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.

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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.





GLAARE: To Deaf And Day.

4 11 2017

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There are a handful of bands that make a massive impact with their debut record, and it leaves you wondering how you’ve got this far without them. How music could have got this far without them, and how on earth can they create perfection instantly. These thoughts and more come trickling in as I listen to the absolutely gorgeous debut record by GLAARE. To Deaf And Day is magnificent and it is one of those records that makes me want to head out to L.A. and obsessively go to all of their shows. Spend my days listening to their music and being in a state of bliss. Sounds ideal. In my head, I’m doing that right now.

GLAARE are a 3-piece from Los Angeles, and their music makes you think you are listening to a band from Berlin in the 70s with their glorious Goth sound. They’ve been labelled by many as being Goth. Sure, but if you don’t give a shit about genre (I’m with you) then you’ll probably just call them amazing and other praise-like descriptions. Their sound is so freeing and so wonderfully romantic. Rachael’s voice is absolutely haunting and comforting. The way she can sing over such eerie sounds and relax the mind is nothing short of admirable and powerful. Some have resembled her voice to Zola Jesus. I’m a MASSIVE fan of Zola Jesus (true story: I nearly set my kitchen on fire whilst listening to Stridulum because I wasn’t paying attention to the cooker.) Rachael’s voice is lighter and the power in her voice is different to Nika’s. Both possess voices that I wish I had, and voices that are just incredibly underrated. Imagine if they did a song together! I’d be in heaven.

To Deaf And Day is one of the best moments in music this year, no contest. Everything about this record gives me that same feeling I got when I heard Seventeen Seconds by The Cure for the first time. I always look for music that will give me that feeling of hearing that record for the first time, and GLAARE have done exactly that, and more. To Deaf And Day is meant to be heard in a setting that will not have any interruptions. I recommend drawing the curtains, turn off the light, hit play and shut your eyes. I think this is how I’ll fall asleep tonight.

For me, this record is the kind of record I’d never ever shut up about. I think it is going to be one of the records I continue to play probably every single day for the rest of the year, and beyond. It is effortlessly beautifully. It is elegant and timeless. A true testament to how great this record is comes out on the song Isky which is 5 minutes and 44 seconds of euphoria and beauty. Every song on this record shows how brilliant they all are, but there is something about Isky that really hammers it home how great they all are. Right after Isky is the one I’ll probably keep on a loop- Suffer. Again, there is something about Rachael’s voice here that just makes me feel at ease. We are then hit with the possibly most heavy sounding song on the record- Surrender/Control. This is such a strong song (I don’t mean it in an annoying hipster sense, I mean actual weight of the song) and it feels like you’re watching everything around you just fall to the ground and crumble as you listen to this song. Maybe if/when the world ends this is the song that will be playing.

For sheer sentimental value, the opener My Love Grows In Darkness is probably my favourite. The lyrics are gorgeous, and possibly lyrically, one of my favourites this year.

There is no denying just how phenomenal this record is. It may be their debut record but it feels like something a band with decades of records would make. Everything about To Deaf And Day defines perfection. It has this glorious darkness to it that will comfort anyone and become their safety net. It just oozes this heavenly sound that simply makes it one of the best records I’ve heard in a long, long time.





BANKS: O2 Institute Birmingham 22nd October 2017

27 10 2017

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Although the gig was about 5 days ago, I have every moment from it stored carefully in my mind. There is something about BANKS that just makes her standout. There is something about her that I’ve not seen in anyone else. That I’ll never see in anyone else. It’s a form of healing but it is also a work of art that cannot be ignored.

I toyed with reviewing the show because I really cannot say anything else about her shows that I hadn’t covered earlier this year. However, it is fairly obvious that with each show she just gets better. Her band and dancers get better each time. Her fans are the best also. If you are ever seeking a dedicated fan base, then just speak to her fans. I’ve loved her since 2014, and I remember that feeling I got. I felt like someone just got me. Someone could pull out everything I was feeling and thinking, and expressing it in a way that I knew I couldn’t. Like I said, healing. The front row of her shows consist of fans who are so passionate and an absolute credit to her. They also make you proud to be a fans of hers. I could easily write an essay about them. If I was in a band, I’d be honoured to have such a solid fan base. They sing every word back to her with such urgency and again, passion in their voice. No one cares if you can sing or not- it doesn’t matter. No song towers over the other with how loud they are. Every single song is sung as if their lives depend on it- and these songs have probably saved their live, and provided a safety net. I’m just speaking for myself, but I reckon it’s a pretty accurate assumption. Fuck With Myself and Gemini Feed are stunning, and the way the crowd yell “There is no fixing to the problem when you’re talking to, an idiot!” during Trainwreck is a brilliant moment too. You can sense how much it means to everyone.

Her set list for her Birmingham show hasn’t really changed from when I saw her a few months ago. A couple of songs were missed a lot (Weaker Girl and 27 Hours) but it#s alright! Her Manchester and London shows did get 27 Hours but they also FINALLY got a live performance of her cover of Fast Car by Tracy Chapman. BANKS fans know how much she loves her and we’ve waited so long for a full version of this song. I didn’t get to see it, but the live clips I’ve seen have been amazing. It shows her voice in a different way and it shows also, how powerful she is.

What I absolutely love about her shows is that it feels like a pure body of art. It is a masterpiece that has so much thought, love and care put into it. The dance routines she has to certain songs make you see and feel the songs differently. The choreography to opener Poltergeist is one of the best things I have EVER seen. The way they move their bodies in a way that looks like they are possessed is so hypnotising. You cannot help but focus on the movements rather than the song at times but like I said, it makes you take the song differently. I love the choreography to Haunt too.

A few weeks ago she put out Underdog. I was hoping she would do this, and she saved it right for the end. The choreography to this is also mind-blowing. They stalk the stage as if they’ve got the devil with them. They move in this wonderful darkness that has a hold of you and doesn’t let you go. The way they move their bodies is just astounding. Pretty sure if any of us did it we’d end up in A&E with a broken back or something! Obviously it would be worth it.

To be a little personal, I cried during Crowded Places. I was doing so well until the last minute or so of the song. I held it together until that last part of the song. I don’t know if it was because of what the song recently got me through or because of how beautiful it was to see everyone sing a long. Everyone sang as if they wrote the song, and it was just gorgeous.

I adored seeing Beggin’ For Thread and This Is What It Feels Like again. There is something about seeing these two songs live for me that just makes me feel like some kind of spiritual/out of body experience has hold of me. She hits this note during This Is What It Feels Like, and my god it just…it’s so powerful and so captivating. I could hear it on a loop for hours and hours and it would still leave me in awe. It’s another moment in her show that shows just how fantastic she truly is. It’s such an ethereal thing to watch and to hear. The crowd really belts out this song to her, especially Beggin’ For Thread. Waiting Game is also effortlessly wonderful, and the choreography to this is just perfect. Once you see BANKS, you cannot stop. You have to find way to cope with waiting to see her again. It is worth the wait. We waited long enough for someone like her to exist, so holding out for a tour seems easy enough, right?

Goddess and The Altar are two of the most captivating records I own and constantly listen to. Her music can ease the rut I get myself into, they can calm me down after a panic attack, they help when the depression wants to kick in and my medication feels like it is doing nothing for me. Her words, her music are my safety net. Her live shows feel like home. Not every band or singer can have this much of a grip on someone, but when we find them- we cling.

The confidence she has on stage is so subtle but you know it is there. Her fans have this outpouring of love for her that you sense she just feeds off, and it is such an amazing thing to see and be part of. There is such diversity in her crowds, and I think that is part of what makes her shows so special. She can connect with anyone and it is so powerful.

Her music will soothe any soul and her live shows will make you feel like you can take on the world. The comedown from her shows isn’t great. All you can think about is when you’ll see her next. But you know, worth the wait. Always.





MARVELOUS MARK

19 10 2017

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Something about the boring everyday lives we lead probably means we seek out something that has meaning. Or we just accept it. I don’t know. Maybe it’s one of those things that probably don’t matter as much as it could/should. Anyway, I’m all for escapism in all ways possible. There’s nothing better than finding a band that take you away from everything that’s going on for a few hours. By accident, I’ve found a singer that does exactly that.

Marvelous Mark is essentially a one-man band. One person who makes an exquisite amount of noise that can drown out all the things that irritate you. Besides, he’s someone you need to listen to quite loudly to really appreciate how great he is. Mark reminds me slightly of Wavves. He’s got that sense of boredom but yearning for something more in his songs, and I think a lot can relate to that. He just makes you want to pack everything in, and go on a trip somewhere. Just you and the road. Take a friend/lover if you want. Someone to talk about the music with.

I think he had a record come out this Summer and possibly at the start of the year. What’s really great about Mark is that his music just instantly makes you feel better. I’m not saying I’m magically cured of feeling less anxious/depressed (I’m on medication, I’m not just claiming to be it because an online quiz said I was!) but my brain isn’t going as fast and I don’t feel as sick as I normally do. Each symptom is different, and most days are tough. I like to find new music to make me feel better and to make life easier. It helps. Even though right now, I just want to lie in bed and stay there for a while. Mark’s music makes you feel like you’re on a sun-kissed beach in L.A just watching everything around you and taking in as much as you can stand. I love that he can create this beautiful warm sound in his music. He takes away the harshness of the world with his music, his words and his beautiful voice. He makes you wish you join his band and see the world like him.

Mark’s released his music on the effortlessly brilliant (and partly responsible for my [pay-day treats) Drunken Sailor Records. This seems like the perfect place for him to release his music as both are as passionate as each other about giving us some insanely great music. The more I listen to Mark, the more I just want to try deafen myself with his fuzzy sounding guitar style and rowdy vocals. But sadly, I can’t do that. When 4pm hits- then I probably will.

His music is truly worth delving into. Don’t start so loud and eventually build yourself up to go louder with the next listen. By the third song you listen to by Mark, you’ll probably be making your neighbours houses shake. Wake up the neighbourhood, disturb the peace- do whatever you want!

You can listen to most of Mark’s music right here:

https://marvelousmark.bandcamp.com/

 





NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS: Manchester Arena- 25/09/2017

28 09 2017

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Never in my life did I ever think I would see Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds live. I treated them like mythical god-like beings that I would worship but never see. It all changed last night. Everything changed last night. I know I always say it but, I can honestly say that Monday night’s show was the best gig I had ever been to. Nothing is ever going to top it. I don’t want anything to ever top it. It was something I thought I could prepare myself for, but honestly nothing can prepare you for ever seeing your idol.
I’ve allowed a few days to pass so I can process what I saw and felt on Monday night and to be honest I think it is one of those things I’ll never get my head around. Prior to Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds arriving on stage, the atmosphere was tense. A lot of people had picked up on it and it was just so heavy. I heard people mention what had happened and how they could sense it. It was an odd environment but as soon they stepped on stage, everything changed.

As soon as they graced the stage, tears fell from my eyes. The tears were from years and years of waiting. Years of admiring this poster I remember seeing to having the man himself stood in close proximity. It was entirely surreal.

The bulk of the set was Skeleton Tree. I’ve only listened to the record a handful of times. It’s such a gorgeous record but the circumstance surrounding it is heartbreaking. However, seeing these songs live changed it all. The emotion was there but more so- I was in awe of all of them. Every single person on that stage is a genius and the best musicians I have ever seen.

For me, the way Warren takes an instrument like the violin and turns it into this wild weapon like a machine gun blew my mind. He took something calming and whipped up a heavenly storm. It felt like the inside of my head when I have a panic attack, except I felt totally at ease with it all.

I know it is utterly expected but I need to write about Into My Arms. It’s a song that has come to mean everything to me. It’s always reminded me of someone, and to finally be able to hold her close as they performed this perfect dedication of love meant the world. And I could see just how much it meant to everyone in the venue.

From Her To Eternity sent me off on a whirlwind. If I could live in the moment of any song, it would have to be that. It’s one of the most important song to me by anyone. From the lyrics, the music, the title and Nick’s voice- it is just a perfect work of art that I always remember being one of the first Bad Seeds songs I ever heard. Those moments stay with you, and so does seeing it live. It’s a moment that you want to always stay in.

From Her To Eternity went right into Tupelo. It was like a storm arriving. It was wild and it was untameable. Every little detail just made you fall deeply in love with the band. More than you already were, and to think it wasn’t possible!

One moment in the set made me cry harder than most. I really didn’t think Jubilee Street would make me cry at all. It’s a song I’ve loved but never did I think I’d get myself in a state. Towards the end of the song when Nick powerfully and beautifully  (I’m getting goosebumps writing this) sings “I’m transforming, I’m vibrating, I’m glowing. Look at me now!” If I could describe in a way that does this moment justice, I would. But if you were there or if you’ve ever seen them do this live, I hope you understand what I mean and what I’m getting at.

Higgs Boson Blues felt like a punch to the face, like your soul was being shaken up. There are songs I wish they did but honestly they could have sung the weather and I’d have been happy, and still declared it as the best gig I’ve ever been to.

As I watched Nick be propped up by the crowd with their hands reaching out to him waiting to be touched and held- I kept thinking it was like a sermon. The stage is their altar and we are their dedicated followers. At one point Nick announces how gorgeous Warren is and he also discusses his purple socks with a guy in the crowd. At the encore, I think he hands him one of his socks. There was also an idiot who twice yelled at Nick, “Get your dick out!” I don’t condone violence, but I wish Nick found the doofus and smacked him in the choppers.

I’m not a religious person, but this gig felt like a religious experience. I’m totally fine with Nick being my god and my teacher. I clung onto every word he sang with such hope, love and admiration. Nothing has felt the same since. I feel as if I could be okay with never going to a gig again after seeing them because let’s face it, nothing in this world is ever going to top it. As I gazed up at the stage, I felt 3 years old again staring at the poster on my uncle’s wall with curious eyes and anticipating what would happen if I delved deeper.

I loved when Nick walked into the crowd in the seating area. He stood like a majestic creature. Controlling the crowd with hand claps and silencing us when he wished. We would do anything he wanted. The stage invasion was such a beautiful moment. To see that many people on stage with the band they adore was just beautiful, and as the set ended with Push The Sky Away everything felt alright. What comes next is going to be okay, no matter what.

I’m sure I have missed out many things that happened, but I’m still trying to stay in that moment of seeing them live, finally. Of course if I had the money I’d have happily done the whole tour. The crowd were wonderful, the band were phenomenal. There are so many reasons as to why this is the best gig I’ve ever been to and if you were there, you’d understand.

Nick Cave. The Bad Seeds. From Them To Eternity….





THE CRAMPS: Fiends Of Dope Island.

19 09 2017

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So here we are, the last record by The Cramps. In 2003, The Cramps released Fiends Of Dope Island- their eight full length record. It isn’t my favourite record, but thankfully it still has THAT sound that we all knew and love. The sound that defined them. The sound that made them so important and so influential.

I thought writing about all their records would have taken me longer than this. However, from the start I knew it was something I would have to see through. Besides, what else am I going to do with my spare time?

Fiends Of Dope Island opens with Big Black Witchcraft Rock. It’s a heavy song in comparison to what they have previously done. This record is a heavy sounding record and in some parts of the record, it doesn’t completely sound like The Cramps. I know a band shouldn’t make the same sounding record over and over. The Cramps never did that, but you always knew it was them. There is no fault at all in Ivy’s raucous guitar skills- you never could fault her or Lux at all.

There are some great songs on this record such as Dr Fucker M.D (Musical Deviant), Dopefiend Boogie and She’s Got Balls. It is still a brilliant record by them, don’t get me wrong. But I had a bit of a hard time getting into this one. I mean nothing is going to beat A Date With Elvis or Stay Sick! for me but it is still a strong record that sits nicely with their lengthy list of releases.

I love the slick sounds on Taboo, and how Chopper Franklin truly adds something special to this cover. It also shows just how fantastic Lux’s voice was. He sings slightly different on this one. It doesn’t typically sound like him, and I think that’s why this cover really stands out on this record. It is one of my favourite covers they’ve ever done also. I love Hang Up. It’s got Lux sounding quite snarly, and I really love that. I love how he could do anything with his voice. The way he’d sound like every part of him was shaking as he sung. The banshee-like wails he makes on the end of the song are just excellent. It’s one of the best moments on the record for sure. I also think Oowee Baby is one of the songs on the record that sounds typically them. It’s got a sound that reminds me a little of their earlier records.

I feel that Fiends Of Dope Island is slightly darker than their previous records. This record does feel quite heavy. I don’t know if they knew this would be the last record they were going to make or not. It’s hard to tell.  The artwork to the record is creepy. Lux has this demonic look, and it kind of gives you an impression of how they wanted this record to sound. It is dark and it is menacing. I don’t know how this record sits amongst other fans of The Cramps. I’ve played it a few times in a row now prior to writing this and it has grown on me. I really love Dr Fucker M.D- there’s something brilliantly eerie about this song. It sounds like something you would hear playing in a horror film. You can imagine Dr Fucker being this wild doctor who just causes absolute mayhem.

From listening to all of The Cramps records, it has just made me love and appreciate them even more. No other band is ever going to make something as wonderfully sleazy as I Want To Get In Your Pants or something as decadent as Kizmiaz. The Cramps were one-offs. Every single record shows that, and maybe they knew with Fiends Of Dope Island it would be their last. I think they did set out what they had and needed to do. Of course we would have taken more. I wish I was one of the lucky ones who got to see The Cramps. Any line-up, I don’t care. I’d have just loved to have seen them.

So there we have it. All eight records written about. All eight records listened to more carefully than usual, and loved more than before.

Viva The Cramps!