Posts Tagged ‘Single Review’

1st July 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Bristolian punk foursome CUFFS have been kicking out the jams – and the meaty, gut-busting riffs – since 20019, and they sure as hell haven’t let anything like a global pandemic slow their progress. It may have stalled their gigging activity for a while, where, on the live circuit in the south they’ve been building a reputation for their ‘chaotic’ live shows, but they’ve maintained a stream of hard-hitting singles which, as they put it, are ‘fuelled by angst and social frustration’. Oh yes, we feel it. At least, anyone who’s not on £80K a year does – especially if you believe plants on Question Time who spout off about people being on £80K not even being in the top 50% of earners, let alone the top five. Of course, such embarrassing outbursts only highlight just how divided the nation is between the haves and the have-nots, and how utterly fucking deluded and completely out of touch the wealthy are when they cry poverty because they have to drop one of their quarterly skiing holidays.

Listening to this on the day it was announced that British Gas owners Centrica saw their half-yearly profits increase five-fold to a staggering £1.34BN, against a backdrop of mass strikes from rail workers, barristers, and, imminently teachers, exam boards, health workers and more, because they’re so sick of being shafted and having to resort to food banks, everything comes together with a sickening thud. Profit before people, guns before butter, every time: the air is as hot with anger as it is climate change, and something has to give.

‘Cash Cow’ may contain a few obvious rhymes among its couplets, and even a couple that are awkwardly shoehorned, but they’re delivered with such passion and sincerity you forgive them in an instant. The guitars are a treble-mesh buzz, and ‘Cash Cow’ is a raw, blistering sonic assault, a blast of trad-punk but with a hard and hardcore edge and played with a furious ferocity that grabs you by the throat and screams at you to fucking listen. Wise up! The mega-rich are screwing us all. It’s time for change.

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29th July 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

There’s something quite unique about the Nordic / Scandinavian strain of contemporary post-punk. It’s not easy to pinpoint, nothing you can really put your finger on. But there’s something in that balancing of light and dark, and it’s something I probably became subconsciously attuned to at an early age, listening to A-Ha in the mid-80s when I was still in primary school. I would only later come to realise just how strong the currents of darkness and melancholy ran through their precise pop songs, and that this was what the enduring appeal was years later.

Sleep Kicks don’t sound like A-Ha, of course, although the same basic musical elements are there, not least of all something of an anthemic 80s feel (although that’s more In the vein of The Alarm or Simple Minds and bands with a more overtly mainstream ‘rock’ style). ‘No Chains’ picks up were they left off last year, and they’ve been honing the contrasting elements. The song is dark, but also light, with layers of guitar and a full production that gives it an expansive feel, but it is, also, without question, a killer pop tune with an immense chorus that’s bold and uplifting, with a sweeping choral backing, which makes for a big, fat, juicy earworm.

AA

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22nd July 2022

James Wells

With their second single since whittling down to a duo, The Virginmarys continue to show that limited personnel and permutations of instruments does not equate to limited ideas or musical power.

‘You’re A Killer’ is unashamedly political, and articulates the anger of the many who aren’t millionaires and billionaires, coupled with the anxiety that pervades all aspect of life right now: ‘Working my bones and still earning a fraction / I’m hooked to my phone like a fatal distraction’ is as succinct a summary as you’ll hear all year, and that’s some nice wordplay in action too.

And it’s all blasted home in three minutes of jittery, choppy, raucous punk ‘n’ roll. The fire in their bellies rages hard and the chorus is 100% hook. There are hints of eighties rock in the mix too: imagine The Cult circa Sonic Temple played in the spirit of ’77.

The difference between the late 70s and early 80s and now is that Thatcher was at least up front and the working classes knew they were being shafted. Now, people are – literally – dying -starving as they queue at foodbanks and wait ten hours for ambulances and entire days in A&E while our leaders brazenly lie, and in recent years, the lies have become more threadbare and the bodies continue to pile high, heaped on the pyre of democracy as we sleepwalk into fascism.

The Virginmarys suck it all in and spit it out in a full-throttle guitar-driven blast of anger: global warming, the rich travelling on their jollies while the nation is sedated by the media, the new opium of the people, toward engineered social division.

The outlook is bleak, but this isn’t a bleak song: it’s a proper, raging protest song. Listen up, and wake up.

AA

The Virginmarys Artwork

15th July 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Marking a thematic link to their lockdown project recording as Videostore, Nathan & Lorna continue to show their love of the retro, of the nostalgia, and specifically of the 80s with the second instalment of their ‘80s Actor’ series (released simultaneously with ‘Johnny’).

Shamefully, it took me a while to piece this one together, as I didn’t clock the concept, and simply because while I very much did my growing up in the 80s (being born in ‘75, I feel I lived through the best of the 80s at a good time, seeing the original Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies and Ghostbusters at the cinema, while Duran Duran and A-Ha were in the charts and on the radio (and yes, Kate Bush, too), I was simply ever drawn by anything featuring River Phoenix, and so wasn’t all that distraught in 93. But I’ve subsequently come to realise his iconic worth.

The song itself is something of a departure, the drum machine backed off and pumping away metronomically beneath a shoegazy drone. It’s heartmelting and melancholy, and as such, captures the feeling among fans, as well as conjuring a perfect pool of nostalgic sentiment that’s non-specific, corresponding with that fleeing ache, that momentary tug, where you find yourself yearning for… well, you don’t quite know what, or why, just that something lost in that time past. And all you can do is go with the flow…

AA

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22nd July 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

If ever there was a song so steeped in idealisation and escapism, Miss Kill’s ‘Drive’ sets new heights. It isn’t that they’ve ditched their grungy alt-rock influences, but this new single sees the duo, consisting of Alannah and Felicity Jackson in a much more reflective mood.

As they pitch it, it’s more Chris Isaak and Tom Petty than their usual touchstones of Hole, Placebo, or Pearl Jam, and in context it makes sense. It’s certainly got the easy, breezy, radio-friendly airiness of that classic Americana, but it also balances grungy bite with pop tones in a way that’s reminiscent of ‘Malibu’.

‘Asked my babe if he’d come for a ride yeh. I really just wanna get in and drive Away / Through the sun with the music blaring / Driving past I got everyone staring / I don’t think we’re ever coming back’, they sing.

It’s that perfect image, that dream, of driving away, of cruising into the sunset, never to return, to something new and something better. It’s just like the movies, just like in the songs on the radio. Freedom! Liberation! Life!

Who doesn’t fantasise about this ever? Who doesn’t want to ditch their boring ordinary life and crap job and simply live life like a fairytale? Or, better still, a road trip? To jump in a car and simply drive is the absolute epitome of the fantasy of leaving everything behind.

Reflecting on the reality is depressing, but this offers hope and prospects, like it could happen. It’s not for me to say that it couldn’t, because well, know knows? Anyway, it’s three and a quarter minutes of uplifting, melodic time out of life where you can believe in the dream.

AA

Miss Kill - Artwork

Art of Fact Records – 15th July 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

The second single lifted from the forthcoming album Null, due for release in September, is basalt slabs of rock-solid riffery of the kind KEN Mode are worshipped for by their fanbase – and deservedly so.

It crashes in hard, grinding low-end dominating, before the guitar splinters treble over the grumbling bass that drives the verse. Jesse Matthewson’s hard, shouted vocal style is savage, and the vocals sit fairly low in the mix; the splinters that do cut through are cutting ‘I’ve got / nothing more to say / You’ve got no reason to listen’. As the band put it, it’s ‘an existential crisis, set to music’, and ‘in Matthewson’s words, the song illustrates a turning point where one’s disappointment transforms into resignation.’ It all adds to the overall nihilistic force of this beast of a tune.

If both the production and the accompanying promo video serve to convey a sense of the band’s energy and sheer power live, then the UNSANE T-shirt Jesse’s wearing provides a fair reference point for this slice of sonic savagery. That said, it does signify a shift from predecessor, Loved (which still has one of the most memorable album covers of recent years). It’s a little less frenetic, less manic than, say, ‘He Doesn’t Feel Pain Like He Ought To’, and the sound is geared towards being denser, heavier rather than harsher. And it packs a mean punch alright.

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KEN mode will hit the road in September for a string of Canadian shows, followed by a headlining slot at No Coast Fest in Denton, TX, alongside Metz, Young Widows, and more. Stand by for news of more touring.

Sept 23 – Winnipeg, MB, CA @ The Good Will Social Club – w/ Vile Creature, Mares of Thrace

Sept 24 – Saskatoon, SK, CA @ Amigos Cantina – w/ Vile Creature, Mares of Thrace

Sept 25 – Calgary, AB, CA @ Palomino Smokehouse – w/ Vile Creature, Mares of Thrace

Sept 26 – Edmonton, AB, CA @ Starlite Room Temple – w/ Vile Creature, Mares of Thrace

Oct 30 – Denton, TX @ No Coast Fest – w/ Metz, Young Widows

Scruff of the Neck

Christopher Nosnibor

False Heads preface the arrival of their new album, Sick Moon, which is due at the end of September with the single ‘Thick Skin’, produced by Frank Turner.

Front man Luke Griffiths tells it straight when discoursing on the single’s inspiration and purpose, saying ‘“Thick Skin’ is about how much I f****** hate the current political discourse. To me, politics seems to be completely and utterly middle-class from left to right – class has been seemingly removed from a lot of left-wing politics.”

It’s hard to argue when the leader of the Labour opposition, supposedly the party of the workers, is a knighted ex-lawyer. Small wonder the workers are applauding RMT union head Mick Lynch as the voice of the people, since he’s the only one who’s really telling it like it is, and using his platform opportunities to explain just why everything is so fucked. No-one else is talking about how wages aren’t the issue in the “cost off living crisis”, it’s the fact that wages are being suppressed to preserve profits. People are struggling while CEOs rake in staggering salaries and bewildering bonuses and shareholders reap megadividends at the expense of the poor cunts who do the work and so effectively make those profits possible.

Griffiths goes on: ‘It’s also about social media politics. That kind of rage and vitriol is some form of lashing out for mental health problems and it’s like a form of addictive behaviour. I understand this, dealing with depression and having a history of drug abuse, and I understand how difficult it is to not let that rage inside you come out in vicious ways. But I just feel like social media has allowed a million different forms of religion, nationalism and tribalism to be completely normalised. Our brains are rotting and there is no hope, and every time I feel like there is I’m stung again.’

Again, it’s relatable on a mass scale. Religion is no longer the opium of the people: it’s social media, and it’s divisive, crushing, and debilitating.

‘Thick Skin’ packs all of this into two minutes and forty of guitar-driven grunge with a radio-friendly edge that sits between Asylums and DZ Deathrays, in that it balances attack with melody, big guitars with strong hooks. It’s a cracker!

AA

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It’s Creation Baby – 1st July 2022

From Cat SFX’s social media – or specifically, Cat Speranza as the face and embodiment of CAT SFX, you could be forgiven for forgetting that there’s a band happening. But why should all social media be about promotion, about the dayjob? For many artists, life inform art, and so the everyday – the shit, the weirdness, the boredom – is all integral to the making of the art.

Since their inception a couple of years or so ago, the London four-piece have had a blistering run of singles, and now look to cement their reputation as an exciting band on the rise with their debut EP, from which title track ‘Binman’ is the lead cut.

It’s an edgy post-punk effort, starting out with a taut, jittery verse with hints of early PJ Harvey before settling into a solid groove that nods to the musical stylings of Garbage, as well as The Jesus and Mary Chain circa Automatic and 80s pop era Psychedelic Furs.

‘I’m no good / never said that I was, never said that I could’, Cat sings in the breezy chorus. It sound so effortless, almost throwaway – which is fitting, since this is a song about kicking out the trash, when you are the trash, but at the same time, carries so much honesty, so much sincerity, so much realism, it’s impossible not to be completely hooked, completely sold. Because this, THIS is what perfect pop is. It’s not flimsy, throwaway, disposable, meaningless: pop resonates, grabs you, gets into your head with a catchy tune but at the same time hits you and stays with you. Cat SFX know this – they don’t say it, they just deliver it.

AA

Binman

1st July 2022

James Wellls

Third Lung have been kicking out singles at a remarkable pace over the last year or so, and continue their forward trajectory with ‘Lo Hi’, a song that’s cut from the core of emotional turmoil that’s likely relatable to many. ‘Lo-Hi’ is about how people can find themselves ‘alone not knowing how to move forward. Until, they find the courage to ask and faith in their friends and loved ones to utter the 3 most beautiful words, I Need Help.’

That those words are beautiful, I might question, and would probably disagree with – they’re clunky, awkward, and to many of us, embarrassing, uncomfortable, desperate, a last resort, an admission of failure. But, as the band say, ‘One of life’s most encouraging yet hardest lessons to learn is to trust the people closest to you, with you’.

There’s nothing clunky, awkward, embarrassing, or uncomfortable about the song, though. ‘Lo-Hi’ straddles influences from U2 to The Associates; it’s another big-hitter with arena potential, and surely it’s only a matter of time before they achieve it.

Third Lung Artwork

19th June 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Having put their lockdown Argonaut side-project Videostore to bed with a one-off live show, Nathan and Lorna Argonaut have resurfaced under a new guise. It’s similar to the Videostore format – simple, lo-fi indie, and if there was ever any question over their no-budget ‘bedroom’ credentials, then the video for this first offering – which is as much Toyah and Robert as anything else – is all the evidence you could want.

It’s neat, simple, catchy, and as usual exploits the contrasting dual vocals over fizzy guitars and aa primitive drum machine. The lack of pretence is disarming, and it’s a solid tune – and clocking in at under a minute and a half, it really is as no-frills as 3p beans and 19p loaves of bread back in ‘95.