Icebreaker Festival 2022 – Applications Open

As live music is starting to find its way back into our lives, it’s a real pleasure to see some events that have been sadly missed making plans to be back on the map soon.

The Portsmouth/Southsea area is home to a surprising number of festivals of all shapes and sizes, each with their own unique offer. Icebreaker Festival has established itself as a showcase for a hotbed of new talent, and provides an opportunity to catch a huge range of artists in smaller, intimate settings amidst a really friendly, supportive atmosphere. Favourite performances from the past couple of years have included Drusila, The Howlers, LibraLibra, The Isle of CC and Fast Trains; a veritable mix of something for everyone. Full details of how to apply to play are in the press release below, so if you’re unsigned but unforgettable, you know what to do.

Press release:

Applications are now OPEN for the South’s largest unsigned metropolitan music festival. Icebreaker Festival, situated on the vibrant streets of Southsea, will be taking place in the Winter & Summer of 2022 and is welcoming original artists/bands of any genre to apply. It has been a devastating year for live music but all this time spent at home has cultivated an abundance of creativity that festival organisers are eager to showcase.

Please visit www.icebreakerfestival.com and follow the application links. Each applicant is reviewed by the festival organisers and the colourful and eclectic line ups have developed themselves with the incredible amount of talent submitted through the application process every year.

The award-winning festival will host over 100 acts across 8 stages in multiple venues on Albert Road and Elm Grove with wristband entry.

7 years ago, local promoters, musicians & DJs came together to form the annual winter event, created to celebrate the unsigned music scene at a time of year which previously had been very quiet in the thriving coastal town. Over the years the festival has not only allowed artists to perform in front of eager crowds and gain media attention, it has also provided a platform for discovery. You might attend the festival as a punter or an artist, but you will leave the festival as a fan of a band or artist you may have previously never heard of.

You can check out our reviews from Icebreaker 2019 and Icebreaker 2020 here.

Words (excluding press release from Icebreaker Festival) and photos by Siobhan

30th July 2021

New Music – Goat | The Sound of Modesty | Frauds | moa moa

New releases – Goat, Modesty, Frauds, moa moa

Goat – Queen of the Underground 

Making masks a fashion statement way before the pandemic, Goat have long since stood out from the crowd with their unique blend of psychedelic dance music and performance. Their pending album, Headsoup, is due out on 27th August via Rocket Recordings, combining tracks from the band’s eclectic career and some brand new additions. Ahead of its release, Goat have shared new track Queen of the Underground, another fireball of a tune to keep the goat-herds from the door. Take a listen below; you can pre-order Headsoup here.

Goat

************************************************************

The Sound of Modesty – A Perfect Blue II

One from a pool of great Leeds based artists, The Sound of Modesty (aka singer-songwriter Yvonne Han) brings subtly edgy indie-pop to the table with new single A Perfect Blue II. Citing artists ranging from Bjork to T.a.T.u. as influences, her vocal is playfully operatic, giving the song a sense of emotion and purpose. Listen below.

The Sound of Modesty

************************************************************

Frauds – Ships

Recent Alcopop! signings Frauds have released Ships, the third excellent single from their upcoming album Long Spoons. Heavy riffs and a tongue in cheek smattering of humour make the track as ‘catchy, catchy, catchy’ as the nets they reference on the side of their fictional vessel. Look out for tour dates later in the year; the album will be coming your way on 1st October.

Frauds

************************************************************

moa moa – Coltan Candy

Last but by no means least, we have the pleasure of another special release from the Speedy Wunderground camp. Joining an already impressive list of participants is London based alt-pop 5 piece outfit moa moa. The track, Coltan Candy, immediately catches your ear then takes it through an immersive multi-genre musical journey. The digital version is out now and, as always, there will be a limited 7″ run of 250 copies – release date for these is 10th September – enjoy.

moa moa

************************************************************

Words by Siobhan
Photos: Goat © Andreas Johansson via Silver PR, The Sound of Modesty © Sophie Jouvenaar, Frauds via Wall of Sound PR, moa moa © Beatriz Sá (state51) via Practise Music PR

6th July 2021

Live – BlitZ at The Old Wine Vaults

BlitZ at The Old Wine Vaults, Eastwood, 19th June 2021

BlitZing the House Down

It seemed like forever, yet no time at all, as Nottingham rockers, BlitZ re-ignited audience passion at The Old Wine Vaults, Eastwood last Saturday.

Frontman, Stuart Corden, warmed up the ears of those who had been missing live sounds for so long,  with an acoustic covers set before the main event.

Within the first few bars of their opening number, Damage, The Spirit of the BlitZ was back & regular band fans and new audience members alike were riding high on a set list of great classic rock tunes from the band’s first two albums.

BlitZ are an extraordinarily exciting band to see live, reminiscent of the big rockers of the 70s/80s. You can catch them next in Nottingham at The Old Salutation Inn on August 1st, with guests: Blues Rockers, Yesterday’s Gone from Chesterfield and, as part of their first ever tour of England,  young Sleaze/Glam rockers from the Highlands of Scotland,  Bad Actress. Tickets are available here.

Catch up with BlitZ here

Words and photos by Tina Sherwood

We’re delighted to welcome Tina to the Breaking Glass photography team and look forward to featuring more of her stunning images as live music continues to open up; do check out the rest of her work too.

21st June 2021

New Music – Red Ribbon | Fast Trains | Krush Puppies | Helvetia

New releases / videos – Red Ribbon, Fast Trains, Krush Puppies, Helvetia

Red Ribbon – Planet X  (single)

Out last week on Danger Collective Records, Planet X, the new album from Red Ribbon (aka Emma Danner) charts a journey through a Californian wildfire and looks for hope among the fragility of the world we live in.

Musically, there are hints of St Vincent with a Twin Peaks twang in the background. The album sways its way through emotions and moods, latest single and title track Planet X a fine showpiece for the overall collection, listen below. The album is available now.

Red Ribbon

************************************************************

Fast Trains – On Being Poor (single)

The latest single from Fast Trains once again manages to bring something new to the table. On Being Poor grabs 80’s electro by the scruff of the neck and allows it space to grow up and mellow a little to meet its potential. Its undercurrent is reminiscent of A Flock of Seagulls’ I Ran, though there are thankfully no signs of the winged hairdo that slightly overshadowed the music back then.

The EP, ourWorld Volume 1, from which this is taken, is a cleverly formed combination of music and art, the visuals a key aspect of the overall project. Jump on board, there’s no wrong side of the tracks with Fast Trains. Music available on the website link below.

Fast Trains

************************************************************

Krush Puppies – Slay the Dragon (video)

We covered the release of Slay the Dragon on its release a few weeks back. It’s a great track full of shadowy psych and medieval musings. Just giving it another shout out as there’s now a video to match and it may just be the distraction you’re looking for – watch here, Bandcamp link below..

Krush Puppies

************************************************************

Helvetia – Does It Go Backwards (video)

Another newly released video for your pleasure, this time from Helvetia, the solo project of Jason Albertini. Don’t be surprised by the dreamlike elements of the track and video – the visuals are based on a recurring dream where a ghost is responsible for a series of odd events and Jason wakes up believing that he is a ghost too. My lockdown dreams have largely been situated in the supermarket but really, the ensuing video from those wouldn’t be close to as intriguing as this one. Lovely soft, hazy vocals and soundscapes too.

Album Essential Aliens is out on 25th June via Joyful Noise, pre-order on link below.

Helvetia

************************************************************

Words by Siobhan

14th June 2021

 

Breaking Glass Magazine – June 2021 – music, photography & more…

Breaking Glass Magazine – June 2021

Cover image © 16 Beasley St Photography 

After an intrinsically difficult year for the arts, it’s great to see the buzz around the full variety of this year’s Brighton Fringe, the largest open-access arts festival in England. Welcoming all forms of art and expression, the city’s venues open up their doors to both new and established performers, offering a diverse showcase of talent across multiple genres.

Kicking off our Fringe experience in flamboyant style, Tell Me Why sees its debut at One Church with a dazzling display of sound and vision. Masterminded by creative director Mr Venus and produced by collective NoAgEnDeR, the show chronicles ‘life outside the mainstream and how it really was for marginalised individuals finding and fighting for their rights’, taking the audience on an ‘emotional roller coaster ride through queer life over the last 50 years’.

Laying bare the sometimes devastating impact of exclusion, the show nonetheless takes the opportunity to mark the historical fight for the right to self-expression and acceptance, and celebrates the lives of friends and loved ones lost along the way, a scenario likely to resonate and bring memories of their own to anyone attending.

Musically, the show is packed with anthems galore, a mix of original compositions and momentous songs from different eras. Things bode well when, on arrival, you’re greeted with a lyric print of Pete Shelley’s Homosapien on each table, a track excluded from radio airplay in the UK in the early 80s for its supposed reference to gay sex. As a solo artist and Buzzcocks’ vocalist, Shelley proved himself to be perhaps the most punk of them all, penning songs about love and relationships amidst his peer group’s cries of anarchy and oppression. 

Elsewhere, a meta moment for me as Blackman from Breaking Glass features, prompting me to rewatch the film which, despite the name, I haven’t seen for many years. The inclusion of another favourite, Suede’s Beautiful Ones is a fitting addition to the fanfare and costumery of the night and the stories it tells.

A heartfelt look back at queer culture through the years, Tell Me Why is clearly a labour of love from all involved and is really what The Fringe and inclusivity are all about – a group of friends with something to say, supporting each other to make the dream a reality and share the project on stage. Work is in progress to produce a documentary about the making of the show; let’s hope this sees the light of day and the sharing continues.

You can find more about Tell Me Why here

Words and photos © Siobhan

1st June 2021

New Music – The Pleasure Dome | Twin Pixie | Dick Dent | Fuzzy Lights

New releases – The Pleasure Dome, Twin Pixie, Dick Dent, Fuzzy Lights

The Pleasure Dome – Pretty Picture (single)

Pure punk vitality and pink jumpsuits, what’s not to love in this new track from The Pleasure Dome? Another tune blessed by the production touch of Theo Verney, Pretty Picture attacks the self-absorption that comes with obsessing over painting an unrealistic lifestyle on social media. Check out the video below and look out for live dates later in the year.

The Pleasure Dome
************************************************************
Twin Pixie – Firestarter (single)

Philadelphia based Twin Pixie bring synth driven pop mayhem to the table with latest track Firestarter. A hybrid of sweet vocals against an almost robotic rap, the duo come good on their assertion that “the song will make you want to thrash, scream, and dance”. Dip your toe into their world here; their debut album is due for release next year.

Twin Pixie
************************************************************

Dick Dent – Do You Mind If I Talk? (album)

Taking a softer, immersive trip to synth-land, Dick Dent’s new album Do You Mind If I Talk? is full of hazy tunes to take away your troubles. Hints of nostalgia abound as the title track brings to mind the melancholy of Tears for Fears while lead single Click of the Fingers would sit comfortably alongside Julian Cope’s angst and disquiet with the world. The album is out now and available digitally or on cassette via Dick’s new tape label Calathea. 

Dick Dent
************************************************************

Fuzzy Lights – Under the Waves (single)

With their second single from their pending album Burials, Fuzzy Lights take a look at the impact climate crisis is having on the sustainability of the oceans. Under the Waves mixes a dark, dramatic undertone with gentle folky vocals and layers of heavy guitars. Burials is released on 2nd July via Meadows and looks set to be an eclectic collection of distinctive and poignant songs. Music with a message; appropriate for the times we’re living in.

Fuzzy Lights
************************************************************

Words by Siobhan

Photos via Prescription PR (The Pleasure Dome © Jackie Palms), Twin Pixie, Dick Dent, Silver PR (Fuzzy Lights © Josie Harries)

28th May 2021

New Music – BK Pepper | Krush Puppies

New releases – BK Pepper, Krush Puppies

BK Pepper – Need to Know

Both dramatic and cinematic, the release of BK Pepper’s new video for Need to Know leaves a strong sense of anticipation for his pending EP, From an Empty Castle (due 6th June). The Dublin based composer applies his experience of playing everything from classical to rock to produce something quite unexpected and immersive. This is not background music, give it your undivided attention and see where it takes you.

BK Pepper

************************************************************

Krush Puppies – Slay the Dragon

’Met in the queue for Pets at Home on the Old Kent Road’ – sounds a tad like a John Cooper Clarke opening line but actually emanates from Krush Puppies’ press release. With such an auspicious start, it’s no wonder that the band members gelled and their shared talents have morphed over the last few years into their current fuzz filled psych tunes. Think Grace Slick hitting a wall of reverb and you’ll be some way there. Slay the Dragon is out now and ready to take on the world, debut EP to follow in the summer.

Krush Puppies

************************************************************

Words by Siobhan

14th May 2021

New Music – Susan | Tashaki Miyaki | Bedrooms | deep tan

New releases – Susan, Tashaki Miyaki, Bedrooms, deep tan

Susan – Hold Still (single)

Another simply beautiful track from Susan, Hold Still will make you catch your breath and absorb all that it offers. Released yesterday, the track is hypnotic, haunting and bursting with emotion. Really hoping there will be an opportunity to see them play live in the not too distant future.

Susan says of the song, “I wrote Hold Still after effortlessly falling in love with one of my friends. It’s a song for those of us who are never to be loved back. Those of us who don’t fit and those of us who want to. Hold Still is an identity of how I love; I love long, pathetically and fairly. I am going to wait for you, however long you need and know that you probably won’t need me at all. There are no metaphors here, just truth.”

Susan

************************************************************

Tashaki Miyaki – I Feel Fine (single)

Dark dream-pop from LA’s Tashaki Miyaki with this new track I Feel Fine. Vocally reminiscent of Mazzy Star and The Sundays, the song is beguiling and complimented by the cinematic feel of its accompanying video, a homage to vampire films of the past. The band have an album release, Castaway, due on 2nd July.

Vocalist Paige Stark explains how the track was a late addition to Castaway, “I wrote I Feel Fine at the beginning of Covid-19 unfolding and it felt like it belonged to the record. I said lots of the things my friends were saying to me about their lives, so it felt right to add it… I was inspired by the emotion of the Replacements song Unsatisfied and wanted to write my own ode to dissatisfaction. I always say I’m fine when it’s quite the contrary, so I started there and got more and more specific with each verse.”

Tashaki Miyaki

************************************************************

Bedrooms – Afterglow (EP)

Dublin band Bedrooms release their debut EP Afterglow this week, a collection of three tracks that showcase their sound perfectly, unassuming, understated but engaging and enchanting. When you’re still making a name for yourself and you can pull in production from the mighty Bill Ryder-Jones, the future’s looking pretty rosy.

The band say, “Through the Afterglow EP we wanted to put together a collection of songs we believed reflected our progression as musicians and songwriters from our earlier releases. We had aimed to release the EP in the late summer of 2020 but given the uncertainty of everything going on this past year, we kept pushing back and were perhaps waiting for some sort of perfect storm where we could gig again and have a launch night to showcase the tracks. It seemed like that was never going to happen, but ultimately, we needed to remind ourselves that we created something that we’re all proud of and didn’t want to sit on the songs for any longer.”

Bedrooms

************************************************************

deep tan – hollow scene (single)

Post-punk trio deep tan have shared the final single from their upcoming debut EP creeping speedwells, due for release on 4th June. The band have built a solid reputation with their seemingly effortless mix of Portishead meets Elastica eclecticism, and look set to cement this with more new music and live dates in the pipeline.

The band explain, “hollow scene is about the feeling of having to move through life with a certain level of detachment in order to function. Gatekeeping empathy for the sake of an easy life, if you will. It’s a pretty draining business, though, and can make any real search for meaning feel futile. Meursault was wrong and he was right. Robert Smith, however, is always right.”

deep tan

************************************************************

Words by Siobhan

Photos via Susan, Silver PR, Prescription PR, Practise Music

30th April 2021

New Music – The Early Mornings | Tokky Horror | Amongst the Pigeons | Ostrich | Talk Show | Red Ribbon

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…

************************************************************

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

************************************************************

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

************************************************************

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

************************************************************

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

************************************************************

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

************************************************************

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

************************************************************

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

************************************************************

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

************************************************************

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

************************************************************

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

************************************************************

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

************************************************************

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

************************************************************

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

************************************************************

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

************************************************************

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

************************************************************

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

************************************************************

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

************************************************************

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

************************************************************

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

************************************************************

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

************************************************************
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?

************************************************************

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

************************************************************

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

************************************************************

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

************************************************************

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

************************************************************

Words by Siobhan

12th January 2021