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Track Review

Words by Dom Taylor

SINGLE RELEASE: Pond – ‘Daisy’

WORDS: DOM TAYLOR

Australian outfit Pond are a band who never seem to stop working. Their newest single Daisy is from their upcoming album Tasmania, their eighth studio album to date since their conception just over 10 years ago. It’s said to be the sister album of their more poptastic 2017 album ‘The Weather’.

Daisy  is the opening track of the album and the third release before the record is unleashed on March 1st. The band continues to prove that you can have both quality and quantity in music. The sublime switch-ups and serene soundtrack carry lead singer Nick Allbrook’s eccentric vocals as smoothly as ever. This song along with the rest of the album was masterfully produced by a friend of the band and fellow Australian Kevin Parker.

The lyrics, however, seem disjointed, hinting at a theme or message which is challenging to grasp even after multiple listens. The accompanying music video shows the band roaming around the Kulin and Nyoongar Nations land in their native Victoria, and respect to the Indigenous peoples who inhabit it is paid in the opening title. In the press release, the band described the album as a “dejected meditation on planetary discord, water, machismo, shame, blame and responsibility, love, blood, and empire”. If you’re hoping the video will shed some light on the meanings and feelings they’re trying to evoke on the song, you may be disappointed.

Arguably however this is all part of the charm of Pond. A band who clearly truly love the art of music producing and songwriting, getting all of their thoughts and feelings about the world onto paper with no ulterior motive other than to entertain, accompanied with timeless, ethereal soundscapes which never fail to disappoint. Pond play Primavera Sound this summer as well as the French festival We Love Green in June. You can catch Daisy and the other two singles Sixteen Days and Burnt out Star on all major streaming platforms, and the album ‘Tasmania’ from March 1st.

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SINGLE RELEASE: Nick Waterhouse – ‘Song For Winners’

WORDS BY CRAIG HOPKINSON

Nick Waterhouse certainly is an old-school rhythm and blues player; there is no doubt about that. Taking obvious influences from Jazz, blues and soul; this Los Angeles singer and songwriter hurtles the listener back, way back, back to when television was in black and white and a rumour of a new, taboo infused musical genre was afoot – rock ‘n’ roll – ‘The devil’s music’.  

Nick’s latest single, Song For Winners, is exactly that, an original rock ‘n’ roll track and it sounds like it was recorded in a ‘wall of sound’ fashion, recording all the instruments in one take, like producer Phil Spector, one of the architects of modern music production and executive producer of the famous song Be My Baby, recorded with The Ronettes 

In terms of production, the instrumentation used on this track is off the chart. Nick and the production team at Innovative Leisure Records have graced us with a whole trove of awesome sounding sections; from brass, including a very sexy saxophone hitting the lower shelf every now and then, lovely backing vocal harmonies throughout, an array of jazz and soul influenced percussion sections and a drummer with more swing than Tarzan.

 

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@jeebz_flatt on piano with @nickwaterhouse opening for @allenstone at @930club November 21, 2018. Shot for @chunkyglasses

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The use of a 1950’s Shurre 55 microphone, or the Elvis-styled microphone, if you will, gives authenticity to the piece. I’m also pretty sure that isn’t an effects plugin the producers have used to get that iconic, muffled microphone crunch on the lead vocal, it’s the real deal. To round it all up, Song For Winners has definitely won me over. Well done Nick, I’m a fan. It’s a cool sound, paying homage to the traditions of rock ‘n’ roll, recorded in the old Phil Spector, Wall of Sound-way. One take, all in one room. It has a great energy to it and really showcases Nick, the other musicians, and the production team, as the great blues players they are. It almost sounds effortless.  

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TRACK RELEASE: Heavy Lungs – ‘Jealous’

WORDS BY JACK MCKEEVER

‘If you book them, they will come.’ So reads the sardonic ‘about’ section on Bristol noise-punks Heavy Lungs’ Bandcamp page. In a way, it’s an accurate summation of the whirlwind 12 months the quartet have had. Since the release of their debut EP, ‘Abstract Thoughts’ in February last year, they’ve risen quickly enough to sell out a headline slot at prime Bristol club: The Louisiana and enjoyed radio air time with none other than Nadine Shah.

They’re also about to take their incendiary live presence to the world stage, performing as part of KEXP’s ‘International Clash Day’ live broadcast from London next month. All of this is a testament not only to Bristol’s community-driven punk scene but also to their endless work ethic.

Their new single, ‘Jealous’ picks up where the sludgier, slightly more mid-paced but still scratchy-and-violent-as-hell side of the debut EP left off. The stinky, needling basslines and tension-ridden excursions into ear-splitting resonance populate the verses before they stamp on the filth pedals for the chorus.

 

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Heavy Lungs, Exeter

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All of it is underpinned by the band’s trademark tight-knit rhythmic primitiveness. Frontman Danny Nedelko (yes the namesake of the IDLES track), an unexpectant pin-up boy for rapturous punk rock poeticism, sounds arguably more caveman-esque than ever in his delivery.

‘’’Jealous’ started from the bassline,’ says guitarist Oliver Southgate when talking about the writing process. “Then I tried to make the guitar sound as energetic and frantic as possible without playing anything (apart from in the choruses). Metz was a big influence, and Nirvana’s ‘In Utero’; so basically Steve Albini, really.”

What’s special about ‘Jealous’ is that it takes that same melting point of influences the band has always acclaimed – Nirvana, Black Flag, Pavement, Big Black, The Stooges – and carries them a far-cry away from any calls of revivalism. Any fan of those bands will find ‘Jealous’ a wonderful cross bearer for a 2019 version of that sound.  

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EXCLUSIVE: Slowhandclap – ‘Concrete Bodies’

WORDS BY HANNAH  TINKER      PHOTOS BY MANC WANDERER

Hatched in Manchester, post punk breathes and contorts through Slowhandclap, now armed with new single ‘Concrete Bodies’. Citing Nirvana and Dinosaur Jr as their influences, there are distinctive echoes of these grunge heroes in both their sound and their live performances. Raw energy and eager mechanics grab the attention of an audience when they’re billed on a stage, leaving their namesake a clear contradiction. Haven’t heard? ‘Slow handclap’ is defined as when an audience deliberately gives a slow, rhythmic clap to indicate disapproval. Slowhandclap are a paradox: you’d never disapprove of these.

 

Ahead of ‘Concrete Bodies’, their latest track ‘Vertigo’ feltlike it’s been with us longer than it actually has – though not in a bad way – with heavy guitar strums and hedonistic murmurous lyrics that cast the mind to the likes of Weirds and The Jesus and Mary Chain.

‘Concrete Bodies’ immortalises the fledgling act by way of a rush of guitar fuzz and the thump of the drum. Accompanied by lyrics that echo talk of how overrun society is with political, economic and environmental disputes -leaving us as hallowed figures, almost so used to the calamity by now, that we overlook it.

In a monotone chant, lead vocalist Sam Bullock describes how “everything is happening at the same time”, each with it’s own cost, there’s seemingly no stopping the way the world is going. In terms of the wording (but also the genre and styling of the music) the track is reminiscent of Sonic Youth‘s ‘Society is a Hole’, spouting similar verses about civilisation as we know it being predictable in terms of its disruption.

‘Concrete Bodies’ is thrilling in its messiness, a mix of grunge noise with drums that start and stop at the drop of the hat and guitars that race through the song with no signs of stopping, speed racers moving forward. They’re moving themselves forward at a similar pace too, having recently supported alt-rockers Kagoule, they’re now set to headline their home cities’s The Castle Hotel for a pre-Christmas gig on Thursday 20th December. In terms of a sign of things to come, ‘Concrete Bodies’ showcases Slowhandclap in a fine light, leaving you intrigued about what’s to come from the trio.

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PREMIERE: Giant Boys – ‘Clap Your Hands’

Giant Boys are Salford based post-punk duo Scottie McKnight and Guy Connor. They formed in the spring of 2017 out of a mutual desire to record something satisfyingly heavy. As the project progressed, it became clear that the Giant Boys ethos was to write and record very quickly, always using first takes and never overthinking or labouring songs, allowing the initial energy and feel of the idea to be what is finally heard on record.

See below for our exclusive premiere of their new video:

Post-punk gets a callow, minimalist refresh from the band, with a sound that entwines a Slaves-like level of recognisable Brit punk with something fresh and DIY, comparable to The Foetals. A sound like theirs feels pivotal in the shift of a music genre like post-punk that’s begun to become such a prominent style in the music world.

For their debut EP, the namesake title track of ‘Clap Your Hands’ is a hardcore ode to the darker side of post-punk. It’s set with a pacing drum beat that sets the tone and gets the basis for an anthem going, backed with echoing vocals by both members. The feel is one of a main character falling into madness with a calm, soothing voice narrating his descent – but is it too late? Other tracks on Giant Boys debut EP are ‘Product Recall’ and ‘Down To The Quick’ with the latter igniting reference to The Prodigy’s ‘Firestarter’ opening with a similarly invigorating sound that gets the pulse racing.

With an organic attitude, Giant Boys present their hedonistic post-punk sound in it’s rawest form and after listening to the EP, the instant thought is “when’s their next live gig”. With upcoming dates such as Stay Fresh Fest and an evening at Salford’s Eagle Inn: we’ll meet you at the front.

Set to be released for streaming on 7th September this year, with a tangible format on cassette for this years official Cassette Store Day. Like Giant Boys on Facebook to keep up to date 👀

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EP: The Yossarians – ‘Ambition Will Eat Itself’

WORDS BY HENRY COLQUHOUN

Mancunian legends with a range of different band members over the years, The Yossarians are now back and fully formed, complete with a new EP release: ‘Ambition Will Eat Itself’. You might even happen to know a member of the band, working idly alongside you. I was recently chatting with a friend about the many bands he’d been in when he started mentioning tours around Europe and the like. Naturally, I stopped him to enquire with whom this touring may have taken place. Theoss Airienne. “What?”. The Yess Aliens. “Sorry, what?”. The Yossarians.

Although I’d heard of the book, I was unfamiliar with its main protagonist Captain Yossarian and struggled to grasp the pronunciation of his surname. But on the flip-side, it would seem to be a memorable band name since here I sit.

From the little I’ve heard or read about them, I know that they’ve been compared to Bad Seeds, The Birthday Party (anything Nick Cave related really) and Swans. Not a bad comparison in sight. The first track – ‘Caramelised’ starts off like some dark gruesome song you’d find one of the above artists playing: staccato riffs and jarring guitars coming into the fray during the chorus. As singer and guitarist Tim Schiazza lingers on some “ing” endings as the manic rhythm and feel continues to pound, you’re reminded of The Veils at their punkiest.

“LET THE DEAD SING
PENDULUM SWING”

With my latest comparison in mind, second track ‘World’, a much calmer and relaxing number, albeit with eeriness intact, complete with a simultaneously rousing and drifting off ending, complete with soft arpeggios and violin. In fact, ‘Ambition Will Eat Itself’ is a most appropriate apocalyptic record.

#yossarians #CDF #celebrationdaysfestival @celebrationdaysrecords

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The sound is amped up again for third track ‘Friends We Are’ and the driving pounding rhythm on the album opener returns, notably with the recurring “friends of friends of friends of friends” lyricsAnd before you know it, the song has raced to its ending. By now, I’m wishing the album didn’t flow so quickly and smoothly. At a mere 17 minutes, it flies by and leaves one desperate for more. Another comparison comes to my fore on standout track ‘Ambition Will Eat Itself’ as the guitar sound and opening lines remind me of none other than Alex Turner and the Arctic Monkeys on their darker material (Josh Homme-era). A familiarity I also felt on the closing chords to second song ‘World’. Schiazza snarls like Nick Cave at points, the violin drones on like Warren Ellis and the title track thumps repeatedly like the Bad Seeds. But as the piano softly fades into nothingness, this is no meager amalgamation of bands I’ve compared them to, after all, they have been going for long enough to have forged their own particular sound and style which begs to be delved into and I personally can’t wait to dive into their back catalogue.

They end the EP as many EPs should, with a wonderfully weird instrumental track: ‘As In Life As In Chess, As In Chess, As In Sex’, that starts off with a Twin Peaks-like synth drone, before guitar comes galloping in and piano echoes incessantly in the background before a single deep drum kick signals the end. The Yossarians are back and here’s to hoping that they stay with us.

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TRACK: Giant Boys – Clap Your Hands

WORDS BY HANNAH TINKER

Fast-moving and true to their form, Giant Boys introduce their new EP: ‘Clap Your Hands’. Since forming in 2017, the Salford-based duo stormed into the studio; equipped with their fresh, organic ethos that the first take of their recordings is the published sound. In Manchester alone, the pair have seen success that’s thrust them forward into the limelight, including a debut a gig supporting for Hyena Kill‘s EP launch back in April this year. Since then Giant Boys have amassed a UK-wide following, with feature performances at London’s ‘Old Blue Last’, Tramlines Festival and Band On The Wall’s FREE VIBES.

Post-punk gets a callow, minimalist refresh from the band, with a sound that entwines a Slaves-like level of recognisable Brit punk with something fresh and DIY, comparable to The Foetals. A sound like theirs feels pivotal in the shift of a music genre like post-punk that’s begun to become such a prominent style in the music world.

For their debut EP, the namesake title track of ‘Clap Your Hands’ is a hardcore ode to the darker side of post-punk. It’s set with a pacing drum beat that sets the tone and gets the basis for an anthem going, backed with echoing vocals by both members. The feel is one of a main character falling into madness with a calm, soothing voice narrating his descent – but is it too late? Other tracks on Giant Boys debut EP are ‘Product Recall’ and ‘Down To The Quick’ with the latter igniting reference to The Prodigy’s ‘Firestarter’ opening with a similarly invigorating sound that gets the pulse racing.

With an organic attitude, Giant Boys present their hedonistic post-punk sound in it’s rawest form and after listening to the EP, the instant thought is “when’s their next live gig”. With upcoming dates such as Stay Fresh Fest and an evening at Salford’s Eagle Inn: we’ll meet you at the front.

Set to be released for streaming on 7th September this year, with a tangible format on cassette for this years official Cassette Store Day. Like Giant Boys on Facebook to keep up to date 👀

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puppetmaster

TRACK REVIEW: Mold – ‘Puppetmaster’

There’s a glimmer of hope peering through the gaps of posing perfectionists amongst the independent music scene. A flash of incandescent lyrics and avid instrumentals stray away from the usual tried and tested, singer-songwriter-guitar-A-chord-B-chord type and twist heads at double time. Mold are here. A key player in this unaccustomed field, their new track ‘Puppetmaster’ summarises why this new medley of sound is embraced with open arms.

Having graced the music scene only recently, the band have begun a refreshing take to the DIY scene, deriving inspiration from The Fat White Family but with an artistic, masterful edge. More than just the founding duo of Shane and Dan, this collective-like band are pushing boundaries beyond just their genre, with aspirations to have a fleet of Mold-eans at their beck and call.

Released under their own record label Drastic Decline, the latest track is categorised by just the hashtag #MINDCONTROL and no other identification. It says nothing and everything in one sharp stamp. There are dazzlingly maddening gyrations of guitar, bass and drums, electrified by synth and lyrics from their –  currently four piece – howling vocal chords. An anguish towards topical events is the main basis for ‘Puppetmaster’, spoken through satirical smiles and witty lines of ‘I’m a real boy now so cut my strings’ echoed in a menacingly intriguing manner. We’re exactly two minutes in now and a technological sound beeps with sounds that echo the penny machine you tried to beat in the games arcade on Blackpool pier. You’re unlikely to be stood still. It’s difficult to let Mold enter your mind without it seeping through to your outward actions in magnetic dips and jolts. Like their namesake, Mold takes over and brandishes all it touches, leaving a mark that transcends through memory and gnaws at what you think ‘a band should be’.

No automatic alt text available.

 

 

Upcoming dates for Mold are:

‘Puppetmaster’ official single launch @ Soup Kitchen – 24.02.18
The 99 Degree @ The Yorkshire House – 31.03.18
Sabotage Festival @ Manchester – 28.04.18
Karma 7th Birthday All Dayer @ The Lending Room – 28.04.18

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Jack White

Track Review: Jack White – ‘Connected By Love’

Since the disbandment of The White Stripes six years ago, Jack White has become his own entity. Presenting us with menacing Alt Rock anthems that have gained him his own notoriety separate from the powerful, applauded women he’s worked with in the past, including Meg White (The White Stripes) and Allison Mosshart (The Dead Weather). 2014’s ‘Lazaretto’ was White’s last offering, with hints of the blues against a psych rock background, embellished by angry, hedonistic lyrics from a recently divorced Jack.

Now four years on, his third solo studio album is almost here in the form of Boarding House Reach, pre-introduced through new track ‘Connected By Love’ with a release date just confirmed for March of this year. But what can we expect? The synth-heavy title track showcases White in a more diverse light – perhaps a sign that he is shifting with the times or mellowing with age – the electronic basis of the song sounds unfamiliar to the overtly provocative rock that we’re used to from the man himself. But those that have been following his previous work will understand that the musician is known for his vast appreciation of music genres; he is much more than his most commonly featured Alternative Rock repertoire. And for those of whom are less familiar with his solo work, previous releases include 2012’s Folk-fuelled ‘Love Interrupted’ and the opposing ‘Freedom at 21’ which has an almost Hip Hop vibe shaped by Jack’s fast-paced lyrics. Masterful.

Tying back to the aforementioned prior releases, White’s trademark thick, Tenessee vocals are still prevalent on ‘Connected By Love’ with the melodic new single boasting everything that White has been applauded for previously – as far as I’m concerned, giving his legacy a new lease of life. Following on from ‘Connected By Love’, the new album is expected to be of a similar commemoration to White’s talent, lending a thought to the chance that Jack White is now enjoying making music again, and thus will continue to introduce us to a new character presented by a legendary musician, cleverly equipped with an undeniably distinguished aesthetic.

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no hot ashes

 Track Review: No Hot Ashes – Eight Till Late

With Stockport now placed firmly on the Northern map thanks to the likes of Blossoms indie residence, there are a clamour of new acts breaking out of the city. Amongst them are No Hot Ashes, known for their heavy indie-funk instrumental fronted by the raspy perpetuating lyrics of frontman Isaac Taylor. After years of heightened band practices creating the formal formation of No Hot Ashes in 2014, the quartet have seen leaps of success with their not-stopping-now attitude and hedonistic aspirations to rupture the indie scene wide open with their unique sound – a sold out upcoming gig at Manchester Academy on 16th December reflecting the bands buzz in Manchester at least.

The likes of university degrees and general adolescent chores have meant that we’ve only had a single per year from NHA , though thoroughly appreciated, including the voluminous ‘Easy Peeler’ of 2015 and joyous ‘Bellyaches’ released earlier this year. After recently signing to the unanimously refreshing label Modern Sky, ahead of the new year, we now have news of a debut EP from the band titled ‘Skint Kids Disco’. This title alone coordinates with Not Hot Ashes’ theme for songs with thick fleshy lyrics about drunken soirees and a defiance towards our outwardly Tory regime, padded out and flaunted with toe-tapping funk acting as a backing symphony.

As a promising temptation, they’ve now released one track from the EP titled ‘Eight Till Late’ featuring some expertly paired artwork from Florence Burns. The track itself gives a nod to how far the band have come and subsequently how much the band have aged since their early days. Notably, Isaac’s voice has lost the youthful twang that we heard before. That said, no essence is lost as a tenacious, resilient and still incredibly unique sound filmy resonates. Understandably juvenility is somewhat lost but in it’s place are strong, plucky verses (and a perhaps more indie sound) that feels as though the group have eased into their style, shaking off the shackles of discomfort in ones’ skin that comes with being a teenager.

The title of the track lends a thought to those student nights plastering promises of cheap shots blasting out pop tracks with that feature slogan “open eight until late”, No Hot Ashes depict images of said nights that society dictate are ‘the place to be’ to naïve freshers whilst pointing a finger at our education system and the everyday tasks that we are conditionally taught (like attending said nights) throughout each stage of life. This lead track from the upcoming EP fits quite happily amongst NHA’s already brilliant list of tuneful, gyrating songs that are thrown around the room of any set they present and only promises more impressive feats to come in 2018. I for one am excited.

Read our full new artist showcase on the band HERE

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