COURTNEY BARNETT: Tell Me How You Really Feel.

20 05 2018

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Anyone who has a favourite band or singer knows the exact importance of what music means to them. We take the songs and make them our own. They save our lives, they give us courage and become a source of comfort when there isn’t much else. Their words become like religious scriptures, and can give us something to believe in. If that’s what you’re into.

Tell Me How You Really Feel is the new record by Courtney Barnett and it’s worth noting that this is her best work, so far. The lyrics are beautifully close to the bone and the music is gloriously loud and unapologetically in your face. Her voice is stronger and when needed, Courtney pulls out this incredible aggression that makes you feel 10 feet tall. It’s a record of brutal honesty and fearless vulnerabilities. Courtney is a mind blowing song writer, and those of us who are obsessed with her truly fawn over her brilliant way with words.

 

The artwork to this record is an up-close photo of Courtney. There’s something really personable about this shot and it is something that filters through the whole record. There’s a song on the record called Crippling Self-Doubt and a General Lack of Confidence which the title alone is relatable. The song takes you deep into your mind and makes you really connect with Courtney’s wordplay. It’s a record that should top every list and win every award possible based on her writing alone.

Hopefulessness has a line that will resonate with anyone that hears it, “Your vulnerability is stronger than it seems. Y’know it’s okay to have a bad day.” It feels like a mantra that you can echo to yourself when it all seems a bit too much. It’s okay to have days where you feel terrible, and the thought of being around people is just too much. All you want is to be in the safety of your room and shut the world out. This happens. It can happen to anyone, and it is nothing to ever be ashamed about. The way in which Courtney delivers this vital lyric is so humbling, and makes you so proud to be a fan of hers.

I’ve been a fan of Courtney since I first heard the I’ve Got a Friend Called Emily Ferris EP back in 2012. I know I’ve said it loads now, but it was the words that got me. Then it became the way she fearlessly and ferociously played the guitar. I honestly believe that she is most certainly going to be someone that inspires many to pick up an instruments and write songs about what, and who is around them. The fact that she is so easy to relate to provides a cloak of security that well need at times. You can find it anywhere, or sometimes- it’ll find you.

Sometimes I can call out what my favourite song is with first listen, but over the weekend I’ve listened to nothing but Tell Me How You Really Feel and no part of me can choose a song that stands out the most. I can’t possibly let you know which songs stands out for me because every song is a stroke of genius. Everything about Courtney and her band on this record is a true masterpiece.  There is a moment on Nameless, Faceless that if you’ve seen any live clips of Courtney singing this, you’ll notice her voice becomes more gravely than on record. The way she sings, “I hold my keys, between my fingers” on the record is quite tame, but when she plays this live it is like she is releasing a wealth of fury. We’ve all walked home clutching our keys between our fingers, and it’s really sad that this is something we can relate to. It really shouldn’t be like this.

Tell Me How You Really Feel has songs that show Courtney using her way with words to mock an internet troll to adding reassurance to those going through a tough time. There are moments where you truly connect with how fragile a person can be and there are moments where Courtney makes you feel brave. I don’t know if she knows it, but she’s a bloody genius. Musically and lyrically- she’s a genius. There’s no one else quite like her, and no other record is going to move you like this. It is really nothing short of exceptional and relatable.

Buy it. Play it loud, and tell someone how you really feel.

 

 

 

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METRO VERLAINE: Band On The Wall 11/05/2018.

16 05 2018

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On Friday evening, my girlfriend and I went to see one of the best bands from France. In fact, they are probably one of the best bands I have ever seen. Metro Verlaine make music for the dark romantics, music for those who love the eerie side of music. When you see them play, you will immediately be drawn in and hooked forever. A 30 minute set wasn’t enough, and quite frankly- they should have played for another hour!

Metro Verlaine consist of four band members, but during live shows they have my generation’s greatest guitarist- Charlie Rowell (from Crocodiles) who has produced their debut record, Cut-Up. The record is nothing short of phenomenal and brings together everything I love about music. There are resemblances to The Cure and Joy Division. They are definitely influenced by English bands that posses a dark sound but they make it their own.

Raphaëlle  is easily one of the best singers you will ever see. She has such a powerful and amazing voice. She made us feel like we weren’t in a tiny room, she made us feel as if we were in a stadium or in a cathedral. She has such a grand voice, and although you get hints of it on record- it really gets you in the gut during their live shows.

I absolutely adored how the drummer doesn’t use a full kit (think Bobby G when he was in The Jesus And Mary Chain) but makes this incredible noise regardless. He’s louder than most, and I loved that so much. Something that is worth paying attention to with Metro Verlaine is just how effortlessly together they are and how in tune they are with each other. I’m not sure how long they have known each other prior to starting the band, but when you watch them on stage you pick up on this incredible bond. Most of the time they don’t need to say anything to each other, a simple look says it all. Sure I hate the word but the band are just so cool. Maybe it’s because they are French and they have this class to their sound and style that makes you wish you were like them. If I could sing, I’d want the power and range that Raphaëlle possess. I sincerely hope she becomes someone who singers to come cite her as an influence because she’s truly something else. She dances on stage so freely and takes that deep into the crowd. All you can do is watch on in awe.

Cut-Up is a mighty fine record and to hear these songs in a live setting makes you appreciate the record even more. Of course they are criminally underrated, but in time they’ll probably take over the world. They’ve already taken over mine.

Something I really loved about them is their love for Manchester. They are vocal about this and their song, Manchester is a beautiful ode to the greatest city in the world. Everyone on stage plays such a vital role in making the crowd move, each of them leave you wishing you were as cool as them. The only downside was the venue cutting their set way too short. They played for just under half an hour; they could have easily headlined and/or played for another hour or so. Even if they didn’t have enough songs to play for hours, I’d be happy to hear it all on repeat.

Metro Verlaine are the coolest band you’ll hear. They make music to get lost in, and to also find parts of yourself in. Sure you may not understand what they are singing about at times, but who cares?! The music and vocals are enough to keep you hooked for eternity.

VIVA METRO VERLAINE! JE T’AIME!





COLD CAVE: You & Me & Infinity.

28 04 2018

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Some bands stay consistently good, but there are a select few for me that are just always mind-blowing. My love for Cold Cave will be approaching its tenth year next year, but my love for Wesley Eisold and his words go back further. Cold Cave are a band that have always been a lifeline for me, and I can honestly say that their fans are the best. There is something so remarkable about Cold Cave fans, and I think it really does come from Wes’ glorious way with words. Yesterday they released You & Me & Infinity- a four song EP that has a similar sound to their Love Comes Close record.

You & Me & Infinity is yet again another brilliant release by Cold Cave, and is one I can say I will hold close to me. It is a combination of Wes’ words, the musicianship and the urgency and passion in his voice. The sound is dramatic but not in an irritating or bland way. It is deeply passionate and deeply moving. For me, and probably most fans of theirs- I regard Wes as a poet. His got the same way with words as Baudelaire and the eeriness of Poe. Musically, lyrically Cold Cave are beyond all I have ever heard. Cold Cave are a band that I can listen to irrespective of my mood, and they will stir up feelings like no other. There is so much hope, love and lust in the music but they aren’t afraid at all to touch on despair, rage and destruction.

This EP has four songs that just utterly reinforce my love for Cold Cave and it also shows how in the near decade of their existence that they have become one of the greatest bands ever. I know this is all my opinion and is obviously biased, but when it comes to Cold Cave I only know how to write one way- and that is with sheer love and devotion. For the past month I’ve been wanting to find a piece of music that sums up how I’ve felt about leaving a city that broke me to moving to a city I should have always been in. The move has been calm, and this record is calming. It feels like home. That’s how Cold Cave have always been for me.

Glory and Nothing Is True But You are perfect love songs. They are full of love and deep admiration. You can keep your generic flowers and sunshine love songs. I’ll stick to Wes’ words- they hit deeper and mean so much more. I feel like Cold Cave have been such an important part of my life, and I am constantly in awe of what they do. I love the relationship between Wes and Amy. I love how their love for each other merges into their music- it makes it easier to connect with and believe in.

The record ends on My Heart Is Immortal, and it is the best song to close the record on because it immediately makes you start the record all over again. The wonderful synth sound with hypnotic and the way Wes and Amy’s work together is nothing short of perfect and pure. There is something truly wonderful and magnetic about Cold Cave. I found a home in Wes words and my own take on peace in the music

I feel as if words do not do Cold Cave justice. I guess that’s why so many of us that love them have tattoos showing our love for them etched upon our skin. The love is forever, the music is forever, the words are forever. Cold Cave are eternal.

Buy and stream the record here: https://coldcave.bandcamp.com/album/you-me-infinity





LEATHER PARTY: Tired Ize (EP)

24 04 2018

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I am proud to finally call Manchester home (I’ve been here a month already, I know) and one thing in particular that I adore about this beautiful city is the music scene. There are so many bands to discover, venue floors to stick to and record shops to blow your wages in. There’s a new-ish band in town that I have to write about. If you’ve heard of Brown Brogues then you’ll probably be aware of the genius that is Mark Vernon. He’s had other projects such as Machiine, Peace And Love Barbershop Muhammad Ali, has toured with The Underground Youth and is now giving us the effortlessly sleazy and cool; Leather Party.

The full EP was launched into the world via bandcamp a few days ago but if you follow the band page on Facebook, you’ll have seen that Mark has accompanied the songs with a short story. I’ve read the stories and now I’m taking the stories away from the music to write about it. I’ll put a link at the end, as the best way to listen to this record is to read the stories with the music playing. Then listen to the record in full with no distractions.

Mean Like A Snake (which was a PALBMA song) has been re-worked sort of. It gives a different meaning to the song, and it really makes it sound quite sinister. The brilliant thing about Mark is that his vocals more often than not sound really smutty and decadent. I described Brown Brogues as that a few years ago, and I just love the way in which Mark does it. He’s massively underrated as a musician and as a song-writer. I just think the amount of work he puts into his music is admirable, and makes him definitely stand out.

Something I really love about this record is that it has the uneasiness of Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music. The songs will make you feel a little uncomfortable and on edge, especially on No Smoke Bout Fyr which at the moment is my favourite but as we know, I’ll change my mind after several more listens. I’m doing a radio show in June and I’m tempted to just play this record on a loop for 2 hours. There is so much to love about this record and there is so much to admire about it. It’s wonderfully noisy and just an excellent body of work.

It has that industrial sound found in the likes of Suicide mixed with something I can’t quite get my head around, and I think that is part of the appeal. Because it sounds like something you really haven’t heard before but as someone who loves all of Mark’s musical projects to date, there is something a little familiar in his sound. But like I mentioned, there is something that definitely keeps you on edge. It’s part excitement, part nervousness.

This record is so easy to love and is an absolute joy to listen to, and the record closer Thick 2 is the kind of song you’d want to hear on the radio (especially if you’re tired of the mundane.) I love how this record sounds like someone who is really pushing themselves to create something that towers over what they have previously done. I love the passion and dedication in this record. I cannot compare this to anything Mark has done previously, everything he has ever done always sounds different and although there may be familiar sounds at times, he really does make music that stretches beyond labels and what is expected. I have no idea what Mark set out to achieve with Leather Party, but I can safely say that, as a fan it is nothing short of perfect. Sure I’d love more songs but what Mark has created here is something to treasure, play loud and snarl at your neighbours to.

You can buy/stream the release here: https://leatherparty.bandcamp.com/releases

Check out Mark’s stories for the music here also: https://www.wearerawmeat.com/posts/leather-party-tired-ize Start with part 1, and allow yourself to be captivated by Mark’s words and music.





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.





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