April

April are a five piece from Nuneaton. They spent most of large year on The Enemy’s emotional farewell tour and recently, a scintillating tour with Cabbage and The Shimmer Band. It’s fine company, let’s see why by examining their last single ‘Open Mind’.

Open Mind

“There’s someone in my head but it’s not me”

Professes frontman George Cook in the third line and essentially, is all you need to know about April.

Sitting somewhere between The Roses’ ‘Love Spreads’ and Kasabian’s ‘Reason is Treason’, April have meshed a furious and relentless piece of dystopian rock music.

There is the briefest of breaks when, for just a few seconds, a trippy Jagz Kooner style of electronica seeps in. It may be ephemeral, but the quality is high and signifies a diverse future for them. Trying to take this section in, is extremely difficult as it’s followed by a behemoth guitar solo. Sonically, its akin to Neil Young’s ‘Cortez The Killer’ but condensed into 20seconds of enchanting brutality.

Cellar Doors

Hailing from San Francisco, Cellar Doors have been around for a few years now but, it’s with their latest work that are threatening to break through with:

Frost

This feels like the kind of psyche meets rock ‘n’ roll that Oasis were always reaching for post ‘Be Here Now’ but never attained. The Roses-esque guitars that ripple through have a timeless escapist quality which give it an instant classic sound.

Meanwhile, the bassline is more akin to the dark brooding nature of BRMC, who, Cellar Doors have previously supported in USA.  Such is its urgency, it threatens to burst out of the speakers and cart you off like a Death Eater, blowing anything in its path away.

Prism

Initially, this combines a softer, almost Syd Barrett vocal with a more dance music friendly sonic, not too dissimilar from Depeche Mode and The Music. There is a great warped production which pulsates its way to the mid-point then, the detonation! It explodes like The Who at their very best.

The eruption that ensues, departs from the opening and descends into a drug fuelled prism of terror and violence. All the while, lurking heavenly in the background is an angelic backing vocal which floats along until the ‘Rock n Roll Star’ and ‘Whatever Happened To My Rock n Roll’ closing moments.

The Jacques

Hailing from Bristol and London, The Jacques are an injection of rabid beauty to the world of alternative pop music. They have a string of singles to their name which need some serious attention:

Eleanor Ring Me

In a similar mould to The Streets’ ‘Fit But You Know It’, this track revolves around a great riff. It’s big, brash and infectious and allows the frontman Fin Jacques to switch up from a feral drawl to rough diamond vocals expertly.

This Is England

For fans of The Libertines’ sense of freedom and the debauchery of The View, this one is for you! In the wake of ‘Up The Bracket’ there was an explosion of bands in 2002/03. So many attempted to replicate the authenticity of The Libs but lacked their pop sensibilities (The Paddingtons, Harrisons) or vice versa (The Holloways and Little Man Tate). As The Jacques howl the chorus ‘This is England / Now Tell what you’re proud of’, clearly have both qualities.

A tour with Trampolene simply has to happen!

Artful Dodger

Like Trampolene on ‘Divided Kingdom’, The Jacques show they can do visceral punk rock. It opens with guitars punching their way out of the speakers like The Rut’s ‘Staring at the Rude Boys’ and the Skids’ ‘Into The Valley’ (fine company to keep).

Not content with being another punk bands, The Jacques splice some fine guitar solos which will drag in rock n roll fans as well.

It would appear, in a world dominated by intolerable bores like Ed Sheeran, The Jacques are going to spoil the party and make things interesting again.

The Moonlandingz

A year on from the sad loss of Bowie, it feels apt to write about something as absurd and brilliant as The Moonlandingz. Described on their Facebook page as “Semi fictional Outsider Ouija Pop Group”, they were originally a concept created for a video starring Maxine Peake as a stalker.

The creation was developed by Sheffield’s Eccentronic Research Council who, in turn, drafted in Lias Saoudi and Saul Adamczewski (Fat White Family) to front this joyously mental psyche outfit.

After the success of the debut EP, they are becoming real wooden boys and releasing an album and going on tour this year. Here are some select highlights:

Deja Vega

The recent Shiiine On Weekender didn’t feature many new acts, but, opening Eddy Temple Morris’ closing party were Cheshire three piece Deja Vega. They did not disappoint.

So, as soon as the hangovers and comedowns had gone, we checked out their stuff on Spotify:

Friends In High Places

They are few better ways to announce yourself than this. Big booming dirge guitars compelling you to ramp up the volume to Spinal Tap’s magic ‘11’.

Jack Fearon’s vocals a not what you expect of a new band. They are bristling with fury and angst like all good newcomers should but, the nuances on display are wise beyond his years.  As Fearon rages his way through the song, the expectancy of an eruption keeps on building until he lets loose on the guitar once more. The big soaring riffs encapsulate the spirit of Kasabian’s debut album but with the huge stadium filling ambition of Oasis and The Who.

Pentagrams

Tom Webster’s drumming is absolutely ferocious here. They have a desperation so unhinged, we guarantee you will be left feeling fragile by the end. Meanwhile, Fearon’s guitars combine elements of Beefheart’s ‘Zig Zag Wanderer’ with the escapism of ‘Live Forever’. Together, they inject a much needed dose of adrenaline and hope into the world of psyche.

Skeletons In The Florist  

A more measured and dysfunctional side to Deja Vega showcases the bands darker side. This post-punk offing is filled with explosions of noise that come charging head on with violence and destruction. No one is matching this at present.

Once more, Fearon offers some nuggets of gold on the guitar. The haunting riff after the initial chorus, coalesces The Horror’s feral seaside style of ‘Primary Colours’ with the aggression of The Rifles before firing an all-out assault in the closing stages.

Odina

Broken

Sigur Ros springs to mind instantly as this atmospheric lullaby begins. Odina's vocals have that genteel nature that are impossible not to fall in love with.

Her guitar playing turns the dial from Cocteau Twins up to ‘uber-dream like’. It gives her the ability to slot inbetween Bon Iver's circa 'For Emma, Forever Ago' and Sam Duckworth's 2011 cult classic 'The Mannequin'.

You Loved Me, You Killed Me

Odina leans towards the nu-folk artists Peggy Sue and Alessi's Ark of recent past as she recounts a tale of a doomed relationship. As one half desperately clings to the fading memories of bygone days, it’s impossible to not recall your own past failures with a huge dose of melancholy. Then, just as you think you have adjusted, she hits you with the line:

 “i loved mysteries until you became one”

Gulp!

The Hubbards

Hailing from Hull, The Hubbards are made up of Reuben, Alex, Ronan and Joe. TT has delved into some of the Soundcloud highlights to introduce them to you:

Born To Fly

On paper, injecting a bit of bravado into shoegaze and the delicate indie of The Cure seems a dead cert. Well, this isn’t romping home but is well worth an each way bet.

Merv

Vocally, this showcases a lighter side of the band. The softer delivery and cadence bring Blossoms to mind but, the switch to a more aggressive style latterly lifts them away from their peers. More importantly, it highlights an ability to tell stories through sound as well as lyrics, a skill often underused.

Bread and Cigarettes

A rite of passage for indie bands is throwing too many ideas into the pot at once. This is theirs. There are lots of things to like but as a whole, it feels too fragmented to enjoy.

Cold Cut

The antithesis of ‘Bread and Cigarettes’. Clear and harmonious from start to finish. It lacks that killer hook to become a top ten break through but still screams day time radio.  Give this band time and support and a big break through seems inevitable. 

Engine

Engine are a 4 piece from Leeds comprising of James, Dom, Matias, Cal. They largely record at home which, when you listen will astound you. The one precursor we offer is, imagine what they could do in an established studio or with record company funding to record at home all day.

Here’s a run through of their soundcloud page (check out our feature leangth of ‘Formulate A Plan’ here http://www.travellerstunes-co-uk.org/reviews/2016/7/20/engine-formulate-a-plan)

The Moody Duke

Comparisons to Kasabian’s prog meets dance music could be drawn but, this is a far more laid back affair. The dreamy house production floats by effortlessly and thus, allows the guitars to just drop in as and when they want. Sonically they are sitting somewhere between John Squire and Dave Gilmour and you can help but feel that, when Engine hit the peak of confidence, that something special will come out of their clash of styles.

On The Yankee Station

This has taken the crispness of Orbital and distorted it through a bizarre and glitch ridden dystopia. Singer James Elson, has a natural gift to deliver dream like vocals but, accompanied by the erratic beats and warped Sax, they conjure images of someone who has no control over their immediate reality.

(Un) fortunate

This is the shortest of the three tracks on their Soundcloud page but still crams in a lot. The house production styles are dialled down and the vocal cadence is far more radio friendly but a hit single this is not.

It still has that perfect sound for late night radio, one that, if Rob Da Bank were (and should be) on Radio 1, would be playing regularly. If only for the final minute where Elson’s mark Gardner vocals drift along to a sublime guitar part. 

Jordan Allen

Hailing from Bolton, singer songwriter Jordan Allen and his band have been making inroads into the British consciousness in 2016. Let’s examine why:

Helter Skelter

This is everything rock n roll should be for a young band. Full of hope and spite, the infectious dirge guitars yearn for better times. The cadence of Allen’s vocal draws from Alex Turner’s early work, but, the slight gravel to his voice allows him to steer clear from rehashing indie’s past.

White Lines

The simplicity is key to this songs success. Whilst it may be reinforcing rock n roll traditions it does so refreshingly earnestly.

So often, slower tempo rock n roll tracks are just vacuous attempts at top 10 glory. ‘White Lines’ though, feels real. This is a tale for heroes who fail, who strut and stumble simultaneously and is all the better for it.

Too Much Too Soon

The latest single is an unusual blend of Wave Pictures and The Rifles. Vocally Allen strays towards David Tattersall’s breathy indie style but sonically, the guitars roar along a la The Rifles circa their ‘Great Escape’ album.

What is clear, these three tracks, should be seen by the band and fans alike, as a work in progress. They all have merits and make Allen standout. Nevertheless, what is Allen’s raison d’etre? The answer is not clear yet and that’s fine. These are humble beginnings with flashes of potential greatness. Get out there and support the band, without your help, they and rock n roll, will wither away.

 

Max Jury

Max Jury hails from Des Moines in Iowa. On the limited evidence he has supplied, seems set on providing another chapter in the great US songbook. The eclectic mix of rock, folks, soul and country is channelled through classic acts of those genres but Jury’s identity holds firm.

Expect to see this young man winning over unsuspecting crowds all summer on the festival circuit.

Beg & Crawl

The craftsmanship here, wow, it’s something to expect of seasoned musicians. Not, of a 21 year old. The blend of pop via folk is approaching the bracket of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rumours’. It begs only one question, how dare he be so good so soon?

The intricate use of piano parts and faded vocals serve the joyous melody perfectly. Expect this to ringing out of every radio station this summer!

 

Standing On My Own

The video reflects all the influences that have gone into forming this heartfelt soul via country record. The heartbreak of country music comes via aching guitars and the lyrics of a damaged soul trying “to block out the sun”.

The use of brass, gives our hero a level defiance that makes you root for him. A simple storytelling tool but one only the masterful often deploy.  

It showcases the up and down emotions of post break up life. Couple this with some high pitch Curtis Mayfield vocals and Jury is most definitely winning.

Cabbage

Who?

Lee Broadbent -Vox 

Joe Martin-Vox/guitar

Eoghan Clifford-Guitar

Ste Evans-Bass

Asa Morley-Drums

 

The Manchester 5 piece are making huge inroads in 2016 with their post-punk anthems, having played a session for Marc Riley and being championed by John Kennedy.

Here is our track by track rundown of their EP LE Chou, a perfect taste of what they are all about.

Kevin

What a great single this is. It seemingly does whatever the chuff it wants. It draws the listener in to their crazed world immediately and holds you in a blissful state of chaos.

Coming in under the three minute mark is remarkable considering how much is going on. Post punk via the Sonics via T-rex. It’s a brutal assault with great melodies fighting their way out.

Dinner Lady

The first glimpse at their scathing political tongue with jibes at private school kids. Jeremy hardy will lap up the hilarious lines:

“I politely inform her that we’re all out of chips / She gives me a glare / as I bite my fingertips /  I offer new potatoes / And she absolutely flips”

It opens with an aggressive funky guitar riff reminiscent of Fat White Family. It serves Joe Martin’s laconic and venomous vocals perfectly, allowing each verse to build towards an explosive end.

This is juvenile, puerile and brilliant. Just don’t eat their quiche!!!!!

Contactless Payment

Again, the humour is rife, as the protagonist wants to return to the pub to drink and share way too much to the staff:

“don’t worry mate you’re not barred / but you are restricted / to the blues you inflicted / to various members of staff”

The hilarious depression continues with:

“I’ll be feeling sorry / watching Corry with a microwave curry”

Modern Lovers’ Jonathon Richman’s unique vocal style gave him an aloofness and coolness few could touch. Martin has this about his him as well but with a wryness and sarcasm of Irvine Welsh’s character Renton. A fine combination.

Austerity Languish

TT wouldn’t be surprised to learn they are fans of Blur’s ‘Modern Life Is Rubbish’ based on this song. It has the fiery guitars and abrasive lyrics of ‘Advert’ whilst maintaining the pop hooks of ‘Colin Zeal’.

Their style takes them towards punk and 60s garage music rather than Blur’s punk via Kinks style, but, the spirit of using their influences as a framework to embed their humorous ‘fuck you’ attitude towards life is similar. In an era of such bland identities within bands in the UK, this injection of spirit and insolence is gladly welcomed.

White Noise

This is by far, the longest track on the EP. It is also the most interesting musically. The immediacy of youth culture and anarchic pop songs are replaced with a softer spoken word vocal. It allows for a more thoughtful take on how music will get them through this Tory government.

It takes four minutes for it to truly erupt and it is well worth the wait. There is a sense of excruciating pain and vitriolic resentment spewing Broadbent’s shrieks and Joe Martin and Eoghan Clifford’s superb howling guitars. It is a desperate sound compelling music lovers to pay attention.

Le Chou is available to buy here:

http://ahcabbage.bandcamp.com/album/le-chou

Shock Machine

Jamie Righton, one half of the pioneering Klaxons, has launched his new project Shock Machine. The first song available on Spotify is of the same title and will appear on the EP ‘Open Up The Sky’. 

The laissez faire opening channels the Electronic classic, ‘Getting Away With It’ via prog. It’s lightness of touch and angelic vocals thankfully, keep this away from the banal end of prog. 

Righton’s new moniker poses two questions within the song: 

  1. Will follow you me to the Shock Machine?

  2. Do we need the Shock Machine?  

In short, yes and no. The Klaxons' genre busting nu-rave anthems in ones life was so necessary it felt worthy of dying for. It was something Righton should always be proud of. However, now, he is just making good music to be enjoyed. It sounds like a come down, and in essence, it is. Nevertheless, Shock Machine are something to be curious about and shall be watched with great anticipation. 

Ocean Flaws

Ocean Flaws are a four piece from Brentwood in Essex. Forget the connotations this may bring, they are a band of substance.

They released their debut EP 'Dancing To The Fear' this year and here is our take on it:

Intro

Any intro or opening track should lay the ground work for what is to come and this does just that. It might only be a minute long but the indie-pysche of The Verve circa 'Storm In Heaven' shines through and establishes what Ocean Flaws are about.

Mojo

Singer Callum Quirk lays down a solid marker for iconic frontman vocals here. The angelic nature of Liam Gallagher combines with slight spikiness of Cast's John Power. Like John Power, Quirk is key to the melody which allows guitarists Hamish Monk and Sean Heaney to take us on a trip.

The main guitar riff loops through 'Mojo' inspired by a young Nick McCabe. It has a perpetual feeling which swirls its way to euphoria during the chorus. Not content with this, there are sublime slices of bugged out guitar parts throughout this track. They give this anthem a depth and prove this is not a band looking for a quick and shallow route to the top.

Like A Fool

Much has been made of Aussie band The DMA's evoking the spirit of Britpop lately, well, 'Like A Fool' falls into this category too, for all the right reasons.

There is an honesty and earnestness to the vocals which will allow this track to succed in a pub or an academy venue. The big singalong moments in the chorus are set to unite all those that listen at their gigs.

Again Monk and Heaney combine to take this track from Radio X filler to something more interesting. The big riffs are in place to reel in the masses but, its in the quieter guitar moments and the lyrics, that a level of self-doubt and fragility emerge. This keeps the band interesting and human, not everyone can or should have Oasis levels of confidence (if only someone told Menswear).

Dancing To The Fear

The early spaced out vibe of The Verve is on show once more, whilst Quirk's vocals sit somewhere between Miles Kane and Blossom's Tom Ogden. This blend builds slowly to deliver a storm of aggression, psyche and pop music. Ocean Flaws have the Echo & The Bunnymen knack of pulling together dangerous and accessible sounds all at once.

Silver Screen

'Silver Screen' feels like an anomaly sonically. It has a great Foals groove to it but lacks the edge of the previous tracks. 'Mojo' and 'Dancing To The Fear' work because of the pop sensibilities clashing with the creative guitar parts. Here however, they feel a bit one dimensional and it's a humbling you wont be expecting.

Nevertheless, these are fledgling days for Ocean Flaws and they have an EP under the belt of significant quality.



Skinny Girl Diet

Skinny Girl Diet are a 3 piece from south London who look set for a breakthrough year in 2016. The family outfit are made up of Delilah (singer / guitarist) and Ursula Holiday (drums) and their cousin Amelia Cutler (bassist).

They have harnessed a visceral sound with roots in Siouxsie Sioux, Hole and the ‘Riot Grrrl’ scene from the 90s. However, listen to their podcast with Radio X’s John Kennedy and their wit, charm and intelligence give them far more dimensions.

https://player.fm/series/john-kennedys-x-posure-podcast/episode-187-skinny-girl-diet

They released the EP ‘Reclaim Yourself’ in October last year to critical acclaim and its not hard to see why. ‘Fix Me’ is an onslaught of grunge and punk rock telling the tale of someone piecing their life back together.

Their punk rock ethics and sound are to be seen in all their glory on the ferocious 'Silver Spoon'. It’s a polemic we have heard before but sadly, in today's society its one that's needed more than ever. Attacking a Tory government maybe easy pickings but offering hope to those who think a dead end job awaits should be lauded. 

The She Devils

Audrey Ann & Kyle Jukka form this exciting band from Montreal. Their new EP is just under a week away from release and here is TT's take on what they have done so far.

Come

The Bo Diddley riff in a warped My Bloody Valentine style is both hypnotic and disturbing which adds to their ever growing mystique.

Ann's vocals are a more sexually charged Nancy Sinatra on 'Bang Bang' crossed with the power and alluring charm of Nico on 'Femme Fatale'.

 

Where There's No One

Procol Harum's classic Hammond hook on 'Whiter Shade Of Pale' can clearly be heard on this simple two chord gem. The fuzzed out guitars and the swirling production give this track a depth and richness which you wont want to end.

The pain and anguish Ann lays bare about her insecurities to her loved one is as beautiful as it is brutal. This is a remarkable feat of of song writing for people so young. The world is theirs to be conquered.  

https://she-devilsinc.bandcamp.com/releases