DEAD BOYS: O2 Islington Academy 2 08/02/2017.

9 02 2018

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If I was someone who made a bucket list, then last night would have been something I could have ticked off. I never in my wildest dreams, and they are wild, would I imagine seeing one of the bands who made a record that I religiously play. Never would I have imagined seeing one of the greatest bands of all time.

Last night I finally saw Dead Boys play a small venue in London. It felt like we had all been thrown back to the golden year for Punk, 1977. 40 years ago Dead Boys, fronted by the one of a kind, Stiv Bators, released their debut record Young, Loud and Snotty. We all know that Stiv sadly passed away in 1990, so who on earth could come close to possessing his demeanour and way of performing the songs? It’s by no means an easy thing to do, and to some it’s probably damn near impossible but one man is doing it. And he is doing it in a way that probably has Stiv smirking down on the band. Jake Hout is remarkable, and his tribute to Stiv before dedicating Calling On You was beautiful.  His voice is incredible and he really captures what Dead Boys were about. He has that same snarly voice that Stiv had- he’s not as wild as Stiv but bloody hell he is great. For a few songs he hangs off the light above the stage. He also manages to crowd surf.

Although I was stood at the back, it was probably a solid spot to be in. I could see a sea of beautiful Punks in front of me all reliving the first time that they heard Dead Boys. I couldn’t sing the songs; all I could do was just smile like an idiot. I thought about Stiv a lot throughout, and Jake gave a beautiful tribute to him. I thought that was a really beautiful thing for him to do.

The crowd took me back to when I saw The Jesus And Mary Chain in 2014, and the crowd was mainly older men who had grown up with the band. With this show, it was a mix of everyone- and the older crowd were shouting the lyrics back at the band with as much love, passion and power as they must have done 40 years ago.

For me, I think this will be one of those shows that I’ll remember forever. There was such a lovely atmosphere, and given that the lyrical content of some of their songs may make others cringe- who cares?! The songs are as important as ever. The delivery of songs like I Need Lunch, All This And More and of course the ever influencing, Sonic Reducer is just impeccable.

I’m fairly sure last night Cheetah put a lot of people to shame with his guitar playing. He’s just as great as he was the first time around. Still loud. Why should you quieten down? You cannot tame a band like this, and why should you even want to? Johnny Blitz was as loud as ever, and that familiar sound he created all those years ago just took you back to the first time hearing the Dead Boys. The sound of the Dead Boys is massively distinctive, and to see Johnny Blitz and Cheetah- two of the pioneers of this sound, was mind-blowing.

I think with this show, the crowd and the band were equally contributing to how amazing the show was. Sometimes, you see a band and they are amazing but the crowd give nothing. This however, was such a great balance. I’m almost certain Jake would have had the crowd hanging from the lights above the stage with him if he could. I think also that if a kid who had never really heard of the Dead Boys before and was possibly only just getting into music, if they were at this show then I’m sure they would have left wanting to start a band. Like people did when they saw the Sex Pistols at that infamous Manchester show.

I was worried that the show would come across as almost karaoke like or that it would just take away the legacy of the band, and this record. But I had nothing to worry about at all. It was perfect. I could happily go see them every single night. Every night venturing closer to the stage and shouting the words back. It was nothing short of an honour to see Dead Boys and to be part of a crowd that truly idolise this band. Sometimes when I go to shows, I have this romanticised feeling of always wanting to be in that moment forever- I got that feeling last night.

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It was such a small venue, and it gave that proper Punk feel to it. All of us crammed in this room to see undoubtedly, one of the greatest bands ever. There is nothing quite like it.

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LOVERS CLUB: Empty Ballroom Blues

31 01 2018

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One of the most exciting bands to emerge from London, Lovers Club has just released their phenomenal EP Empty Ballroom Blues. It excels everything they have done to date, and it truly shows how great they are and undoubtedly, 2018 will be their year.

There is only one criticism of the EP-it’s not long enough. I want, I need more songs. This is a band that leaves you needing more. The need is greater than the want here. Everyone seems to follow certain “buzz” bands without giving a thought to those who are making something worth listening to. Lovers Club are that band. They are massively underrated and effortlessly cool. Alec’s vocals are nothing short of eerie and gripping. They make you feel like you are being chased down a dark alleyway with no hope of survival. They fill you with this dark excitement that takes you back to hearing The Cramps and The Mummies for the first time. That might just be me, but it’s alright. Lovers Club have this sound that makes you just want to totally immerse yourself in all that they do and hope they never ever call it quits. It’s a beautifully creepy sound that takes you over in the best way imaginable.

The opener, Empty Ballroom Blues truly sets the tone for the EP. It has this grand sound to it that is found in bands that have been at it for decades, but Lovers Club have this magnetic confidence in their sound that just makes you feel and believe that this is a band who have been around for decades. It’s a proper established and powerful sound that as I’ve said, just leaves you wanting more. Needing more. Alec’s guitar skills remind you of part Poison Ivy and part Johnny Thunders. The band has this raw Rock N Roll feel to their sound that is lacking in music right now. Are they are saviours? If you want them to be.

The Barge is just under 2 minutes and again, it isn’t enough. But it is taster of what Lovers Club is capable of and what is to come. It feels completely right to just keep on hitting repeat with this EP. Nothing can touch it. I truly feel that this is going to be one of my favourite things I hear all year, and will most definitely be one of my most played. The Barge has this brilliant distorted sound to it. It feels like it could have been in a Vincent Price film- it’s got this brutality to it that comes through effortlessly in Alec’s voice. Everything about this song just goes so well together. When the chorus kicks in, you can really hear just how great Alec, Oliver and Matt are. Towards the end the song has this energy to it that makes you think it’ll go on forever. It makes you want it to go on forever. Then it ends making room for the closer, Dark Country.

Dark Country is a heavy song. It carries something quite sinister to it, and I think that’s why I really love this one. I love the whole EP but Dark Country has this really heavy feel to it which just oozes a shade of evilness that makes you want to be part of it all. The whole EP feels as if it was made for a Horror film. The atmosphere they create in their music is something which I absolutely adore, and I really cannot wait to see and hear what they do this year because they really are the best new band around. Sure it is a biased opinion, but I’m not going to waste anyone’s time by writing in a negative manner. That’s just pointless. I love finding new bands and writing about how much I love their music, and how exciting they are. Lovers Club are one of those bands that make me want to keep writing about music- and recently that love has been fading. It’s back again. I think. I hope.

Anyway, you can buy/listen to the EP right here: https://loversclub.bandcamp.com/album/empty-ballroom-blues-ep

They are playing a few dates in London over the next couple of months at:

23rd February- The Black Heart

1st March- The Lock Tavern

See you at the front!





LOVERS CLUB.

5 12 2017

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If the bio for your band states that you are the best Rock ‘n’ Roll band in the world, then you’ve got a lot to live up to right? Wrong. Who cares about expectations! Who even needs them! Lovers Club have made a bold statement, and they are true to it. They are easily one of the best around and most certainly one of the best bands in the UK.

Whatever you’re expecting from Lovers Club- ignore it. There’s no point in assuming that they are a gentle band with such a loving name. Far from it. The irony. Their sound is The Cramps headbutting The Jesus And Mary Chain. They are loud, the sound is aggressive and it is all so brilliant. If you’re wanting a band that sounds like they are crashing into your skull and possessing your body, then Lovers Club are for you.

Lovers Club put their first release out in March this year. I think it was only released as cassette. The songs on this tape are heavy- they have the heaviness of Sleep and the eeriness of The Cramps. For me, they just have the perfect sound. I’d pretty sure that the top three bands in this country right now are Table Scraps, Night Shades and Lovers Club. Each band has a distinctive sound that just takes over the mind. What does it do to the body? Well if you’re questioning it, then you’re not listening hard enough.

Lovers Club have this sound that makes you wish you could continuously go to their live shows and live in this world that they have created. The world that they have created feels like a horror film from decades and decades ago with a hint of Edgar Allan Poe lurking throughout. They just have this instantly iconic sound and style- it makes you want to do what they do, but all you can do is listen. Religiously.

Lovers is possibly my favourite song by them at the moment but I am likely to change my mind as the day progresses. I love how brutal everything sounds on this song. It sure does hit you throughout in all their songs, but Lovers is the one that is a little more in your face than the others on the tape- and it is the one I keep going back to. There is something really, really special about this band. If I could describe what makes them so bloody brilliant there would be no point. They just immediately draw you in. It’s like they’ve got you in a headlock and no part of you is going to even fight an escape.

Lovers Club are more than just a Rock ‘n’ Roll band. Their sound is beyond being just Rock ‘n’ Roll- it is truly something else. Lovers Club are here to shake your skull, potentially deafen you and make you move in a way that you feel sure about doing. They make you want to join their band and add some more noise to their sound. They’ll only get better and louder, and I really cannot wait to hear more from them. They’re just effortlessly cool and they make it loud/sound so easy.

The next Lovers Club show will be at the Old Blue Last on the 13th December.

Buy the tape, and play it loud: https://loversclub.bandcamp.com/releases

 





TWO FIFTY FOUR: The Pickle Factory 29/11/2017

30 11 2017

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Last night was my fifth time seeing Two Fifty Four and it was also one of the best times I’ve seen them. There may have been a few issues with sound but that didn’t stop the band from putting on an incredible show.

Their last show in London was in 2015 at Dingwalls, and to see them play an even more intimate venue like The Pickle Factory (opposite Oval Space-make sure you queue up for the right gig if you go here, we made that mistake!) I’ve seen them play in an old church which is set upon old graves and at the Shacklewell Arms but the show last night was something else. Mainly because of the new songs. The new songs are outstanding live, so I can pretty much say with confidence, that when their new record does come out- it’ll be the record of the year. If it comes out next year, I am calling it now as the best thing to happen in 2018.

There is so much to take in when you see Two Fifty Four play. You don’t know where to cast your gaze as each member of the band is nothing short of excellent musicians. They will leave you wishing you could make noise like this. Certain songs allow certain band members to shine a little more, making you take in even more so just how phenomenal they are.

I always seem to gravitate towards watching Hannah play. She is undoubtedly the best guitarist around. There is no one else around that can make noise like her, there is no one else around that can make you feel that alive with a guitar. The sheer heaviness of the sound reminds me of bands I’ve been obsessed with for so long. We know that Houdini by the Melvins is one of the greatest records ever made, right? Well, Two Fifty Four carry the same heaviness as them. Hopefully you know the link between the Melvins and Two Fifty Four (play A History Of Bad Men if you don’t know, and see what happens at the 2:54 mark. If you aren’t covered in goose bumps, you aren’t human.) What I love so much about Two Fifty Four is their ability to make it look so easy, but we know it isn’t. They are one of the hardest working bands I have ever known and that truly comes through in their music and of course in their live shows.

Colette’s stage presence is magnetising. When she sings without her guitar she unleashes moves that resemble a wild animal hunting its prey- these ferocious moves accompanied with such a powerful voice that can electrify you is just mind-blowing. The only person I have ever seen with a presence like this is from my idol, Shirley Manson. Colette’s voice can be delicate when needed but she can definitely add some boom to it when needed. Her voice shows its strength on songs like In The Mirror and also on the new one, Pieces.

Of all the new songs they played last night, I think Ghosting may be my favourite. The new songs sound like Massive Attack mixed with Sleep. For me, that’s an ideal combination. The songs are delicate but also bloody brutal. Again, that’s another reason as to why I love this band so much. They have this loudness and this brutal sound that just leaves you in awe.

They end their set on Pieces, but the crowd wasn’t having any of that. We wanted one more. Some were yelling “Two more! Three more!” I think we all would have loved them to play both records and their earlier songs like Got A Hold and On A Wire. They ended their set with the wonderful Creeping. It was one of the highlights for sure; another is the little jam at the end of Scarlett. Something takes you over when they do that, and you realise even more just how bloody great Two Fifty Four are.

If you’ve seen Two Fifty Four live before, you’ll know that Alex is the best drummer you’ll probably ever see. The sheer passion that comes through as he beats the shit out of his drum kit is astounding. He makes you wish you could do that, but musicians/bands like Two Fifty Four do not come around often. I think that is why their crowd is so diverse, and why people go to see them because they truly love the band. There is none of this business where people go to see them just so they can say they have. Not at all. People go to see Two Fifty Four because their music really means something to them, because they know that they are a band to be absolutely treasured. They are also criminally underrated.

Every song they play is greeted with enthusiastic and loving cheers by the crowd. There are no obnoxious heckles or people yelling songs out that they want to hear. There is the utmost respect, love and admiration on both parts. There are no drunken fools spilling their overpriced craft beer on you, no one barging past to get to the front and no one talking whilst the band play. For as loud as they are, the atmosphere is tranquil and respectful. As someone who suffers stupidly with panic attacks- this felt like a totally safe space. All you can do is close your eyes and let the music move you.

As I mentioned many times before, bands like Two Fifty Four don’t come around too often. They are a pleasure to listen to and a sheer joy to watch. It was over all too soon, but I am so excited for the new record.

What I always take from their shows is like a kick up the arse to do something I love. Hanging out with Colette and Hannah after the show makes you see the band differently. On stage the band have this bold confidence and presence. Off stage they are taken aback with how adored they are.

Meet your heroes and let their music be your crutch. The world that Two Fifty Four paint with their music is like Ted Hughes crashing into Poe. Dark, eerie and good for the soul, and mind.





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.





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

14 06 2017
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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