THE VACANT LOTS: Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen. 13th June 2017.

14 06 2017
TVL

Photo credit: Olivia Cellamare

 

Last night I saw The Vacant Lots for the second time. I wondered if they could top the first time I saw them. If I could relive that feeling again. And again. There was clearly no need for me to even question this. The Vacant Lots are easily one of the best bands I have ever seen live, and I honestly wish I could be in that moment of watching them every single day.

Their set opens with Departure. This is the perfect song to open with, it makes you feel like Brian and Jared are welcoming you into this world of theirs. It’s a noisy world but still the most peaceful place to go. Every song they play just makes me wish I had some musical talent. Instead I just write about it, sorry!

It’s hard to work out who to watch when you go to a show by The Vacant Lots. Brian lurks over his side of the stage, hiding sweetly behind a case with TVL written on it. He crashes the cymbal next to him as if something has come over him. Every word he sings is projected with this feeling that gets you right in the gut. For me, the way he sings Paint This City is one if the greatest moments. It’s my favourite song by them and to see it performed with this beautiful emotion is an honour to see. It’s his workstation and the noises that come from there are like a scientist at work. It’s just brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

Jared performs Funeral Rites in a way that makes you want to get on the stage and sing it with him. Taken from the Berlin EP, which came out last year, this song is on the same level as what Brian does with Paint This City. These moments in the set really show just how amazing they are. It’s the only song in the set where Jared doesn’t play guitar. I need to talk about Jared and his guitar. If you’ve ever seen, or just listened to The Vacant Lots you’ll know just how great a guitarist Jared is. He’s got this effortless way of making you wish you could do what he does. But what he does is so rare. The noise that comes out of his guitar is like nothing I’ve heard before. It truly whirls its way around you then slowly finds its way into your soul. The band really come alive when you see their show. The songs take on a different meaning. Of course Mad Mary Jones is another stand out part of the show. Jared holds his guitar close and you cannot take your eyes off the stage.

The Vacant Lots are that band you discover on your own and you realise quickly what an impact they have on you. They’ll make you want to make your own noise, write your own words down in a scuffed notebook- sacred thoughts that no one rarely sees. They make you want to step into this world they create with their sound and to never leave. It’s home. It feels how home should feel. When you go to one of their shows, your surroundings don’t matter. You could be with a group of friends or you can be on your own- but you zone out and feel like you are the only one there. They are such a powerful band and criminally underrated.

Bands like this are rare. Bands that can evoke this kind of feeling and drive within you are so rare. We simply must treasure them. What I love about Jared and Brian is that they sound like they are from far, far away. The sound they have created changes with each record and EP they release, and for me that’s what keeps their live shows so influential and exciting. I can only hope the younger generation go to one of their shows and think, “One day, I’ll do that.”

I’ve got a few bands I always say that I could happily go to their show every night and not get bored with it- The Vacant Lots are no doubt in that list. Last night was a truly brilliant show. They don’t need to engage in pointless small talk- the music says it all. Also, I finally bought a TVL shirt so I’ll probably be living in that from now on.

Go see them. Stand at the front. Get your eardrums and mind blown.

 





LITTLE DEATH MACHINE: Midnight Blue.

12 06 2017

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There are some bands that just make you really, really care about music. Some bands that get beautifully under your skin and take over the noise in your head. These are the bands we cling to, but the grip isn’t needed to be too tight because the love you have for them is going nowhere.

Little Death Machine have been an obsession of mine for a few years now, and every single time they put something new out- I just have to write about it. With everything they have released so far, it sounds like a step up from what has come before.

Their new single, Midnight Blue is what would happen if Trent Reznor and Brian Molko got together with a hint of Cold Cave. So for me, it is nothing short of perfect. Daniel’s voice on this is as strong as ever and it’s one of those songs that are just made to be yelled back to the band.

The wonderfully menacing and creepy sound in Midnight Blue is exceptional, and it is matched brilliantly with the video. I’ve always loved how Little Death Machine have this really eerie and dangerous sound. It’s like something or someone is lurking. Waiting and waiting for you. You may never know who or what it is. But maybe one day it will get you. Maybe you’ll be aware, maybe you won’t. Midnight Blue will be playing as it happens.

There’s this brilliant build up after the 2 and half minute mark where everything just hits you. Followed by a brief instrumental where it goes slightly tame, then Daniel’s vocals kick in again and this wave of unsteadiness hits you. A lot of bands try to get this eerie feeling within their music, and some just take it too far. Little Death Machine do it in a way that is nothing short of effortless, and of course leave you wanting more.

In my biased opinion, it is really one of the best things Little Death Machine have done. I remember hearing Hit Me ages ago and being in awe of this brutal sound. To hear them go from that to what they have created with Midnight Blue is just wonderful. They are really one of the best bands around.

Little Death Machine are having a single launch for Midnight Blue next Monday (19th June) at The Waiting Room in Stoke Newington. You can get yourself a ticket here: https://www.musicglue.com/little-death-machine/events/39803950-236e-0135-a8e7-4661067ffba2





DUSTY MUSH: Cheap Entertainment.

4 06 2017

Dusty Mush – Cheap Entertainment

 

Last week, one of the finest bands from France released their new record. Dusty Mush are an obsession of mine, and in an ideal world they would be everyone’s obsession. There’s time.

Cheap Entertainment consists of 10 songs that were designed for you to laze about to, to walk round your streets out of sheer boredom and frustration. They unleash all those daily frustrations in 10 solid songs with only one tipping over the 3 minute mark. Like a wealth of great bands, they don’t need to create long ass songs to make a point. They do it instantly and with this passionate fury that makes you want to leave your bland daily life behind in order to find something that has meaning.

As far as debut records go, I don’t think Dusty Mush could have made a stronger record than this. It is beautifully loud and feels like a pleasurable riot to the ears. The songs will stir a fight within you that will make you want to flail your limbs about and completely let go. You’ll zone out unapologetically to this record. As you blast out Cheap Entertainment, you cannot help but block out the world. And I guess right now, a lot of us need that.

The delightful screams in More & More will project your own annoyances at the world and possibly your surroundings. It’s a record for those who have had enough and can see all the faults. We don’t broadcast them out loud, we hold it close and bands like Dusty Mush allow us to let them go. We all need music like this. The world needs a band like Dusty Mush.

Unfortunately I never got chance to see any of their recent shows in the UK which I’m sad about, but hopefully there will be some more coming up soon. What I adore about Dusty Mush is that, like a lot of bands I am crazy about, they sound like a band that just need to be seen live in order for us to really get a sense of what they are about. The record actually does sound like something someone has recorded at one of their shows. It has this brilliant raw sound to it, and that’s something that is to be muchly appreciated and respected. As a debut record, I really cannot praise it enough. From start to finish the songs are designed to blow out your eardrums and to blow your mind.

Dusty Mush are the kind of band you’d want to be in. You can easily hear the fun, love and passion that has gone into making this record. You can really let go to this record, and sure 10 songs may not feel enough (great bands like this will always leave you wanting more) but it is one of those records that you can play on repeat and not grow tired of it. For me, it is most definitely one of the best records of the year. It’s a record that is just a solid body of fun songs that you can, like I said earlier, laze about to or you can just play and zone out.

Everything about Dusty Mush and this record captures what I love about music. It is half an hour of fuzzed out songs with wonderfully distorted vocals. The perfect mix, and a sheer pleasure to listen to and indulge in.

I hope they come back to the UK soon because these songs are just made to be performed live.

Cheap Entertainment is out now on Howlin’ Banana Records/Stolen Body Records.

Buy it and play it loud.





LOOM: Loom.

20 05 2017

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In 2012 I found a band that fast became an obsession, a band that I would wait with high anticipation for something new from them. Anything. Everything. That band are Loom. I bought a t-shirt of them and practically lived in it. It’s got holes in, and I guess some would say it’s unwearable but who cares. I just say it is loved. The fraying material was just the tip of how deep my love for this band ran. I was in dire need of a record by them. I didn’t expect to wait this long, but you know what they say, and it’s true. It was totally worth the wait and now I finally get to write about the debut record by Loom.

Loom are fronted by Tarik who has such a beautifully distinctive voice. It is a real raw and rugged voice that truly stands out from others. He has something really powerful and it makes you soak in every single word he sings- especially on the songs Hate and Get A Taste. But the songs that weren’t on previous releases such as Nailbender show exactly how needed a band like Loom are, and how voices like Tarik’s are a massive breath of fresh air. The fury in their sound and this addictive urgency within this record just makes you smack repeat after the last song ends.

The record consists of 10 songs which comes in just around the half hour mark. It is highly encouraged that you play it about 4 times in a row to really fall in love. The first listen is sheer lust, then it becomes an overwhelming sensation of love towards the record. It is easily one of the best, if not the best record a band from this country have put out this year. Call them Punk, call it Grunge, whatever! Who cares about labelling, all you need to know is that this is proper raucous record that has to be played obnoxiously loud. I know it’s an old song, but hearing Seasick on the record is bloody great. This is the one that you need to blow your eardrums out to. Play it on Monday morning on the way to work when all you wanted was an extra hour asleep. It’ll wake you up. Tarik’s screams will breathe some life into your lungs. Play this song, this whole damn record until your vision is less hazy and you feel like you can take on the world. Or public transport.

I love bands that make you really feel how much work has gone into a record. You almost feel as if you are there with them in the room as they pour themselves into this body of work. Loom are one of those bands. You can really sense the dedication in this record, and how vital it is that it is heard. That it is heard ritualistically and loud. So loud. Maybe it isn’t for the faint hearted, but don’t be a wuss with this and miss out. Just free your mind and allow yourself to hear something really brutal and different. There is nothing else around quite like Loom and I’m just really happy that we now have a full length record.

I’ve yet to see them live, but I’m pretty sure I’d leave with my hearing damaged and a bit bruised. That’s the sign of an excellent gig. Tarik’s screams ringing in your ears for days. Bliss! Absolute bliss. Loom are a band that defy any era, any genre. That’s how it should be. There’s something about them that will remind you slightly of other bands, but that happens with nearly everything, right? What matters, and what truly stands out on this record is the fact it really shows a band that have pushed themselves, taken the time to develop a sound and the sound has become theirs- there is, like I said previously, no other band like Loom and that, for me, just makes this one of the most exciting records I have heard in a long time.

You know what to do- buy it and play it loud.





…vs My Brain

9 05 2017

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With it being Mental Health Awareness Week, I guess now is a good a time as any to ramble on about my past year. In fact, it was probably longer than a year- I just put off dealing with whatever my brain was telling me, and not telling me.

Last October I think I pretty much had my very own breakdown. It was at 2/3am. I remember sitting on my bed in some weird position crying, having a panic attack after panic attack. I was at war with my head. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t switch off. Nothing maintained my attention. I was starting to worry about myself. Prior, I just didn’t care. I went to the doctor and after a few minutes I was told to do a self-referral for treatment. I put this off for a few weeks, then stopped being a stubborn dick and did it.

Now I care more than I did. I went to the doctor a second time earlier this year, as my referral for CBT was going to be some time- the second stage of it. I made no improvements with the first lot. Labelled as having severe anxiety and mild depression. Labels are for foodstuffs- I’m not for consumption. Things shouldn’t define a person, just like their actions always shouldn’t. In this case, I wasn’t going to let this be something that ruled who I was and my life- enough was enough. I went to my doctor. She looked at me and asked how she could help. I cried. I broke down like a child and cried. I said “I can’t cope.” Finally admitting to myself that I couldn’t hack whatever was going on in my head.

As someone who can’t take paracetamol without assuming the worse, I had to resign myself to the fact that at this stage- I probably needed something other than talking. I agreed to take medication. Since starting the medication in late February, I am pretty sure that every side effect I had (I had them all) has been worth it. I’d rather have continuous dry mouth than have another fucking panic attack. The side effects have virtually gone. I do have days where I get this really bad pain in my stomach or the occasional headache, but I’d take that over how I was and what I was putting myself through. Or rather, what my brain was putting me through. I had my assessment for my second stage of CBT. I was being asked questions that weren’t relevant and being asked to focus on things that I really don’t need to. I felt as if I had to say what they wanted, and I didn’t want to be made to bring things up that don’t need to be. So I discharged myself. I decided rather than waste their time (and mine) I would give up my place for someone else who needs it more than me. I tried, and for me, that’s the main thing. But it just wasn’t for me.

Everyone bangs on about it, but support is key. I’ve got a handful of people that I know have my back and are there for me. Just like I am there for them. It also helps having a girlfriend who has a similar shit sleeping pattern so I have someone at 1am when I can’t sleep and everything seems too much. She’s my rock, and I try my hardest to be hers.

Music has been a massive help for me. We went to see Banks in March, and for me I think that was the point where I solidly felt okay. At one point going to gigs was just overwhelming. Going to work was overwhelming. Not because I hate my job or anything like that- far from it. But the effort of having to get out of bed and the overwhelming feeling of being on a packed train. My brain was slowly failing me. Or maybe I was failing myself for not taking better care. Music has been my other rock. Certain songs (which I’ll link below) have played a massive part in my brain healing and keeping me calm. I go the gym during the week after work to allow myself to take care of my body as well as my mind.

My bad days now don’t feel near as half as bad as they once were. I don’t have to fake being alright because I genuinely feel just fine at the moment. I’m not thinking long-term because that shit is scary. If I can get through one day without feeling terrible, I’m fine. My last panic attack was on the 2nd March. It’s been two months. I still feel a little shitty at times and certain things at the moment are fucking tough but, you can’t control everything.

I am not brave, I am not tough. All I did was reach breaking point. All I did was let myself get worse before I realised something needed to be done.

I’m alright. I’m happy with that. I’m alright.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





Ho99o9: United States Of Horror.

6 05 2017

ho99o9

 

With a smack to the face and a kick in the shins, a bloody nose. Broken bones. Grazed knuckles. Aching joints. That’s what the debut record from Ho99o9 will bring you. Pain, anguish, destruction, pleasurable noise, decadence, truth, brutal and brave truth. A riot. They’re not just a Hip Hop group, but man, they have made the best Hip Hop record in a long time. As far as debut records go, this one is going to be ringing in your ears even when they release their fifth one. It’s got this level of greatness to it that comes from sheer determination, and boy- they have it!

When I first heard Ho99o9 in 2014/early 2015, I was instantly moved by their attitude and how they really had this strong Punk sound that we so desperately needed. Ho99o9 were and still a band that we urgently need. They speak to everyone irrespective of race, age, sexuality, background. None of it matters, it never should matter. Their songs are to be played as loud as possible, and for every word to be yelled and learnt. Keep up the pace.

At the moment, Street Power is my favourite song on the record but I’m fully expecting that to change. 17 songs in 46 minutes. 17 songs that will blow your mind, blow your eardrums and leave you wanting more. 17 songs that shape our frustrations at the world and the things we see. The things we can change, and the things that are out of our hands, for now. No band has been this brave in a long time. United State of Horror is a body of work that oozes blood, sweat and rage. It’s the perfect record to expand your thoughts to and see things for how they are.

For just two people to make this much noise and to have such an incredible force within their debut record is just amazing. They take the sounds of two genres and make something really out there and unlike anything else. Sure they’ve had the Death Grips, Bad Brains and Black Flag comparisons but there is something else within them that is totally unlike anything else. Songs like Splash and Knuckle Up really show this, and for me, I’m just really in awe of Eaddy and theOGM. Just two people with such truth and rawness to their sound. It’s like exposing a wound. People will turn away but are still intrigued at the gore and guts. There’s gore and a whole lot of guts in their songs. How can you not be moved even slightly by them?!

I spent most of yesterday listening to the record at work, and I just intensely focused on the lyrics. Today I’m trying to take in every detail within the music. The way they make you feel like an electric shock is flowing through you. This isn’t a band that should be labelled as “not suitable for…” forget that. They are a band for EVERYONE. They hold something so important within them, and it isn’t something that needs ignoring.

Again, they are one of those bands that you’ve got to see live. I’ve yet to, but how they are on record will easily be shown in a different light during their live shows. They just have something in their music that needs to be in a live setting. Venue size doesn’t matter, the more that hear them- the better. Songs like Sub-Zer0 and War Is Hell just need to be seen live, you get that immediately from them. I think I’ve move on to Sub-Zer0 being my favourite right now.

From their EPs to this debut full length record, in just a few years Ho99o9 have created their own movement on their own terms. The finest thing to have come from New Jersey via L.A in a long time. Well, ever really. United States of Horror is a record that deserves your complete and utter attention. It’s easily one of the best records of the year, and the rage within it will feed into your soul. It’ll find its way deep inside of you, and will never leave.

You know what to do- play loud. Learn the words, throw your body around to the songs, go to the shows and let Ho99o9 completely and utterly take you over.





TALL JUAN: Olden Goldies.

3 05 2017

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For the past few years I have been obsessed with Far Rockaway resident, Tall Juan. I found his music by accident and it’s probably been one of the best musical finds of mine. I’ve seen him at every London show he’s done, and next month he’s playing The Lock Tavern again- for free!

On Friday, his full length debut record is coming out. I’ve been waiting for this record for so long, and I really cannot wait to go out and get myself a copy. Play it to death, and just keep buying it. His style is Ritchie Valens meets Joey Ramone. He’s everything I want from a musician, but his live shows are something else. Again, I cannot wait to see him next month and to see these new songs performed live. He has this hyperactivity to his music and he brings this so well to his live shows. You can’t help but think when you listen to him, that his music is the kind that really comes alive in a live setting. The kind of music that has a firm home in dingy venues where you leave covered in other people’s beer and sweat.

His record kicks off with a tighter version of I Don’t Know What To Do. This new version is just as great as the previous version.  I always felt from his music that they are the perfect songs to play when you need your mind to wander or if you’re wandering around doing nothing- his music is the perfect friend to bring along. His voice is so strong on his record, and I am just so happy for him. He seems to be doing a show every night, and he’s just one of the hardest working people I know.

From trading emails back and forth with him over the years, to seeing his first UK show and to now hearing his first record- I’m just so massively proud of him. Prior to Olden Goldies I’ve said that his music makes you feel like you are strolling around New York City in the late 70s trying to find something to do and before you know it- you’ve stumbled in on a Ramones show. He just takes you back and time and brings you back to now in such a beautiful way.

The record consists of 15 tracks that aren’t really longer than 3 and a half minutes. They all sound like perfect Punk songs to fit your mood. You can play them whilst you laze about at home, at beach, travelling to work, whilst you’re at work- anywhere, everywhere. You’ll find a home in these songs and you’ll find a best friend in Juan’s music and words. It’s hard to write about this record without going on about how proud I am of him, but I know how hard he works and how hard he has worked on this record, and it truly shows. He has a distinctive sound, and it’s a sound that comes right from the soul and is just nothing short of brilliant.

As I listen to the songs, I can easily pick out the ones he’s put in his live shows and to hear the final version of them is awesome. You get to hear the transition of the song and experience the finished product. Parecida A Vos is always my favourite song to see him do live because of the way he annihilates the ending. He unleashes something that makes everyone in the crowd go nuts, and we love him for it. The Olden Goldies version of It’s True sounds tougher than the first version. It’s produced here in such a clean way but still has that distinctive sound of his, it’s just so easy to love. The same goes with Why Not? Although I’ve heard the songs before, hearing them this way and on a full length record makes it all feel new again.

His cover of Mac De Marco’s Another Juan (original is Another One) and of course, Time Bomb by the Ramones are excellent moments on the record, and he makes you believe they are his songs. He makes them his own, and if you’re going to cover a song- making it your own is crucial. The record ends with Take Your Time, and this is easily the moment on the record where you stick your headphones on and play it a little louder than usual, just so you can pick up on the emotion in his voice. His voice is so good at projecting raw emotion and each song is played with this beautiful urgency.

I know I’ve said it before, but I’m just so proud of him and this record. It’s probably going to be my favourite record of the year. I have to be biased with this because I just bloody love him and I love this record. Every song is wonderful, the production is great and you can tell just how much time, work and effort has gone into making it.

Olden Goldies is out this Friday (5th May) on BUFU Records.