STALLED MINDS.

10 12 2017

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France is home to two of my great loves- Rimbaud and the Born Bad record store in Bastille. It is also home to exceptional musicians who have undoubtedly been an influence on the bands I listen to. Paris has an insanely great Punk scene. It’s enough to make you sack off all responsibilities and move there to really immerse yourself in it. Or you can live vicariously through others. It’s the cheaper option.

I’ve written about loads of bands from Paris over the past few years. I don’t seek them out on purpose, it just happens. Accidents are sometimes alright. One band I found today that have immediately won me over are Stalled Minds. Easily one of the loudest and best bands around right now- even though their self-titled release came out two years ago, they still have this exciting and new sound. They make you want to break stuff, they make you want to start a band that is part Bad Brains and part whatever the hell you want so long as it is loud. I’m currently writing this with my housemate’s cat on my bed. I’m looking after him until tomorrow evening, and he’s currently having another nap. Every so often he lets out a snore and I tell you what, he manages to fit it in time with the music. He’s got good taste.

Stalled Minds are the kind of band you want to join and trash basement bars with. You want to lob lukewarm beer over the crowd and go insane to their song, Shit City. They have this energy in their songs that you’ve never quite heard or felt before. They’re a band that you’ll wonder why on earth they aren’t huge, but you treasure them and play the music as loud as your ears can stand.

From what I’ve heard so far, and yes I am late to the party, I just absolutely love their sound. I love how the vocals are sometimes distorted. I love how furiously they play and how it feels like a collective riot. There is such a united sound, and I think that it is one of the many reasons why I love them and why they just sound so great. It’s an impeccable sound that they have crafted and they just sound so effortlessly cool.

A couple members of Stalled Minds are in the equally great Youth Avoiders. I’ll be writing about them real soon too. Both bands play with this infectious fury that sort of eases the mind but also unleashes everything you’ve pent up. Music should be a release, and Stalled Minds take good care of that notion.

If you’re looking for a band to blow your mind and eardrums then listen to Stalled Minds. Listen to them as loud as you can handle, then push yourself to go a little louder. They’ll make you want to start a band, they’ll make you want to go to every live show they ever do. But until you see them, you’ll imagine the show in your mind- covered in sweat and beer.

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RIHANNA: Anti.

6 12 2017

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If more people admitted when they were wrong, then maybe the world would be a better place. Or some people would be bearable to be around. Who knows. I’m wrong most of the time. This is part apology and part appreciation. I’ve wanted to write this for some time, and I guess right now is the time to do it.

Honestly? I’ve never really been a fan of Rihanna. I don’t know her so I won’t judge her as a person but even if I did know her- I still wouldn’t. I always dismissed her music. There are some songs I liked and there are a lot that remind me of easier times/being drunk with my best friends. I’ve grown up. They say when you get older your tastes change. I think that’s true. Aged 31, I’m happy to say that I’m a fan of Rihanna. What changed my mind? Anti. Her eighth record was released last year. I remember Jamie from The Kills saying if you didn’t like that record, you don’t like music or something similar. I wanted to dismiss that statement. But, he’s someone I admire so I gave it a chance. The Kills covered Desperado. Their version of it feels like it is theirs but when I heard the original I immediately was disappointed that it took me this long to hear how great Rihanna is.

Anti was one of the most underrated records of 2016. It’s one of the most underrated records ever, to be honest. Do you remember when Aaliyah released her records and everyone was in awe of how ahead of its time they all were? There are two singers since her that have brought on that feeling- Banks and Rihanna. All three of them are ahead of us all in so many ways. I think Aaliyah just started it all to be honest. She was strong in ways that could only be admired and not emulated. Banks and Rihanna are exactly like that. What makes Anti so great? Well, after one listen of it I went back and listened to all of her previous records and for me, Anti sounds like the record she always wanted to make. It sounds like something that is completely and utterly her. Some of her records before may have sounded quite similar but Anti is something else. It’s out there and it’s unlike anything else. If I was growing up now, I’d definitely have Anti as an inspiration and a beacon of strength. It’s just such a strong record that has such a powerful and unique sound. I’m really glad that my girlfriend and her sister forced this record upon me because it is easily one of the best things I’ve heard in such a long time.

Her vocals on Love On The Brain are my favourite. If I was going to try convince someone who was like me and pretty dubious about her music, this would be the song I’d make them listen to. The whole record is really vulnerable but powerful. Love On The Brain allows you to hear the cracks in her voice and it is just a real intense listen. You can hear something in her voice that you’ve never heard before. I honestly haven’t heard that in a long time, and the way she sings it just leaves you covered in goose bumps. You can’t help but listening to it on repeat because you want every raw emotion to hit you again and again. I could happily write an essay about this song- maybe one day I will.

I think Needed Me is probably my favourite Rihanna song ever. There is something about it that just blows my mind every single time I play it. It’s one of my most played songs. Remember when she released S&M and everyone was shocked? Needed Me has that same level of independence to it, and when Rihanna has songs like this, that’s when she really shows us how fucking brilliant she is. It’s the songs that show how strong she is that make you just love her. Looking back, I really don’t get why I was so quick to dismiss her. If she released this at the start of her career maybe I’d love her music as much as I do now. What I love about her is that she doesn’t let anything or anyone control her- and you really get that from Anti. Especially on songs like Woo and Needed Me. I love how every song on this record feels like it could be part of a film. It feels like a film score and an exploration of the perfect body of art. It is truly a masterpiece, and it is criminally underrated.

Her cover of Same Ol’ Mistakes (originally by Tame Impala) is insane. If you listen to it without realising it is a cover, you can’t help but cling onto every word Rihanna sings- she truly makes it her own. With this cover, she does what is supposed to be done with a cover- she makes it unrecognisable and makes you believe it is her song. It is so euphoric and so gorgeous. It’s one of those songs that you play and let yourself just escape. It is such a fantastic cover, and I honestly can’t praise it enough. It’s 6 minutes of bliss and it really does soothe the mind, and ease the soul.

Close To You is another real stand out moment on the record. I think if someone listens to this and doesn’t get choked up, then maybe they are made of stone. The line, “I know you don’t need my protection” has so much weight to it, and for some reason it always gets to me. It’s one of those songs that is so beautiful but hard to listen to because it really hits you in the gut. It is such a powerful song and the lyrics are so painfully honest. Again, I could write an essay about this one too.

Anti is a timeless record, and when I first played it in full I was just in awe of everything about the record. From the lyrics to the vocal arrangements to the production. It is such a perfect record, and every song stands out in its own way. It honestly does feel like the record she was always supposed to make, and I honestly hope she keeps doing exactly that. It feels like a fuck you to anyone who wanted to try control her career or try get her to go in a certain direction. It is powerful, it is fragile and it is nothing short of a masterpiece.





LOVERS CLUB.

5 12 2017

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If the bio for your band states that you are the best Rock ‘n’ Roll band in the world, then you’ve got a lot to live up to right? Wrong. Who cares about expectations! Who even needs them! Lovers Club have made a bold statement, and they are true to it. They are easily one of the best around and most certainly one of the best bands in the UK.

Whatever you’re expecting from Lovers Club- ignore it. There’s no point in assuming that they are a gentle band with such a loving name. Far from it. The irony. Their sound is The Cramps headbutting The Jesus And Mary Chain. They are loud, the sound is aggressive and it is all so brilliant. If you’re wanting a band that sounds like they are crashing into your skull and possessing your body, then Lovers Club are for you.

Lovers Club put their first release out in March this year. I think it was only released as cassette. The songs on this tape are heavy- they have the heaviness of Sleep and the eeriness of The Cramps. For me, they just have the perfect sound. I’d pretty sure that the top three bands in this country right now are Table Scraps, Night Shades and Lovers Club. Each band has a distinctive sound that just takes over the mind. What does it do to the body? Well if you’re questioning it, then you’re not listening hard enough.

Lovers Club have this sound that makes you wish you could continuously go to their live shows and live in this world that they have created. The world that they have created feels like a horror film from decades and decades ago with a hint of Edgar Allan Poe lurking throughout. They just have this instantly iconic sound and style- it makes you want to do what they do, but all you can do is listen. Religiously.

Lovers is possibly my favourite song by them at the moment but I am likely to change my mind as the day progresses. I love how brutal everything sounds on this song. It sure does hit you throughout in all their songs, but Lovers is the one that is a little more in your face than the others on the tape- and it is the one I keep going back to. There is something really, really special about this band. If I could describe what makes them so bloody brilliant there would be no point. They just immediately draw you in. It’s like they’ve got you in a headlock and no part of you is going to even fight an escape.

Lovers Club are more than just a Rock ‘n’ Roll band. Their sound is beyond being just Rock ‘n’ Roll- it is truly something else. Lovers Club are here to shake your skull, potentially deafen you and make you move in a way that you feel sure about doing. They make you want to join their band and add some more noise to their sound. They’ll only get better and louder, and I really cannot wait to hear more from them. They’re just effortlessly cool and they make it loud/sound so easy.

The next Lovers Club show will be at the Old Blue Last on the 13th December.

Buy the tape, and play it loud: https://loversclub.bandcamp.com/releases

 





TWO FIFTY FOUR: The Pickle Factory 29/11/2017

30 11 2017

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Last night was my fifth time seeing Two Fifty Four and it was also one of the best times I’ve seen them. There may have been a few issues with sound but that didn’t stop the band from putting on an incredible show.

Their last show in London was in 2015 at Dingwalls, and to see them play an even more intimate venue like The Pickle Factory (opposite Oval Space-make sure you queue up for the right gig if you go here, we made that mistake!) I’ve seen them play in an old church which is set upon old graves and at the Shacklewell Arms but the show last night was something else. Mainly because of the new songs. The new songs are outstanding live, so I can pretty much say with confidence, that when their new record does come out- it’ll be the record of the year. If it comes out next year, I am calling it now as the best thing to happen in 2018.

There is so much to take in when you see Two Fifty Four play. You don’t know where to cast your gaze as each member of the band is nothing short of excellent musicians. They will leave you wishing you could make noise like this. Certain songs allow certain band members to shine a little more, making you take in even more so just how phenomenal they are.

I always seem to gravitate towards watching Hannah play. She is undoubtedly the best guitarist around. There is no one else around that can make noise like her, there is no one else around that can make you feel that alive with a guitar. The sheer heaviness of the sound reminds me of bands I’ve been obsessed with for so long. We know that Houdini by the Melvins is one of the greatest records ever made, right? Well, Two Fifty Four carry the same heaviness as them. Hopefully you know the link between the Melvins and Two Fifty Four (play A History Of Bad Men if you don’t know, and see what happens at the 2:54 mark. If you aren’t covered in goose bumps, you aren’t human.) What I love so much about Two Fifty Four is their ability to make it look so easy, but we know it isn’t. They are one of the hardest working bands I have ever known and that truly comes through in their music and of course in their live shows.

Colette’s stage presence is magnetising. When she sings without her guitar she unleashes moves that resemble a wild animal hunting its prey- these ferocious moves accompanied with such a powerful voice that can electrify you is just mind-blowing. The only person I have ever seen with a presence like this is from my idol, Shirley Manson. Colette’s voice can be delicate when needed but she can definitely add some boom to it when needed. Her voice shows its strength on songs like In The Mirror and also on the new one, Pieces.

Of all the new songs they played last night, I think Ghosting may be my favourite. The new songs sound like Massive Attack mixed with Sleep. For me, that’s an ideal combination. The songs are delicate but also bloody brutal. Again, that’s another reason as to why I love this band so much. They have this loudness and this brutal sound that just leaves you in awe.

They end their set on Pieces, but the crowd wasn’t having any of that. We wanted one more. Some were yelling “Two more! Three more!” I think we all would have loved them to play both records and their earlier songs like Got A Hold and On A Wire. They ended their set with the wonderful Creeping. It was one of the highlights for sure; another is the little jam at the end of Scarlett. Something takes you over when they do that, and you realise even more just how bloody great Two Fifty Four are.

If you’ve seen Two Fifty Four live before, you’ll know that Alex is the best drummer you’ll probably ever see. The sheer passion that comes through as he beats the shit out of his drum kit is astounding. He makes you wish you could do that, but musicians/bands like Two Fifty Four do not come around often. I think that is why their crowd is so diverse, and why people go to see them because they truly love the band. There is none of this business where people go to see them just so they can say they have. Not at all. People go to see Two Fifty Four because their music really means something to them, because they know that they are a band to be absolutely treasured. They are also criminally underrated.

Every song they play is greeted with enthusiastic and loving cheers by the crowd. There are no obnoxious heckles or people yelling songs out that they want to hear. There is the utmost respect, love and admiration on both parts. There are no drunken fools spilling their overpriced craft beer on you, no one barging past to get to the front and no one talking whilst the band play. For as loud as they are, the atmosphere is tranquil and respectful. As someone who suffers stupidly with panic attacks- this felt like a totally safe space. All you can do is close your eyes and let the music move you.

As I mentioned many times before, bands like Two Fifty Four don’t come around too often. They are a pleasure to listen to and a sheer joy to watch. It was over all too soon, but I am so excited for the new record.

What I always take from their shows is like a kick up the arse to do something I love. Hanging out with Colette and Hannah after the show makes you see the band differently. On stage the band have this bold confidence and presence. Off stage they are taken aback with how adored they are.

Meet your heroes and let their music be your crutch. The world that Two Fifty Four paint with their music is like Ted Hughes crashing into Poe. Dark, eerie and good for the soul, and mind.





TABLE SCRAPS.

28 11 2017

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I always seem to gravitate towards bands that make me feel like I’m being smacked in the face. I don’t really know what that says about me. I don’t want to be punched in the face really. I just want music to give me that brutal force. I’m sure I’m not alone in this. Thankfully bands like Table Scraps exist. I should have written about them ages ago. I genuinely thought I had, but I guess I just imagined it.

Table Scraps are one of the most exciting bands around. They don’t fit in with any genre, they don’t sound like anyone else and they are LOUD. I feel that when I listen to them I’m about to lose my hearing. There’s no better band to do this to. They’ve got this beautiful menacing sound. Every snarling song feels like someone is pushing you into a wall and forcing you to move your limbs in a questionable manner. It’s something that goes beyond your standard dancing at gigs.

They have a brilliant sound that makes you unaware of time and place. Sometimes you just need that. You need to cut off your surroundings and give in to the music. I try to do that several times a day. It’s how I keep relatively sane. Live through the music because what you see happening in the world is terrible. I love their song Electricity. It makes me feel like I’m in an arcade playing Tekken and I’ve won every battle so far. Foot Of Our Stairs is one of my favourites. I love how the guitar sounds like a revved up motorbike and the drums sounds like everything just crashing down. They have this sound that feels like machine guns going off. Again, they are one of those bands that make you wish you were in a band.

I know we are all led to believe that London is the home to all things great, but don’t fall victim to that mentality. I’ve lived down here for too long, and sometimes you just need to look elsewhere for that sound you craze. Table Scraps are from Birmingham. You could argue that they don’t have a typical Birmingham sound. However, Birmingham doesn’t have a typical sound. It never has, it never will.

I love how the guitar and bass both have this violent sound. It feels like some kind of electric shock going right through you. Scott and TJ just make you feel like you’re battered and bruised, and that you’re hearing may never be the same again. Why would you want it to be? Poppy is probably up there as one of my favourite drummers. EVER. I’ve got a mental list, and I’m putting her in the Top 3 (Stella from Warpaint, Sophie from PINS and Poppy from Table Scraps- if you must know.) Her drumming style is just something to be adored. The way she brutally beats the shit out of the drum kit is fascinating. I’ve never seen them live but what I get from their music on record, is that on stage they make the songs sound darker and bolder than they already are. I mean, you could wear earplugs- but why ruin the fun?

There are so many reasons why Table Scraps are one of the most fascinating and brilliant bands around, but their music explains it better than I ever could. They are a band to play constantly and loudly. When you think you can handle the volume, turn it up a little more. You’ll pick up on just how great they sound together. There is no band around at the moment that is doing what they do. They are unlike anyone else around, and that alone makes me love them.

You can buy/stream their music right here: https://table-scraps.bandcamp.com/ Start from the beginning just so you can see how their sound has evolved and how they have become one of the most exciting bands around.





NIGHT SHADES: Evil Dreams.

14 11 2017

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Some bands take a while to reach peak greatness. Others just do it immediately. Night Shades are one of those bands who have done it instantly. London’s finest band. A band that sound like they have creeped out from the underworld and have come to take our souls and gnaw at our eardrums. They possess the wonderful manic tones of The Cramps, which for me is just absolutely brilliant.

Last month they put out the remarkable Evil Dreams. It is one of the best things you will hear all year. It will make you forget all the things “critics” have told you to enjoy earlier in the year. Anything you have heard before this may well be ignored. Anything you hear after it just won’t measure up. They make every day feel like a ghoulish holiday. Darker than Halloween. Sinister, eerie and nothing short of hypnotising. For me, they are probably my favourite band in London right now.

Evil Dreams lives up to its title. It has this gloriously evil and twisted feel to it. You feel like you are in a Jack The Ripper biopic. You feel like you are in an Edgar Allen Poe poem- you feel like you are living out historical horrors. You are totally immersed in their wonderful sound. Niall makes the drums sound like gentle crashes against the soul. Clare and Shaun’s vocals are chilling. You feel a cloak of mist fall down as you listen to Golden Hair which then goes into the glorious Cara Mia which shows just how ethereal Clare’s voice is. Their songs are like haunting lullabies. Every single part of you just falls madly in love with each song on this mind-blowing body of work. It feels like you have waited decades and decades to hear something as truly brilliant as this. I am super annoyed I missed the launch of Evil Dreams. Now I just play it constantly and create my own world in my head.

As the days are getting shorter, this is the perfect record to listen to as you make your way home from work as it gets dark. You feel like you’re walking through the underbelly of evilness and possibly moonlighting as Columbo in your head. Stalking the streets to seek out evil. Maybe you’ll stomp it out, maybe you’ll be part of it. Whatever sordid tale you wish to conjure up and be part of, Night Shades have fitting songs on Evil Dreams for you to take part in.

It is easy to get caught up in something when you play it just once, then after a few listens you partially regret how you were so quick to declare something as being great. Night Shades do not make you feel that way. Evil Dreams is something you play and instantly realise you have found something nothing short of perfect, and will undoubtedly be something you keep playing in years to come. Evil Dreams has songs that remind me of hearing The Mummies and The Cramps for the first time. It’s been a while since I felt that, and Night Shades make the waiting worthwhile.

If you’re looking for something to scare you a little bit or if you’re in need of something to give you the creeps to reassure you that you’re still alive- Night Shades are the band for you. Easily. They create this amazing atmosphere on their record that makes you feel as if they are right there in front of you, extending their hand out to yours in order to grab you into this world they have created. Take their hand, don’t let go and allow yourself to delve deep, deep into this charming and creepy world they have created.





VHS DREAM.

6 11 2017

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If you take a band like Beach House and mix them with Slowdive, you pretty much have the perfect band- right? VHS Dream is as perfect as you can get. Their sound is part relaxing, part brain-melting. In fact, you’ll probably zone out way too far and never be able to return. Quite frankly, I don’t see an issue with this.

VHS Dream is a duo from Australia, and they have this effortless way of conjuring up all kinds of emotions in your mind as you listen to them. Superstar (taken from their latest release, Departure) for me just oozes absolute sadness. There is nothing wrong with this, and I think this sadness is something that at times filters throughout the whole record. It’s one of my favourite songs by VHS Dream. Departure came out last year, and it is one of those records that are just instantly something memorable. You don’t feel as if anything else can touch this record. For me, it just eases the mind quite poetically and beautifully. Superstar is about 6 minutes and 45 seconds of ethereal bliss. It’s such a comforting song, and I think even if it was just an instrumental track it would still have the same gorgeous weight to it that just transports you elsewhere. Departure is dedicated to those they have lost, and you can truly sense the sadness and pain on this record. But you also pick up on the hope. And sometimes, hope is all you are left with.

As I listen to them, I can’t help but think that they are the kind of band you accidentally find at 3am when everyone is asleep and your mind is racing. They’re the kind of band I listen to after I have a panic attack, which at the moment is all too often. They are the ideal band to use to shut the world off for a little while. We need those safety nets to stay sane, or cling onto whatever we may have left. Their sound is like a dream whilst being trapped in a walking nightmare. There is a wealth of comfort and security in their music that really cannot be ignored or topped. It’s something you simply treasure within your first listen. What you do after that is all on you. It’s probably best to let VHS Dream work their magic and let them take you away.

One of the things that I really love about VHS Dream is that they don’t make me think that they are a NOW band. I don’t feel like they are a band from 2017 (Departure came out last year, I know.) I cannot put a time frame on this band nor could I tell you that their sound is typical for where they are from. I personally think they sound like a band that has been sent to us from outer space and to show us their world. They’ll take you if you want to continue on their journey with them. Or you can look from the outside with snippets of their songs to let you in, but only slightly.

Some bands just straight up take every part of you with first listen, and I’m fairly sure that VHS Dream will do that to anyone who listens. I was on the bus to work this morning, and I had Departure on repeat. I kept going back to certain songs. There are some songs on the record that stand out a tiny, tiny bit more than others. The moments they create will hit you in the gut and all will seem okay for a little while. Like I said earlier, these are the bands we need. These are the bands we must treasure.

VHS Dream a delicate lullaby for the catastrophic mind. Let them do what they will, and go with it.