Fierce Panda

Skint & Demoralised - Boro Kitchen 4am

It’s been six years since we last saw Matt Abbott and David Gledhill in the guise of Skint & Demoralised. After three albums (the first two pop classics), Abbott established himself as one the UK’s finest spoken word performers, whilst Gledhill was working on his SOULS project. Amid the mire of Brexit, they’ve returned with new single ‘Boro Kitchen 4am’.

When they burst onto the indie scene in 2007, they were churning out classics such as ‘Red Lipstick’ and ‘It’s Only Been A Week’ as if it was second nature. They were songs that only a teenager could have written, even the darker moments were full of hope. Now they are 30, the hope has strayed into rage filled social observations worthy of Joe Strummer.

From the Sleaford Mods school of post-punk despair, Abbott’s vocal is at its most violent to date. Lyrically cutting and insightful, it gets to the crux of the Brexit conundrum and its endless contradictions.

Musically, someone has turned Art Brut’s amp setting to spiteful. Riffs and hooks not only aplenty, but they come at you like a flurry of punches. Maximo Park’s reinvention on their ‘The National Health’ album was rightly lauded. After hearing ‘Boro Kitchen 4am’, the rule book on how to re-invent yourself as an anarchic and poetic force has been re-written.

Their live dates at The Social (London 11th April) and The Great Escape Festival (Brighton) are not to be missed.

*Image coutesy of Kelly Harrison

Dont forget our 8th birthday party extravaganza, tickets available via the image below





Desperate Journalist: The Garage, London

It’s been a week since Desperate Journalist packed the Garage in North London. We’re still reeling! Make no mistakes, Desperate Journalist are the real deal, they know it, that audience knew it, now, the world must too.

When you have a pop anthem like ‘Why Are You So Boring?’ in your locker, you save it for the climatic end right? Bollocks to that, they blasted it out second and sent London’s eyeliner massive into a frenzy. How do you follow that? With a soul crushing performance of ‘Jonatan’, that’s how.

On this Wolf Alice meets The Cult track, front woman Jo Bevan details the loss of a close friend. Bevan’s style has always been from pure and raw but, the courage she summons to deliver this heartfelt ode is breath taking. As she repeats ‘Jonatan’ at the songs close, Bevan transcends music. It’s so powerful, and so honest, this packed crowd is grieving as one.

Their recent singles ‘Cedars’ and ‘Satellite’ have seen guitarist Rob Hardy shine as bright as Bevan on record. There is a buzz in-between the support acts about this. Just how good are his solos going to be? Their escapist qualities were undeniable but, they highlighted just how much of gang Desperate Journalist are. There was no trundling through both songs to let Hardy take the limelight. If anything, on ‘Cedars’ he wielded his power with a humbleness that made Bevan look even more iconic.

Sometimes, after a great show (and this was), you are left wondering, where do a band go from here? Should they just bow out in a glorious fashion? For Desperate Journalist, even three albums in, this felt like a beginning. Only bigger and greater things are going to come their way.

 

Desperate Journalist - In Search Of The Miraculous

London’s Desperate Journalist release their third album ‘In Search of the Miraculous’ (Fierce Panda) on February 22nd. From their self-titled debut (2014) to ‘Grow Up’ (2017), the progress in quality was stark. Can they do it again on what is, loosely a concept album about sing Jo Bevan’s obsession with artist Bas Jan Arder.

Despite the high concept, their pop instincts remain, and, in the case of ‘Jonatan’ and ‘Cedars’ have significantly improved. ‘Jonatan’ is The Cult via Wolf Alice’s shoegaze tendencies. It creates a joyous sonic to a tragic tale. Bevan lost her friend Kasper in 2016 and here, she not only pays tribute but, in the repeated one-word chorus, embeds heartache, love, loss, anger, and nostalgia with every inflection with astonishing quality.

Lead single ‘Cedars’, is one of those pop songs you’d be forgiven for fast forwarding to the chorus’ hypnotic release of “Another fraying jumper”. It’s a wonderful pay off to the subtle and poetic verses.

Their previous two albums, musically, have often served as a vehicle to showcase Jo Bevan’s sublime vocal prowess. Now, guitarist Rob Hardy has found a vein of form so rich, its forged a partnership for the ages.

The singles ‘Cedars’ and especially ‘Satellite’, are beset with crushing Lindsey Buckingham-esque solos. He has begun to introduce pop immediacy into the shoegaze on ‘Murmations’ and ‘Jonatan’ with nods to straight up rock heroes The Cult. Their archetypal indie-goth sound feels fresher than ever on ‘Black Net’ and, on Ocean Wave’, Hardy, along with the razor ship rhythm of Caz Helbert and Simon Drowner, conjures a post-punk disco stomp classic.

Sometimes, on third albums, there is a sense of all or nothing for bands. They chose all in. This is a post-punk ‘Rumours’. This is the rarest of tightropes walked, where cutting edge meets accessible pop music and is credible. If Fleetwood Mac signed off their careers with this album, the world would lose its shit at ‘Satellite’ being the new ‘Go Your Own Way’ or ‘Argonauts’ as the new ‘Songbird’.

Scrounge - Crimson 

South East London duo Scrounge released ‘Etch’ with Fierce Panda last November. It was a raw piece of post-punk. The Goldsmiths alumni are at again on their latest single ‘Crimson’. 

Vocally, Lucy has found a sweet spot between Courtney Barnett and Kim Gordon. It serves this tale of distorted reality well. Backed by Luke’s violent Stephen Malkmus drawl, Scrounge are well on their to the hearts of all post-punk fans.   

The DIY scene of South East London, often overlooked, is set to become undeniable with the prowess of Scrounge. 

*Image courtesy of Fierce Panda Records

Sad Boys Club: Nambucca, London

Eighteen months ago, en route to see Sisteray in Camden, The Blinders emerged, covered in face paint and blew our world apart. This past Saturday, North London's Nambucca beckoned us to see the jangle psyche of the Lacuna Bloome. Enter stage right, Sad Boys Club.

It's notable how much of gang Sad Boys Club look. The singer a pop icon, the bass player inevitably throwing shapes and the rest looking great but, more importantly, have a steely look of defiance. Cross one of them and you will regret it!

The pop hooks across this set, are so good that, in a parallel universe, Madonna is stabbing her record label execs for not securing these songs for her! New single 'Silverlined', indebted to The Cure, is sure to soundtrack the new romantic story lines of Stranger Things and Glow. On 'American Spirit', they echo former Fierce Panda Label greats The Crookes as they turn emotion amps up to eleven.

So, when the inevitable lazy journalists of the broadsheets announce “there's no more guitar bands” or wail about how “pop used to matter”, throw Sad Boys Club in their face. Thoughtful, credible pop music didn't begin with The Smiths and die in the mid-nineties. It lives and breathes in great risk taking bands like Sad Boys Club.

*Image courtesy of Jon Mo Photography / TW: @jonmophoto / http://jonmophotography.co.uk/

Desperate Journalist - Satellite

Desperate Journalism return with their second single ‘Satellite’ from their upcoming third album 'In Search Of The Miraculous'. The London outfit, signed to the legendary Fierce Panda are, to date, one of the UK’s best kept secrets.

It is however, hard to imagine that secret lasting much longer. ‘Satellite’ is a vast expansive piece of rock n roll that simply has to dominate the airwaves.

There is a real sense of all or nothing oozing from its soul. Guitarist Rob Hardy, is so often the vehicle to shine a light on the glorious vocals of Jo Bevan. Not anymore. They’ve become duo bouncing of each other a la Pete & Karl or Brown & Squire.

The riffs alone are a joyous piece of escapism but, the solo is a destructive force that will leave souls cleansed and former detractors reeling from their mistakes.

They recently sold out London’s Oslo, on this form, Brixton beckons.

*Image courtesy of Fierce Panda Records


Sad Boys Club - Silverlined

Ever listened to the 1975 and seriously questioned their substance? Well, don’t bother anymore. Listen to Sad Boys Club instead. Their infectious Cure drive pop music may edge towards middle of road but is always a comfortable distance away.

The new single from the Crouch End outfit has that distinct Springsteen open road escape to it, similar their former label mates The Crookes in many ways. The pop breeziness of the music is the perfect metaphor for this tail of putting up social barriers to who we really are.

With a new EP due November 2nd, Sad Boys Club are surely going to be garnering a lot of interest this winter on this showing.

485c – 485c

Debut albums, for bands especially, are often an array of influences not yet fully honed and without a distinct sound. 485c’s self-titled debut however, sounds like accomplished 3rd album for a band in their pomp.

Such is the consistency, it’s hard to find highlights. Former singles ‘Kapow’, ‘Oh Rihanna’, ‘Better The Man’ and ‘Strange Medicine’ all contain something for the alternative community to dive into. ‘Kapow’ and ‘Oh Rihanna’ take the best bits of Foals and Maccabbee’s early math rock and inject it with genuine substance. Meanwhile, ‘Better The Man’ has the infectiousness of Belle & Sebastian and ‘Strange Medicine’ takes the rawness of The Cribs’ ‘Martell’ and the Strokes’ debut to deliver a lovable rogue guitar anthem.

Their blend of honourable pop song writing continues for the most part but, there are some detours. ‘Turn The Engines Off’ finds time to explore the gentile side of Velvet Underground and the melodic aspects of Hatcham Social on this slice of psyche.  

‘Primal Concerns’ also diverges away from their pop instincts. The classic sounds of 80s post-punk combine with grandiose and sweeping melodies. It’s an exciting move, not only because it sounds great but, it feels an untapped area they could make their own.

There is so much to admire about this debut album but mainly, it’s the high level of consistency of it that’s striking. The Charlatans and Maximo Park need to make some space, there is a new member to the forever 8 out of 10 club.