Thursday, 27 October 2016
The Kings Head, London
October 26 2016
Words: Mike Dench
Tonight was a journey to the Dalston/Haggerston borders of London town to check out 'mystery' band North Downs playing The Kings Head on Kingsland Road, a pub now turned into a members club.
Not heard of them? Well neither had anyone until just a matter of weeks ago. They have given nothing away, with their social media offering only one track, 'Nothin', as their introduction, but being sufficiently impressive enough to pique interest in a number of directions, send blogosphere wild and also attract the ears of Radio One.
By the time North Downs hit the (gear filled) stage, it was a full house in the small downstairs space that is the gig room at the pub. The Bristol-based four-piece launched into opening number 'Plastic Clouds', and initial nerves (this was only their second gig as a band, the first being on a small barge in Bristol the previous weekend), though they have been session musicians for a number of years - soon disappeared as they hit their stride in front of family, friends and other interested parties.
The songs sound a bit disjointed, but this could be down to the fact that they have yet to hone their live sound because of the studio time they have put in on their upcoming album. The band set up also seems to be a too busy at times, with a drummer, a bassist who also plays keys (or is it a keyboard player who also plays bass?), a singer who also provides backing sounds via a synth and also plays guitar, and a guitarist who provides backing vocals.
For me, it seems they were struggling to recreate their studio sound by being overly industrious with other duties, and only really looking totally relaxed when they are all rocking out with two guitars, bass and drums - which were my favourite parts of the gig. They are good at what they do, but perhaps need to to do a bit less onstage; cutting back or having an extra body to take on the keyboard duties might be a better option.
The set included numbers 'Framed [On Sugar Lane]', 'Half Heard' and 'Sweet Temper' which went from the funky and synth heavy, to indie pop, with a couple of longer instrumental rock outs included. Their 'greatest hit' to date and that for which they are solely known is the aforementioned completely reworked cover of Townes Van Zandt's 'Nothin', and tonight it closes the short set. It is greeted enthusiastically by the assorted throng as might be expected. It sounds just as good live as on record, with those crooning vocals dipping into the electronic textures of throbbing synth and taut guitars.
Would I go and see them again? Yes, as there is enough about them to want to see how they do once they've got a few more gigs behind them. Should you see them? Yes, as these guys have a sound which can appeal to many, and your ears deserve that.
Minneapolis trio Strange Relations have released the video to 'Ceremonies' which first appeared on their 'Going Out' EP a few months ago.
Directed by Lucila Mariani, the clip follows night time social activities, lit largely by neon lights, againstbrhe pulsing backdrop of the track itself and its washed out vocals.
Words: Sam Geary
Produced by Pulp’s Steve Mackey, 'Semi-Automatic' is the slow-burning new single from London's noise-rockers Yak, which with ‘Heavens Above’ comprises the AA-side release out today (October 28) on Octopus Electrical Records
It's a loaded track, in all senses of the word, exploding on their incendiary riffs, infectious bassline and Oli Burslem’s inimitable vocal.
Watch the video, directed by Ben Crook, which features the band performing at Ridley Road Market Bar in London's Dalston.
Words: Sam Geary
New Jersey's indie-rock group NGHTCRWLRS might not only be opposed to vowels, but the quartet - who are building up to the release of their second album, 'Raging Hot' - also do their own thing on first single cut 'Are Two Dee Too' which dropped last week.
With some fine 90s rock grooves, the track opens on an extended enticing guitar riff before they layer in reverb and the grungey vocal comes in through spacey melodies.
'Raging Hot' is out on November 11 via Sniffling Indie Kids.
Words: Linn Branson
Cardiff boys Monico Blonde plant plenty of riffs into the mix on this new track, 'Bad Thoughts'.
We don't know what those bad thoughts may be, but we sure ain't having any of them about this little belter, the rapid follow-up to recent debut 'Breathe'. Produced with Gethin Pearson (The Enemy, Radio On, JAWS), ‘Bad Thoughts’ is one smacking big slice of indie pop that fires up on a hefty bass line that comes stalking behind brash riffs and an earworm of a beat, that straddles Jack Butler's strong leading vocals.
Considering the band haven't even been together as long as four months yet (under this moniker at least: three of the band were previously together as Houdini Dax), expect big things from these four Welsh Blondes next year.
Goodbye Terrible Youth
November 4 2016 (Fat Possum)
Words: Richard O’Hagan
It’s that time of year again, folks. The warm evenings of summer have given way to the chill nights of autumn and winter, light summer ales have been replaced with dark winter brews, and suddenly those breezy and cheerful summer anthems just don’t cut it any more. What you really need, then, is something solid, but uplifting to listen to, something to warm your veins like a good red wine and prevent you from descending into those dread January blues three months too soon. A good, seasonal, tonic, if you like.
In which case, Scottish-American band American Wrestlers might just be the thing that you are looking for. Dense and fuzzy guitars are undercut by a tinkling melodic piano that is most noticeable on current single ‘Amazing Grace’, a remarkable four-minute number where (Scots-born, now St. Louis, Missouri based) Gary McClure’s vocals drift in an out of the mix. There’s a definite West Coast feel to it all, and yet it seems so very fresh, different and, yes, warming.
McClure’s voice is more to the fore elsewhere, at which point it becomes evident that this is actually a much more bittersweet record than it first appears to be. From the bold opening statement of ‘Vote Thatcher’, with its deliberately ambiguous refrain of ‘I still can’t believe that you’ve died’, to the slower, more melancholic ‘Hello, Dear’ and it’s call to ‘Pay to pray’. Only on closer ‘Real People’ does McClure offer a glimmer of lyrical sunlight, as he urges us to "Take hand / don’t you worry about me."
It is no exaggeration to say that there are no fillers among the nine tracks on this album. Heck, there are plenty of bands who have passed through this place and who would kill for a song as good as ‘Someone Far Away’ – and that’s the weakest number here. Frankly, if you’re not humming the title track by the end then you’ve not been listening properly. This might be Goodbye Terrible Youth, but is a very welcome ‘hello’ to American Wrestlers.