Posts Tagged ‘Pop’

8th November 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

Salvation Jayne’s latest offering, which follows the summer release of ‘Moves that Make the Record Skip’ which got our thumbs up, marks a substantial step both forwards and upwards.

With a nagging clean guitar in the verse and a thunderous overdrive propelling the riffy chorus, all underpinned by a chunky bass, ‘Juno’ is a savvy, sassy rock tune. Chess Smith’s in fine voice, and there’s a vintage post-punk twist in the execution of the song’s grunge dynamics.

And really, what more do you need to know? It’s got guts and is as catchy as hell, and in terms of achieving everything it’s intended to, it’s pretty much impossible to fault. Did I say Salvation Jayne are a band to watch for 2018? No? I did now.

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Salvation Jayne - Juno

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Christopher Nosnibor

Last time I saw Ming City Rockers, supporting Arrows of Love in Leeds, I wasn’t hugely impressed, and thought that if they put as much effort into the songs as into looking like rock clichés, they might get somewhere. I’m here, in fact, for grungy Australian duo Mannequin Death squad, whose debut EP was one of last year’s highlights. Anyone who caught them on the supporting tour over here, thanks to their Hull-based label, would have witnessed a treat.

Back in the UK once more, they’re gracing York with their presence on the night before dropping their first new material since the Eat, Hate, Regurgitate EP in the form of the track ‘Blue’.

Warming things up are local lads Naked Six. At one time a three-piece, they’re now reduced to a two-piece. But rather than diminishing their power, the guitar / drum combo have focused and concentrated their energy, and with the guitar signal split across two amps, there’s a real depth and solidity to their sound. And it helps that the amps are cranked up loud. It’s the best way to listen to their swaggering, ballsy, hard-edged blues rock. Seb Byford not only has a classic blues rock voice that also works well when they move into grungier territory later in the set, but he’s got a stomp that’s half Angus Young, half frenzied madman as she grinds the riffs into the stage with his heel. It’s a cracking performance.

Naked Six

Naked Six

Mannequin Death Squad certainly don’t disappoint, and it’s telling that the instrument-swapping pair have evolved a set with enough new material to be able to drop killer tracks like ‘KYMS’ from their debut EP without the set being remotely lacking.

The eight-song set, which kicks off with ‘Sick’ from the aforementioned EP boasts almost 50% new and unreleased material. For a band who are yet to really break the market, it’s a bold move, but with a debut album in the offing and so many ace tunes, it means they’re able to arrange the set based not on simply what they’ve got, but to sequence it from a selection that gives the set shape and a dynamic beyond the individual tracks. It’s clear they’ve spent time out and about, on the road, refining their sound, and they benefit from the venue’s appropriate volume to make for an attacking sound.

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Mannequin Death Squad

‘Nightmare’ marks a change of pace and style, bringing a darker hue and a bass-led dirginess to break up the succession of driving grunge tunes with killer hooks which define the band’s sound.

Swapping instruments at the set’s mid-point and again near the end (much to the appreciation of those who thought they were about to finish), they keep themselves and the crowd on their toes, and they work bloody hard to power through a full-throttle set often coming on like Live Through This era Hole, with the added punch of a spiky post-punk edge. They’re fucking awesome.

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Mannequin Death Squad

With a surly-looking female guitarist, a trashy aesthetic, and a slew of uptempo punk tunes, what’s not to like about Ming City Rockers? Regrettably, and despite the consensus of the aged punks going nuts down the front, they still suck. The lack of imagination is the issue. It’s bog-standard spirit of ‘77 4/4 punk, and like many of the bands of the era, at its heart it’s just pub rock played fast with the amps cranked up. The songs are churned out with an abundance of posturing and posing but without any real substance, or tunes, and the sameness gets tedious very quickly.

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Ming City Rockers

They introduce one song as being about playing a gig in Lowestoft where a man chased the singer and ‘tried to pin me down and fuck me, I mean proper fuck me!’ but the lyrics are articulated as something along the lines of ‘wahwahwahwahyaggch’. It’s crass, lowest-common denominator stuff, and much of what happens on stage feels extremely contrived: the walking off stage into the crowd, knocking over cymbals on the way by way of a finale is pretty much emblematic.

Filing out, a few punters could be overheard commenting that Mannequin Death Squad were the best band of the night, and those punters would be right.

"Blue" is a brand new track from Melbourne’s Mannequin Death Squad, online for 3 weeks only during their 2017 UK tour:

Thur 14th Sept – Brighton Sticky Mikes
Sat 16th Sept – London DIY Thursdays
Wed 20th Sept – Hull Adelphi
Thur 21st Sept – York Fulford Arms
Fri 22nd Sept – Manchester The Peer Hat
Tue 26th Sept – Glasgow Bloc
Thur 28th Sept – Edinburgh Opium
Sat 30th Sept – Doncaster Vintage Rock Bar
Fri 6th Oct – London Monarch
Sat 7th Oct – Stafford Redrum
Sun 8th Oct – Leeds Hyde Park Book Club

Get your lugs round it here, ‘cause it’s a belter:

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:

To coincide with the release of the album Das Ram, Rachel Mason has teamed up with Eric Leiser to produce a really rather trippy promo video for the track ‘Queen Bee’.

“I was invited to watch a beekeeper work while on an artist’s residency. The gender dynamics are so unique,” says Rachel Mason. “There is one matriarch – the Queen Bee, surrounded by a massive, buzzing population. It’s fascinating to witness the dynamic of power and to think about that on a psychological level – a female with that much power, surrounded by hundreds of workers who are there to pollinate crops, which humans depend on. They have total determination towards a single goal.”

Created by Eric Leiser, an award-winning NYC-based artist, filmmaker, animator, puppeteer, writer and holographer, the new video underlines this track’s intensity. He commented, “I was drawn to the symbolic subtext of this song. Bees are presently in danger of extinction, stemming from decades of environmental degradation. These amazing insects are among the most important creatures to humans, pollinating over 80% of all flowering plants including 70 of the top 100 food crops.”

“For me, the inner story is of a powerful female burdened with providing for the hive when she would rather pursue secret inclinations,” says Leiser. "Animating up to 50 individual bees in the dense swarm sequences was my personal challenge. As an artist I always attempt to push the animation toward new dimensions of visual complexity in hopes of creative evolution.”

Watch the video for ‘Queen Bee’ here:

17th April 2017

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: because neither music reviewing nor cranking out postmodern novels no-one reads doesn’t pay the bills, like most writers and people slugging along in the lowest reaches of the music industry – personally, I like to pretty it up by describing it as ‘operating at a grass roots level’ – I’m compelled to endure the drudge of corporate life to survive. After a bad day at the office – which is every day – I like the fact I can either escape into discovering brilliant new music. Equally, it’s immensely satisfying to savage a release just because I can’t get away with calling my boss a cunt and the rage has to find some outlet.

So here I am, unwinding with a pint of homebrew and among the email stack that’s perhaps even more terrifying than my inbox at work, and Plastic Baricades present themselves. I really shouldn’t like this: the band cite an incongruous list of influences including Radiohead, Oasis, The Shins, Biffy Clyro, Coldplay, Muse, Razorlight, and Nirvana.

They’re pitches as being ‘romantic and honest, gloomy and curious, melodic and melancholic’, a band who ‘chronicle life in the troubled yet fascinating XXI century with painstaking sincerity.’ No question: these are troubled and fascinating times. If we entered the new millennium with a sense of trepidation, there was no way anyone could have predicted the shitstorm that is Trump and Brexit and… well, the list goes on.

‘How Goldfish Grow’ is a supremely summery tune with a feelgood vibe. It’s built around a nagging guitar line and buoyant bass groove, and with a huge, hooky, singalong chorus, infectious may be a cliché but the most appropriate word going to describe ‘How Goldfish Grow’.

Plastic Barricades

Schoolkids Records – 22nd April 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

As I kid – and especially as a teenager – I thought I knew everything, and that anyone over 30 was ancient, a has-been and that it was impossible to be cool past a certain age. But even then, I envied some of the older people I knew – largely through music and record shops – who had seen punk and new wave bands I’d got into in their heyday (or at all).

Hindsight is indeed wonderful, especially when viewed from a vantage of being older and wiser – and while the early 90s felt exciting for someone who was properly old enough to go to gigs on their own on turning 18 in 1993, it’s only really now that it’s possible to really reflect on the fact that there are people in their teens and 20s who will forever curse having been born too late to experience the grunge explosion first hand.

Bettie Seveert aren’t a grunge band, but it was on going to see Dinosaur Jr – who, despite having been around a lot longer, really got to ride the crest of the grunge wave – at Nottingham’s Rock City touring ‘Where You Been’ in February 1993, that I first encountered Come, and (then) Melody Maker darlings Bettie Serveert.

24 years on from that gig and a full quarter century from their debut album Palomine, and the Amsterdam-based act deliver their tenth album: it’s a respectable and steady work-rate by any standards, and what matters is that ‘Damaged Good’ is a great alternative rock album, which displays a neat pop sensibility without in any way being cheesy, corny or lightweight. Released in Benelux last September, it’s now getting a full global release, and this is definitely a good thing. While they may not have received the press backing, or replicated the success of Palomine commercially, creatively, Bettie Serveert have still got it.

Opener ‘B-Cuz’ brings the bounce, not to mention a blend of 60s pop and punk energy and makes for a neat entry to the album. ‘Brother (in Loins)’ brings a darker, post-punk atmosphere and twists in element of 90s alt-rock to a song that has the disco pop groove stylings of Blondie. Elsewhere, there’s a purity and innocence about the vintage indie stylings of ‘Whatever Happens’, and the shuffling beat and darker undercurrents which bubble beneath the buoyant bass of ‘Unsane’ calls to mind ‘Gran Turismo’ era Cardigans. Again, this is a good thing.

In fact, there are no bad things about Damaged Good. The eight-minute ‘Digital Sin Nr 7’ finds the band indulging their more experimental and considerably noisier side, but holding it all together with a tense bass groove. ‘Love Sick’ with Peter de Bos is a driving grunge pop belter: not a song that sounds like it belongs in the 90s so much as a timeless hook-filled cracker of a tune. And herein lies the key to what makes Damaged Good not just good, but great: it’s an album of songs, and while varied in style, the quality is both high and consistent. Songs matter, and there isn’t a dud to be found here.

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