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EP RELEASE: Soccer Mommy- ‘Blossom/Be Seeing You’

WORDS BY MATTY PYWELL

Sophie Allison AKA Soccer Mommy had a fairly outstanding 2018, her debut album Clean garnered heaps of praise and was widely accepted as one of the best records of the year. She’s part of a wave of incredibly talented young American songwriters, taking the indie/folk genres by storm. The artists latest single release, Blossom/Be Seeing you is an alternate demo version of the former and a re-release of the latter.

You can definitely tell that Blossom is a demo track, the production and the recording of the guitar parts is certainly a bit fuzzy around the edges but not in a way that reduces the quality of the chord progressions. It’s quite different to the album version, which sounds a lot tidier with these very piercing scratches on the guitar strings, and utilises empty spaces in the background to accentuate a feeling of loneliness and reflection within the mind. On the demo version, the chorus has a gorgeous vocal hook when Sophie’s voice goes slightly more nasal.

The track is a love song and tenderly describes the experience of being with someone who you’re not quite gelling with to finding someone who you instantly click with. Be Seeing You is a fantastic single, and features one of Soccer Mommy‘s best dreamscapes, its like running through strawberry fields hand in hand with your favourite person under a gold horizon.

The spirit of love is captured gracefully on this track, helped along by the honey-sweet hooks. The lyricism describes the feeling of teenage romance, where you find yourself falling hopelessly for someone, “kissing you felt like a lack of strength. The touch of your lips made my legs go weak, it was warm and sweet”. Soccer Mommy has found a way of summing up teenage attitudes and feelings towards love and wrapped them up in a neat little bow. These are two strong pieces of writing from an incredible songwriter.

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EP RELEASE: ‘King Of The Dudes’ – Sunflower Bean

WORDS: MATTHEW PYWELL    PHOTO: MANC WANDERER

New York! New York! One of the greatest cities on the planet, a cultural hub and more importantly the birthplace of so many great artists and bands. New York isn’t just a place where some bands were formed, New York has its own style, its own attitude. Responsible for artists such as Blondie, The Velvet Underground, The New York Dolls and The Strokes. Sunflower Bean are helping to carry the torch, passed over by those before, no more so than on their latest EP ‘King Of The Dudes‘.

King Of The Dudes feels like an ode to those that came before. The title track explodes into life just like the soda can on the EP’s cover art, singer Julia Cumming has the fierce, untamed swagger and determination in her voice, just as Debbie Harry before her. She sings of being a leader of men, not by choice but by circumstance. The second track, Come For Me, is a pretty obvious innuendo which details a night for Julia where she’s, “looking for some handsome distraction”. The guitar riffs take in the influence of disco, conjuring up thoughts of flares, vibrant oranges, and fluorescent greens.

On Fear City, riffs rise and fall to constant crescendos, before erupting into Julia’s soaring vocals on the chorus. There are so many good guitar hooks on the track, particularly in the last third, it feels as if they’re fully freed from chains and let loose. The concluding track, The Big One sees the band retreating into the gritty, cataclysmic realms of punk. It has the feeling of a song crafted out of expression rather than methodology, a sweet release of anarchic creative freedom, reminiscent of bands like The New York Dolls.

On King Of The Dudes, Sunflower Bean have taken hold of the fabled style of New York band’s past. With some glorious rock hooks and a take-no-prisoners attitude. While there’s not anything particularly innovative with what Sunflower Bean have done, they do their city justice by representing their own interpretation of rock, punk and disco elements from the ’70s/’80s.

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EP RELEASE: Grace Carter – ‘Why Her Not Me’

WORDS: MATTHEW PYWELL        PHOTO: SHOT BY PHOX

Why Her Not Me is a record steeped in tragedy. Brighton based singer-songwriter Grace Carter draws on personal experience to create deep and impactful RnB ballads on her first EP release, which bookended a great year for the artist. Signed to Polydor Records and boasting a voice which has all the hallmarks of influences such as Lauryn Hill, the future looks bright for Grace Carter.

Why Her Not Me, is the question Carter found herself asking after finding out at age 18 that her estranged father had left her mother for someone else. This song was written on the day she received that news and it shows, her vocals express such hurt and sorrow, that it feels like a kick in the groin, you may need a long shower and have to adopt the fetal position after listening to this one. It’s a stunning single that sets the tone for the rest of this EP. The second track Silence is very similar to the first track and rides off the back of Why Her Not Me’s emotional wave. It’s a little bit too similar to stand out on the EP.

Silhouette is a beautifully haunting track, where Carter’s vocal high notes linger in the air and float around an echo chamber of soul. In terms of lyricism, Carter has a thing for creating emotionally anthemic chorus’, “There’s a fire in your eyes when you’re holding a cigarette, but you won’t hold me, no you don’t hold me. You keep blowing smoke till you fade like a cigarette”. That part of the chorus alludes to her relationship with her father, a reoccurring theme throughout the EP, which becomes more of a testimony/summary about how growing up with a single parent affected her and made her the person she is.

For Ashes, Carter worked with legendary producer Mike Dean (Frank Ocean, Kanye West) and this track is a little bit different stylistically to the rest of the EP. Carter’s vocals are still at the forefront but instrumentally, there’s a more electronic element. The piano is taken away and replaced by a backing track with a beat-driven drumming pattern and there are some synthetic effects which sound like ghosts whispering in the background. The final track of the EP, Half Of You (Demo) sees the themes of the EP come full circle. Until now, Grace was reflecting on how her dad leaving affected her life but Half Of you sees her rising triumphantly from the ashes of that relationship, “Cause you’re the one who’s lonely, I know you’ll be calling on me now I’m somebody. The best thing that you’ll never have”. It creates a really satisfying narrative for the EP.

Grace Carter has put down a marker with her first EP. She’s presented us with some absolutely stunning vocalisation and some fantastic lyricism. The narrative over the seven tracks is really interesting, it’s nice to see Grace grow from a place of frustration and anger to a place of acceptance and renewal at the end. You could say that instrumentally, the piano-driven tracks can be a little bit similar and maybe a couple of them should be a bit more distinguished from one another, but in the context of the EP she just about gets away with it. This is a pretty firm stepping stone to greater things for Grace Carter.

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EP RELEASE: Blanketman – ‘Sick & Tired/Flip It Over’

WORDS BY NATHAN BAILEY     PHOTOS BY THROUGH THE EYES OF RUBY

Manchester post-punks Blanketman have something new for their growing following to enjoy. They have been paying their dues in town for the past few months, with some successful outings with the likes of Phobophobes and Liverpool’s SPQR And now they’ve put out two new tunes; ‘Sick & Tired’ & ‘Flip It Over’ and boy are they are two interesting tracks indeed. The single is full of vitriol, menace, and eye-shifting paranoia.

Like any good double A single, there’s a lot of space between these tunes, the band are getting the most out of the format and showing off their range. ‘Sick & Tired’ is a sprawling, moody track. There is something tangibly Mancunian about the grand and commanding guitar sounds, and the purpose with which this track pushes on. ‘Sick & Tired’ is not a melancholic song. This is goodbye, and thanks for fuck all. Sick and tired of vacuous promises, “five more years” indeed. The track is raucous but disciplined, pulling you near the anti-symphonic atmosphere of the very best of the genre. The rolling bass and drums are trying to get you there, seemingly streaming straight out of Public image Ltd. in about nineteen eighty five.

Singer Adam Hopper’s scours pessimistically through most of the track, pub-pissed off and cynical, briefly hitting a melodic touch, if nonchalantly, before pushing you out of the way and getting back into the rancour of the song. We thrust towards the end with expected thorns, thumps and rattles . ‘Sick & Tired’ is a song that forms in front of you, and as such comes in rather long at over five minutes. But as one of Manchester’s more famous sons said, “it’s not repetition…”

‘Flip it Over’ is more of a flash in the pan. It is a little pocket of shouty flat earth paranoia. Who doesn’t want more songs about Flat Earthers? ‘Flip It Over’ is a great little tune, with wonderfully drizzly bass and tinker guitar. Along with the pavement slab drums this sounds almost like a summer number. Of course, this is not the outcome of the song.  This pogo-ing rhythm starts to layer in under the dark delivery of Hopper, in which even waking up on your back sounds like a nightmare. There is a sweaty and paralyzing feeling to this track, if Dostoevsky had seen the dark side of the internet and got really into ‘Unknown Pleasures’. God does not smite us, and the track bops along with some more grouchy guitar and fearful wailing and howling vocals demanding not to flip it over. You should ignore this. Flip it over and play it again (digitally of course).

Both tracks are available on Spotify right very much now! Blanketman have a likely to be last gig of the year at night people on the 8th of December at night people. They have also just their first trip out of greater Manchester, all the way to lovely Hebden Bridge supporting Brix & The Extricated on the 24th of November. Go and catch them whilst you can. There will be big things in the future.

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

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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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EP RELEASE: SG Lewis – ‘Dark’

WORDS BY EVE WHITESIDE

Sam Lewis, an innovative producer, DJ and multi-instrumentalist has recently produced an exciting five-track project, which is a part of his ‘Dusk, Dark, Dawn’ sequence under his acronym SG Lewis which aim to represent the three stages of a night-out. All of these will finally come together to form his combined full-length album.

Underneath all his tracks feature a signature electronic undertone that make him recognisable as an artist, which shine through this EP. His music draws upon a rich blend of influences such as James Blake and Bon Iver. However, this album is a step forward from this, whilst also remaining strangely familiar to his previous releases. One of the elements of this EP that stands out is SG Lewis’ distinct talent for collaboration with other emerging and established artists alike, from ranging genres.

A large contrast to ‘Dusk, Dark’ takes a different approach, moving away from the funky disco vibe of the previous EP to reveal something deeper. In a way, ‘Dusk’ was the lively warm-up for the darker things to come. ‘Dark’ aims to represent the magical, mysterious ins and outs of the very height of the night. Building an atmosphere that echoes excitement and bass lines that fill the mind and imagination.

The track ‘Again’ is a personal favourite which won’t be forgotten in a hurry, featuring Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, which begins softly then develops to meet with a warm house bassline, with deep ethereal beats running throughout.

The obvious standout track ‘Hurting’ also possesses a hypnotic, catchy and unforgettable hook with AlunaGeorge’s distinctive vocals. When the track kicks in, the listener is willingly transported to the midst of a bustling club night, the beat alluring and prominent throughout. The soulful electronic nature of Bruno Major echoes clearly throughout ‘Dreaming’, which possesses its own unique, intoxicating aura whilst simultaneously hushed and intimate.

Featuring huge names such as Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs and AlunaGeorge, we can only speculate and await the release of the final part of the night, ‘Dawn’. Overall, this part of the album builds momentum for what is to follow, the album capturing a true and accurate snapshot of today’s club culture.

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

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PREMIERE: Chew Magna – ‘The White Hotel’ EP

WORDS BY HANNAH TINKER

If you’re a commoner amongst the Manchester music scene, you’ll have heard of The White Hotel. The otherworldly venue sits in Salford, not too far from the hustle and bustle of the city centre and has welcomed the likes of many revolutionary new acts that have been embraced the culture of the chaotic venue. Unique and memorable, it makes for the perfect title of the latest Chew Magna EP, a band that wholeheartedly pours themselves into their sound and deviates from the ordinary.

Essentially, they’re a band that step outside of the box and welcome you to do like wise, with open arms. Full of energy and boasting an uplifting theme throughout any of their songs, there synergy comes through with every new release so of course, we’re excited about this one. Advocates of noise and a self-confessed ‘jam band’ concocted their blistering debut EP ‘The White Hotel’ last year in their homeland – and the EP’s namesake – The White Hotel.

All good things come to those who wait and wait we have, eagerly anticipating the first move of the four-piece. “There isn’t a plan or well
worked-out approach,” tells Chew Magna guitarist, Simon of the band’s spontaneity when it comes to their moments of brilliance. “We’re at our best
bouncing ideas around and seeing what happens.” Vocalist and guitarist, Laurie affirms; “we’ll play the same part for ages, developing it slowly. Chew Magna has a motion of its own, all we have to do is turn up to practice; the songs write themselves.”

Mixed live at The White Hotel and recorded by underground Salford label SWAYS producer, Martin Hurley (Ghost Outfit) the EP is bolstered by a raw style of that Hurley brings to all his work with grunge-aficionado sound engineer Steve Albini and captures the intimate feel of the recording. Accompanied by videos that suitable match the style of Chew Magna, this is a collection of tracks that gives us an eye into what’s to come from the pioneering young act.

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

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EXCLUSIVE: MOLD – ‘The Death Suite’ EP

WORDS BY HANNAH TINKER        PHOTOS BY THROUGH THE EYES OF RUBY

Fighting the good fight for a scene often misunderstood, MOLD present their new offering with EP ‘The Death Suite’. Due to be released Friday 5th October on a luxurious white vinyl, we’re happy to share with you an exclusive MCR Live preview of what’s to come from the radical renegades of Manchester’s blossoming music network. Tempted? Hit the link below and be engulfed by MOLD with ‘Apocalypse A – Go – Go’:

Featuring three tracks, the EP presents their politically minded manner, complete with maddening gyrations of guitar, bass, drums and hallowed, manic vocals from both frontmen. The collection of tracks, in particular the opener ‘Sterilise The Nation’ – or even perhaps anything by the act – gives the impression that Alex DeLarge is alive and functioning through the guise of MOLD, as their frenzied lyrics whir about a dystopian future. Menacing words speak of a daunting prospect where the megalomaniacs win.

“MOLD IS AN ABSURDIST REACTION TO THE WORLD WE LIVE IN
IN NATURE, IN YOUR KITCHEN, IN POLITICS, IN GUITAR MUSIC,
MOLD ONLY GROWS WHEN THINGS ARE STALE AND START TO ROT”

A growing collective, the act derive inspiration from The Fat White Family but with an artistic, masterful edge with aspirations to have a fleet of MOLD instrumentalists at their beck and call. In celebration of the eagerly anticipated EP that highlights a clear future for MOLD, they’ve enlisted comrades to join them at Manchester’s Soup Kitchen Saturday 6th October, under their gig promoter form: DENTCHA. The lineup incorporates a swarm of acts that have a footing in the DIY scene, including Slow Knife, The Starlight Magic Hour and Inland Taipan amongst others. With tickets at just £5 online and £7 on the door, where exactly can you go wrong? Support the scene and let MOLD swallow you whole.

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

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masa diora

New Artist Showcase: Masa Diora

Now do we have a new band to get excited about! Masa Diora categorise themselves as “Electro-Psychedelic Rock meets 80s Lo-Fi Retro Synthwave.” Quite a mouthful. Not really knowing what to expect, I had a listen and it is all those things – spacey, synthy & soulful.

I would say their sound is very Theme Park with a rock-y twist; I can hear the Tame Impala and Rex Orange County influences as well.

The band is made up of Jonty Lodge (18), Callum Jackson (18) and George Knowles (17). Masa Diora have been added to my list of new extremely young talent, along with The Orielles. The sound does not reflect the band’s age and the music has a mature sound to it. The band have been creating psychedelic sounds since 2015, when Callum won Staffordshire & Cheshire’s Young Musician of the Year and performed on BBC Introducing.

The band’s debut single ‘You Don’t Love Me’ has just been released and it is STONKING.

Kicking off with a very Tom Misch-esque speech into a quiet version of the chorus before bursting into a lighthearted synth-wave you are kept on your toes the entire way through.

Masa Diora are a band with a story. The band is set in a narrative of the retro sci-fi era of the 1980s, following the main character Lawrence Blight who designs a computer game to escape his daily troubles and becomes obsessed with the game. Lawrence develops a technology to enhance the ‘playing experience’ and realises that “once you enter there is no coming back.”

 

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We’re pleased to share the artwork for our debut single, ‘You Don’t Love Me’… almost two weeks to go! 🌺🛰

A post shared by Masa Diora (@masadiora) on

‘You Don’t Love Me’ fits the band’s story. The beginning feels like we’re waking up from a dream – to the realisation that “you don’t love me.” The lyrics are sad but accompanied by mentions of flowers, skies and dreams – painting a colourful image of what both the song and band are about. The gentle lyrics combined with the sci-fi sounds create a juxtaposition of what is real and what is not, again bringing to life the characters.

From reading the band’s story – I’m guessing the music videos are going to be wacky, weird and wonderful. The first single is a tune and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Masa Diora.

In all, their debut single is incredibly catchy and – if you want to impress your friends – get in there early and tell them about Masa Diora. Trust.

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EP: Sisteray – ‘Sisteray Said’

WORDS BY RUSSELL HOPE

It’s been a while since a band has been a London band, were Blur London? The Clash were. Hard-Fi tried to be. Sisteray are London and they want everyone to know. Their newest release, EP ‘Sisteray Said’ is the last serving from punks finest fledglings.

Pure melodic power punk through and through – particularly in track ‘Wannabes’ – this new offering is powdered mosh pit, just add sweat! The band have been linked to 90’s punk and indie with a swagger which Oasis made so clear on their rise. Combined with a punk backed by tribal floor toms and bass which is reminiscent of the Green Day ‘Dookie’ era.

Further down the track-listing, ‘Rumour Mill’ has all these traits and more; moody and preaching a future we don’t know of yet. If you like Reverend And The Makers and are all about that punk swagger, you’ll love this one. ‘Algorithm Prison’ is a every inch an aggressive nod to a broken social scene, all about the likes of Facebook and other social media capitalist movements. Step aside Zuckerberg because Sisteray are ready to fill cover any qualms about the social media movement! The punchy chords of the title track ‘Sisteray Said’ gives a tour of London and the Sisteray angle on the scene down there. This could quite easily replace ‘My Generation’ in THAT House Party scene on Quadraphenia. A soundtrack to a regional scene and a new generation of punks, giving the finger to what is right and what is wrong… because they said so!

The band are earning their stripes on the live circuit too with plenty of recommendations from the punk hardcore including John Robb and the Louder Than War crew.

The band are on a national tour. If they’re playing your town get out for it, they won’t be playing these small venues for long now!

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

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