Posts Tagged ‘Leeds’

Gizeh Records – 2nd March 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

Tomorrow We Sail are a classic example of the kind of band who exist outside of their geography. Based in Leeds, the six-piece aren’t generally renowned as part of the local scene or prominent gig-wise, but have a reach that exists in the ether of the virtual world and into mainland Europe. Four years on from their debut, the collective have evolved their brand of folk-infused string-soaked post-rock into something even more unique.

Subdued, strolling beats and rolling piano provide the rhythmic backdrop to the nagging strings and aching vocals on the opening song, the six-minute ‘Side By Side’. It breaks into a sustained crescendo after just a couple of minutes, but it’s more a case of upping the volume and the intensity than hitting the soaring peaks which characterise so much ‘classic’ post-rock. And perhaps this is the key to the differentials which separate Tomorrow We Sail from their peers, and indeed, any other act. The Shadows is a careful and poised album which exploits the dynamic tropes of post-rock but in a contained fashion. There’s certainly nothing as expansive or sprawling as 2015’s ‘Saturn’, with its twenty-minute duration, or even the single ‘Rosa’ from the first album with its thirteen-minute running time. The Shadows is altogether more concise and all the more intense because of it. Moreover, the context feels different, the slant altered somewhat.

In some respects, the context is that this doesn’t feel like a ‘Leeds’ album. Even when the city was post-rock central a decade or so back, with iLiKETRAiNS (as they were then styled), Vessels and adopted Leeds friends Her Name is Calla all over everywhere, there was nothing this folksy or parameter-pushing as The Shadows, an album which expands the limits of post-rock. ‘The Ghost of John Maynard Keynes’ really pitches the folk aspect of the album to the fore, with a chorus of voices giving the almost shanty-like folk tune a lilting aspect.

There is unspeakable, throat-tightening beauty in the piano-led minimalism of ‘To Sleep’ which calls to mind the very best work of the now-defunct Glissando, and at the same time harks back to their debut.

The Shadows is a well-balanced collection: understated, delicate, melodic, it exists, as the title alludes, in the spaces between light and dark, exploring with deftness and sensitivity the infinite shades between.

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Bearfoot Beware have come a long way from their scrappy, DIY beginnings. They’ve shared stages with luminaries like Future of the Left, played on the BBC Introducing stage at Reading and Leeds, and toured all over mainland Europe. Now, after years on the road they’re back with their most coherent sonic manifesto in the shape of second album, Sea Magnolia.

Eschewing for the most part their crossover punk-meets-math of their early recordings and debut LP, Sea Magnolia is a much more heavy-hitting release that doesn’t feel the need to overcomplicate for the sake of egos. “The heavier tunes are where we had the most fun” they say, linking this change in their sound to “a lot of the music that surrounds us down at CHUNK [collective, a space which the band co-founded] and in the Leeds Music Community.”

Lyrically, this aggression is felt as well. “It’s angry but not hateful,” they explain, “anger is a tool you can use to express yourself but hate is a weapon.” The simple fact was that “creating something way more direct and focused this time meant this time the lyrics felt like they needed that too.”

They’ve unveiled ‘Point Scorer’ as a taste for Sea Magnolia, and you can listen to it here:

Sea Magnolia is out on 16th March via Superstar Destroy Records.

Bearfoot Beware

Candlelight Records – 23rd February 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

Having caught Black Moth live early on, before the release of their debut, I’m in a position to attest just how far they’ve come and how much they’ve grown. And third album, Anatomical Venus shows their trajectory continues upwards and outwards: with each release, they’re bigger, and simply more.

If debut The Killing Jar was a rock-solid heavy rock album that revelled in the vintage riffery of Sabbath and its successor, Condemned to Hope was the sound of a band coming into their own and filing out their songs with heavier, denser chuggage, Anatomical Venues combines the strongest elements of its predecessors and brings an even harder, heavier edge, while at the same time bristling with even sharper hooks and stronger vocal melodies.

‘Buried Hoards’ blends grunge and goth to forge a dark grandeur, while the six-and-a-half-minute ‘Severed Grace’ finds Harriet bring a certain sneer and tantalisingly teasing edge to her delivery, which weaves its way around a serpentine lead guitar and super-dense bass throb. And across the album, Back Moth bring groove galore. Anatomical Venus leans toward the quicker tempo: ‘A Lovers Hate’ is less Sabbath and more Motörhead, a punk attitude informing the driving guitar-based assault. Compositionally, it’s stripped-back and simple, something that’s been core to Black Moth’s work from the outset: namely, that the riff is king. Front and centre, the riff. Simple, but effective, four chord workouts lie at the heart of most of the songs. In the world of both rock and pop, less is invariably more. Back Moth know this and exploit it well.

There’s no substitute for a beefy bit of guitar you can get your head down to. Not that they lack technical prowess: the solos are killer, but never overlong or excessively flamboyant. There’s simply no fat to be found on Anatomical Venus.

The album’s last track, ‘Pig Man’, lands somewhere between Lydia Lunch and Melvins, with a churning sludge metal riff and a sassy, semi-spoken verse… and noise. Cathartic, chaotic noise building to a climactic crescendo.

Black Moth’s strength has always been their knack for solid, hard rock that fundamentally plays to the rules – by which I mean, their focus has been quality over innovation. This is actually an admirable quality, because they’re a band who grasp what makes rock music rock. But Anatomical Venus sees the band extend their horizons, without losing sight of any of the qualities that made them in the first place. And in bringing everything all together, and making it tighter, tauter, and as dense and heavy as ever, Black Moth have delivered their strongest, most focused album to date.

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Black Moth - Anatomical Venus

South London duo VLMV (FKA Alma) have announced their new album ‘Stranded, Not Lost’ will be released on Fierce Panda on the 16th Feb.

They’ve shared this exciting news with new music in the form of beautiful single ‘All These Ghosts’ with an accompanying live video shot at The Nave in Leeds.

VLMV is made up of Pete Lambrou of Codes In The Clouds & Monsters Build Mean Robots and Ciaran Morahan, also of Codes In The Clouds. They’ve describe themselves as "ambient-ish, post-something” their music is beautiful and spacious ambient post-rock.

‘Stranded, Not Lost’ is a gorgeous and moving record replete with the kind of brooding, ambient soundscapes, soaring vocals and crashing intensity that have earned the band a small legion of dedicated fans and recent tours supporting the likes of post-rock stalwarts Nordic Giants.

You can see the video for ‘All These Ghosts’ here:

Having recently announced that their new album Anatomical Venus will be released early next year, Black Moth have shared the first single from the record in the form of the psychedelic video for ‘Moonbow’, directed by Ben Foley (Foley previously worked with BM on their spectacularly kinky ‘Looner’ clip, 2015).

Vocalist Harriet Hyde comments:

‘It is an ode and an offering to the moon herself, in the hope that she will shine her silver blessings on Mothic ventures to follow. Ben Foley’s directorial work with us has gone from Looner to Lunar. His deft creative touch on ‘Moonbow’ drags the viewer with us through a psychedelic neon dreamscape – an intoxicating experience of lunar worship’

While their first 2 albums were released by New Heavy Sounds, Black Moth will have their latest / third studio album issued worldwide via Candlelight Records on February 23rd 2018, the result of an alliance between Candlelight and NHS.

Produced by Andy Hawkins (Hawk Eyes, Maximo Park) with Russ Russell (Napalm Death, Dimmu Borgir) handling the mix, this 10-track affair sees the Leeds / London outfit – vocalist Harriet Hyde, guitarists Jim Swainston & Federica Gialanze’, bassist Dave Vachon and drummer Dom McCready –  further honing the various elements of their sound to make the hooks more barbed and the focus more collective.

Lead single ‘Moonbow’ provides the first taste of things to come, successfully combining wide-eyed wonder with true metallic weight, the whole thing supported by the aforementioned clip that delivers from the off in both intensity and colour. Watch the video here:

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Too Pure – 29th September 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

With Billy Blacklister’s recent relocation to Germany, there were likely to be questions over the future of Leeds’ masters of abrasive angular noise. The arrival a new three-tracker as part of Too Pure’s singles club series answers them: their first new material to be released since their second album, Adult, in October 2015, is absolutely fucking blistering.

It may be hard to believe, but they’ve actually gone one louder, one heavier, one more ferocious than the previous release here. A tangle over overdriven guitar wails over drumming that’s up front and pure Shellac leads the assault on Dart. The bass is brutal and Billy’s vocals are sharp and full-lunged. They’ve not gone for hooks, instead going all out for battering ram brutality, all with their trademark hint of mania.

‘Disco’ and ‘Drag’ both clock in at under three minutes (the latter only just breaking two). On the former, sinewy guitars skew angles across a nagging bass groove. Funky it isn’t. On the latter, chords stab like daggers as the whole thing lurches at pace to an abrupt halt.

Lyrically, the songs are largely impenetrable, but this isn’t music to muse to: Dart is a violent, visceral experience – and one of the best things I’ve heard all year.

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Blacklisters - Dart

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s Saturday night on the August bank holiday weekend. The students are on holiday, and it’s Leeds Festival weekend. On the face of it, it seems like madness to put a gig on in a tiny underground venue in the city centre, but in fact, it makes a lot of sense. Not only are the big festivals insanely expensive, but because commercial concerns are inevitably a priority these days, they represent an ever-narrowing musical choice. Festivals have become tediously safe, with corporate sponsorship and the same obvious, established acts playing the headline slots at every festival year on year. But it’s at gigs like this that future festival features cut their teeth. I’d take four little bands, up close and personal, at a free entry show, over the entirety of Reading and Leeds any day.

The first band up, who I assume are The Blewes (since they’re mentioned on the poster if not the event page, and they don’t say) deliver a competent set of alternative rock tunes, foraying into light funk rock mode around halfway through the set. The singer / guitarist’s wearing cherry-red 12-hole DM’s, but his butch credentials are covered by the fact he’s got his shirt, off and relentless calls of ‘show us your tiger’ from the back to the room (presumably the band’s mates) sees the bassist get his moobs out too. Unremarkable but entertaining enough, they’re more than adequate bill-proppers.

The Claxbys proved rather less entertaining. The bassist may have a Big Muff in his rack, but it doesn’t do anything to elevate the three-piece’s pedestrian pub rock. It’s only on the last song when the Scunthorpe trio kick out some beefy blues rock that things get interesting, but it’s rather too little, too late.

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The Claxbys

It turns out that the cocky kid who engaged me in conversation earlier, with seemingly good intentions, is the nineteen-year-old singer with The Bohos. It’s a crap name, but the Liverpool quartet blend psychedelic and 60s rock elements into neat packages delivered with energy. They look the part, too, and emanate a confidence befitting of a band who’ve got some big gigs including a support slot with White Lies under their belt. A critical stance would be that there’s little to differentiate them from a great many other bands, but there’s no question that they’re solid. The final song of the set, ‘I’m a Hero’ comes on like Oasis wrestling with The Cooper Temple Clause, and is the work of a band with enough assurance – or ego – to go places.

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The Bohos

Weekend Recovery are a band with definite star quality, and in singer Lauren Forster, they have a compelling focal point. She does a good line I that ‘grrrrghhh’ throat thing. She plays guitar. She has a natiral charisma. And while she may have devoted more time to practising her eye movements than her fretwork, as a unit, they’re musically tight throughout. The fact the band are playing with a stand-in bassist in the form of Joe Scotcher makes this even more impressive.

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Weekend Recovery

Yes, they’re a rock band with a keen pop sensibility, and since I first caught them in February, on the release of ‘Don’t Try and Stop Me’, they’ve honed their sound and grown in confidence through touring. Debus single ‘Focus’ is dropped early in a well-paced set, and latest single, ‘New Tattoo’, lifted from their ‘Rumours’ EP and their darkest, broodingest moment to date – showcases a capacity to combine emotional intensity with anthemic tunage. And despite the lateness of the hour (they don’t start till 11pm), they manage to hold the attention and even get some people moving down the front. They wrap up the night with a stomping rendition of ‘Don’t Try and Stop Me’, and exit triumphant. So yeah, take that, Eminem.