STALLED MINDS.

10 12 2017

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France is home to two of my great loves- Rimbaud and the Born Bad record store in Bastille. It is also home to exceptional musicians who have undoubtedly been an influence on the bands I listen to. Paris has an insanely great Punk scene. It’s enough to make you sack off all responsibilities and move there to really immerse yourself in it. Or you can live vicariously through others. It’s the cheaper option.

I’ve written about loads of bands from Paris over the past few years. I don’t seek them out on purpose, it just happens. Accidents are sometimes alright. One band I found today that have immediately won me over are Stalled Minds. Easily one of the loudest and best bands around right now- even though their self-titled release came out two years ago, they still have this exciting and new sound. They make you want to break stuff, they make you want to start a band that is part Bad Brains and part whatever the hell you want so long as it is loud. I’m currently writing this with my housemate’s cat on my bed. I’m looking after him until tomorrow evening, and he’s currently having another nap. Every so often he lets out a snore and I tell you what, he manages to fit it in time with the music. He’s got good taste.

Stalled Minds are the kind of band you want to join and trash basement bars with. You want to lob lukewarm beer over the crowd and go insane to their song, Shit City. They have this energy in their songs that you’ve never quite heard or felt before. They’re a band that you’ll wonder why on earth they aren’t huge, but you treasure them and play the music as loud as your ears can stand.

From what I’ve heard so far, and yes I am late to the party, I just absolutely love their sound. I love how the vocals are sometimes distorted. I love how furiously they play and how it feels like a collective riot. There is such a united sound, and I think that it is one of the many reasons why I love them and why they just sound so great. It’s an impeccable sound that they have crafted and they just sound so effortlessly cool.

A couple members of Stalled Minds are in the equally great Youth Avoiders. I’ll be writing about them real soon too. Both bands play with this infectious fury that sort of eases the mind but also unleashes everything you’ve pent up. Music should be a release, and Stalled Minds take good care of that notion.

If you’re looking for a band to blow your mind and eardrums then listen to Stalled Minds. Listen to them as loud as you can handle, then push yourself to go a little louder. They’ll make you want to start a band, they’ll make you want to go to every live show they ever do. But until you see them, you’ll imagine the show in your mind- covered in sweat and beer.

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TABLE SCRAPS.

28 11 2017

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I always seem to gravitate towards bands that make me feel like I’m being smacked in the face. I don’t really know what that says about me. I don’t want to be punched in the face really. I just want music to give me that brutal force. I’m sure I’m not alone in this. Thankfully bands like Table Scraps exist. I should have written about them ages ago. I genuinely thought I had, but I guess I just imagined it.

Table Scraps are one of the most exciting bands around. They don’t fit in with any genre, they don’t sound like anyone else and they are LOUD. I feel that when I listen to them I’m about to lose my hearing. There’s no better band to do this to. They’ve got this beautiful menacing sound. Every snarling song feels like someone is pushing you into a wall and forcing you to move your limbs in a questionable manner. It’s something that goes beyond your standard dancing at gigs.

They have a brilliant sound that makes you unaware of time and place. Sometimes you just need that. You need to cut off your surroundings and give in to the music. I try to do that several times a day. It’s how I keep relatively sane. Live through the music because what you see happening in the world is terrible. I love their song Electricity. It makes me feel like I’m in an arcade playing Tekken and I’ve won every battle so far. Foot Of Our Stairs is one of my favourites. I love how the guitar sounds like a revved up motorbike and the drums sounds like everything just crashing down. They have this sound that feels like machine guns going off. Again, they are one of those bands that make you wish you were in a band.

I know we are all led to believe that London is the home to all things great, but don’t fall victim to that mentality. I’ve lived down here for too long, and sometimes you just need to look elsewhere for that sound you craze. Table Scraps are from Birmingham. You could argue that they don’t have a typical Birmingham sound. However, Birmingham doesn’t have a typical sound. It never has, it never will.

I love how the guitar and bass both have this violent sound. It feels like some kind of electric shock going right through you. Scott and TJ just make you feel like you’re battered and bruised, and that you’re hearing may never be the same again. Why would you want it to be? Poppy is probably up there as one of my favourite drummers. EVER. I’ve got a mental list, and I’m putting her in the Top 3 (Stella from Warpaint, Sophie from PINS and Poppy from Table Scraps- if you must know.) Her drumming style is just something to be adored. The way she brutally beats the shit out of the drum kit is fascinating. I’ve never seen them live but what I get from their music on record, is that on stage they make the songs sound darker and bolder than they already are. I mean, you could wear earplugs- but why ruin the fun?

There are so many reasons why Table Scraps are one of the most fascinating and brilliant bands around, but their music explains it better than I ever could. They are a band to play constantly and loudly. When you think you can handle the volume, turn it up a little more. You’ll pick up on just how great they sound together. There is no band around at the moment that is doing what they do. They are unlike anyone else around, and that alone makes me love them.

You can buy/stream their music right here: https://table-scraps.bandcamp.com/ Start from the beginning just so you can see how their sound has evolved and how they have become one of the most exciting bands around.





NIGHT SHADES: Evil Dreams.

14 11 2017

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Some bands take a while to reach peak greatness. Others just do it immediately. Night Shades are one of those bands who have done it instantly. London’s finest band. A band that sound like they have creeped out from the underworld and have come to take our souls and gnaw at our eardrums. They possess the wonderful manic tones of The Cramps, which for me is just absolutely brilliant.

Last month they put out the remarkable Evil Dreams. It is one of the best things you will hear all year. It will make you forget all the things “critics” have told you to enjoy earlier in the year. Anything you have heard before this may well be ignored. Anything you hear after it just won’t measure up. They make every day feel like a ghoulish holiday. Darker than Halloween. Sinister, eerie and nothing short of hypnotising. For me, they are probably my favourite band in London right now.

Evil Dreams lives up to its title. It has this gloriously evil and twisted feel to it. You feel like you are in a Jack The Ripper biopic. You feel like you are in an Edgar Allen Poe poem- you feel like you are living out historical horrors. You are totally immersed in their wonderful sound. Niall makes the drums sound like gentle crashes against the soul. Clare and Shaun’s vocals are chilling. You feel a cloak of mist fall down as you listen to Golden Hair which then goes into the glorious Cara Mia which shows just how ethereal Clare’s voice is. Their songs are like haunting lullabies. Every single part of you just falls madly in love with each song on this mind-blowing body of work. It feels like you have waited decades and decades to hear something as truly brilliant as this. I am super annoyed I missed the launch of Evil Dreams. Now I just play it constantly and create my own world in my head.

As the days are getting shorter, this is the perfect record to listen to as you make your way home from work as it gets dark. You feel like you’re walking through the underbelly of evilness and possibly moonlighting as Columbo in your head. Stalking the streets to seek out evil. Maybe you’ll stomp it out, maybe you’ll be part of it. Whatever sordid tale you wish to conjure up and be part of, Night Shades have fitting songs on Evil Dreams for you to take part in.

It is easy to get caught up in something when you play it just once, then after a few listens you partially regret how you were so quick to declare something as being great. Night Shades do not make you feel that way. Evil Dreams is something you play and instantly realise you have found something nothing short of perfect, and will undoubtedly be something you keep playing in years to come. Evil Dreams has songs that remind me of hearing The Mummies and The Cramps for the first time. It’s been a while since I felt that, and Night Shades make the waiting worthwhile.

If you’re looking for something to scare you a little bit or if you’re in need of something to give you the creeps to reassure you that you’re still alive- Night Shades are the band for you. Easily. They create this amazing atmosphere on their record that makes you feel as if they are right there in front of you, extending their hand out to yours in order to grab you into this world they have created. Take their hand, don’t let go and allow yourself to delve deep, deep into this charming and creepy world they have created.





VHS DREAM.

6 11 2017

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If you take a band like Beach House and mix them with Slowdive, you pretty much have the perfect band- right? VHS Dream is as perfect as you can get. Their sound is part relaxing, part brain-melting. In fact, you’ll probably zone out way too far and never be able to return. Quite frankly, I don’t see an issue with this.

VHS Dream is a duo from Australia, and they have this effortless way of conjuring up all kinds of emotions in your mind as you listen to them. Superstar (taken from their latest release, Departure) for me just oozes absolute sadness. There is nothing wrong with this, and I think this sadness is something that at times filters throughout the whole record. It’s one of my favourite songs by VHS Dream. Departure came out last year, and it is one of those records that are just instantly something memorable. You don’t feel as if anything else can touch this record. For me, it just eases the mind quite poetically and beautifully. Superstar is about 6 minutes and 45 seconds of ethereal bliss. It’s such a comforting song, and I think even if it was just an instrumental track it would still have the same gorgeous weight to it that just transports you elsewhere. Departure is dedicated to those they have lost, and you can truly sense the sadness and pain on this record. But you also pick up on the hope. And sometimes, hope is all you are left with.

As I listen to them, I can’t help but think that they are the kind of band you accidentally find at 3am when everyone is asleep and your mind is racing. They’re the kind of band I listen to after I have a panic attack, which at the moment is all too often. They are the ideal band to use to shut the world off for a little while. We need those safety nets to stay sane, or cling onto whatever we may have left. Their sound is like a dream whilst being trapped in a walking nightmare. There is a wealth of comfort and security in their music that really cannot be ignored or topped. It’s something you simply treasure within your first listen. What you do after that is all on you. It’s probably best to let VHS Dream work their magic and let them take you away.

One of the things that I really love about VHS Dream is that they don’t make me think that they are a NOW band. I don’t feel like they are a band from 2017 (Departure came out last year, I know.) I cannot put a time frame on this band nor could I tell you that their sound is typical for where they are from. I personally think they sound like a band that has been sent to us from outer space and to show us their world. They’ll take you if you want to continue on their journey with them. Or you can look from the outside with snippets of their songs to let you in, but only slightly.

Some bands just straight up take every part of you with first listen, and I’m fairly sure that VHS Dream will do that to anyone who listens. I was on the bus to work this morning, and I had Departure on repeat. I kept going back to certain songs. There are some songs on the record that stand out a tiny, tiny bit more than others. The moments they create will hit you in the gut and all will seem okay for a little while. Like I said earlier, these are the bands we need. These are the bands we must treasure.

VHS Dream a delicate lullaby for the catastrophic mind. Let them do what they will, and go with it.





GLAARE: To Deaf And Day.

4 11 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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





MARVELOUS MARK

19 10 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://marvelousmark.bandcamp.com/

 





SAMANTHA URBANI: Policies Of Power.

19 08 2017

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I first got obsessed with Samantha Urbani’s voice when I heard I’m His Girl by Friends. Her voice was like nothing else around. The band were like nothing else. Then it ended, and I was hoping I would still be hearing Samantha’s voice somehow.

About two years ago Samantha put out a song called 1 2 3 4. I was again, obsessed with it. I was playing it all the time. I was hoping something would come from it. I waited and waited. The wait ended yesterday.

Samantha released the debut EP yesterday called Policies Of Power. The cover of the EP is striking. Samantha is just the beautiful person with such a gorgeous voice that moves you. There’s a message to this EP, and with all the shit going on in the world- it’s needed. 1 2 3 4 sounds a little different now on the EP, but it’s still perfect. Samantha’s voice on this version of 1 2 3 4 reminds me so much of Solange. Both of them are extremely talented people who I admire so much. I just imagined what it would be like if they made a record together. They could do live shows. Imagine hearing Losing You then all of a sudden it goes into 1 2 3 4. I’d be a mess. I’d lose it. Anyway. Back to the record.

If you want to know what the best EP of the year is, it’s probably going to be this one. It’s got this 80s New York underground club scene feel to it. Samantha has made a body of art here, and this collection of songs make you feel utterly free and content with who you are. We need more of that. It is such a feel good record. It’s just absolutely perfect.

There is so much compassion, passion and love in this record. You can easily feel the thought and care that has gone into this EP. These 5 songs cannot be lumped into any genre you want to throw Samantha’s way. There is something so curious and inviting about this EP, and it is such a solid piece of art. In some respects, it’s a Pop record. It can easily go against most of the records that have come out this year and come out on top. It’s got everything going for it, and it was truly worth the wait. Also, Sade’s (the greatest singer of all time. ALL.TIME) sax player on Smooth Operator, Stuart Matthewman plays sax on Time Time Time. It’s a phenomenal song. The whole EP is just 5 phenomenal songs.

Samantha is someone I’ve admired for so long. Everything about Samantha just leaves you in awe. Samantha’s voice is so distinctive and it is so soothing. I’ve heard people compare Samantha’s music to early Madonna. I can see it, and every part of me would love to hear Samantha sing Borderline (I’m not a Madonna fan really but we’re both part Italian, so I have to. Oh and Borderline is one of the best songs of all time.) Samantha’s voice takes you on a journey but it is up to you where you go. Go Deeper is the one to lose yourself in. It’s just over 6 minutes long, and it is such a wonderful song.

I really cannot praise Samantha and Policies Of Power enough. Sometimes you need something or someone to move you in a way you’ve been seeking, and this is exactly what Policies Of Power does- and then some!