Posts Tagged ‘Indie’

8th June 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

I was an inch away from typing ‘we can all relate to this situation…’ when I realised that, no, that is absolutely not the case, and in fact, that’s fucking bollocks.

We have Conservative MPs saying that if we can’t make ends meet we need to work more hours of get better jobs, while other still suggesting that it’s possible to make meals for 30p per portion and the main reason people use foodbanks is because they can’t cook and can’t budget. It’s sickening and also maddening to see in such stark relief the chasm between the haves and the have-nots, and just how incapable those with money are of seeing things from the perspective of those without. When you’ve got a prime minister anguishing over the wage cost of a nanny and £840 a roll wallpaper (that’s a month’s wage for many people) when pensioners are spending the day on the bus because they can’t afford to heat their flat, it’s apparent just how fucked-up and how far the division has split in contemporary capitalist society.

So it’s a situation probably about half of us can relate to, when the band detail how their latest single is based on their own experience of “the doldrums of being skint, working your arse off to be able to afford a postage stamp-sized flat, only to have to shave in the kitchen sink because the landlord won’t fix the one in the bathroom. Take that and then put it in lockdown, it felt like the walls were closing in – very claustrophobic. You can’t escape to anywhere apart from your own daydreams. The song is an anthem of escapism in the modern era.”

Your head is really the only safe haven left, the only space where you can spread out, and where you can go without fear of being captured on CCTV surveillance – at least for now. It’s also the only place most of us can actually afford a holiday (I often wonder just how the fuck so many of my ten-year-old daughter’s classmates get to go off on skiing holidays and spend Easter in the Maldives when we have to scrape for three nights self-catering off-grid in Wales… like how do people have so much fucking money?).

What’s not fucking bollocks is this tune, which is absolutely top. Because ‘Holiday in my Head’ is about escapism, it’s not completely bleak – but it’s two and a half minutes of driving indie / post-punk, a collision of Asylums, early Editors, and Radio 4, with a strong serving of Gang of Four on the side. Hooks? Hell yeah, it’s got hooks to tear you apart, the choppy guitar duelling with the big, bold chorus that grabs you by the throat and blows your socks off – simultaneously.

Short, sharp and punchy, it’s an absolute blinder of a single, and quite an evolution from their previous outings. It may be more of an afternoon off and a quick pint in your local than a week on a beach in Greece, but then again, if the week in Greece involves being around other holidaymakers and temperature above 20C, I’d take what The Velvet Hands are offering every time.

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San Diego’s Wild Wild Wets continue to roll out singles off their upcoming new album ‘Love Always.’

The latest, ‘The Seer,’ is accompanied by a fully-animated music video (premiering today) created by Michael Turi, frontman and co-founder of Wild Wild Wets.

The track itself features backup vocals by Shelbi Bennett (The Midnight Pine and The Havnauts), and while the single version was cut to a stoney 4:20 minutes, the album version is 8 minutes long and includes nearly 4 minutes of added takeoff time that echoes Stereolab’s ‘kraut-rock’ sensibility with Turi & his bandmate and co-frontman Taejon Romanik sharing in the masterful quilting of noise and melody.

Turi explains, "I championed this track to be recorded and it eventually grew to become one of our favorite tracks on the new album, "Love Always". The song was written about a mixture between the writing process, a love for that along with the mantra that comes with completing your art, but also acts as a mantra for living, in general. I am and have always been obsessed with cartoons and it’s been a long-time dream to animate something of my own. Cosmically, I was able to use the last year of off-and-on pandemic scares to finally sink my teeth into the process. So many late nights of delirium spike this colorful dose of weirdness. I learned a lot during this creation process and once I’m over enjoying the time away from animating this I look forward to finishing my next project."

Romanik adds, “The Seer is an ethereal and cathartic pop song about writing pop songs. A story of the creative process and seeing things through to the end. Harmony vocals were performed by Shelbi Bennett of the Midnight Pine and The Havnauts. The Seer is the 3rd single from our 3rd LP ‘Love Always.’ It may be the catchiest song we have ever written."

Watch the video here:

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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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North Wales Psychedelic rock band Holy Coves announce brand new ‘Druids And Bards’ 24-date UK Tour and are set to release brand new ‘Desert Storm’ single which  on Friday 29th of April via prolific North Wales Label Yr Wyddfa Records.

Dropping swiftly into the slip-stream and following on from the successful ‘The Hurt Within’ which was released last month, ‘Desert Storm’ sets the psych mood with droney riffs, hazy vocals on an epic musical landscape.

Lead by Welsh Singer-Songwriter Scott Marsden, Holy Coves find themselves crossing an unseen threshold on a fantastical new journey where new psych-hazed material spells an exciting new era for the collective.

Through long time friend and Producer David Wrench, Holy Coves were put in touch with Texan Producer Erik Wofford (The Black Angels / Explosions In The Sky) and have built quite a magical working relationship, one where Wofford found himself on Mixing and Mastering duties for the material and certainly contributes to their new sound.

Listen to ‘Desert Storm’ here:

Tour dates are below:

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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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‘Long Time Ago’ is the driving new single by ‘Woodooman’, Cardiff Multi-Instrumentalist and Artist, Iwan Ap Huw Morgan.

The second single to be taken from forthcoming Album ‘Y Nos’, which is due for release on 24th June; ‘Long Time Ago’ follows in the wake of the fantastic Welsh Language track ‘Y Nos Mewn Cariad’ that was released last month to a very warm reception including praise from BBC DJs Huw Stephens, Adam Walton, God Is In The TV Blog, Golwg Magazine, Lisa Gwilym and Rhys Mwyn.

‘Long Time Ago’ will be released on the 2nd of May via Recordiau Dewin Records

Listen here:

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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.

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.

Grappling with themes of insecurity and isolation, the gritty new track combines tight instrumentation with jagged riff-roaring melodies. Calculated and convulsive in equal measure, ‘Wall of Noise’ comes as a taste of the band’s debut album, which is expected for release this summer.

Chewing through twangy vocals, angular guitar lines and a guttural garage-grunge feel, Berries cultivate a craggy landscape of layered noise-rock that is evocative of the “noise” that so many of us constantly find pervading our own thoughts. Pelting us from all angles with their meticulously frenetic sound, the band explain of the track: “Lyrically the song gives a nod to how self-doubt and how solitude can heighten and affect these feelings. Feeling lost or confused can produce the noisiest thoughts in your mind and that’s what we wanted to convey in this song.”

And, while its lyricism might deal with notions of self-doubt, the track marks a clear, confident and calculated next step in the band’s development.

Listen to ‘Wall of Noise’ here:

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Venus Principle are now premiering the video clip ‘Rebel Drones’ as the first single taken from the dark psychedelic rockers’ debut full-length Stand in Your Light, which has been slated for release on May 27th.

The melancholic black & white video ‘Rebel Drones’ with a captivating interplay between female and male vocals is now available to view here:

Venus Principle comment: “Releasing a debut album is the pinnacle moment for any new band and even more so with the added obstacle of recording that album during a pandemic across two countries”, writes singer and pianist Daisy Chapman. “After months of work behind closed doors, its first public airing is both exciting and tense – everything has to be right. We are stoked to finally release our first single. ‘Rebel Drones’ was among the first songs written and we think it represents the whole album particularly well. This project was conceived remotely, but the music on Stand in Your Light transcends borders and represents Venus Principle as one entity of experienced musicians and friends. We can hardly wait for all the world to finally hear our creation.”