Posts Tagged ‘energy’

28th January 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

On seeing / hearing this, I’m reminded of the character of Mike TV in Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a book I loved as a child, and have enjoyed all over again as a parent – although I always detested the film adaptations, especially the original, not least of all because I doubly detest Gene Wilder: the guy just grates. However, Dahl had a way of making points through his characters, often about ‘good’ and ‘bad’ traits and characteristics and behaviours, and Mike TV was no exception, and it may not have been especially subtle, but then it was a children’s book written in the 60s, at a time when sociologists and psychologists too were becoming interested on the effect of the media, in particular television – the twentieth century opium of the people.

The Assist’s new offering unpacks this line of thinking through a contemporary filter and a more immediate perspective, portraying a character – who’s something of an emblem, a stereotype – whose expectations of life are unrealistic, distorted by media representations. Since the turn of the millennium and the advent of ‘reality’; TV, we’ve been fed an endless conveyor belt of shows that have espoused the idea that anyone can achieve anything, and that anyone can become a celebrity – and, worse still, that being a celebrity for its own sake is something not only achievable, but desirable. It wasn’t so long ago kids would grow up wanting to be film stars, pop stars, models, designers, sportspeople; now primary-age kids are coming through wanting to be reality TV celebs, Instagram influencers and YouTubers.

‘TV Kid’ paints the stark disparity between the dream and the reality, where head-in-the-clouds aspirations – ‘a top flight striker, Well known as a good time provider…A boxing expert, an amateur fighter, walks around to the eye of the tiger’ – are a world away from the stress of bills and so on, the kitchen sink drudgery or life on minimum wage – or, as they put it, ‘Big soup for breakfast, big soup for tea, petrol for Christmas’.

It’s a nifty tune, compressed into a sharp, snappy two-and-a-half minutes. It’s buoyant and upbeat in delivery, with some jangly but crunchy guitars driving it along nicely while brimming with melody and energy. The Midlands act are unashamed in their working class stylings, without being as in yer face as Sleaford Mods (which is no doubt one reason The Assist haven’t weighed in with Fat White Family on the ‘faux working classness of Idles), or as brash and tediously crap as Oasis, and consequently, in rank order it’s the music first and the attitude second. It’s a decent balance, and singer Mikey has just the right amount of swagger in his delivery – cocky, but not cockish, and nicely whetting the whistle for the debut album, Council Pop, out in April.

Artwork - The Assist

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Band shot - The Assist

Dance To The Radio Records – 17th September 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Between 2005 and 2011, Dance to the Radio was the label that wasn’t lonely synonymous with the Leeds scene, it practically was the Leeds scene, and contributed to putting the city and its bands back on the map, releasing The Pigeon Detectives, Forward Russia, This Et Al, iLiKETRAiNS, and Grammatrics, as well as a number of wide-ranging compilations featuring the like of Pulled Apart by Horses. Returning in 2017 after a six-year hiatus, they’ve focused on a small but carefully-curated roster, giving a home to Tallsaint, Aural Aggro faves Dead Naked Hippies, Jake Whiskin, and Hull’s Low Hummer, who may be relatively new but have established themselves quickly, showcasing an energetic alt-rock sound that incorporates elements of grunge, punk, postpunk, and electro-pop with potent results. Debuting in October 2019 with the single ‘I Choose Live News’, the band have marked a steadily upward trajectory in the profile stakes ever since.

Granted, over half the tracks on Modern Tricks For Living have been released as singles in the last couple of years or so, making this as much a compilation as an album proper, but nevertheless, it hangs together nicely, on account of its stylistic unity and lyrical themes, and it’s well sequenced too, with the ups and downs just where they need to be.

Classic themes of angst, anxiety, and alienation dominate, and they never grow tired or fade. They possess a universality and an eternal relevance. The power and passion of the emotions may fade with age, but they never go away: most disaffected teens still feel it, unless they sell out and become self-satisfied, complacent parts of the machine. And some do – I’ve lost friends that way – but many of us still burn with the anguish of adolescence. As such, despite the band’s youth, there’s a universality in their appeal.

‘These days I feel like I’m dead’: the drawling vocal on ‘Tell You What’ is pure grunge nihilism, but there’s a sparkly electropop aspect to it, too. And the more you delve into Modern Tricks For Living, the more detail and the more canny crafting it reveals: amidst the brashy, trashy surface, there’s a lot more going on. These songs aren’t superficial, rushed, three-chord thrashes – well, they are, but they’re a lot more besides, and that’s the appeal of Low Hummer.

‘Take Arms’ packs some attack and makes for a strong opener. It doesn’t waste any time in planting a powerful earworm, with a motorik beat and bubbling synth bass providing the spine of a spiky punky indie banger that’s pure 90s in its vibe – the guitars fizz and the shouty female backing vocals reactive the riot grrrl sound and it kicks hard.

One of the few tracks not to have been released previously, ‘Don’t You Ever Sleep’, is an exuberant, bouncy paean to boredom that powers through in a whirl of synths in two and three quarter minutes, and it’s exhilarating, and ‘I Choose Live News’ crashes in as the third track, and it’s another relentless rush.

The Curesque ‘Never Enough’ (one suspects the title isn’t entirely accidental either) brings a change of tempo and switches the full-throttle fizz for an altogether dreamier form. It’s well-placed, and proves they’re not one-dimensional or one-pace, hinting at a range that they’re yet to fully explore. Slinging lines like ‘I hate this place / I hate the world’ , they pack in the angst and nihilism

‘Sometimes I Wish’ has some neat bass runs and a cyclical guitar riff that builds, while a wild lead part tops it all off. The tempo change towards the end is both unexpected and well-executed. ‘Slow One’ isn’t all that slow, but these things are all relative, and ‘The People, This Place’, another previous single release provides a blistering finale. And what can I say? This is a cracking album from beginning to end, that presents a solid selection of songs. Modern Tricks For Living is exciting and exhilarating, and it’s as simple as that.

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Trash Wax Recordings – 14th May 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Belgian four-piece The Distractors formed in 2019, and despite the last year and a bit not being the time for bands to build a fan base through live activity, they’ve managed to deliver their debut long player, which they’re the first to admit is an homage to their influences, as filtered through the band’s quirky, anarchic creative methods and general disregard for orthodoxy.

‘Everybody Hates Poetry’ is a straight-ahead punk three-chord thrash with gruff vocals that isn’t a million miles from The Anti-Nowhere League, and immediately establishes their style and credentials. And there really is nothing fancy about any of this. It’s a no-messing punk album, and you could pretty much leave it at that.

For a movement that was so revolutionary in terms of its achievements, a lot of punk music wasn’t nearly that innovative, although it’s perhaps a fair assessment that the most commercially successful and renowned punk acts of that first watershed were the least innovative and most accessible. The likes of Sex Pistols, Sham 69, and The Vibrators, on reflection, were just pub rock cranked up a few notches, and pretty tame. Real punk was Wire, Metal Urbain, Throbbing Gristle, bands that challenged both the establishment and musical convention. I say ‘was’, as punk rapidly transitioned from anti-establishment to an establishment of its own, a genre rather than an attitude.

But The Distractors combine both: punk style and punk attitude, and that’s the selling point behind Subversiv Dekadent, an album that does live up to its title, by and large.

Simple chord sequences – no more than three or four – are standard, and the songs are very much cut from the simple-but-effective mould or energetic primitivism.

‘The Night is Young (and So Are You)’ has an element of wrongness to its lyrics, and also mines a surf-punk seem that’s big on reverb and swagger, with contrasting guitar parts that balance the choppy and the noodly to strong effect. ‘Love You to the Max’ isn’t exactly tender, but it’s heartfelt and brimming with passion, and with a picked, chiming guitar in the verses, it’s got dynamic range, too. ‘To Hell With Good Intentions’ is one of those full-throttle ragers that slams in hard and fast and is all over in under two minutes. It’s not pretty, but it is strong – and that’s probably a fair summary of the album as a whole.

The innovation and uniqueness ratings for Subversiv Dekadent are low, but that’s not the point: the fury and energy ratings are off the scale, with the driving, gritty guitars cranked up really high and the energy and passion going up to eleven. Subversiv Dekadent is loud, fast, and it’s exciting. And that’s what a punk album ought to be.

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Artwork

Cruel Nature Records – 5th March 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

I know next to nothing about Fast Blood beyond the brief biographical info that accompanies this, their debut EP, which follows a brace of singles.

Apparently, the members of the foursome are stalwarts of the Newcastle-upon-Tyne DIY scene, but as a unit they only came together in 2019, performing together for the first time in April of that year. They managed to amass a decent resume of support slots in the eleven months before the world ended for live music, and announced their arrival in November 2019 with the hooky as hell ‘You’, which is featured here as the EP’s second track.

They trade in short – three minutes or less – poppy punk tunes, and for all their ‘nods to 90’s Midwestern indie/emo, hardcore and garage punk’, what actually comes through above anything is how they hark back to a more classic female-fronted punk vintage. That isn’t to say they sound like X-Ray Spex, or Penetration, or Blondie, but there’s certainly something of that vibe infused within their driving, guitar-driven songs which are big on energy.

‘Why do I keep doing this to myself? / I keep telling myself I’m not worthy’ Abigail Barlow sings on ‘Milo’, which was released as their second single in January last year, and while the delivery is accessible, and very much driven by a sense of ‘song’, and ‘melody’, and there’s nothing that’s overtly dark about their songs, there’s an emotional honesty and a sincerity about the lyrics that runs deeper. In this sense, it’s the best of both: a vintage style with a contemporary edge – without the crap connotations of punk-pop dragged along by the likes of shit like Panic! At the Disco, New Found Glory, and All Time Low – they balance bite with something altogether more easy on the ear. Kudos.

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Christopher Nosnibor

There’s usually at least one band in a lineup of four that’s only so-so, only middling, or simply doesn’t appeal. This makes tonight’s bill unusual, especially given the fact there’s no specific genre theme. The four bands showcasing their wares tonight are pulled together from around the country is probably a factor: despite FURR being a Leeds band and Weekend Recovery having recently relocated to the city (and both having built themselves a bit of a following on a national level), this isn’t a ‘local bands’ gig by any stretch.

Sheffield four-piece Mollyanna deliver buoyant indie / alternative rock with – dare I say it? – infectious tunes. They have a good energy, but also an emotive, brooding edge, and tinges of darkness creep into the keen vocal melodies. The band’s gutsier, grungier side emerges as the set progresses, as do more cinematic aspects that call to mind Evanescence (only minus the pomp, and therefore better).

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Mollyanna

Tokyo Taboo are an altogether different proposition, and if Mollyanna have good energy, Tokyo Taboo have insane energy. The guitarist – Moöey is wearing a silver hoody and star-jumping, spot-running, high-kicking singer Dolly Daggers has accessorised her minidress with a kind of shrug that’s also a sort of stuffed toy. Or something. But they’re not just visually compelling: their brand of amped-up power pop with a punk edge – and a dash of grunge – hits all the right spots. Joe Scotcher’s basslines keep everything nailed down nicely amidst the frenzy. And they have tunes! In fact, the last song – a slow-burner that finds Dolly sitting in the audience to sing – is one of the best things I’ve hear so far this year. I’m too busy enjoying the set to take many notes and the ones I have are barely legible, and all of my photos are blurry, but then, writing about or taking still photographs of Tokyo Taboo seems vaguely pointless: go and see them for yourself. They really are a cracking live act. And utterly barking.

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Tokyo Taboo

I’ve written a fair bit about Weekend Recovery over the last year or so, and it was a year to the day I first caught them live in Leeds. They’ve come a long way since then, on many levels and not just geographically. Musically, they’ve evolved, and the songs on their debut album, Get What You Came For – the reason they’re currently touring and are here tonight for their local launch – have a harder, grungier, punkier, and more distinctive sound. Visually, they’re simply looking more like a band. And in terms of performance, they’re more confident and assured, and the time on the road has made them tighter and punchier. Not that older songs like ‘Focus’ and ‘Don’t Try and Stop Me’ sit awkwardly in the set: if anything, they contrast nicely with the more direct and biting newer songs.

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Weekend Recovery

Lorin pogos around a lot while the guys kick out the riffs, with the album’s title track standing out in particular for its riffines. They wrap their set with a high-octane, full-throttle rendition of ‘Why Don’t You Love Me?’, the squeaky pop of the studio version transformed into a fierce demand that’s both exhilarating and a little bit scary (in a good way).

In the event, they prove to be the biggest draw of the night, and receive the warmest reception. And it’s well-deserved.

FURR are conspicuous by virtue of being the only all-male band, and not having a female vocalist. Having recently featured as part of the Leeds-based Come Play With Me singles club, the grungy guitar foursome have been attracting some attention of late. They’re probably too young to have even been born when Kurt Cobain was still alive, but they’ve got the c92 sound – with some keen melodies and clean vocals, they’re perhaps more Bivouac than Nirvana – nailed, as well as the look, only with a contemporary spin (by which I mean they sport plaid shirts, and have a 3:1 beard ratio). There’s no let-up for the duration of their set, as they piledrive their way through the songs. It’s all good, and they close with a ripping rendition of single cut ‘Fable’ (the set list scribbled on a Jiffy bag confirms this).

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FURR

They fumble about a bit and deliberate before playing one more song, and it makes for a slightly disorganised end to proceedings, but who cares? It’s been a good night – better than good, in fact, even great – and one which reminds us precisely why independent music and the venues that support it are so essential. Every band on the bill brought the energy and their A-game, and the experience is an all-out rush. And given the pick of these for bands tonight, or Morrissey at the First Direct Arena the next evening, I’d make the same choice every time.

With their youthful candor, it didn’t take the three rock sisters long to play themselves into the hearts of rock fans everywhere. Even though the latest single ‘Look Look Look!’ relates to growing up, there is nothing slowing the three Danes down.

The onrushing sisters sing about loafing about and the bad habits. That comes with not yet having figured out how to structure your life.

“This track was written at a point in our lives, where we all had to get used to time with restlessness and insecurity” says Noa Lachmi.

In the almost Sofia Coppolan music video directed by Daniel Aude, viewers are invited into the dream world of a young woman holding onto unaccountable playfulness, while also exploring her own true self. The restlessness is so thick you could cut through it with a knife, while sisterhood and self-absorption is embraced wearing shiny wigs.

The single ‘Look Look Look!’ is a taste of the upcoming debut album, which will be released on October 6th. The album kicks off the autumn tour starting September 21st at Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg.

Watch the video here: