25 September 2018

Orbital - Monsters Exists

"And when Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer."

When I first heard that Orbital had reformed (again), this was the first thought that came to mind for me.  In 2018, whilst it's great to have Orbital back amongst us, you have to wonder why they have returned.  As one of the originals, they were at the top of the mountain and how do you keep up to that level?  To be a pioneer, a trailblazer, at the forefront of a movement must be a poisoned chalice in many ways.  There are the initial moments of glory, the praise and the infamy of creating your own movement.  But it's followed by a constant scrutiny about everything you release afterwards, about how it'll never really compare to your early work. It's in the human nature to look back and to judge the new by the old.  If there was no call for it, this blog would be pretty redundant to be honest (I have no illusion of the irony here).   

Monsters Exist is the ninth studio album by Orbital and their first since 2012 Wonky, this also their first studio album since their second reformation after splitting up in 2014.  So, it seems as if they can't keep away from this project, even though they have tried twice before.  When it comes to Orbital, you will have people who adore everything they do, but you will also have people who use the "it's not as good as "Chimes"...." conversation.  They are legends in their own time, they're damned if they do and damned if they don't.  So, what is the point in Monsters Exist?

After a few listens, the main word I've attached to this album is "retro".  The second I would say would be "honest".  Monsters Exist is not ashamed of its roots, Orbital are far too good at their craft for that sort of thing.  They've taken all their experience and made an album which they're comfortable with, which just happens to be is very retro and could have easily been recorded in 1995.  There is no shame in that, songs such as "Hoo Hoo, Ha Ha" and "P.H.U.K." are going to be going down a storm and people will love them.  

It's that timeless feeling, the unvoluntary nods to the past that give Monsters Exist a vintage feeling.  It's not something that Orbital attempt to hide either.  As the album progress, this retro feedback intensifies.  I can't shift a sensation that any of these tracks could easily have been part of the Orbital setlist since those early years.  "Vision OnE" is a personal favourite for me on this album, the build-up from glorious mess to trance anthem is brilliant, it works on so many levels and it never gets stale.  They try their best to end on a reality slapping note, one that is in keeping with their style. "There Will Come A Time" featuring Dr Brian Cox telling you that death is your only destination, and it's a track that will have some people feeling uncomfortable.  For me, I cannot stop me myself enjoying this throwback to the past, one crafted and released in 2018.

However, there are a few issues here as well. Firstly, any track taken outside of the confines of this record does not stand up too well on its own.  Monsters Exist is not a natural album to cherry pick, but that is always the case with Orbital.  It's very much an album experience, one that you have to experience as a whole.  Also, that inevitable looking over the shoulder, looking at the past and comparing, it does come home to roost a bit and can feel suffocating in places.  

Overall, I think it best to be honest when reviewing an album.  Monsters Exist isn't the strongest ever record that Orbital have released, but it's nowhere near their worst either.  It's a gentle reintroduction to a band who have nothing left to conquer, who have wept and they are now looking towards to their next challenge.  It's an album that is free of from Orbital's own legacy, it's been created for no other reason than to entertain.  For me, Monsters Exist is a very good comeback, it'll please the faithful without sacrificing their own souls to keep up with any current trend.  There are no expectations here, so don't expect the unexpected, they're not reinventing the wheel here.  All you've got to do is enjoy the experience, so let go of those preconceptions and enjoy the ride.

7.5 out of ten - This is good and worth checking out

Top track - Vision OnE

You can purchase the deluxe version of Monsters Exist on Amazon here, the normal version is also available there on digital download only

You can visit the Orbital website here.

You can follow the activities of Orbital on Facebook here.

You can stream Monsters Exist (Deluxe version) on Spotify here.

You can stream Monsters Exist (Deluxe version) on Deezer here.

You can stream Monsters Exist (Deluxe version) on Tidal here.

23 September 2018

Extra Arms - Headacher

Headacher is the latest album by Extra Arms, which is their fourth/first is total.  To explain this, I'll refer to their press release that came with the album.  The previous three albums released were done so under the name Ryan Allen & His Extra Arms.  Ryan Allen (formerly of Thunderbirds Are Now!) is the leader (and only member) of the group until he formed a full band for touring Basement Punk.  Obviously, Ryan enjoyed playing the shows with a full band, so much so that he's dropped the 'Ryan Allen & His' part off the band name, and thus the Extra Arms arrived.  Scheduled to be released on October 12th on Get Party Records, you could say that Headacher represents a leap of faith for this band.  Think about it, the last three records before Headacher have been released as a one-man project.  To let go of that level of control and put your trust in others is a big thing, so before I start this, I have to applaud them all for taking that leap of faith.  However, as positive a step as that is, how will it affect the end result?

Headacher is an eleven track record which will appeal to people who are fans of The Wildhearts, Supersuckers, Starz, Kiss, Ryan Hamilton, Big Starr and Terrorvision.  I've no idea how, but there is something in the water in America which is making a lot of bands sound so retro and punk.  I've no idea how, but these guys could easily be the bastardised sons of Ginger Wildheart and Co.  If you've no idea who the Wildhearts are, please believe me that I mean this comparison as a compliment of the highest order.

Over the eleven songs, you have a lot of bouncy rock songs that cover a number of topics.  You've got political tracks such as “Headacher”, “Ends Meet” & “Push the Button”, all of which have a strong message at their heart.  You've got deeply personal tracks such as "Honey Brown” (approaching Country/Americana territory), “You Make the Life You Want” (a great tune with a heavy kick in it) & “The Last One” (the final track, an acoustic number to send you towards your next destination).   There’s even a song about running called “Why I Run”, not my type of thing, but a good song never the less.

I like a lot of things about Headacher, I love the cover, it's got some banging tunes and it doesn't outstay its welcome.  Extra Arms keep everything to the point and there is no wasted moment on here.  Headacher is an album with no downside, I like it a lot and I think if it finds it's audience, nothing will be able to stop the Extra Arms.  It's a solid, positive and well play introduction to the next phase of this act.  Hopefully, there will be a lot more records from this band, I'm so glad that the leap of faith has worked in their favour.

8.5 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my time, money and heart.

Top track - Headacher

You can pre-order Headacher on Amazon here.

You can pre-order Headacher on the Extra Arms Bandcamp page.

You can follow the activities of Extra Arms on Facebook here.

At the time of writing, Headacher is not available on streaming services.  If this changes after October 12th, I'll update the links here.

This Wild Life - Petaluma

This Wild Life have returned with their third studio album, Petaluma.  I first encountered them when they were touring with Low Tides (our review is linked here) when I was lucky enough to interview singer Kevin Jordan for my radio show.  With their self-deprecating charm and catchy riffs, Low Tides was a surprising release for me.  Musically and lyrically, it's quite dark, but it's also incredibly likeable at the same time.  Since that release, TWL have toured the globe, released a few singles (including a great cover of Nirvana's "Heart Shaped Box") and they seem to be on the crest of a wave.  It's natural to expect them to reach for new goals, to aim for new heights. But the very nature of acoustic acts is that there is little to no deviation original formula.  The songs tend to follow a pattern, but with different subject matters  Will Petaluma follow the same journey, or have This Wild Life broken that circle?

Musically, are similar patterns on Petaluma when compared to Low Tides, but there is an additional dose of positivity to the music.  Songs such as "Positively Negative" sound as if they were conceived in the sunshine.  This is also found on "Figure It Out", "Come Back Down" (which has a whistling section that will be stuck in your head) and others.  However, to temper this, the lyrics are naturally beautifully negative in a way that I've come to expect from TWL.  This is part of their charm, it's part of their magic and it really works for them.

When subjects turn down, the music is still terrific, such as on "Hold You Here", "Never Believe" (which has a horn section that still sounds slightly mournful), you soon realise how essential to Petaluma they are as these happy moments.  And that is the essence of This Wild Life in a bottle, the mixture of joy & pain. Sometimes you need the songs to help you when you're down as well as when your happy, this is a specialty of TWL and this album is full of all those emotions.  It's nice to hear them in the sun and the rain this time, emotionally speaking.

Petaluma is one of those albums which will appeal to those in emotional turmoil, to people who are loving life and everyone in between.  It's for those who need to know they're not alone, to know that there are others who share their journey through life.  It's not a massive jump from Low Tides to Petaluma, but why would they mess with a formula that is working for them.  Thankfully though, it's not an identical follow-on album, which is a very good thing.  As much as I liked Low Tides, I would have hated to be listening to Low Tides Part 2, Low Harder.  I love the fact that after listening to this album, you can feel a little uplifted, it confirms that you're not by yourself in this world.  With Petaluma, This Wild Life has given the world one of the best things - hope.

8 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my time, money and heart.

Top track - Positively Negative

You can purchase Petaluma on Amazon here.

You can visit the This Wild Life website here (which also has a web-store)

You can visit the This Wild Life Bandcamp page here.

You can follow the activities of This Wild Life on Facebook here

You can stream Petaluma on Spotify here.

You can stream Petaluma on Deezer here.

You can stream Petaluma on Tidal here.

Sad Hill - Good if it Goes

Sad Hill are an Emo/Punk three-piece band hailing from Perth, Australia.  They feature Greg Sanders (vocals/bass) & Dane Knowles (drums) (ex-Emperors) & Adrian Codrington (guitar/vocals) (ex-Coveleski).  Good if it Goes is the debut album, which was recorded in a two week period earlier this year, which has been released by Gun Fever Records.  The blurb on their initial email talks about having to pick up the pieces of a dream broken, reflected in the formation of Sad Hill after the dissolving of their previous acts.  It must have been a difficult time, to have a dream in touching distance and for it to fall by the wayside.  I think this might be reflected in the title as well, the band is saying their good to go again after their previous acts went all Thanos on them.

As I've not encountered their first bands, I'm sort of coming into this with as a total newbie.  I've no preconceptions what they're going to sound, well - apart from the fact their tags on Facebook and Bandcamp.  But you never get a real picture until you press play, until that moment a band or an album is always a mystery.  I also have to mention the artwork, it's one of the nicest I've seen this year.  If this had not been sent to me and I'd stumbled onto it naturally, it would have been a prime candidate for my Cover Roulette series of review (link to the series here).

Good if it Goes is ten tracks of Emotional Punk, that is Emo before it became a fashion statement.  They have a sound which sounds as if Far and Hundred Reasons had a bit of a jam, but decided that they could make the sound of The Academy Is.... sound listenable.  Each of the tracks is a little story, with some being close to Sad Hill's hearts.  Take "Heart Attack" for instance.  This is a song which is about a friend who had a minor heart attack but treats it as a joke.  That is the sort of thing that a lot of people do, make light of a serious situation.  But putting it into words gives that event an extra dimension.

"Chicago" is a song about wanting to move to the big city, but commitments and families stopping the big move from happening.  This again is a beautiful song, born out of frustration, acceptance and emotional conflict.  We can also look at "Pat Wilson's Ghost", a song about holding onto a grudge or letting that shit go.  It's a great song which ends the album, showing how some people need to change or be damned.   My favourite song is "New Warden", just something about that riff just gets latched in my mind and will not be moved.

Musically, this is a great little album.  Like most Emo music, it's not a technical master class in the same way that Frank Zappa never made a straightforward rock album.  But in it's given genre, it's spot on and a shining example that Emo has a place in 2018.  I love the honest nature of the songs, the beautiful artwork and the overall package.  Are there any issues?  To be honest, not really.  It does exactly what it says on the tin.  Good if it Goes is a God-honest Emo record, created out of love, frustration, tears, and hope.  What is there not to like?

8 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my time, money and heart.

Top track - New Warden

You can purchase Good if it Goes on the Sad Hill Bandcamp page here.

You can purchase Good if it Goes on Amazon here.

You can follow the activities of Sad Hill on Facebook here.

You can stream Good if it Goes on Spotify here.

You can stream Good if it Goes on Deezer here.

You can stream Good if it Goes on Tidal here.

12 September 2018

Soul Dissolution - Nowhere EP

You may remember, earlier this year I reviewed the fantastic Stardust by Soul Dissolution (you can read our review here).  That album was a tour de force, one that saw the union of Post and Black Metal reach (for my money) its creative peak.  It is an album which will feature high in my AOTY charts and rightly so.  However, what I was not expecting was a further release in 2018, but when it comes to Soul Dissolution, nothing is predictable.  As you'll probably already know a lot about them from our previous reviews, I'll get cracking with this one.

Nowhere EP is a two-track affair, featuring "Road to Nowhere" and "Fading Darkness".  Clocking in at just shy of twenty-five minutes, you need stamina with this EP.  Each track is a long and luscious assault on the ears, with gentle lulls, glorious highs and the howling vocals that will signal the death of someone close by.  The mixing and production job by Oliver Carell is stunning on this record, both tracks sounding crisp and brimming with tension.  Once again, Soul Dissolution have release another stunning monster, one which I would recommend you purchase/pre-order it now.

5 out of five - I wish I had more ears to love this more

Top track - Road to Nowhere

You can pre-order Nowhere EP on the Soul Dissolution Bandcamp page here.

You can follow the activities of Soul Dissolution on Facebook here

At the time of writing, Nowhere EP is not available on streaming sites.  If and when this changes, I'll update the links here.

Buñuel - The Easy Way Out

Buñuel is a project combining the talents of Xabier Iriondo, from Afterhours, Pierpaolo Capovilla and Franz Valente, from Il Teatro degli Orrori, along with Eugene S. Robinson, from Oxbow.  The Easy Way Out was released on La Tempesta International Records and distributed by Goodfellas Records.  The Easy Way Out was released on  27th April 2018 according to the Buñuel Facebook page & Spotify, whilst Amazon has it down as 13th July 2018.  This is Buñuel's second album, following A Resting Place for Strangers which was released in 2016.

If you had to describe The Easy Way Out in one word, it would be aggressive.  It's not an album for relaxing to, it's not an album to put on to unwind.  You listen to The Easy Way Out for a challenge, as it'll never let you rest or feel comfortable.   You never know what is going to leap out of the speakers at any given point, from the aggressive opening of "Boys to Men", to the screeching vocals of "The Hammer the coffin" with its free-falling riff and intense drumming, to the final haunted curtain call "Hooker".

When you think you've reached a natural plateau and you're safe, there is another sucker punch around the corner.   Take "A Sorrowful Night" for instance, everytime it starts, I find myself taken sidewards with the everchanging nature the music.  It doesn't rest, it's fluid and in constant motion.  Then, Buñuel follows it on with the seven-minute beating in the form of "The Sanction".  It feels like the punishment/joy will never end, this can only be viewed as a good thing.  Then you have the short, sharp, female fronted "Shot", a delightful punk burst out of left field on this album. I love that "Shot" has the power to throw this intense album on its head for less than a minute with ease.  But it's "Whirlwind" that ticks all my boxes, with its swirling riff, aggressive drum and bass combo and intense words.

With each repeat of The Easy Way Out, you're no closer to understanding Buñuel.  You can say that you are, but that's a lie.  The Easy Way Out is a beautiful piece of art, an album that mixes the poetry of Eugene S. Robinson with the wondrous music of Messrs Iriondo, Capovilla and Valente.  Is it for mass consumption, no - not even close.  It's for people who enjoy music that confronts them, it's for those who want an album that will challenge them.  I've never come away from listening to this album without being impressed with it, or feeling as if I've been taken to school.  It's an enigma, a puzzle that I bring out of my collection to take away the grime of the day.

8.5 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my time, money and heart

Top track - Whirlwind

You can purchase The Easy Way Out on Amazon here.

You can follow the activities of Buñuel on Facebook here

You can stream The Easy Way Out on Spotify here.

You can stream The Easy Way Out on Deezer here.

You can stream The Easy Way Out on Tidal here.

9 September 2018

Reggie & The Full Effect - 41

Ah, Reggie.  It's fucking good to have The Full Effect and Messr Reggie back in my life!  Reggie & The Full Effect is the side project of James Dewees, keyboard player from The Get Up Kids.  My first introduction to this project was "What The Hell Is Contempt" from Songs Not To Get Married To.  With its loud emo sound and a huge chorus which stuck in my head for ages, it's on my all-time list of top tunes.  During their first run between 1998 and 2008, R&TFE were a band who had a ferociously devoted following, I mean it was approaching scary at times.  Their first five albums were good records, my favourite being the aforementioned Songs Not To Get Married To, which is one of the fiercest emo records that I've ever heard.

41 is the second R&TFE album to be released since their return in 2013, following on from No Country for Old Men.  Released in February 2018 on Pure Noise Records, 41 has been on my list to review for an awfully long time.  Before I sat down to complete this review, I've not been listening to 41 too much. To be honest, I've only put it on every once in a while.  Not because I didn't want to or I disliked it straight away, it has just been down to lack of free time on my behalf.  I needed a chance to sit down with it properly, to give it a lot of attention.  However, now is the time to sink my teeth into it, how has it turned out?

The first thing that is apparent is that Reggie & The Full Effect are still trying to get through their emotional baggage and making it sound wonderfully painful.  With a heavier use of synths on most of the songs, 41 comes across as a hybrid record.  Take "Channing Tatum Space Rollerblading Montage Music" for instance.  This would not be out of place on a Pet Shop Boys record, but it's equally at home here.  You then have songs such as "Il Pesce Svedese", which has that trademark fury of R&TFE, but the synth is still there. Whilst the synths have always been there, it seems as if the guitar has taken a back seat on this record.

At fifteen tracks long and much like a lot of Reggie records, 41 comes in a bit heavy for my tastes.  You can have too much of a good thing at times, which is the case here.  Reggie is best in short and sharp bursts of noise and pain.  There is also a lot of 41 that feels as if it's been said before, as if there is a retelling of old pains and memories.  Which is why 41 is a decent album and not a great one.  There are some great moments such as "Off Delaware", "Alone Again" and "Maggie", but overall it's not one of their best.  With that said, an off R&TFE album is still listenable. Ah Reggie, still good to have you back though!

6.5 out of ten - Now, I see where you were going, but it's not quite there.

Top track - Alone Again

You can purchase 41 from Amazon here.

You can purchase 41 on the Reggie & The Full Effect Bandcamp page here.

You can visit the Reggie & The Full Effect website here.

You can follow the activities of Reggie & The Full Effect on Facebook here.

You can stream 41 on Spotify here.

You can stream 41 on Deezer here.

You can stream 41 on Tidal here.

droneroom - Jesus Year

droneroom is the stage name of one Blake Edward Conley, member of Lucy Stoner (and probably a few other bands if I'm honest).  It's been just over a month since I received this album, I've also received requests from Keith from Sweet Sound Records suggest I review a droneroom release. The first time I reviewed them on the Sweet Sound Records 2016 Spring Sampler (our review here; however, I need to fix the photos on the review), I was not too complimentary.  Not that I was trying to pick faults with droneroom, I guess I was expecting something else that didn't happen.  However, I'm more than willing to concede that I might have gotten this wrong.  For each track on a sampler is really a song out of its original context.  You're not hearing a song in its intended environment, as the artist originally envisioned it.  So, sometimes a song might not shine as it would when surrounded by its brethren. 

Jesus Years was released in March 2018, released via Banana Tapez records and also available on the droneroom Bandcamp page.  Something that I've learnt since I first started blogging, is the importance of finding the right time and atmosphere to review an album.  For example, a gentle guitar album is not going to sparkle on an 8am commute to work.  For Jesus Years, the first thing you need is the right head-space, you need to have a relaxed mindset to the idea of song structure.  If Sunn 0)))) are the masters of drone and noise, then droneroom are their equals with looping and the absence of noise.

Over five tracks, droneroom have created songs which remind me of R.E.M. (especially "Ladybird" which is a natural follow-on to "New Orleans Instrumental No. 1"), but with the steady build of Howard James Kenny (another guitar looping artist from the UK).  You also have harsh noise such as on "I Think I Know You", a song that reminds me of a stripped back Lucy Stoner track.  I love "Until the Water Takes You", with its beautiful repeating notes.  Each track is a little island of noise, an island of drone.  Together, they create an album of strange seas, but beautiful tides.

Overall, the main thing I'm getting from this album is the originality of the artist.  It would be quite easy to dismiss this (as I did in the past), but you have to hear this in its right setting.  For me, that is Sunday, a day where I just want music that builds up an atmosphere and I can drift away from reality for a few moments.  Jesus Year is a strange beast, it's not for everyone and that is fine.  But it's a beautiful record, full of deep pools of joy if you dig hard enough.  It also makes it impossible to give it a general mark out of ten.  Somehow, this seems fitting to me.  This is not an ordinary record.  But there is no denying how good it sounds - for people who need something more than mainstream.

Crazy cat symbol - This album cannot be marked, so here is a box of kittens

Top track - Until the Water Takes You

You can purchase Jesus Year and other droneroom releases on the droneroom Bandcamp page here.

You can follow the activities of droneroom on Facebook here.

Whilst Jesus Year is not available on streaming sites, you should just head to their Bandcamp page and get it there.  Just saying......

Steve Amber - From a Temple on the Hill

Steve Amber are a French-based band located in the Saint-Ouen / Paris / Brest region, with an English singer.  From a Temple on the Hill EP is to be released on September 17th and they're currently touring Europe at the time of writing.  This EP is the follow up to the 2016 Steve Amber EP (available on Spotify and all good streaming services, as well as available for purchase on Amazon).  From a Temple on the Hill EP contains five drops of psychedelic indie rock which will be perfect for fans of Radiohead, King Crimson & King Gizzard & The Wizard Lizard.  Amongst the influences, there is also a cinematic feeling to their sound. I could imagine any of these tracks being used on any Europa film that is coming out soon.  Whilst you can spot the obvious influences, there is a huge factor in their sound which is unidentifiable with anyone else.  It's what they bring to the table, it's what makes them tick and that is all of their own makings.

Over the course of thirty minutes, you are presented with music to absorb yourself into, to forget the outside world for a little bit.  This gives From a Temple on the Hill EP an edge over a lot of the current indie records in the market today.  They stand out as they're trying something different from the current trends of the day.  To narrow it down to my favourite song is hard, I love them all!  But I keep returning to "What The Radio Plays" more often than not, it's a stomping song which gets better with each spin!  This is a serious contender for our EP of the year, check it out when it's released on Septemeber 17th!

5 out of five - I wish I had extra ears to love this more

Top track - What The Radio Plays

You can follow the activities of Steve Amber on Facebook here

At the time of writing, From a Temple on the Hill EP was not on general release or available on streaming services.  I'll update all links for purchasing/streaming once it is available to the general public.

8 September 2018

Athensville - Proper EP

Athensville are a Philadelphia based Alternative Rock/Power Pop band who recently got in touch as I was about to post this.  Proper is their first EP which was released at the end of August 2018.  It was recorded between March & July 2018.  Over the course of five tracks, Athensville showcase the sound of a strong band who have focused one five strong songs.   Musically, their sound is akin to bands such as Buffalo Tom, Feeder, R.E.M., with a good dose of originality as well. There no weak tracks on this EP, they all have their own identity but without variating too much to cause any confusion on their overall sound.  Anthensville deal in melancholic Alternative Rock, with a slight nostalgic atmosphere due to the lyrical content.  This is not a bad thing, as it suits the music perfectly.  Out of the five tracks, my favourites are “Something Real” and "And We Fell", but each track is a little gem.  It speaks to me in a way that harks back to when I was young, I was always an Alternative Rock kid and this slots right into that part of my mind.  Definitely a band I would recommend you check out.

4.5 out of five – This is really good, well worth checking out

Top track – Something Real

Various Artists - Singles round up

I've been a little bit lax in some departments, especially when it comes to single releases.  My apologies to all the bands who've been sending me singles, I truly appreciate them and I hope that this review as well as playing them on Attention Please on NE1FM will act as compensation for this delay.  Anyway, here we go with my singles review round-up!

Kovax – Cobalt


Kovax return with a noisy little MF called "Cobalt".  It is a stomping track which has a huge bass groove that is laced through the song like a snake slipping through the grass.  It’s a strong follow up to the tracks on the If There Was Ever Any Doubt EP, showing a heavier side to their sound.  The way “Cobalt” slows down as the song progresses is fantastic, with the bass taking most of the strain and smashing it out of the park.  A good addition to their sound, “Cobalt” a track that is worth checking out.

4 out of five – This is really good, well worth checking out

Granfalloon – Broken Things/Sleep

Granfalloon has released two singles since their wonderful release “Ambulance”.  The first of these two tracks is “Broken Things”, which is the lighter of the two tracks.  It’s a good, solid release which kept Granfalloon in the mind’s eye.  It had a punchy chorus and that sounds which I think they should trademark.  “Sleep” is the stronger of the two tracks, with a Euro-Cinema feeling attached to the song.  It’s a beautiful song that gets stuck in your mind, much like “Ambulance”.  They are just about to release another single and tour Europe, they've also released a tour EP with these songs and as well as "Ambulance" and a track called "Year of the Rooster".  Check it out!

Broken Things – 4 out of five – This is really good, well worth checking out
Sleep – 4.5 out of five – This is really good, well worth checking out

Ghost//Signals – Hectoring

Ghost//Singals are a band who are starting to get noticed, they are currently being played on the BBC, they recently performed as part of the Hit the North and Lindisfarne Festivals, as well as selling out shows around the North-East.  Their last single, "Queen of the Oxygen Thieves" is one of my songs of 2018, it is also on my all-time list and I don't say that to blow smoke up their arses.  "Hectoring" is another great song, one that mixes their love of all things Cure with epic sounding Indie.  I can see why it's getting them a lot of attention, it's such a catchy number and stays with you long after it's finished.  They are already in demand around the North-East and soon the UK, after that - who knows. 

4.5 out of five – This is really good, well worth checking out

Prey Drive – Pancakes

Prey Drive deal in Alternative Rock/Metal with a slice of pop added to the mix.  “Pancakes” is a small tale about how things change, and how nothing can be the same after a life event.  It’s a song that works on so many levels, with it being a cheerful number musically, but with its hidden depths underneath the waters.  Prey Drive will be a band to watch in the future.

4.5 out of five – This is really good, well worth checking out.

Youth Killed It – Great British Summer/Where Did I Go Wrong/What’s So Great, Britain?/Headbutt

Youth Killed It are a band that you should all be familiar with by now.   I first heard about after being offered an interview for Attention Please.  At the time, they were touring with the single “Island”, which was a catchy little tune about wanting to be left alone sometime.  During the interview, At the time, Jack from the band stated that they were writing some new material, which they’ve been releasing over the last few months.  I reviewed their new album What's so Great, Britain? (link to the review here), which has yielded these tracks.  They are “Great British Summer”, “Where Did I Go Wrong”, “What’s So Great, Britain” and “Headbutt”.  Each song is a fast indie-pop song that gets stuck in your head and won’t be shifted for love or money.  Out of the four, I’m digging “What’s So Great, Britain?” the most, but each song has the charm and cheeky nature of Youth Killed It that you’ve come to expect from the band.  Except them to feature high in our end of year chart!

Great British Summer – 4 out of five – This is really good, well worth checking out.
Where Did I Go Wrong – 4 out of five – This is really good, well worth checking out.
What’s so Great, Britain? – 5 out of five – I wish I had more ears to love this.
Headbutt – 4 out of five – This is really good, well worth checking out.

Sorry to all the band, I hope better late than never!  All the singles here are fantastic!  All songs are available on via either all good digital retailers, Bandcamp or streaming services.

Dan le Sac - 63 Days

When you mention the name Dan Le Sac to a lot of people, it's usually either followed by two responses.  Oh, the guy with Scroobius Pip or Who?  Both of these do him a disservice in my opinion.  Make no mistake, his work on the three DLS V SP records was amazing and as essential as the words from Mr Pip, so to dismiss him as a lesser part is not right for me.  Not dismissing that part of his life (which he is rightly proud of), but he was an equal part of it.  I can sort of understand why some people say who, he's an underground artist and I work with people who think shark songs & X-Factor are the height of culture and sophistication.  DLS is not a mainstream artist, so that makes sense in that way.  But it's still the wrong response to say "who", the man is a great musician.

63 Days is the fruits of his labour, the result of a challenge set to Mr Le Sac: Could he write, record, mix and master an album from scratch in 63 Days?  From the outset, that gives the musician a massive challenge, just over two months to create and nurture songs into a form fit for the public could be a recipe for disaster.  But Mr Le Sac found the experience liberating.  On his Bandcamp page, he claimed that the time constraint gave him the freedom not to stress on the record, not to over think it.  So, the lack of time actually freedom his mind to focus solely on the music and making that the best it could be.

If you didn't know that story, then you would not have guessed that this album was recorded in such a short period of time.  From opening "Closer" to the ending of "She Builds Herself", Mr Le Sac has created an atmospheric world for you to submerge yourself in.  The music could easily be used in clubs, or as background music whilst gaming.  It's a record for the early morning to the late nights, it's one for people who need something that can take them away from the world for a few moments.

I love the build on each of these songs, especially on "Happy Bombs" and "In My Step".  Both have different paths, but both build up slowly and demand repeated plays.  But this is not an album to cherry pick, each component is as important as the one before and the one afterwards.  You need "High Top Fade" and it's slow intro as much as hard drum beats of "Knife Joy".  Basically, this album covers a lot of points and still sounds natural, organic and unforced.

Much like the album, I'm shooting straight from the hip here.  This is a fantastic record, one of my favourite Electronica releases of 2018.  He was set a goal and I can honestly say that he's not only achieved it, but he's also but smashed it out of the park.  This might become an underground classic, it might take a while for people to find, but everyone will love it when they do find it!  Head over to the Dan Le Sac Bandcamp page and purchase it now!

8 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my time, money and heart.

Top track - Happy Bombs

You can purchase 63 Days (as well as other Dan Le Sac records) on the Dan Le Sac Bandcamp page here.

You can follow the activities of Dan Le Sac on Facebook here.

You can also follow Dan Le Sac on Twitch, which is fun too!

You can stream 63 Days on Spotify here.

You can stream 63 Days on Deezer here.

You can stream 63 Days on Tidal here.

6 September 2018

Interpol - Marauder

Let's be honest, I don't need to do a big history lesson here, we all know that backstory of Interpol.  Their return is something that fans have long anticipated, which was delayed by the anniversary of Turn on the Bright Lights and subsequent tour in celebration of that anniversary.  It's been four years since the jaw-dropping El Pintor (our review linked here).  I've played that album so many times, purchased it on different formats and as presents for people.  I can safely say it's my favourite Interpol album, I can play it at any time and it's one of these records that keeps growing in stature in my mind.  So, from the beginning, I think it's safe to say Interpol have the unenviable task of following up their best album.  It's not an impossible task, but it's still a hard one.

Recorded over the last two years (with a break to celebrate their debut record), Marauder was produced with David Fridmann and released on 24th August 2018.  I didn't complete my review straight away as I wanted to live with this album a bit first.  Whenever I rush review or give my opinion of any Interpol release, that opinion will change within a few weeks.  It's one of those things for me with this band, each release takes an age to settle in my mind.

The first thing I have to say, this is not El Pintor part II, which is a blessing to be honest.  Keep trying to improve your craft is something to applaud, trying to recreate the same album again and again without any improvement is never a good thing.  But this album seems to have the past weighing heavily on its shoulders.  It feels as Marauder was created under the reflection of their first record.  It feels as if they've gone back to the start and tried to gain inspiration from within. 

This leads to loose feeling record, there are songs which have similar riffs and ideas to previous songs. For instance, "Flight of Fancy" has a riff that is so similar to "Anywhere", they could be two different versions of the same song.  There is also the choice of opening track which harks back to Antics-era Interpol.  Not similar in style, but "If You Really Love Nothing" is not the most immediate or grabbing song.  If anything, it's one of the tracks on the album I would skip without a guilty conscious.

Which brings me onto the next thing about this album, there is a lack of urgency or excitement for a lot of this record.  I don't know what it is, but as talented as the band are, there are no standout moments here to keep my attention for longer than a few songs at a time. So many times I would get up to "Stay in Touch" and my mind would be miles away from the record. 

And this is part of the problem for me with Marauder, there is a distinct lack of focus or hooks which makes for a difficult album to listen to.  Where is the urgency on this album? There is nothing on here that would really make the listener return, it's not an album that feels as essential as other in the Interpol discography.  Which is a shame, as the opening single "The Rover" showed such promise. It could be that the studio is not the right environment for these songs, maybe "Surveillance" will sound better live. Maybe I'll get it in a few years time and regret this review.  Maybe my head is still stuck on El Pintor, I could really be missing the point here.  But the initial impression on Marauder is one of unfocused blandness, such a missed opportunity.

6 out of ten - Now, I see where you were going, but it's not quite there.

Top track - The Rover

You can purchase Marauder on Amazon here.

You can visit the Interpol website here.

You can follow the activities of Interpol on Facebook here.

You can stream Marauder on Spotify here.

You can stream Marauder on Deezer here

You can stream Marauder on Tidal here.

1 September 2018

John MOuse - Replica Figures

I've no idea how, but this is an album that sort of slipped through the cracks of my own set up here.  Basically, I get more submissions that I can handle, even when I had the rest of the old team with me.  So, I got an email about this album in January (eek) and it got lost in the mix.  The entry has been blinking at me for ages and during a recent audit of what I needed to review, I discovered my neglect towards this release.  So, I start with an apology towards John MOuse and his PR people.  OK, let's get on with the review then!

John Mouse (stylised as John MOuse) is the stage name of John Davies.  After a successful fan funding campaign, Replica Figures is the fifth album to be released under the John MOuse mocker. It came out on 19th February 2018 being released via KMIYH Records.  Replica Figures sees John MOuse returning to work with original band member Sweet Baboo. It's been 15 years since the two worked under John's previous moniker JT Mouse. The press release says this results in "a touching album with glimpses of John's black humour, which has been a signature throughout his career". The album circulates around the concept of memories, different memories, how they are created, the lack of memory, enforced and false memories 

What drew me to reviewing this was not the album information, as lovely as that press release was to read.  No, it was this little list from the JM Facebook page of artist he identifies with Prince Edward Island, Aidan Moffat, Malcolm Middleton, The Magnetic Fields, Bill Callaghan, Johnny Cash.  It's the mention of Aidan Moffat that perked my interest, the albums he released with Bill Wells are some of my most treasured records.  So, when an artist mentions his name, I want to hear that artist.

Musically, Replica Figures is a strange and wonderful folk/electronica/indie hybrid, an album of stories and reflections are all told through the JM persona.  It feels as if you're temporally being invited into people's lives, they are little worlds of drama or ordinary surrealism which are all too brief.  And then you're ejected back into the real world, with a slightly confused feeling about the tales and stories you've just heard.

"Boogaloo" is a fine example of this, it comes over as part Thomas Truax, part Adian Moffat, part minimalist punk and part regressive tale of depression.  I love it, the music is a quiet background to the words, which I've been repeating for this last few days.  "The King and Jesus Gang Up On Me" is a beautiful song, one which I'm still trying to understand.  It's sort of about Jesus and a King at a football game.  It's a surreal little moment that will get stuck in your head for long after it's finished.

The opening track "End of Mankind" is a bizarre number, dealing with the events of a crack-addicted hooker, but it's still one that I keep returning to out of morbid fascination.  Other songs which I love include "With These Hands I'll Rip Your Heart Out", the fantastic "Sue" and the heartbreaking "Gladiator/Contender", which looks at the memories of childhood.   Over the eleven tracks of this album, John MOuse talks about so many different things, sometimes you get an emotional hit that you weren't expecting and it's beautiful.  

Whilst listening to Replica Figures, my mind kept returning to the thought that John Peel would have been all over this record.  It just seems like something he would have played week after week, which is as high of a compliment as I can John MOuse.  It's an interesting and unique record, one that keeps revealing more and more with each spin.  Replica Figures has introduced me to an artist that I want to find out more about, it's a charming record with eleven strong stories which will entertain you.

7.5 out of ten - This is good and worth checking out

Top track - The King and Jesus Gang Up On Me 

You can purchase Replica Figures and other John MOuse releases on the John MOuse Bandcamp here.

You can purchase Replica Figures on Amazon here.

You can follow the activities of John MOuse on Facebook here.

You can stream Replica Figures on Spotify here.

You can stream Replica Figures on Deezer here.

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