New Music – Premium Leisure | Better Person

New releases – Premium Leisure, Better Person

Premium Leisure – Remedies

Sounding a little as though someone decided that they would indeed ride that white swan all the way to 2020, new release from Premium Leisure, Remedies, is a psych infused indie-pop tune that momentarily takes away the troubles of the world. Its feelgood factor is high and the recurring mantra of ‘Do whatever makes you feel good’ is infectious (chocolate for breakfast is fine, you heard it here first).

Premium Leisure is the solo project of songwriter and producer Chris Barker, who will already be known to many of you as guitarist for Willie J Healey. An EP is planned for early 2021 and with a supporting cast of fellow Oxford musicians including Ash Cooke of Be Good, Casper Miles & Jack Kendrew of PETSEMATARY, Bassist Harry Deacon and Willie J Healey working with Chris on the project, it looks to be a promising prospect.

Remedies considers a more laid back and outward looking mindset,” Chris explains, ‘to do what makes you, and people around you, feel good.’ And that seems like a pretty fair idea.

The track is the first release on new label, Plum Cuts; watch the video below and look out for more from Premium Leisure and Plum Cuts soon…

Premium Leisure

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Better Person – Close To You

Drawing inspiration from a different era, Better Person, aka Adam Byczkowski, has released new track Close to You, a soulful single with wafts of 80s’ decadence and Europop. The vocal adds a hypnotic layer to the equable backing music, the result is easy listening with an edge, something to close your eyes and relax to with a strong feeling of nostalgia in the making.

Adam says of the track “While I was writing this song in Berlin, I started feeling tormented by never ending obligations to go out and socialize every night. I would force myself out, get way too drunk and waste a lot of time talking to random people. What I was really longing for was a quieter night with someone I truly care about.”

Close To You is taken from Better Person’s upcoming debut album Something To Lose, due for release on 23rd October via Arbutus Records, listen below.

Better Person

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Words by Siobhan
Photos – Premium Leisure © Ash Cooke | Better Person © Tess Roby

25th September 2020 

New Music – Pet Shimmers | Pillow Queens | World News | Marika Hackman

New releases – Pet Shimmers, Pillow Queens, World News, Marika Hackman

Pet Shimmers – Live-In Atrocity / Snake Eats a Lady

This week brings two new tracks from Bristol collective Pet Shimmers, offering an insight into what to expect from their forthcoming album Trash Earthers. If this is anything to go by, the album will be elegantly eclectic and well worth a listen. Live-In Atrocity, the smoother of the two, mixes hazy synths and harmonies to create a Diamond Dogs-esque foreboding backdrop to reality. The pace changes significantly on Snake Eats a Lady with punchier guitars and a more frenzied delivery. Prepare to take a journey with unexpected twists and turns at every junction.

Pet Shimmers have live dates planned across the UK in March/April 2021. Trash Earthers is due for release on 2nd October via the band’s own label, PS Records – pre-order here; you can watch the video for Live-In Atrocity below.

Pet Shimmers

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Pillow Queens – In Waiting (album release date 25th September)

Following significant success in Ireland, having played shows with both Pussy Riot and IDLES and caught the ear of the 6 Music playlist, Pillow Queens look set to attract a much wider audience with their pending album release, In Waiting. Their style is hard to define, flitting smoothly from indie rock to an almost country-tipped twang, popping by to nod towards Cerys Matthews and Imelda May along the way. It makes for a very accomplished and cohesive overall feel.

The content of the album is said to address issues including ‘job insecurity, housing crises, income equality, social inequity and strength in unity, self-love, queer love, love for your city and the belief in the power of art’. That’s quite the narrative, achieved whilst maintaining positive, quirky tunes that will engage you from the start. Look out for In Waiting next week, pre-order link here, release date is 25th September. In the meantime, watch the video for latest single Holy Show below.

Pillow Queens

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World News – Job and Money (EP)

Released today, some World News that we can actually enjoy against the perplexity of the actual world news. This 5 track EP, Job and Money, charts the realities of the self-doubt and anxiety that kick in amidst a relationship breakdown, the songs vocalising conflicting emotions and the often obstructed walk back to a better place. Recent single Lend Me Your Brain is rooted in the intricacies of art-pop guitar, the whole EP having a lightly blown 80s’ feel about it. A personal favourite is opening track Give it Time, distinctly reminiscent of The Cars’ Best Friend’s Girl with its choppy riffs and vocals, a song that sticks in your head for all the right reasons.

Mixed by Speedboat, another band on the ones to watch list, Job and Money is available now, listen here.

World News

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Marika Hackman – Realiti

Ahead of her self-produced album Covers, Marika Hackman has released her scaled back version of Grimes’ Realiti. With more emphasis on the vocal than the pulsating beats of the original, it’s a respectful tribute whilst showcasing the subtlety of Marika’s tone.  Speaking of her choices for the album, she says “When it comes to covers, I like to pick songs which I have been listening to obsessively for a while. It gives me a natural understanding of the music, and lets me be more innovative with how I transform it”. With her take on artists as diverse as Alvvays, Beyonce and Radiohead, this looks to be an interesting collection of songs as you’ve never heard or anticipated them before.

Covers is set for release on 13th November via Transgressive / Sub Pop Records, pre-order here and watch the video for Realiti below.

Marika Hackman

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Words by Siobhan
Photos via One Beat PR, Practise Music, Quick Swimmers and Prescription PR
(Pet Shimmers © Gravy Manuellé, Marika Hackman © Luke Booth)

18th September 2020

Album Review – Hannah Georgas: All That Emotion

Hannah Georgas – All That Emotion

The euphonious tones of Hannah Georgas are back on her new album, All That Emotion, released today. For fans of The Beths and Say Sue Me, the Toronto singer-songwriter brings her own take on dreamy, refreshing tunes that, whilst easy on the ear, tackle tales of heartbreak and acceptance.

Track titles including Someone I Don’t Know, Same Mistakes and Cruel give you an indication of the soul searching that has gone into making this record, Pray It Away telling the story of a difficult conversation with her family about same-sex marriage, opening with the line, ‘I’ve been afraid to tell you everything going on in my head’, a feeling that will surely resonate, whatever subject matter the listener has had to navigate.

The album has been beautifully produced by The National’s Aaron Dessner, very much in the spotlight for his recent work with Taylor Swift but making it clear here that he is not restricted by genre. The combination of Georgas and Dessner results in a purity of sound that is both poignant and optimistic. All in all, this is an accomplished collection of songs that hold up individually yet flow seamlessly together.

All That Emotion is released today through Brassland Records / Arts & Crafts and is available to purchase here. Watch the lyric video for latest single Easy below.

Review by Siobhan

4th September 2020

Album Review – Young Knives: Barbarians

Young Knives – Barbarians

After a seven year absence, Young Knives return with a new album that feels dark, confrontational and a world away from their early troubled meeting with the parents in She’s Attracted To, although the simplistic but heartfelt opening line on Weekends and Bleak Days of ‘Hot Summer, what a bummer’ remains a valid statement of fact in my eyes.

Back in the present day, Barbarians takes much of its inspiration from John Gray’s provocatively nihilistic Straw Dogs, a book that effectively questions the human role in humanity. Taking this standpoint with all that is happening in the world right now, it becomes easier to understand the amplified vigour and aggression of Young Knives’ new sound.

Kicking off with the appropriately named Swarm, things surge straight into a wall of electronic noise and robotic oration. Follow up track Society for Cutting up Men (SCUM) implores, ‘Explain yourself to a live studio audience’, reflecting the need for people to feel seen, heard and validated in today’s society rather than to just do what’s best. Throughout the album, the inflections of psych synths and pounding drum machines ensure that this is a piece of work you need to sit up and pay attention to. There are moments of undeniably PIL-esque rage, in fact ‘Anger is an energy’ might just be the perfect way to describe Barbarians. I get the sense though that this will not end in a butter advert.

Both the title track and recent single Sheep Tick are stand outs, unsettling but arresting in their contention. The album finishes with What I Saw, a fitting close to what, after repeated listens, sounds increasingly like a concept album for the forgotten, dystopian dance-beats for the dissidents. Take a listen and be prepared to hear Young Knives like you never heard them before. 

Barbarians is released on 4th September via Gadzook, you can pre-order the album in various formats with some limited edition options here. Watch the video for Sheep Tick below.

Review by Siobhan 

28th August 2020

 

New Music – Bandante | Baby Vanga

New releases – Bandante, Baby Vanga

Bandante – So This is Now (music/video)

When he’s not playing guitar with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, George Vjestica fires some of the many strings from his bow into his always organic project Bandante, in which he records and collaborates with other musicians, artists and film-makers. The latest offering from Bandante is So This is Now, featuring visuals from Timothy Shepard, a contemporary artist who works with film, music, paper and photo montage.

The track is a multi-layered pool of crescendo and decline, a backdrop to modern day living that could conjure up powerful imagery on its own. However, the addition of Shepard’s cut up representation of dystopian protest is equally as compelling. There is talk of further collaboration between the two in the form of a sound and vision installation; based on this piece, it feels like that would be an experience to relish.

Watch the video for So This is Now below.

Bandante

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Baby Vanga – Electric Air (single)

If your genre pick is a fusion of psychedelic jazz and Latin funk, then Baby Vanga should be right up your street. If you just want to watch a video featuring safari suits, 60’s roll-necks and flying cars, you’re also in luck. With their latest single Electric Air, the band bring you kaleidoscopic nods to 5th Dimension’s Age of Aquarius updated with subtle jazz infusions and flute runs to hypnotise your mind into forgetting your troubles. The easy flow of the track belies the combination of instruments and flawless mixing and, as they’ve done all the hard work, you can dust off your flares, sit back and relax to the Baby Vanga soundtrack. The band say, “Electric Air is a brief exploration into the endless journey of finding purpose within actions, yet being aware of the beauty in the actions themselves. Reflecting this is the insecure effect of the odd time enclosed by entwining genres, that’s contrasted by lighthearted melodies and the overall optimism the song tries to illustrate.”

Strap yourselves in and watch the video for Electric Air below.

Baby Vanga

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Both tracks have been added to our Now Listening playlist

Words by Siobhan
Bandante photo © Michael Dent

19th 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: Made of Rain

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: A Hero’s Death

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: None Of Us Are Getting Out Of This Life Alive

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

 

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

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