Indie

Sugarspun- “Spaceman Dreams” Review

Crawling from the Cumbrian sludge, Sugarspun have blossomed from an acoustic duo to a fully-fledged band in their ascendance. One of their first studio-recorded tracks, “Spaceman Dreams”, is a gaudily optimistic, rather self-consciously anthemic opening salvo, setting out Sugarspun’s stand in the shadow of earlier indie giants. The sound here is decidedly retro, bordering on kitschy—a splaying jangle-pop chord here, a Noel-aping guitar solo there, maybe a squalling psychedelic outro to close things out.

The lyrics similarly could be transposed squarely onto salt-of-the-earth Britpop idealism: “Stuck in a job with bills to pay/Wish I could pack my things and say I’ll be on my way”. The breakdown drably implores the listener to “Never stop dreaming, never stop believing”, but to fault the track for its dearth of originality belies the similar retro stylings of many of its influences. Though far from a bellwether of that broad umbrella term, “indie”, Sugarspun perhaps are at least reflective of the path taken by one of the numerous strains of the genre: swaggering, festival lad-rock, bent on the sing-along; the bucket-hat; the flare held aloft. As a band, they resemble Robbie Williams fronting the La’s, but it’s simply not enough these days to simply write a few breezy guitar rock tracks and expect placement on the festival stages these songs so clearly crave. The musical landscape is far broader, more diverse and more competitive, and so stringently adhering to a rapidly dating musical template may well be unwise. Regardless, good luck to them. CO

C

Listen here: https://soundcloud.com/sugarspunmusic/sets/spaceman-dreams-release-date/s-savde

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Alternative, Indie, Pop, Rock

Everything Everything- “A Fever Dream” Review

In 2015 Everything Everything released a superbly inventive pop album entitled “Get to Heaven”, which received infuriatingly little attention and soon sunk back into the mire of quiet, docile reputability that seems so oddly unbecoming of the band. This was obstinate, often luridly colourful and wryly brazen music that didn’t belong in the back lanes of British “indie”, even though the lumping of the band into this category at all strains credulity. After the opulent blowout of “Get to Heaven”, “A Fever Dream” feels strangely like an incidental epilogue, irrespective of its contents. If their last album didn’t have the requisite boldness to break them, what will?

The band don’t seem to have an answer either, merely dimming the technicolour glare of “Get to Heaven” into muted blacks and oranges, Dante’s inferno via grainy polaroid. “A Fever Dream” is aptly named, a murkier and subtler work that eschews the punchy bombast of their previous albums in favour of more uncertain, introspective tones. “Good Shot, Good Soldier” emerges from beige aimlessness into a weary, rotating grandeur, while “Run the Numbers” buries a superb vocal melody beneath a down-tuned riff and Tom Morello-aping solo. As always, the unusual intonation and dynamism of Jonathan Higgs’ vocals dominate, as he gently wrings sympathy from the likes of the tender “Put Me Together”.

Despite the floaty moodiness of many of the tracks, much of the songwriting here is noticeably more conventional. “Desire” bludgeons its listener into submission with dreadnought synths and the belted brashness of its chorus, although it redeems itself with a superb bridge. Some sort of newfound fuzzy rockism tramples the intricacy of “Big Game”, with a dash of Rush or even Dream Theatre slashed into the proggy riffing of “Ivory Tower”. Although perhaps momentarily diverting, the allure of Everything Everything is their genre-bending and oddball vim, and they are far more unremarkable as a conventional rock band.

Unsurprisingly, there are scattered moments of transcendent beauty here, such as the swell of brass midway through “Good Shot, Good Soldier”, the complex arpeggios “Big Game” breaks into around the 2-minute mark or the entirety of the enveloping stateliness of “New Deep”. However, a faint air of anti-climax pervades the album, which was perhaps inevitable when it was tailing the cocksure cohesion of “Get to Heaven”. For the first time in their career the band feel suspended in aural stasis, treading water, with little here that they haven’t already attempted elsewhere. Unsure of how to progress, they have concaved slightly into the (by their standards) conventionalism of their second record, “Arc”. It’s a real pity they took the rather self-consciously “credible” path on “A Fever Dream”, because there’s a phenomenally strange pop band in there somewhere, nibbling at the walls. CO

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Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LR3nXuBwGcI

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Indie, Rock

Ms Mohammad- “Alibi” E.P. Review

Born in Trinidad of South Asian descent, Ms Mohammad contorts fuzzy, knotty radio rock into her own beast, integrating the brutish thud of dhol drums and serpentine, winding melodies. The bleary garage rock of the Black Keys or the Cramps is never far from view, but it is swaddled in solid songs on “Alibi”, whose title track is a prime example of Ms Mohammad’s musical aesthetic. Blending a rather stock distorted riff with percussive battering and undersea, reverberant vocals, it is usurped by “Pandora” and its nonchalant juxtaposition of spiny, almost Metal-esque riffing with the dreamy, murmured phrasing of Wolf Alice.

The off-beat hi-hat snap of “Never Again” recalls the wiry briskness of Bloc Party, and indeed, sturdy pop songwriting rests just beneath the surface of “Alibi”. While “Written In Time” does sound like an escapee from a Two Door Cinema Club album, its fleet-footed robustness is undeniable. Throughout “Alibi” there is a palpable sense that it came out just a few years too late—if released in the early 2010s it could have cleanly slotted into the 77th exhumation of indie along with the Vaccines et al, but by late 2017 it feels somewhat at sea culturally. However, this shouldn’t detract from the music itself, whose brawny, sinewy garage rock is contrasted ably with the sleekness of Ms Mohammad’s vocals and the pounding inflections of the E.P.’s percussion. CO

Listen here: https://soundcloud.com/msmohammed

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Alternative, Indie

The National- “Sleep Well Beast” Review

Towards the start of the newly digitised barroom balladry of “Carin at the Liquor Store” on the National’s seventh album “Sleep Well Beast”, the band’s singer Matt Berninger mumbles the name of one John Cheever. Cheever is an interesting point of reference. His Lynchian obsessions with the murky undercurrents of respectable middle-class life defined his work—as his contemporary John Updike once remarked of his suburban fascination, “Only Cheever was able to make an archetypal place out of it.”

In some ways, this mirrors the development of the National from a particular kind of nocturnal New York ennui into a more expansive, heady Americanism. As steeped in the band’s old themes of regret and lost love as “Sleep Well Beast” is, it’s also a product of the current volatility of American politics, albeit as obscurely as is to be expected of the National. The clearest admission of this is the dry evocation of “just another man, in shitty suits… this must be the genius we’ve been waiting years for” on “Turtleneck”, which unsurprisingly debuted on the eve of Trump’s inauguration.

The band’s thematic growth on “Sleep Well Beast” is paralleled by at least cosmetic musical evolution; although flurries of electronic bleeping at the start of tracks often give way to songs that still wind up sounding like the National, there are flashes of transgression. “Dark Side of the Gym” blooms from plodding mundanity into a gorgeously lush final verse, and wistful highlight “I’ll Still Destroy You” equally spins into an exhilarating, wind-in-the-hair climax.

Part of the album’s idiosyncrasy stems from the oaken, earthy grain of Matt Berninger’s voice, which is the National’s most distinctive instrument. Mumbling and murmuring his way through the album, there’s perhaps a little of Michael Stipe in the finely detailed opacity of his lyrics: “Here the sky’s been falling white flowers, and there’s ice in the trees” he croons on the juddering “Empire Line”, and references “another teacup with gin in your secret postcard life” on the richly textured title track.

Although easy to put out to pasture as latte-sipping, inevitably Democratic Brooklynite hipsters, “Sleep Well Beast” makes a persuasive argument for the canonisation of the National as a serious™ American band. Whether reeling from the tumult of relationships or national political discourse, “Sleep Well Beast” is an unambiguous microcosm for Middle America; about as unambiguous as the wooden edifice of a suburban house containing only the band that adorns the album’s cover. As John Cheever wrote in “The Country Husband”, “The village hangs morally and economically, from a thread. But it hangs by its thread in the evening light.” CO

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Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71xmrULJ-ms

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Alternative, Funk, Indie

Luna Blue Delighted Fans With EP Launch Competiton, And It Was One Not To Miss.

Brighton based band ‘Luna Blue’ have just released brand new EP ‘Nightjar‘, and they were celebrating.

The Indie-Rock funk fusion scene now has a new addition in ‘Luna Blue’, and to start their engines, they have just released a 6 track EP. Accompanying the release of their EP, they had a Launch night in Brighton’s very own venue ‘Hope and Ruin’.

The competition however is the real gem of an idea from the boys from Brighton. The competition was a genius idea, and the prizes were even more of a treat. For the lucky one’s, the band were giving away 5 copies of the new EP, 5 limited edition Luna Blue t-shirts, as well as free entry for all winners to the EP launch that was held on August 25th.

The band have recently been active promoting the EP, and have been playing live to do so. Here is a list of upcoming gigs they have pencilled in:

September 29th: Glasgow, The Buff Club
September 30th: Leicester, Pi Bar
October 4th: London, New Cross Inn
October 28th: Reading, Pavlov’s Dog

As well as this you can also find them on all of their social media sites, so check it out!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/weareLunaBlue/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LunaBlue_Music
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lunablueofficial/
Luna Blue Website: https://www.lunablueofficial.com/

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/lunablueofficial
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/71jXlesSMotAtJXLCWpvzo
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVkV54sLs9_A9tc93CzIx9A

 

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Alternative, Indie, Rock, Rock and Roll, Singer-songwriter

Whiskey-fuelled rockers Albino give us new single ‘Belinda’

Old school rock and roll may be a dying art in these modern times but the London based band Albino are looking to cast this misconception aside, whiskey in hand.

The alcoholic beverage has a big part to play in the band’s journey to date as they aim to entertain with their raucous, often humorous ‘drinking’ music.  It’s the kind of musical recipe that would make Johnny Cash proud, but would equally strike a note with fans of Tom Waits, The Animals, The Doors and children of the ’60’s ‘flower-power’ generation.

 

 

Their latest track ‘Belinda’ exudes this throwback, vintage feel that sounds like it could have come straight out of the 60’s.

The band made up of Ben Tucker (guitar/vocals), Merv ‘Fuzzy’ Salole (Bass), Gareth ‘gwEM’ Morris (guitar) and Don Gibson (percussion). As the main songwriter in the outfit, Ben is the driving inspirational force, tapping into a deep well of life experiences that draw on topics as diverse as love, deviancy, distrust of priests, historical events and of course, drinking.

Since they began in 2005, Albino has undergone a musical metamorphosis, travelling a long way from their humble beginnings, but now, the off-the-wall band has cemented their style and truly found their own sound. Whilst Albino’s eclectic and multi-talented musical line up has changed over the years, this latest track proves their musical direction, commitment and energy has always remained constant. AP

Check out more of Albino’s stuff here:

Links:

https://www.facebook.com/Albinomusic/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYeh0Lung8nhaCa1Zb5W8cw

http://www.albinomusic.com/index.php

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Dream-Pop, Indie, Psychedelic

Gulf- “Polyphony” Review

Polyphony:

The style of simultaneously combining a number of parts, each forming an individual melody and harmonizing with each other.

 

So reads Google’s definition of the title of Liverpool band Gulf’s new E.P., as good a description of their tie-dye meshing of soul, psychedelia and languid pop as any. Represented visually by a procession of highly saturated, woah-man tessellations, Gulf are, to some extent, a throwback: a psychedelic ragbag of disparate musical styles brushed up nicely and sluiced in shimmering, reverberant production.

“Polyphony” opens with the textured pastel funk of “All Too Much”, which almost lives up to its name in the dense push and pull of guitar, bass and vocals, not helped by the spacey maximalism of the production. However, the band pull it off with a clean, Anderson .Paak-esque jazziness. The band’s choppy, trebley guitar lines are obviously influenced by Chic, most clearly on the clipped, funky “Fantasy”. However, there are disparate sounds pulling beneath the surface: the sleepy Kevin Parker inflections of Mark Jones’ deep-sea vocals, the glint of Johnny Marr’s bright, interlocking chords in sparkling highlight “Start With Her”, maybe hints of the soulful unpopular pop of Blood Orange or the colourful gossamer of Talk Talk.

Closer “All Too Much. Slow” sprawls out the E.P.’s opening track into a hypnotic mantra of punchy bass and swirling keyboards that sounds like the Bee Gees questing across the desert. However, it’s a rare moment of thoughtfulness and restraint on an E.P. that does occasionally tend to swamp the listener in a kaleidoscopic musical fug. The cover of “Polyphony” perhaps sums it up best: the overlapping technicolour swirl of red and blue above this review. If this image appeals to you in its density, then Gulf are for you. If not, then “Polyphony” is simply excessive. CO

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Listen here: https://soundcloud.com/gulf/sets/polyphony-ep/s-9Juyx

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