THE VACANT LOTS: Endless Nights.

20 04 2017

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Stating what makes a band great is all down to personal taste. What I love, another person will dislike. And vice versa. What someone may call the Record of the Year, another may rip it to shreds. With this in mind, I can happily say (with a wealth of bias behind it) that The Vacant Lots are easily one of the best bands around and their new record, Endless Nights is probably the best record of the year. It’s 8 perfect songs and it fully justifies why I love them so much.

I’ve been a fan of The Vacant Lots for some time, and what immediately drew me in was the way they push past holding a “typical” sound. Nothing about their sound is remotely bland. Their sound reminds me of Suicide with a hint of The Velvet Underground. They’re a band that are perfect to listen to in the depths of the night when you’re utterly alone. They provide comfort and a brilliant noise in your head.

Endless Nights is something else. Departure was undoubtedly a bold masterpiece and with Endless Nights they have done something else. You can truly hear how they have pushed themselves in order to make something this outstanding. Elevation is one of my highlights of the record, it sounds like Suicide clashing with very early Depeche Mode with a hint of NEU! Everything about The Vacant Lots is effortlessly stunning and just so bloody cool. Empty Space is another strong point. The seductive grooves of this track show a more mellow side to their sound. Previous releases of theirs have had this gorgeous dark and intense sound, but with Endless Nights the sound is a little more relaxed but you can really hear how they have challenged themselves to make such an incredible record.

I finally saw them live last year when they played the Moth Club. Jared holding his guitar up to the ceiling and playing until there was blood on his fingers and guitar is something that will always stick with me. They play with this passion that just makes you want to make your own noise. After seeing them live last year, I understood more about their music and just how important they are. They have this cult-like following (a bit like Cold Cave) and those that love them, truly and unconditionally love them. It’s those who really really love and adore music that find themselves in love with The Vacant Lots, and if you’ve never heard of them before- Endless Nights is going to steal your heart away.

Dividing Light is a relaxed version of the rowdy 6AM from their Departure record. Both takes on the song are just brilliant. I love how they have taken such a loud song and stripped it back to this. Both versions are remarkable, and they’ll fit any mood you’re in.

If you’re a fan of The Vacant Lots, you’ll know of their beautiful and close relationship with Suicide. I remember when Alan Vega passed away last year. I was more cut up about it than any other musician we lost last year. For me, Suicide have always been that band that have been prominent in influencing bands I love. They’re criminally underrated and the influence they’ve had on so many bands is just priceless. Sadly, Alan died before he could record his vocals on the last track of the record, Suicide Note. The Vacant Lots were granted permission to use clips of an unreleased track by Alan, and it just feels like a fitting tribute. It just reminds you of the genius that is Alan Vega, and how he and Martin Rev were part of one of the most vital bands of all time.

Endless Nights is another masterpiece by Jared and Brian. 8 tracks of mind-blowing and mind-altering sounds that will be your crutch, comfort and friend. I can’t wait to see them in London and Manchester this year. Their Europe/UK June dates are as follows:

3rd Mannheim, Blau Bar
5th Wiesbaden, Schlachtof
6th Hamburg, Hakken
7th Berlin, Monarch
10th Bern, Pinto
13th London, Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen
14th Brighton, Hope & Ruin
15th Glasgow, O2 ABC
16th Leeds, Temple Of Boom
17th Manchester, Aatma

Endless Nights is out tomorrow (21st April) via Metropolis Records. Sack off Record Store Day on Saturday and just buy this instead! Besides, every day is Record Store Day.





PINS: Bad Thing EP.

24 03 2017

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In some ways, I guess I could just say this blog is dedicated to the same bands over and over. That probably makes me boring, but I don’t care. It’s not my fault that a solid few I love put out excellent music that deserves being written about. I’ve been writing about PINS for a long time now, and every time I write about them it is as if I find something new to love about them. Everything they put out seems a step above what they previously did. They have a really strong sound, and aren’t afraid to be different and more importantly, create a sound that is so important.

As part of the Bad Thing EP, PINS have worked with the King of Punk. The Godfather of Punk, Iggy Pop on the lead track Aggrophobe. The partially spoken word track captures why we love him- his voice. Speaking or singing, Iggy has such a distinctive voice and with Faith’s voice merging with his on the hook, you kind of want Iggy to be a permanent member of PINS. It’s such a brilliant song, and the video to it is equally great.

Bad Thing is a handful of songs that show perfectly just how great PINS are and how their sound and beautifully evolved. I need to touch on their stunning cover of Dead Souls by Joy Division. Not many people can work a cover and add something to it. I think if someone is going to cover a song, they should do something that makes it theirs. That makes you believe it is their song and doesn’t belong to someone else. They’ve done it beautifully with Dead Souls. When I first heard PINS a part of me heard familiar hints of Joy Division in their sound, and I’m so happy they chose this as the Joy Division song to cover. It’s one of their best ones, and PINS make it their own but still leave parts of Joy Division within the song. It is 4 minutes and 35 seconds of ethereal darkness. It’s comforting and sacred. For me, PINS are made up of 5 excellent musicians who are the best at what they do. If you’ve seen them live, they’ve probably all left you wishing you could play an instrument. I firmly stand by Sophie being one of the best drummers I’ve ever seen.

After spending my morning at work listening to Bad Thing, I’m pretty much set on In Nightmares being my favourite song. Faith’s voice is gorgeous on this song. There are a number of songs by PINS where her voice just sounds so haunting yet angelic, In Nightmares is easily one of them (Everyone Says is another, from their last record) In Nightmares is the song you go back to and play constantly. Irrespective of your mood, it’ll make you feel like you’ve got a safety net and well, we all need that at times and sometimes it takes form in the shape of music.

All Hail is a song they have already been putting in their shows, and it is so good to see. It’s got this wonderful gang-like feel to it as they sing, “All hail.” It’s like a protective circle around the band and those who love their music. PINS are one of those bands you wish you could join. You’d start a band if you could, but you know you wouldn’t be able to get a sound like this. There is something familiar about their sound, which makes you know it is them but there is something else that lies within their sound that makes you unsure if it is a band from decades and decades ago, or if this is really a band from 2017 making this ideal sound.

To be honest, PINS have got the ideal sound. But that’s just my opinion. For me their sound is everything I want from music and from a band. I love their lyrics but I also love watching their live shows. I’ve seen them at pretty much every London show they’ve done. They’re playing up the road from my house next month, and I’m so excited about it. They are a band that you have just got to see live. Each show they’ve done that I’ve seen just shows how much they have grown. Not just on record, but on a stage too. The confidence is properly there now, and I am so proud of them.

Bad Thing is out now, but limited copies are available.





STEAL SHIT DO DRUGS.

26 02 2017

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What’s in a name? Nothing? Everything? Something? Who cares! Steal Shit Do Drugs (SSDD if you like censorship!) are one of the most exciting bands around, and they are currently a couple days into a month long tour of the UK and Europe. They’re playing some neat sweaty venues, which is perfect for their brilliant degenerate sound.

I think they’ve only been around for maybe 2 years and I think last year was when their first record came out. I could be wrong though. The record consists of 11 in your face Punk/Garage Rock songs that are made to be screamed back at the band out of fury and love. Find your passion and yell. I’ve read nothing about Steal Shit Do Drugs, so I have no idea who they are being compared to. It’s lazy to make any comparisons, so I’ll stay away from that. But in all honesty, I can’t really think of anyone that they sound like. They sound like a band from the Punk era but they also sound like a band that are slightly ahead of everyone else right now. We need more rowdy sounds in our ears to unleash the frustrations of daily life, and Steal Shit Do Drugs are the best band to do it to.

I don’t know what the Seattle music scene is like, but I’m going to declare Steal Shit Do Drugs as the best band from there. It’s not really a bold statement, more like an honest one. But, it’s just my opinion and that’s never counted for much. I love how their sound can just capture the true hell of a daily routine that eats at you, surrounded in a place that you are desperate to get out of. You’re in a version of hell that others would probably be okay with, but it’s your hell and this is the comforting soundtrack to it. I can only imagine that their live shows portray this in a fantastic way. They strike me as a band that you’ve just GOT to see live to really dig the sound.

Lead singer, Kennedy has this glorious charm that comes across beautifully on record and he allows you to imagine him strutting about on stage. Getting in the face of the crowd and screaming the words at them, just waiting for someone to scream them back at him. There’s a real urgency to this sound, and they are band that just need to be heard. There’s simply no denying how great Steal Shit Do Drugs are, and I’m pretty sure this month long tour of the UK and Europe is going to win a number of people over

Organdie is my favourite track so far. It’s a real loud number that echoes sounds of The Stooges in the best way imaginable. It’s got a real dirty Punk sound, it’s the kind of Punk that shocked parents like the Dead Boys and The Stooges. It’s flamboyant and it’s in your face. There are quiet moments and all of a sudden the last 2 minutes of the song are just a massive yelp-fest. It’s brilliant! I can’t get enough of it. I think it’s the one that’s going to really get the crowd going at their shows, if they play it,  of course.

They’re the kind of band that you’d want to tour with, that you’d want to go record shopping with, hang out with, join their band and the kind of band you MUST go see live at any given chance. Buy the music, play loud, learn the words and yell with them as loud as you can.





DR CHAN: Southside Suicide.

23 02 2017

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Last night I wrote about how much I love Dr Chan and how excited I am for their new record, Southside Suicide which comes out tomorrow on Stolen Body Records. I’m going to attempt to now write about why it is one of the finest records around and why if, you’re into making lists, it should top your Records of the Year list come December.

I tried to listen to it at work but I realised something would lose my attention and I didn’t want it to be Dr Chan. Within first listen I feel like I am at one of their shows or watching them rehearse in some cramped room. It’s definitely not an overproduced record nor is it one that sounds like they’ve tried too hard to sound a certain way. It sounds like a very honest and brutal record that stems from frustration and the sheer passion to make music. That’s how it should be. If all bands sound like this in Paris, then let’s runaway there right now and cast ourselves deep into it. The songs on Southside Suicide sound like they are for those who are fed up with what’s around them or those who just need some form of escapism. I can relate to all of that. For me, it’s everything I’d want from a modern Garage Rock band but at the same time it would fit nicely next to The Vagrants or even The Mummies.

Currently my favourite track off the record is BLANnnK$$$ (Bloody No$e) I love how unapologetically loud and rowdy it is. It feels like a drunk person losing their shit in a bar. They start ripping up a pool table, throwing glasses and punches. Going absolutely nuts for no valid reason. There are no calm moments on this record, and that’s why I love it. BLANnnK$$$ (Bloody No$e) is such a hyperactive song and it’s so addictive too. I find myself going back to it, just constantly hitting repeat. When it kicks it, it just sounds like a thousand riots and gunshots in the mind. It goes completely off and it’s easily one of the best moments on the record, but even that is hard to pick. It’s a solid record from start to finish, and I can’t get enough of it.

A real party for the ears this record is. It deserves to be played on a loop and as loud as you can possibly stand. It’s got something remarkably special about it, and I have no idea how big they are in France or out of France, but I know that I just love them and their sound is for me, entirely perfect. It’s like finally meeting your soulmate or breaking in a pair of Dr Martens or eating a really great pizza. It just makes you feel really good, and right now- I fucking need that.

I honestly cannot compare this record or this band to anything else I’ve heard before, and that’s such a rare thing to be able to do now. Everyone wants to buy into some pissy phase that means nothing and holds no meaning. Bands like Dr Chan are rare. You pick up on every tiny detail in the songs and it makes you want to go see some live music, it makes you less afraid of your own shadow, it makes you want to start your own band.

The songs are short like a real Punk song, but they have something else to it. It’s such a fantastic record and if I had the words, I’d easily write hundreds and hundreds more about why I love it so much. I like certain sounds, and sometimes I just need a certain sound in my ear but Dr Chan are unlike anything else. Buy the record this weekend and play it loud. Damage your hearing to make Monday less of a drag, just so you can block everything out.





DR CHAN.

22 02 2017

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Music should freak you out. It should corrupt and warp your mind. It should make you think outlandish things and make you behave wonderfully irrationally. But within reason, of course. It should take you somewhere no one can touch you, it should be all kinds of sordid, gentle, poetic and like a thrash to the body. It should heighten everything you think and feel. It should make you feel ten feet tall.

Here come Parisian greats, Dr Chan. They make this Psych infused Garage Rock that sounds like The Doors meets Wavves. You feel like you could be on a beach in California but in the same thought, you feel like you could romantically be wandering around a cemetery in Paris then onto some dingy alleyway trying to find your way home after dark. Their sound is brilliant, and once you start listening- you’re hooked good and proper.

Sometimes you hear something really bloody great and you know that whatever you write about them just isn’t going to be good enough. I’m not going to dwell on my inabilities right now. This Friday, Stolen Body Records are going to put out their new record, Southside Suicide which again is probably going to be a right I fawn over constantly. I can’t wait to hear it and play it obnoxiously loud in my ears.

Dr Chan aren’t the kind of band you play quietly in the background and every now and then, you pick up on key moments in their songs. Far from it. They’re a band that you play as loud as you can stand and totally lose yourself in their music. Last year they put out Mental Dhead which was one of the most underrated records of the year. It was everything I wanted from a band- it was loud, snotty and deliriously great. It sent you off into another world. You didn’t know if you were in a daze or truly floating round the streets of Paris with these guys. There’s something about them that just makes you want invest all your time into their music, and to go to every single show they do. On record they’ve got this brilliant energy that makes you wish you were in a band. I’m pretty sure their live shows are equally as infatuating.

These guys truly send you off into a whirl. They’re every part Psychedelic but not in your typical way. They’ve taken it, and made it their own. Dr Chan are going to blow minds again with Southside Suicide on Friday, I’ve not heard it but I just know. I know I’m never right about anything, but we can let it slide this time.

Mental Dhead is a mighty fine record, and as far as debut records go it is most definitely a really tough record to top but I’ve got every bit of faith that they can do it. If all bands in Paris sound like this, maybe we should all move there and just lose our minds at their shows. There is something effortlessly freeing about the music Dr Chan make and that’s something to alone, be admired. I’m still hooked on their first record, but I can’t wait to hear their new one on Friday.

If you’re looking for a band to set the mind free and to just forget everything for a while, go give them a listen. Play as loud as you want and cancel the world out for a while.





MIND RAYS.

22 02 2017

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Sometimes you just need to listen to something that feels like a massive jab to the face. I’ve become more and more restless but also annoyingly tired, so I need to listen to something that fits my mood. I don’t want to move but I don’t want to sit still. I want to listen to something that heightens all of this because nothing else will cut it.

Belgium is a beautiful place. I fell in love with Brussels twice. I spent a lot of money in a record shop there, twice. I could have happily spent all my time in there. It’s one of the best places I’ve ever been. Peaceful and timeless. Mind Rays are from Belgium- their sound isn’t peaceful. Well, to some it isn’t but for me? It sort of is. It’s what I need right now.

This Ghent based band have been around for some time, and upon first listen you can easily picture them thrashing about on some dingy stage in a sweat infused basement bar where all the outcasts unite- the best kind of place. You can picture them injuring each other and themselves as they flail about on stage, how much they bleed from smacking their face into a mic stand justifies how good the show was. Their sound is brutal and loud. If you want a label then I guess you can have Garage Rock with a bit of Punk. I’d just call it a riot to be honest.

Their new record, Nerve Endings is out next month and it’s probably going to be one of the most rowdy records you’ll hear all year. They make it easier to deal with your frustrations of daily life and being a bit of a loner, but that’s probably just me. These kinds of things just get you through. I was going to go to the gym tonight, but I just want to find more bands like Mind Rays and get totally lost in them.

Mind Rays make the kind of music to just straight up melt your face. Their earlier stuff is slightly less aggressive but only slightly. It’s all the right kind of loud and beastly. They make the kind of music that makes you morph into some kind of scary monster that isn’t to be fucked with, lurking in the shadows. I have no idea what their live shows are like, and I can only imagine that they are just as lively on stage as they are on record. Their songs don’t feel like something that has been recorded in a studio, you feel like you are listening to a band practicing and lobbing their all into it. You really pick up on the blood, sweat and maybe a few tears. And screams.

They’ll melt your mind, they’ll awaken the rusty and sleepy parts of you. They’ll make you want to slam your body into stuff, they’ll make you want to throw things around. They’ll make you want to act like a rebellious swine, and that’s one of the best things a band can do to you. They’ll lure you out of your comfort zone and before you know it, you’re comfort zone is going to be immersing yourself in this mind altering and thought bending sound. There are some bands that you just cannot get enough of, and for me, Mind Rays are easily one of those bands.





L.A. WITCH: The Lexington, 18th February 2017.

20 02 2017

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If you’re a fan of the phenomenal L.A. Witch you’ll have seen that some low life decided to steal some of their gear after their show in Bristol last week. For some, they may have just packed up, cancelled the tour and headed home. Not L.A. Witch. They’re doing this tour until the very end and putting their all into every single show. The kindness and love from fellow fans and musicians has been overwhelming and just beautiful to see. I don’t think I’ve seen a bunch of people rally round like this, and it’s just a wonderful thing to see. For every shitty situation, there’s always some good. It’s the kindness of others that gets you through in instances like this.

I saw their first ever show in London in November at the Shacklewell Arms. A bunch of us crammed into a small, sweaty room to finally witness one of the best bands around. I’ve been going on and on about their music for 3 or 4 years now, and to have finally seen them last November was just a real highlight for me. To see them on Saturday? Oh man, it towers over that show for sure.

Their show at The Lexington was nothing short of divine. You could tell that they were playing with slight caution at the start, especially Sade as she was borrowing a guitar and pedals. However, the nerves slipped away with ease as she held that guitar as if it was her own. The way they played had no indication of what had happened a few nights before, but I noticed there was something about them this time that really hit me. They played with this unbelievable force and passion that made you just want to jump on stage and join in. They made you want to be part of their gang. It must be said that Ellie is a fantastic drummer and the way she basically annihilates the drums during Kill My Baby and Ain’t Comin’ Home is insane. For the most part she makes you wish you could play the drums, but for the remainder you just stare in awe of her beating the shit out of the drum kit.

Hearing songs like Good Guys and You Love Nothing was so great, especially as I don’t think Good Guys is really played much, or maybe at all. Heart Of Darkness closes the set. Irita really owns the set with her bass on Drive Your Car, and Sade rips into the song, Brian with this fury that is so wonderfully captivating.

As I gazed upon the stage, no part of me could think of a band that they reminded me of. I really cannot think of anyone or anything I have heard before, and I was instantly shot back in time to when I first heard them in 2013. It just smacks you blissfully in the face. I love being able to hear songs like Get Lost live because these early songs are the ones that had me hooked completely. Get Lost is a real highlight of the set because at the end, they just really let rip. It’s such a raucous song and they just do it so perfectly well in their set.  I guess part of me really loves them so much because if I had any musical talent, I’d want to sound like L.A. Witch. I stood with my eyes closed a lot and swayed during a few of their songs, just letting the music take me wherever. I’m having a really shit time at the moment, and I just wanted to hear something that would take me out of my mind and body. They most certainly did that, and for that hour or so- nothing in the world, nothing in my head mattered. I remember vividly closing my eyes during Ain’t Comin’ Home and just being covered in goose bumps. Most definitely one of the best shows I’ve been to in a long time and easily one of the best bands I’ve ever seen live.

Each song is played with this way of just leaving you stunned, there is simply no denying just how great this band is and with their debut record FINALLY coming out this summer- I think everyone is finally going to realise just how brilliant they are and I have every ounce of faith that their debut record is probably going to get played to death by me, easily.

I managed to get the set list from the show, so if you’re interested they played:

Intro

You Love Nothing

Kill My Baby Tonight

Brian

Untitled

Ain’t Comin’ Home

Sleep

Feel Alright

Drive Your Car

Baby In Blue

Get Lost

Encore:

Good Guys

Heart Of Darkness.