SLEEP: The Sciences

20 04 2018

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Back in 2014, one of the loudest and let’s face it GREATEST bands of all time released a little record called The Clarity, however Sleep’s last “proper full length” record came out well over a decade ago. The absolutely phenomenal Dopesmoker. Sleep is a band that I don’t just listen to casually. I need to know nothing/ no one will distract me. Sure I’m listening to The Sciences at work on my dinner break, but I have the volume on a suitable setting which means I’m not deafening myself at work. I’ll save that for when I’m at home.

The Sciences is brilliantly loud, as ever. It’s such a great record and of course they’d release it on 4/20- there’s no better band to do so really. If I was someone who was just getting into Sleep and The Sciences was my first time listening to them, well I’d be pretty happy. My mind would be truly blown. I’m getting the same kind of goosebumps I got when I first heard them a long, long time ago. The Sciences has been released on Jack White’s Third Man label. Please don’t be a snob and think Sleep have gone soft on us or have turned the volume down. They’ve done the total opposite. They’ve got louder and braver with the new music, and it just makes you want to sit in the shade playing this as loud as possible.

Sonic Titan is one of my favourites so far. I’ve only listened to the record a handful of times so far, but I can safely say that Sleep releasing a surprise record (and maybe a generous middle finger to Record Store Day) today is one of the best things to happen this year, musically. I honestly wasn’t really anticipating a new record from them so soon, and to finally have something new to totally immerse myself in for a very long time has made me incredibly happy.

Al’s vocals on this record are as sharp and as brutal as ever. I’ve been fascinated with his voice for so long (in both Sleep and OM) and to hear something new from them, and to really take in how captivating his vocals are is nothing short of amazing. I love the way Sleep make you feel like you are being lulled into a false sense of security, then they just fry your brains with the sheer loudness and boldness of the songs. Sonic Titan lasts around 12 minutes, and you feel like you have been captured. It feels like you’re in a film or something that isn’t part of you. They pull and rip you apart with this song, and they do it so effortlessly. How can three people make this much noise? Very, very easily.

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The sheer heaviness in their music clearly has no signs of ever fading away, and I think that is part of why us fans are so loyal and so obsessed with them. They just give you this perfect escape route in your mind which obliterates everything you’ve known before. Sleep is comforting but will make you feel on edge. You don’t know what is going to happen next. You don’t know if there is going to be a tame spell or if they are going to just annihilate your ears. The thing is, it’s so enjoyable. You couldn’t tear yourself away if you tried. Why would you even want to?!

Sleep are a band that can soothe any mood that you’re in (much like the act of sleep) and they are such a powerful band. They don’t make you feel like it is a chore to listen to a 12 minute song. They make you feel like you are part of something exceptionally grand. The songs are as big and as loud as ever. The songs feel like treasured moments that you want to last for all of time. 12 minutes just doesn’t seem long enough.

Antarcticans Thawed is an absolute beast of a song. It’s slightly under 15 minutes and it builds up like a dramatic film score. It’s the kind of record that you HAVE to play in order. Do not skip songs. Commit to listening and investing in this record. Absorb every emotion they hurl at you as you listen to these songs. Go with them on this journey into the wild and unknown. It’s an otherworldly pleasure that cannot be taken from you, so take it all in.

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TEEN CREEPS: Birthmarks

18 04 2018

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There are some excellent things to have come from Belgium, and Teen Creeps are most certainly up there as being one of the greats. Their snarling Garage Rock sound is nothing short of addictive, and I’m going to use the last 20 minutes of my dinner break to tell you why.

Birthmarks is their latest release, and I’m fairly sure it is their first full length record. It consists of 9 songs that have been created to just melt your brain and make you do things others would question. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. The record opens with the brilliant, Sidenote which consists of the gnarling roar of “I wanna be the last thing on your mind.” A simple but massively effective lyric that is perfect on the opening of the record. It is like a ritualistic call to come listen and invest in this record. Birthmarks have an effortlessly obscure sound that may remind some listeners (musically, not vocally) or early Placebo. There is something about the guitars that hurls you way back to hearing Placebo for the first time. Again, this is by no means a bad thing. For someone like me, it’s bloody great.

 

Teen Creeps are an exceptional band, and to finally have a record that really shows us what they are made of and how powerful they are is super cool. How I feel about them is how I feel about Küken. I’ve written about them loads because their take on Garage Rock and Punk is mind-blowing. Teen Creeps in some way are a little tamer, but lyrically Teen Creeps have this real urgency and rawness to their words. They are sung as if their lives depend on it, and when a band can do that it makes you really cling on harder to what you hear.

The record has been out for nearly two weeks now, and I can confidently tell you that it is one of the most brutal and loud records you’ll hear all year. It’s got everything you’d want from a proper angsty record. The loudness is so powerful, and it really does grip you. It’s like a loving chokehold (I have no idea if such thing exists, but let’s pretend it does for argument’s sake!)

Mercury is one of their softer songs, and I use that word as loosely as I possibly can. It is one of the quieter moments on the record, but it does pick up perfectly. Then it leads effortlessly timed into Will which is one of my favourites on the record. But, as usual, I will change my mind after my next listen. I’ve mainly listened to this record solidly the past few days to really get a feel for the record. It is a record that you connect with. Maybe it’s because you’ve got some rage to get out, or maybe you just love hearing something so wonderfully loud.

Good Intensions is over 5 minutes of pure bliss. I guess we’re all feeling better now the sun has made a guest appearance, and this is the perfect song to gaze off into the sunset too. It’s got something really special, and (stay with me on this) romantic feel to it. It reminds me of the early Shoegaze sound found in bands like Lush and Slowdive. It’s a beautifully crafted song. I think it’s probably now my joint favourite. I told you I’d change my mind! But I won’t change my mind on this being one of the most exciting records I’ve heard so far.

Teen Creeps are touring the record close to home and in Holland, so maybe treat yourself to a weekend away or a well-earned holiday to see this excellent three-piece band from Ghent.

Birthmarks is out now on PIAS Belgium. You can buy the record from any decent record store, kids! And if they don’t have it, make them order you a copy right now!

Play loud. Play often and let this fantastic debut record blow your mind.





THE PIXIES: Surfer Rosa.

22 03 2018

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Thirty years ago (I’m a day late, sorry) The Pixies released their debut record, Surfer Rosa. I was only 2 years old when it came out, but when I heard it for the first time- I think I was in my late teens, I remember being totally in awe with the vocals. For me, Black Francis has one of the most distinctive voices in music- irrespective of genre. His voice is unlike anything else. His vocals with Kim Deal’s echoing in the background is one of the best things to have ever happened in music.

Surfer Rosa is an excellent debut record. Not many bands have ever had this kind of sound right away. When you listen to it, you think you’re listening to a band who have been doing this for decades. You don’t feel as if you are listening to a debut record. I love how the songs are so loud, they beautifully chaotic and played in such an urgent manner. There is this divine passion in every single song, and when you listen to them every single reason as to why you love this band just come back to you.

The record lasts just a little over half an hour, but in that half an hour you’ve got songs that have the power to absolutely change your life. I am so sure that a lot of bands I love have been influenced by this record, and from hearing songs like Gigantic for the first time. The record initially didn’t do well, but over time people started to pay attention. I still don’t feel that The Pixies get the credit they deserve at all. They are obviously one of the greatest bands of all time, and I love that no genre can define them. The Pixies are in their own world with their music, and Black Francis is most definitely a genius. There is something about his words that just leave you in jaw-dropping awe of him.

We all know the phenomenal Where Is My Mind? is one of their most popular songs, but I really don’t think the lyrics are praised enough. Last year/year before my panic attacks were starting to have a massive toll on everything I was doing, and I had a handful of songs I had to listen to that would sort of calm me down a little. I definitely found a lot of comfort in this song. I related to the title a lot, ha. I found a lot of comfort in music. It always has been, and always will be my safety net. The Pixies and Beach House became my crutch- more than usual.

I love that Where Is My Mind? has delicate moments but the guitar and drums are so heavy, and Kim’s bass playing on this is out of this world. It always has been. She is such a great bassist. The Pixies have always consisted of really strong and powerful musicians. I think when you’re in a band with someone as influential as Black Francis, you can’t be anything other than strong and powerful. Maybe he brings it out of them. They all bring it out of each other, really.

Songs like Tony’s Theme that don’t even last 2 minutes have this Punk feel to them, and it is definitely one of The Pixies songs that show just how diverse and distinctive The Pixies sound it. It also shows how Black Francis’ voice is so wild and unlike anything else. The song is just this rowdy and chant-like groove that has you singing a long like you would with a Ramones songs. The vocals at the end remind me of the Ramones slightly. Kim and Black Francis’ vocals on this song again, shows just how brilliant they are together.

You’ve got songs like Vamos which is just an insane song. It’s like stepping into the mind of an eccentric genius and seeing how they work. It is for me, one of the best moments on the record. When you play it, you can’t really believe that it is 30 years old. It has such a new feel to it. The Pixies may have formed over 30 years ago, but there is something about them that makes you feel like they have just started. I reckon it is because nobody else sounds like them. Everything they have ever done, and still do is just mind-blowing. Vamos is probably one of my favourite songs by them, and it is definitely my favourite from Surfer Rosa. I love the chaotic sound so much.

What I’ve always loved and massively admired about The Pixies is that they can just do a whole bunch of crazy stuff on their records, and it just sounds amazing. If anyone else tried to do it, it’d just be a mess. I know I’ve said it many times here, but they are such an influential band and Surfer Rosa was just a taste of what they were going to do. Three decades on, and it is still a hugely popular and well respected record. So many have citied it as the force that got them wanting to start a band. It is one of those records that stay with you, and every time you listen to it you get that same excitement taking over you. It always feels brand new when you listen to it.

Surfer Rosa may not have been an instant ground-breaker, but over time it most certainly became such an important record. The Pixies are a band that have to be played loud. They just need to be heard, after all this time they still need to be heard.

We will never get a record like this. It is one of those records that is so sacred and you can’t imagine yourself feeling this way about any other band or record. But then you delve deeply into The Pixies records and you hear it. You hear the genius even more with every record. But there is something about Surfer Rosa. Maybe it is because it’s the debut, or maybe because it truly is a ma





CORPORATIONPOP: Meet Me By The Viaduct.

18 03 2018

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I have a few days left in London, then it is off to the place that’s always felt like home. Manchester. Home to some of the best music and poets. Home. It will soon be my home. I’ve wanted to move there since I finished university. Things got in the way. I’ve properly been trying for nearly 2 years now to move there, and now it is happening. I should be scared, I should be nervous. I’m excited. There’s no better person to write about to cement my move than corporationpop aka Elise Hadgraft.

Her words remind me of a Sunday evening, dreading the working week. Her humour and observations are absolutely brilliant. Her voice/accent truly make these songs a joy to listen to. I listen to her words and her way with words, and it gives off this homely feel to it. You feel as if you’re sat down with your best mate in the pub/working men’s club drinking lukewarm beer or sat at home nursing a good cup of teas. Her words are comforting yet uncomfortable. Bleach evokes this. Then you have the beautiful observations of Stockport in the effortlessly brilliant Seven Miles South.

I’m not someone who can always write without being biased, so everything I’m writing about the new corporationpop release is obviously going to be one-sided, but then you listen to songs like Ted Hughes and it is so obvious how amazing Elise is. She’s got this incredible way with words, and you cannot help be in awe of her. The way she writes, the way she presents her words are so full of real life and raw references. References that are so wonderfully Northern. It makes you feel so at home and more aware of what it around you.

Meet Me By The Viaduct is such a fantastic EP that makes the mind wander. You may never get to the place where Elise is, but that’s okay. Maybe you’re watching her watching the world go by and creating it all here- as corporationpop. This EP is the perfect imagery of Northern life, and it is fantastic. I won’t do the North/South divide here- it doesn’t need to be done. It’s obvious what is better! Something I absolutely adore about this EP is the way that Elise says her words. The way she can effortlessly (I know I say it a lot- sorry!) put you where she is, and her way of doing so goes beyond being just words.

It is such a powerful body of work, and her words should be studied by kids at school. Honestly, she has this greatness to her that should be explored by all and learnt. Imagine being in school and having something like Elise’s words being shown to you, and you get to express what they mean to you. I’m pretty sure more kids would be turned on to poetry. And maybe they would turn off their phones.

I love the bitterness in Ted Hughes and how it comes across. I love how these words feel like something expressed after someone has just pissed you off too much you have to write a song about them, but in a way that holds a lot of wit, wisdom and a nice chunk of disdain.

This is the second corporationpop release but by no means does it play into to the “difficult second album” myth. If anything, it totally squashes it. In just 4 songs, you are taken to a place that feels like Corrie circa the 60s mixed with bus stop musings and observations.

I truly haven’t done Meet Me By The Viaduct any justice, so it’s probably best if you pre-order it here: https://oddboxrecords.bandcamp.com/album/meet-me-by-the-viaduct and find out for yourself.

Meet Me By The Viaduct will be released on 20th April via Odd Box Records.





METRO VERLAINE: Cut-Up.

16 03 2018

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France is home to some of my favourite musicians such as Dusty Mush and Dr Chan. It was the home to one of the greats, Serge Gainsbourg. The king of song-writing. It is also home to one of the best new (ish) bands around- Metro Verlaine.

Their record Cut-Up came out today, and I have been waiting for a long time to hear this record. It is produced by the wonderful human that is Charlie from Crocodiles. You can hear his influence slightly in this record, and it is a brilliant thing. The record is loud in all the right places and it is perfectly created.

It is truly an exceptional record that just doesn’t get old. Everything about Cut-Up is so effortlessly powerful and just mind-blowing.

For me, it is always about the build up to a record that summons my interest. I’ve watched their progress with this record on various social media platforms, and it really does look like the band and Charlie had such fun making this record. That comes through on the songs, even on songs like Hate- which is really great and brutal. I feel a lot of love for the song Manchester. Probably because I’m moving there next week!

Some of the songs are sung in French, and for the most part I don’t know what’s going on. But I don’t care! It sounds so beautiful. The vocals are full of this determination and passion, and the way it comes through with everything that’s going on in the songs is amazing. I truly cannot get enough of this record. I love how I can hear influences from bands I love, and bands that Metro Verlaine love in the songs. At times you can hear the heaviness of Joy Division. At times you can pick up on the eeriness of The Cure and there is something about The Stone Roses that flows throughout. I think it’s the connection between them all, and this steady rhythm that flows through the record.

I really hope Metro Verlaine tour this record, and bring it to the UK. There is something really special about this record that makes you want to experience it in a live setting. I think the song Ballade Sauvage is one of the songs that just HAS to be witnessed live. There is something so passionately dark about this song. It’s got this ethereal build up within it and it takes over the mind, soul and body. And whatever else you’ve got for the taking. Crocodile is a song that I can’t wait to see live too. It’s got this really raw feel to it, and you feel like you’re being smacked in the face over and over. But it feels good. You want them to keep doing it over and over again. Until your body and soul feel exhausted. You’re just a sucker for the music, man!

It’s a record you can enjoy in any setting. You can blast it as loud as possible whilst at home, you can have it ringing in your ears as you wander the streets. However loud you want to play it and wherever you want to play it, it’ll just make you feel good. It’s such a fantastic record, and with each listen there is definitely more and more to love about it. Cut-Up is a record that I know I am going to keep going back to. It sounds like something from the past but also something from the future that we are unaware of yet.

It has such a special and unique feel to it. It’s loud in all the right places, it has tender moments when needed. It’s like a sleepy Sunday afternoon- you just don’t want this record to ever end.





FREEZ.

10 03 2018

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I’m not counting the days or anything, but I am leaving London for good soon. FINALLY. I can’t wait to not work just to pay rent, which is what I do now and it is no way to live. Anyway, with that aside it is important I find a band to pack to. A band to let my mind drift off rather than sort my life out. I’ve packed my books away already. Three big boxes full. I need a band that can make such a dull task less boring and less irritating. I give you the finest band from Northern Italy, and that band is Freez.

Freez are an incredible band from Schio which is in the Vicenza province. They are 4 friends who make music that send your mind and body off into a whirl. They are easily one of the best bands from Italy right now. I massive rate this band and also Beat Degeneration (who I’ve already written about.) Freez have this brilliant and effortlessly cool sound. There’s nobody else quite like them, and what I really love about their sound is that it just makes you happy right away. The lyrics at times may ooze the boredom of every day life but nothing is ever perfect, and they create the perfect balance of this. Their sound isn’t heavy but there is definitely some Punk undertones in their sound. They do make you feel like hanging out at the beach doing nothing all day, and that’s something I really enjoy getting from music.

The vocals are distorted in all the right places and are mixed beautifully with a relaxed guitar sound. It’s such a clichéd and annoying thing to say, but they really do have a blissed out sound. Freez do have a real summer feel to their music, and it is such a joy to listen to. Freez have perfected this surfer rock sound in a way that would make those who have tried to do so, quite envious of them.

They are most certainly a band that come alive at their shows. A band that you just have to see live in order to really appreciate how great they are. I have no idea when or if they’ll come to the UK but at the moment they are on tour in southern Italy and heading to France.

Routine was released last February and it is such a great record. It has everything you could possibly want from a band who make this style of music, but at the same time they definitely aren’t shy with experimenting with different sounds, and to really push themselves. The cassette was a limited release and came in three colours (white, peach and surf green.) Although there are only 5 songs, it is more than enough to make you fall in love with their music. Freez make music for you to waste your day to. Well, personally I don’t see it as wasting a day but others might. Some days you just need to do a whole load of nothing, and Freez are the band to do nothing to. Witch is my favourite song from the Routine tape. I love the urgency in it and how ferocious it is. It’s probably their heaviest song so far and it is one that I find myself constantly playing over and over again.

There is really no point in me naming bands that you could possibly compare Freez to- that just strips away the effort and passion they put into their music. They are such a young band who really do have such a promising future. I absolutely adore their sound and I love how they just fuse together a surfer rock sound mixed with everything in between to make something of their own. If you feel like going on holiday this month, then head to southern Italy to see them or France if you feel like it.

In my biased opinion, Freez are amazing. I cannot wait to hear more from them.





GURU.

23 02 2018

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Last night, I braved the bitter cold and went to the Lock Tavern in Camden to see a band I had wanted to see for ages- Dr Chan. However, my review of their set will come later on. Right now I just need to write about the absolutely fantastic GURU who are from Brighton. They are loud and nothing short of exciting.

What I loved about their set and their music in general is that it isn’t what you expect. When they took to the stage, I kind of expected them to have a relaxed sound. What hit us all was this gorgeous loudness that reminded me of Sleep but the vocals were something else. I’m not one of these people who say “Oh it is hard to impress me” when it comes to music. I know what I like, and I tend to like stuff that’s a bit dark and tormented and loud. GURU are of course, my ideal band. I’m useless with names, but my god the singer is brilliant. His vocals on the song Roses are exceptional. It is such a great song. To first be aware of them by seeing their live show is awesome. I’ve listened to some of their songs on bandcamp/soundcloud, and it seems much tamer. I love a band that really let rip in their live shows.

The bassist from GURU is massively impressive. I stood pretty close to him (the stage is tiny at the Lock Tavern) and for fear of being smacked in the head by the bass, I moved back a bit. I think I spent most of their set just gawping in awe at him. I loved how he threw himself to his knees during most of their set. I loved how during the last song, the singer walked off and the remaining three just went even wilder on stage. There is no other band around that are like this. They are truly something else, and I am so happy to have seen them.

I’m finally leaving London next month, and I really do hope that GURU find their way up north because they have a fan for life right here. I love the proper aggression in their sound and how every song is played (on record and live) with this urgency that just makes you cling on to every single word. It makes you believe in every single word. They are easily one of the best bands you’ll ever see live. They are just so fascinating and incredible. I honestly feel like whatever I write about them just doesn’t do them justice. GURU are one of those bands that just blow you away. I love that they just fucked over my expectations of them with how I thought they would sound.

If you are able to catch this band, please do. You won’t regret it. Allow yourself to be left deafened by their glorious sound, to have your face melted and your record collection improved immensely. They are easily one of the most exciting bands you’ll hear this year, probably. Brighton’s finest, for sure.

 

*photo credit: Sophie Benjafield