BANKS: Albert Hall, Manchester. 10th March 2017.

11 03 2017

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One of the best feelings you can experience is waiting years and years to see a band or singer you adore. Not only do you adore them, but they’ve undoubtedly saved your life and made it easy for you to face those days where getting out of bed seems damn near impossible. You’re not brave, but the music and words give you this strength that you never thought you could possess. You don’t know what to do with this strength, but when no one else is around at 3am when you wake yourself up from having a panic attack, the music keeps you safe. The music keeps you sane. You have a small support network but those people aren’t close by. You cling to what you can, when you can.

Since 2013 I’ve been obsessed with Banks. Her words got me through something that in some ways, I put myself through a few years before. A situation I was too immature and fucked up to handle. The songs on Goddess made me see how badly I had hurt someone I loved and adored. Fast forward a few years, and we’re together. The songs don’t hurt as much. We’ve both healed. Time can heal. Goddess is built on songs that ooze hurt and pain, but they give you strength. The Altar is a body of work that shows honesty and vulnerability in a way that again, gives strength. That’s what Banks embodies- strength and love for yourself. Her songs are a form of healing and clarity.

Her set opens with the chilling Poltergeist. Using two microphones to distort the vocals, Banks has this stage presence that hits you right away. The way she focuses on the dance routine during this song is nothing short of hypnotising. Your eyes are hooked on every mood she and her dancers make, and the songs suddenly take on a whole new meaning. Banks moves like nothing else I’ve ever seen. Her moves are so delicate and well thought out. She reminds me so much of Aaliyah with the way she carries herself and glides across the stage.

There are so many stand out moments from the show last night that made me realise that her songs are more than just words and music. To see them come to life like this was mind blowing. Every part of me just wanted to sing a long, but all I could do was gaze in awe. The person I’ve been using as a crutch for so long was right there. One of the most beautiful points of the show was her asking everyone to put their phones away, and she performed a fragile version of Better. This song performed this way just changed everything. It took the song elsewhere, and you just connected in a completely different way. Mother Earth was the song I feel broke and fixed hearts and minds. Lyrically, it is probably one of the best songs Banks has written so far. The way she is so open and so pure when she performs this song just melts your heart. I knew it would be the song to break me and make me cry, it just has this power but in the best way imaginable. You just feel when you hear it that you can possibly take anything on and that she is right there with you going through it all. She gives you so much hope with this song, and I cannot thank her enough for it.

This Is What It Feels Like is one of the songs I was massively looking forward to. It was one of the first songs I heard from her, and she dedicated it to all those who had been there from the start. The way she choreographed her hands as she sang This Is What It Feels Like is so captivating. Drowning also left me hypnotised. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the stage and it was sung with such determination and power. Beggin’ For Thread was just absolutely one of my favourite songs from the set, and it just made me so happy to see this song come to life like this. Her dancers add this eerie feeling to the whole set that just lures you in, deep into this world in the most comforting way.

A large part of the show was songs from The Altar which was easily one of the best and most underrated records of last year. Since September I’ve played it religiously. It’s been a record that has eased me out of a state after I’ve had a panic attack, and her voice just soothes my head. Trainwreck is performed with such attitude as is Gemini Feed and of course, Fuck With Myself. The way she performs these songs just gives you this belief that you’re as tough as her. Weaker Girl is again, another mind blowing performance. The way everyone shouts “I’ma need a bad motherfucker like me” is incredible. Every song is just screamed back at her, it makes you feel like you’re in an arena not an old church in the middle of Manchester. She has the crowd right where they should be, and none of us want to ever leave.

Judas and Haunt again bring out this bold and brave side. Judas especially is performed with this venom that makes you feel the hurt she’s experienced from whoever or whatever has hurt her. I know I’ve said it countless of times before about her, but when she does this you just truly connect to the music. She’s so easy to connect with and to feel, and believe in every single word. I don’t even know what I did before I had her music.

The set ends with 27 Hours followed by This Is Not About Us. Of course there are other songs I would have loved to have heard but that’s just for my own personal sentimental value. The set was nothing short of perfect, and if anything, I’d have just wanted her to stay on stage for hours. Her dancers, her band, and her stage presence- just everything felt like something that came purely from the heart and soul. Wherever she goes when she performs these songs, she takes you with her.

It didn’t end just there. Before we went to the show, I wrote a letter to give her. The letter consisted of me telling her how much her music has helped and healed. How it still does, and how it gets me through my own hell. I handed the letter to her, and as we hugged, I had to tell her something I had needed to say for so long. I told her that she had saved my life. A bold and big statement that is entirely the truth. This was more than just a concert. It did something that no other show has ever done to me. I’ll keep its meaning close to me and go to it when it all seems too much. There is so much more I could say about the show last night, but if you were there or if you’ve seen her live- then you’ll understand exactly what it is that her music and her presence does.





STEAL SHIT DO DRUGS.

26 02 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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





DR CHAN: Southside Suicide.

23 02 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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





DR CHAN.

22 02 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





MIND RAYS.

22 02 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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





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

20 02 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Intro

You Love Nothing

Kill My Baby Tonight

Brian

Untitled

Ain’t Comin’ Home

Sleep

Feel Alright

Drive Your Car

Baby In Blue

Get Lost

Encore:

Good Guys

Heart Of Darkness.

 





THE UNDERGROUND YOUTH: What Kind Of Dystopian Hellhole Is This?

14 02 2017

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This week The Underground Youth release their eighth record, What Kind Of Dystopian Hellhole Is This? If there was a prize for best album title, it would easily claim first prize. With such a bold statement as its name, can it live up to it? Can it hold the weight? Oh come on, of course they do. This might come from a biased view point, but it is accurate all the same. Every song on this record has its own way to make you label it as your favourite song on the record. Each song is going to move you, push and pull you in all ways imaginable.

For me their new record seems to tower over their previous seven, and I know it is such a failed clichéd thing to say but if you go back and listen to each record and you then listen to this, you will see how they/mainly Craig’s remarkable way with words has really grown. The capture the essence of their base (Berlin via Manchester) in their songs, and they make you just want to sack everything off and move. I for one, am trying to do that because the city I’m currently in has ruined me in ways I didn’t think I could. Daily panic attacks are a given, my own reflection is a piss poor outline of myself. I try to avoid looking. My auntie gave me some dear advice on Sunday when I went home. She said, “Music will get you through.” I’m hoping she’s right because I don’t really have much else. It’s what I have when no one else is around and I don’t like to burden anyone anyway.

Anyway, let’s move on because I sound like a proper whiney twat.

The Underground Youth are going on a pretty extensive tour to promote this record. They’re playing right near my house in a few weeks, and I’m going to try my best to make it. I’ve never seen them live before, even though I spend a lot of time listening to their music. I’ve wondered how their live show would be. I hope they make it as dark and as eerie as possible. I sadly missed their show at The Lexington. Me and my panic attacks. I’m pretty sure it was one hell of a show, and it was at one of my favourite venues too. The new record seems to be one of those that you’ve just GOT to see live. It has all these intense elements to it that make you intrigued into how they will unleash these songs openly on stage.

For me, I really hope they play The Outsider on this tour as it shows a side to them that will lure the meekest of people in. Once they get in, that’s it. I love the distorted vocals and how it has a very subtle Shoegaze feel to it. I rarely pay attention to labels that are given to bands as it can just hinder/harm your take on them. I’ve read how The Underground Youth have been labelled over the period of their career, and I’ve not really picked up on any specific sound and I think that is part of the charm. The fact that you don’t know what it is or what era you think they are from makes it all the more better. This record could easily have happened circa Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ Kick Against The Pricks or Outside Your Room by Slowdive. That’s what it sounds like- something that may have already happened but also something so brilliantly new and brutally fascinating.

Your Sweet Love is a big highlight for me. I love the sheer intensity of it, and again, it is one I really hope they play live because there is no denying how electrifying the atmosphere will be once they indulge magically into this (just over) 6 minute symphonic blissful sound. There’s no telling where this song will take you, it’s just wonderfully captivating. The whole record is, and I don’t think any part of me will grow tired of obsessing over it and finding new songs, new pieces of the songs to love and cherish dearly. The record ends with the moving Incapable Of Love. It is the perfect song to end this glorious record on, and it really cements the title of the record. The record feels like a novel- not a piece of music. I hope anyone who hears this record picks up on that. It feels like something a write you love from way back has written and it’s been brought to life through music. Think Schopenhauer meets Henry Miller. A mixture of these two worlds and put together in the most perfect way possible.

It is truly everything I want from a record. Like all great bands, The Underground Youth have this effortless way of creating a new sound with each record and eight records in, they’ve again surpassed themselves. They do it every single time, and I love them for it.

Buy the record tomorrow and come out to see them at one of their shows!