Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Hookworms, H O R S E S, Slow Skies, Anguish Sandwich

Hookworms - On Leaving

Could we almost call the second track from The Him - still what feels from the excitement around these first two tastes like an age away at November 10th - poppy? You can hear what MJ's actually singing, the production is spacious enough for the usual panicked drones to take a back seat and the Monks/psych/Nuggets influences are more readily apparent so that when the gradually building rush appears about halfway through and turns the whole thing on its jet-powered, almost Suicidey head and ends up like Crime and Neu! simultaneously.

H O R S E S - Kephyläu

More motorik. Excellent. H O R S E S - yeah, I know - claim to have invented 'Gloom Wave', though the phrase gives 4,320 results on Google. Whatever, the duo form another notch on the burgeoning electronic kosmiche influence on the Welsh underground in the wake of the likes of R.Seiliog (whose first EP and this eponymous one out next week share the Peski label in common), shifting Glass-patterned patterns and metronomic beats beating an austere semi-groove.

Slow Skies - Bodies

Another taster of the upcoming EP Keepsake, out 29th in the UK, finds a delicate but unsteady point between the atmospheric iciness of a Daughter and the desire to crash deliberately against the rocks as a way out. The ending certainly sounds storm-tossed enough.

Anguish Sandwich - Carol

The shouty-slacker no-fi smartarse Northamptonites have finally got round to an album, which they've called An Actual Thing and is out November 9th. This track contains a reference to shoplifting spray paint from Wilkinson's and is thus top notch.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

SOAK, Mega Emotion, Girlpool

SOAK - B a noBody

The already highly touted SOAK has signed to Rough Trade, as good a developmental home as any for the 18 year old Derryite whose up close and personal soul-scraping entreaties against textured backings recalls a less icy Daughter, a more grounded Cat Power or a British Isles Emiliana Torrini. There's certainly the feeling that maturity is both sneaking up on and becoming her as she works out what her life is about.

Mega Emotion - Uncomfortable

Norwich's synth-post-punk trio make a raid on the early 80s box for their new demo, patterns recalling early OMD popping around wiry basslines, half-hidden hooks and crossthreaded vocals. Retro-futuristic in the best way.

Girlpool - Jane

Girlpool are a teenage female LA duo who on this first release through Wichita exhibit twangy guitars and nothing else really showy musically, but it's all in the vocals - harmonied, proudly new-wave-feminist empowered, taking and demanding pride in your opinions sounding like breaking forcefully out of vulnerability, punctuated with proper screams, like if a Kathleen Hanna-backed K Records Smoke Fairies. A highly intriguing start.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Bears, bees and cats: Grawlix, She Keeps Bees, King Of Cats

Grawlix - Atlas Bear

This has been out since May but Haiku Salut tweeted about it the other day (and Louise is on the B-side), which is as fitting as any of being introduced to the delicate to the touch ambient soundscapes of Derby's James Machin, who may place voice and acoustic guitar front and centre but with the kind of emotional connection and backed by the kind of subtly reverberated and shifted atmospherics that those who have invested in Farewell J.R's couple of releases would get along fine with. There's an impending album entitled Good Grief, and he's supporting ver Salut at one of their semi-legendary lamp shows (of which they're playing a few around this date) at The Space @ Nottingham Contemporary on October 8th.

She Keeps Bees - Radiance

This has been around for a week and a half or so now, but slow and steady wins the race or whatever it is 'they' say. We've briefly covered She Keeps Bees before on here but this track from new album Eight Houses, out next week, sees Jessica Larrabee's smoky, aching vocal put against a delicately minimal backing that still shades in the gaps in a way Sharon Van Etten, who guests on the album, would approve of.

King Of Cats - Dead Lamb

Max Levy's distinctively tremulous take on lo-fi can take some getting into but this track from debut album Working Out, released 17th November on the Art Is Hard/Reeks Of Effort bastard child Art Reeks, has some heart behind it on a song he describes as being about "doing loads of exercise as a distraction, kids doing horrible things and preparing for a big fight".

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Hilary Woods, Slow Skies, Primetime, Hallie & The Annies

Hilary Woods - Flames

Last year Woods was trading as The River Cry and made a tremendous but overlooked album; back trading under her proper name with Night EP, out September 18th, the sound has been fleshed out from that very atmospheric, minimal sound a little, bringing in an undulating rhythm while retaining the need to give everything space to breathe, all while still introspective and reverberating within its intimacy.

Slow Skies - Ice Field

From one icy Dubliner voice to another, and funnily enough we were just wondering the other day what had become of the duo since their last EP came out last May. The answer seems to be that they were making a new one, Keepsake, out at the end of the month, from which this delicate wander across audial floes comes, placing Karen Sheridan's fragile vocal at the centre of a shimmering waking dreamscape.

Primetime - Tied Down

Right, that's more than enough glaciality. Primetime are from the Raincoats/Kleenex school of all-female post-punk effort-over-technique angularity, a sound and approach we're starting to hear spread again of late (Ravioli Me Away, No Ditching, Colour Me Wednesday) so much so that it'll officially become a scene soon. From a self-titled 7" EP that came out in July comes a scratchy, unrepentantly direct strut with hidden hooks to spare.

Hallie & The Annies - Anytime

H&tA's, as nobody will ever call them, is a name that's been bandied about in indiepop circles over the summer months still with some confusion about who's actually in them. Ellis who is Trust Fund is one, it turns out, appropriate as the Bristol-based outfit's latest recording is as on the verge of falling apart as much of his work, a soft shoe shimmering jangle that in its luscious twang and dark-hued harmonies betrays an influence from the Dunedin Sound.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Tigercats, Golden Fable, Ex Comets, yr friends

Tigercats - Junior Champion

First confirmed release for 2015! East London's infectious dreamers have signed to home of the hits Fortuna Pop! and will have second record Mysteries out in January. Well ahead of that, notice is served that they've grown up a bit, recruiting Paul Rains of Allo Darlin' as extra guitarist and bringing in a flute melody and triumphant sax parts from Terry Edwards (bringing his number of guest collaborations further into the low thousands) on a sophisticated shuffle that's still identifiably them, namechecking Bobby Fischer en route.

Golden Fable - Armour

A second album that will be out this year is Ancient Blue, out 10th November, which on this evidence sees the north Walians develop a bit of muscle behind Rebecca Palin's familiarly, enchantingly sprite-like vocals, electronics dialled back in favour of uneasily vibrating guitars, flirting in the process with darkwave or Low at their most jagged.

Ex Comets - Old Cool Red

Remember We Three And The Death Rattle? Among our tips for the year this January, they've already put that identity aside, doubled their numbers, claimed to be from Groom Lake (Area 51 to you) and emerged with a debut single, out on the 22nd, that reminds us of lost mid-00s art-rock conceptualists The Be Be See. In terms that other people might understand that means sci-fi synths, surf guitars, harmonies and underlying menace and dreaminess alike.

yr friends - Malibu

Yep, Alexei Berrow's got rent arrears/an overdraft/a council tax bill/all of the above and more* so he's got a new solo EP out. And yep, it's a Linkousesque Hole cover. Of course.

* based on previous assertions

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hookworms, Zola Blood, Casual Sex, Everything By Electricity

Hookworms - The Impasse

Regular readers will know how much of a possibly certifiable weakness we have for tracks 'recorded by MJ' at his Suburban Home studios in Leeds, but we haven't written so much about those tracks he records with MB, JN, SS and JW. Altering that state of affairs is this monster from second album The Hum, out 10th November, a wall of aggressively focused noise that with MJ's familiarly roaring over-reverbed vocals sounds tailor made for blasting the paint off venue walls.

Zola Blood - Meridian

We now have faces and names for the once-anonymous band, but in a musical sense their second track remains elusive. Possibly illusive too, given the way its beats push on and attempt to keep it perky as the synths tune downwards and the guitar plucks its way to the depths.

Casual Sex - A Perfect Storm

OOH, CAREFUL GOOGLING THAT NAME, SIR! We'd put 'Glasgow band' on the end, that'd help. After a year spent touring with Franz Ferdinand and playing SXSW comes a 7" on the Sandberg brothers (of Wake The President fame)' We Can Still Picnic label that has the poise of playful art-rock with the riffs of a touring monster and the beat of a Casio.

Everything By Electricity - Abyss

Straight out of the synth-dreampop handbook, if held upside down, comes a London trio sporting a wash of plangent synths, pulsating beats, a rush of treated guitar and a vocal that's not too distance from Jonas of Mew's awkward falsetto. It doesn't shimmer as much as flood.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Joanna Gruesome, Interpol, Tyrannosaurus Dead, Broken Arm

Joanna Gruesome - Psykick Espionage

Starting to suspect JoGru aren't going to release any more albums, just loads of new tracks on split singles. This one is with Perfect Pussy, and while no release date has yet been confirmed it'll feature a new track and cover by each on 7" plus a 24 page comic book. It's another reliving of their sweetness in the melee crossed with bug-eyed anger with subtlety, beginning like a runaway freight train with Alanna clinging on like here and now it means everything to her, and it probably does.

Interpol - Ancient Ways

Haven't heard them in this form for a while ahead of new album El Pintor, out 8th September. Paul Banks' lyrics are as inscrutable as ever, the noise around him focused, vaguely throbbing and pleasingly itchy driven by a rolling bassline gathering plenty of moss.

Tyrannosaurus Dead - Local Bullies

T-Dead have already been down the JoGru split route and have progressed onto an album, Flying Ant Day, out 3rd November via Odd Box. Produced by the usually reliable Rory Attwell, this switches from quiet wistful verses borrowing from the early 90s US underground to huge loud messy chorus, all while retaining misleadingly sweetened boy-girl harmonies. And it namechecks the RSPB.

Broken Arm - Guilty Conscience

Speaking of much-admired knob twiddlers, seriously, can MJ* consider putting us on commission at least if we're going to write about so many records he's recorded? From Leeds - the city they're all calling "the new Cardiff, at least as far as the number of new bands from there STN are featuring goes" - Broken Arm's debut album Life Is Short is coming out on 15th September via natural home of noisy dissonance Gringo Records, lashing on the power chord riff and then after a Mudhoney fashion slathering it in sludge, distortion, outbreaks of noise and short temperament.

(* Who of course also produced Joanna Gruesome's Weird Sister. See, everything's connected. Except Interpol. Bastards.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Before it's too late: Post War Glamour Girls, Heavy Petting Zoo

Post War Glamour Girls - Lolong

The other half of a double A side for the Too Pure Singles Club - we covered Gustave back here - finds PWGG going full goth, or at least a point somewhere between Bauhaus and the Gun Club. Billy Mason-Wood of Blacklisters takes up co-vocals, the band explaining the concept of the 7" thus: "Billy plays the part of 'Lolong' who is the largest crocodile in captivity and he's having a conversation through the bars of his cage/prison cell with 'Gustave' who is the suspected largest crocodile in the wild and trying to convince him that he should help him escape and they should work as a team." Right you are, then. PWGG are touring in mid-September, including on the 23rd a date for our promotional arm at Leicester Firebug.

Heavy Petting Zoo - Inherent Vice

Their Too Pure Singles Club 7" has been out for weeks but we've just realised we never wrote about the B-side, and given Nemone played it on 6 Music today and we've just seen them slay at Green Man ahead of a BBC Introducing stage slot at Reading (Sunday) and Leeds (Friday) - says here they clash with You Me At Six, The Kooks and Boys Noize, so it's not like you'd be missing anything - better late than never. Waltz tempo, spy guitars, Amy coming on with menaces, a cocksure swagger with a sharpened switchblade behind the back.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Allo Darlin', David Thomas Broughton, The School, DELS

Allo Darlin' - Romance And Adventure

The first single from third album We Come From The Same Place, out 3rd October, shares a title with a Josie Long show, which may not be a coincidence, not just because of a mutual admiration but Elizabeth Morris' lyrical worldview sharing a certain faux-naive belief in the restorative power of companionship through adventure. The song chimes effervescently like something assured in its essential indiepop timelessness, just like their songs tend to.

David Thomas Broughton & Juice Vocal Ensemble - In Service

The second taster for Sliding The Same Way, out 22nd September, the collaboration between Otley's sonorously beauteous surrealist and the experimental acapella trio is as uneasy, in a good way, as you might expect as Broughton gets involved in a tragic pub brawl and Juice dissonantly ululate.

The School - Just Let Me Be Here

The B-side, actually, of the Cardiff post-retro octet's contribution to WIAIWYA's 7777777 singles club, but it's the side we prefer so there, as there's something that suits the season about their not actually girl group but melodically inclined that way sweetness and light that isn't that sweet or light.


Man the lifeboats, STN's going to write about some rap! Kieren Gallear has been trading as DELS since 2010; second album Petals Have Fallen, out 3rd November, showcases his peculiarly urgent yet laidback style and headspinning lyrical Mobius strips. Michacu and Kwes are at the production desk for this track which essentially means the beat stops, starts and turns off into a different road type and the bassline sounds like a malfunctioning carburettor.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Worth the wait: Maybeshewill, Slum Of Legs, Wyldest, Flowers

Maybeshewill - Fair Youth

The title track of their fourth album out August 28th finds them in less brooding, almost bouncy mood by their usual standards. There's still the gradual post-rock build, twinkly breakdowns and big anthemic explosions, but in between come brass fanfares, stuttering electronics and politi-folkie who we don't think we've somehow ever mentioned on here before Grace Petrie on the very un-Grace Petrie-seeming instrument of accordion. They're touring China next month. Stitch that, Wham!

Slum Of Legs - Begin To Dissolve

We're tempted to think that the Brighton sextet are the Desperate Bicycles of post-riot grrrl or somesuch, DIY righteousness held together by audio string, but inevitably that's the trojan horse under which everything - metronomic drums, violin solos, lo-fi fuzz, lyrics based on curiosity and questioning - gets thrown in until it sounds like the Fall with a female singer deliberately smashed up and pieced back together skew-wiff, at which it collapses in on itself. A fascinating, singular debut single.

Wyldest - Wanders

Known as Wildest Dreams until... well, this upload, the duo recently won the Green Man Rising competition to open the main stage next Friday, following the great Haiku Salut's triumph in the same competition last year. Wyldest deal in tingling dreampop of a Beach House/I Break Horses stripe with a hint of Warpaint, drifting guitar lines and woozy synth effects sustaining a floating vocal in mid-air.

Flowers - Joanna

The first single from the trio's debut album Do What You Want To, It's What You Should Do (out 8th September on Fortuna POP!) sheds the fuzz and feedback of their earlier recordings and gigs - no doubt producer Bernard Butler's doing - to emerge as a more earthbound Sundays, lifted by the emotive upper register of Rachel Kenedy.