For once, I have a legitimate reason for my absence of posting. Having recently got a new job in Central London, I have been spending the last few months adapting to the fact I am now a consummate adult and the tangled web of responsibilities that comes with. Not that I’ll let that deter me, we all have to grow up and progress at some point. I am determined to be the art-world equivalent of James Bond that I always dreamed of being.
Having said that, on some days that is easier than others. Today is certainly one of those. You could be forgiven, upon looking out your front door on this miserable Monday, that it was more likely to be mid January as opposed to the last day of April. As my girlfriend (who is currently in Florida no less) has noted previously, “I must be somewhere in London, I must be loving my life in the rain.” On days like today, I struggle with the London impulse of grabbing the day by it’s tired old lapels and instead find myself wanting to float through the Oxford Street crowds, carried via the throng with my toes barely grazing the ground. A comforting apathy that borders on enjoyable melancholy. The same feeling you get contemplating a lost friend with a cup of coffee in a window seat.
Fortunately, FAVELA‘s latest single “Call My Name” can at least lend a soundtrack to this somewhat self-indulged fantasy. The Leeds-based producer and vocalist has created a lo-fi electronic track of exquisite longing that soundtracks your own melancholic montage that occurs between your ears. Beginning with slow simple guitar lines that set the tone for a wonderfully meditative soliloquy of lives lived in unwanted isolation. With lines such as, “I confess, I confess I am a writer // With schewed ambition // But holy visions,” this track expertly provides a message to my mood when it rains on Mondays. It is a track that expertly defines what it means to be in London and really, you’d rather still be in bed, with a lover or just endlessly circling the tube ignoring the outside world. Keep an eye out for the debut LP and whet your appetite with this frankly beautiful song.
Over the years I have made it no secret that I have an obsession with Scottish indie rock band Frightened Rabbit. I subject everybody to their back catalogue. My girlfriend has been forced to listen to misanthropic layered moody men in my grad school bedroom. My Mother was subjected to hopeless croons of love lost in her car as she taxied me to my various adolescent commitments and my Father, God bless him, even trekked around the country to take me to their shows where I was caught between shyness and a fear of being uncool which resulted in a refusal to dance. Something my close friend, charity worker and fellow Frabbit fan still adheres to.
Depressed that I stood little chance to see them on their 10 year anniversary tour of their breakout record I have been obsessively stalking the band on Instagram hoping for an immediate resale when I saw a post referencing a new project that Scott and Grant Hutchison (frontman and drummer respectively of Frightened Rabbit) have been working on and the result is this debut single by Mastersystem. A collab between the Apprehensive Bunny brothers and fellow brotherly duo Justin and James Lockey. If anyone is expecting the Frightened Rabbit Kid A (something Scott joked about in relation to their most recent record Painting of a Panic Attack) will instead be transported into a rambunctious trip through 90s grunge, punk sensibilities and the trademark handling of lyrical delivery that has lead me to refer drunkenly that Scott Hutchison is Scotlands pop culture Robbie Burns.
The debut single, Notes On A Life Not Quite Lived, doesn’t so much blow away the cobwebs as render them disintegrated. The track starts inauspiciously. An early guitar riff and vocal delivery wouldn’t sound out of place on an early Frabbit track. However, the track soon explodes into Soundgardenesque crescendoes that give rise to a recorded version of the endlessly energetic live shows. I cannot help but imagine the members locked in a garage, Gibson Les Pauls slung over their shoulders, channelling the adolescent rage and anger that never truly leaves us into an entirely new project.
The debut album Dance Music is out 4/6 via Physical Education Recordings.
Live dates that I will defiitely see you all at:
04/25 – Manchester, UK @ The Deaf Institute
04/26 – Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK @ The Cluny
04/27 – Glasgow, UK @ The Art School
04/28 – Leeds, UK @ Brudenell Social Club
04/30 – Birmingham, UK @ Birmingham O2 Institute 3
05/01 – London, UK @ Oslo
“Don’t leave me here, especially not with her.” How many times has one of us said or thought this? I can think of at least a dozen women (and at least 50 blokes for that matter) who I would not want to be left with. Whether that be for my physical safety or otherwise. The Academic, Irish ragamuffins that they are, begin their three-minute dissertation on the matter with that very statement. Dissertation might be a bit grand, perhaps potential hit single entitled “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” is closer to the mark.
The track is a classic example of post-good-NME indie guitar music. Driven but clean sounding guitars bounce off thickened bass loops that flip the momentum of the track that seems to be all pervasive ever since “Pumped Up Kicks” hit. The Academic manage to have a more descendent momentum where bass guitars pick up threads that are allowed to lose themselves in endeavour by driven guitar leads twist, riff and staccato into place.
Indie music is one of those things that’s easy to do but fucking hard to do well. Sure you can learn a few chords get some mates over and write a terrible song about that girl you fancy (note this is what I did), or you can craft a pop masterpiece that layers itself expertly throughout. Like 5 sewing machines producing a single tapestry, it all comes together in the end.
Why Can’t We Be Friends? is out today so grab it on all those usual platforms eh?
My Dad really likes “War On Drugs.” Ever since I made the mistake of introducing him to them on one of our many car journeys from university to the family home, he has been practically obsessive in his listening history. Almost to the point where any further recommendation requests beginning with the phrase “Like War on Drugs but…” So, when he got a spare ticket to go see them at Ally Pally, I wasn’t surprised.
Inter-generational, at least genuine ones, are rare. They normally have to speak to something universal in music. An escapism of desire perhaps. I dunno, I’ve never really thought about it as I’m a rockstar in progress myself. For this, War on Drugs scores points. A diverse crowd with a full age range created a simple environment for people just going to see live music. No pretension, no bullshit, no rubbish.
I saw War on Drugs in Edinburgh at the very beginning of 2015. I had soem criticisms then and sadly, similar ones remain. War on Drugs as a band produce excellentely crafted albums with unwavering atmosphere punctuated by guitar solos, breakdowns and rock n roll escapism. They are inter-generational as mentioend and consistently well reviewed.
Yet live, it’s a resounding shrug. Imagine plugging in a War on Drugs Spotify playlist into a really godo soundsystem and you generally get the idea. Every track is expertly crafted and sounds great but as a spectacle and show, is there any point? Maybe I have my standards set too high but I think the live experience should be about taking a risk on someone you’re unsure of or being treated to somethign beyond the record. Having said this, there was the odd moment of greatness that shone through, including the performance of “Red Eyes” but they were too few and far between for me to wholeheartedly recommend the live show.
I’m probably just grumpy and this is just my opinion so don’t get your knickers in a bunch.
I really miss Scotland. As a place, it has such a thriving grass roots creative collaborative reservoir. Edinburgh and Glasgow, for all their much lauded rivalry, are two major cities an hour apart that have two of the greatest UK Art Schools in the heart of the population. Factor in the relatively low-cost of living (compared to London and it’s frankly disgusting house pricing) you have a perfect primordial soup for creative endeavour.
The Dunts are a band at the forefront of a whole new wave of Scottish guitar music that has run in regular cycles of brilliance every 5 or so years. We have been gifted Frightened Rabbit, The Twilight Sad, Teenage Fanclub, etc etc. The list goes on. The Dunts new single, Dimitri, is a marker in the sand for an incoming wave of classic-style bands ready to liven up the musical landscape. In a world of bedroom producers, access to hyper-polished samples, and the contemporary fashion for crooning vocal lines, the classic band has seemingly lost relevance.
The Dunts, however, disagree. Perhaps it’s my former life in a punk band but The Dunts showcase a pace and energy that can only be developed via four people locked in a room with their instruments, a few cans of Tenants (king of beers) and a really good idea.
Dimitri is a banger, make no mistake, and was released today.
I have been a little out of it haven’t I? Sorry about that. I don’t know about you, but when you’re working unpaid internships, maintaining a cross-continental relationship and attempting to at least look after yourself (and failing due to my seemingly unending addiction to Diet Coke) it can be hard to find the time to post regularly when it is a singular enterprise here.
I have been trying to stay on top of things and have been slowly sifting through things to post until IDER dropped into my email inbox this afternoon. I actually went to university with these two. First time I saw them play was a showcase of the Popular Music students for the BA Photography students on a joint project, although if I remember correctly (and I probably don’t) they were in different acts at the time. However, I was there for 2 more years and saw them form a delightfully well-crafted partnership that saw them become the darlings of a small but talented musical well in a sleepy seaside town in Cornwall.
Life goes on and I never really gave it much thought, after all, I didn’t actually know them just saw them pop up in bars and venues around the town throughout university. So, when you’re sat on your tod at work and big ass full reds jpeg comes in of two people you recognise you have to listen.
IDER are a London based duo who immediately juxtapose folk structures with a thoroughly contemporary production sound. Their new single Body Love released on their new home Glassnote Records is a stunning, cascading single that evokes a meditative reflective viewpoint on love lost, attraction and belonging. Expertly harmonised vocals fulfil a host body that allows keys and falling melodies to construct the subject matter of the song.
See IDER at the following live dates:
25 November | DiCE Festival, Utrecht 2 December | CBE, Cologne* 3 December | Lido, Berlin* SOLD-OUT 4 December | Knust, Hamburg* 5 December | Paradiso Noord, Amsterdam* 27 March | Rich Mix, London
I am really starting to run out of excuses arent I? Still, no better way to cease my lack of posting via something new. I covered Tusks a while back in regards to their upcoming debut album, and the latest track has just dropped. Let me tell you, it’s an absolute peach.
Created alongside producer Brett Cox, Tusks (aka Emily Underhill) channels the guitar-driven attitude of bands such as Land of Talk and the Joy Formidable to deliver a feisty and unapologetic track that, in her own words was conceived as a response to someone who had frustrated Underhill. “It was a bit of a fuck you to a person at the time who I’d invested loads of energy and time into who’d messed me around.” We have all fantasised about being able to react to these people in public with righteous indignation, so let Tusks take the mantle for you and deliver the inspiration necessary to give them a well-deserved kick up the backside,
Look out for the debut album Dissolve, coming out October 13th.