Wednesday, 2 September 2015

The Big Moon - The Road

Article by KevW


As we reported when covering The Big Moon's previous single 'Sucker', autumn is going to be a busy time for the band, with almost non-stop touring from the start of October, a festivals this month, and a brand new single to coincide with their live dates. Today that single has been unveiled, and given what we said about 'Sucker', the sound is a bit of a surprise, but a pleasant one. Rather than sounding like something that could have been released by 4AD in the early '90s, with a little of the smoothness and drama of Anna Calvi thrown in, 'The Road' remains wide-appealing alt-rock but in a different way, showing these guys are no one-trick ponies.

Along with B-side 'Nothing Without You', 7" copies of the single will be limited to 300 copies (with download also available) from October 30th. Perhaps more subtle this time around, 'The Road' begins with some chilled guitar before a pounding beat adds meat to the bones. That same warm and seductive voice builds the potency even further as more guitar enters the fray. This is a comparative slowy, but loses none of its freshness and grit with it, especially as it continues to build until backing harmonies and extra, scuffed-up guitar is added. A two part solo at first makes 'The Road' a little lighter, but then switches into a more full-on sonic force. The more we hear from The Big Moon, the more they seem to have about them. Catching them live should be on your to-do list.



The Big Moon's website

Pre-order the single

Catch them live:

12th Sept – Beacons Festival, Albert Hall, Manchester 

01st Oct – Bodega Social Club, Nottingham (DIY NEU Tour)
02nd Oct – The Louisiana, Bristol (DIY NEU Tour)
3rd Oct – The Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham (DIY NEU Tour)
05th Oct – The Magnet, Liverpool (DIY NEU Tour)
06th Oct – Night & Day Café, Manchester (DIY NEU Tour)
08th Oct – Electric Circus, Edinburgh (DIY NEU Tour)
09th Oct – King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow (DIY NEU Tour)
10th Oct – The Cluny 2, Newcastle (DIY NEU Tour)
12th Oct – Brudenell Club, Leeds (DIY NEU Tour)
13th Oct – The Haunt, Brighton (DIY NEU Tour)
14th Oct – Dingwalls, London (DIY NEU Tour)

21st Oct –Leeds Uni Stylus, Leeds (w/ Ezra Furman)
22nd Oct – O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London (w/ Ezra Furman)
07th – 8th Nov - Sŵn Festival, Cardiff 
15th Nov – Liverpool Arts Club, Liverpool (w/ Ezra Furman)
16th Nov – Gorilla, Manchester (w/ Ezra Furman)
17th Nov – The Arts School, Glasgow (w/ Ezra Furman)
18th Nov – The Glee Club, Nottingham (w/ Ezra Furman)
26th Nov – O2 Brixton Academy, London (w/ The Vaccines)
29th Nov – O2 Academy, Leeds (w/ The Vaccines)
30th Nov – BIC, Bournemouth (w/ The Vaccines)
01st Dec – Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff (w/ The Vaccines)
03rd Dec – Pavilions, Plymouth (w/ The Vaccines)
04th Dec –Empress Ballroom, Blackpool (w/ The Vaccines)
07th Dec –Usher Hall, Edinburgh (w/ The Vaccines)





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We Are Falcon - Hot Blood EP

Article by KevW


Based in London, alt-rock quartet We Are Falcon cite a wide range of influences, from the good (Super Furry Animals), to the bad (Kings Of Leon), and even the ugly (Red Hot Chili Peppers). But, personal preferences aside, the groups they list can all be heard in their music, and the outcome is a favourable one. There's a rock element as you may expect, and a touch of the southern sounds that Kings Of Leon (who started out pretty good to be fair) have made, along with the melody of other guitar groups such as The Stone Roses and The Kinks who We Are Falcon also admit to being fans of. There may not be a vast amount of originality to these four songs, but they are carried out with a lack of pretense and a confidence that amounts to a winning formula.

Starting out with 'Mexico', there is a bluesy element and a taste of sunshine which some may consider unusual for a British band, but it shows a deftness of touch and doesn't just barge in carelessly with a wall of guitars and drums; this is more considered than that. To a certain extent the same is true of 'Wild Honey', a more bold rock statement, but one which allows everything room to breathe and has a neat guitar sound. This spaciousness that takes nothing away from the power of the song shows a maturity that some similar bands lack. Perhaps 'Social Life' with its occasional mathy leanings could be considered the most "indie" of the set, but with a powerful vocal it doesn't seem out of place at all. 'Put Your Weight On Me' seems as though it was written as a closing track, serving up a more introspective vibe and switching between more subtle moments and chunkier sections with ease. Two EPs in and We Are Falcon are beginning to take flight.





We Are Falcon's website

Stream or buy the EP





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Shannon and the Clams - Gone by the Dawn

Article by KevW


Anyone who's heard any of the three albums by San Francisco-based trio Shannon and the Clams will be well aware that they have a passion for taking '50s sounds and garage-rock and converting them into their own unique style. Yet you can notice a distinct difference on 'Gone by the Dawn' from the very first listen. Not because the group's influences or musical direction have changed vastly, but because there seems to be more variation and, perhaps most notably, more emotion packed into certain songs. When you read that the album was written as one member was recovering from a serious relationship break-up, while another was deeply involved in a relationship, then the light and shade makes more sense, as does the fact that the lyrics seem so personal and so natural. In a way, Shannon and the Clams have always hidden behind their music, their costumes and their general demeanour. Well, perhaps not so much any more.

Just look at the first two tracks released from the album: 'Corvette' is slow, atmospheric, spooky and almost overwhelmingly dark and sad, as Shannon croons "I'm just waiting here, here on the corner here, for a Corvette that never comes", whereas before, her and her ex "cruised for years in that Corvette". It's a powerful statement dealing with the denial that it's all over; then there's the garage stomp of 'It's Too Late' which is a totally different tempo, feels much more bouncy in tone, but the lyrics rue a missed chance, almost contradicting the happiness of the music. And with a male lead and Joe Meek style production it could be a different band. The production on 'Gone by the Dawn' is described as their strangest yet, and on more than one occasion you can hear the influence of Joe Meek, along with Richard Gotterher and Phil Spector before he discovered excess echo. The hybrids of style are also interesting. 'My Man' is doo-wop mixed with blues and a raw vocal that could be from the '60s garage scene.

'The Point Of Being Right' is more difficult to define. Yes, it's clearly inspired by the two decades already mentioned, but the production means it could never be classed as a copy and also makes it sound fresh and current. The lyrics? How about "I knew that something wasn't right, I gave you space I was polite... you're hiding something big from me". It details the point where you know a relationship has run its course. Heartbreak seeps from this record and serves to make it all seem more potent. On 'How Long' Shannon sings "Oh are you lonely? 'Cos I feel lonely too. My one and only is adrift in the blue... are you defeated? 'Cos I'm defeated too" over a '50s ballad with surfy guitar and whistling that could be from a country track. If this is all beginning to sound a little glum, then in reality it's anything but. Instead this genuine emotion is compelling, especially when tied to the interesting sounds and stylistic blends. Tracks like the sparkling 'Baby Blue' and the twangy 'Telling Myself' are perfect alternative pop songs despite downbeat lyrics. Maybe the starkest point is in the title-track -  "If you're gone by the dawn, then I'll be gone too" - is this just about physically leaving? Or something much worse? 

Towards the end, 'Gone by the Dawn' sees Shannon and the Clams experimenting more and the atmosphere changes. There's something of a curveball in 'The Bog' which is the oddest and most curious of all, talking of witches and creeping in the fog looking for the ghost of a former lover, all over a rumbling bassline and the most unusual production on the record. It kind of feels out of place compared to the other tracks here, but it's worthy of inclusion because of its quality. The punky 'Knock 'em Dead' is another that doesn't quite fit the overall theme, but it's maybe the most invigorating number of all, and the high-octane 'The Burl' isn't far behind and has some inventive touches. There is one final reminder of the bitterness, helplessness and loneliness that occurs when love goes wrong though. 'You Let Me Rust' has a title that pretty much says it all, but musically it's as jaunty as we ever really get, a bit like The Drums being cross-bred with Del Shannon. There have been many great break-up albums, from Marvin Gaye's 'Here My Dear' to Spriritualized's 'Ladies & Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space', and 'Gone By The Dawn' can be added to that list. Whether its impact on music will be as great is unlikely considering their very sound and quirkiness lends itself to more of a cult following than the top 10, but it doesn't half pack a punch when it wants to.





Shannon and the Clams' website

Pre-order the album

Catch them live:

11th November - Oslo, LONDON
12th November - Sticky Mike's Frog Bar, BRIGHTON





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GUMS! - How Nights Out End

Article by KevW


This new EP from Glasgow's GUMS! doesn't totally plough the same furrow as some of their past releases, but it's not far off. Their EP 'Antipathy' from 2013 (they've released more since then) saw them producing the kind of ragged guitar-pop that their home city became famous for, and that is found in places, perhaps the short 'Before The First Train' is closest to that sound, carrying plenty of melody and a little jangle, but things are much more rough around the edges elsewhere. Take the heavier, punkier burst of distortion that is 'What's Left' where they career through the song at lightning speed with a load of vitality. Singing in their native accents has been something they've always done, and there are no attempts at doing otherwise as many bands do.

They open with a track that could have been made at any point in the past 35 years or so in 'Christina Gallagher,' with scuzzy guitar and an unpolished sound, but some tinkling piano and nice backing vocals give them a poppy edge. Nora Noonan takes the lead vocal on 'February' and it sounds like a classic indiepop track yet again. GUMS! aren't trying to carve out their own niche, but they know what they want to sound like and get it right time and again: melody, fuzz, energy, nothing too fancy in the production department. It's been a winning formula for years and remains so on 'How Nights Out End'. 'Rottenrow' breaks the trend a little with its military beat and slower pace, but it's still well within the genre and adds some variation. You notice that although this EP fits into a certain musical category, it has plenty of diversity within it, and no two tracks too similar. They end on a high with the gritty but tuneful 'The Facts Of My Life', a song that encapsulates what GUMS! are about and what they're best at. Long may they continue.







GUMS!'s website

Stream or buy the EP





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Get Me Free #46: A R I Z O N A - People Crying Every Night

Article by KevW


There can be a fine line between being an alternative band and a commercial, chart-oriented act, and it's one that A R I Z O N A will know very well. The New Jersey trio record much of their material on the road in a studio built in a converted Toyota. As far as independent aesthetics go they have the credentials, and the video to previous single 'Let Me Touch Your Fire' was also kept totally in-house. Delve further into their YouTube channel and you'll find various video updates as they scout for locations and keep fans up to speed. The indie-synth group released their new single, 'People Crying Every Night', last week.

The song does have an alternative edge to it, but at the same time it commands wide appeal, but not in a forced way. Light and airy, you could almost cast 'People Crying Every Night' as dreampop, and in a way it is, but it's a little closer to conventional synth-pop. The chorus is clearly striving for something more than just being another alt-pop act, and so it does brush closely to the commercial side of things in that respect, but it's also very well produced and the subtlety of the music gives a warm feeling which is in keeping with the thoughtful lyrics. You get the sense that they could be one break away from becoming stars, let's just hope they don't lose the "alt" part of their alt-pop sound in doing so.



Download 'People Crying Every Night' for free by heading here

A R I Z O N A's website

Buy the single





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Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Hills - Frid

Article by KevW


Given that we cover a lot of different styles of psychedelia, it almost feels as though we should have been following Swedish group Hills from day one (they formed in 2007), but it wasn't until our man in Malmö reviewed their album 'Master Sleeps' in 2013 that they really hit our radar. The psychedelic scene in Scandinavia has really taken off these past few years though, even threatening to eclipse the more established metal and indiepop markets. You could argue that Dungen have been leading the charge for some time, and with Hills' label-mates Goat bringing home the plaudits, it could be that the country will surpass Denmark as the European capital of deep, mind-bending sounds. Dig a little deeper, though, and there are numerous Swedish psych bands from the '60 and '70s that the modern pack take their cue from.

It is the weightier, fuggier side of the genre that Hills explore on new album 'Frid', but they do so with an awesome groove too. Look no further for deep, rumbling bass, guitars that sound as though they're on fire and an almost danceable beat than opening track 'Kollektiv', where the blueprint for this almost entirely instrumental cosmic trip is laid out. It's sharp and heavy, yet still finds the time to break for a sitar section which lightens the load a little before it grinds to a halt. There are definite elements of drone-rock at play as well, something they even spell out for us on 'National Drone', but chimes, interesting percussion and garbled voices make this more hypnotic than anything else, especially with the loud but distant chanting; there's an Eastern flavour to be found on more than one occasion. 'Anukthal Is Here' feels lighter and more spaced out, giving a nice contrast to the more intense, acid-fried tracks, although this eventually gives way to more squalling and scorching guitar textures and the full-on barrage of the rhythm section. Despite being instrumental, the song ends up being flooded with melody.

Fans of more conventional song lengths might like to note that 'Milarepa' comes in at just over three-minutes, making it the shortest track here by some margin, while also containing the trademark deep trace-psych ingredients that 'Frid' is built on, perhaps offering a good starting point. A flute dances over the top of it, offsetting the smokey darkness. They do follow it immediately with the epic, over ten-minute voyage that is 'Och Solen Sänkte Sig Röd', where wah-wah pedals and a deftness of touch create a slightly different vibe, but one that's just as eerie when the mysterious vocal arrives. This is a proper jam, but not a dull one; Frid are a band with ideas... and effects pedals. After 'Och Solen Sänkte Sig Röd' has slowly built to a searing conclusion, it's left to the cheerily-titled 'Death Will Find A Way' to wrap things up in a surprisingly accessible (well, by comparison at least) way, incorporating handclaps, Eastern mysticism, wind instruments and a calm, quite and pretty climax. 'Frid' is an intense album, it may take a few spins before it all begins to make sense, but it's worth that time. And it should sound totally storming when played live.







Hills' website

Stream or buy the album





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This Month's Playlist - September 2015

Article by KevW

A dozen of the finest new tracks around. Check out the info and purchase links, as well as individual streams below, or stream the lot together using the playlist on the right!


Luke Haines - British Nuclear Bunkers


There are a lot of conspiracy theories and doomsday predictions floating around for this month, so will Luke Haines (formerly of The Auteurs, Black Box Recorder and more) get to see his new solo album 'British Nuclear Bunkers' released in October? Well, probably, but the cold, almost industrial vintage electro-rock of the title track (which includes a fake BBC announcement of imminent nuclear war) seems oddly fitting, as well as being as interesting and unique as we've come to expect from this cult hero.



Luke Haines' website

Pre-order the album





Air Formation - The Wasted Days


Forming in the late '90s, Air Formation were a light for the shoegaze genre that wasn't enjoying the attention it had before or does again now. The band split in 2011 but reformed last year. New single 'The Wasted Days' is the first release since then and will be on their EP 'Were We Ever Here', out on September 25. It's a fizzing, towering piece of driving, distorted and dreamy loveliness; this is what happens when reunions go perfectly.



Air Formation's website

Pre-order the EP





Daisy Victoria - Pain Of Dancers


Daisy Victoria has the potential to be huge. Her first releases last year caught the attention of nation radio and press, and with new single 'Pain Of Dancers' out at the end of the month, she could leave a real impression. A wonderfully powerful indie/pop/rock track, this single is like a rampant Anna Calvi at the top of her game. Making predictions can be a hit and miss game, but we might just be witnessing the birth of a new alternative music star.



Daisy Victoria's website

Pre-order the single





Monk Parker - Sadly Yes


Following the break-up of his band, The Low Lows, Monk Parker moved back to his native Texas from New York and began work on a solo album. Involving over 30 musicians (including members of The Polyphonic Spree and Okkervil River), 'How the Spark Loves the Tinder' is out this week and contains plenty of moments of stately grandeur and isn't short of beauty. Opening track 'Sadly Yes' is a prime example of this lush and emotive Americana.



Monk Parker's website

Buy the album





Literature - The Girl, The Gold Watch And Everything


Philadelphia quartet Literature released their second album 'Chorus' a couple of weeks back, and they've since unveiled the video for 'The Girl, The Gold Watch And Everything', a bouncy, hook-laden, catchy and enthusiastic guitar-pop tune that's bursting with energy and is highly likely to put a smile on your face. Slumberland Records have put out some amazing albums in the past few years, and they've come up with another beauty here.



Literature's website

Buy the album





Palace Winter - Menton


Danish/Australian duo Palace Winter have a knack of crafting quite lengthy songs that just seem to fly by - always a mark of quality. The pair met while touring with their respective bands and began working on material themselves. Following a debut single earlier this year, they release their first EP, 'Medication', on October 2nd, and taken from it is the epic, surging indie-psych track 'Menton' which also sees them bringing in a new-wave vibe.



Palace Winter's website

Buy the single





HÔN - Honeydream


Neatly welding indiepop to '80s synth-pop is new Danish act HÔN, the brainchild of Jesper Lidang (formerly of The Rumour Said Fire, along with one half of Palace Winter). With a debut single released earlier this year, 'Honeydream' is the follow-up and should feature on forthcoming debut album 'White Lion'. A mixture of styles, this is a track that crosses genre boundaries and could well see HÔN achieving widespread acclaim.



HÔN's website

Buy the single





Galants - Seventeen


Dublin alt-rock/shoegaze newcomers Galants first hit our radar last year with the ace 'Howling', and this year they've cemented our opinion that they're definitely a band worth following. 'Seventeen' is the second of three single which will be digitally released over summer and into autumn. It's a scuzzy and commanding number with a quiet confidence that recalls some of the best alternative acts that the '90s had to offer.



Galants' website

Buy the single





Flyte - Please Eloise


London-based quartet Flyte have done a great job of injecting some sunshine into the damp squib that was the final few weeks of summer. 'Please Eloise' takes modern British indie music, stirs in a few tablespoons of quirky pop, a vocal that's not far removed from certain Super Furry Animals tracks, and then tops it all off with an earworm of a chorus. This is moreish indie-pop with a contagious jauntiness.



Flyte's website

Buy the single





King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Paper Mâché Dream Balloon   



Typically oddball is this new track from psychedelic pop/rock chameleons King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. Initially planning to record an album of heavier, darker material that they'd been playing live, they opted instead to go down a different route, as you can hear on new track 'Paper Mâché Dream Balloon' which will also be the title of the album when it arrives in November. Delightfully crafted and fantastically kooky.



King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard's website

Pre-order the album





Bernaccia - Power To The Hills


They may be from Newcastle, but Bernaccia's new single 'Power To The Hills' draws on stoner-rock from the US, as well as the kind of deep psych that Australia has become known for more recently. The first track from the quartet's upcoming album also touches on the early hard-rock groups that the UK produced such as Cream or even Black Sabbath. Compare it to who you like, it still sounds like the work of a band who mean business.



Bernaccia's website

Buy the single





Alberta Cross - Ghost Of Santa Fe


It's sometimes odd when bands release eponymous albums midway through their career, but with Brooklyn's Alberta Cross there is something of a new beginning, so it feels quite apt. 'Alberta Cross' will be the first record since co-founder Terry Wolfers left the group, leaving Petter Ericson Stakee to work on the album with an assortment of friends and guests. 'Ghost Of Santa Fe' is a triumphant, brass-fuelled piece of US alt-rock that hits the same heights as any of their previous material.



Alberta Cross' website

Pre-order the album





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