Posts Tagged ‘alternative’

5th May 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

The pandemic may be over – or not, depending on your viewpoint or your government – but there’s no question that the pandemic affected us all in some way, shape, or form, and that as much as people are getting on with their so-called ‘normal’ lives, we’re not all fully over it. Some of us may never be.

‘The Day the Drum Stopped’ was penned during the height – or depths, depending on your perspective – of the UK pandemic lockdown, and captures the instantaneous psychological spasm of the moment everything halts abruptly. ‘The Day the Drum Stopped’ is perhaps another way of phrasing ‘the great pause’, and it was a strange time to say the least.

For many – not least of all musicians, those in hospitality and retail – everything stopped. For others, who continued to work from home, while also trying to manage home-schooling, the pause was less pronounced, marked more by the absence of people and traffic in the street when venturing out for the prescribed daily exercise or trip to the local supermarket in the hope of scoring both loo roll and pasta. But no question, it was strange, a plunge into the unknown, the unpredictable, and this was a cause of major anxiety for so, so many.

Kristina Stazaker has articulated this succinctly and in a most accessible fashion on her new single, propelled by some sturdy percussion and ‘builds up to a powerful ending where the drums restart and the electricity of life flicks into action again’. It starts with a solid march, before loping away like a galloping horse, and there’s optimism there, as Stazaker remains positive that ‘the drums will come back again’, and it’s a rush and then… it stops, and you’re left, vaguely nonplussed, wishing there was more. Which seems like life, really. Cracking single, though.

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 Artwork - Kristina Stazaker

Kick Out The Jams & End Of The Trail Creative are putting on a 3-day mini-festival, The Brighton Rock ‘N’ Roll Circus at The Black Lion between the 12th-14th May 2022. The event, supported by CD Baby, Blackstar Amplification & The Zine UK, which features bands like The Pearl Harts, Moon Panda, Berries, A Void, Enjoyable Listens, Sons, DEH-YEY, Bullet Girl, and Aural Aggro’s new faves, Warning Signal is a free entry alternative to The Great Escape.

And what a lineup!

Circo das Arabias

From the organisers: "Driven by a desire to offer live music fans in Brighton and from further afield a free alternative to the official Great Escape programme of shows, which are only accessible with an expensive conference badge or festival wristband, indie promoters Kick Out The Jams and End of the Trail have come together at The Black Lion for The Brighton Rock’n’Roll Circus; an exciting free entry three-day mini-festival of over forty bands running from 12th-14th May.

This show is the natural successor to The Brighton Mix-Up which last took place in May 2019, a similar three day show also at The Black Lion. Of course, the pandemic put a stop to all music festivals for a couple of years, so it’s really good to be back in Brighton again with an amazing lineup of bands from around the country, playing in an intimate venue in the heart of The Lanes area, bang in the middle of the town."

Kick Out The Jams & End Of The Trail Creative need your help! Unfortunately, they haven’t been able to secure the usual sponsorship for their 3-day FREE ENTRY mini-festival in Brighton in May.

Faced with taking a pretty big hit on production expenses associated with putting on an event of this kind, as the pub is not a regular music venue & doesn’t have any live music tech in place for the show, they are having to hire it all in.

So, if you are planning to come to the show and seeing some (or all!) of the 40+ bands they’ve lined up for you, please consider helping them with these costs by contributing to the Go Fund Me campaign.

Thanks for your support!

https://www.gofundme.com/the-brighton-rocknroll-circus

Sargent House – 29th April 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

If you’re looking for the short version, Helms Alee’s sixth album is a belter – a rich, deep, and intense experience that combines the delicate and atmospheric with thunderous, grindingly heavy riff-driven assaults.

To expand on that… well, it’s hard to know exactly where to begin. It’s not really an album to dissect, because to do so would be to pick apart the magic – and yes, magic is what it is, something conjured from the air and pulling on all of the elements to create something… something beyond, and something bigger. And there are so many great tunes on Keep This Be the Way, too. Yes, real tunes, proper songs.

‘See Sights Smell Smells’ intimates a delicate chime of post-rock that builds to a crescendo, but it rapidly progresses beyond that, into a thunderous blast of tension that leaps out and scorches like a solar flare.

Helms Alee are by no means the first band to combine elements of post rock with a host of other styles and forms – And So I Watch You From Afar and pelican are among the first who come to mind when it comes to post-rock with the emphasis on rock that pack a real punch, but they’re still not particularly close comparisons: ‘How Party to You Hard’ is dreamy shoegaze but hard, like A Place to Bury Strangers covering Slowdive, and ‘Tripping Up the Stairs’ goes all out on the searing racket, explosions of noise that’s every bit as much Nirvana as it is Sonic Youth as they push their way around the dynamic range that flips between heavy and absolutely fucking raging.

Then you’ve got ‘Big Louise’, a soft, gentle, semi-ambient indie wafter that’s nice but unremarkable but for the immense reverb. You can’t exactly complain that there are a couple of cuts that seem to ease off the gas a bit, not least of all because sometimes, it’s simply impossible to any song to really hold its own in such illustrious company, and the fact of the matter is that the majority of the songs on Keep This Be the Way are so, so strong there’s only one way to go.

The seven-minute ‘Do Not Expose to the Burning Sun’ is a slow-burning serpentine twister, building around an insistent and ominous bassline into a dark, hypnotic squaller that calls to mind both The Pain Teens and The God Machine, while the yawning drone of ‘Mouth Thinker’ evokes the spirit of Ride and Chapterhouse, and boasts a breezy melody as well as scorching blasts of overdrive that emerge from nowhere to tower as shimmering walls of kaleidoscopic noise.

These contrasts provide much of the joy in listening to Keep This Be the Way. It’s an album that’s steeped in 90s vintage, and if you were going to pitch it anywhere, it would be in the indie bracket – but to pitch it anywhere, or align it to any one, or even any three genres, would be to sell the album short and grotesquely misrepresent it. Yet for all the hybridization and seemingly incongruous crossovers, Helms Alee manage to melt everything together magnificently, making not just music but pure aural alchemy.

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Human Worth – 13th May 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

I don’t often give advice or tips, but sometimes it’s appropriate, and this is one of those times. If you’re into noisy music that’s inventive and of a consistently high quality, make sure you get hold of everything Human Worth release. Ever. I’ve been vaguely amused by sponsored ads on Facebook recently for Vinyl Box, a subscription service that delivers pre-selected records and enables the clueless to amass a ‘cool’ collection of instantly collectable editions of ‘cred’ albums as selected by ‘tastemakers’. As if. You want a cool record collection, and one that’s worth listening to as well, start here.

Human Worth haven’t been going all that long, but they’ve very swiftly established, if not a house style, then an ethos and a sense of curation, and every release this far has been outstanding, both musically an in terms of product, with each vinyl release feeling, looking, and sounding special. What’s more, they don’t just talk about ethics and causes, donating a percentage of the profits from each release to a worthy cause. It’s a hell of a way from the greed that fuels Records Store Day – which so happens to be today, where I’ve spent the day at home not regretting spending £30 on reissues of albums I already have two copies of. Frankly, it stinks, when you can pick up, for £16, a brand new clear vinyl release – with only 200 copies pressed – of something new and exciting that you can cherish for being more than simply an artefact. Steve Von Till is a fan, and while I may not have as much clout, so am I.

The new eponymous from Bristol-based instrumental trio Olanza is a most worthy addition to the Human Worth discography. It’s kinda mathy, kinda post-rock, but it’s got all the crunch. The guitars chop and change, twist and bend, swerving between picked lead detail and chugging riffs, but if the focus is on the guitars, it only works because of the force of the rhythm section, which isn’t only solid but as heavy as hell.

The album’s first piece, ‘Accelerator’, packs in all of this into less than three and a half explosive minutes. But they have so, so much more up their sleeves, and this is why Olanza is such a magnificent album – they’re clearly not a band to set themselves up for pigeonholing, as they simply don’t conform to any one, or even any two or three genre forms.

‘Boko Maru’ is deft, light, even, jazzy, but also a shade country, and fun… and then crashes into discord when the overdrive slams in, while ‘Descent’ is a full-on riff-driven beast with a psychedelic twist. Then there’s the nine-and-a-half minute monster that is ‘Lone Watie’ which is more indie, with hints of early Dinosaur Jr, at lest before it goes angular crunching riff-racket. With its shifts of style and tempo over such a duration, it’s practically an album in its own right, and certainly packs in more ideas and solid chunks than many bands manage over multiple albums – but the beauty is that it isn’t too hectic, and every segment flows into the next without jarring or sounding forced. This is intelligent, articulate, and magnificently crafted. So many bands try to pack in loads of stuff into each song, with the end result being cluttered, awkward, lacking in cohesion and just that bit too much. Not so with Olanza. This is masterful and compelling stuff.

‘Navarone’ lands between Oceansize and Pavement, epic neoprog and jangling indie, and builds nicely through a cruising riff. Angular, sinewy guitars a la The Jesus Lizard or Blacklisters skew in on ‘Joust’, before the minor key dissonance of ‘Constant’ brings things to a tense conclusion.

Put another way, it’s got the lot, and there’s so much range and dynamic action here, it makes for a gripping listen the absence of vocals is such a non-issue you barely notice it. What you do notice, and can’t escape, is that Olanza have landed an exciting album, where the quality of the musicianship is matched by the passion and the channelling of energy through the medium of music. It’s pretty special.

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Christopher Nosnibor

Lately, I’ve been contemplating the pros and cons of geography, particularly the fact that all the gigs seem to happen in London, and a lot of smaller London-based bands on a perpetual tour of the capital and rarely venturing far beyond. It’s hardly surprising, given so much recent coverage of the costs of going on tour – particularly with the added uncertainty of the ongoing matter of Covid. But then, here in the North, I can travel from York to Leeds in less time than it takes to cross a corner of London, and a pint is about half the price. And in a six-day span when Mclusky, Big | Brave and Melt-Banana all play Leeds or York, I feel pretty spoiled.

And so here we are at The Crescent, York’s answer to The Brudenell, which operates with similar principles of remaining true to its WMC origins with low-priced beer and a focus on decent sound. If you’ve ever wondered what a typical melt-Banana fan might look like, the answer is that there is no such thing. A mad genre-spanning noise band, it seems, appeals to anyone with an open mind and ears that are happy to take a battering, with punks, indie kids, goths, metallers and all sorts from ages twenty to sixty all gathered, and what a wonderfully pleasant, sociable lot they prove to be, and as so often proves to be the case, the more extreme the music, the more friendly the crowd.

Mumbles don’t really benefit from the sound with their primitive (post) punk. It’s played with frenetic energy and packs so many tempo changes they can barely keep up with themselves. It’s an eventful set, where the guitarist/singer’s austerity trousers aren’t the only things worthy of note: technical issues lead to an impromptu clarinet sol, and things get a bit jarring Avant jazz in places. I’m on the fence as to how well it actually works at times, but ultimately, they emerge triumphant. The guys are visibly nervous and some songs seem almost beyond their technical ability, although that’s not remotely a criticism: listen not live recordings of bands in the 70s and 80s, and this is what bands sounded like live. With more or less every band emerging super-tight and polished, it sometimes seems as if something has been lost, and Mumbles won themselves a fair few fans on this outing.

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Mumbles

It’s a welcome return to York for Cowtown and their breezy, caffeine-fuelled bouncy indie. The epic reverb on Jonathan Nash’s vocals adds a layer of depth to their up-front and punchy sound, and he too showcases some more dubious trouserage with plus fours and long socks. But, as always, they’re fun to watch, and the energy of their performance is infectious, getting the crowd warmed up nicely for the main event.

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Cowtown

And what an event it is.

Blam! Grraww! Whap! Pow! Yelp! I’ve absolutely no idea what the fuck is going on, and I’m not even convinced a detailed knowledge of their twenty years of output spanning eight albums would make any real difference. Fast and furious doesn’t come close: everything is a complete blur. The stage is piled high with amps and speaker cabs, so much so that despite it being a large stage, the pair have barely room to move. So much backline! So much volume! This is crazy! No bass, just squalling guitar racket propelled by programmed drums – that actually sound live – at 150mph.

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Melt-Banana

Only Japan could produce a band like Melt-Banana, who infuse high-octane whiplash-inducing grind with a manic pop edge, dirty great sawing guitars and sequencers controlled by some strange handheld device that looks like an 80s disco. For all the raging noise, the technical precision is astounding. Somewhere toward the end of the set, Yasuko Onuki announces ‘nine short songs’, and they’re played back-to-back are blistering grindcore abrasion and over in about three minutes. The mighty moshpit, which has been pretty intense throughout the set, simply explodes.

The atmosphere as the band leave the stage is electric. We’re all dazed, stunned, as if our brains have been used as punching balls for rapid punching exercises. It’s beyond rare for a set to blow away an entire packed venue – but then Melt-Banana aren’t rare, they’re truly unique. What an insane rush.

15th April 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

It may sound a bit screwy, but then, we’re here on the Internet and I’m sure you’ll have read far screwier things presented in more enticing ways that are far more dangerous than my theory that individuals are somehow psychologically and biologically attuned to certain kinds of music. It’s a complex issue, and one I’m yet to fully unravel, but it feels like something that slots into the nature / nurture debate: are people born predisposed to appreciate darker music, or is it triggered by life events – or a combination of the two?

In 1983, at the age of seven or eight, I saw Killing Joke on Top of the Pops performing ‘Love Like Blood’. I was, in hindsight, enjoying a mundane middle-class upbringing, but this moment – and it was one of several – went a long way to cementing my appreciation of darker music. I’d never suffered any kind of trauma and hardship beyond maybe some kids taking the piss out of my coat or whatever, but still something drew me towards this kind of thing.

Nearly forty years on, and ultimately, nothing’s changed: the turn of the millennium brought a new wave of post-punk influenced acts, with the likes of Interpol and Editors setting the grounds of darker territory. And, in turn, we’re seeing bands emerging now that very much echo the sound and style of post-millennial wave of post-punk, or new millennium new wave if you will (there doesn’t really seem to be a label for it, but if that one ever gets used, I’m claiming it).

This is the long and meandering route to the arrival the new single from London-based alt-rockers The Palpitations who – like so many acts – emerged during lockdown out of a need to so something, and the foursome – Tom Talbot on vocals, Brett Rieser on guitar, Nishant Joshi on bass, Florin Pascu on drums – set out their agenda with the ‘Feed The Poor! Eat The Rich!’ EP.

But there’s a nugget in the Palpitations bio that shows they’re not just another bunch of musicians who were loafing around listlessly and decided to bung some tunes together to fill the time whole on furlough or unable to play live. Talbot and Joshi were, in actual fact, working as frontline doctors, and both were instrumental in protecting NHS staff with upgraded PPE, and also took part in protests that gained international attention. Joshi later took the government to court over their PPE failures, winning a landmark case.

It’s out of this passion and a sense of frustration that the music of The Palpitations comes, and ‘Denial’ is a belter, smashing together a spindly, soaring lead guitar, with cool, meandering synths and a thumping solid rhythm section; if Interpol collided with Bivouac and Eight Storey Window, you’d probably have a handle on their post-punk grunge crossover, although there’s perhaps more than a hint of Placebo in the blend, and ‘Denial’ packs some darkly melodic angst and significant tension into its four-minute duration. It resonates not just on an emotional or sonic level, but on  a cerebral and biological level – and it’s an instant grab.

Christopher Nosnibor

Having been rescheduled after last November’s booking was cancelled, The Golden Age of TV are back in York on the eve of the release of a new EP.

It’s not the most promising start to arrive to find the doors locked, and Sea Legs are still soundchecking when they open the doors 25 minutes late. Something isn’t right with the mic in the kick drum, and it’s creating huge crackling distortion. But a change of mic, a change of leads, and things are back on track, albeit with a slightly later start.

It’s pretty quiet to begin, too, so the time between soundcheck and the start affords a bit of time just to sup a pint of Timothy Taylor’s dark mild and see the venue properly. I don’t think I’ve ever noticed that there’s still a fireplace and mantelpiece at the back of the stage behind the drum kit. It’s even more of an anomaly than the huge great radiator at the side of the room. These are reminders that The Vaults may be a venue, but still a pub at heart, and I’m drinking my hand-pulled pint from a real glass. There’s something comforting and gratifying about this.

Sea Legs’ melodic indie/alt rock stylings are easy on the ear, and occasionally fade into waves of ambience in between. There are some nice bass grooves too, not to mention some detailed and textured lead guitar work. They’re tight and tuneful: to my ears they’re nice enough but a shade ordinary, although that means they’re also exactly the kind of band that goes massive with the right breaks.

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Sea Legs

Pavillion’s front man’s beige chinos and shiny paisley shirt are a bit of a distraction from the music, although that’s probably just me as I realise he’s dressed how everyone dressed when I was their age, down to the early 90s curtains. I also realise the place is suddenly a lot busier, and it’s a shame their fans / mates thin out again shortly after their set, not least of all because they seriously missed out. If I was being harsh, I’d say their song ‘Terrifically Ordinary’ could be their signature, but they show real songwriting panache, with hints of Squeeze, and they play well, even if the visual aspect of their performance isn’t particularly evolved yet. Their lyrical vignettes are poetic and evocative, and well-constructed.

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Pavillion

All of this is just preamble, both in terms of the bands and the commentary. I’m here for The Golden Age of TV quite simply because the last time I saw them back in September, they absolutely blew me away with their sheer quality. Although they’ve been around a while, something seemed to have fired them up several notches during lockdown.

Tonight proves that their Long Division performance was not just a flicker post-pandemic exuberance, and that they really are a band who’ve achieved a new level of form. In a bold move, they open with the upcoming EP’s title track and lead single ‘Bite My Skin’ that merges motorik groove with choppy post punk and solid riffing.

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The Golden Age of TV

The energy they radiate is magical: they’re overtly nerdy in image, and they embrace it to the max. Rock god guitar poses (Ryan with glasses sliding off face, the guy plays every chord like it’s an absolute crushing stadium-blasting monster, Sam hard thrashing like he’s possessed) epic gurning and unashamed mum dancing, they are just so exuberant and joy to watch, and I keep finding myself grinning like a loon. Bea is a remarkably expressive vocalist with great presence. In all, they’ve got great tunes, tight and tidy with neat structures and finishes, and a great vibe. When a band are this into what they’re doing, it’s hard not to get caught up in it. The golden age of TV may have long passed, but their own golden age is now. Go see them: because recorded they’re ace, but it’s live where they really thrive.

Dark alternative act GGGOLDDD have revealed the striking new video for the title track from their upcoming album, This Shame Should Not Be Mine. The video is a sharp commentary on continued victimisation by society after someone experiences trauma.

Vocalist Milena Eva comments: "I was raped at the tender age of nineteen by someone I trusted and had fallen in love with. In one instant my life was upside down. It shaped me a lot. Especially the shame that comes with it, because of what society told me. ‘This Shame Should Not Be Mine’ is a fully electronic, dark and creepy song that personifies the fear and anxiety I’ve lived with. When I listen to it now it gives me strength and power like a mantra telling me it is not my fault.

After the trauma happened I went through some very scary years and the weird thing is it took me years to understand that I was scared. I filed my feelings under depression or loneliness. And my pain was downplayed by doctors and myself. It took me a long time to understand I have ptsd, that I’m sick because of what happened. And one of the biggest reasons it came this far was because of how people responded. The blame and shame that comes with taboo and the patriarchy is numbing. And the shame should have never been mine.”

Watch the video for ‘This Shame Should Not Be Mine’ here:

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This Shame Should Not Be Mine is out on April 1st via Artoffact Records.

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A Place To Bury Strangers share the video for ‘My Head Is Bleeding’ from their new album, See Through You, out now on vinyl via Dedstrange.

Right away, ‘My Head is Bleeding’ gushes from the speakers with pummeling drums and whirring, anxious electronics–preparing listeners for one deafening blunt-force chorus after another. Wispy synthesizers and lacerating chemical burn guitars engage in a heated call-and-response while Oliver Ackermann extends a desperate plea for sanity to whichever metaphysical entity might be listening. “This song is about internally begging to a God when you might not necessarily believe in one,” says Ackermann. “It’s that moment where there’s just a sliver of hope that anything in your head might connect you with the Universe and actually make a change.”  

In the accompanying video from director Travis Stevens (Jakob’s Wife, Girl On The Third Floor), flesh and blood commingle in a pileup of heaving, mysterious biomass as a mechanical womb gives birth to an oily, ectoplasmic form. Says Stevens, “The entire album rips but there’s a plea to transform suffering into joy in this song that I really sparked to. In order to emulate the raw unpredictability of an APTBS performance, I tried to create a similar magical combination of flesh, emotion, intuition and technology."

Watch the video here:

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18th February 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

So a quick scan back tells me I’ve been covering Salvation Jayne since they released ‘Burn it Down’ back in April 2017 – which actually predates their formation according to the bio on their own website. No, I’m not here to be pedantic, or explicitly to gloat about having been one of the first people to have ‘discovered’ them or whatever, but… well, there’s always a certain element of pride to know you spotted a talent, even of the talent introduced itself first.

They’ve come a long way since, and their debut album, A Mouthful Of Magnificent Spite is a very different beast from where they were back then. That said, they’re still big on attitude and choruses, only more so, and then some. You wouldn’t expect anything different from Chess Smith, who demonstrates a fierce – but friendly – drive to succeed where her musical career’s concerned. Salvation Jayne have never been hesitant about coming forward, and have sold out multiple headline shows as well as scoring notable support slots with the likes of Milk Teeth, Rews, Saint Agnes and The Subways.

That Mouthful is a proper album rather than an assemblage of tracks from previous EPs and singles – of which there is easily an album’s worth – tells us where the band is at. Forward-facing, creating, moving, and at pace. There’s a nod to ‘Burn it Down’ in the form of a fifty-second snip that acts as a bridge between ‘Diadem’ and ‘No Antidote’ (which is an instant classic, bringing together urgent and energetic drumming, chiming 80s indie guitar verses and a belting chorus with all the vocal power) but none of their previous singles make the cut here. Even 2021’s ‘Violent Silence’ is absent, and it makes sense: it’s too pop and doesn’t sit within the sequence, and it’s clear they’ve spent a long time working on making this a document of the band now. If ‘Cortez’ and ‘Coney Island, Baby!’ showed that they could do proper solid rock tunes with some chunky riffs, then A Mouthful Of Magnificent Spite realises that promise with wall-to-wall riffs.

‘Apathetic Apologies’ was perhaps an obvious choice for a lead video-single release: it’s kinda crisp and clean (although still boasts a thick bass sound) and eases the listener in with manifold layers and some nice production. It’s got big guitars and big production, and it’s overtly ‘rock’ but at the same time it’s easy on the ear and has clear radio airplay potential. Reflecting on this, for many bands, this would be an album or EP closer: it’s got anthem written all over it. So where do you go from here? Well, Salvation Jayne go into goth-tinged 80s alt-rock territory with the sultry, brooding ‘Diadem’.

They really crank up the riffage with ‘I Am Simply Not What You Thought’, a song they’ve been honing live over the last couple of years, and which has evolved substantially over that time. While the vocals remain melodic and harmonious, they’re not weedy or emo: this is full-lunged, solid rock to the core. And it’s sincere, and that sincerity imbues it with power beyond the drive of the guitars and powerhouse percussion. A Mouthful Of Magnificent Spite is brimming with passion, and you feel it .

The title track is a rollercoaster of emotion and stylistic switches, but hangs together perfectly, highlighting the band’s songwriting skills. The title track takes a turn for the heavy with some monster riffage in the last minute, and they go stoner on ‘Cody’, and they’d probably start bracing them selves for an arm-wrestle with Queens of the Stone Age before long.

‘Drink you Down’ swerves into 80s electro pop with a hint of shoegaze. It’s misty, but so, so buoyant, and the guitars take a back seat. You couldn’t say A Mouthful Of Magnificent Spite isn’t varied. It’s a fiery and exhilarating album that kicks arse from beginning to end.

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Artwork - Salvation Jayne