In this new chapter, it feels as though Happyness have found their own zenith; fans of the band will be keeping their fingers crossed for dates in October and November to go ahead – there is certainly the promise of something special live if so. You can purchase Floatr here and watch the video for Seeing Eye Dog below.

Happyness

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Bo Ningen (feat Bobby Gillespie) – Minimal (single)

Quite a departure from the expected noise-rock of Bo Ningen past, new track Minimal, released today, brings a collaboration with fabled Primal Scream frontman Bobby Gillespie; an eclectic pairing if ever there was one. The result ventures towards an absorbing hybrid of art-pop and EDM with vocals in Japanese and English, sung and spoken. Now signed to Alcopop! Records, Bo Ningen’s metamorphosis into this new musical territory is definitely worth keeping an eye on. New album Sudden Fictions is scheduled for release on 26th June and, all being well, lives dates are planned for October. Pre-orders for the album are open here; listen to Minimal below. 

Bo Ningen

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Words by Siobhan

Photos: Sunflower Thieves via band, Happyness © Holly Whittaker via Practise Music, Bo Ningen via Wall of Sound PR

29th 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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

Live – Modern Nature + Aoife Nessa Frances at The Green Door Store

Modern Nature / Aoife Nessa Frances at The Green Door Store, Brighton, 3rd March 2020  

Modern Nature is the meeting of minds of Jack Cooper (Ultimate Painting/Mazes), Will Young (BEAK>) plus Woods’ Aaron Neveu and Sunwatchers’ Jeff Tobias. Their music is inspired by the juxtaposition of urban and rural living, their name by a Derek Jarman book. Perhaps unsurprisingly then, they have created something that’s hard to compare along with a sense of interest and intrigue. On Tuesday they visited Brighton to play to a packed Green Door Store.

Travelling from Dublin for support duties, Aoife Nessa Frances and her band brought an abundance of psych-folk melodies, mixing light and dark in the music and lyrics. Aoife’s vocal is pleasantly hypnotic, not the same but perhaps in the same field as contemporaries Cate Le Bon and Gwenno. Her debut album Land of No Junction is well worth a listen.

It’s often a source of perplexity that people go to gigs then provide their own background chat to accompany the music. Something in the atmosphere of Modern Nature’s set from start to finish clearly dissuaded anyone from doing so and it was an absolute pleasure to only hear the band.

Playing through their album How to Live, their musicianship is obvious but understated. Soft vocals meet frenzied sax solos head on, complimented by a seamless transference between guitars, keys, drums and occasional maracas. There are hints of psychedelia, folk, electronica and the Bowie/Eno collaborations of the late 70s. Often the songs run into each other with the barest of gaps and still the crowd remain entranced, only adding their voices in appreciation. When it’s getting late and well into the set, Jack contemplates how many more songs they can fit in and asks ‘What’s the time?’ ‘Half seven!’ is the hopeful response.

Modern Nature have found a niche that draws in lots of different musical tastes. The Brighton show was a resounding success and they look sure to keep building their reputation as word spreads.

You can keep up with news from both artists here:
Modern Nature    Aoife Nessa Frances

Words and photos by Siobhan

6th March 2020

Live – Dry Cleaning + Pozi at The Green Door Store

Dry Cleaning / Pozi at The Green Door Store, Brighton, 28th February 2020 

Despite a strictly bare minimum online presence, the buzz around Dry Cleaning is such that they are still selling out venues on their current tour and look to be headed for much bigger audiences.

Support for the evening came from London trio Pozi, an implausible yet effective stab at post-punk via the medium of drums, bass and violin, with all three band members taking vocals at points. Their sound has a feel of Buzzcocks meets Television and is certainly worth a return listen. Intriguing.

Things have moved on rapidly for Dry Cleaning, whose spoken word lyrics maintain a dark humour running throughout. Their released EPs have been snapped up and there is much anticipation for a debut album. Since their last visit to Brighton they have undoubtedly tightened up their sound and play with a more obvious confidence. With cassette tapes and handwritten lyrics clustered front of stage, there is a sense of nostalgia coupled with the contemporary  structure and content of their songs that makes for quite compulsive listening and viewing. It’s going to be interesting to see what path they take next; they certainly had the crowd in the palm of their hands here.

You can find both bands here:
Dry Cleaning    Pozi

Words and photos by Siobhan

2nd March 2020

Live – Lynks Afrikka + Speedboat at The Rossi Bar

Lynks Afrikka / Speedboat at The Rossi Bar, Brighton, 26th February 2020

With a growing live reputation and an impressive collection of repurposed ripped denim, Lynks Afrikka played their first Brighton show in The Rossi Bar’s basement, making a huge impression and surely paving the way for many invitations to return.

Setting the evening off with a completely different but no less impressive tone, local duo Speedboat took the support slot, their guitar/synth mix evocative of the 80s’ penchant for overcoat-laden bedsit ballads for the indie pack. It’s easy to see why they’re becoming a mainstay of the Brighton circuit and upcoming shows in Europe will no doubt spread the Speedboat message to a whole new set of fans.

Hurtling straight into an animated version of Don’t take it Personal with some classy dance moves to match, Lynks Afrikka showed how to make an entrance in style. With a now packed room engaged from the start, the set never stopped gaining momentum with high kicks and hair flicks aplenty, taking in crowd favourites On Trend and How to make a Bechamel Sauce in 10 Steps (yes, there were pictures and singalongs of ‘Continue adding milk…’). Like a warped electro-trash mash up of The Mighty Boosh and The League of Gentleman, Lynks Afrikka brings maximum impact and total immersion, a glitter frenzied party from start to finish. Let’s hope for more live dates soon.

Catch up with both acts via the links here:
Lynks Afrikka    Speedboat

Words and photos by Siobhan

28th February 2020