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.





DRAB MAJESTY: The Demonstration,

20 01 2017

 

 

If I could name any band as having the “perfect” sound, I’d probably have a solid five. Perhaps. My idea of a perfect sound and yours are totally different. My idea of it is probably shit compared to someone else, but that’s fine. How awful it would be if we all liked the same thing. I’ve already called I See You by The xx as my favourite record of the year, but I’ve got another that creeps up closely.

Drab Majesty are on the Dias label. This label is a big deal, to me. They are the home to some of the bands that I quite simply, couldn’t do without. The main one being Them Are Us Too. Easily one of the best bands to emerge in a long, long time and Cash is never far from my thoughts. Drab Majesty have released their new record, The Demonstration today. With so much hurt and bleakness in the world, having a band like Drab Majesty make it easier. There’s something comforting about this sound, and sure some may declare this as nothing short of miserable- I can’t see it. I really, really can’t. Tonight I’m going to my first gig in a long time because my panic attacks are getting worse but I’m doing my best today to keep myself as calm as possible- The Demonstration is the perfect record to do this to. It’s an easy listening and my god it is good for the soul.

A bit of background on the band: Initially this was Deb’s solo project, but they are now a duo. This is their first record as a duo and it is braver than the first release. The Demonstration echoes influences of bands such as Them Are Us Too, Cold Cave and that early Depeche Mode sound. Heavy on the synths, even heavier on the imagery and feeling they give you. I’ve read some pieces on the band where they have named The Cure as a band they can hear in their music. To an extent I can hear this, but if anything it just holds the weight of records like Pornography and Seventeen Seconds. For me, that’s a solid sound to carry but Drab Majesty are their own band with their own sound, which is beautifully put together on this record.

They are currently on tour with my beloved Cold Cave. For now, there’s only one UK date and that’s in London in March. Drab Majesty are playing a load of shows across Europe in March and April. Including a show at Superbudda in Torino, which is a bloody great arts/creative space in one of the best cities you’ll ever go to.

Drab Majesty create this dark, wonderfully sinister yet gentle world with their music. The Demonstration is easy on the ears and rules the mind upon its first listen. It’s a record that when you listen to it, you’ll be left wanting to listen to it with more intense ears. Then you slowly find yourself relaxing more and more. It’s the perfect sound all over. I’m currently obsessing over Forget Tomorrow, but trust me the whole record is a grand piece of art. They take all you have known before then unleash you into a different universe on this record. The Demonstration is a gorgeous and elegant record from start to finish. Dot In The Sky and Not Just A Name may deserve your attention more than most, but trust me the whole record is absolutely fantastic and even if like me, you’re not into making lists, just hold this closely as one of the finest records that you will hear all year. It is perfect for the dark, cold days. It is perfect for sitting alone in your room whilst being comforted by Deb’s soothing voice. It’s just perfect, simple as.





MACHIINE.

19 01 2017

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“Bob Hoskins said to leave it on ice.”

 

The term “supergroup” can be such a throwaway comment, much like describing something “cool.” Words. Just empty words they are. However, sometimes things happen that go against this and are the subject of these redundant words. They give it meaning again- they make it theirs.

Machiine ARE a supergroup. They are also really really cool. Their sound is absolutely sadistic and twisted. It’s not typical, it’s so far from bland. They’ve just put out their first single, Twist It & Shake. They’re also playing London tomorrow night, at the Shacklewell Arms. It’s a free gig. You’re probably not doing anything, and even if you are- sack it off and come to this.

Machiine are made up of members from Brown Brogues/Peace And Love Barbershop Muhammad Ali, The Underground Youth and PINS. Some of the best musicians to have come from Manchester, for sure. Machiine sound like something you would hear in a sordid club where you can do what you like, and it isn’t mentioned the day after. Their merch consists of whips and balaclavas. Wear your best leather tomorrow and head down to the Shacklewell Arms. This 7 member band don’t sound overbearing considering how many there are of them. They sound like a gang with Mark and Craig fronting the band- they’re coming for you.

As they all have different influences which is clear in their separate bands, what they’ve done with Machiine is just make a band that leave forgetting about their other bands. They don’t sound like anything else. They slowly built a presence last year and finally, they’ve put a song out. Worth the wait? Most definitely. Twist It & Shake is the kind of song you’ll have in your head for days. I’ve played it a lot this morning and on my dinner break (right now) and I’m pretty sure I know the words. The lead vocals aren’t aggressive but Faith’s vocals in the background add this angelic quality to the song. It’s a brilliant introduction to the band, and I am so excited to see them tomorrow night and to hear more music from them. Twist It & Shake is worth the wait. There’s references to Bob Hoskins, John Wayne and a sister who plays video games. What more do you want?

 

PS- Teaser EP is out tomorrow and they’re selling tapes at the show tomorrow night.





VIOLENT LIGHT: Love And Loss.

15 01 2017

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If you mix Cold Cave with Sisters Of Mercy you will get the finest thing to have existed from Dewsbury, Violent Light.

Violent Light make delicate love songs but not delicate in a soppy way that’ll make you loathe couples. It’s the kind of love that you can project at a person, or a thing. A place can evoke love in a way a person can’t, and Violent Light really show this in their music. I think they’re quite a new band, and have only just released their first EP- Love And Loss.

The title explains perfectly what the songs touch on, and to be honest they make me want to leave London and head to Dewsbury and go to all their live shows. However, it honestly wouldn’t take much for me to leave London and not come back. It needs to happen and will happen. I’ve mentally given myself a deadline. Love And Loss is a small collection of songs that make you appreciate the unconventional side of things that are conventional. I listened to the record briefly last night and was in awe of what I heard. That feeling is still there now. Violent Light have got this 80s synth sound (think really really early Depeche Mode mixed with my obsession, Cold Cave.)

The songs may last under the 3 minute mark, but they still manage to create this haunting dark atmosphere that gives off a level of comfort for the soul that can only be found in sounds like this. I think Violent Light create the kind of music that is to be heard after a dreary day doing mundane things, then you head to a dark venue to hear this music that’ll give you some much needed relief. The songs are like an exorcism of the soul and unleash questions of the mind in a more elegant settings than most. The songs hold a wealth of freedom and romance- two things vital to get yourself through each passing day.

I love the instrumental start to the EP, Flowers. It takes you on a trip into the unknown. You have no idea how it is going to turn out or what you’re going to hear. When you find a band for the first time, there’s always one song that lures you in first- Flowers does this perfectly. Violent Light are such a new band, it’s hard to tell or predict where their sound will take them. If each song builds you up like Flowers does, then I think they will be just fine.

First To Last is another stunning track and the lyrics are equally beautiful. It reminds me slightly of Love Comes Close by Cold Cave. An almost slowed down comparison. I love bands that have this certain sound. There’s something about it that just takes you some place so secluded and so sacred.

You can stream the EP here: https://violentlight.bandcamp.com/releases

Today Dewsbury, tomorrow the world.





THE XX: I See You.

15 01 2017

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“My name on your lips
Your air in my lungs
Drowned in oxygen.”

It’s hard to write about a band you absolutely and unconditional adore without being biased. However, it’s not really in me to pick out any faults in a band I love- so I won’t. I’m going to just go on about how bloody fantastic the new record by The xx is and how waiting 5 years for I See You was truly worth the wait.

Unfortunately I can’t write about the boxset version of I See You as my copy is due to arrive next week, but that doesn’t matter. It won’t change my view on the record. It’s only 2 weeks into the New Year and I am fairly confident that I See You is going to be my favourite record of the year. I sometimes write about records track by track, and there are times where I feel there’s no need to do it. I was torn with doing this or not with I See You, and because I love every single song for different reasons- I am going to bore you to tears by going through each track.

Dangerous: After listening to the record well into double figures, I can safely say that Dangerous is the best way for the record to start. The sax in the intro that flows into the hook is amazing, and it sounds like this song would have fitted nicely on Jamie’s solo record, In Colour. Everyone fell in love with their first record and with the dark atmosphere they created. Brooding and so far from intrusive. There’s colour bursting out of this song and it is such a great way to start the record. You immediately know that their third record is about to cloud over everything that they had previously done. East London clubs are going to love this.

Say Something Loving: The sample of Alessi on this is amazing. Go listen to the original, then listen to Say Something Loving again. It’s so wonderfully done. For me, this song really shows how strong Romy and Oliver’s vocals have become- especially Oliver on this one. Romy has her turn, don’t worry. It’s the perfect song to drown everything out to, and let your mind wander off. The xx have always been that band for me that I go to when I can’t sleep and need to somehow shut off. More recently I’ve relied on Intro from their first record to get me through the aftermath of my panic attacks. Their music has always been a comfort to me, and Say Something Loving has that glorious euphoric build up that just transports you some place no one and nothing can touch you.

Lips: The gentle sample of Just (After Song Of Songs) is worked perfectly into this song. Romy’s voice is so delicate and full of love. This is a beautiful love song. It’s so pure and passionate. It portrays the kind of love most want and deserve. Everyone deserves to feel and to give this kind of devotion, and it’s the kind of feeling that makes you feel capable even when you’re as timid as mouse. It evokes not wanting to down from the high of being with the person you absolutely are besotted with, and to be honest why should you want to? Why should you ever? If it’s right, that gut feeling always remains.

A Violent Noise: Certain interviews they have done recently have been so open and raw. Oliver touched on his issue with alcohol in an interview I read, and it was sad to read but his support network got him through. For me, A Violent Noise seems to portray what he was going through and Romy’s part shows the side of a dear friend wanting to be there for him. It’s heart-breaking and so fragile, but that’s what makes the songs easy to connect with. They are by far one of the easiest bands to relate to because they place words together so freely, even if it is difficult for you or I to express how we feel. I like A Violent Noise is one of the easiest songs to relate to and make your own meaning for. I’ve connected it to something else (and that might be a massive error but still) and I think it’ll be one of those songs that just make any torment easy to cope with. Again, it has this euphoric build up towards the end. It makes you feel like you are isolated in a club with strobe lights flashing across your body, blinding you as you try to leave. You don’t need to always look back.

Performance: Of all the songs that The xx have ever done, I feel Performance may be their most difficult to listen to. Performance is Romy exposing herself in a way that you can only admire, and like A Violent Noise, you can relate to it and make it feel like it is your own words. Certain parts have hit home with these panic attacks I keep having and have zero control over. The hardest part of not being okay is pretending that you are. And that just exhausts you. Anyway, you don’t need to know. Performance is so vulnerable and Romy’s voice just captures that so perfectly. She does it a number of times on the record but this is definitely one of the stand out moments.

Replica: Oliver’s voice on this is a different level of beautiful and I think this is the kind of song that shows that they are so ready to play bigger venues. It sounds like the perfect song to play at the end of the show with everyone singing. It’s the kind of song that makes the Night Bus home easier. Again, there’s a wealth of comfort in this song and you can easily relate to it. I love the line, “Do I chase the night or does the night chase me?” The beauty in their songs is that you can take them however you want, and I think this line is a sentiment that a lot of us can relate to. I love the almost chanting of, “They all say I will become a replica. Your mistakes were only chemical.” It’s such a gorgeous lyric and it is sung so beautifully.

Brave For You: Lyrically, my favourite song off I See You and easily the one that means the most to me. It reminds me of someone who’s so so important to me. It just reminds me of them and I think that’s all I can write about it. They know, and that’s all that matters. It again shows how strong Romy’s voice has become and musically it is so tranquil and so powerful. “When the things don’t make sense, I have courage because of you.”

On Hold: It felt like they hadn’t been away when they first put out On Hold. It didn’t feel like eternity had passed upon waiting for new music from them. There’s been a steady growth in their music with each record so far, and On Hold shows this perfectly and was the best song to introduce us to I See You with. That sample from Hall & Oates is outstanding also. Again, I think this could have worked perfectly on Jamie’s In Colour record. The xx do have a certain sound, but at the same time (as clichéd as it may be) this and I See You in general sounds nothing like their debut or Coexist. The lyrics to On Hold are beautiful and really sad. They touch on that 90s dance style here with the upbeat music and sad music. They’ve always made it clear that they are fans of this, and they do it so well and it’s really well executed on this song. It makes you forget how sad the lyrics are because the music just hits you.

I Dare You: I Dare You sounds really good after Dangerous, the two songs feel like that they could both tell the same song. I wouldn’t be surprised if they chose this as a single in the future. It’s got this subtle sound to it that may cause it to be overlooked by the listener but I feel it is one of those songs that after you’ve listened to a few times, it becomes a favourite. The lyrics I think touch on the early stages of a relationship and how it can build and build into something great. There’s always been this unconditional innocence in their lyrics, and I Dare You sort of shifts away from this innocence into a cemented view. I love the guitar on this one.

Test Me: Sometimes when you come to an end of a record, you imagine what order you would put the songs. In this instance, I haven’t done it. Every song on I See You fits and flows perfectly. Test Me is a gorgeous way to end the record. Maybe it’s a song to each other, I have no idea. Jamie, Oliver and Romy have grown with each record and have been through things that influence their songs in ways most would want to hide away from. Test Me seems to provoke the idea that they’d much want the person in question to push and push them instead of being honest. We’ve all had that done to us and we’ve probably all done it. It’s such a shit situation to be in and to put someone in. The way they write about it on Test Me is done with such fragility. It feels like the night closing in. That’s what The xx feel like. They feel like night time taking over, when all that’s left is you and whatever you choose to surround yourself with when darkness falls. It doesn’t have to be a feeling that makes you feel isolated. From the 3 minute mark to the end of the song, Test Me builds in a way with their vocals echoing gently through. Calm hits. The xx are my version of calm, and thank god I have them.

I’ve read many reviews where some are comparing it to their first record and how nothing will compare to it. For me, I always find these comments to be really diminishing to the band in question. Why oh why would you want a band to keep making the same record over and over? The xx have evidently grown and grown up, and it shows in their music. Each record is a statement of that. I See You is a perfect reflection on all they have done, seen, felt and experienced since Coexist. It’s a body of work that takes the listener on an ethereal journey. You can chose where it takes you. Romy, Jamie and Oliver have this way of creating songs that just speak to the soul and soothe you. Sometimes you think you can’t love a band any more than you already do, then something like this happens. It’s just an outstanding record from start to finish.