New Music – Playlist

New releases – The Early Mornings, Tokky Horror, Amongst The Pigeons, Ostrich, Talk Show, Red Ribbon

With so much great new music coming through, it’s been tough to pick out just a few for review. So this week we’ve done a bumper playlist update and recommend that you give all these fine artists a listen…

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The Early Mornings

Maintaining the tradition of keeping Manchester on the music map, The Early Mornings share new single Blank Sky ahead of their debut EP Unnecessary Creation, due for self-release on 18th June.

Deadpan vocals, dead good song, high hopes for what may come next.

The Early Mornings

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Tokky Horror

Latest single Godliness is out now from from Liverpool’s electro-punk 3 piece Tokky Horror. The band release their debut EP I Found the Answers and Now I Want More on 21st May via Alcopop! Records. UK festival and tour dates are planned for later this year.

An intoxicating track filled with trance and dance, take some time out for the Tokky Horror show.

Tokky Horror

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Amongst The Pigeons

Perhaps better known for its seagulls, coastal Sussex is also home to electronica artist Amongst The Pigeons (aka producer Daniel Parsons). Available to pre-order now, his fourth album Silence Will Be Assumed As Acceptance is set for release on 7th May. New single Colour Blind is out today.

Electro-psych with a sprinkling of Giorgio Moroder meets Mike Skinner, all in under 2 minutes.

Amongst The Pigeons

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Ostrich

Our second pick this week from Liverpool’s burgeoning scene, alt popsters Ostrich released their third single 48 Hours last week.

Multi layered, multi talented, crossing genres and eras, get your head out of the sand and get onto this.

Ostrich

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Talk Show

The second half of a collaborative project with producer Eli Brown and Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard, Talk Show carry the post-punk torch for London with recent track Trouble. (Part 1 saw vocalist Harrison Swann add to Brown’s version of the song). The collision of musical styles takes Talk Show in a new direction, adding to their already impressive catalogue.

Abrasive and affirming, if there’s ever a Trainspotting 3 this would sit snugly on the soundtrack.

Talk Show

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Red Ribbon

Way is the new single from LA based Emma Danner, aka Red Ribbon. Her pending album Planet X is out on 11th June via Danger Collective Records.

Cinematic and gushing with dark riffs, this will sit well with fans of PJ Harvey and Angel Olson. Take a listen.

Red Ribbon

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Words by Siobhan
Photos via Prescription PR, Wall of Sound PR, Amongst The Pigeons, Ostrich, Prescription PR, One Beat PR

9th April 2021

Album Review – For Those I Love

For Those I Love

For Those I Love, at its core, is testament to the power of friendship. Platonic love between friends, and more specifically men, is not often discussed in depth by popular music, despite the somewhat surface level shout outs. Dublin’s David Balfe, however, has crafted a tremendous record on the subject, drenched in the grief at the loss of his close friend Paul Curran.

The opening track, I Have A Love, generated widespread interest as a single last year for its spacious electronica against Balfe’s proclamation that “I have a love, and it never fades”. This phrase re-appears throughout the album, like a calming mantra used to pull Balfe back to the centre of his emotions when things get too dark. Which they do. Moments such as The Myth/I DO, where Balfe admits to not checking his phone any longer due to the anxiety of receiving a similar phone call to the one that brought him the news of the tragedy, are emotionally striking, and the album is bursting with vulnerable admissions like it. Top Scheme and Birthday/The Pain are some of the few moments where Balfe allows the listener a wider glimpse into his experiences, tackling class inequality in post-recession Ireland and the desire to break free from an oppressive environment – the latter opening with the chilling childhood flashback, “body dumped on me road when I was 6 – stabbed to death and left on bricks”.

It’s an emotional listen, like peeking at the pages of someone’s diary, though thankfully musically For Those I Love compliments the lyrics, which on their own would potentially be far too difficult a listen.

Elements of trance, UK garage and early dubstep amalgamate to invoke a sound post-warehouse rave, the feeling of being at a rave rather than the music necessarily played at one. Glitchy synths, pitched up vocals and intermittent pianos along with a range of samples from Smokey Robinson to WhatsApp voice memos all come together to complete a beautifully nocturnal and mournful sonic texture.

If the album sees Balfe tussle through the stages of grief, closer Leave Me Not Love offers the clearest moments of acceptance and hope. The opening track’s hypnotic melody returns and though he admits that still “There’s rain that will never go away, there’s days and days of every kind of pain”, it’s on a positive note that the same love is the one that is going to provide the deepest catharsis, “But those I love brought me back to health, and I ain’t never need nothing else”, it’s one of the few moments on the album which seems to look forward rather than backwards.

With this in mind, and with For Those I Love being bookended so beautifully, what musical endeavour Balfe will move onto next remains somewhat unclear. However, if it touches on the quality shown here, it will no doubt be worth listening to.

For Those I Love is out now – you can purchase the album here and listen to David Balfe speaking about the album on the podcast below.

Review by Ryan Bell

5th April 2021

New Music – Holiday Ghosts | Paul Jacobs | Barnaby Keen | Hooveriii

New releases – Holiday Ghosts, Paul Jacobs, Barnaby Keen, Hooveriii

Holiday Ghosts – Off Grid (single)

Time to head off grid and have some fun with this track from Holiday Ghosts, a fine advert for upcoming album North Street Air. Quirky and full of escapism, the riffs and dual vocals are a refreshing take on ‘hard-won alone time in an always connected world’. With hints of Menace Beach and a nostalgia for simpler times, Off Grid offers up a few minutes reprieve from the mundane; great video too.

North Street Air will be released via FatCat Records on 21st May and is available for pre-order here.

Holiday Ghosts

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Paul Jacobs – Day to Day (single)

Perhaps best known as drummer with Pottery, Paul Jacobs is showcasing his pending solo album Pink Dogs on the Green Grass with a self-animated video for Day to Day. The track sees him reflecting on happy memories in suitably slacker-psych, laid back fashion.

Paul explains, “This song was inspired by a trip with friends during which we played at a festival near a river out in the woods. The experience stuck with us as one of the greatest times in our lives. The song is a reminder to live for today and shoot for your dreams”.

Pink Dogs on the Green Grass will be released in the UK on 11th June via Blow The Fuse Records; pre-order here.

Paul Jacobs

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Barnaby Keen – Lay Our Cards (single)

Lay Our Cards, the debut single from multi-instrumentalist Barnaby Keen certainly bodes well for the future. Crossing genres to produce a hazy track fusing fuzzy dream-pop and melodies ‘inspired by Latin American music and Dub’, Barnaby draws on his experience of working with other artists and forges it into his own combination of immersive sound.

Released on South London label Plum Cuts, Lay Our Cards is out now, you can purchase the single here.

Barnaby Keen

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Hooveriii – Erasure (single)

Ahead of excellently named album Water for the Frogs, Hooveriii have shared their latest track Erasure. While the title may call to mind Vince Clarke’s synth-pop of the 80s, this is more synth with attitude and a dose of garage-psych. Talking about the track, Hooveriii say, “Maybe the most sonically aggressive jam on the LP, Erasure is also the only love song. Originally demoed in a more straightforward fashion, but when Shaughnessy added the rhythmic toms it became more of a war chant. Big primitive energy, much like the destructive nature of love. The song also features wicked dueling sax and war cries from Gabe Flores & Gabe Salomón”. If someone’s offering to play you a love song, accept nothing less than this.

Water for the Frogs is due to be released on 9th April for The Reverberation Appreciation Society and can be pre-ordered here.

Hooveriii

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Words by Siobhan
Photos via Prescription PR, Silver PR, Chalk Press Agency, Cabin Fever Collective

26th March 2021

Album Review – Maxïmo Park: Nature Always Wins

Cover sleeve for Maxïmo Park’s album ‘Nature Always Wins’

Maxïmo Park – Nature Always Wins

Ever since Paul Smith promised to do graffiti if we sung to him in French, Maxïmo Park have secured a place in our hearts. And having seen them perform at different points across their illustrious career, it’s fair to say they’re as much a force majeur playing live now as they were back in the early days.

The release of their seventh album Nature Always Wins promises contemplation, reflection and confrontation, all in Smith’s instantly recognisable vocal. After the slower start of lead track Partly of my Making, the pace quickens with Versions of You and Baby Sleep, the latter one of a number of nods to the life affirming and altering stages of parenthood.

A couple of stand out tracks, All of Me is set to be a live favourite when the time comes while Ardour, true to its name, encompasses all the enthusiasm and energy we might expect from a classic Maxïmo track, whilst retaining the associated lyrical wit as it ponders the question, ‘If I become the joke can I still deliver the punchline?’

There’s much here to enjoy, the band have adapted to Lukas Wooller’s departure by taking different approaches to song structure and instrumentation and the synchronicity of the three remaining members pulls it all together nicely.

Closing track Child of the Flatlands explores the changing face of the world we live in and the impact of our actions. It’s an epic close to the album, filled with melancholy and hope at the same time, and showcases the best of Newcastle’s finest.

Maxïmo Park standing at the top of a hill all dressed in different colour blocks of red, black and blue

Smith explains the message behind Nature Always Wins thus, “It’s the reality of our situation on earth! You can’t fight against nature, whether it’s human nature or the environment. And to call back to the domestic situation: whatever happens is down to the nature of who we are. When you give birth to anything, whether it’s a child or an album, you betray who you are in that process. Even just making this record the way we have and the way it sounds now – that’s the nature of the band. It wins out. We’re a pop band. They’re songs you can understand, yes, influenced by lots of different genres. But what it comes down to is: we still want every song to be hooky, melodic, memorable – to be loved. It’s not a vanity project – we want people to get into it. That is the nature of Maxïmo Park”.

And there we are, Maxïmo Park are back and, frankly, it feels like catching up with an old friend you haven’t seen since before lockdown; you may notice a few changes but the essence and familiarity of why you were first drawn to them is impossible to miss and the accompanying virtual hug is very welcome.

Nature Always Wins is released this Friday 26th February. As planned tour dates have inevitably had to be postponed, the band have announced a livestream performance on 6th March. You can pre-order the album and purchase tickets for the show here.

Words by Siobhan
Photo via Prescription PR

23rd February 2021

New Music – Madu | Rosie Alena & Morgan Simpson | Bernice

Madu, Rosie Alena & Morgan Simpson, Bernice plus ‘new music’ logo

New releases – Madu, Rosie Alena & Morgan Simpson, Bernice

Madu – Necromancer (single)

Released this week, Madu introduces us to their world of electro gothic dance tunes with new single Necromancer, which doubtless takes inspiration from 80s’ past masters but most definitely stacks up as an exemplar of fine-honed contemporary synth-pop in its own right. Its dark, sardonic undertone is matched with glimpses of humour, ‘The mall’s holding a séance, The consumer graveyard, They got souls on clearance, Black Friday…’ If this is indicative of the current scene in Helsinki, then maybe we should be checking out more from the Finnish capital. Looking forward to hearing more from Madu with an EP planned for spring 2021.

Listen to Necromancer here.

Madu

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Rosie Alena & Morgan Simpson – We’ve Only Just Begun (single)

Who doesn’t love a good singalong to The Carpenters? It’s fair to say that most of us probably don’t sound quite this good though as sultry chanteuse Rosie Alena does the vocal proud, backed by drumming maestro Morgan Simpson, best known as part of the enigmatic Black Midi. Helping out on guitar, lap steel and accordion is Morgan’s bandmate Geordie Greep. It’s a classic track that’s been given an update without losing the purity of the original. And even better, all proceeds go to The Music Venue Trust who are doing a fine job supporting grassroots music venues through lockdown.

You can listen to and purchase We’ve Only Just Begun here.

Rosie Alena & Morgan Simpson

Rosie Alena

Black Midi

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Bernice – We Choose You (single)

Fresh from Toronto’s Bernice, latest track We Choose You gives an insight into the offbeat whimsy that can be expected from forthcoming album Eau de Bonjourno. Hard to tie down to any one genre, Bernice bring bouncy electronics mixed with laid back R&B, pure pop and a playful vocal. There’s a lot going on and it’s worth taking the time to unfold the layers and pick out the intricacies that piece it all together. Individually, We Choose You and previous single It’s Me, Robin form one-off experimental curios; as a whole the album promises a beguiling collection of interlinked pieces that question the norm and showcase the various skills of its makers.

Listen to We Choose You below. Eau de Bonjourno is released on 5th March via Telephone Explosion and figureeight records; pre-order here.

Bernice

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Words by Siobhan
Photos: Madu © Kristian Tilander, Rosie Alena & Morgan Simpson © Edith Amelie, Bernice © Colin Medley

19th February 2021

 

Album Review – The Hold Steady: Open Door Policy

The Hold Steady – Open Door Policy

A constant on the Brooklyn music scene since forming in 2003, The Hold Steady are back with a bang on their latest album Open Door Policy, or perhaps that should be back with a horn section and a swathe of their trademark punk-poetry lyrics set to a brooding rock undercurrent.

There is much to discover in this album and opening track The Feelers  wastes no time in making this apparent. Over simple keys, Craig Finn’s wistful narration begins, ‘It was an early morning meet-up at the mansion on the mountain, the master still had glitter on his face…’ The song continues through copious changes of pace and classic guitar breaks, almost veering into the realms of a country and western saloon bar tale, while the vocal remains firmly entrenched in the tradition of their New York predecessors, The Velvet Underground. It’s like a mini concept piece all in under 4 minutes and, if this is just track 1, you know you can prepare for a treat across the next 10 titles.

Head shots of the 6 band members from The Hold Steady

The addition of horns is most prevalent on recent single Family Farm, whilst the other album sampler Heavy Covenant boasts a toned down synth intro that takes things in a whole different direction. The entire collection brings a warm element of storytelling into play and highlights the diversity of the band’s abilities. Fans of Warmduscher with a side penchant for Lou Reed may well find that this is just what they’ve been looking out for (and if you’re not a fan of Warmduscher with an LR penchant then go ahead and make it happen).

Open Door Policy, produced by Josh Kaufman, is released this Friday 19th February 2021 on the band’s own Positive Jams label via Thirty Tigers, and is available to pre-order here.

Words by Siobhan
Photos via Prescription PR

17th February 2021

New Music – Hallan | Fast Trains | Jim McHugh | Gender Roles

Cover sleeves for Hallan, Fast Trains, Jim McHugh and Gender Roles

New releases – Hallan, Fast Trains, Jim McHugh, Gender Roles 

Hallan – Hands Up (single)

First of two in this week’s pick from the burgeoning Portsmouth music scene, Hallan release new single Hands Up today. A celebration of the best bits of post-punk pushing through swinging cowboy saloon doors, the track manages to capture the essence of the current spoken word vocal and mix it with swaggering riffs and eminently accessible beats for the alternative dancefloor. The influence of a certain Mr Mark E Smith is undeniable and it’s good to see this head more towards an Eat Y’self Fitter feel than the more often emulated darker side of The Fall. Give this one a spin to liven up your day. 

Hands Up is available now on Nice Swan Records; forthcoming EP Reporting from the Living Room Floor can be pre-ordered here.

Hallan

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Fast Trains – I Work in Lies (single)

Continuing the coastal takeover, the latest single from Fast Trains is also released today. I Work in Lies is another link in the Fast Trains’ chain of melodies with a message. Each song brings something new to the table, this time the 80s’ feel is definitely there with a leaning towards the sense of foreboding that comes with the less commercial tunes of OMD and XTC (possibly other 3 letter bands as well but none spring to mind). Having tackled the subject of men’s mental health in previous single The English Way, the focus here is on the British tabloids and their propensity for shock headlines at any cost. Forthcoming EP ourWorld Volume 1 is shaping up to be a beautifully constructed piece of work that takes on the real world on its own terms; very much worth your listening time.

I Work in Lies is available now on Bandcamp and the Fast Trains website.

Fast Trains

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Jim McHugh – Dave (single)

Ahead of his third album Pretending to Wake Up due for release in May, Monaghan singer-songwriter Jim McHugh drops lead single Dave today. Belying the quiet intro, Dave soon breaks into full rock mode, though the subtleties of Jim’s folk nuances are perhaps still simmering in the background. Despite having talents playing multiple instruments himself, the album brings a full band project for added impact. Dave is the story of a misspent youth and, as such, a welcome reminder of life outside lockdown, something we could all use right now. Dust off your air guitar and play along below.

Pretending to Wake Up is available for pre-order now.

Jim McHugh

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Gender Roles – Dead or Alive / So Useless (single)

Good to see Brighton’s Gender Roles continuing to make new music; a band best savoured live but all in good time. Latest release out digitally this week is double A side Dead or Alive / So Useless. Embracing the punchier side of grunge, the band have polished their sound to proffer ridiculously catchy tunes full of huge riffs and frenetic drumming. This release will make you want to run down the beach crying out for a socially distanced mosh pit. The weekend starts here… enjoy. 

Dead or Alive / So Useless is available to download now; a vinyl release is set for 26th March.

Gender Roles

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Words by Siobhan

5th February 2021

New Music – Palberta | Kiwi Jr | Cowgirl | Tarah Who?

Montage of 4 pictures - band shot of Palberta sitting on the floor, album cover for Kiwi Jr (band name in black and white lettering), cassette version of Cowgirl single and band shot of Tarah Who leaning on railings

New releases – Palberta, Kiwi Jr, Cowgirl, Tarah Who?

Palberta – Palberta5000 (album)

New York three-piece Palberta still have a foot firmly in their post-punk roots, but their latest offering is laced with added pop harmonies and feel-good riffs. The longest track comes in at close to 5 minutes, the shortest squeezed into just 18 seconds, and each song flips into new territory seamlessly. There’s a very raw quality to the sound that can only be made by a band who are anything but raw in their talent. Comparisons with 70s’ underground heroes The Raincoats are not unjustified and fans of Menace Beach may just find the intricate layers of sound right up their slightly surreal street. Go on, have a listen, you deserve a little fun right now.

Palberta5000 is out today on Wharf Cat Records

Palberta

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Kiwi Jr – Cooler Returns (album)

Canada’s Kiwi Jr are back with more charming lo-if indie tales on their new album Cooler Returns. Laid back and with an undercurrent of dry humour, the band saunter through the perils of Undecided Voters and being Only Here For a Haircut. If a young Michael Stipe were to tone down the anger of The Pixies, it might well sound a little like this. The record is a pleasing listen from start to finish and generates involuntary smiles with its askance look at the world. A dash of panache amid the weariness of the pandemic could be just what the doctor ordered.

Cooler Returns is released today on Sub Pop

Kiwi Jr

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Cowgirl – (single)

Independent York label Safe Suburban Home Records have spent a chunk of lockdown helping artists to keep putting out music while sharing their love of physical releases. Their latest output comes from local fuzz rock ‘n’ rollers Cowgirl, with a cassette release of loud and proud single Caroline. Slamming straight into a wall of guitars, Cowgirl could be the sons of Dinosaur Junior (Dinosaur Junior Junior?) on a day trip out with the Mary Chain’s Reid brothers. Seemingly they have a treasure trove of unheard tracks stashed away just waiting for future release; nice to have something to look forward to, and the other acts featured on the label are worth a listen too.

Caroline is out today on Safe Suburban Home Records

Cowgirl

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Tarah Who – Swallow that Pill (single)

Hailing from LA, Tarah Who? form a power duo ready to take on the world with their unapologetically frenetic tunes turned up to the max. New single Swallow that Pill takes no prisoners and comes complete with a demolition-happy video. The track reminds me a tad of Department S’s defining piece Is Vic There?, but perhaps if it had been wrung through a grunge-tipped mangle first. One to sit up and pay attention to.

Swallow that Pill is released today

Tarah Who?

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Words by Siobhan
Photos via Hive Mind PR, Prescription PR, Safe Suburban Home Records, Under the Moon PR

22nd January 2021

 

New Music – Home Counties | Teenage Fanclub | Galactapus | Gary Numan

New releases – Home Counties, Teenage Fanclub, Galactapus, Gary Numan

Home Counties – Modern Yuppies (single)

Heading into 2021 in style, Home Counties’ spiky new single is just what’s needed to blow the lockdown cobwebs away. Taking a funk-fuelled approach with synths aplenty, the track sees the band lean away from a guitar-led stance and crank up the dance hooks, following in the footsteps of a Talking Heads style stroll along the road to nowhere. Modern Yuppies, out today, is the first of two self-produced singles released via the mighty Alcopop! Records.

Vocalist Will Harrison comments, “Synths and drum machines were already something we were very keen to explore and 2020 provided us with an unexpected amount of free time to experiment. We dialled the disco influences up to the max and totally embraced that 70’s-cop-drama vibe for this pair of stand-alone singles. It feels like a bold declaration of who we are and it definitely gives a clearer taste of where we’re heading for our next EP”.

Home Counties

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Teenage Fanclub – Home (video)

After much anticipation, Teenage Fanclub have confirmed their return with studio album number 10. Endless Arcade is set for release on 5th March via their own label PeMa in the UK and on Merge in the US. As a taster, the band have shared a video for the album’s opening track Home. In true TF fashion, the song proffers mixed emotions, an oxymoron of cheerful melancholy and laid back sophistication. The album looks set to be a welcome relief to the trials of the current environment.

“We were very comfortable with each other in the studio,” says Norman. “I think some of the playing is a bit freer and looser than on recent albums. Dave and Euros’ playing is amazing, and Francis on drums is really swinging. The whole process of making this album was very invigorating. Everyone in the band contributed a lot and the song arrangements came together really quickly. Everything felt fresh.”

Endless Arcade can be pre-ordered here

Teenage Fanclub

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Galactapus – I Intend to Stay (album)

Steeped in mystery with masks to put the rest of us to shame, Galactapus offer up psych-punk with a twist of Euro-pop and costumes straight from the house of glam. Relatively new out of the blocks, this sounds like a project worth keeping an enigmatic eye on.

Their PR states, ‘Galactapus is a recording group who plays and sings space-aquatica punk music. They have asked that their personal backgrounds not be provided, but are excited that their first album I Intend To Stay might find the right ears to hear it.’

If you fall into that particular section of the Venn diagram that captures fans of Can, early Doors and Serge Gainsbourg, then I suspect you may just have the right ears – bend them back and take a trip to the curious world of Galactapus.

I Intend to Stay is available to purchase on Bandcamp

Galactapus

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Gary Numan – (single)

Last but by no means least, Gary Numan still holds a hugely loyal following after 40 years in the business. Pending new album Intruder is due for release on 21st May and the lead/title single and video were shared yesterday. Debuted to live audiences on 2019’s (R)evolution tour, Intruder is a strong track and already a firm fan favourite. The intro takes a more industrial than electronic stance until the instantly recognisable vocal kicks in and there’s a message behind the music too.

Numan explains, “Intruder looks at climate change from the planet’s point of view. If Earth could speak, and feel things the way we do, what would it say? How would it feel? The songs, for the most part, attempt to be that voice, or at least try to express what I believe the earth must feel at the moment. The planet sees us as its children now grown into callous selfishness, with a total disregard for it’s well being. It feels betrayed, hurt and ravaged. Disillusioned and heartbroken it is now fighting back. Essentially, it considers human kind to be a virus attacking the planet. Climate change is the undeniable sign of the Earth saying enough is enough, and finally doing what it needs to do to get rid of us, and explaining why it feels it has to do it.”

Intruder is available to pre-order here

Gary Numan

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Words by Siobhan

12th January 2021

2020 Contributors

Breaking Glass 2020 Contributors

Photographers, writers, artists, reviewers and interviewers – here’s a roll call of the fabulous humans who contributed content to Breaking Glass during 2020. Thank you all for just being generally brilliant. Thanks also to all the bands and artists who gave us interviews, the music PR teams and promoters, publishers, venues, museum and gallery curators who’ve invited us in or sent us previews, and anyone else who’s played a part in any way. See you for more of the same in 2021…

Alan Cruickshank
Alana Thomas
Andrew Barrell
Anna Louise Yorke
Barbara Vitoria Vitale
Becky Jones

Bethany Clayton
Brian Smith
Caoimhe Clements
Carl Copeland
Catarina Olausson (ECO Photography)
Charlie Smith

Chris Andrews
Clare Ratcliffe
Dave Harford
David Gasson
Derek Rickman
Gary Catlin
Gary Hough (allthecoolbandsphotography)
Geoff Maxted
Gregor Boyd
Hugh Frizell
Ingrid Turner
Jake O’Brien
Jenn Cliff-Wilcock (Lens of a Wool)
Jennifer Mullins
Jordain Molloy Gillen
Karen McKay
Kevin Harpin
Kristy-Lee Gallagher
Lauren Fautley
Live Music Snaps
Lou Smith
Lynnette Brink
Marge Bradshaw
Mark Cartwright
Michelle Cop
Milly McPhee
Nigel King
Olivia Sofia Ferrara
Oriana Spadaro
Pepa (PJ Music Photography)
Phil Drury (2324 Photography)
Peter Hutchinson
Petra Eujane
Rebecca O’Flaherty
Robert C Maxfield II
Ryan Bell
Seb Akehurst (Jolly Bearded Promotions)
Shane O’Neill
Shonagh Kelly
Shots by Sarah
Siobhan (16 Beasley St Photography)
Steve White
Teresa Lyle
Tina Sherwood (Rock Shotz Live Music Imaging)

Photos © 16 Beasley St Photography

29th December 2020

 

New Music – The Underground Youth | The Red Stains | Outlaw Boogie | Nightshift

New releases – The Underground Youth, The Red Stains, Outlaw Boogie, Nightshift

The Underground Youth – A Sorrowful Race (single)

When a song puts you in mind of a refurbished Chelsea Hotel No 2, it’s immediately worthy of your attention. And without denying the hints of Leonard Cohen, The Underground Youth have proffered something a bit different and a bit special too here. Incredibly, this is the lead from the band’s 10th album due in March. Manchester born and now based in Berlin, they have the influence of two cities whose music scenes are revered around the world, the chemistry to seamlessly move towards a darker sound of film noir, and the ability to capture a snapshot of the current isolation we’re all experiencing.

A Sorrowful Race is out now and will be followed by the album The Falling released on 12th March 2021 via Fuzz Club Records.

The Underground Youth

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The Red Stains – Freezer Jesus (single)

Another solid track from Manchester’s The Red Stains with their seasonally flavoured new single Freezer Jesus. Reflecting the original 70’s DIY punk ethic, the song is confrontational and humour-filled at the same time. An ode to the 24/7 consumerism that even lockdown can’t prevent, the tune is spiky and matched with sawtooth vocals and barbed lyrics. ‘Well the joke’s on you ‘cause I’ve seen Jesus, he was buying chicken nuggets out an Iceland freezer’ is a Christmas couplet like no other; sing it in the shopping aisles and don’t go fighting over the last box of Ferrero Rocher.

The Red Stains

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Outlaw Boogie – The Circle (single)

Hazy, trippy and slick round the edges, Outlaw Boogie releases the titular track as a precursor to his forthcoming EP The Circle. In the depths of a freezing winter, a journey back to the summer of love is a bit of a tonic right now. Outlaw Boogie is the pseudonym of London based Michael James Dent; already a respected producer, songwriter and performer. He says of the song, “The Circle is a tribute to a good friend who sadly passed in 2019. I wanted the song to act as a reminder that when somebody passes, they are still alive somewhere and even when you are walking home alone at night, that presence is always with you.”

The Circle EP is due for release on 15th January 2021.

Outlaw Boogie

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Nightshift – Make Kin (single)

Whatever they’re feeding musicians in Glasgow at the moment, it continues to produce a seemingly steady stream of great artists and songs. Very much part of the local scene, Nightshift features members of indie peers Spinning Coin, 2 Ply and Robert Sotelo. They sound like they might be the hidden love-child of Duds and Dry Cleaning, combining layers of sound in a conflation of spoken word and tribal drumbeats. Their pending album from which Make Kin is taken has been pieced together remotely with band members creating and improvising their own sections, proof that quarantine needn’t stop creativity.

The album Zöe will be released on 26th February 2021 on Trouble in Mind Records.

Nightshift

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Words by Siobhan
Photos via Silver PR, The Red Stains, One Beat PR

11th December 2020

EP Review – Dirty Freud: Love in the Backwater

Dirty Freud – Love in the Backwater 

Artist and producer Dirty Freud is making quite a name for himself, working with the likes of The Prodigy, Big Narstie and even godfather of everything, Iggy Pop. It’s unsurprising that his stamp is being sought out so widely given the refusal to stick to any one mainstream or underground genre, Freud’s blend of beats and dark electronica demands attention and provides a perfect platform to showcase the talents of others.

With three of the four tracks on this EP already released, it holds limited surprise for those already listening, however, the final packaged product is a fine collection with which to woo new ears.

Opening track Blood Bayou highlights the gorgeous tones of long-term collaborator Ruby Tingle’s vocals, think Jhené Aiko meets Karen O in a darkly lit club, with hypnotic synths and a smattering of opera filling the background. Flanked by previous singles Intentions (featuring Szou) and Moments, the title track Love in the Backwater proves worth the wait, telling the story of surviving a pandemic with a cool intensity that encompasses the entire EP.

From trip- hop to techno, dubstep to dance beats, there’s a whole plate of musical delicacies to pick from here. A skilfully unexpected EP for a wildly unexpected year, Love in the Backwater is released tomorrow, 11th December, via Modern Sky UK – pre-save here.

Words by Siobhan
Photos via Sonic PR

10th December 2020

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