Posts Tagged ‘alternatrive’

12th October 2021

James Wells

The follow-up to her debut, ‘Another Girl’s Man’, ‘Hidden Paradise’ finds Alice SK plundering a host of genres to forge something that’s breezy, undoubtedly poppy, with elements of indie, jazz, and even a hint of ska – in short, the kind of thing I’d normally not go for. But for every rule, there are necessarily exceptions: The Ruts drew heavily on dub reggae without losing sight of their punk roots; Blondie were a new wave and guitar pop in equal measure, and the fact is, pop is not a source of shame, or a cause for criticism or dismissal in itself.

‘Hidden Paradise; is nicely done: it’s got a downbeat undercurrent, but has a nice, catchy swing and some backed-off brass bolstering the breezy chorus. It has an immediacy, but, where it stands up against so much mainstream pop, it also has depth, both in terms of arrangement and lyrically, balancing the deeply personal with an uplifting delivery.

Alice is using her network to positive effect here, too: the track, which appears on her forthcoming EP Electric – scheduled for release early in 2022 – which was produced and co-written by Muca (Los Bitchos, L.A. Salami), and she’s definitely one to include in your ‘ones to watch’ list. She’s on ours.

Alice SK artwork

21st May 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

With their latest single in the run-up to their debut album due to drop in July, SENSES threaten ‘an absolute stomper soaked in bass and synth… one for any BRMC fans out there’. And in a bit of a shift from the previous two singles, which showcased more psychedelic and indie leanings, that’s what they deliver. ‘Harder Now’ is one of those classic, scuzzy rock ‘n’ roll tunes that’s simple but effective, and centres around a solid rhythm section and nagging, repetitive riff.

So maybe it does nab the bass stylings of the intro to ‘Spread Your Love’ and the drawling vocal hook of ‘Stop’, but so what? BRMC always amalgamated an almost stereotypical rock ‘n’ roll swagger with a dash of The Jesus and Mary Chain – breezy melodies in a collision a with a whole load of overdrive – and no-one owns these things. That’s the beauty of rock ‘n’ roll: it doesn’t have to be radically new, or break new ground to be of merit: it just has to be good. ‘Good’ can be many things, of course, is subjective, but objective good is having that all-important riff that hook, that self-confidence, and a certain knowingness.

In context of their releases to date, it’s clear that SENSES have a sense (sorry) of history, and a keen appreciation of a span of music of a certain vintage – a vintage that has come to possess a timeless quality.

They’ve got some savvy songwriting going on, and the musical skills to deliver it with just the right vibe, and ‘Harder Now (For Love)’ is a cracker.

Harder Now (For Love) single cover

12th February 2021

You sometimes feel like the world spins faster for some than others. That’s certainly the case for Weekend Recovery: it doesn’t feel so long ago since the emerging alt-rock act from Kent were turning up at a basement bar in Leeds to play their Paramore-influenced radio-friendly rock with fingers crossed the local support would bring some punters. They’ve toured nonstop since their inception in 2017, and it’s worked well for them in terms of amassing a fervent fanbase, and relocation to Leeds, if anything, has helped set them apart from the sameness of the scene of female-fronted alternative rock bands in and around the capital right now.

So fast forward not that very long, but add a debut album, even more extensive touring including some high-profile festival slots, as well as a change of lineup, into the busy timeline, and Weekend Recovery 2021 slams in hard with a new album. With ten tracks clocking in at twenty-nine minutes, you get the idea: this is concise, punchy, and with no fat left untrimmed. Weekend Recovery have always penned focussed songs, but they’ve really nailed it right here.

‘Radiator’ opens it up – and bleeds – with a nagging guitar motif, before the band plunge into megalithic hard rock territory, coming on more like Black Moth or Cold In Berlin than their usual selves. And it’s good: where there was a simmering tension to their songs, which cut jagged and raw on Get What You Came For, you feel like False Company is the album they always wanted to make but couldn’t, for various reasons. That, or it’s the album that shows what life experience can do: while they certainly weren’t afraid to crank it up and let rip previously, False Company is harder, heavier, and altogether darker.

That isn’t to say they’ve lost their pop edge one iota, and there’s a keen ear for melody on display throughout. And it may well be down to the melody, but ‘Can’t Let Go’ sounds like a glam/metal reworking of ‘These Boots Were Made for Walking’. It’s fitting, as it’s a proper stomper, and whereas the energy on previous releases stemmed from a combination of froth and bounce alongside the fizzing guitars and turns of pace, on False Company it’s more centres – the sound is denser and more-up front somehow.

Single cut ‘Going Nowhere’ – a reflection on stasis that’s specifically about relationships but could equally be a metaphor for the last 12 months – stands out as a furious post-punk pop banger with the spiky angst of Siouxsie and Skeletal Family, not to mention hints of X-Ray Spex melted into a song with massive accessible appeal. ‘It Doesn’t Seem Right’ is the ferociously fiery alt-rock corker they’ve always threatened.

‘Surprise’ is the quintessential album slowie, and sounds suspiciously like a power ballad to my ears. Single cut ‘There’s a Sense’ provides a dash of levity, an airy pop tune that harks back to ‘Why Don’t You Love Me?’ from the previous album and it does feel a shade throwaway in context, a tune dispensed at pace to grab the ear. Likewise, ‘You Know Why’: on its own sounds a bit like a hook with not so much meat, the ‘na-na-na’ refrain sounding like it’s leaning on My Chemical Romance just a bit too hard to be cool, but in context of the album its bubblegum buoyance feels more tempered, and in fairness, it’s a full-tilt punk blast with hints of X-Ray Spex.

Elsewhere, ‘Yeah?!’ has large elements of Nymphs in the mix, capturing that blend of grunge and classic rock and spinning it with a strong hook, and finally, in its juxtaposition of guitar lines and vocal melody, plus aaaaallll the dynamics, closer ‘Zealot’ feels like their most evolved and sophisticated song to date.

In terms of the ‘difficult second album’, the machinations behind the scenes – not to mention timing – may have made its coming together a major challenge, and the cover art speaks volumes – it was a mountain to climb, an endless staircase to where? But none of this is evident from the finished product: instead, False Company is darker, harder, stronger, denser, more assured-sounding and more evolved, and every aspect is a step up from its predecessor: Weekend Recovery have really upped their game and expanded their range, delivering an album that really is something special.

AA

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