CHESTER BENNINGTON.

21 07 2017

We cling onto the words we find as we are thrown into the whirlwind that is our teenage years. They make us, the break us and we do our best to get on with it. It is tough. It is brutal. An unapologetic hell that I didn’t think I’d come out of without a few scars.
There are bands who become our lifeline. They are there when you cannot tell someone else what you are going through. They are there when all is quiet but your mind is doing otherwise. The noise that keeps you frustratingly awake and unsure.

For me, music was and is my lifeline. I was bullied all through high school. I was unhappy. My mood was more often than not, low. I don’t talk about it but I self harmed. I always thought I would regret it but I don’t. I can’t. It’s how I coped. I needed something other than that to make me feel less alone and less shit. I had a handful of bands I latched onto. Like most in my age group, I found peace in Linkin Park. My best friend, Katie made me a tape and on that was a song called By Myself by Linking Park. I felt like I had connected with the words more than anything I had heard previously. The words and the emotion in Chester’ s voice hit home.

I would walk around with my earphones in, clutching my portable CD player so it didn’t skip parts of the songs and drowned the bullies out. Sometimes they were louder but I was being shadowed by Chester’s words. He was guiding me through the school hallways which always felt like they were closing in on me.

It’s hard to take in that someone you really looked up to as you were growing up just couldn’t hold on. But I get it. Those who really felt his words got it. Chester was a voice of a generation. My generation. Not for all of us but a large part of us that didn’t really have a voice or the strength to speak up.

I remember my mum buying me a pair of jeans from a market in Doncaster and on the back pocket of them was the Hybrid Theory logo. I lived in those jeans. I felt tougher than I was when I wore them with Paperxut blasting in my ears.

I’m no longer a teenager but sometimes I get that same teenage angst creeping up on me. Certain Linking Park songs chase away that niggling feeling. But why couldn’t anyone chase away that niggling feeling Chester carried around.

It doesn’t take a genius to know that we need to talk about mental health problems. It took me 15 years to go see someone about mine. Like anyone, I have good and bad days. Some can hold on, some can’t. It doesn’t make them a coward or any less of a person.

Just be kind to yourself, and to others. And talk. Listen. Be the friend you would want someone to be to you if someone opens up to you. Mental health issues don’t have a target audience. It can happen to anyone.

We all deserve to be at peace. With ourselves and the world around us. I hope Chester has found the peace he deserves.

Thank you Chester. For making those years in hell a little less daunting. Thank you for making it okay for someone to not feel and think the same as everyone else. Thank you for guiding me through the streets and school hallways when I was terrified to do so. 

Thank you x





LANA DEL REY: Lust For Life.

21 07 2017

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“Sometimes it feels like I’ve got a war in my mind
I want to get off but I keep riding the ride.”

 

I need to apologies for dismissing most of what Lana’s done since Born To Die. It’s my own fault; I didn’t really connect with the music like I thought I would. I remember ages ago finding her music and watching her home videos of Video Games and Blue Jeans. I was blown away. I was in awe of this voice that sounded like it came from another planet. For some stupid reason, I bailed. And I am entirely sorry. So here I am, about to write about Lust For Life because it is truly one of the most beautiful records I’ve heard in a long time.

I spent my morning journey to work listening to Lust For Life. The record opens with Love. When she put this song out, I was in awe. I felt like…I can’t even put into words how gorgeous that song is. It came out at a time where there was so much hate in the world, and she gave us this song to cling to. A song to play as loud as possible and ignore every evil thing in the world. There is so much hope in her voice now. You kind of picture her smiling as she sings these new songs, and to know she’s happy (happier) is a wonderful thing. Her smile on the cover of the record is just beautiful. To see her that happy is just a brilliant thing.

The title song with The Weeknd is this stunning body of vulnerability and openness that every relationship should contain. If this song doesn’t make you immediately think of the person you’re in love with, then you probably don’t love them. Or words to that extremity. I think most of us want Lana and Abel to do a full record together, and tour. And just make music together for the rest of time. Their voices are so perfect together. They are delicate and careful, and this emotion that comes out is just stunning.

Two weeks ago my Nonna in Italy died. These two weeks have been tough. I feel utterly shit, and I’ve not really felt anything other than complete sadness and emptiness. Grief it seems, hits me in a physical way. I’ve had migraines, headaches and constant stomach aches for the past two weeks. I’ve got my mind sort of, but my body is being a dick. Lust For Life is the record I have needed to extend a hand to get me out of this rut. I’ll get out when I’m ready. Music will be what I use, it always is. It always will be. There are certain songs on this record that are so fucking important. The most important song on the record is the last song, Get Free. Get Free is the best song to end this record on. You get this this comforting feeling from Lana that it is all going to be okay. Sure we all feel like shit from time to time. Some can manage it very well; others like me have to rely on medication. Medication and music.

13 Beaches and Cherry are nothing short of stunning. Sure there are “sad” moments on this record, but the way that Lana projects this sadness now is in a way that isn’t as intense. I love intense, and for me that’s a real strength of an artist for them to pour out such emotions. However, 13 Beaches is so painful but so fucking beautiful. It has this weight to it that leaves you in awe of her voice and her words. It starts off real sad but then hope fills. That’s the general feeling of the record- there is sadness, sure, but Lana overcomes it and lets it all go. We can all learn from this. Things take time. You just have to work at it.

For me, the reason why Lust For Life is such a phenomenal record is because it shows this side of Lana that has let go of something that she was known for and made something still as dark and not so much intense. Don’t get me wrong, there is still that Lana sound- but it comes from the music this time. Cherry has drumming that is akin to Born To Die. It’s such a strong song. I don’t mean this in a hipster bullshit slang way. I mean it in a way that it’ll make you feel tough.

It is so easy to ignore the good in the world when there is so much shit happening, but music is our glue. Lust For Life is this missing piece. I can’t see how anyone wouldn’t love this record. It is so gorgeous, gentle and full of love. Even the sad-ish songs have this wealth of love within them. It is such a hopeful record that has projected Lana in an even more relatable way. I just want to play this record over and over, and do nothing. It’s the kind of record that you create moments with that you’ll treasure forever. Moments you’ll create by yourself or with the one that you love.

Lust For Life is not only the finest record of the summer; it’s probably up there in best records of the year. Only a fool would try picking fault with this record. It’s everything you’d want and more.

Waste your summer days to this record. Do nothing, do something, and do whatever the hell you want to this record. Think of the one you love. Play it to the one you love and close off the world. Hold them close, and shut your eyes. Go to the place where only you two can go and let Lana be your soundtrack.

The song Change has a line that immediately made me think of People Have The Power by Patti Smith, “Change is a powerful thing. People are powerful beings.” The record is full of hopeful lines like this, and for me that’s what makes Lust For Life a gorgeous work of art that isn’t just a source of comfort; it is also a beacon of hope. And that is why music will always be the most powerful thing we can expose ourselves to.





FLOWERS OF EVIL: City Of Fear.

13 07 2017

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A couple years back, a super group formed in New York City. Flowers Of Evil erupted and tore up eardrums, and limbs alike. Made up of Young Boys lead guy, David and also Brandon and Charlie from Crocodiles it’s pretty obvious that Flowers Of Evil are going to end up putting one of the best records of the year, right? Their first release was brilliantly loud and pleasantly dangerous. Where have they headed with City Of Fear?

City Of Fear is a real Hardcore Punk record. It can easily stand up against the greats, and wouldn’t look out of place next to a Black Flag record. It’s got this effortless raw and brutal sound that so many try to perfect, but it just sounds overdone. Flowers Of Evil make it look so easy and they make it sound exactly like it should. This record is a collection of songs that need to be played in a sweaty dive bar with everyone yelling the words back at the band as David screams them in your face. There is this glorious urgency in the songs that makes you wish you could do this. The alternative is okay- playing it as loud as you can without a care in the world.

It’s nice to allow yourself to be exposed to gentle sounds but sometimes you just need something obnoxiously loud to satisfy what certain parts of you need. If I could, I’d go on about my favourite song on City Of Fear but it’s pretty tough to pick one. Each song comes in just under 2 and a half minutes- the perfect amount of time to get a point across. The lyrics on every song are extremely poignant, especially with how society can be and certain world leaders being absolute shitheads. You need an escape. Every day music is my escape. We’re all getting away from something.

David’s snarl on these songs is brilliant. He has this demeanour that comes through wonderfully on these songs, and it probably makes him on of the most underrated singers/frontman of our generation. City Of Fear is an excellent portrayal of the world we currently live in, and the way in which Flowers Of Evil have exposed it make it much easier to digest.

I know I said I couldn’t pick one particular song, but I’m really into Sedation Vacation. I love how furiously quick it is, and will just make you want to rip shit up. MAN also has David’s infamous snarl on it that like pretty much the whole record, again, will make you just want to destroy stuff.

Play the record loud and throw stuff out of your bedroom window. Unleash that fury you’re carrying around. I love the rage and beautifully deafening sounds on City Of Fear. It sounds real nice right after playing their first record. These 14 songs deserve to rule the rest of your year. The colossal sound on this record is something that just makes you want to pick up a guitar and make a mass amount of noise. Sure 14 songs don’t feel enough, but just go back to the start and let yourself get utterly immersed in the record all over again.

There’s really no point in trying to compare Flowers Of Evil or this record to anything or anyone, it’s totally pointless. The songs truly speak for themselves and must be played as loud as possible. They’re worth losing your hearing over.

You can buy City Of Evil via the Deranged Records bandcamp page: https://derangedrecords.bandcamp.com/album/city-of-fear





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

14 06 2017
TVL

Photo credit: Olivia Cellamare

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 





LITTLE DEATH MACHINE: Midnight Blue.

12 06 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





DUSTY MUSH: Cheap Entertainment.

4 06 2017

Dusty Mush – Cheap Entertainment

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy it and play it loud.





LOOM: Loom.

20 05 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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