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Maria Passingham

ALBUM RELEASE: Sharon Van Etten – ‘Remind Me Tomorrow’

WORDS BY MARIA PASSINGHAM

Sharon Van Etten’s new album ‘Remind Me Tomorrow’ makes me wish I were going through a breakup. The soul-baring, straightforward lyrics paired with the brooding bass drone that forms the first 90 seconds of album opener ‘I Told You Everything’ give you the perfect excuse to crawl into bed and pull the duvet over your head; block out the world and dwell on heartache.

The following sparse bendy guitars and the unpredictable trio of notes (what is that, is it a guitar? a piano? an electronic, engineered noise?) scattered throughout provide those moments of wonky beauty that most of us first learned with ‘Every Time The Sun Comes Up’ (off 2014’s ‘Are We There’). With this latest album Van Etten will take your happy memories and twist them up with sadness, and you’ll gladly let her.

Like a perfect prose poem, Van Etten makes sure every sound is absolutely necessary, leaving plenty of ethereal space, so that when the propelling drums and screeching guitars of single ‘Comeback Kid’ launch you feel the full weight of their impact. The intro to that track by the way, still reminding me of the opening to ‘Something About You’ by Lucius, anyone else?

My personal favourite is the glorious ‘Seventeen’. First, it’s not often these days you hear a fade-in on a record. It’s the equivalent of a long zoom in from a far-out establishing shot at the start of a film: it takes you right to the center of the action without you realising how you got there. The action in this case? The driving drums that relentlessly underpin this anthem.

Second, those drums. Particularly paired with the echoing, wailing guitars, my mind immediately leaped to the best of The War on Drugs, which isn’t really surprising given Van Etten’s friendship and past work with Adam Granduciel. Providing a perfect base for layers to build and fall over the course of the song, the constantly-moving-forward drums provide the perfect contrast to the backward-facing nostalgia of the lyrics.

Third, I feel as though we haven’t often heard Van Etten break. Her signature vocal style is low-key – a beautiful elastic drawl – but here she allows herself a moment of unrestrained punk, full throttle, too-much-sincerity-for-karaoke singing, taking us all by surprise and amping up the earnest impact of the song. Other highlights include the drone-filled, ghostly, Suuns-esque ‘Memorial Day’, and ‘You Shadow’, which harks back to the simple and beautiful tracks from ‘Are We There’.

I’ll be honest with you, the first two times I listened to ‘Remind Me Tomorrow’ I wasn’t enthralled. It was a background to working, cooking, cleaning music. But the third time I took an old-fashioned leaf out of Van Etten’s book. I sat down, headphones on, no distractions, and listened. This is an album to listen to, pay attention to the careful layering of sounds, lose yourself in her nostalgic narratives, and, if you need to have a good cry over your ex, it wouldn’t be bad for that either.

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EP RELEASE: King Nun – ‘I Have Love’

WORDS BY MARIA PASSINGHAM

How King Nun haven’t become the nation’s indie sweethearts yet is a crying shame. Debut EP ‘I Have Love’ (out now on Dirty Hit) makes me want to scale the nearest building and shout their name from the rooftops. “People of the England, you’re living in darkness if you’ve not listened to King Nun yet!”.

Actually it might have been helpful had I publicly proclaimed my love for the London four-piece a month ago, then perhaps more than a handful of new music fans may have shown up to the band’s first ever headline show, at Jimmy’s in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. Kudos to the band though, they put on a proper energetic show for the loyal followers, and at least one day I’ll be able to say smugly that I was in the limited audience at that landmark gig. ‘I Have Love’ follows a number of memorable singles over the past couple of years (since signing to Dirty Hit, home of acts like Wolf Alice and Superfood) and each of its five tracks are perfectly formed indie anthems.

Opener ‘Heavenly She Comes’ kicks down your front door with a riot of distortion, while ‘Family Portrait’ shows a little more vulnerability with  a rawer vocal track and cleaner guitar sound, impressing Jack Saunders of Radio 1’s Indie Show who made the song his Tune Of The Week not too long ago. ‘Chinese Medicine’ seems destined for continuous airtime too with one of the catchiest choruses this year.

The EP recalls a range of sounds from the formative indie from my youth – The Pigeon Detectives, Good Shoes, Dirty Pretty Things – and yet somehow avoids transporting me back to my cringe-laden teenage years – a feat worthy of celebration in itself, and produces an energetic noise that would be equally at home in a dingy bar backroom and a huge concert hall.

A band that can’t seem to sit still –four singles, an EP, and their first headline tour in 2018 alone – it seems likely they’ll hit the road again soon, and **think of this as my metaphorical drain-pipe climb** you must get yourself a ticket. Get to the front of the crowd while you still can, because if ‘I Have Love’ is any indication of their talent, it’s not long until King Nun make it to the bigtime.

Read more about the latest music news and reviews over on our blog 👀

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estrons

ALBUM: Estrons – You Say I’m Too Much, I Say You’re Not Enough

WORDS – Maria Passingham

You know when a band has been on your radar for a few years – you know the name, have an idea of how many members and some vague recollections of their debut single – but have never dedicated any time to properly explore who they are and what their sound is? They’ve been on the line-up for a few festivals you’ve attended, but at the last minute a trek across the site to see a band you can’t quite remember if you like seems too much effort, and another year keeping them at arms’ length passes.

Well that band for me is Estrons, and listening to their debut album You Say I’m Too Much, I Say You’re Not Enough (out this Friday via Gofod Records) fills me with regret for the past three years during which I could have been enjoying these sounds all along.

Debut single ‘Make A Man’ (released in 2015) is still a sensational, powerful track, but its placement on You Say I’m Too Much, I Say You’re Not Enough is a shame. Following ‘Killing Your Love’ (which ends on an eerily similar-sounding chord progression to the one that launches ‘Make A Man’), it dampens the impact of the latter, making it sound more like a ‘Killing Your Love’ reprise.

With a total runtime of just over half an hour, Estrons don’t mince their words or stretch out self-indulgent melodies. They get in, thrash about for a bit, and get out – the beauty on this record lies with those quick, intense, noisy tracks. The guitars in ‘Jade’ shimmer and threaten in a way similar to Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and you know album-closer ‘Drop’ is guaranteed to get even the most withdrawn of us to fling ourselves about in the pit.

Unfortunately, the lighter ‘Cameras’ feels like a poor man’s Paramore, and ‘Jesus…’ could easily have gone the same way. It is however redeemed by its Ana Matronic-esque vocals and building climax that wouldn’t have been out of place on a season finale of the OC, were this released 15 years ago.

You Say I’m Too Much, I Say You’re Not Enough is by no means a perfect debut for the Welsh trio, but it is a promising start – I have a hunch it may really come into its own in a live setting. Estrons kick off a UK tour with a couple of appearances at Rough Trade in London and Bristol this week, and head to Leeds’ Belgrave Music Hall & Canteen on November 1st and Manchester’s Soup Kitchen on November 7th.

Read more about the latest music news and reviews over on our blog 👀

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ALBUM: IDLES – ‘Joy as an Act of Resistance’

WORDS BY MARIA PASSINGHAM

IDLES are on the warpath. But it’s a warpath lined with glitter bombs rather than the more traditional, explosive type, and they’re marching with smiles on their faces and their arms wide open. ‘Joy as an Act of Resistance’ is the much anticipated second album from Bristol’s most talked about punk act, out Friday 31st August on Partisan Records and boy, is it good.

The record’s first single and opener ‘Colossus’ establishes the subsequent forty minutes as a no-shits-given parade. All at once the album protests all manner of modern politics and social views whilst still remaining overwhelmingly positive and infused with love for fellow mankind. Starting with simple clock-ticking style drumsticks and a heavy distorted repetitive chord, the opener builds and builds into an ominous noisy climax, making sure if you’re listening – you’re bloody well listening. No passive, Spotify radio-browsing, wannabes here please.

Steadily working their way through class divides, immigration, masculinity, the NHS, advertising, love, and everything in between IDLES punch holes in the status-quo. The lyrics flit between disarmingly honest and heavily ironic, but true to the album’s title and the band’s signature style, the songs are joyful anthems; simultaneously calling out established, dangerous ideas and championing those that they prefer.

From the simple, super tight ‘Television’ that confronts media-enforced ideas of beauty and instead commands you to “love yourself” to the take down alpha male ideals in ‘Samaritans’ the Bristol five-piece sugar-coat nothing, yet retain an utter sweetness and charm across the album.

“THE MASK OF MASCULINITY
IT’S A MASK THAT’S WEARING ME
I’M A REAL BOY, BOY AND I CRY”

IDLES are pros at keeping you on your toes. If you dare to drift away, a sudden change in tempo or rhythm, or a switch from sung monologues to shouted refrains will snap you back to attention. If you can’t keep up with the relentless pop culture references you’ll be left by the wayside in no time (although probably one of the IDLES guys will rush back to make sure you’re not seriously hurt – checking on the crowd’s safety and happiness is a trademark of their live shows).

‘Joy as an Act of Resistance’ makes you want to fight and proclaim your love for the humans around you at the same time. It’s a battle cry for the modern man, where the battle is against the media and the politics that run through it. It’s a solid-as-a-rock second offering from what has to be the UK’s finest punk band right now. So why don’t you buy the record? Even Tarquin’s bought the record.

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