Ivory Wave - Uptown

Birmingham’s Ivory Wave have been threatening peak Happy Mondays and The Twang on their previous offerings, now, they have hit that groove and begun to stride beyond on ‘Uptown’.

Sun kissed and begging for your best ian Brown march on the dancefloor, it’s a going to leave you in a heap the morning after. The irony being, this is a tale of leaving those debauched nights behind you.

That said, such is the beauty of the shimmering jangle guitars, a love affair of guitars searching for Balearic escapism comes to the fore once more. It’s taken the lo-fi pop hooks of Ian Brown’s ‘First World Problems’ and funnelled them through the everyman swagger of The Twang to produce a breakthrough moment for the band. This feels like the moment the influences become theirs to play with as their own sound becomes dominant.

*Image courtesy of Luke Jones

Average Sex: The Victoria, London

London’s Average Sex signed off their first UK tour at East London’s Victoria this past Friday night. Having warmed up for us at our 8th birthday just over 2 weeks ago, we were salivating at the thought of a tour hardened band returning home.

In lead guitarist Sam O’Donovan, they have a king hook maker. Whether it’s The Strokes, Beach Boys, Ramones, or The Charlatans, he can turn his hand to the lot. On ‘U Suck’, he taps into Television and adds the destruction of punk to back mercurial front woman Laetitia Bocquet. Much like Mozza and Marr, he is fuelling the fire of Bocquet for the most part, but, on ‘Dump’ and ‘Ugly Strangers’, his licks step out of the darkness to star.

It is impossible though, to watch Average Sex and not be in awe of Bocquet. Her ability to method act each songs’ narrative is joyous. Whether it’s the hysteria of ‘We’re Done’, the wry venom of ‘Erotomania’ or the raw emotion of ‘My Dead Friend’, she gives the audience something different, almost every verse.

Together, not forgetting their slick rhythm section (Louise Earwaker / Finnigan Kidd / Jamie Graeme), they are band who seem to just get it. It’s not enough to just have great songs, you have to mean it, and Average Sex become their songs on stage. This is integrity will lead them to bigger stages sooner rather than later.

*Image courtesy of The Gig Slut

Mark Morriss – The Beans

The Bluetones frontman is on a roll at the moment. Not only are The Bluetones ‘Singles’ and ‘Science and Nature’ albums in the Vinyl top 10, his killer single ‘All The Wrong People’ has been going great guns (available here). The Hounslow Prince (is it too late to make that stick?) is back with instant classic in the form ‘The Beans’.

You’d be forgiven for thinking this is a ‘Luxembourg’ era single. Infectious as ‘Never Going Nowhere’ and savvy like ‘Fast Boy’ and ‘I Love The City’ firm proof Morriss still has the magic.

Morriss’ lyrics are so often overlooked but, no one deals with relationships better. This, a seriously troubled one (“who cares / if you throw me down stairs”) is negated with so much humour that, it’s only the XTC via west coast 70s solo that brings home that, this is a personal experience.

‘The Beans’ is released on 23rd August via Reckless Yes Records.

Rats ft Skinnyman – Jack

Musically, there’s an array of indie-punk bands reigniting the mid-00s scene at the moment. Liverpool’s RATS are key to the scene, and have returned with their new single ‘Jack’ and, it might just set them apart from the pack.

Unlike so many of the 00s scene, RATS have a visceral social comment and are willing to creative risks in delivering it. For the most part, ’Jack’ conforms to many indie reference points of the 15 years, and does it expertly. It’s great pop music.

Then, the introduction of Skinnyman changes everything. The return to depression era employment tactics is ruining lives. All the while, the givers of zero hour contracts get tax breaks (FUCK BORIS). Step up Skinnyman! His aggressive climax is the sound of the downtrodden getting nose to nose with their oppressors and demanding change!

 *Image courtesy of @ChrisDriverPhoto

The Black Watch - Magic Johnson

Anglophile and English Professor John Fredrick has returned in his guise of The Black Watch. Their 17th album ‘Magic Johnson’ is out now via Atom Records.

Despite Fredrick’s Virginia roots and being based LA, vocally, he has North East England twang reminiscent of Maximo Park’s Smith. Opener ‘Mad’ and ‘Oh You Little Witch’ have the fragile yet spiky delivery the UK fell in love with on Maximo’s debut ‘A Certain Trigger’.

The album’s true strengths lie in the honesty and integrity of the Fredrick’s lyrics. As he decrees ‘I don’t know what you’re on about, half the time’, loveable heroes from British screens are lit up once more. The romanticism of ‘This Is England’s Woody leaps out of the stereo and, by the time of the solo, will leave you in tears.

‘Get Me Out’, sounds like The Cure on a US road trip with its shimmering and introspective sonic. It’s a great platform for the protagonist to attempt escape and a quest for meaning. ‘Knowing It Won’t Come Again (Has Made It All The Sweeter Than)’ is a bittersweet tale of love and laughter whilst getting older.

The Black Watch emerged out of the C86 scene so, it should come no surprise that ‘Jingle Jangle Loop de Loop’ is a beacon of light. The innocence and the psychedelic sway of their origins still oozes from their soul. There are so many right wing commentators yearning for a yesteryear that never really existed at present. So, to hear nostalgia delivered with love is a thing to be cherished.

The problem with ‘Magic Johnson’ though, is its length. It’s too long. Some trimming of the fat (‘Upsy Daisy’ and ‘Arcane Constraints’) and it would be marching up album of the year lists. Despite this, this a joyful meander downstream and one all should embark upon this summer.

Death Valley Girls - Dream Cleaver

LA's Death Valley Girls, fresh from touring last years album 'Darkness Rains', wasted no time before returning to the studio. They have returned with stand alone single 'Dream Cleaver'. It's out now on Suicide Squeeze Records.

Their archetypal punk and garage remain but, now, they've calmed them and allowed their pop instincts to take them to a peculiar altered state of mind. They've taken the hypnotic spirit of Suicide and given it the immediacy Primal Scream.

When the sax kicks in, its easy to see why Bobby Gillespie was at their Victoria (Dalston) show earlier this year. The hallmarks of their dystopian classic '2013' lurk in the shadows of this anthem.

This tale, is a display of adoration for psychonaut and ethnobotonist Terrence McKenna; the founder of “the spirit molecule” and trans-dimensional travel.

In exploring this subject, they have left Stooges aggression of 'Darkness Rains' behind and moved towards a groove laden, white knuckle psychedelia realm.

Moon Duo - Lost Heads

Portland based Sanae Yamada and Ripley Johnson are back in the guise of Moon Duo. They release their second single 'Lost Heads' from their upcoming album ‘Stars Are The Light’, which is set for release on September 27th via Sacred Bones ahead of Autumn UK tour dates.

They have been prolific in their psyche exploration, but, for their next adventure (the 7th album) its a forage into the roots of disco. 'Lost Heads', in particular has a particularity British feel circa -88-91. Johnson's guitars are still at play, and after a residency in Salford this year, picked up influences from the psyche work of James on 'Bitch' and 'Girl at the End of the World'.
 
The hypnotic elements of Primal Scream's 'Autobahn' loom, but, 'Lost Heads' is far dreamier and acid tinged. It's ethereal qualities are that blissful moment on a night out; the headliner has blown you away and now your floating in space.

When you hear a band, like Moon Duo, famed for a strand of music for so long are ripping up all they know, alarm bells ring. To return with a new style of such quality and integrity, is not only remarkable, its just plain showing off. More please!

Average Sex - Erotomania

London's Average Sex, begin their nationwide tour tonight in Liverpool. To celebrate,they've released their new single 'Erotomania' via Tim Burgess' O Genesis imprint.

Song writing partnership, Sam and Letitia, haven't missed a beat since last years 'To My Dead Friend'. Slightly fuzzy, slightly 60s girl group and most definitely kick ass, can anyone match them for alt-pop right now?

As with their previous singles, its so easy to get lost in their melodies. However, scratch the surface and lyrically, darker avenues open up. They have an innate ability to recreate traumatic and intimate tales with such clarity, it's as though you lived through it with them.

Despite the obvious hurt on display, they continually find ways of making the listener laugh. We defy you not to find the humour in the line “Oh Grace why wont you punch me in the face”.

After two sell out EPs, this tour is sure to be the start of big things for Average Sex.

-Image courtesy of Caffy St Luce

Scandinavia - Premium Economy

London's Scandinavia are back with their fifth album 'Premium Economy'. Despite their veteran status, they remain on the DIY circuit, could this be their breakthrough?

At times, the wisdom of their longevity shines through. Tracks like 'Autumn Coat' and 'Melody Glade' have a warmth to their layers which debut albums rarely possess. The former, a fine nugget of jangle pop to soundtrack a youthful summer. Full of adventure and hope, it conjures images of hope, hope the love of your life discovers you exist in that summer holiday. 'Melody Glade', a reflective lullaby, as though The Wannadies recording in your garage.

Scandinavia have not lost their anarchic instincts. 'New Men' has a spiky math rock charm and 'Warriors of Weekend' is a furious Blink 182 meets Teenage Fanclub punk-jangle rumble. The true moment of punk glory arrives on 'I Don't Believe In Anything'. Rebellion hasn't sounded this fun in ages! Accept nothing, challenge everything!

Then, out of nowhere, comes 'Choose Science'. A quirky wry look at the world of scientists. Smooth funked up Public Service Broadcasting style guitar licks poke fun at science as a vocation. In a world of Brian Cox adoration, it's not suggested once that most scientist suffer under the corporate umbrella like the rest of us earning a wage.

It goes further than this though. Beautifully hailing sense and feeling over data, they raise the notion that this country's focus is awry. We are a nation of sport and creative lovers. We embraced one in 2012 and boy did it pay off. Now its time to embrace the other. It's surely what we excel at!

It may have taken Scandinavia five albums, but it would appear they have found their sweet spot. Pop hook after pop hook invade their punk or jingle jangle tendencies. This is definitely an album to sound track the rest of the summer.

The Crooks - Crystal Eyes

Chesterfield's The Crooks are back with their new single 'Crystal Eyes' today. Melodic, in your face rock n roll has been the mantra so far, what will this provide?

The return back to the studio has seen them slide back into the destructive psyche of mid point Oasis along with, a kick ass punk bassline. The added spikiness steers them away from their polished EP and in the direction of confrontation. Images of battle lines being drawn are unavoidable as front man Jacko snarls “ it's in our veins to live differently”.

Yearning to be heard is one thing, but now, The Crooks are demanding it. The rabid attack of The Enemy's 'Away From Here' combines with Oasis' psyche in what is, an announcement to the world to get behind them as they ride into battle.

Every generation has a set of bands luring the people away from insipid creativity. With the vapid Love Island having just finished, let The Crooks be that band.

Apeman Spaceman: The Amersham Arms, London

When 2 members of cult heroes Dogs (Johnny Cooke & Rikki Mehta) formed Apeman Spaceman in 2014, it felt inevitable the world wouldn’t miss out on their genius twice. The success, and more importantly, their vision wasn’t forthcoming immediately. However, 5 years on, it’s all coming together like Hannibal’s finest plan.

The north London outfit headlined The Amersham Arms this past Saturday with a verve and aggression that was undeniable. They took the emotive destruction of IDLES and razor sharp lyricism of Sleaford Mods and put it through their distorted outer space landscapes.  

Latest single ‘Living in a Teacake’, recalled the early guitars and bass licks of Dogs classic ‘London Bridge’. Here though, they go harder and more punkadelic to reach new dystopian glories.

On ‘Check Me Out’, they again find that past sweet spot and combine it with their twisted future. It’s a spellbinding concoction, and when Cooke’s vocals hit full force, they transcend music. They become a devilish subconscious you cannot switch off.

It may have taken five years, but on this evidence it was more than worth it.

This Friday marks our 8th birthday. Come down to the New Cross Inn for a night of great live music from 7pm. Click the image for tickets:

Echolines – The Poison Artist

Newcastle’s Echolines are back with their new single ‘The Poison Artist’, out on 6NOT4 Records.

Their previous single, ‘Imagination Stranger’, was a pop celebration of 80s indie influences. Things have taken a more expansive and darker tone this time. From the warped synths, to the Robert Smith meets an angry Jimi Goodwin and Guy Garvey vocals, they’ve struck a dank chord of greatness.

They adopt Public Service Broadcasting’s style with the inclusion n of exerts from a documentary on the CIA. From this sinister early inclusion, ‘The Poison Artist’ explodes with colour, vigour and dreaded nihilism. Brass, so often the accompaniment to glory, rages here like a rabid wolf!

The guitars, whilst they have jangle reminiscent of The Cure’s triumphant Glasto set, the intensity of them is soul crushing. The imagery they create is of love being torn down, through self-destruction and at worst, for sport.

Echolines are rapidly becoming a vital band for your record collections!

*Image courtesy of Van Goth

Friday 2nd August marks our 8th birthday. Come down to the New Cross Inn for a night of great live music. Tickets available here:

Stanley Duke & The Kindred Spirits – Collagen

Cornwall’s Stanley Duke, was last seen in the band Lost Dawn in 2016. Now embarking on a solo career, Duke, backed by The Kindred Spirits, releases his debut single ‘Collagen’ on the 26th July via Jam X Recordings.

The psyche guitar work here, with its roots in the 70s has elements of Yuck’s self-titled debut album and the wayward glory of the Libertines. As Duke sings “live the dream, live the life”, there is a sense that this could all fall apart at any minute. Nevertheless, as Frank Turner says:

“We’ll have all the best stories to tell”

There is a punk spirit coursing through the dirty rock n roll here. It took The Black Keys a long time to forge a freeing rock escapism with their dirty garage licks. Here, Duke, has caught a meandering wave to float away on his first effort.

Friday 2nd August marks our 8th birthday. Come down to the New Cross Inn for a night of great live music. Tickets available here:

C33s – Big Winner

Manchester’s C33s have joined forces with Producer Gavin Monaghan (MOSES) again for their second single ‘Big Winner’. Released on Bloody Thieves Records and a mainstay on Chris Hawkins BBC6 show, a big break through feels imminent.

The tour with Cabbage has paid dividends. Their natural garage psyche has been given an injection of their peers’ weird and wonderful punk. The immediacy it’s given them as been spliced hooks in the vein of their Irish counterparts Fontaines Dc and The Clockworks. Make no mistake, this is a great era for bands.

Like Cabbage and The Blinders, they have razor sharp lyrics that threaten the status quo:

“Gathered wisdom from the psych ward to the street / Keep them coming  / I will drench them in defeat” 

Couple this with the Toy meets Lemmy solo, a real sense C33s can turn their hand to anything emerges. There is no intention on playing it safe on this psyche fizzer!

 *Image courtesy of Trust A Fox

Friday 2nd August marks our 8th birthday. Come down to the New Cross Inn for a night of great live music. Tickets available here:

Ynys - Mae'n Hawdd

Ynys, aka Dylan Hughes (Former Races Horses) follows his debut single 'Caneuon' with another fine piece of Welsh language pop ‘. Originally written 5 years ago, Hughes roped in his friend to Mali Llewelyn to add vocals and finish it off.

In the height of Stranger Things series 3 fever, it’s a perfectly timed release. The 80s synths recall the exquisite theme tune from the Duffer Brothers masterpiece.

Hughes' ability to conjure the 60s pop Burt Bacharach and the melodic peculiarities of Gruff Rhys act as a tonic to the synths. There is an effortless flow to this tale of wandering the coast at midnight. It’s a freeing of the soul in a world gone mad.

With a summer and autumn tour booked, be sure to get out and see the UK's latest alt-pop sensation.

Friday 2nd August marks our 8th birthday. Come down to the New Cross Inn for a night of great live music. Tickets available here:

Mark Morriss - All The Wrong People

The Bluetones frontman has returned with a new solo single ‘All The Wrong People’. It is the lead single from his up coming fourth studio album ‘Look Up’ (out via Reckless Yes Records).

With Steve Wonder’s ‘Higher Ground’ firmly in view, Morriss allows his pop instincts to flourish, arguably to the finest degree since 2003’s ‘Never Going Nowhere’. There are hooks oozing out of this at every turn. The piano licks, sauntering drums, and the wah wah guitar combine to re-imagine 70s funk and soul to glorious effect.

Morriss’ lyrics’, are not often in the social comment bracket. However, with the world pulling itself apart, Morriss’ adopts a reflective stance many of us have when agitators of the world frequent the TV. In this instance, Trump, aka “big blonde hippopotamus” is the target. It may seem a juvenile quip but, in reality, this is how most reasonable people react to the colossal oath every time he tweets racist bile. It’s all that can be done to cope and Morriss has mirrored this with aplomb.

Having heard the jaw dropping ‘Roll Away’ and the sun kissed ‘Rimini’ at live shows, ‘Look Up’ is shaping up to be the pop album that truly matters in 2019.

Friday 2nd August marks our 8th birthday. Come down to the New Cross Inn for a night of great live music. Tickets available here:

 

The Crooks - Now Then

For many Oasis fans, including Noel Gallagher, they wish upon a parallel universe. One where 1997's 'Be Here Now' had undergone extreme quality control.

Well, that wish might just have been granted in the form Chesterfield's The Crooks. Cut them and they will bleed DMA's via the extravagance of Oasis circa 1996 to 1998 but, crucially, without the self-indulgence on their latest EP ‘Now Then’.

'Grey Man' has the lone wanderer feel of Noel's solo masterpiece 'Riverman'. Here though, he walks upright with youthful enthusiasm. The psychedelic guitars of Stee and Mods are the perfect platform for frontman Jacko to execute his Liam Gallagher via Thomas O’Dell (DMA’s) vocals. As Jacko decrees “bring me back to the wonderland”, music lovers over the age of 30 will have their youthful ambition restored whilst this generation runs amok to secure it for them.

The Oasis via DMA’s style continues throughout to wonderful effect. ‘All Isn’t As It Seems’ is a lyrical update of ‘Live Forever’ or The Enemy’s ‘Away From Here’. As the chorus of “I want to live my life away / I’m sick of doing it your way” images of huge festival crowds singing arm in arm come rushing to the fore. Meanwhile, on ‘Champagne & Caviar’, the parallel universe strikes. Oasis’ ‘It’s Getting Better Man’ is cut down to 3mins of scintillating solos and the hunger of ‘Definitely Maybe’.

When they do strike for the stadium rock sound on ‘Rocket’, it comes with the anguish that rock ‘n’ roll needs to truly matter. With a punk spirit in its veins, ‘Rocket’ is the sound of people trying to make ends meet and enjoy themselves. All the while, an Etonian racist and Pro-Privatisation of NHS dickheads battle it out to rule over us. The sheer guts and desperation of ‘Rocket’ can be all things to all people. It’s a clarion call to the jaded and a helping hand to those on the canvas. It’s uniting spirit is a reminder that rock n roll will never die.  

Despite the comparisons to DMA's and Oasis, this is not just a re-hash. The Crooks are very much one step backwards, 2 steps forward sonically. It’s the spirit they evoke on ‘Now Then’ that shines brightest. It’s as though they put Shane Meadows in charge of producing ‘Be Here Now’ to give it the brutal reality check it needed. The results, heady and pure rock n roll.

Friday 2nd August marks our 8th birthday. Come down to the New Cross Inn for a night of great live music. Tickets available here:

The Clockworks: The Boogaloo, London

Something is afoot across the Irish Sea right now. Fontaines DC, Inhaler, Sick Love and The Wha have all delivered quality albums and singles this year. Last night, Galway’s The Clockworks headlined Alan McGee’s night at The Boogaloo and took their spot in the limelight.

Much like IDLES and Fontaines DC, they’re remarkably fully formed for a band so new. The set is full of Mike Skinner quips, The Rakes’ charm, and unbridled intensity.

Former single ‘Bills and Pills’ stuns The Boogaloo. It’s sublime punk rock. The lyricism of Sleaford Mods and the desolate guitar hooks of The Cribs mark The Clockworks out as future festival headliners.

In front man James McGregor, they have someone truly special for fans to idolise. His attack of the microphone from the first word of ‘Future’ is a volatile death or glory moment. The venomous howl of ‘this is not a fucking joke’ strikes a powerful chord with a drooling crowd.

The pop stomp of ‘Rumours in the Stockroom’ showcases they are not all fire and brimstone. The melancholic pop licks of Editors collide with the sense of urgency. This is vital!

The Clockworks, on this showing, are undoubtedly are band with a meteoric rise on the horizon. They are so immediate, and so necessary, it’s impossible to deny them.

Friday 2nd August marks our 8th birthday. Come down to the New Cross Inn for a night of great live music. Tickets available here:

RATS: The Social, London

“When Jake Bugg went to number one it made national news headlines. Why? Because he never went to stage school nor graduated from Brits academy. He didn’t enter Britain’s Got Talent nor summit himself to the humiliations of X-Factor. He made headlines because he is just an ordinary kid from a state school……I can’t believe there aren’t plenty of teenagers out there with an ear for a good tune and a chip on their shoulder who have something to say to us.”

Billy Bragg, The John Peel Lecture, 2015

Introducing to you, Liverpool’s Rats! They headlined Creation23’s night at The Social Tuesday night and displayed said fire and skill.

Their brand of working class indie-punk always gets lost in the mix when the majors and x-factor types dominant the industry. However, with singles like ‘Weekend’ and ‘Figure It Out’ in their arsenal, eventually the keepers of the gate will be forced to open.

The latter, was explosive and right in the slot that will carry them to big venues. Throughout the set, elements of all their songs threatened to reach this level. Despite not being as fully formed; Rats are very much a band in the ascendancy. The wit and angst in their delivery of upcoming single ‘Jack’ and the emotive hooks of ‘Dreams’, it’s easy to imagine them as Liverpool’s answer to The Courteeners.

Awash with tales of sex, drugs and violence, Rats, like Jake Bugg in 2015, shouldn’t be considered an anomaly. On this showing, it won’t be long before they are lauded in the same light as Bugg. Woe betide anyone who stands in their way.

Friday 2nd August marks our 8th birthday. Come down to the New Cross Inn for a night of great live music. Tickets available here:

 

 

Militant Girlfriend: Village Green Festival

South East London’s Militant Girlfriend kicked off the spectacular Grrl Zine Fair at Village Green Festival. Surrounded by, quite frankly, some astonishing pieces of DIY art, the three piece delivered a fragile and heart wrenching slice of punk-pop.

The bulk of the set emanated from last year’s self-titled EP.  ‘2k17 Was For Dickheads’, a joyous piece of slacker rock, showcased Caitlin King and Liv Wynter’s innovative ability to harmonise. Their blend of fragile pop and punk venom continued on ‘Letters’, a gloriously painful break up song.

Despite the punk ethos, on ‘Marge’ and ‘Re-Run’, they took their style towards the West Coast beauty of the early 70s. The former, a jaw dropping ode to King’s mum. Meanwhile, ‘Re-Run’, was causing the painful re-living of a relationship coming to an end (sociopath alert if it didn’t).

Militant Girlfriend’s ability to channel pain through loving and stirring punk-pop inevitably will take them to bigger audiences.The world cannot be kept from their best years.

Friday 2nd August marks our 8th birthday. Come down to the New Cross Inn for a night of great live music. Tickets available here: