GYMSHORTS.

14 06 2018

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Any band that sing about needing a burrito are probably going to be great, right? Gymshorts live up to the sheer joy and greatness that is found in a burrito (don’t trust anyone who doesn’t like Mexican food, seriously.) Gymshorts are all you could possibly want from a Punk band, or a band in general. I’m on my dinner break, so I am going to use my time wisely to write about these 4 exceptionally talented folk.

They’ve recently come off tour with another great band-La Luz. Imagine seeing them together. That’d just be something else for sure. Gymshorts play with this 90s Riot Grrrl aggression mixed with this brutal and charismatic lo-fi sound.  They are fronted by Sarah, who pretty much melts your face with how powerful her voice is and how she pretty much annihilates you with her guitar. Her vocals are equally as loud as her guitar- nothing is overpowered or compromised, and it’s an absolute joy to listen to. They just make you want to throw away your adult responsibilities and just follow them on tour and be completely immersed in the music and live shows. It’s a kick in the gut and it feels so good. So good.

I think they may only have two records out so far, Wet Willy and No Backsies. Both are meant to be played loud to the point where you’re going to be deaf for a couple of days. They’ve got this raw and grand sound that is such a pleasure to hear and something I’ve not heard in a long time. They basically take all the parts of music that I love, and rip it up to make something completely out of this world. They truly are an exceptional band, and they just make you want to throw a whole bunch of shit around, and be irresponsible. Sometimes we need music to bring this out of us, and Gymshorts do this so well.

No Backsies was released first, and it’s got this proper ferocious feel to it that makes you feel like an angry dog is biting at your ankle. You don’t care for the blood that is drawn; it is the sheer rush that spurs you on. I think this is the louder record out of the two, and it definitely cemented their raw and rough sound. They consistently make you feel like you are in their rehearsal space where nothing is held back and everything just comes tumbling out. No hang ups at all. Both records are nothing short of being effortlessly brilliant. And fuck it, I hate the word but Gymshorts are definitely cool. They make you wish you were in a band as cool as them.

They’ve got a real Punk attitude in their sound and the way in which Sarah carries her voice. The distorted and almost shouty vocals are really what lures you in. Sometimes when a singer tries to do this, they really fuck it up but Sarah has this way of not making it come across as forced. It’s definitely not forced, and that’s what keeps you listening to them.

They can sing about burritos all day long and I wouldn’t get tired. There aren’t enough songs about them, thank god Gymshorts have done it. I love Punk and I love Mexican food, so it’s no surprise that I am in love with Gymshorts music. Sure it may not be to everyone’s taste, but they really are an incredible band who sure know how to play.

The new record, Knock Knock should be out this year, and the song above (Breathin On Me) pretty much shows just how exciting the new record is going to be. It’ll be released via Wallflower / Burger Records. Bachelor Records will also be releasing it in Europe. Buy the music and of course, play it loud.

 

*photo by Casey Joseph

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WIRE: Pink Flag.

12 06 2018

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In 1977, Wire released one of the most influential and important records of all time. I should probably say it’s one of the best Punk records of all time too, but it goes beyond that. Way beyond. It’s 35 minutes of mind-blowing and euphoric songs that make you want to pick up a guitar, make some noise then trash the stage as you leave. It’s a riot in your ears, and it has never sounded or felt so good.

Wire are a band that held English Punk in their hands and squashed it to turn it into something else. They kept the aggression and the snarling sounds, and made it go beyond it being just Punk. Pink Flag is a defining record and you can’t believe something so fantastic was a debut record. It sounds like something from a band well into their career. It’s all well and good me going on about how amazing this record is now, but when it came out in 1977, it was pretty much overlooked. Which is just absolutely criminal. A record like Pink Flag doesn’t hit us all that often. It’s a record that once you hear it, that’s it- life changed for ever.

Lowdown is my favourite off Pink Flag, and I love that I can hear how bands like Fugazi and Black Flag have been influenced by this record, and probably this song. There is something about it that reminds me of Waiting Room by Fugazi. I think it’s all down to the vocals. Ian MacKaye has definitely taken notes from Pink Flag and who can blame him.

The songs are short but by no means sweet. They have a brilliant rage to them that makes you listen to them with how they are played- with urgency. Like I said, they just make you want to take a battered guitar and make a load of noise. It’s a record that you can lean on and let it unleash any fury or demons you may have. It’s a record that becomes more than a safety net and best friend. For me, the production is exceptional. It is above and beyond whatever else it was up against back in ’77.

Pink Flag is a record full of songs that in their absolute glory, smack you right in the chops and do not care for how much damage they cause. I know I said it goes beyond being a Punk record, but bloody hell it is such an amazing Punk record. I love how every song just feels like something you have never heard before, even if you’ve been listening to the record for decades and decades. However loud you want to play it, every song will have you moving about without a care. 106 Beats That is THE song that will definitely have you moving in all sorts of ways, and sure the songs aren’t that long but they don’t need to be. They’re just insanely brilliant and effortlessly cool.

Pink Flag has been cited by many as being an important record, and a record that you simply must own. I can’t help but think what it would have been like to have heard this record for the first time back in 1977. Imagine hearing the riff of Strange for the first time, and just being left with your jaw wide open in awe of how brilliant it is. Colin’s voice grips you and makes you feel like he’s taking you under his wing to join the cult of Wire. Imagine…just imagine first hearing this record all those years ago and having this feeling just absolutely take you over. Holy shit!

To sum up, Wire are one of the greatest bands of all time and Pink Flag- regardless when you hear it for the first time, will change your life and improve your record collection. What they did with this record, they have done all throughout their career and that’s why Punk will never ever die.





ANNA CALVI: Don’t Beat The Girl Out Of My Boy.

6 06 2018

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Time is precious. Time can be cruel. Time can be kind. Over time, good things can happen. This is apt for the new Anna Calvi single, Don’t Beat The Girl Out Of My Boy. She is someone I have idolised since I first heard Jezebel in 2010. I was hooked on her voice. She reminded me of the ones I had loved (and still love) before her- Tom Waits, Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen and PJ Harvey. Now she’s back and I can’t pretend to even try hide my sheer joy about this.

Don’t Beat The Girl Out Of My Boy toys with everything that is supposed to be “normal.” But the thing is, nothing is normal. Nothing has to be how it always has been. It’s important to challenge ideas, ideals and people. What’s the point if we live in a world of repetition and blandness? This song 100% shows us just why Anna is a genius. I may lob that around a lot, but my god she totally is. The love I felt when I heard here back in 2010 has come rushing back. It feels like falling in love at a billion miles an hour with no concept of time and space. It’s the best feeling. This song evokes all kinds of happiness and questions. It totally messes with how society views sexuality, gender and everything else. Freedom cannot be dictated, and Anna expresses this so beautifully here. I cannot wait for the tour and her new record.

The song oozes private moments that you share with the one you love. Those proper intimate moments that nothing and no one can interrupt or take from you. It’s these moments that become sacred and vital for the soul to be comforted. It’s a modern love song that messes with what you’ve come to expect from love, lust and passion. It’s such a fantastic song that needs to be played all the time and as loud as you can handle, and allow the song to take you over like an outer-body experience. I’m happy to keep listening to this over and over until her new record, Hunter comes out.

There’s something about this record, and song that Anna has said which resonates with me a hell of a lot, “I’m fighting against feeling an outsider and trying to find a place that feels like home.” This is such a beautiful and relatable quote, and I think it sums up her music completely. She’s unlike anyone else and she pushes and tests us with her charming way with words. Her words provide comfort and safety, but at the same time she takes you away from all that you know and challenges you. I simply adore this about her and her music. Her words are powerful and poetic. She is a walking, talking, singing, breathing masterpiece. I really cannot do her music justice by writing words about her. I really can’t. From about the 2 minute 45 second mark in the song, she hits this note. This note will shatter you and make you feel so alive. Her voice is so powerful, and she can be harsh and delicate at once.

She has the darkness of Poe and the romantic side of Rimbaud. She isn’t afraid to show fragility and feel vulnerable with her music and words. She does it in a way that evidently isn’t forced. None of it is an act- it’s all her, and that is exactly why you connect with her. If you feel like I do about her music, or even about another musician- you’ll know that these feelings are something to treasure and adore.

Hunter will be released on 31st August 2018 via Domino. Next February she will be playing a massive show at the Roundhouse in London on 7th February. But if you cannot wait until then (understandable!) you can see Anna and her amazing band in September/October:

SEPTEMBER
27th Belfast, Empire
28th Dublin, Tivoli Theatre
30th Glasgow, St Luke’s

OCTOBER
1st Manchester, Ritz
3rd Newcastle, Boiler Shop
4th Birmingam, Town Hall
5th Brighton, All Saints Church
6th Bristol, SWX





ICEAGE: Beyondless.

25 05 2018

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When a band hits the four record mark, you’re probably safe in calling them all various terms for “great.” I cannot praise Iceage enough, and Beyondless is a statement of how brilliant they really are. There is something about them that throws you back in time but also hurls you full pelt into the future. It’s a raucous record that takes pleasure in corrupting every single part of you.

Allow me to explain why this record is one of 2018’s finest moments.

Beyondless is a record that shows just how much they have grown, and in four records they have truly left a lasting impression. New Brigade was such a phenomenal record, and of course it can’t be replicated but the thing about Iceage is that they have no intention of creating the same sound over and over. For me, it is their ability to just mess with your mind completely which has me hooked. Elias is a hypnotising frontman who gives off hints of Nick Cave circa The Birthday Party. He’s not as loud as Nick was back then, but he’s got this drawl to his voice that is quite similar. It is moving, it is romantic and it is something you cannot get enough of. We need more singers like this. Unafraid to be this way and to just unleash hell on record and on stage. He’s backed by incredible musicians who can compete beautifully with his energy. It is like they all encourage each other to be louder, to sound more sinister and to really push themselves.

Under The Sun is a really strong example of how much they have evolved, and how in just four and a half minutes, they can make you feel as if you’re having an outer body experience. It’s one of those songs you’ll probably keep going back to, then we go right into the heart of the record on the song The Day The Music Dies. I love how Elias vocals sound exhausted- this isn’t a diss at all. I’d not bother writing about the record if I had anything bad to say. I mean it in a Julian Casablancas way, and we all know how exceptional he is. There is something in Iceage’s music that has a dreamy feel to it but also quite eerie. Part of you wants to allow yourself to escape with them, but the other part is totally freaked out about what you’re hearing.

It’s a gloriously smutty record that has so much soul and emotion to it. There are standout songs on the record, sure. But it’s hard to really pick them out because it’s such a brilliant record. I wish I could pick certain songs out for you to go on about, and why they are so great but honestly- listen to the record. Plead The Fifth is one of those songs that throw your emotions about and send you off into a whirl. I can’t get enough of this record, and  it really does make the four-year wait for a new record totally worth it. Going back to Plead The Fifth real quick, it’s got a feel of The Passenger by Iggy Pop.

I think it is pretty fair to say that Elias is a poet. He’s beyond just a singer- he’s got something else, and his something else makes his way with words utterly divine and captivating. Iceage are a band I hope that in decades to come, are cited as being highly influential. The absolute urgency in Catch It is so magnificent, and the way Elias sings this song makes you cling on to every single word. Dan smashes the shit out of the drums on this one, and his fury is beautifully worked with Jakob and Johan unleashing a riot. The constant crashing sound leads up to the euphoric ending of the song. It becomes uncontrollable, and I’m pretty sure in their live shows that this will be the song that makes us all lose our minds. The song brings you down, then launches you up real high and catapults you off into the unknown. It’s over five minutes of greatness.

If you’re into making lists, then this record should probably be at the top. Play it loud at every single chance you get and go to one of their upcoming shows. I think they’re over in the UK in September.

Beyondless is a masterpiece and truly shows us all how fantastic Iceage are, but hey- we knew that anyway!





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.

 

 

 





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