Wednesday, 11 December 2013
December 9 2013 (National Anthem)
Words: Dave Beech
Though it's coming late to the game, 'Exhale' could very well be one of the best EPs I've had the pleasure of reviewing this year. Marking London quartet Ecstasy's debut release on National Anthem (Haim Chvrches), it comprises four tracks of irresistible dream-pop atmospherics and sugary synth loops that sound, somewhat fittingly, like Chvrches would do after a weekend on the band's namesake pharmaceutical (which, by all accounts, is never a bad thing). There is more to it than that, however, and despite there being very little information on Ecstasy at the moment (no bad jokes, please) 'Exhale' feels like the record that's going to get more than a select few excited about them.
Beginning with an imposing synth that mounts in tandem with a vocal duality, the lead single 'Exhale' is an uplifting and powerful track that's sure to get every indie club in the country on its feet over the coming months. From there on, 'Exhale' carries on in a similar vein with the following three tracks each hitting the high standards set out by the first.
Perhaps the highlight of the record comes in the form of 'White Limos', a track which would be a fantastic way to start a set. Here the band's shoegaze influences really shine through; a huge wall of synth mounts behind a secondary loop, whilst the melody of the vocal track works more like a separate instrument than a means of conveying the lyrics in a manner somewhat similar to Sigur Ros.
Everyone knows how successful a year 2013 has been for both Haim and Chvrches, you can't help but think that National Anthem may be more than just an indie label. As for Ecstasy, their blissed out, synth driven dream-pop would make a more than fitting addition to any festival worth its salt when summer eventually rolls around.
Tuesday, 10 December 2013
Hella Better Dancer, the London-based lo-fi quartet, have now released the video to their 'Sleeptalking' track.
Directed by Billy Boyd Cape, it captures mebers of HBD dancing in dreamy psychedelic hues. Perfect for the track's own musical ambience.
'Sleeptalking is available as a free download here:
Hella Better Dancer play Roundhouse Rising, London on February 23 2014.
Lola Colt released their second single ‘Jackson’ on Black Tigress Records last week. Produced by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds' Jim Sclavunos, ‘Jackson’ follows their Too Pure debut ‘I Get High If You Get High.
Watch the live video version of 'Jackson', shot at The Lexington, London, below.
Taking their name from a 60’s spaghetti western, Lola Colt are a powerful and imposing six-piece with 3 girls and 3 guys, fronted by captivating Danish vocalist Gun. The band have sent their audiences into a frenzy with their more than memorable live performances, including a sold out show at London's Electrowerkz to celebrate the release of their debut single and an intoxicating set at this year’s International Psych Festival in Liverpool.
Lola Colt originated as the song writing partnership of Gun and lead guitarist Matt, who came together through a long-standing love of vintage films and cinematic sound, as well as having freakishly similar record collections. Film scores have featured heavily in both their lives and continue to be a big influence in their music today. When Matt first started writing music, it was in the form of film scores and theatre productions. As the band developed into a six-piece, their earliest ideas were to create a soundtrack to a film that hadn't been written yet.
Breaking out from their psychedelic underground beginnings, they are an impressive proposition live and they make certain every show feels like a special event. Visuals are a trademark feature of their live shows, where cinematic projections compliment a collection of unusual visual instruments used on stage. A VJ acts as a seventh member of the band with scripted sets performed in real time. The band have also picked up some unusual Asian instruments on their travels and vintage equipment which they "twist and torture with modern day effects and techniques to give them a unique sound". The band return to the studio with Jim Sclavunos in early 2014 to record their debut album.
Hailing from Denver, Colorado, the four-piece Inner Oceans released their debut EP 'Inner Oceans (Demo)' last month, and are already picking up a buzz around town.
The band (which includes Griff Snyder, previously with folk outfit Dovekins), aims for an indie dreampop approach, utilising distorted guitars and synths. Think Fleet Foxes with big hooks.
The band play two Colorado shows before the end of the year: December 12 at Aggie Theater, Fort Collins, and December 31 at Hi-Dive, Denver.
Inner Oceans are: Griff Snyder, Julia Mendiolea, Charles Kern, and Crawford Philleo
Check out two tracks from the EP 'I Don't Mind' and 'Ready Your Ghost' below.
Sunday, 8 December 2013
Digital, Newcastle upon Tyne
December 1 2013
Words & Photos: Laura Hague
Birmingham-based indie band Peace have recently been touring the UK with their highly successful debut album ' In Love', and when they pitch up to played Newcastle's Digital along with support from Drenge, expectations are high.
Drenge began the night with a quite a long set, playing all of the well-known songs off their self-titled debut album. Although the atmosphere in the crowd during the two brothers' performance wasn't electric at first, during 'Fuckabout' most people had begun to find their voices, singing along to the heavy chorus and during their last song, 'Face Like a Skull', they had resorted to jumping around as if Drenge were the headlining act of the night.
After Drenge's set, I, and everyone else around me, felt more anticipation for Peace. At this point I was at the barrier in front of a tiny stage, watching technicians set up the band's extremely cool 'Peace' sign shaped lights. After waiting for what seemed like hours, they eventually appear and confidently and head into 'Waste of Paint' - one of the lesser-known songs from 'In Love'. 'Follow Baby' was next, sending the crowd crazy over the raw guitar riffs and infectious lyrics; which was pretty much the order of the night as they ran through 'Higher Than the Sun', 'Drain', and one of the slower songs off the overall upbeat album, 'Float Forever'.
During the performance, Harrison Koisser, the band's vocalist, relished the crowd interaction as he held court from the stage. At one point someone threw their denim jacket onstage, picking it up, Koisser then duly donned the item and proceeded to wear it for the remainder of the night, saying he would trade with its owner later. With the atmosphere continuing to rise, the psychedelic sound of 'Lovesick' then gave way to the debut of a new song, 'Money'. After 'Toxic' and 'Sugarstone', the almost eerie sound of 'Wraith' kicked in and audience enjoyment levels reaching a crescendo. People sitting on their friends' shoulders, shouting the band members' names, desperate for a bit of attention off undoubtedly one of the best bands of the year. One of my personal favourites was '1998'. The song - which lasts a lengthy ten minutes - was for the crowd, basically just ten minutes of dancing and jumping around like lunatics, while the band embraced the wonderful atmosphere. As Peace left the stage everyone at the barrier reached their hands out, hoping for an opportunity to say that they had been touched by a member of Peace.
'California Daze', the favourite with many Peace fans, was the first song to be played in the encore. Although it isn't the most upbeat song from 'In Love', it's in keeping with the positive, chilled vibes that can be seen throughout the album. I'm pretty sure everyone felt quite emotional at that point - well at least I was. And things were about to get even better when Koisser asked, "It's the 1st of December, isn't it?" Everyone knew what was coming. A few days prior to the gig Peace had uploaded a video of them doing a cover of Wham!'s 'Last Christmas'. It wasn't on the setlist, but Koisser said that they'd "give it a bash", and despite getting the lyrics to the song wrong, it was definitely a highlight of the night.
Arguably the band's most well-known song 'Bloodshake' concluded what was an excellent live performance by one of the best bands of 2013. The atmosphere remained incredible throughout the song and the band left the stage smiling and high-fiving the superfans at the barrier. Peace are not only great performers, but with Koisser interacting with the crowd as he does, makes them an entertaining band to watch too. Judging by their performance in Newcastle, I would class them as one of the best live acts of 2013.
East Of Ely first came to our attention back in August with their debut release Now the Sydney five-piece end the year with the unveiling of a new track, 'Came Without'.
Filled with their trademark bouncy hooks and electronic melodies,
Check out 'Came Without' below, together with the video to their previous 'Easy Friend'.
New single from French electro duo Daft Punk, 'Instant Crush', taken from their latest album, 'Random Access Memories', features Strokes' frontman Julian Casablancas, providing vocals.
The video depicts the doomed love between two wax statues in a museum - as Casblancas dances around in a denim jacket. Get on it.
Watch the 'Instant Crush' video above.
Being hailed as the new Jai Paul, the elusive, somewhat mysterious London-based producer Ben Khan has released the follow-up to October’s 'Eden'. 'Savage' once again epitomizes the fuzzy blend of electronica with r'n'b that combibes here for a sultry, yet funky piece that's like dark, moth-watering chocolate.
Saturday, 7 December 2013
While they may still be a new name to many, Auckland trio, Autumn Splendour have just released their fourth music video for single release, 'Jeff'. The track was recorded in October 2012 with Nick Roughan, noted for his long history of recording and producing Flying Nun bands, as well as playing bass in legendary 80s band the Skeptics. As with his recent recordings for bands such as Die! Die! Die! and Mean Girls, Roughan melded the live intensity of Autumn Splendour’s raw and raucous sound with a polished studio recording.
Formed in 2009 in Auckland, New Zealand, Autumn Splendour plays short, catchy, primitive garage rock songs, tightly packaged in hypnotic, danceable riffs, killer-kitten vocals and pummeling drums. Guitarist / vocalist Natasha Cantwell and drummer Caitrin Roberts started the band with their friend Toby Barkley on bass, describing their sound as “garage party brat pop.”
Initially unleashed to unsuspecting crowds at house parties, within a few months they had recorded their debut self-titled six track EP. Determination to release it on vinyl rather than CD meant the seven-inch and lead single Toby weren’t released until March 2011. By this stage Barkley had moved to Dunedin and the band were headlining club nights across New Zealand with new bassist Ryan Perry. Perry’s more aggressive playing style brought a darker edge to the band’s music.
Autumn Splendour’s tongue-in-cheek songs are named after the friends who prove inspiration for the lyrics. No band member has managed to escape being turned into a song, with the band releasing the singles Natasha and Ryan in the lead up to their Melbourne tour in 2012. These were their first live shows outside of New Zealand.
May 2013 saw the band release their limited edition 10” vinyl EP that featured the five tracks they had recorded with Nick Roughan. While the record has sold out, the tracks are still available for download from autumnsplendour.bandcamp.com
Superfood have shared the video for 'Melting', taken from their forthcoming double A sided debut single ‘Bubbles/Melting’, released on Monday, December 9 thru Infectious Music.
Fronted by Dom Ganderton (a man who spends his dwindling down-time in music production), the Birmingham band’s formation to becoming one of the buzz names.on blogs and in venues across the UK and beyond has been swift based solely on an early self-titled demo and their fevered live show. These ruthlessly sharp performances have become diary events, and mirror the party atmosphere that Superfood tumbled out of in the warehouses spaces of their native homeland before the band had a name.
The release of December’s ‘Bubbles/Melting’, and a debut EP in February 2014 should cement the band’s reputation asone of the most exciting youngacts in the UK today.
Superfood play the following live dates before Christmas.
06-Dec O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London (Supporting Peace)
13-Dec O2 Academy, Birmingham (Supporting Peace)
Superfood are: Dom Ganderton (lead vocals/guitar), Ryan Malcolm (vocals/lead guitar), Emily Baker (bass), Carl Griffin (drums)