Tuesday, February 14, 2017
Little Indie Roundtable Review - w/e February 17 2017
This week our three guest reviewers take on another five new tracks and give them a spin through the headphones before they then air their opinion on each.
This week's panel: Little Indie contributor Richard O'Hagan; John Lithgow, manager of emerging Brighton rock duo SONS; Vanessa Monaghan - radio presenter / producer and blogger.
FAST FRIENDS - I DON'T WANNA DIE
Fierce punk-noise rock blaster debut released at end of January on producer and Wallpaper frontman Ricky Reed’s newly formed Nice Life label from this emerging LA three-piece (Tom Peyton - ex-Wallpaper and Royalty - Ryan Spraker and Frederik Thaae.
Richard O'Hagan: Frenetic fun. It isn’t terribly original but there’s a near middle eight and I like the way that it slows down towards the end. I can imagine this being a terrific set closer. 4/5
John Lithgow: I like this, nice little bit of hooky noise! I love a dirty bass sound and this hits that right on the head. They sound like they would be fun live. I'll be looking out for these guys. 4.5/5
Vanessa Monaghan: At first this seems almost too simple, fast frenzied, and then you realise the "I don't want to die" refrain is going to be your earworm for the rest of the week. There are some clever chord and tempo changes and despite the manic exterior there's some really good songwriting in this. 2 minutes 38 seconds of controlled chaos, take this track into a live gig situation and I reckon it would be mayhem. 3.5/5
Total score: 12/15
EMBERS - SIGNS
Change of pace from the last release by the Manchester outfit, 'The Bitten Tongue', who return after a long lay-off. New single 'SIGNS' is part of a double A-side release with 'Unbound' available for download on March 13.
ROH: Turn this one up. I love the little guitar arpeggio that’s going on behind the pounding drumbeat, which makes the song familiar and yet just a little bit discomforting. 4.5/5
JL: Not really my cup of tea, it's nice though in its big soundscapes and the band sound very accomplished at what they are doing. I'm not sure why, but something about it reminds me of Simple Minds. 3.5/5
VM: I have to come clean, I've played these guys on my radio show (The London Ear on RTÉ 2XM) before and will be playing this new one. 'Signs' sees the band grow up, they sound confident and the instrumentation and production follows that. Something here reminds me of U2 circa 'Wide Awake in America'. Good U2 in my book. This is a big song and possibly the start of a big year for Embers. 4.5/5
Total score: 12.5/15
MODEL LIFE - SUGAR
Produced by the inimitable MJ (Hookworms), the debut single from new Scunthorpe five-piece who just formed this year and so far played just one gig.
ROH: I tried really hard to get into this. It was poppier than I expected, but seemed to run out of steam after a promising start, so didn’t really do it for me. And the lyric got boringly repetitive, as if they were making a play to be the soundtrack of the Government’s new anti-sugar campaign. 2.5/5
JL: I'm very surprised this is a debut from a band formed this year - well done! Nice hooks and synths. I find the singer's voice a little strange, not in a bad way, more in he has a definite sound to it that I'm sure will be instantly recognisable as they grow. 4/5
VM: Automatically these guys sound more experienced than their 99 likes on Facebook - perhaps a re-Modelled Life? I like the tone of the singer's voice, there's decent structure to the song and the track builds well into the chorus. It breaks down just to the vocals again and I would have liked to hear more of a lift in the instrumental break, just to lift the track a bit more before the end. 3.5/ 5
Total score: 10/15
PRIESTS - NOTHING FEELS NATURAL
Melodic title track from the January released debut full-length by the Washington DC explosive punk quartet, with Katie Alice Greer' haunting voice delivering, “This is when I’d give a god a name/But to people in sanctuaries all I can say is/You will not be saved," amidst a wash of shimmering surf riffs.
ROH: This started well, but I expected a bit more from them. There’s no real attack in the vocals and the music doesn’t really hook you. 3/5
JL: Really liking this one. They bass and guitars have a slight Interpol/Joy Division thing to them at times which I love. The singer has a great voice, and the chorus has locked itself in my head. 4/5
VM: I love the surf guitar sound and the use of drum toms in the opening part in this track. It evolves into a memorable pop tune. The singer's vocals are delicate and understated in the mix which fools you into thinking they're not the centre of the track. They are. I want it to be summer and a want to go to on a long road trip so I can blare this out the car window.
Total score: 11.5/15
HUGH - THIS IS HOW IT STARTS
Latest single from the London-based four-piece, released February 2. Melding bass heavy synths mixed with waves of ambient beats, multi-layered melodies, and the dual voices of vocalists Josh and Izzy.
ROH: I like the harmonised (or almost-harmonised) vocals, but it does sound like they recorded some of it in a bathroom. That said, I can easily imagine listening to this on a stormy night, with the fire roaring and a glass of Scotch in my hand. 4/5
JL: Again, not really my thing but its sound has me thinking back to sitting on the beach in summer watching the sun come up after a big night. Really liking the harmony from the singers. 3.5/5
VM: Oh wow, I love this! I really like the electronic layered instrumentation but love the dual main vocals, the female pop matched with the more soulful male. The track actually follows a storyline and uses everyday scenarios, like going to the cornershop. I'd happily let Hugh soundtrack my life. 5/5
Total score: 12.5/15