Sunday, 7 April 2019

Mister Strange | I Want | Single Review

I Want by Manchester band, Mister Strange is a dose of fearless and immediate rock and roll daring.

The video takes some brilliantly surreal imagery, including a snapping Godzilla figure, moving shapes, and glimpses of band members. By staying partly hidden behind swirls of colour, they create an appealing sense of intrigue and mystique.
They take the attitude and rawness of groups like The Stooges and The Sex Pistols and give their own modern sharpness. The band employ several tricks to keep you gripped, including noisy guitar soloing, yelling echoes at the beginning and end, and towards the climax, a wall of sound that stops and starts like some heavy machine.
A gritty, driving bassline carries the song into gear, joined soon after by a bed of solid drums and crashing symbols, and biting guitar. The vocals have an edge and snarl that gives character whilst avoiding being overdone. Dave Vanion of The Damned and Stiv Bators of The Dead Boys come to mind as similarities.
The lyrics take some old school rock imagery, with “when I’m walking down the street” while blending in some clever lines painting a picture of a conflicted relationship:
While I’m looking at the Sky, can you see me down there, I don’t get why you’re moving outta here”.

If I were to use a song as my alarm clock, this would be it. I mean that in the best way.
Watch the video for I Want here
Catch Mister Strange at Soup Kitchen in Manchester on 21st May.

Review by Lawrence Peattie

Saturday, 23 March 2019

The Murlocs | Manic Candid Episode | Album Review

The fourth edition from Melbourne-based The Murlocs was hotly anticipated by those who’ve entered into the bizarre yet rewarding world of the Australian psychedelic scene. Having been on a mini-hiatus since late 2017, due to members of the band having other commitments, this latest creation, Manic Candid Episode, certainly hasn’t disappointed and is a fantastic and pleasing welcome back.

After completing a bumper European tour at the end of February, the next step for Ambrose Kenny-Smith and co was the release of this album which the band laboured over for a long time over Summer 2017 and as a result, an advanced musical evolution is evident with clear improvements since their humble beginnings in 2014.

Each track of this new album is filled with astute lyrics and catchy instrumentals, especially that of the title track, Problematic Subject and Withstand especially with their prominent harmonica, typical of Kenny-Smith’s musicianship. The Murlocs’ overall style can make anyone begin to move just through its pace and energy which has always been a feature of their albums.

Comfort Zone, despite slowing the tempo down slightly, are still a superb edition to the mix with its grand piano sounds mixed in with whirling keyboards and powerful vocals expressing how everyone goes through the same old stuff no matter who you may be. Having been released first as a single, it brings a nice contrast to the rest of the upbeat album but is still worked in beautifully well. Similarly, with Samsara Maya, the listener is allowed to catch their breath whilst still being treated to a husky story being told. One of the main attraction being the sheer power of Kenny-Smith’s vocals which have improved album after album and it especially shows here.

Having teased some of the new songs including Catch 22 and Bigger Picture on the latest tour, it is fantastic to finally hear the album pieced together. Buffoon, My Compromise and Spun Gun in particular are reminiscent of Old Locomotive but pack more of a punch instrumentally and lyrically. Also, What If? with its main guitar riff is a particular example of this with new effects being utilised creating a really hard-hitting but rhythmic strike to the listener.  

The overall musical ability is very striking with this particular album. The basslines are more complex, the drums have become elaborate and the extra guitars played by both Kenny-Smith and keyboard player Tim Karmouche really help to make the sound purer and driving. Another feature which has really exemplified the evolution is backing vocals which is a feature that hasn’t been as prevalent on previous albums but has definitely added the missing ingredient to this album.

With each band member having different projects to participate in, the next Murlocs tour of Europe may not be for a while but they a thorough recommendation especially if their music continues to travel in the direction it is doing currently.

Listen to Manic Candid Episode here

Review by Charlie Bristow

Friday, 22 March 2019

False Heads | Slease | Single Review

One thing False Heads are excellent at doing is grabbing the listener by the throat within seconds of songs starting. Their latest addition Slease is no exception. An immediately gripping, fuzzy bassline gives a few seconds to prepare for the hit of the rest of the band joining in to create a real powerhouse of a track.

Despite only being a three piece, this band is capable of making an unbelievable amount of noise and packing in high amounts of energy in such a short space of time. So therefore, it is unsurprising that they have received as much praise and recognition as they have as there is some serious talent here.

The harmonic choruses, catchy call and responses and lyrical repetition are skills that this band have mastered throughout their discography and Slease will be a fantastic addition to an already strong line up of songs.

One thing that can’t be stressed enough in modern music is having an original sound and everything these boys release captures that hard to grasp fresh and individual feel. This band really brings another sense to the meaning of the word individuality and the southern accents in the vocals really do make a difference, making it feel more organic and gritty. Plus being a punk band, it is evident that there is influence from the genre of times past and this is fantastically intertwined to give that unique sound even more of a kick.

The entire sound of this track is just high-octane. Loud and furious guitars, brilliantly heavy drums and thunderous basslines tying everything up into an amalgamation of anger, noise and power.

The future is looking bright for this band and their live performances should be quite the sight this year around the country.

Listen to Slease here

Review by Charlie Bristow
Photography by Holly Beson-Tams

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Nana White Pepper | 'Live or Die' | Single Review

Blackpool four piece Nana White Pepper are an ideal soundtrack to those days when you need to stir into action. Their new single, “Live or Die” takes control of the loud quiet dynamic and incendiary rock riffs to live up to a band name that calls to mind the taste of hot chilli.

Anticipation is built from the start with a crystalline guitar melody, creating a feeling reminiscent of watching sunrise on a bright morning. Then comes a sudden leap to a churning swirl of distortion which adds to the uplifting feel. Forming the layer of rhythm beneath are a thunderous breadth of drums, and dynamic bass, which employs both warmth and steeliness in tone.
The vocals have notes of indie stalwarts Bombay Bicycle Club, and American rock icons Cage the Elephant and the White Stripes, as well as a touch of soul that gives a good balance. The lyrics are powerful and direct yet nicely put together, with lines like “You always keep on calling, you’re calling on the time. You call without no warning, every day and night”, followed by the chorus of “Just let me live or die.” Sparse yet worthy of a singalong. Elements which complement one another.
Production wise the band have struck well, with a sound both raw and clear, which will satisfy audiences of both underground rock as well as those that favor more melodic songs. They combine a range of influences, from blues and grunge to the kind of ghostly echo found in bands like The Stone Roses.
The song comes to an end with a “Hey!” and one last adrenaline packed soar into the chorus. It ends sooner than I might expect, leaving me wanting more. Always a good sign.

A band to watch, and worth a listen for their other singles including “Dark Room” and “Come Alive”.
Review by Lawrence Peattie

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Cabbage 'Torture' - Single Review

Torture is a juxtaposition song, the dark and subject matter doesn’t quite match the light hearted melody its layered over. However, we find out through their social media how this was a conscious decision in their creative process: ‘It’s our attempt at The Beach Boys if we ran out of money before getting the orchestra in’. Which now brings the song into context and gives the listener that “aha” moment. 

Cabbage don’t stray too far from their roots in their latest song, as it still encompasses the band’s mantra as well as their punk energy which translates as an anthem of anarchy. Regardless of the cheery melodic tones, the main message stays intact, that being a heavily charged commentary on the political. If anything it’s the catchiness of the song which makes the subject matter more universally digestible, as the genre mashing track allows it to transcend boundaries. 

This is a very clever devise as it masks the poignancy that the song explores in a “blink and you miss it” moment, as you tap your foot along to the beat you don’t realise the ideas which are subsequently opening your eyes: ‘cus I’d rather be crucified than be a disciple who is forced to be blind’ and ‘cus I’d rather cut off my arm than raise it to salute those who initiate the fear’. These deeper elements of political poetry and philosophical thinking seem to penetrate the psyche far deeper; in the form of a more light and airy track, than one which may be considered more riotous. 

I think this track and its refreshing unexpected style says a lot about the band’s ability to experiment, push the boundaries and not be scared to try out new styles, constantly evolving instead of playing it safe. 

There’s a lot to be said for this as many bands can get so caught up in an aesthetic that they’re too scared to think outside the box, and as a band which place themselves firmly outside of that said box, Cabbage are constantly evolving. They even play around with lyricism, known for their poetic justice and radical thought provocation, they show self-awareness as writers within a song: ‘get on the metaphor or just a Ferris wheel’. This parodying of their position brings lighter aspects to the song which alleviate what could be considered a very heavy subject matter. Just because the brutal truth of the human condition is ‘torture’, doesn’t mean this song is.

Written by Phoebe De Angelis

Thursday, 8 November 2018

The Surrenders | Maybe There'll Be Blood | Single Review

The Surrenders have just dropped their latest single 'Maybe There'll Be Blood'.

The Birmingham four piece have had a successful year playing a handful of shows and festivals. Following on from their last single 'Shouldn't Have To Dig' which had more of a The Rolling Stones feel to it, this new track shows a new and fresh side to The Surrenders. On a first listen Maybe There'll Be Blood is a repetitive yet extremely catchy song, but the more you listen to it the more you realise its brush of genius as it subtly flavours different genres.

Lyrically the song has some darker undertones with a subtle humorous twist that contrasts with the upbeat rhythm that pours from the instrumentation. "It's an expose on the uncertantity of modern times, but a fun one at that." Vocally frontman Connor Brooks shows a larger vocal range within this track; from melodic grace to to sing-shouting the chorus "maybe there'll be blood, maybe there wont",  accompanied by some punkish harmonies from the rest of the band.

There is a simple and effective repetitive bass line throughout the track that plays a huge part. Each instrument really shines through within this song and yet none outshine the other. A perfect balance that creates this funky rock and roller track. We've seen The Surrenders show a more progressive sound in previous tracks, but this song really sticks out as something new. The raw roomy drum sound mixed with a fuzzy low fi lead guitar gives it an almost punk edge with a mix of some really early rock and roll. The descending quick chords in the pre chorus hint at early 2000s The Libertines vibes. The guitar has it's golden moment towards the end of the song as Rich Jones shreds away. 

The Surrenders are among the few bands that appear to boldly take a strong influence from the past and weave it through their music with a modern twist. It's a modern day rock n roll band for the youth with old souls. 'Maybe there'll Be Blood' is a solid banger that deserves to be played as loud as ya speakers will crank it! This song is going to be one that gives the room an electric energy and gets the audience singing and dancing like it's their last night on earth.

For fans of Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Hendrix etc, The Surrenders are a band you've got to check out. The Surrenders are set to support Trampoline on the This Feeling: Alive Tour.

You can get your tickets for the alive tour here

Listen to Maybe There'll Be Blood here

Review & photography by Holly Beson-Tams.

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

NAKED SIX | No Compromise | EP Review

NAKED SIX recently blessed us with their debut EP 'No Compromise', a beautiful blend of grunge and rock that'll keep you gripped from start to finish.

The Manchester based three piece released their EP at the end of October, No Compromise displays only a fraction of the wild energy that is Naked Six. One of the best live bands around they put in 110% energy, wether they're playing to a handful of people in a vintage store or a sweaty gig space full of heads. They blow everyone away with each show and are garenteed to walk off stage having gained new fans. This November you can find them at a handful of dates supporting Vintage Caravan followed by a main support tour for The Amorettes

If you've seen them live a couple of times recently you may recognise some of the tracks off of the EP. The EP begins with the title track No Compromise. Naked Six have always stuck out as a band that seems to take influence from a wide variety of genre, within any of their songs I can hear something subtle that appears to be a  blend of the best parts of so many amazing genres. You can hear bluesy/fuzz rock elects within the guitar and bass (think BRMC, The Raconteurs etc), heavy grunge vocals and drums that could stem from the 90s Seattle scene, classic British rock and roll, subtle hints of prog, so much more. 

Tear Away picks up the pace to a new level, Seb Byford's vocals are practically spat out with punk attitude during the verses to keep up with the rhythm of the song, giving a whole new layer to the bands display of sound. This is one of the tracks that really allow drummer Tom Witts' talent to shine through.  Let It Out slows everything down after Tear Away, with a soft guitar riff leading us into the track. The song to be could be straight out of the 90s. Paired with the last track on the EP, Who Am I To You, the two songs display a further range to Byford's vocal ability. 

Unwind is probably my favourite song off of the EP, and to see live,  it's full of exciting vibrate energy from start to finish. Having spent the past year as a two piece, bringing Callum Chesterman-Witts' in on bass has done wonders to their live performance and added a necessity to the EP. Check out their EP and catch them at one of their shows!

Listen to the EP here

Review & photography by Holly Beson-Tams.

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