LOOM: Loom.

20 05 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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





…vs My Brain

9 05 2017

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With it being Mental Health Awareness Week, I guess now is a good a time as any to ramble on about my past year. In fact, it was probably longer than a year- I just put off dealing with whatever my brain was telling me, and not telling me.

Last October I think I pretty much had my very own breakdown. It was at 2/3am. I remember sitting on my bed in some weird position crying, having a panic attack after panic attack. I was at war with my head. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t switch off. Nothing maintained my attention. I was starting to worry about myself. Prior, I just didn’t care. I went to the doctor and after a few minutes I was told to do a self-referral for treatment. I put this off for a few weeks, then stopped being a stubborn dick and did it.

Now I care more than I did. I went to the doctor a second time earlier this year, as my referral for CBT was going to be some time- the second stage of it. I made no improvements with the first lot. Labelled as having severe anxiety and mild depression. Labels are for foodstuffs- I’m not for consumption. Things shouldn’t define a person, just like their actions always shouldn’t. In this case, I wasn’t going to let this be something that ruled who I was and my life- enough was enough. I went to my doctor. She looked at me and asked how she could help. I cried. I broke down like a child and cried. I said “I can’t cope.” Finally admitting to myself that I couldn’t hack whatever was going on in my head.

As someone who can’t take paracetamol without assuming the worse, I had to resign myself to the fact that at this stage- I probably needed something other than talking. I agreed to take medication. Since starting the medication in late February, I am pretty sure that every side effect I had (I had them all) has been worth it. I’d rather have continuous dry mouth than have another fucking panic attack. The side effects have virtually gone. I do have days where I get this really bad pain in my stomach or the occasional headache, but I’d take that over how I was and what I was putting myself through. Or rather, what my brain was putting me through. I had my assessment for my second stage of CBT. I was being asked questions that weren’t relevant and being asked to focus on things that I really don’t need to. I felt as if I had to say what they wanted, and I didn’t want to be made to bring things up that don’t need to be. So I discharged myself. I decided rather than waste their time (and mine) I would give up my place for someone else who needs it more than me. I tried, and for me, that’s the main thing. But it just wasn’t for me.

Everyone bangs on about it, but support is key. I’ve got a handful of people that I know have my back and are there for me. Just like I am there for them. It also helps having a girlfriend who has a similar shit sleeping pattern so I have someone at 1am when I can’t sleep and everything seems too much. She’s my rock, and I try my hardest to be hers.

Music has been a massive help for me. We went to see Banks in March, and for me I think that was the point where I solidly felt okay. At one point going to gigs was just overwhelming. Going to work was overwhelming. Not because I hate my job or anything like that- far from it. But the effort of having to get out of bed and the overwhelming feeling of being on a packed train. My brain was slowly failing me. Or maybe I was failing myself for not taking better care. Music has been my other rock. Certain songs (which I’ll link below) have played a massive part in my brain healing and keeping me calm. I go the gym during the week after work to allow myself to take care of my body as well as my mind.

My bad days now don’t feel near as half as bad as they once were. I don’t have to fake being alright because I genuinely feel just fine at the moment. I’m not thinking long-term because that shit is scary. If I can get through one day without feeling terrible, I’m fine. My last panic attack was on the 2nd March. It’s been two months. I still feel a little shitty at times and certain things at the moment are fucking tough but, you can’t control everything.

I am not brave, I am not tough. All I did was reach breaking point. All I did was let myself get worse before I realised something needed to be done.

I’m alright. I’m happy with that. I’m alright.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





THE VACANT LOTS: Endless Nights.

20 04 2017

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Stating what makes a band great is all down to personal taste. What I love, another person will dislike. And vice versa. What someone may call the Record of the Year, another may rip it to shreds. With this in mind, I can happily say (with a wealth of bias behind it) that The Vacant Lots are easily one of the best bands around and their new record, Endless Nights is probably the best record of the year. It’s 8 perfect songs and it fully justifies why I love them so much.

I’ve been a fan of The Vacant Lots for some time, and what immediately drew me in was the way they push past holding a “typical” sound. Nothing about their sound is remotely bland. Their sound reminds me of Suicide with a hint of The Velvet Underground. They’re a band that are perfect to listen to in the depths of the night when you’re utterly alone. They provide comfort and a brilliant noise in your head.

Endless Nights is something else. Departure was undoubtedly a bold masterpiece and with Endless Nights they have done something else. You can truly hear how they have pushed themselves in order to make something this outstanding. Elevation is one of my highlights of the record, it sounds like Suicide clashing with very early Depeche Mode with a hint of NEU! Everything about The Vacant Lots is effortlessly stunning and just so bloody cool. Empty Space is another strong point. The seductive grooves of this track show a more mellow side to their sound. Previous releases of theirs have had this gorgeous dark and intense sound, but with Endless Nights the sound is a little more relaxed but you can really hear how they have challenged themselves to make such an incredible record.

I finally saw them live last year when they played the Moth Club. Jared holding his guitar up to the ceiling and playing until there was blood on his fingers and guitar is something that will always stick with me. They play with this passion that just makes you want to make your own noise. After seeing them live last year, I understood more about their music and just how important they are. They have this cult-like following (a bit like Cold Cave) and those that love them, truly and unconditionally love them. It’s those who really really love and adore music that find themselves in love with The Vacant Lots, and if you’ve never heard of them before- Endless Nights is going to steal your heart away.

Dividing Light is a relaxed version of the rowdy 6AM from their Departure record. Both takes on the song are just brilliant. I love how they have taken such a loud song and stripped it back to this. Both versions are remarkable, and they’ll fit any mood you’re in.

If you’re a fan of The Vacant Lots, you’ll know of their beautiful and close relationship with Suicide. I remember when Alan Vega passed away last year. I was more cut up about it than any other musician we lost last year. For me, Suicide have always been that band that have been prominent in influencing bands I love. They’re criminally underrated and the influence they’ve had on so many bands is just priceless. Sadly, Alan died before he could record his vocals on the last track of the record, Suicide Note. The Vacant Lots were granted permission to use clips of an unreleased track by Alan, and it just feels like a fitting tribute. It just reminds you of the genius that is Alan Vega, and how he and Martin Rev were part of one of the most vital bands of all time.

Endless Nights is another masterpiece by Jared and Brian. 8 tracks of mind-blowing and mind-altering sounds that will be your crutch, comfort and friend. I can’t wait to see them in London and Manchester this year. Their Europe/UK June dates are as follows:

3rd Mannheim, Blau Bar
5th Wiesbaden, Schlachtof
6th Hamburg, Hakken
7th Berlin, Monarch
10th Bern, Pinto
13th London, Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen
14th Brighton, Hope & Ruin
15th Glasgow, O2 ABC
16th Leeds, Temple Of Boom
17th Manchester, Aatma

Endless Nights is out tomorrow (21st April) via Metropolis Records. Sack off Record Store Day on Saturday and just buy this instead! Besides, every day is Record Store Day.





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.