Tunes Issue 8
BAD CARDIGAN NEW YORK TOURISTS YOUTHBLOOD NYX ME
THE ARTOIS Birmingham just can't stop spoiling us
PODCAST DJ'd by editor, Sam Davies
Featuring the best new music... “sexy v oice” Jordan Storey
"a great way to keep an eye on new and upcoming bands" – Robson Musgrave
his t h ug o r h t ery v s e g son end to t n ece omm d t lo ly rec avies a d un finite ack D o f e e J v d a I ” h , r “I cast reade d o p
“It has helped me discover a lot of new bands” – Chloe Jordan
Check the podcasts out at: www.tellintunes.com
IN THIS ISSUE OF T
Tunes 4 THE BIG BANG FESTIVAL 6 NME AWARDS TOUR 8 OUR FAVOURITE ALBUMS OF THE 00's 16 THE ARTOIS SCOUTING... 21 YOUTHBLOOD 23 NEW YORK TOURISTS 25 NYX 26 BAD CARDIGAN 27 ME Contributors 29 REVIEWS Words from the editor If you like Peace, Swim Deep and all the Birmingham jazz, get listening to The Artois. If you're not keen on the 'b-town' scene, you should still listen to them because they're bound to win you over. We have scouted loads of brilliant bands for you to feast your ears upon. Enjoy! Sam Davies
Luke Lambourne James Rebello Sam Fleming Oliver Berisford Cory Devine Ellie Kinney Mark Wynne Jake Cordiner Tom Mooney Yasmyn Charles Robert Jones Darcy Jimenez Chris Hanna Jack Claramunt Rhys Harding Angus Rogers Tom Blackmore Dillon Covilet
A beautiful, sunny day welcomed all the locals into the dark, dank pit of Gloucester Guildhall. There weren't high expectations for this 'day festival' type of thing, considering the headline act were Swift Manouver. As the bouncers, who really looked like they wanted to be somewhere else, marked me with their red pen of fate, I trudged towards the second stage which contained all alternative groups, unlike the generic tosh which goes by the name of pop punk, on the main stage. The attention veered slightly away from first act, The Torn Cloud, due to an incredible level of unprofessionalism. In the background of Sam and Rosa's performance, the mediocre tech team were busy making sure that the background fitted perfectly on a screen behind them. They had the nerve and audacity to perfect the zoom, placement and size of the 'Big Bang Festival 2013' logo WHILST the duo were playing. A shocking display on their part. Aside from the low levels of professionalism there was an act which deserved some attention. The 12 year-old girls made their way onto the floor while the older members of the audience admired Sam Fowke's intricate guitar playing as Rosa boasted her piano ability along with her envious vocals. However, what all seemed impressive at the start was short lived as the melodies and singing all blended into what seemed like one tedious tune with generic lyrics to fit around an acoustic guitar. Until, they announced a cover of the infamous Michael Jackson's 'Billie Jean'. It was incredible. The way they had made it their own, the way their voices perfectly matched.
You could sense the crowd watching on in awe of this inspiring take on a pop classic. It was all looking up for the Gloucester pair until they announced it was actually a cover of a cover from The Civil Wars. It was a major let down. The music lovers came flooding in as New Lake took to the stage. They rushed into 'Intro' as a chorus of smashing cymbals and gruesome guitar grinding was smothered into a gigantic heap of noise. Singer, Sean Walker, was previously in the band who were following New Lake, called The Feddens.
Where? Gloucester Guildhall
means superior to the aforementioned New Lake. After breaking one of his guitar strings, Peter Eason-Daniels ironically asked ex-member Sean to borrow his guitar and he came to the rescue for Pete. A repeat of similar drum patterns continued, but at least you had some idea what the singer, Pete, was actually saying. The recent addition of Holly Weyman to the group has made a colourful difference, not only with her outrageous pink hair, but credit has to be given to the evident skill as she made complex bass lines seem effortless. The Gloucester group ended on fan favourite 'Smoke Signals' with that electro pop twang, which resulted in everyone bobbing their heads in appreciation. Up next to stroll on like they owned the place was McFly tribute 'Canary Swing'. And with a strum of George Crump's acoustic guitar, in rushed a herd of 12 year-old girls singing their hearts out to the Christian page boys leaving my head firmly in my hands. You have to hand it to Crump and co., they certainly put all their energy into their performance however this what not only spoilt by the fangirls, but their message â€œcome and meet us afterwards, we'd love to chat.â€? Once again, I had my head in my hands. To my astonishment, after their set, I saw a 13 yearold boy with a Total 90 Nike sports bag accompanied with chinos getting pictures with his idols. Says it all really. And after that energetic performance, it only felt right to escape the Guildhall and grab myself a (probably not) well-deserved Big Mac. I hope you would approve. By Sam Davies
Therefore, you could say that this was his mission to show everybody he could create music in a slightly different direction, with himself at the head of writing and producing music. Song after song it was clear that drummer, Dane Nash, knew how to hit skins. Remarkable drum fills were a perfect match for Dan LG's pounding bass. Bearing in mind that it was their first gig, it could have been a lot worse. With an aim to prove their superiority, The Feddens marched on to the sound of 'Count Backwards'. And in all honesty, if that was anything to go by, they were by no
When? February 7th
AWARDS TOUR 2013 All of the bands NME have hyped throughout the summer of 2012 and into winter were to be playing the NME tour. Touring around the UK from Glasgow to Bournemouth for a total of 12 gigs, for once NME brought some happiness to me. Not only were the so-called “best new band in the UK”, Palma Violets, playing, but to top it off so were B-Town boys Peace. And what better way to start? As Harrison and co. wandered onto the stage in their Brummy hometown, lapping up the attention, the crowd looked on in anticipation. Sporting the rolled up jeans and white socks, they began with 'Higher Than The Sun'. The first track from their upcoming debut album, 'In Love', came next. The crowd finally started going a tad crazy at the end of 'Scumbag', but when that incredible 'Bloodshake' riff rang around the O2 Academy, all hell broke loose! It's a real shame that their set wasn't longer because it would have been sensational if they managed to deliver '1998' to the Birmingham audience. Ending on upcoming single 'Follow Baby', the floor was torn to pieces by adoring fans chanting their lyrics back to them. I managed to have a chat with guitarist, Doug Castle afterwards. He admitted to feeling very nervous beforehand, however he couldn't have been more pleased with the outcome. At such a young age, this band have a very big future ahead of them. After that, I couldn't be more excited. A flawless performance by a flawless band to a flawless crowd. And things were only going to get better. Yes, it was time for the critically acclaimed “best new band in the UK” to take centre stage and perform some heavily expected belters. The London lads commenced with 'Johnny Bagga' Donuts', with the electrifying keyboard chords, screams and roars, this was the perfect way to open up a manic set. Things just got better and better from there with 'Tom The Drum', 'Chicken Dippers' AND 'Best of Friends' back to back. Leaving me with sweat oozing from every inch of my body, I was left thinking... “What else is there play?” Of course, there's 'I Found Love', but I could hardly imagine that being a corker live. And so, I was proven right. If you want the definition of an “anti-climax”, just get Palma Violets to play '14' at the end of, what I thought was, an astonishing gig. I have to be honest, Miles Kane wasn't exactly a favourite of mine. Getting his best pal Alex Turner to write half the tunes on his debut album was a bit of a disgrace. Simply put: he cheated. Although, in comparison to Jake Bugg, we can let him off. Only one of the best performances from The Wirral guitarist could change my opinion of him, and that certainly happened. Showing his true lyrical talent, he introduced himself, to the now mostly male populated crowd, with the desperate 'Give Up'. Not his finest piece of work and without a doubt one of those songs that will be easily forgotten about in the coming years. 'Kingcrawler' geared the crowd into madness as Miles strutted around the stage as though he owned it, loving all the attention that was coming his way. 'Rearrange' took off before Miles could show his guitar talent through 'Inhaler' as that contagious riff was caught by his fans as they were singing
the infamous guitar line along with him. You could almost be led to believe he was shocked at the response from the crowd after his set as he paraded the stage to chants of his name. Let's just hope he can show better lyrical talent in his upcoming album, which he claims to have written solely himself, in comparison to 'Give Up'. To finish off a spectacular night were Django Django. I have to be honest, I wasn't expecting an awful lot. It was evident there was a lack of enthusiasm from the majority of the crowd as the Scottish band wandered on with their matching shirts. The band broke into 'Hail Bop' and the 50 year-olds attacked the dancefloor and showed us young ones how to boogie. Although, they were left on their own due to a rush of music lovers scampering for the exit to avoid utter boredom. You can't blame them really. It was a disappointing ending to a highly anticipated night. It makes you question why on earth such an average band were last on the bill. Despite this, I wasn't going to let a bunch of try hard Scots get in the way of a fantastic night. By Sam Davies
OUR FAVOU OF THE N
RITE ALBUMS OUGHTIES
Amy Winehouse - Back to Black 2006 brought about this unforgettable second album by Amy Winehouse. Only recently has the title of the biggest selling album of the 21st century been stolen from ‘Back to Black’ by Adele’s ‘21’, much to my displeasure. Begrudgingly, I have had to come to terms with the fact that I will never hear this album being sung live by the magnificently unique Amy Winehouse, and I will never get a chance to see her in the flesh. The world is a cruel place. Back to Black tells the story behind the mascara-stained tears that fell from Winehouse’s iconic heavily made up eyes in the three years after the release of her debut album ‘Frank’; addiction, affairs and dramatic heartbreak. Crafted from a complicated and abusive relationship with future ex-husband Blake Fielder-Civil and him introducing her to cocaine and heroin, this album features personal aspects of their relationship and is painfully explicit of Amy’s emotions. “I died a hundred times” being just one of the many prominent, heartfelt lyrics portraying the complicated life of the ‘Queen of Camden’ through her unforgettably powerful voice, most perfectly summed up through the words of Russell Brand upon first hearing Amy in the same year that Back to Black was released: “a voice that was filled with such power and pain that it was at once entirely human yet laced with the divine.” Ellie Kinney
Ian Brown – Music of the Spheres While many would be left puzzling at the fact that such a minimalistic collection of music could be revered as such by an individual, ‘Music Of The Spheres’ certainly holds a special place within my library. The third solo effort from Ian Brown, released on a fateful October day way back in 2001, is a finely polished piece of art, with a strong backlog of elegantly catchy tracks. Songs like ‘F.E.A.R.’ and ‘Whispers’ are the jewels whilst ‘Hear No See No’ and ‘Bubbles’ are the glue keeping the pièce de résistance intact. The true nature of ‘Music Of The Spheres’ can only be found in an isolated room, armed with nothing but a decent set of speakers and comfortable chair upon which to perch. Then, and only then, can the simplistic drum machines and breath-taking bass of ‘Gravy Train’ and ‘Northern Lights’ be appreciated not for they aspire to be, but for what they are. These are the songs which can whisk any unsuspecting listener away to what can only be described as nirvana. At the risk of sounding far too clichéd, I imagine this album’s counterpart lies in something as mundane as wooden box; but this modest piece of craftsmanship outlasts even the most expensively, over-produced recording. Never mind the noughties, ‘Music Of The Spheres’ is without a doubt my most enjoyable album of all time. Tom Mooney
Biffy Clyro – The Vertigo of Bliss I bought Biffy Clyro’s sophomore LP 'The Vertigo of Bliss' when I was 10 years old (alongside their 3rd album “Infinity Land”) not because I was a massive fan, but because the album art struck me as “cool” (the former depicting a woman pleasuring herself, and the latter a Nazi Mickey Mouse surrounded by angels). On the car journey home, I listened to 'The Vertigo of Bliss' in my portable CD player (retro, I know) and I was completely and utterly blown away right from the off. It was loud, abrasive, angsty, weird and above all else, there was an element of fun hidden beneath all of the brash guitar and throbbing bass and drums. Take the first track, for instance. 'Bodies In Flight' begins with a guitar part that sounds like it’s been played through a £10 squire amp. This is paired with the bassist and drummer (twins Ben and James Johnston) commanding you to “feel free to do what they want to”. It was alien to me that a band could be this direct and yet have such good melody. Another cut worth mentioning is 'Liberate The Illiterate/A Mong Among Mingers.' They recorded 2 full songs, cut them up and decided to merge them both together. To accomplish this they added static when the song(s) changed to give the illusion that someone was merely changing the channel on a car radio. I rarely ever use the term “ahead of its time” but in this case I think it’s justified. Weird, sloppy-yet-brilliantly tight and just downright fantastic. The Vertigo of Bliss is, in my opinion, the best album of the noughties. Jake Cordiner
Radiohead – In Rainbows 6 years on and hundreds of plays later I find it hard to see why anyone would have even considered paying the original minimum price for this mesmerising record of just 50p. From the thumping, bold drum samples of ’15 Step’ to the moving piano chords of ‘Videotape’ 2007’s ‘In Rainbows’ is, quite simply, perfect. The record signalled the end of over a decade of hardship and frustration for the band: a near break-up, Thom Yorke’s depression and a creatively numbing record deal with EMI. It was the start of a more focused and matured Radiohead, a band now not so afraid to explore the struggles of their past. From the very beginning it’s plain to see that anyone who took advantage of the pay-whatyou-want price tag by paying under the odds should definitely be feeling very guilty now. The album takes your breath away with stunningly poetic acoustic guitar based tracks ‘Fraust Arp’ and ‘House of Cards’ which are interspersed around what is surely one of Radiohead’s best songs, the clashing and meandering ‘Reckoner’. ‘Videotape’ ends ‘In Rainbows’ in an emotional and tragic fashion; Yorke explains that it’s about “a dying man saying goodbye to loved ones on old-fashioned videotape” despite this, he ends the song, and with it, the album, on a beautifully optimistic note with my all-time favourite lyric: “No matter what happens now / you shouldn’t be afraid because I know today has been the most perfect day I’ve ever seen” Robert Jones
Kasabian – West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum At a time when music was beginning to be solely dominated by pop, Kasabian lit a literal fast fuse to the music scene with this innovative, exciting and downright bizarre concept album on insanity. It went to number one on June 14th on the week of its release and stayed there for two weeks, being nominated for and winning awards such as the Q awards 'Best Album' in 2009 but its worth is far more profound than a couple of metal shapes congratulating the band on their great release. For me, WRPLA was the best album of the 2000's for a number of reasons. At a time where Oasis' best days had been and gone with potently average releases throughout the decade, Kasabian managed to achieve an album which was popular with both the underground indie culture as well as many fans of more popular chart music. For over a year the radio airwaves could be heard blasting 'Fire' and 'Where Did All The Love Go?' on what seemed like repeat. The genius of this album, however written by guitarist and songwriter Serge Pizzorno, had its potential maximised through the choice of producer. Dan the Automator, an American hip hop producer was brought in to produce the songs. It has led to a unique sound which has yet to have been well emulated by any bands attempting to follow suit. The clash of powerful, often cryptic lyrics, hip-hop rhythms, Kraftwerk inspired synth work and rock 'n' roll guitar led to what is in my opinion the best album of a decade, offering no tracks which I ever have any desire to skip and a well earned place at the top of my CD pile. Chris Hanna
The Horrors – Primary Colours My favourite Horrors album, and indeed favourite album of the noughties is ‘Primary Colours’. This album represented a change in the band’s work, given their previous album ‘Strange House’ was a lot more noisy and garage rock based. I didn’t know what to expect when it first came out, but as soon as I heard the opening track ‘Mirror’s Image’, I knew that this was going to be a good album. ‘Mirror’s Image’ is just a fantastic way to start an album, with the pulsating synths and effected guitar showing the change in direction, and when you hear that bass line it’s a hard song to beat. But then, somehow, with tracks like ‘Who Can Say’ and ‘Scarlet Fields’, The Horrors managed to beat it, which clearly deserves plaudits. The closer on the album ‘Sea Within A Sea’ clearly shows the more experimental side of the band, with it going on for 8 minutes, and with every section being different, it’s just sublime. This is my favourite Horrors album, just because it shows their experimental side. It’s also a lot more psychedelic, and that’s just brilliant, because, in comparison to most music of the noughties, it’s very different. This album showed that The Horrors didn’t just have to wear black, and when they did show their ‘Primary Colours’, it proved them to be the fantastic band they are today. The Horrors’ masterpiece then, made solely of ‘Primary Colours’. James Rebello
Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not Arctic Monkeys’, ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’ took the music world by storm in 2006. Becoming the fastest selling debut album of all time, scoring two number one hits and topping the UK charts, the album propelled Arctic Monkeys into the superstars they are today. Written by Alex Turner between the ages of 16-19, the record perfectly captures the feel of British youth culture, the theme of the album concentrates on different experiences British teenagers go through. The opening track, ‘The View From The Afternoon’ describes the feeling of excitement felt in the afternoon for a night out that will most likely end up shit. The song begins with “Anticipation has a habit to set you up/ for disappointment in evening entertainment”, leading to many people agreeing with the clever observations of Turner. Number one single ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ focuses on the feeling of trying to get with a girl in a nightclub. The words and music of Arctic Monkeys provided a common ground between many different groups of people. The album is seen in many eyes as the saviour of British music after the death of The Libertines, leading to a surge of indie bands such as The Rakes and Little Man Tate. If I had to describe the album in one sentence, it would be “13 songs and 40 minutes of pure genius and brilliance”. After hearing the record I was inspired to learn the drums after hearing the excellence of drummer Matt Helders, combining dance beats with indie music creating a whole new sound. Beginning with and ending on a high, 'Whatever People Say I Am' is by far my favourite album of all time and always will be. Cory Devine
Kings of Leon – Aha Shake Heartbreak Kings of Leon's second album was released November 2004, and is thirty-seven glorious minutes of sweat, drugs, and testosterone. I'm not exaggerating - it's the only KOL album to carry a Parental Advisory. It kicks off with 'Slow Night, So Long', a ballad of sorts describing a one night stand with a drunk girl. Frontman Caleb growls "She's opened up just like she really knows me, I hate her face, but enjoy the company. I'll take you home, or back to Oklahoma...you're not so nice, but sex sells so cheap". Cute. He redeems himself towards the end, however, crooning "Rise and shine all you gold-diggin' mothers, are you too good to tango with the poor, poor boys?" and reminding us all that this home-schooled, Tennessee Christian boy doesn't know any better. Despite my introduction, the album isn't non-stop filth. The beautifully synthy 'Milk' tells us of a hourglass-bodied girl who hates certain dairy produce and is always late. Gravelly vocals and delicate guitar make the track damn near perfection. Contradicting myself once again, I feel it's important to mention the track that follows shortly after. 'Soft' is a drug-induced riot of a song about impotence caused by excessive alcohol consumption. Yes, you read that right. It's impossible not to love the boys' brutal honesty and shamelessness. Aha Shake Heartbreak is gritty and raw, and its imperfections are what makes it so great. It has the incredible ability to make you feel both invincibly young and infinitely old. When I listened to the album for the first time, I was a child who couldn't understand half of it, but I still knew it was fucking good. Now, older, I know it by heart and it's fucking excellent. Darcy Jimenez
John Mayer - Continuum By the time he released Continuum, John Mayer already had two albums; Room For Squares, released in 2001, and Heavier Things, released in 2003, under his belt. With Room For Squares, arguably most famous for ‘Your Body is a Wonderland’, Mayer used mostly his acoustic guitar and catchy melodies to create a very radio-friendly, yet still impressive, pop album. Heavier Things did what it said on the tin, dealt with heavier situations in the musician’s life. Songs like ‘Something’s Missing’, and ‘Daughters’ are two notable tracks from his second effort. With Continuum, John Mayer showed he had changed completely from a pop heartthrob to a modern blues hero. Kicking off with ‘Waiting on the World to Change’, Mayer still demonstrates a yearning to be accepted by radio stations across America. However, what comes afterwards is an album that caught the attention of several legends in the blues scene – most notably due to the transition from acoustic to electric guitar. ‘Gravity’, ‘Slow Dancing In A Burning Room’ and a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Bold as Love’ are particular examples of the ‘true’ John Mayer – a deep, pensive man becoming more mature as a musician and guitarist (although his antics with various female celebrities may not be considered equally adult!). Mark Wynne
The Streets – Original Pirate Material You know when you get those albums that you can’t fault in a single way? To me 'Original Pirate Material' is one of those rare gems. A pioneering record in the making of modern British hip-hop, influencing many a current household name, both Professor Green and Plan B have spoke of their admiration for both The Streets and Original Pirate Material. To me it is the album of the noughties, and could be one of the all time greats. I think the main reason why it stands out so much as a record is simply down to the fact Mike Skinner’s lyrics are so down to earth, speaking on behalf of the common man, but at the same time being so witty and comic. I’ve spoken to quite a significant number of people about my admiration for this record and numerous times I’ve been given the response that Skinner is nothing but a “chav”, having read his autobiography (which I highly recommend!) it’s clear to see that he is in fact nothing of the sort, but in fact a modern genius. Yes the lyrics do make reference to late night chippy brawls ('Geezers Need Excitement') or why doing drugs is better than drinking (the hilarious 'Irony Of It All') but that’s all in the spirit of the record, “A day in the life of a geezer” which is the recurrent theme of the record. The Streets are one of those acts that are criminally underrated when looking at the standout groups of the noughties. Unfortunately, the band called time on their career in 2011 and Britain lost one of its best kept secrets. So there you go, that’s why my favourite album of the noughties is Original Pirate Material. Oliver Berisford
Arcade Fire - Funeral A band only has one chance to make a first impression. Debut albums are crucial to the success of a band. Arcade Fire’s debut Funeral is a masterpiece and set a precedent that they have met with the rest of their work. The 2004 album was a unanimous hit with the critics when it was released on Rough Trade Records. A symphony of delicate strings, edgy guitars and beautiful vocals from front duo Win and Regine. However I go to this record not as a critic but as a fan, this as one of the first albums I truly loved. The emotions that the band put across, melancholy, sorrow, anticipation are echoed in throughout the record. The name, Funeral, was supposedly chosen as the band had experienced a lot of elderly family members passing away in the year or so leading up to the recording. You can hear the heartache in the record, it feels more like a collection of diary extracts than a debut album. The band, hailing from Montreal, Canada pay tribute to their home with some of the vocals in French, particularly the song Haiti, which is primarily sung by Regine, who speaks of the violence in the country that her family are from. Highlights of the album will differ for everyone, popular tracks include 'Rebellion (Lies)', 'Wake Up' and 'Crown of Love'. For me however, my favourite track is 'Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)', the third single from the record. Hard-hitting drums matched with delicate xylophone and the strained vocals of Win make this a very beautiful, very emotional track. This album is suited to so many moments, it can be the shoulder to cry on, the friend to listen to or the gun to start the revolution. The power and emotion of this record is makes it so striking and truly something that will never be forgotten. Jack Claramunt
Florence & The Machine - Lungs A redhead possessed by Satan with a band including the almighty harp was something that caused the public to raise an eyebrow or two at out of curiosity. Florence’s debut album was so highly anticipated she and the band already won the BRITs Critic Choice Award before the album was even finished and ready to be released. With all this pressure loaded onto to her and the band it came through positive with the album charting at no.2 in the UK on the first week of it’s release. Welch’s haunting tone in 'Cosmic Love' and 'Blinding' really shows off what her and the band can achieve as a whole, with heavy drumming and melodic harp pieces it was clear that using Paul Epworth to produce such tracks was proven a success, which allowed Florence to use him for the whole of the band’s second album. Lungs was always a strong debut for the group with singles such as 'Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)' and 'Drumming Song' proven to be big hits especially in the live shows. The band have allowed themselves to achieve major success since 2009 and have produced arguably the next “Kate Bush” of the 21st century. Lungs went on to win Best British Album at the BRITs in 2010 also. It is clear Florence certainly made her mark on the music industry with this first album. Rhys Harding
The View – Hats Off To The Buskers If you can remember 2007, it was the year that 'Same Jeans' had hit the charts. Despite only reaching 3rd in the UK singles charts, the lyrics were on the lips of every music fan. Therefore, this made me go out and buy the debut album 'Hats Off to the Buskers'. And what a buy that was! Topping the UK album charts at the end of January, The View were living the high life. And I was feeling their success, as this was the first ever album I had fallen in love with. Including what is undoubtedly one of the greatest live tunes of the past decade, 'Wasteland' sums up the Scottish rockers perfectly. Raw, rapid and racy. For me, this album features one of my favourite tracks of all time, 'Superstar Tradesman'. Give it a listen, check the music video out, you'll get a good idea of what these magical lads are all about. You get a real sense of their home town, as you do in many debut albums, especially in 'Skag Trendy', where part-time bassist part-time frontman Kieren Webster tells us about his drug-induced tales around Dryburgh. Ending on the short but sweet 'Typical Time', the four lads, joined by pianist Darren Rennie in recent years, have released a total of four studio albums and this debut album is almost impossible to be topped. Pure class. Sam Davies
The Cribs – Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever The noughties gave birth to one of the most refreshing albums of the last decade, from our favourite Yorkshire men: Ryan, Gary and Ross. Three lads from Wakefield who decided they didn’t want to spend their life cooped up in an office somewhere, but instead, to single handedly become indie icons, injecting rock’n’roll and a overdose of ‘f**k the world attitude’ everywhere they go. A steady mix of Gary’s clingy, metallic riffs, Ross’ ripped drainpipe jeans and Ryan’s chaotic stage diving has made this band is a statement to the pessimistic ‘Bovine Public’ who said, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” What this album did was separate them from this crowd of content idealists, happy to tour once a year, and play safe, packaged sounding music. The Cribs were something different, prior to this they seemed naïve, acid-fuelled lads, drinking cheap beer and looking for fun; after it, fully fledged rockstars, committed to their DIY morals for those people who ‘get it’. The Jarman ethos is summarised in the first three lines of the album “D'ya think I'd have to choose? D'ya think I'd wear brown shoes? D'ya think that I'd ever have to read about this in the news?” This era is when The Cribs began to be seen a true contenders, and spiky tracks like ‘Men’s Needs’ do everything to support this. Yes, by all means go and see Jake Bugg lift the roof off a 50,000 capacity stadium with nothing but an acoustic guitar, but just remember after he’s done, and his band staff have cleared the stage whilst he picks up his cheque, just around the corner, The Cribs are just unloading their van ready to play another 300 capacity sweatbox for just a tenner, in their same old ripped jeans, leather jackets and converse. Tom Blackmore
Titus Andronicus – The Monitor Remember when you were eleven and your world was governed by Green Day, Blink 182, Thin Lizzy or whatever increasingly 80s, emo or pop-punk band floated your youthful boat? Now remember the feeling they gave you, the kind that is always returned upon hearing a snippet of song, the feelings indelibly attached to fancying that bird in the year above or buying your first shit trilby in Camden. Now, with this in mind, take your current musical disposition: by now we're all serious music historians, our Beatles or Pistols shirts and Nick Drake bootlegs ever reminding people that we know real music. Now comes the fairly obvious conclusion to this abstract rant: New Jersey punk-rock-purists cum post-rock-nerds Titus Andronicus' 2010 roughshod civil-war-themed masterpiece 'The Monitor' breaks all these boundaries and more. I couldn't even begin to pull one or two tracks out to make an example. I like, love, EVERY SINGLE TRACK. Even the fourteen minute ones, from start to finish. The 3-chord blasting and razorblade and sandpaper production (the album was recorded live, in a vast shoddy barn that also accommodated a simultaneous beery bro-down of band and friends) conveys their proper punk dontgiveafuck attitude, whilst the Pogues-esque drones/folk vibes and genuinely intellectual and brilliant lyrics let us know that actually they do give a bit of a fuck. Yes, in the most fuzzy, tin can, dirty, beautiful way, this is my album of the 2000s. Angus Rogers
This band show a certain energ expressed everyday regard
gy about why freedom should be dless of how old you are...
Interview and big write-up...
There is a certain charm about Birmingham's new 5-piece outfit, The Artois, that is just screaming out raw talent. Fronted by Ben Gibbs, who was part of pop-rock group StakeOut, he's flying The Artois badge high and with pride as he delivers the final piece to the puzzle. Ben definitely delivers a creative tint to the band that just bleeds out experience. Jangling out sweet folk coated indie-pop, they're not afraid to experiment with pushing boundaries. Considering their visible chemistry, they formed as early ago as November 2012 and the material that's been released shows huge potential. Their very first teaser track 'Sinking' was just a taste of what's to come from The Artois. Straight away it lures you in with Ben's echoing vocals of a great one line opener “there she goes again, you lost your heart in the ocean”, as the whole band echo those powerful, repeated lyrics, the hairs on your arms will stand as you feel a tingle down your spine. Their very first teaser track 'Sinking' was just a taste of what's to come from The Artois. It's ONLY a teaser but definitely riddles you into what more they have to offer as the four boast their extreme correspondence with one another. Opening their career with a very strong cover of David Bowie's 'Rebel Rebel', straight away the acoustics fasten you in for a phenomenal ride. As vocally it delivers a nostalgic reflection of an early Bowie, hitting the notes perfectly into place. No complaints at all. So put your Bowie 12”s away for a tremendous cover you can find on their Facebook page. Shortly after they publish their first single 'Young'. Dedicating it to everyone who has experienced the fragile freedom of being young, it definitely pulls at the heartstrings for an absolute classic. Straight away from the light vocals you're transformed to that ideal world of being free, where the little things about being young were so important. “Drinking a beer, guitar on my lap, singing the words to my own favourite
track, we were young” and already I'm just imagining a video reel of friends running free with no troubles of the world, just sweet guitar music, beers and friends all round. 'Young' has become such a sweet scent to lure you into how much they're capable of, it's catchy on-going melodies can't deny you a sunset anthem for 2013. Though the media hype around the Birmingham scene is flocking the streets with excitement right now, The Artois are slowly etching their way into the list of bands being marched in by indie-rock sensation Peace. Obviously, there is a clear influence that the lads have taken from Harrison and co., which is certainly not a bad thing. Oh no! Whether the hype spurs them into shape or not, the attention around the Birmingham scene gives them a huge chance to get out there and be heard this year. When it comes back to covers though, The Artois do not disappoint. Most-recent post they uploaded was a cover of Lana Del Rey's 'Blue Jeans' to their YouTube. This time they're absolutely untouchable as they show a huge progression from their earlier Bowie, Peace & Vaccines covers. This is tight and sounding more constructive than ever just like first single 'Young', with the whole year ahead of them they're not a band to miss. Latest show confirmed at the O2 Academy in Birmingham on March 15th, this band are definitely the one to watch. Though with little material out so far they hold a strong selection of songs that send strong summer vibes. With the whole year ahead they'll sure be getting boxed off in the studio to record new material. Their first real pressing of their upcoming single 'Tame Me' is on its way and it's a cracker. After all, what else have we come to expect from this band? “Baby you can take me if you want to” being the message put across by the charismatic Ben Gibbs. The one thing you can sense with this song is how harmonised and together this group sound.
They even treat us to a magnificent solo which is worthy of Squire and Marr treating themselves to. And with a music video coming out with the single, it sure will give you an idea of how good they are going to be. As all proper bands, they haven't been lazy and decided to get a remix for this ace track, but they've pulled off a brilliant b-side. Many people would judge the best of the best on their b-sides, and if The Artois keep delivering tunes like 'Sinister', you never know what the future will hold. With an acoustic start much like their earlier releases 'Sinister' starts off calmly with Gibbs' voice feeding soothing, gentle tones of nectar into your ears. However, all of sudden, in comes this Foalslike riff *cough* 'Inhaler' *cough* with those ringing, jangly guitars creating a funky head-bobbing vibe. This could definitely start vast conversation through the local bars and clubs through Digbeth & the City Centre. You can expect them to be expanding their music to the outer Midlands, picking up a wider audience fan-base very soon. After reviewing these guys for the first time I can definitely see a gap in the market for them, especially with a trademark logo that itself shouts out for a cult following. I know they have huge potential towards becoming what they want to be in the long run, they seem way more down to playing and making music rather than portraying themselves as 'the next upcoming band', they let the music do the talking and it's a real hard working attitude like that that really gets you places. So for the long run, good luck to the guys and look out for The Artois in your local venues for upcoming shows in the future, they're not one to miss! By Dillon Colivet
â€œA band that bleeds originality, hope and freedom. You don't get many fresh bands like them showing you being 'Young' is such a breathe of fresh air, when suddenly you're hit by smoked filled clouds, a nine to five job and a double decker bus to work everyday. This band show a certain energy about why freedom should be expressed everyday regardless of how old you are..â€?
Ben Gibbs chilling out on the set for their upcoming music video
Interview with the band...
After a number of covers released online, tell us about the upcoming single? Yeah I guess we have threw a few out over the past few months haven't we? Well the single is kind of like a first taste of what we do. After releasing so many little snippets online it's probably been hard to get a real idea, so we thought we'd try and sum it all up in an A and B side and hope people dig it. Your first show as a band was only a matter of weeks ago, and already a music video & single approaching, I guess you're all in great spirit then? Yeah, it feels refreshing. A few of us have been in pop and rock bands in the past and when you're playing that sort of music, with commercially minded people, things can get pretty intense. It's nice to step away from that and make music you love with people you love. I see you covered 'Wraith' by fellow Brum outfit PEACE, any connection with them on the home ground? I think Karl shook Dominic's hand one time. We've seen them around town a bit but never exchanged pleasantries really. We just really feel what they're doing, they're good for music I think. Do you think the hype around Birmingham bands right now will help spur you on in 2013? Yeah I think it has to, if you can't be inspired living in a place that's buzzing as much as Birmingham right now, it's probably time to give up. There's so many great bands like Swim Deep and Jaws too, there's definitely something real exciting on.
Do you remember the first record/album you bought that meant something big to you? It would be something completely different for each of us, which is probably a good thing. We're all pretty open about music, being musicians and all. I think it's hard to look past acts like The Beatles and Bowie etc. Who wears the trousers in the band then, eh? We've all been mates for a while, so when it comes to getting creative we're usually all on the same wave length. In terms of booking and all that jazz, it's usually Ben or Dan. What's after the single, more recording? Maybe an album soon? Yeah definitely more recording. We already have enough ideas down to make an eventual album, but we're aiming for a five track EP for summer to follow this single. Where can we find The Artois jangling out the tunes next then? At the moment we're kind of taking bookings as and when they come. Being so new it's hard to set up a run of consecutive shows. We're playing the 02 in Birmingham on March 15th, and we'll be at The Rainbow in April or May. Hopefully we'll have a few more confirmed over the next few weeks, all bookings are on our Facebook once confirmed.
Youthblood are a young trio from Kent making synth-heavy pop that will melt your heart. Having previously played under the moniker Trophys, these guys are getting bigger and better as they evolve as young men and subsequently musicians. Psychedelic vibes is what they go for, synth hooks New Order would be proud of and a plentiful supply of summer sensations. They take inspiration from a huge range of bands, Toy, Tame Impala even My Bloody Valentine for instance. Early standout track 'Funeral' was a big hit for them, the band labelled it 'Heavy Synth' and that is exactly what it is. Executive drumming, melodic synth and big vocals make this a track that won’t leave your head for days, and that’s not in a bad David Guetta kind of way. The b-side to 'Funeral' is 'Interlude // Problem Child' which is a much more mathy guitar driven track, that shows a more emotional side to the band and it is more than welcome. Their live show is incredible, you just need to look at some of the bands they have supported to see that it is an energetic set that’ll make any crowd move. Recently they’ve played with Palma Violets, Troumaca and Theme Park to name a few. I saw them supporting Theme Park and their live set is effortlessly cool. Playing a mix of old favourites and unreleased stuff that all went down a treat with the crowd. Having had 'Funeral' as one of my personal highlights of 2012 it was great to hear the guys give it their all live, although they have stated their mixed emotions when playing old material. A problem that a lot of bands have (remember when Alex Turner said he wouldn't be playing anything from
the first two albums? Thankfully that wasn't entirely true) but the guys know that whilst they may feel the songs don't necessarily suit their current sound and where they're moving in a musical sense it is still nice to revisit old, very well written tracks. Transition from studio track to live track seems effortless for the guys, with the synth sounding even heavier and the whole atmosphere of the set being one big party. 'VVIBES' is an unofficial EP from the band that consists of the three tracks 'Wave Machine', 'Song 33' and 'Not Science'. These tracks show a more prevalent guitar and perhaps more confidence within the band. 'Not Science' ends awesomely with the fast backing vocals matching up against the long held notes of the primary vocals. Synth is still very present in these tracks displayed well across the three tracks. 'Song 33' has moments that sound like they've been taken straight out of the new Foals album, despite being released six months previously. Wave machine again has fantastic musicianship in it, a personal favourite is the atmospheric James Blake-esque synth that overpowers you. An EP that shows plenty of emotion and direction within the band ultimately portrayed with a very Summery VVIBE. Having had 'Funeral' included as one of the hottest tracks of 2012 by BBC Introducing Kent things are looking great for 2013. They’ve got some new material to record this year and we’re hoping for an EP soon! I spoke to Youthblood and asked them an array of questions to help us better get inside their heads.
Where did you guys first meet? All of us went to the same school, although attending in in different years, me and Conor soon organized a jam between ourselves as we both shared similar taste in electronic music believe it or not. Me and Ben have been playing together since the age of 11 so there was no trouble finding a drummer when we needed one. When was your first gig and what was it like? Our first gig was at the Farmhouse in Canterbury supporting Casio Kids, we’d been offered the gig about 2 weeks before the date and it happened to be before our planned ‘first gig’. It was a pretty big deal to us as you can imagine, not having gigged before as Trophys. We were all bricking it but we managed to hold it together on stage and I think we pulled it off okay for a first go. The place was pretty busy, The Farmhouse was always busy. There was one guy right in front of us dancing like it was his last chance. Despite him being completely off his tits for the support act, I think he enjoyed his night, which in return put a smile on our faces, we will never forget him. What bands have influenced you? As a trio, we have a pretty varied set of influences, we all bring our own sound to the band which I hope helps make us sound interesting. We all have a love for electronic music, hence the synths and such, but that was more with Trophys when we hadn’t matured as much. We’re all heavily into shoegaze and psychadelia so the obvious influences lie within My Bloody Valentine, The Horrors, Toy, Tame Impala and The Sound. We all have a soft spot for some stuff going on right now like Peace, we’ve all been monitoring them since Conor saw them supporting The Mystery Jets at TW Forum. It’s good to hear a young band writing some interesting music that isn’t easy to place within a genre. They’re going to do well for themselves over the next year. Do you have any pre-gig rituals? We don’t have any specific rituals as such, like harmonies and singing along to your favourite karaoke track, but we enjoy sitting down and having a drink; sometimes a few too many. Running through the set together and discussing any changes always keeps everything cool. Maybe when we have our own backstage room we will make up some kind of dance that only we know, could be fun.
Has your sound changed much since evolving together as a band? Our sound is probably what has changed the most, hence the name change to give us a fresh image and start. Trophys was getting a little old and we felt it didn’t suit the sound anymore, which is vital when you’re promoting yourselves. Youthblood was just something we all agreed on and thought wasn’t too unsuitable to tell your grandma next time she asks. We’ve grown from an electronic band into something a little grungier and shoegazy. Our music is getting noticeably heavier which we all like, we’ve had no negative feedback about our new music, just positive from our shows. We’re pretty excited to record all our new tracks so we can show everybody. Mitch uses way more effects pedals on his guitar than before, he’s getting way more experimental with his sounds which is cool. Conor has bass pedals too which are always making things more interesting. We’re slowly moving away from the concept of using a laptop on stage because it can do nothing but go wrong for us, we’ve got a sample pad now which we’re slowly moving onto. The synth is staying, but less of the cheesy 80’s sounds. What’s next for you guys? Well we’re recording soon, hopefully we will get as many tracks down as possible so we have all our material ready. Really want to record onto analogue tape or something because we struggle to get a raw sound in the studio, it’s time for a change for us and we think that’s a good idea. Some raw sounding tracks would help us get our new sound and name out to the right ears. We’re also really looking forward to gigging over the summer and next few months of course. We want to play as many festivals/gigs as possible, we just want to branch out and enjoy ourselves. I think recording is the most important though, as without some new music people just won’t pay attention to us. ‘Wave Machine’ and ‘Funeral’ have gotten a little old now, for everybody but especially for us. We continue to play them live though, due to public demand. By Jack Claramunt
New york tourists
When it comes to the music world Blackburn is a name that is rarely, if ever, mentioned. With its closest claim to music fame being neighbours Accrington’s Diana Vickers, the town has never really managed to make a name for itself through an artist or band. Hailing from Blackburn myself, I know that many bands have tried tirelessly to crack the scene and have been defeated by the town’s bleak music scene. However the tide may be set to change with the emergence of 4 piece indierock n roll group New York Tourists. NYT released their debut EP, ‘Thankyou &
features the song ‘Chew Me Up, Spit Me out’ is a perfect example of this. Opening with a pumping drum beat before welcoming us into the roar of the song. The guitar and bass are in perfect syncopation throughout and the strong vocals strengthen the band’s sound. Lewis Lovett’s drum beats are an essential in maintaining the robustness of NYT and he is in top form with this number. Unlike any sound that Blackburn has heard the Tourist’s have managed to create an appealing heaviness to their music. I believe the band to sound how real rock 'n' rollers
only grant them the best of luck as they strive to end Blackburn’s lack of success in the music world. If they continue to produce exciting and interesting music I believe that NYT have the ability to really propel their career to new heights. After presenting New York Tourist’s with some questions, here’s what they had to say for themselves: How did you start NYT, were you friends before the music? Carl and Lewis were in another band together before this one, as they are something like distant cousins 17 times removed. I don't even think they know how they are related. But it seems they are cousins! And they were both friends with Graeme the bass player, and I'm more of a country boy freak from Chorley. Which amazingly has internet..... so I was checking websites out for bands needing a singer. Then our manager Julian sorted a meeting out. We all got on and started making music together. It's all just spiralled from there and has been quality ever since. Who would you cite as a major influence towards your music? We all have different musical influences which I think adds to our sound, personally my influences are a mix of old and new, Led Zep, AC/DC, Hendrix, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, White Stripes, Johnny Cash. But I'd like to think they are all slight influences, I try to sit there listening to nothing and just making something happen without taking too much influence. It makes it feel more personal that way. Do you hope that your music has the potential to expand the music scene in Blackburn and its surrounding areas? Wherever we play we get a decent reception so I'd say we've already expanded to the surrounding areas. It's a case of keeping each area sweet and playing the right place at the right time. We try our best to leave our stamp on people wherever we play. If you can be remembered for the next time you play, then it's job done.
“We aim to go real far...”
Your debut EP ‘Thankyou & Goodnight’ was released in December 2012, how happy are you with the record? Very happy, the lads at Clitheroe Grand Studios did a great job with us. We experimented a lot with guitar, bass and drum sounds etc and it paid off! It sounds like one of them steam trains you see in an old Western film that bandits try to hijack, ain't no stopping it! No matter how many horses, bandanas, or revolvers you've got. Would you say that being from Blackburn makes it more difficult to break onto the scene? Yeah Blackburn isn't exactly the most desirable place to come from, but unfortunately you get what you're given and try to make the most of it, I don't think where you come from should be an issue, if your playing all over the country then hopefully you'll have a big impact in other areas. We just try to smash it wherever we play, whether it be in front of 3 people or 300000000000 people! Are the promoters in Blackburn helpful in your rising as a group or do you feel a lot of is done yourself? There's a few promoters who are finally realizing that we're a decent band now so hopefully we can get a little more help here and there, as it would only benefit all parties if anything pays off. If not, we keep plugging away and get on with it. How far do you aim to take the ‘New York Tourists’? Far man... Real Far. You know when you're stood on the beach looking out to sea, and you can see the horizon? That's real far. We wanna go further. Which is crazy far. Wherever that place is, is where we wanna be. We want as many tourists on board as humanely possible. I thank you for your time. you're all beautiful. By Cory Devine
The South-London based trio NYX in the form of Eddie Styles, Tom Bem, and Ben Gorman have recently released a 4-track EP titled “Black & Red” using vocals and rap which creates a unique niche market for the trio. Ben Gorman took out some time of their busy schedule to speak to me about the band and upcoming projects. What is the history of the band and how did you all meet? I was in a hip-hop band with Eddie a couple of years back called Thortsen Fears. We never finished an album but recorded a tonne of tracks and did plenty of gigging. We've been very close mates with Tom for years, I first met him at one of his shows with one of his older bands and we were promising to do something musical together. This band is a fusion of all our past musical backgrounds put together, and I hope our influences and friendship come across to the listeners of our EP and the people who check out our live shows. Who are your influences? Most of the bands who've inspired us are bands that have blew us away at gigs. Awolnation & SBTRKT are so dynamic on stage, they're definitely both a massive influence! Artists such as Jamie XX & Modeselektor have always influenced us in the writing process of our music as well. Why did you decide to put the band together? We were 3 close mates from different musical backgrounds and bands dying to collaborate and see how it would turn out! What are your plans in terms of performing live? Fun, energetic & memorable performances. You'll see a slightly grittier and heavier side to the tracks on the EP, and we hope that the anyone who checks us out will remember the shows for a long time to come!
Are you going to start recording another EP or even an album and if so, what are your ideas for it? We're about to start hitting the gigs hard. During our rehearsals we are constantly coming up with new ideas for future tracks and sounds, so nothing confirmed yet but I would imagine you'll be able to hear another EP sometime this year. Are there any plans to make any music videos or any visual content for your music? Yes! We are featuring on a music video on Tom's solo project. His project name is called Tom Bem and the track is called 'Control' (which is available to watch on YouTube) In terms of Nyx, we are going to be doing a video very shortly, maybe for 'Dirty Sexy Money' or 'Monster'. Watch this space is all I can say for now! What music did you all listen to whilst growing up? Similarly, we all grew up listening to 60's Reggae & Ska, Jungle, Grunge & Prog stuff. I was also brought up heavily on 70's/80's funk & turntable Hip Hop. Favourite music artists at the moment? Where to start? Yelawolf, El-P, The Gaslamp Killer, AlunaGeorge, Flying Lotus, Death Grips, Atoms For Peace & SBTRKT to name a few. We're constantly being inspired by new music from all different genres. Nyx certainly have a promising future with their intense and unique sound as a trio. Their latest EP “Black & Red” is available to listen to on SoundCloud and you can also check out the review of their EP in the review section of the magazine. By Rhys Harding
Folk Music has had its fair share of popularity in the past few years, notably with the success of Mumford and Sons and their latest studio album, ‘Babel’, receiving the Grammy Award for best album. It’s quite surprising when put to thought; they are not the most talented folk act around. Artists such the Canadian Dallas Green, who is well-known for performing as City and Colour, has struggled to receive his deserved recognition outside of his native country: what did Mumford do differently? There are a number of unsigned folk acts prepared to have their say and one is ‘Bad Cardigan’, a folk duo based in East Lancashire. Comprised of Jack Anwyl and Tom Randall, both members provide vocals and perform with acoustic guitars, relying on nothing more. They have taken advantage with use of their immediately attractive guitar melodies and what makes this minimalistic folk approach so great is that they can both sing well, so it’s not just dependant on one of them, but they are undoubtedly a duo to be reckoned with. Through a handful of tracks they’ve made available on numerous networking sites, they’ve shown they have a strong songwriting partnership, with their lyrical content’s influence ranging from Bon Iver’s attitude towards love, to Morrissey’s perception of English life, shown off in ‘Manchester to Exeter’. The band, who are currently unsigned, have made effort to establish themselves on a number of social networking sites and are publishing music on both SoundCloud and Reverb Nation. After listening through, there isn’t a track that isn’t
worth a listen and they do deserved to be listened to, over and over again. If a highlight track had to be chosen, ‘The Fourth Wall’ would be it: from the soothing backing vocals in the chorus to the subtle slides on the guitars, this is a fantastic track which succeeds to emphasise that vocal ability. It looks to be the first track posted in the New Year, really setting the mood of the year. Another track that didn’t fail to impress was ‘Complexity’. It may be a cliché, but this is one of ‘those’ songs with the obvious summer vibes. The build-up is soft and enforced with nostalgia and when the primary riff is initially introduced it’s a must-be for the relaxed festival. The chorus is powered by a solo trumpet melody, providing a pleasant surprise. Their ability to produce the number of instantly catchy guitar phrase that they do in just this one song is phenomenal. It’s definitely one of their finer tracks. The folk movement may have had its return into the charts and popular culture, but has it been led and inspired by the right acts? Bad Cardigan can be satisfied with their beginnings and in the first few songs released they have already highlighted the masses of potential they have. Will they be signed? It’s not worth jinxing it. Should they be? Most definitely. They have real talent and you should be aching to check them out. They play regular shows, with appearances in both Liverpool and Manchester in Early March. Be sure to check them out online and make it to one of their shows; you won’t be disappointed. By Sam Fleming
In 2006, after the release of the brilliant ‘Black Holes and Revelations’, Muse were the biggest so-called rock band in the world; a true global phenomena. They were the pioneers of “space rock” and new prog, their live shows were even more flamboyant than one of Katie Price’s weddings, and Matt Bellamy’s suits even more extravagant than that. Yet somehow it all went a bit tits up with the release of Black Holes and Revelations’ follow-up ‘The Resistance’, and even worst still upon the release of the quite frankly awful ‘The 2nd Law’ last year. Muse are now, quite simply, the world’s most embarrassing band. Muse fans of old needn’t fret any longer though, there is a new alternative. ME are undeniably a band that sound like Muse should have sounded in 2009. The Australian rock band formed in Melbourne in 2008 composed of Luke Ferris (lead vocals, piano and guitarist), Damian Tapley (guitar, backing vocals), Michael Godde (bass, backing vocals) and Spike Rogers (drums, programming) are the perfect antidote to Muse. While taking inspiration quintessentially from bands like Muse and Queen they are their own band in their own right. Frontman Ferris explained this in a recent interview, “We are a little in the odd ones out category” he rightly claims; ME’s music is certainly non-conformist, while you can hear the “big rock band” influences in a lot of their work there is a clear and deliberate lack of the unnecessary flamboyance and mediocrity we find with many big artists. “I love big rock bands with killer riffs and grooves, but I also love great vocals, harmonies, orchestral works and bad ass choirs.” Ferris continues, “So we have just thrown loads of different ingredients into the pot because they are the flavours we
enjoy.” This sort of approach to music should, in theory, end in disaster, but the fact is, it just doesn’t. The band’s debut album, ‘Even the Odd Ones Out’, (out now) is really very good. It’s hard not to be impressed; even the album’s singles alone are enough to make up for the apparent lack of quality in recent work of similar bands. ‘Westward Backwards’ is a storming tune; it remains remarkably catchy without sounding like it was written by a halfwit. The second single, ‘Like a Fox’ is also fantastic, while being one of the heaviest tracks on the record Ferris’ falsetto voice resonates above it all melodically and triumphantly. And finally, their latest single, ‘Vampire! Vampire!’ is a theatrical, choir-backed, classic guitar song about the band’s hatred of reality television culture and specifically its creators. As if all that isn’t impressive enough, it’s worthwhile noting that the entirety of ‘Even the Odd Ones Out’ has been mixed and produced by the same man who worked on Kasabian’s debut album, Arctic Monkey’s ‘Whatever People Say I am, That’s what I’m Not’, and The Enemy’s ‘We’ll Live and Die in These Towns’. So with all the hallmarks of a soon-to-be great band ME the Band are on course for big things, and with dates across the UK there’s plenty of opportunity to see them before they go viral. This band is an essential listen for any disgruntled Muse fan; they’re really the only band I’ve seen in a long time that don’t sound like they’re just making up as they go along and that have the potential to really go places with their music. By Robert Jones
Greatest Gigs WHERE? Manhattan Sound, Manchester
WHEN? January 25th 1983
I came to a stumbling point in writing this. The Smiths, being a band who I simply adore, have been at the back of my mind when writing about these historic gigs in past issues, and I’ve been desperate to include them. One problem was however obvious; being merely a single cell organism when the Smiths were playing concerts, I had no first hand experiences. Turning my research to rummaging through magazines, the internet and my trusty Mozipedia, there just didn’t seem to be one stand out Smiths gig that defined their career. Am I missing something obvious? Then I found a print of a review of the second ever Smiths gig. The first with bassist Andy Rourke. The gig took place at Manhattan Sound in Manchester in 1983, described by the review as “another swinging nook on the gay scene”. The fun starts here. Manhattan Sound was indeed a gay club, tucked away in an underground cellar and with a capacity of around 300 people, a venue that apparently gained more attention for its American road movies and porn showings than its Wednesday night Quando Club nights where the Smiths made one of their first appearances. The club was fairly busy; the porn being shown in an adjacent room to the club that the Smiths were playing in had drawn in an extra few. Sharing the bill with the band Foreign Press, this marked the first time the band had ever played a full set of around 8 songs as the line-up we now know as the Smiths. They had played a couple of previous gigs with bassist Dale Hibbert before he was told, in the most polite manner, they needed “a parting of the waves”. So they, with the new addition of bassist Andy Rourke, took to the stage. Well, took to the space on the dance floor that was set aside for them. Talking to the Guardian about this very night, Rourke described Morrissey as “this very quiet, unassuming person, but as soon as he went on he became something different.” He may not have quite a way with words as Morrissey does, but you get the picture. He had a stage presence (despite the lack of stage) that was something new entirely. The “go-go dancer” described by the review was most probably James Maker, who had joined the band onstage for their first two gigs as a (apparently not very good) dancer and maracas-shaker. Add to this Morrissey
producing from his pocket handfuls of confetti to throw across the crowd during ‘Miserable Lie’, an early Smiths song from their first album, and you get a vague idea of how frankly bizarre this early gig must have been to the few who were there to witness it, probably stunned to a silence by the absurdity and forced to retreat to the comfy settees of the adjacent porn room, if they had any sense. The comical last lines of the review were what really put a smile on my face; when describing Morrissey and his onstage confident flamboyance, “if the boy’s head is anything to go by, the Smiths are going to be B-I-G.” How right they were. By Ellie Kinney
honest, entertaining and lively
REVIEWS SWIM DEEP
ON THE UP
Also... Dead Sons | Harry George Johns | Itch | Low Sea | Nyx | Scholars | Big Sixes | Tears For Annie | The Microdance | The Vestals | Pure Love | Turbogeist |
masterpiece Foals Holy Fire
The third studio album from one of the UK’s most exciting bands arrived in the form of Holy Fire on the 10th February and it has undeniably prolonged the enigmatic aurora surrounding the band. It’s perhaps easy to fall into a pit of clichés when describing quite what Foals have achieved with Holy Fire, labelling it more mature or more experimental for an example. Yet regardless of what description you land upon, one thing is inescapable: Foals are back. And they’re better than ever. Now, bar the orgasmically infectious single 'My Number', even the most ardent of Foals fans will struggle to piece together a cohesive argument of this album being full of tracks that might feel at home on the dancefloor, perhaps unlike their debut album Antidotes. But, at risk of not taking my own warning on clichés here, Holy Fire is an album clearly demonstrating just how much the band have matured as both songwriters and people. For example, if you were to compare the opening track 'Prelude', which has no real distinguishable lyrics, to their debut album’s energetic lead single 'Cassius' then you’ll understand just how far the band have come (not to say of course that anything from Antidotes is anything less than spectacular). Moving from the somewhat eerie and suspenseful 'Prelude' which stands like a resurgent war cry, into the explosive lead single 'Inhaler', is a bold move from the Oxford five-piece; for it’s them setting foot into unexplored territory. But it’s an exploration that undoubtedly pays dividends, as the valiant jump from the early days to where we are now is, in essence, what makes Holy Fire what it is. Having 'Inhaler' as the album's lead single meant that we didn’t get the chance to be shocked in the albums context. That said the thundering guitars and the tortured screams are more than able to send a shiver down your spine merely as a standalone track. The album then takes an unexpected musical turn, as it jumps straight from the ferociously heavy 'Inhaler', straight into the dancefloor filler 'My Number'. Unexpected, yes, but unwelcome most certainly not. The songs percussion drives it through each chorus and verse effortlessly. In terms of sheer get-up-and-danceability, this ranks just as high as anything that Foals have recorded. However, behind the upbeat nature of the song lies a much deeper message, as lead singer Yannis Philippakis makes it clear that “I don’t need your counsel”, just one song after screaming, “I can’t get enough space”. And from this moment on it’s the inevitable heartache we come to expect in each track that truly makes it the masterpiece it is, as a concoction of anger, pain, lust and loneliness blend together to make an album stuck beautifully between a longing to move on and a cry for help. Of course, it’s possible to enjoy the album outside of what appears to be its context, but when you can really feel the emotion in almost every single word, the vivid, yet intriguingly complex picture of the break-up that is painted is there to be
deciphered. The synth-driven 'Bad Habit' could have initially been understood as a reference to the “massive amount of weed” the band were smoking, and perhaps in some aspects it could be, but as the stark message of “wash away the stains, I feel quite okay” rings out, it’s clear there’s a much deeper message at heart. Then comes the emotional collapse in the form of ‘Late Night’. On the surface it could be dismissed as perhaps a little straightforward in terms of its repeated lyrics. But this is the “fury in [his] head” as referred to in Spanish Sahara one of the previous albums stand out tracks. It’s the sheer desperation in the plea “stay with me” which gives the song its emotional depth, enabling it to demonstrate the sheer sense of conflict racing through the mind. But then again, as the track suggests, it is 'Late Night'and the track had more than probably been composed after one too many in the early hours of the morning. This idea of a drunken collapse is perhaps given more credence by the upbeat and more light feeling nature of next track “Out Of The Woods” which is essentially the classic stage of “No, honestly I’m fine. I’m doing really great at the moment actually”, often said with a false smile. Unfortunately, as the next track 'Milk And Black Spiders' proves, he wasn’t fooling anyone; “Cause I’ve been around two times and found that you’re the only thing I need”. One of the standout tracks of the album, and one that’ll undoubtedly stand the test of time, 'Milk And Black Spiders' is not only such an expansive tracks in terms of its emotional depth, but the repeated refrains throughout, including “And I know you’re still with me, you’re my compass and my sea”, show the lack of direction the album may have had, had it not been for this realisation. The song then explodes with a rush of guitar and piano, with the underlining sense of the song, that his reliance upon whoever he’s singing to is still so strong, ringing clear. And then… Well then comes 'Providence'. An infusion of 'Prelude', 'Inhaler' and 'My Number', it demonstrates quite cleverly that we have arrived back at the beginning again, in a musical sense as well as emotional. “I’m an animal just like you, I know just what I’ll do”. It carries with it the upbeat drums that we had during 'My Number', up until we hit the repeated chant of “I’m an animal just like you”, almost tribal in its animalism, before the guitar explodes with one final roar. Complete with 'Milk and Black Spiders' just before hand, this could just be one of 2013’s finest musical moments. For it’ll take something pretty spectacular to dislodge it. The next track, ‘Stepson’ is summarised best in its own lyrics; “I’m falling, deeper down I go”, “I’m coming down for you”. It’s a comedown of regret and darkness after the unexpected physical urges unleashed in 'Providence'. The album then concludes on 'Moon', the slowest song of the album, in which we’re told “There’s nothing left unsaid”, and after the insight the previous ten tracks have given us access to, it’s be near on impossible to disagree with this statement. The album then bows out in the same way it strutted in, on a wave of pure ambience. From start to finish Holy Fire is a masterpiece. It might not be an album to stick on when you’re having your next house party, but if you’re ever experience a difficult break-up, you can count on it to be with you every step of the way. By Luke Lambourne
Top Tune: Milk & Black Spiders
No playing it safe Dead Sons
The Hollers And The Hymns "Sheffield, I suppose, could justly claim to be called the ugliest town in the Old World." once said the world-famous novelist and journalist, George Orwell. However, for the musical world, Sheffield is beautiful, a source of some of the finest musicians around. Pulp, The Human League, Richard Hawley, Rolo Tomassi, Def Leppard, Arctic Monkeys for example, and although you may not appreciate all those bands, you can’t say Sheffield is a one-genre-wonder. This is where we meet Dead Sons. They have broken out of the Sheffield music scene with slick riffs and abusive drumming and they’re not going to stop. Desert rock is not something you associate with England. In fact you really only associate it with a small area in southern California located not too far away from the Coachella valley. However with the huge success of Queens Of The Stone Age and the Arctic Monkey’s heavily-influenced third album Humbug, us English are getting used to the intoxicating romance between blues, heavy rock and psychedelia that comes together perfectly in desert rock. Dead Sons pull off this tricky genre fantastically. 'The Hollers and The Hymns' is the eerily-named debut album from Dead Sons, and the title is not where the eeriness stops. The whole album feels like, in the best possible way, a trip around the London Dungeons. You are there to enjoy yourself, and yet at the back of your mind, for some reason, fear is taking over. The album starts big, gets bigger. To begin an album with just feedback of a guitar, reminiscent of being at a gig when the band just walks on, is brave. There isn’t a slow build up, the whole band kick in at once and without time to think you’re being taken on this journey with the band. 'Ghost Train' is a fast, swirling mix of scratchy guitars, big drums and cool-apocalyptic lyrics. 'Shotgun Woman', the second track on the record, carrying on with the fast pace and it is a clear single choice for the band, it was released back in 2011 and went to number 2 in Turkey, apparently. Not only do the lyrics have you chanting along on the bus (yes, this happened) but in two minutes and thirty-nine seconds they get across exactly who and what Dead Sons are. They’re a no-messing Rock 'n' Roll band from the (not so) glamourous Sheffield and they’re here to make some noise. The use of the rock organ is key, after all no desert rock album is complete without one and it certainly adds to the creepiness of this album. The vocals sound incredibly similar to Alex Turner, so much so I was scouring the internet to find out if he’d made a guest appearance. As far as I’m aware he hasn’t, this is a Sheffield band making desert rock though, you see the similarities? It’s not a bad thing to be compared to Arctic Monkeys, they’re one of Britain’s most loved and most successful bands for quite some time. However it will put some people off which is a shame as they’re is as much different as there is similar between the two bands.
The album happily continues in the same vein. 'Bangonfullturn' and 'A Love As Good As Ours' are both fastpaced guitar-driven tracks that are about as gentle as a fairground roller coaster. 'Hangman', starts a slower track (yet still not very slow at all) and is all about the drumming carving the road that that the rest of the band follows. At one point, an audacious yet brilliantly awesome drum solo is followed by a signature breakdown and then swooped back up with a crescendo ending to the song of screeching guitars, repetitive vocals and huge drums that will have so many throwing themselves about at the live shows. 'Temptation Pool' gives a guitar played like a piano and regimental drumming that leaves you feeling like you’re walking through a cemetery, mist and all, on a wintry night. That harrowing experience is followed by 'Room 54' which incorporates the mix of heavy drums/heavy guitars/heavy vocals that sort of hits you and leaves you before you really know what’s happened. 'Junk Room' and 'Quest For The Fire' demonstrate the musical talent of the band so well. The guitars in the former track are brilliant, as are the backing screams (I guess that’s what you’d have to call them). In the latter track the vocals are really shown off for the first time, lyrics that aren’t short of ghostly and harmonies to top it all off, it may not be a stand out track from the album but it has a curious western feel to it in a Django Unchained kind of way. The first thing that hit me about 'Stuck In The Maze' was how much it felt like a Queens Of The Stone Age track. The drumming, wholly reminiscent of 'A Song for the Dead' with the disjointed intro and the scream-fronted breakdown into cool blues guitar riffs. It truly is a song that encapsulates the beauty of desert rock. I’ve mentioned the eeriness and creepiness of this album, I want it to be known I do not mean it in a bad way. Desert rock and southern rock in general is creepy, Queens Of The Stone Age have a song about bloodsucking mosquitoes and have you seen any of the White Stripes’ videos? The eeriness goes hand in hand with the spine chilling rock organ and howling guitars, and without it, this genre of music would seem too normal. 'The Hollers And The Hymns', the penultimate track on the album not only is the title track but is a sinister composition formed of layers being built and demolished that ends in an almighty rush of beautiful noise. Starting off relatively softly with piano, plucky guitar and the occasional crash of cymbals. When the heavy blues guitars come in, only to tease you, you know the track is building up to something big. Ominous chants of “Are you the one we have been waiting for?” and a technical drum-fill lead to the climactic end to this song, possibly the greatest fifty-two seconds on the album that will have you moving yourself around in sheer appreciation for what the band have done here. Dead Sons have truly announced to the world that they are here and that they aren’t going to play it safe or rely on their past musical standings (The bands consists of ex-members of Sheffield bands such as Milburn and Reverend and The Makers). They have made a desert rock album which is a bold move for an English band and they have done it very cleverly, in a way that will appeal to the masses. Having already supported Arctic Monkeys back in 2011 at the infamous Don Valley bowl gigs, things will look up and up for these lads with the release of what is less debut album more statement of arrival. By Jack Claramunt
Top Tune: Stuck In The Maze
Best new band in the uk?
Palma Violets 180
Palma Violets' debut album was always going to be difficult. They released 'Best of Friends' way back in August which instantly booted themselves to the centre of the music industry, due to being labelled as “the best new band in Britain”, there were obviously going to be incredibly high expectations for the London lads. However, after 'Last of the Summer Wine' received airplay on Radio 1, many music fanatics worldwide suggested that they're just one hit wonders. However, 'one hit wonders' is definitely NOT the term to describe them. Yes, 'Last of the Summer Wine' is absolutely appalling and it should never have found its way onto any album of any sort anywhere in the world. God only knows why they have included that monstrosity on this record, but thankfully they have saved themselves with a collection of hits which will be remembered for many years. If you haven't heard 'Best of Friends' by now, you must have been hiding since the release of Spector's debut album. But don't worry, it's safe to come out now. Thrashy, raw and exciting. Three words to describe this fabulous record opener with that infamous chorus which has brought much success to the band. Track 2 'Step Up For The Cool Cats', which has also received radio airplay, does not disappoint. You're beginning to think “wow, maybe all this hype is deserved after all.” and then you come back down to Earth with the realisation that 'All The Garden Birds' is next which leaves near about the same impression as a wet fart. 'Chicken Dippers' starts off with a pretty basic drumbeat with an echoing effect on the vocals to make you feel as though you're walking through the Sahara strutting your stuff whilst showing off your cowboy boots like you're Clint Eastwood. God knows what I'm rambling on about. And then the chorus kicks in, and once again you get that Libertines rawness that is evident in many of the tunes from this record. You'll be left shouting “You make me feel like I'm the only one” at the top of your voice just before you want to go absolutely crazy when that flirtatious guitar riff kicks in for just 6 seconds. There's not much point mentioning 'Last of the Summer Wine' again because I'll most probably start crying. Anyway, on to some good stuff... Three words: 'Tom The Drum'. As this rampaging guitar line fills your head, you can only imagine how good this song would sound live. And then on top this 'Johnny Bagga' Donuts' makes a rampant entry with smashing cymbals including more and more screaming and shouting from the cockney foursome also with the potential of a fine live track.
PV aim to bring exciting, jolly music and with 'I Found Love' I have to say I didn't take much of a liking to it at first. However, after several listens, it is bound to grow on you (which is the case of most of the songs on this record). The ending is a particular highlight with serene strumming of the guitar. I can guarantee it will bring you much satisfaction. 'Three Stars' shows a different side to Palma Violets. Every album has to have one of those songs with the attempt to melt your heart, but it seems that this track is more likely to break your heart due to Sam Fryer's annoying vocals which ring in your ear giving you the impression you have tinnitus. If you ever want to know the definition of a filler, just listen to '14'. A ridiculous song which repeats the lyrics “oh 14 / oh 14 / take me home” an ironic 14 times. Awful. That's all I can say about it. Bloody awful. It doesn't get much better either with the bonus track, 'Brand New Song'. “I've got a brand new car, I hope I'm gonna go far” represents the lyrical ability of a five yearold. You could even consider whether this song is a pisstake. However, at the end of last year, I have to say, I did not have high hopes for this album. But, I could not have been more wrong. Despite a couple of needless tracks, it is a thumping album from a band who have shown they can handle being in the media spotlight. Be prepared to be impressed on 25th February. After all, they are “the best new band in Britain” so shouldn't you be expecting that? By Sam Davies
Top Tune: Best of Friends
Fray and co. return Courteeners ANNA
Let's go back to The Courteeners' debut record: St. Jude. It couldn't get much better than that, could it? Then you have the next release: 'Falcon'. Debuts are always hard to overcome, and unfortunately for Fray and the others they were not able to conquer the feared second album, although it was by no means disastrous. Now, ANNA was the chance for Courteeners to stamp their place in the music industry with a heroic “WE'RE BACK!”. After a 3 year break, big things are expected. But could they deliver? A more dancey feel was expected before the release and when the first single from the record 'Lose Control' was released back at the start of January, things definitely seemed to be going that way. Filled with synths and high-pitched guitars, the obvious appeal to the general public made it a clear choice to be a single. Apart from the attempted dance thriller, it is extremely disappointing to say that the rest of this album is all too mediocre. Mind you, the opening track 'Are You In Love With A Notion?' has a gripping chorus due to layered Fray's vocals. However, there's layering vocals... And then there's just going way overboard and making everything sound manufactured and fake. That is the tale of the rest of the album. Have I not mentioned the truly dull, monotonous, toshy drumming? Well, Mr. Michael Campbell has put about as much effort into hitting his skins as Liam Gallagher puts into looking cool. He has used a nearly identical drum pattern throughout the album, 'Save Rosemary In Time' being the one most likely to cause you to have manic depression at the realisation of the lack of effort put into the percussion. The amount of fillers on this record is quite baffling, it will leave you questioning “Has Liam Fray got too big for his boots?”. He's no Johnny Marr, that's for sure. The lack of originality and flair will become extremely worrying until you hear Liam Fray put his heart and soul into 'Marquee'. A gentle song with an orchestra lurking in the background containing an eerie, subtle presence. By Sam Davies
Top Tune: Are You In Love With A Notion?
LIAM FRAY LIVE Where? Preston When? February 7th
Chants of the instantly recognisable ‘What Took You So Long?’ line echo through frozen streets as many shivering fans huddle in anticipation outside Preston’s 53 Degrees. Strictly speaking, this isn’t the Courteeners, but this is an acoustic set by Liam Fray, frontman of the Courteeners, joined by keyboardist Adam Payne, to promote the eagerly anticipated release of their third album ‘Anna’. Cheers fill the room as Fray graces the stage and, without any introduction, pulls out ‘How Come’, a simple, melodic track from their first album, greeted warmly by the fans. They’re in for a treat; songs old and new, from their first album to their new release, and the B-sides in between, each met by rapturous applause and singing from the 1,500 fans packed into the venue. Stand out songs included Falcon’s ‘Good Times Are Calling’ blended with sublime effortlessness into the Fleet Foxes’ ‘White Winter Hymnal’, alongside Courteeners classic ‘Bide Your Time’, in which only the first line was needed as a prompt for the crowd to sing the entire verse alone whilst Liam remained silent. No sound was needed, merely a glimmer in his eyes showed pride as great as any. The great feature of intimate acoustic concerts such as this, is how easily the emotion portrayed by Liam gets swept across the crowd. He’s had what he describes as “a weird couple of years”, the emotions of which are channelled into their new album. Through Falcon’s ballad ‘Last of the Ladies’, he remained still, gazing out into the crowd singing back to him, similar to the emotional ‘Marquee’, a soulful and heart breaking melody from ‘Anna’. Despite the gig being simply acoustic and without the usual energy pumped from the rest of the band, many fans were determined to get their £6 worth- dancing, jumping and scrambling onto the shoulders of friends to show their appreciation. Another impressive tune was ‘Van Der Graaf’, a usually upbeat track from ‘Anna’ crafted into an acoustic beauty and dedicated to those who bought the new album, after declaring “So apparently someone’s number one in the midweeks”. Whilst Anna was beaten to number one by Les Miserables, this was no cause for commiseration. With HMV refusing to stock it, any radio station refusing to play it, minus Manchester’s Xfm, and very little press coverage in the run up to the release, coming sixth in the charts is, as Fray himself said, “testament to the power of fans”; a power that was made very obvious by all in attendance by the passionate non-stop singing, chanting and cheering buzzing throughout Preston’s 53 Degrees. Even with the onstage absence of Campbell, ‘Conan’ and Cuppello, this really did not feel like a solo project. Dedicated to bandmate Michael Campbell, waiting backstage, Liam sang ‘Here Come The Young Men’ with passion resonating from the heartfelt line “this love will last for ever and ever and ever”- even if it is a little bit soppy. It’s definitely safe to say that the February/March tour will be a great cause for celebration- the good times are calling the Courteeners. By Ellie Kinney
PURE LOVE LIVE Where? Manchester Deaf Institute When? February 6th
On the 6th February 2013, Manchester was hit by Frank Carter, Jim Carroll and co, to perform, without a doubt, one of the best shows that I’ve seen. To kick off the show, The Vestals, from Wales, played what would have been a decent set, had it not been in the dark, and thankfully this was sorted out for the next support, Turbogeist; who put on quite an energetic show, despite the vocalist’s broken arm. Then, after two very good bands, came a performance that had everyone talking. Pure Love had stolen their own show. There was much talk between us of what they would open with, and then they appeared on the stage and did a rousing performance of ‘She’, and what I had previously thought to be a good standing position turned out to be not so good. Sensing a feeling of nervousness in the room, Frank Carter stepped onto the bar, encouraging the crowd to lose their inhibitions and join in the rock’n’roll. The setlist was good, but had they played ANYTHING, I’m sure that this crowd would have responded well. The people seemed up for it, and when the band played ‘Beach Of Diamonds’ followed by ‘Bury My Bones’ everybody about the place was singing. Even people who didn’t know
the words at the start of the night, suddenly burst into song, as if the Holy Spirit had come to them: a ginger Holy Spirit who was manoeuvring about the crowd as he tends to. As it turns out, there wasn’t a bad place to stand, with Frank and Jim moving from on the bar, onto the crowd and back to the stage. After an unbelievable set, Pure Love finally powered into the final song of the evening, ‘Riot Song’, opting to move the drum kit, microphones and themselves into the centre of the audience. After a wall of spectators formed around the band and the familiar opening chords were played, all hell broke loose. Fans, in fits of enthusiasm pushed forward, striving to touch their heroes. Friends and girlfriends sat atop shoulders. Yet none of this seemed to phase the final performance. Everybody had joined in with the “wo-oaoahing”. With an air of disappointment, Carter declared the gig over, expressing an emotional debt of gratitude to his admirers, a sense that everything he and Jim Carroll had worked towards had been accomplished. It was a night destined to go down in history, forever engraved in each member of the audience’s memory. By James Rebello & Tom Mooney
Photo: Tom Mooney
D for depressing Low Sea
D for depressing Harry George Johns
Two years ago Harry George Johns was, it seems, in a pretty desperate state. He had no home, no job, and relied on his friend for a place to sleep. His new album ‘PostBreakdown Blues’ a collection of just six acoustic tracks, recorded last summer, is perhaps his way of coming to terms with how he dealt with his breakdown. It is by no means, as the title suggests, a cheerful, optimistic album, in fact it’s pretty damn depressing in parts. Even by the end of the first song, ‘Drink Myself to Sleep’, you begin to hear that there’s nothing here that either stands out or hasn’t already been done before. John’s vocals are however really quite good, which is a start I suppose. The ensuing songs are, admittedly, not as depressing as I made them out to be before but even so, they’re still dreary and leave you with a deflating, almost nauseating, feeling after listening to them. Although, Johns isn’t completely useless, in fact, quite the opposite. As I mentioned before his vocals are a pleasing to listen to and he does process clear musical talent, he simply fails to apply it and fails to veer away from the safety net of dull unoriginal lyrics. One song that does stand out, however, is track five: ‘Morning Song’ starts off promisingly but Johns just ends up leading into ridiculous, ill-advised and clichéd metaphorical comparisons of himself to storm clouds: lyrical Armageddon basically. In parts Johns is just trying too hard to fit lyrics around the music and it simply doesn’t work. It’s neither clever nor inspiring. In a genre where there are already so many talented, young, fresh singer-songwriters anyone who wants (and you do really have to want it) to succeed needs to excel in just one, seemingly obvious, area of musical capability which invariably splits the men from the boys: the ability to write astonishing lyrics. What I find so frustrating about this album is that it has the potential to be genuinely good, yet from the outset Johns’ lyrics just seem superficial and hollow, which is a disappointment because throughout the album he does everything else so well; the album has been well produced, Johns’ vocals are brilliant, and the guitar melodies are spot on. It’s a shame then that the album is let down by the one thing it needs to do really well. I fear that with so many talented and deservedly successful young singer-songwriters there really is no room for Harry George Johns. By Robert Jones
Top Tune: Drink Myself To Sleep
Think of a tamed Alice Glass with hints of Genesis mixed with Purity Ring and you can find yourself looking online at a new band named 'Low Sea'. Now based in Ireland, the duo Bosnian-born Billie and Bobby D from Liverpool - first met while living in the United States. Billie had spent her early years in Bosnia until the war broke out, during which she fled to live in San Francisco. The album title track is the lead single for this LP release which ultimately gives off the overall vibe for this duo. Focusing on an atmospheric, alternative style 'Remote Viewing' tells a story of discontent and confusion. But it's the type of confusion we like to accept because it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t make sense, we just embrace it. Much of Low Sea’s LP was recorded in their current residence, a cottage, overlooking the lighthouse and harbour in an isolated fishing village on the Irish coast. With this in mind, Low Sea found themselves shocked when Stephen Hague (Pet Shop Boys, New Order) agreed to mix some tracks on the album. The album’s centerpiece has to be the track 'Acid Ocean' which reflects the intensity of this album all together. And the final track 'Artificial Light' perfectly describes these 4am cigarette songs. Low Sea have proven their placement in the music scene and the only way for this duo is up. By Rhys Harding
Top Tune: Acid Ocean
The Microdance We Are Made of Evil Things If you've ever wanted to combine the raw, crunchy metallic riffs of the Jarman brothers, the melodic indie techno of Brummy boys Swim Deep and mix it with the dark vocals of the Horrors, this anthem from The Microdance 'We Are Made Of Evil Things' is about as close as you'll get. From the moment the heavy drum beat kicks in, it becomes clear that The Microdance are having a crack at making a lasting impression, however as the song gets past the first chorus the lyrics become somewhat tedious. This song is no game changer, and comparison to The Cribs and The Horrors was maybe a bit ambitious for this brand of alt rock. When it comes to this track, it's that there's a 90% chance that you'll be hearing this song on FIFA next year. By Tom Blackmore
Manifesto Pt 2: We're All In The Gutter
After the disbanding of The King Blues in 2012, you’ve all been waiting for Itch, the notoriously political everyman frontman, to bring something new. Earlier he did just that with part 1 of his Manifesto- ‘How to Fucking Rule At Life’, which was a quality EP, but now, you have part 2. So, ‘Diplomat’, starting off with the typical comedic lilt you saw with 'The King Blues', “That’s fucked up like British teeth” helps keep us entertained as you enter into what seems to be an anthem for the youth and for your typical guy, and then bam, you get hit with what you were expecting from Itch: the typical “stick it to the man, fight the corporate machine” message. And though predictable, it does appeal, and with lines like “I am a human / I won’t lay down for your amusement” it is incredibly rousing. ‘Gutter Stars’ starts off with the simple vocals over a simple guitar riff, and then when you get the chorus, you get the generic underground rap sound- bad synth strings, and the repeated ‘stars’ in the background. Basically, this is the message to dream big, but in comparison to ‘Diplomat’, it’s just awful. I mean, sure it’s fine to listen to, feeling like a bad ass as you roam the streets of your town, but it’s not something you’ll listen to and think “actually, I want to do something different”: it’s not like ‘Diplomat’ and it’s not like Itch. Track 3, ‘Soul’ seems to be an amalgamation of messages about general discontent with whatever seems to be troubling any one person at any one time in any bloody city in the whole world. It really is that vague. The chorus is a bit better, but suddenly when you get to the ending everything seems to make a bit more sense- emphasis on the “bit”. You get the idea to “not give up” helping to bring us back to more familiar Itch territory and then with the quick outro, you are told “no one’s the saviour” which is definitely the kind of stuff you expect Itch to say. Again, predictable, but slightly better than the previous track. Finally you get ‘Like I’m Drugs’ which seems to think it’s an EDM track, and certainly with the lyric “I’m gonna lose my mind tonight” you get the sense that it’s trying to be a club favourite. I really don’t have much to say, this song seems to be really not very good, and that’s about it. Itch’s second EP then. It’s not quite what I was expecting, if anything it’s disappointing. See, I like Itch, and I agree with most of his views, but when anyone puts out songs that sound like this it’s really quite hard managing not to vomit. When an EP starts off with a song as good as ‘Diplomat’ you’d expect the rest to follow, but with this, it just doesn’t. All this mention of getting high is getting me down, and, I’m sorry, Itch, but this really wasn’t up to scratch. By James Rebello
Some bands just need to be seen live. For those lucky enough to catch them on their current tour with Pure Love, you will already be aware Turbogeist are one of those bands. They have taken primary influence from straight-up punk bands, infusing their own modern style. They have a heavy experimentation with solid chord-accompanied vocal melodies to the screeches of simple riffs. Throughout the Pure Love tour, they’ve being selling their own five track EP, ‘Ancient Secrets’, for a bargain £3. Could you resist? As it turns out, I couldn’t. As for the EP itself, it is a very promising sound. It opens with ‘Mermaid’s Revenge’ which has one of the more attractive riffs that have been released in recent months. It really echoes through the entire track and definitely warrants a second listen. “You’re not human anymore” wail the vocals into the chorus, building into a fantastic sound that really shows off their vocal ability. It works really well and, lyrically speaking, it sets the theme for the EP which contains some really catchy lyrics. The backing vocals provide the sing-along potential and it has serious anthem potential. It’s a similar idea with ‘Zero Friends’, with the line “I’ve got Zero Friends!” It’s almost reminiscent of the grunge movement with themes of isolation being powered by chaotic chords. It’s a definite must see live performance. The band has even opted to include a cover on the EP, The Wipers’ ‘Up Front’. With an addictive bass line and the hammering of the kick drum, it’s immediately catchy. As the song reaches its full pace, the lead guitar produces some extreme sounds, notably the erratic solo. It enforces the whole EP, underlying their efforts to show pure exhilaration. The final track, ‘Rats’, is drenched in Gallows’ hardcore punk influence. It’s a hard-hitting track that makes its nod towards the mid-song breakdown that echoes that of ‘Orchestra of Wolves’. So it isn’t the most original idea, but it really emphasises ambition. It’s a really impressive EP, but you must see them live. It’s worth trying to catch them playing with Pure Love who really complement a fantastic night. For only £3, the EP is an incredibly worthy buy and when the guitarist pulls off his pretty bold dance moves you know you’re seeing a good band. By Sam Fleming
Jaws are an indie-pop 4 piece hailing from the booming BTown (for lack of a better term) scene who’ve just announced the release of a bumper EP entitled “Milkshake”. The EP kicks off with the soaring ‘Breeze’. It starts off with a hypnotising, minimalistic riff, backed up by some nice vocals and a calming bass 'n' drum combination. Before you know it, your speakers are engulfed by a wondrous wall of sound. Listening to it almost feels like you’re underneath a psychedelic waterfall (yes, I am aware how fucking weird that sounds). The tune basically sticks to the loud/quiet/loud formula throughout, although there’s a brief second of cowbell towards the end, and it’s common knowledge that you can’t beat a bit of cowbell. ‘Donut’ begins with a dingy, grungy sounding riff before it’s layered over by a summery, infectious guitar line. A stark contrast, but it works amazingly well. Then come the vocals… They’re almost so bad they work. It keeps the melody going incredibly smoothly, but they’re just annoying. The lyrics are equally as bad, if not worse (“Don’t want you/Don’t need you/The sun’s out/It’s all cool”… Really?) Not a horrendous song, but not a brilliant one either. Then comes the highlight of the entire EP, the magnificent 'Toucan Surf'. Beginning with hazy synths, it morphs into a catchy, feel good anthem. The chorus is absolutely mammoth sounding, with all of the elements from the tune coming together to create a beautiful cacophony of sound. Brilliant. After that is the EP’s lead single, 'Friend Like You'. The intro is smooth, eloquent even, and that idea is kept up throughout the entire track. The instrumentation (like the rest of the EP) is absolutely gorgeous, as are the backing vocals. And the chorus is an absolute corker as well. The breakdowns in the song are exquisite, though they aren’t heavy, they bring a welcome change of pace to the song. Finally, we have 'Surround You'. Another indie-pop gem tailor made for the summer months. There’s not enough positive things I can say about this tune, from subtle drums to the synth arpeggios played over the chorus, everything about it is fantastic. 'Surround You' is a firm live favourite, and it’s not hard to see why with a chorus as good as this. It’s not even complex in the slightest, it’s just very very very good. It’s a brilliant way to end the EP. With ‘Milkshake’, Jaws have proven themselves to be another B-town success story. An admirable set of tunes that are just begging to be played in the sun. By Jake Cordiner
So Called Friends
Old Foes, New Fears
From So Called Friends comes an EP which has been in the making for a while. Since the essential rebirth of the unsigned hardcore 4-piece in 2012, they have been playing a lot of shows, and have been working on this debut EP. And I’m very pleased to say that the effort they’ve put in hasn’t been wasted. So we start off with the track ‘Maharajah’, and by god, it is a brilliant opener. You can clearly hear the influence of artists such as Enter Shikari and Tek-One with the electronic intro, and then when the guitars come in, it is pure modern hardcore. Danny Brown’s screams are well thought out, and then when he sings in the chorus, he just sounds fantastic. ‘Give It All, Take Nothing Back’ starts in a similar vein to ‘Maharajah’, but with the faster tempo it’s a sure-fire track to get the crowds going. Again the screams are good, but again the vocals in the chorus are if anything, even better. And then when the final chorus comes in you feel empowered or something ridiculous. Following on from track 2, is ‘The Breakout’ and its intro, the intro does serve as kind of a break, but then when the song starts properly, you are flung straight back into the pit. The lyrics “This is a wake-up call, yes it’s comedy gold, yet I’m sick of it all” again make you feel like Rou Reynolds has slapped you in your face and said “now listen to this”. It’s fantastic. ‘I’m Game, We’ll See Who Rusts First’ is another brilliant track, and I’m sure you can sense the way this review is going, but it really is. This is the kind of song that was just made for live performances, and you just know that the entire band will be going for it, especially when you hear the kind of drumming that Matt Ashton pulls off while Messrs Joe and Alex Holden pull the track together with fantastic, frenetic fretwork. The title track of the EP starts off with something that ought to signal an alien invasion, and then the track gets steadily better until the chorus where everything levels off (at a very high level). The final track on the EP, ‘Maybe, Just Maybe’, somehow manages to seamlessly blend a piano part with the heavy guitar; it’s a very good way to end the EP, with once again the skill of all the members of the band being shown. This then, So Called Friends debut EP is a very impressive piece of work. It’s clear to see the effort the band has put in over the last few months and I cannot recommend this highly enough to you. This band from Manchester should have good things coming to them, and with a gig at NQ Live (formerly MOHO) in Manchester on the 9th March, I implore you to go see them. Good job, lads. By James Rebello
Tears For Annie
London based electro outfit ‘Tears For Annie’ are set to release debut EP ‘Purple Heart’ on the 25th March 2013. The EP is eagerly awaited as a lot of interest and mystery surrounds the group, their activities don’t halt at producing music but delve deeper into the arts world. They have produced numerous paintings and art work under the same name, giving a whole new meaning to the expression ‘artist’ which is usually given to musicians. The EP broadcasts a range of dark, complex rhythms and outlines a brash originality, with oddly timed, yet tight rhythms and contrast of pitch. The scene is set with the opener ‘So John’, the sharp and smoky vocals lay on top of the mosaic of melodies underneath resulting in a complicated, but simple imagery unfolding in the mind. ‘So John’ is very thick in texture and lulls the listener into a sombre, relaxed mood through encapsulating, interesting and unique sounds. Establishing a steady structure for the EP to develop ‘So John’ allows for an easy transition into the next track, ‘Out Of Patience’. A slightly heavier number, the song leads you to feel uneasy. High pitches uniting with cutting low synth notes throughout combined with a low, ever present bass provide a sound of insecurity, which could lead to an explosion as the song spirals out of control into a world of musical fusion. This track is a stronger representation of whom and what the band are than the accompanying two. The EP concludes with ‘You And Whose Army’ which leads us from the mesh of the previous two. The mood is lightened somewhat with this track and expresses a different dynamic to the group. With a slightly easier riff to relate to and recognise, the sound allows for Tears to broadcast a more energetic side to the dark, deep and complex melodies they have to offer. Overall I believe this EP to be very successful in showing us what Tears are all about. Varying and complex melodies throughout reflect a uniqueness to the band and the strong, recognisable lyrics and tone of the group evoke memories of greats such as Siouxsie and Kate Bush, adding to the appeal of the release. I would rate this EP very highly in terms of strengthening the image for Tears for Annie. By Cory Devine
Linnea Olssen Never Again Swedish chamber-pop cellist Linnea Olsson’s new single 'Never Again' opens up with the lyrics “I have tried, so many times.” Now, she may have tried many times to be a good and sweet girl, but it’s clear that her first attempt at hitting the messed up industry of music is a good one. Using a violoncello as the foundation of her music gives her a slight edge in the industry; there’s nothing quite like her. Comparable to Lianna La Havas in terms of minimal
Black or Red Upbeat, iconic and exciting. Nyx are a trio based in South London, in the form of Eddie Styles, Tom Bem & Ben Gorman. Forming in late 2011 their music consists of powerful hip hop with British rap using unique lyrical concepts. Opening track to the 4-song EP is 'Roulette', which is no doubt the catchiest song on the EP proving a solid mark on the image they want their audience to perceive. What defines Nyx to similar bands, with rap intertwined, is that they come across as they have a story to tell. In 'Burnt', they use haunting vocals with that typical English style rap once again to describe a relationship with a girl. “Girl tell me what to say” here, Tom Bem sings in a plea to revive their love with one another. They almost re-invent rap to make it sound more listenable for those who wouldn't consider themselves massive electronic/rap fans making them so likeable and undoubtedly popular in the future. Nyx say they promise to have a big stage presence when they embark on their upcoming gigs and Tellin’ Tunes can’t wait to see whether they can pull off an entertaining show. We predict a happy future for Nyx and can’t wait to hear more material from the three lads very soon. By Rhys Harding
Scholars Black and Blue If I was to be totally honest, the prospect of having to listen to pop punk did not overly excite me. But after having already heard of south England band Scholars through their Winter ’12 tour with Sharks and Pure Love, I was perhaps a little bit more intrigued. And as I began to listen, the promised potential was apparent… The track starts off with a rough, distorted riff that wouldn’t look out of place in a Pistols gig. While the vocals are indeed passionately sung, it struggled to transfer this emotion to the audience. Uninspiring is a very harsh, but an unfortunately true description of ‘Black And Blue’, and I can’t help but wonder what could have been if the obvious talents of the band were used to create something more meaningful, which they are by no means incapable of doing. ‘Black And Blue’ precedes the imminent release of the bands forthcoming debut LP, ‘Always Lead, Never Follow’, in April. I will certainly keep an ear open, purely out of intrigue, for the next release from Scholars. By Tom Mooney instruments, with an easy-listening tone, Linnea proves that she isn’t yet capable of getting a home run, but she is definitely past first base. It’s a bit safe, to be honest, but with a tour later this year we hope to hear more, stronger music from Linnea in the future. By Rhys Harding
You should all know about Swim Deep by now. Emerging from 'B-Town' (ew), the four baggy boys created some quality tunes at the end of 2012, and 'The Sea' shows they're not going to stop anytime soon. Starting off with a riff ever so slightly reminiscent of Red Hot Chili Peppers’ 'Under The Bridge', frontman Austin Williams delicately instructs you to “Go down to the sea/and tell me what it is that you wanna be” and the song morphs into a saccharine sweet piece of pop bliss. Floaty guitar, bouncy bass and subtle but effective drums leave you hypnotized by the vibes. The song is also doused with hand-claps, “woo”’s and beautiful harmonies. It’s indie-pop perfection. Around three quarters of the way through, the song takes a break, returning to the guitar/vocal combination of the intro. “I’ve had my eyes set on you/forever” coos Austin, and you’d be a fool not to believe him. The tune then explodes into a cacophony of reverb, “ooo”’s, and “ahh”’s. It’s an absolute joy to listen to. The B-Town boys have struck gold again with The Sea then. It works brilliantly because it doesn’t try to be anything more than what it is, a slice of pop brilliance. Swim Deep are piped for big things in the coming months, and with songs like this in their repertoire, you’d have to be crazy not to follow them every step of the way. By Jake Cordiner
So, I’ve just seen Pure Love, and who should the first support act be but the very band I’ve been asked to review: The Vestals. I’d heard of them, but I’d never actually got round to listening to them, and after their set I started to wonder why. So, of course, I picked up their 7”, and after 12 listens in a row, I can say that it is a hit with me. 'Perfect Pain' then, the song itself is a fantastic indie pop piece, and though to start with is a bit jangly and might not appeal, as soon as the bass kicks in properly you will be hooked. It’s a solid piece of music, made for summer with its synth line at the chorus and with the rousing drum pattern you just want to be on a drive somewhere through a vibrant, busy city at night. But when I say that 'Perfect Pain' makes you want to go on a drive, you flip over the single and 'Seventeen' makes you want to take a whole road trip. As soon as it starts, you feel like you’re at a gig, and this gig is probably set in the 80s with the synths and the reverb caked guitars, it’s simply brilliant. Even if you’re listening to this song in a small space, or on a bus, you feel like you’re at a festival; that’s how good this band are. The Vestals are a drop into a reverb filled ocean. With the typically indie sound of 'Perfect Pain', and the brilliant anthemic 'Seventeen', they definitely have the beginnings of what, should be a good few years for them. You can hear the eighties influence on them, and I can see similarities to. Don’t hit me, The Smiths and The Stone Roses, but, this band are undoubtedly their own band. Let’s hope things go well for them. And with tracks as good as these, things are looking good. By James Rebello
Introducing on Radio One.
Swallowing Flies Those of you who will already be aware of Big Sixes will know that the band have made their presence felt through the use of SoundCloud, however an indication that the band are starting to make ripples in the industry would be indicated through the fact that Swallowing Flies manage to receive its first airing on a recent broadcasting of BBC
The song itself opens in a very minimal way, with guitarist Charlie plucking his way through the opening of the track and creating a moody atmosphere to the song, the introduction of Charlie’s vocals later adds to this, the harmonies made through the mixing of backing vocals, provided by drummer Max, add to the solemness created, yet said harmonies are a high point in the song, they’re pulled off to aplomb and really give this song an edge. Yet they allow for Charlie’s vocals to take the spotlight; his voice is extremely unique too!And with 'Swallowing Flies' already out there and the planned release of a few similar tracks it appears as though this could be a big year for Big Sixes if all comes together. Keep your eyes peeled. By Oliver Berisford
Published on Mar 1, 2013