Album Review: Everything Everything – A Fever Dream

Review from Ben Forrester

I always thought of Everything Everything as a forward thinking band, but with their last album ‘Get To Heaven‘ they pushed harder than before and the results were beyond stunning. Heads were turned, big venues were packed out and finally Everything Everything became the flamboyant art-rock band that they’d been threatening to be. It would be fair to say there are some pretty big shoes that need filling for this new opus. But, having fallen head over heels with every record this band have delivered thus far, I have no doubt that this fourth LP will see our heroes pushing further into bigger and bolder territories.

A Fever Dream‘ picks up where Get To Heaven left off, full to the brim with huge, sprawling pop melodies wrapped up in expansive sonic blankets. ‘Night Of The Long Knives‘, ‘Can’t Do‘ and ‘Desire‘ are an adrenaline pumping opening hat-trick of gold. Each chorus is hefty yet swaggering with the verses driving home that rhythmical force EE have had nailed since day one.

From then on, it’s all about diving into a vast ocean of sound and melody. Everything Everything have always made eclectic records, but A Fever Dream is perhaps their most diverse set so far. There is certainly more of a focus on guitars here, with tracks like ‘Ivory Tower‘ and ‘Run The Numbers‘ boasting some pretty beefy riffage, especially in the chorus of the latter; it’s proper stink face stuff! In places, the band go back to the sound of their first album with lots of this lovely, groovy guitar/bass interplay going on throughout the tracks here. It’s a nice little nod to their earlier material and works well with their journey into making huge pop music.

Although I’m all about the groovy pop jems, it’s when EE dig a little deeper that they really shine here. The title track is one of the most perfect pieces the band have put together, beginning as a heartfelt piano ballad before transforming into this shimmering electronica track that sweeps you away and takes you into a whole new realm. A Fever Dream is all about building these luscious layers of synths and guitars to send you into another stratosphere. ‘Good Shot, Good Soldier‘ is a beautifully uplifting moment, with front man Jonathan’s vocals sounding at their most pure and angelic.

Lyrically, this strikes me as Jonathan trying to find himself among the chaos that surrounds him. ‘New Deep‘ is a dark yet atmospheric soundscape that is instrumental until its final seconds when he bewilderingly croons “Is there something wrong with all of us or is there something wrong with me?” It’s a moment that comes as a bit of a curve ball on first listen, but it makes you listen to the album again with a different perspective. These songs are all dressed up so smart but there lies an ambiguous bleakness within the lyrics that are designed to make you think about the state our world is currently in. That’s the genius of this band, there are many layers to peel and A Fever Dream is their most multi-skinned tapestry.

At the heart of A Fever Dream lies a fully beating and perfectly healthy pop record, but it’s the little twists and turns in its production and structures that turns it into this incredibly intelligent and encompassing piece of artistry. It sees Everything Everything at their most instant and hard hitting, but is full of beauty and space which makes for their boldest statement as a band to date.

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Elastic Feel – DUDS release first single from debut LP ‘Of A Nature Or Degree’

We occasionally get pangs of guilt here at Birthday Cake For Breakfast for casting the net out too wide and not championing the sounds coming out of Manchester as much as we possibly should. After all, one of our favourite newer collectives are knocking about this wonderful city. We have all the time in the world for DUDS.

I recently endured the Birthday Party of a certain local venue that was rammed from floor to ceiling with cretins, purely because of the fact that DUDS were headlining – such is the power of their undeniably thrilling live show.

Having announced the impending release of their debut LP ‘Of A Nature Or Degree’ a while back, last night saw the first single released from it – The scatty, heart-pumping attack of ‘Elastic Feel’.

It joins 11 other tracks (including previously released ‘No Remark’, opener from their unreal EP ‘Wet Reduction’) and is due for release September 22nd via Castle Face Records. DUDS will be the first UK band to put out a record through the label, under head honcho John Dwyer – our hero from the brilliant Oh Sees.

Listen to Elastic Feel below and keep an eye out for further news on Of A Nature Or Degree in the lead up to release!

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Living Body produce exclusive guest mix for DUGA 3 alongside UK headline tour!

(Photo Credit: Andrew Benge)

In keeping with the current run of super-duper gnarly special guests throughout the current season of DUGA 3, Episode 3 is a really doozy from (almost) across the pond. Having previously featured guest mixes from worriedaboutsatan and James Claremont, DUGA 3 are thrilled to have Leeds based Chicagoan Jeff T. Smith from Living Body on board!

Originally appearing on our radar a number of years back under the guise of Juffage, after nearly a decade’s worth of releases and touring under this name, multi-instrumentalist Jeff decided to team up with long time collaborators Katie Harkin (Harkin/Sky Larkin) and Tom Evans (Vessels) to form latest project ‘Living Body’.

With the band already knees deep in a pretty sizeable headline tour of the UK (including an impending spot at ArcTanGent this week), Jeff was gracious enough to provide an exclusive 30 minute mix – he also put together a little write-up for us entitled ‘On the relevance of Motown and the degradation of audio in 2017′. Take it away, Jeff:

“Music listening over the last 80 years or so has no doubt been on a bell curve of quality. In our van, we have no stereo. Only a tiny Bluetooth speaker you can barely hear over the loud rattle of the crumbling exterior. It’s made me realise that if a song is good (and in many cases, LOUD), it doesn’t matter what it sounds like. Production and recording quality becomes somewhat less important.

Much in the way that if a song is good, it will stand on it’s own in it’s most basic form, you can strip away ornamental instrumentation and flowery production and play a basic version on guitar or piano and it will still be a great song. In the 1960’s this was undoubtedly the ethos of Motown. Songs were written by professional songwriters, played by the same house band, and sung by pop groups (much in the way that Max Martin is a modern day Holland-Dozier-Holland).

People just listened to AM radio, in mono, on whatever they had, usually a cheap transistor radio around the size of most modern day Bluetooth speakers. In the 1990s everyone was obsessed with CD, huge stereos, hi-fi, and pristine audio. Now everyone just listens to Spotify and Youtube through their phone, laptop, or wherever else is available. Thus, in 2017, these songs that came out of Detroit in the 1960’s are more relevant than ever. We’ve gone full circle.

I grew up just outside of Detroit, so this stuff is in my blood and was still all over the radio many decades after it came out. And I keep coming back to it. And not just because it’s the only thing I can hear out of the van Bluetooth speaker.

Elsewhere in the mix, Episode 3 features eclectic sounds from all over, with music from the likes of Everything Everything, MF Doom, Machinedrum, Vessels and a whole ton more. Listen for yourself – Stream the third episode of Season 3 below and head to the Living Body site for a full list of live dates!

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EP Review: Down I Go – Mortals

Review from Ben Forrester

Down I Go have always gone about things differently. First up, they manage to remain a band whilst living in three very separate parts of the globe. For example, this new EP that we’re about to tuck into was written in a factory basement in Toronto, tracked in a barn in Illinois and then finished off in front-man Pete’s suburban house in Stockholm.

Another interesting fact about Down I Go (which dates back to when the band all lived in the same city), is that every release always seemed to follow a theme or story of sorts. With this new record ‘Mortals‘, the trio have delved further into Greek Mythology with what has been conceived as a sequel to their 2011 EP ‘Gods’.

Due to their transatlantic situation, we don’t hear from them as often as we’d like to, but as it’s only been two years since they dropped the stunning LP ‘You’re Lucky God, That I Cannot Reach You‘, Mortals comes as somewhat of a surprise release!

Mortals is another masterclass in Down I Go’s untouchable theatrical brand of hardcore. Each track hits you with thick walls of guitars, thunderous drums topped with throat shredding vocals that jump to an always brutal tour de force of noise. But what counteracts this is the melodic, clean vocals that are even more prominent here! Each track is smothered in rich harmony layered vocals that just sound brilliantly bonkers over these hard slices of post-hardcore.

Psyche‘ is a fun opener, with a bouncing riff that is coupled with these big choir like vocals that takes it to a totally different dimension, one that you can’t help but be engulfed by. ‘Pandora‘ is a similar affair that combines chunky riff driven grooves with these euphoric and almost transcendent vocal harmonies.

Palaemon‘ goes even deeper, with moments of overlaid and super delayed brass that takes you to a whole other universe, but brings you right back to earth for full throttle, head spinning breakdowns. It’s one of their more head fucking moments for sure. ‘Heracles‘ closes this brief yet perfectly formed set with another huge slab of thunder inducing heaviness, with other worldly vocals that will finish you off in the most delectable crescendo of jazzed up keyboards and snappy falsetto vocals. It’s the dramatic conclusion I was hungry for.

Mortals is Down I Go’s most powerful offering to date. It has all the off the way, earth crushing traits that made their earlier material so great but with a focus on more extravagant vocals and the knack for throwing us off guard into these ace little moments of weirdness. Mortals is a vital part of the band’s consistently strong discography.

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Alpha Male Tea Party, &U&I and Body Hound announced for Little Cavalier Xmas Show

August is barely out of the way and already we’re thinking about Christmas. That’s not a bad thing, mind. Gorging on chocolate and not feeling guilty, boozing from noon till night and having hourly listening sessions to ‘A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector‘. Christmas is grand.

There’s also the small matter of THE LITTLE CAVALIER XMAS SHOW! We’re more than happy to wish ahead to December 15th as the 2017 edition is a real doozy. Even better, Birthday Cake For Breakfast is super stoked to announce the six bands set to celebrate the festive season at The Flapper.

Brummy leg-ends &U&I are joined by fellow Midlands lot THE BROKEN OAK DUET, MAYORS OF TORONTO and YR POETRYThen there’s the gnarliest sounds from up North, with ALPHA MALE TEA PARTY and BODY HOUND finishing things off!

Tickets are 8 squid on the door for this ‘STRICTLY 18+’ show, but you can grab yourself an advance ticket for £6 through the following link!

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Album Review: The Cribs – 24-7 Rock Star Shit

Review from Ben Forrester

Despite this album only being announced two weeks ago, the hype for it has been building up for a number of years now. It all began when Wakefield’s finest The Cribs were making their fourth album in the states, back in 2011. During these sessions, they spent a couple of days with legendary engineer Steve Albini and thus the rumors of ‘the Punk record‘ were born. Although an Albini produced track did appear on the album they were working on, the Jarman brother’s still continued down the road of making big sparkling guitar pop records.

But it transpires that at the back end of last year, the trio headed back to Chicago and after just five days of drinking coffee and recording, came out with the highly anticipated Albini punk record! So yeah, the expectations are pretty high for this new LP and with critics and fans alike stating that this is their ‘death-or-glory game-changer‘, I’m pleased to report that on first listen alone, ‘24-7 Rock Star Shit‘ is definitely a game changing moment for The Cribs.

Although it harks back to the rough and ready approach of their first two records, there is certainly a sense of confidence and wisdom that runs beneath this record that could only come from a band that have been together for as long as they have. Their love for US punk and alt-rock is very apparent throughout and it’s the simplistic power-pop of tracks like ‘What Have You Done For Me?‘ and blistering opener ‘Give Good Time‘ that gives them such a timeless quality. Of course Steve Albini’s bare bones production is the perfect fit for these songs and not only drives home the sincerity of the performances, but also reinforces the tightness of this band of brothers.

There is no denying the pop sensibilities that the band bring here, with ‘In Your Palace‘ carrying one of their most anthemic choruses to date, while ‘Rainbow Ridge‘ has this Nirvana like pop vibe going on and it totally works! But at the same time, you have ‘Year Of Hate‘ and ‘Broken Arrow‘ that bring back a more snarling, heavier tone to proceedings. It’s good to hear them crank up the amps a bit more here; punk-rock definitely suits them.

The Cribs have always been great at making an album that has a beginning, middle and end and 24-7 Rock Star Shit isn’t just pure punk belters. With the acoustically driven prettiness of ‘Sticks Not Twigs‘ and the electronic-tinges of 5 minute epic ‘Dead At The Wheel‘, the band definitely try to go deeper structurally. And although these do sound a little out of context with the rest of the record at first, after a few listens you realise that their deliveries contribute well to the directness and honesty of the album.

I have a lot of time for every Cribs record but for me, 24-7 Rockstar Shit gets back to the fundamental idea of the band and reason I fell in love with them – three brothers belting out punked-up pop songs in a basement together. I’ve always loved the sheer energy and ferocity of the band live and this record perfectly captures the sheer euporia of going to a Cribs show. Back that with big tunes, fun riffs and plenty of sing-your-heart-out hooks and you’ve got yourself the best Cribs album since the seminal ‘Mens Needs, Womens Needs, Whatever. In Cribs fanboy language, that means it’s fucking great!

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5 Things to love about…ArcTanGent Festival

The only festival to have a mathematical equation to determine how rad it is, ArcTanGent Festival is bigger than birthdays, bigger than Christmas, bigger than your Wedding Anniversary. The three-day festival in late August is THE social event of the year for music nerds, YASS QUEENS, rad-ladz, fringe-freaks and everyone in-between. A joyous occasion, it’s been a must for Birthday Cake For Breakfast these past four years, and with its bumper fifth year incoming, we’re as giddy as can be.

The big question though: What’re you having on your Raclette hot dog?
Once you’ve figured that out, have a read of our top picks of ArcTanGent 2017 – we’ll see you in the pit (after we’ve had our Raclette hot dog…)

The Physics House Band

There’s probably no point in putting together a paragraph or two of praise for Brighton trio The Physics House Band. These days, they leave tasks like the penning of their biography to the likes of Stewart Lee – that funny bloke off the telly. On their latest record, the stunning Mercury Fountain’, he had this to say:

“…a super-dense sci-fi mindfuck of a thing, music scholarship charity case keyboards in combat with squally spacerock guitars, dub boom bass and multi-time-sig clatter; a territory staked out over mushrooms at break-time, on the top floor of the multi-story car park, overlooking the ‘70s Bauhaus shopping centre concrete functional fountain square, but now gone all Escher in the aftermath, like a black and white architectural schematic drawing dipped in tie-dye.”

Unsurprisingly, they’re shit hot live too. Be sure to keep an eye out for them – they play the Arc stage on Saturday afternoon!

Read our review of ‘Mercury Fountain!

Wot Gorilla?

Described on these very pages as “…the most underrated band in UK math-rock”, the alarmingly good Wot Gorilla? recently put out one of the gnarliest releases of the year in five-track EP ‘Angel Numbers’.

Prone to their raucous, darker moments, you’ll need your plugs in when this trio make their Yohkai arrival on Friday afternoon.

Read our review of Angel Numbers!

Tricot

We’ve been banging on about Tricot for a good while now. We’re still super stoked to be one of the first Western interviews conducted with the Japanese math-rock wonder trio, and we were also seemingly the first to inform the trio about the festival itself – how’s that action!

So when you’re standing in a field with your jaw dropped to the floor, you can thank us for letting you know about these YASS QUEENS. Witness Tricot’s ridiculously fun math-rock stylings with J-Pop flourishes when they play the Yohkai in the early evening on Saturday.

Read our review of their latest record ‘3’!

THURSDAY!

ArcTanGent veterans will know that Thursday’s are not to be sniffed at on Fernhill Farm. For the past four years, weekend warriors have missed out on all the fun by side-stepping Thursday. This year, the puppeteers behind this whole ArcTanGent business have gone all out to put together a stonker of a line-up.

With bricks of noise-rock, post-rock, math-rock and everything in-between, Thursday delicately builds up the day like a tremendous Jenga tower. The arris-kicking of Chiyoda Ku and the twiddly loveliness of Waking Aida/Vasudeva is set to get people in the mood as they crack open their first tins. A highlight from last year came from Vasudeva beautifully soundtracking our late morning coffee in the rain. Change of pace this year in the afternoon (hopefully).

Head-Fuck City awaits later in the afternoon with turns from Gallops and USA Nails, the latter’s set a few years back being a definite Top 5 ArcTanGent highlight throughout its history.

Elsewhere, there’s joyful math-rock from France’s Totorro, cinematic brilliance from Nordic Giants, the second coming of Tall Ships and then the potential MVP’s of the weekend, Future Of The Left. Then Russian Circles come on and things really pick up. Fantastic.

Real Terms

(Photo Credit: Andrew Ellis)

I’m not crying that Vasco Da Gama aren’t a thing any more, you are!

When I first moved to Manchester and learned of bands like Alpha Male Tea Party and Cleft (through the wonders of A Carefully Planned Festival), there was a quartet of young lads from Liverpool playing the most brilliant stuff every other month on similar bills. Then they disappeared.

Thankfully, three quarters of the band made a triumphant return years later and we have been more than happy to welcome them back with open arms. Older, wiser, a little more chilled out but just as wonderful as those heady days of Vasco Da Gama, Real Terms are a total joy!

They play early on Saturday afternoon – don’t be a prat, go and get taken in by their Liverpudlian loveliness.

ArcTanGent 2017 kicks off on August 17th and carries on through to the 19th! Ticket information can be found here!

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