New Music – The Lounge Society | Maya Lakhani

New releases – The Lounge Society, Maya Lakhani

The Lounge Society – Burn the Heather (single)

Back with their second single and sounding like a band much further into its career, The Lounge Society have released Burn the Heather this week via the ever trustworthy Speedy Wunderground. The track feels its way through the dark dancefloors of The Fall and Fat Whites-esque influences and manages to stand high above similarly veined offerings from many other emerging artists. It bears the test of being played on repeat and still sounding fresh each time. There really does seem to be something quite special about the music these guys are making and, given that their combined age would only just qualify them for a senior bus pass, things bode extremely well for the future. Do have a listen to this one and check out tour dates for 2021; am advised some are selling out already so don’t hang about.

The Lounge Society

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Maya Lakhani – The Line (single)

Releasing her debut single The Line today, Maya Lakhani brings a serving of sophisticated rock to the table. An established musician (most recently as part of distortion guitar outfit Concrete Bones), she has stepped up to the solo podium in style, writing, recording and producing all the vocals and guitar on the record. With hints of PJ Harvey and The Creatures (a la Siouxsie and Budgie rather than the apparently endless other acts with the same name), this is a strong entrance that suggests Maya will be making waves on the ones to watch lists. If 2000 Trees are still booking for next year, there’s a great fit here. Take a listen to The Line here and keep an eye on what comes next.

Maya Lakhani

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Words by Siobhan

27th November 2020

 

New Music – Fast Trains | Solidarity Tapes | Van Houten

New releases – Fast Trains, Solidarity Tapes, Van Houten

Fast Trains – The English Way (single)

If you’re wondering how to produce and release music on your own terms, take a closer look at Fast Trains. Eschewing the gargantuan claws of Spotify and aligning the importance of visuals with music, Fast Trains’ material is available exclusively on their website and YouTube. The project has so far seen a range of songs and videos meeting acclaim and an unsurprising rise in interest. New EP ourWorld Volume 1 is due for release next year with lead track The English Way out now confronting the subject of men’s mental health, a topic given much more credence than it once was but still in want of further open discussion. The hard hitting lyrical message is softened with melodic vocals and an understated musical arrangement reminiscent of Radiohead’s High and Dry. In trying times, the parallel society of ourWorld feels like a fine and tranquil place to be, do pay a visit.

The English Way has been released this morning; listen below

(Just going to slip in a reminder here that if things are feeling tough you can talk to CALM and The Samaritans in confidence)

Fast Trains

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Solidarity Tapes Volume 1 – End the Hostile Environment (album)

Solidarity Tapes is a new DIY cultural project set up to raise money and awareness for migrant, racial, social and climate justice. Their inaugural release End the Hostile Environment is available now in the shape of a cassette and illustrated zine and it’s packed with an eclectic mix of music from new and established artists of varying genres. Kaputt bring art pop à la Bis with Parsonage Square, Big Joanie offer up discordant punk track Eyes and Italia 90’s Against the Wall is a well fitting addition with the opening line ‘I don’t wanna hear about the power of love when it’s a substitute for real ideology and thought’. Also on the tracklist Goat Girl, PVA and Garden Centre all make an appearance along with many others well worth checking out. Citing their aim as ‘in the spirit of solidarity not charity’, the project offers a platform for artists to present a united front with oppressed groups in a practical way and some great tunes as an added bonus.

Have a listen and make a purchase or donation if you’re able here

Solidarity Tapes

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Van Houten – Home Alone (EP)

Out today, Van Houten’s EP Home Alone is brimming with their self-proclaimed ‘slacker pop with a cherry on top’. The Leeds 5 piece have a knack for producing effortlessly breezy dream-pop tunes that belie the complexity of the musical layers involved. Recent singles You and Me and What I Need have a definite vibe of Bill Ryder-Jones and early Childhood and those are heady comparisons not made lightly. The soft focus and melancholy are beautifully executed; listen as you go to sleep and sweet dreams are sure to follow. A couple of planned socially distanced gigs have had to be postponed but, when live shows are a thing again, get yourself along to catch Van Houten if you can, this is definitely a band to keep on your radar. The release comes with a limited run of 50 hand numbered cassettes, available here.

Home Alone is out today via Clue Records, video for What I Need below

Van Houten

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Words by Siobhan

13th November 2020

Album Review – Chilly Gonzales: A very chilly christmas

Chilly Gonzales – A very chilly christmas

Christmas songs are often the very antithesis of festive reality and also pretty bizarre in their concept. Santa Claus is coming to town after having spied on you all year, it’s the most wonderful time of the year – to feel under pressure, get into debt and keep a smile on your face whilst you’re rocking around the tree… Merry Christmas everyone!

As we all wait to discover which song has been given the ‘singing from a ditch’ treatment on this year’s John Lewis advert, take the time to seek out something altogether more palatable – the holiday album you didn’t know you needed in your life but which proves to be an unexpectedly cordial companion.

Resplendent in smoking jacket, Grammy award winning Chilly Gonzales has produced an album full of elegance and emotions on this collection of seasonal songs, think Nick Cave at the piano and a smattering of smooth strings mixed with the tinkling expectancy of a silent movie soundtrack. From Silent Night to Jingle Bells, everything gets a sleek update and if you must do a cover of Last Christmas, this is how it should be done, the grandiose addition of cellist Stella Le Page paying the appropriate amount of respect to a songwriter talented above his commercial success.

The collaborative tracks add extra layers, with sugar-coated vocals from singer-songwriter Feist on The Banister Bough and regular associate Jarvis Cocker breathing an almost sinister spoken vocal into In the Bleak Midwinter. Both artists return for one of the optimum moments of the album on Snow is Falling in Manhattan, a track that fellow Canadian Leonard Cohen would surely have approved of, a Hallelujah for the pandemic if you will.

Speaking about the record, Chilly Gonzales says, “Christmas is a time of very mixed intense emotion for me, and the existing canon often sounds like a forced smile. Christmas is a typical time for superficial happiness, but also a time for reflection and mourning the sad events throughout the year. The songs of A very chilly christmas make room for a more authentic interpretation of this very peculiar 2020 holiday season.”

The overall experience draws a hypnotic familiarity that conjures up images of the fireplace draped in holly, whilst a slightly dysfunctional family play charades as grandma falls asleep in her armchair, an empty sherry glass in her hand and a smile on her face. Not your average Christmas album but then it’s not been your average year. All in all, A very chilly christmas is a veritable box of gift-wrapped treats best opened early.

A very chilly christmas is released tomorrow, 13th November 2020 – pre-order and pre-save links here 

Review by Siobhan
Photo via Sonic PR

12th November 2020

New Music – Badgers | Tugboat Captain | Deep Sea Diver | Pet Grotesque

New releases – Badgers, Tugboat Captain, Deep Sea Diver, Pet Grotesque 

Badgers – Why Am I Your Only Friend? (single)

It’s so hard when tracks that were made to be played live can’t be played live but everything suggests that, if anyone from Australia ever wants to come to UK again one day, Badgers will be a very welcome addition to the live circuit. The Melbourne quartet are producing scuzzy psych rock to the max and this new single is a kaleidoscope of riffs, sweet melodies and escalating chord structures.

Why Am I Your Only Friend? was released via Strong Island Recordings yesterday, blow the lockdown cobwebs away for a few minutes and listen here.

Badgers

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Tugboat Captain – Rut (album)

Following the release of a cluster of singles, Tugboat Captain’s album Rut comes charging into the world today. Opening track Check Ur Health sets the tone for their very own mini rock and pop opera. Think XTC meet Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young on a trip down Penny Lane with twists and turns throughout. There’s a lot going on here and it all slots together beautifully. Set some time aside, listen and enjoy.

Rut is available now on Double A-Side Records, watch the video for Everything About You below.

Tugboat Captain

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Deep Sea Diver – Impossible Weight (album)

Also out today, the latest album from Deep Sea Diver brings velvety vocals with tracks from Shattering the Hourglass to Switchblade full of emotion and personal sentiment. Jessica Dobson explains, “Especially right now when the world is in disarray and there’s so much fear, I want this record to give people room to feel whatever they need to feel, I hope it helps them recognize that it’s okay to fall apart, and that they’re meant to let others in instead of trying to work through everything on their own.” If music is the healer, this album is certainly part of the medicine cabinet.

Impossible Weight is out today via High Beam Records, watch the video for the title track featuring Sharon Van Etten here.

Deep Sea Diver

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Pet Grotesque – Pingin’ Alone (single)

Another fine track from Pet Grotesque, a further dimension added with backing vocals from Vanity Fairy and Tiña’s Adam Cartwright. There’s something very understated but nonetheless powerful about the music coming from the Pet Grotesque camp and this track has a feel of Europop mixed with something a little harder hitting. Cleverly mixed by PVA’s Josh Baxter, there are multiple layers to peel away , each of which is a pleasant surprise.

Look out for sophomore album Female Synth Player, due for release in November.

Pingin’ Alone is out now, listen below

Pet Grotesque

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Words by Siobhan
Photos via Strong Island Recordings, Tugboat Captain, Chalk Press Agency, Majesty PR – Pet Grotesque © Ella Harris

16th October 2020

Brighton Fringe – A Trip to Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland (The Ballet) at Brighton Open Air Theatre, 3rd October 2020

In a year that truly has been ‘curiouser and curiouser’, it seemed fitting to take a step back into the world of live shows by rediscovering my inner child watching a balletic performance of Alice in Wonderland.

Postponed from its usual springtime slot in May, Brighton Fringe is currently putting on a diverse programme of events in socially distanced settings and it’s great to see theatre, dance and comedy on the city’s agenda once again.

At the weekend, London based Let’s All Dance made good on their promise of ’bringing the magic of dance to everyone’ with their trip to Wonderland, telling a familiar tale through a new medium for many and making ballet accessible to all ages with instantly recognisable characters, colourful costumes and a sprinkling of humour. The choreography made the dance look effortless, the children in the audience were mesmerised and the adults no doubt appreciated the addition of a liberal dose of hand sanitiser to the Mad Hatter’s spread of tea and Eat Me cake. It was heart warming to hear small voices around me gasp as Alice appeared twice as tall on hidden stilts and excitedly telling their parents, ‘I saw the white rabbit!’ in what, for some, may have been their first experience of live performance. At 40 minutes long, Let’s All Dance have really considered what works within the attention span of little ones and ensured that the show is entertaining for all ages. Brighton Open Air Theatre provided the perfect backdrop and, in an unexpected twist, the sun shone all afternoon.

2020 is very much the year when, if Alice were to utter, ‘Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast’, everyone else would probably agree. Leaving the worries of the world aside for a while, an escape to Wonderland was just what was needed.

You can find Let’s All Dance here, including details of further shows this year. The full Brighton Fringe schedule is on their website now.

Words and photos by Siobhan
6th October 2020

New Music – Teenanger | in earnest | Plants and Animals | The Strifes

New releases – Teenanger, in earnest, Plants and Animals, The Strifes

Teenanger – Good Times (album)

A new album out today from Toronto post-punks Teenanger showcases their development as a band along with an eclectic bunch of very accessible songs. Opening track Beige has hints of Joy Division until the dual vocals take things in a different direction, while recent single Touching Glass plays more to the alt pop audience. As well as making music, Teenanger are keeping the DIY ethos alive, running their label Telephone Explosion and operating a pay-what-you-can studio. The album has been a long time in the making yet retains a sense of urgency, warning of environmental damage and the reliance on technology while giving us some energy filled tunes to ease the pain.

Good Times is available now on Telephone Explosion, watch the video for Touching Glass below.

Teenanger

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in earnest – in earnest (EP)

We’ve previously featured the gorgeous tracks that Southend trio in earnest have released during the year and it’s a pleasure to see their debut EP coming to fruition next week. Fans of the band will already be familiar with the three singles and can look forward to another three equally compelling songs. Whilst the subject of mental health is far from being as taboo as it once was, it’s encouraging to find artists who are comfortable in being open about the difficulties around the struggles involved. Closing track The House encompasses all that in earnest are about, Sarah’s vocal sitting perfectly with from the heart lyrics, ‘These walls remember all that’s said and done, and my heart has chambers where the sadness runs’.

in earnest release their self-titled EP on 7th October, listen to 29 here.

in earnest

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Plants & Animals – Love that Boy (single) 

Ahead of the release of their latest album The Jungle later this month, Montreal’s Plants and Animals have shared new track Love that Boy this week. From the outset, it creates a dreamlike atmosphere with hazy layers of guitar and a soft drumbeat. The song contemplates growing from childhood to becoming part of a different family unit, Warren explains, It’s a song about my family, present and past, but it feels more like a meditation. I was upset, frustrated and feeling like no one knew me – the kid me, the me I still feel I am. And then writing the song chilled me out and put me right. It was a way to connect with my dead parents and with my new life as a dad, and to give everyone a proper hug.” The musical hug it provides offers a good indication that the album will be a welcome addition to the chaos of 2020.

Plants and Animals have live dates planned for February 2021. The Jungle is out on 23rd October on Secret City Records, watch the video for Love that Boy below.

Plants and Animals

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The Strifes – All Day and Night (single)

Hailing from the Southampton scene, The Strifes release debut single All Day and Night today. Pitching classic indie with a hint of Dandy Warhols-esque nostalgia, the three piece have captured a fresh energy filled sound that suggests there are festival anthems to come when that’s a possibility once again. A strong shot from the starting blocks for a band that only formed in May – keep an eye out to see what comes next.

Listen to All Day and Night here.

The Strifes

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Words by Siobhan
Photos via Hive Mind PR, in earnest, Sonic PR, Fitz Promotions
(Plants and Animals © Caroline Désilets)

2nd October 2020

 

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