Exclusive: This One Song… QOHELETH on More Guns

Tell you what – we love hearing from artists when things go right. We equally love hearing from artists when things go dreadfully wrong. A song that was a piece of piss, written in 20 minutes? Or years in the making and a bastard to write?

Whether it’s a song that came together through great duress or one that was smashed out in a short amount of time, we’re getting the lowdown from some of our favourites on the one song that they can’t stop thinking about – in their own words.

Ahead of releasing their latest record ‘Warmonger’ – out this week on Cruel Nature Recordswe’re chuffed to have Jeremy Hunt of QOHELETH talk us through their latest single ‘More Guns‘. It also happens to coincide with an exclusive first watch of their newest video! Take it away, Jeremy

January 23, 2018

I texted Mike (drums, guitars, vocals, and more in QOHELETH) the first draft of the lyrics that would become “More Guns.” I had to double-check the dates to make sure my memory was correct, but there had been yet another school shooting on this day, this time at Marshall County High School in Kentucky, about two hours away from where my wife grew up. Like a lot of folks in this country who long for a safer world for our kids (and people in general), the proud American tradition of public shootings often leads me to feelings of despair and deep, deep anger. It feels like an insurmountable evil, something that we can only learn how to live with, and never truly overcome.

And so for whatever reason, I decided to pour all that frustration, disgust, and rage into the lyrics. Biting satire felt like the only path to take, and basically I tried to imagine three separate scenarios where gun-related violence was so over-the-top and extreme that you would hope the only rational response would be to stop idolizing them…yet the chorus offers a heightened take on the bugshit crazy refrain that we ALWAYS hear after a mass shooting: if only there had been more “good guys with guns”…

So in essence, this is an attempt to communicate what it feels like to be stuck in a nation that refuses to make any clear cut progress or change and simply throws up our hands at the notion that there’s anything that could possibly be done to stop shootings.

In the bigger picture of the album, while we’d had the overall concept for Warmonger simmering for a year or two, I think these lyrics and this song starting to take shape all the way back in 2018 helped direct the rest of the music and thematic approach in the 2-3 years since then. That’s not to say that it took us a full 2-3 years to write Warmonger, especially since we released a remix album (2018) and three EPs (2019) in between then and now, but rather that we’ve been wrestling with all of this album off and on since then…trying to put music to the themes of American violence, words to situations, etc.

Musically speaking, this song is constructed from about two or three guitar tracks, one or two bass tracks, drums, and vocals. We wanted to achieve a sort of primal stomp, with distortion pushed to the limits of musicality…again seeking an auditory counterpart to feeling like we’re living in some sort of mad, parallel existence with worshippers of the gun.

Lastly, one of the bigger threads of the album (and how we’re attempting to share/present it) is looking at just how deeply rooted our affections for violence run. When the first Gulf War happened, I remember that some company made trading cards for Operation Desert Storm. You could literally collect cards of General Schwarzkopf, Saddam Hussein, George Bush (the father), various weapons of war, and so on. At the time, I didn’t think much about it as a kid, but in the years since, it’s unreal to reflect on how we’ve commodified and commercialized real life violence in that manner. We don’t even think about it. And I say this as someone who loves violent movies, whether action stuff, horror, sci-fi, and so on.

But it felt like this was the perfect opportunity to take a video game that I enjoyed as a kid, Bionic Commando, and repurpose it in service of the song. If all we have are violent references points, perhaps all we’ll be capable of are violent methods?

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Album Review: Employed To Serve – Conquering

Looking back at my previously written musings on Employed To Serve, the main phrase I seem to keep repeating is ‘this fucking rips’. And it’s down to how the Woking formed outfit have done nothing but tear the UK metal scene a new arsehole since the release of their blistering debut album in 2015. They’ve kept up a bi-annual release structure, stepping it up every time with their crushing brand of metal-core.

Their fourth album ‘Conquering’ was recorded at the back end of last year, with faithful collaborator Lewis Johns at The Ranch in Southampton. Lewis has not only produced some of the best alternative Metal records the UK has seen this past decade, he also seems to have an incredible knack of capturing the intensity and urgency we love so much about our scene. He and Employed To Serve are the total dream team and as expected, he has completely synced up with the band to step up their game once again.

The general idea I get with this record is a band looking back in order to look forward. And by looking back, I mean taking influence from classic metal and injecting it into their current metal-core sound. ‘Universal Chokehold’ is not only the most epic thing they’ve ever done, but probably their strongest opener. The way the clean guitar lines move around these beautifully haunting strings is so affecting and then you get ripped apart with these massive, earthshattering guitars. The more frequent use of clean vocals is a welcome switch up with guitarist Sammy bringing in some super powerful hooks, especially on modern metal banger ‘Mark Of The Grave’.

I’ve always found musical parallels between Employed To Serve and masked mavericks Slipknot, but to me this album achieves what the fourth Slipknot album didn’t quite do. ‘All Hope Is Gone’ definitely had a focus on a classic tone but felt a little uneven in the tracklist, whereas ETS really trim the fat and only deliver fucking solid tunes.

Just when you think ‘how can this band impress me further’, they manage to deliver even harder riffs, more muscular playing and an even tighter grip on melody (’Twist The Blade’ being the finest example of this). But it’s not doing it for the sake of it, this is a band that clearly adore the genre of music they play, tastefully playing homage to its many sub genres.

To go back again on previous reviews, I honestly thought that previous LP ‘Eternal Forward Motion‘ was their boldest statement. It is overtly clear to me that ‘Conquering’ shows Employed To Serve at their most realised. It’s a hark back to the music that shaped them whilst careering forward with honest, thought provoking themes of unity and stylistically it lives in the now. You guessed it, this fucking RIPS!

(Photo Credit: Zak Pinchin)

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a/s/l: Hamish Hawk

Remember the days of the old schoolyard? Remember when Myspace was a thing? Remember those time-wasting, laborious quizzes that everyone used to love so much? Birthday Cake For Breakfast is bringing them back! 

Every couple of weeks, an unsuspecting band will be subject to the same old questions about dead bodies, Hitler, crying and crushes.  

This Week: In the run up to the release of his new album – and off the back of 6 Music favourites ‘Calls To Tiree’ andCaterpillar‘ – Hamish Hawk answers a series of inane questions!

Gabriela Silveira

Words: Andy Hughes (Photo Credit: Gabriela Silveira)

a/s/l?
29, M, Edinburgh.

Have you ever seen a dead body?
Fortunately, no..

Who is your favourite Simpsons character?
Obviously this is a completely impossible question, but today, I’m going with Mr Burns/Mr Snrub.

What T-Shirt are you wearing?
I’m wearing a shirt.

What did your last text message say?
Helen Hunt’s speech in Castaway is powerful af

What’s the last song you listened to?
NDA – Billie Eilish.

How did you meet the people in your band?
Two at school, two at uni!

What’s the first record you bought?
I bought three albums on the same day, approximately seventeen years ago in the cathedral city of Winchester. I bought Aha Shake Heartbreak by Kings of Leon, Franz Ferdinand’s self-titled debut, and Up The Bracket by The Libertines. Two of those remain favourites!

What was your favourite VHS growing up?
I played and rewound Lady & The Tramp within an inch of its life.

When was the last time you cried?
Yesterday?

Have you ever kissed someone & regretted it?
Several times.

Best Physical Feature?
My shoulders?

Worst physical feature?
My hairline?

Reasonably ok/not bad feature that you’re not fussed about?
The windows to m’soul.

Do you have any pets?
Nope.

Ever picked up any injuries on tour?
Beyond paper cuts, inexplicable aches and pains, and electrocuting myself on microphones, no.

What did you do for your last birthday?
My flatmates dressed me up in drag and then we ate nachos.

Name something you CANNOT wait for?
The arrival of the Heavy Elevator vinyl!

Do you have a crush on someone?
Damn straight.

What’s the shittest experience you’ve had as a musician?
Performing in a restaurant in Halifax, West Yorkshire. We had to borrow an antiquated PA from a local cricket club, and in testing it out almost blew our eardrums open. We didn’t get paid and the sound was catastrophic.

If you could go back in time, how far would you go?
I’d have a go at the ’70s. I’d like to have more than one pair of bell-bottoms.

How do you want to die?
Wolves?

What’s your favourite thing about pizza?
The fact that it is made of cheese and bread. There is also garlic involved which is excellent.

What are you craving right now?
A long, empty swimming pool in Portugal.

Have you ever been on a horse?
Once. I was on the German exchange at school and the family I stayed with popped me in the saddle. The horse looked concerned.

What did you dream about last night?
I think it involved a farm? There was mud, pigs and stiles. I’m gonna go with a farm.

If you could go back in time and kill the baby Hitler, would you?
I think I might just raise him a little differently.

Do you like Chinese food?
I do! It’s probably my least frequently ordered takeaway, but it definitely has its moments.

Have you ever been on TV?
You know, I don’t think I have!

Ever meet someone famous?
I’ve met a few select celebs. I was invited aboard Cee Lo Green’s tour bus. Joan Baez touched my face. Camilla Parker Bowles told me I looked smart. I’ll give you more when next we meet.

What do you want to be when you grow up?
Some kind of wizard.

Heavy Elevator‘ is out THIS WEEK via Dinked and Assai Recordings! Grab yourself a copy of the record here!

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Live Review: Squid at the Albert Hall in Manchester 10 September 2021

Friday night and it’s a choice between New Order miles away and casual casualties on cheap chisel or Squid up the road, one of the more exciting bands ripping through the UK scene today (admittedly, there might still have been some cheap chisel knocking about…) Having once been underwhelmed by the former and constantly impressed by the latter, it was a bit of a no brainer.

It’s been a thrill to watch the seemingly swift upward journey for the Brighton formed outfit and having been lucky enough to experience them in much smaller venues and off the back of earlier material, it’s a journey that should have never really been in doubt. Our initial Squid outing caught them supporting Viagra Boys in Liverpool, it clear on the night the Swedish lot themselves were going to explode at any given minute. It was evident then that there was something special about Squid and sure enough, years on we find ourselves at the Grade II listed Albert Hall for their biggest Manchester appearance yet.

It was a joy to be back within the wonderful hall, having had 15+ months off to think about how much we’ve missed it. There’s a proper thud upon entering the main room and up on stage, brightly lit local lot Mandy, Indiana were already in full swing, pockets of the audience well into their pulsating, dance-heavy noise-rock stylings. The quartet were pushed up to the front of the stage, not too dissimilar to their debut show which was literally the other week at the much more intimate Castle Hotel.

Drummer Liam Stewart looked almost as sweaty as me, having razzed it over on my bike in a hurry after I’d forgotten a pre-covid-test before the show… I’m not sure how vocalist Valentine Caulfield got on in her catsuit, but it was definitely a vibe and suited the big feel of the evening. Guitarist Scott Fair had the right idea in shorts, mind and he certainly looked cool (ey up) under the pressure from the bigger jump in crowd and venue.

Following that mind-bending evening at The Castle in late August, It’s really great to see Mandy, Indiana take on the much grander stage and when tracks hit 100mph, the sound boomed around the hall. Vocalist Caulfield gave a little bow at one point and left the stage, whilst drummer Stewart continued smacking away into the industrial pounding of mega single ‘Alien 3‘. The French native soon appears off stage and up against the barrier for a brief look at everyone before joining the trio back on stage.

After a mammoth sprint and relentless build, Caulfield is on her hands and knees as the lads batter away before it’s kisses to the crowd and they pop off. Another thrilling set and further tightening of screws for the early doors outfit. Where next I wonder, Manchester Arena?!

Squid2

Darkness and crowd noise aplenty signalled we were ready for Squid. A lengthy soundscape filled the room – sounds of who knows what, water over pebbles, camera flashes, snapping fingers? Before one could figure it out, a wall-shaking rumble greeted the five men arriving on stage, as they tinkered with their instruments and slowly built up their first song, the anticipation evident amongst the crowd. ‘Sludge‘ kicked things off and was a natural fit, both the crowd and band shooting off like a rocket as drummer Ollie Judge screamed “Scrape my teeth out on the floor I don’t want anymore!

Down at the front looked lively – blue and red light showing off people singing away to the anthemic ‘G.S.K.‘ and it wasn’t long before a massive pit opened right up, leading to much chaos. A genuinely brilliant sight to see the crowd reaction and from our vantage point upstairs (thank fuck!) the visuals of the audience mingling with the sound on stage was mesmeric. The crowd are perfect all the way – clapping away at any given opportunity, singing, proper vibing and getting into it. I was curious as to how a much larger crowd might react to the more experimental side of some of their material, but they were bang into it throughout.

Whilst watching the crowd going nuts for ‘Global Groove‘, bouncing up and down to the thumping crunchiness, I admired how Squid aren’t particularly stage presence heavy. One of them will drop into the shadows to play bass, another playing percussion behind the others. Hardly any chat, everyone instead locking into one another. Down to business, and quite right too.

The Cleaner‘ arrived with a mammoth reaction and sounded splendid in its wonkiness, revved up x2 as the quintet let loose. The equally wonky trip that is ‘Boy Racers‘ saw what looked like gongs getting bonged at the start by keys wizard Arthur Leadbetter, whilst guitarist Louis Borlase proper got into the twiddling as strobes lit up the crowd in frantic fashion. During its haunted warped-VHS outro, drummer Judge is up on his feet and out in front of his kit, smashing cymbals and stirring up the crowd in the process. Back behind the kit, he’s leathering it as the others join him in building up some rapid fire experimental instrumental, everyone ripping it up.

It fires right off into the raucous ‘Peel St.‘ and it’s almost too furious, the five creating such a wall of noise as Judge yelled into the back of the room. This does mean though that its quieter moments really stood out, the impact of which worked really well in the live setting. ‘Narrator‘ got everyone riled up and a glimpse of the crowd showed everyone screaming back every word. Another circle pit opened up for the stab-stab-stab as the strobe lighting went into overdrive once again. An even bigger pit followed during the gigantic build, soon merging with the rest of the crowd as Judge screamed ‘I’ll play mine‘, everyone soon becoming one, a sea of hypnotised, sweating bodies. Utter sublime chaos.

Afterwards they all took a breath and watched on as the crowd offered up rapturous, near deafening applause. Early single ‘Houseplants‘ is obviously a goer and once again, the kids love opening up these big fuck off circle pits! To goad them into it, Squid really drew out the gaps in-between the rapid-fire attack, building up the anticipation to joyous levels. Another break came with it what sounded like a different song entirely, the band dipping a toe into Badbadnotgood territory, before everyone was allowed to return to pandemonium, the band bursting back into the final portion of ‘Houseplants‘.

After a brief exit, the crowd were more than up for an encore and, fully deserving of it, Squid returned to much fanfare. The crowd chanting their name so quickly made one question whether it is even a word (is it?!) ‘Documentary Filmmaker‘ and ‘Pamphlets‘ – cuts from their debut album ‘Bright Green Field‘ out earlier in the year- offered the big KO required and the audience became grin central, the Squid lads offering them one last chance to become unglued, which they took on real horrorshow.

It’s hard to pick who to watch all night – Squid nailing absolutely everything or the crowd being switched on for just about anything. The jaw dropping close of ‘Pamphlets‘, as the band gathered tightly around the drumkit to build to a giant crescendo, was near transcendent. Top marks. Bed time.

But wait! After they’d departed and the lights came on, ‘I Love You Baby‘ burst through the speakers and most of the crowd stuck about, cutting loose on the dance floor and screaming the words into the roof as couples, mates and solo movers kept the party atmosphere going for one more song. A genuine delight, it came as a fitting end to the evening, everyone below us drenched in sweat and sporting big smiles.

Squid

Bright Green Field‘ – reviewed here!

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Hey, have you heard about…Wet Leg

Ever hear a debut single so good it makes you think – there must be more behind this, surely? 1 million streams on Spotify and a video with nearly 1 million views? In the case of our new favourite discovery, Wet Leg, apparently not!

So what do we know? Well, there isn’t much to know, really… Finding themselves at the highest point of a ferris wheel on the Isle of Wight, pals Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers decided to join forces and start a band. Once on the ground, Wet Leg emerged and a debut single and a signing to Domino (!) followed.

Chaise Longue‘ is cucumber cool and sounds like an instant classic from the off, obviously reminding us of every cool sounding post-punk outfit knocking about at the minute, but also showing shades of New Young Pony Club, Le Tigre and maybe a hint of Bjork here and there. The video is a vibe too and i’m off to buy one of those hats right now.

Hitting the ground running, they’re off supporting Shame and Sports Team on the odd date later in the year and have their own shows to take care of before then – all of which you can find here!

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Release Rundown – God Damn, I Feel Fine, Low and We Were Promised Jetpacks

Nathan Keay

Words: Ben Forrester (Photo Credit: Nathan Keay)

God Damn – Raw Coward
(One Little Independent)

RC

It was only last year that our favourite Midlander’s released their self titled third album. To me, it felt like the most realised version of God Damn, until I heard ‘Raw Coward’. Self recorded at their lock-up in Wolverhampton throughout lockdown, album four sees the band grow to a four piece and as expected, with more members comes more noise.

What I loved about the last record was how it managed to have one eye firmly on big, bolshy hooks and the other on some truly gross riffage. On here, they take that to the next level and it’s probably the closest you’ll get to their mind melting live show on record. Tracks like ‘Yout’ and ‘Radiation Acid Queen’ kick your teeth in with some of their most mind boggling riffing to date.

With new members Rob and Hannah adding more guitar and synths into proceedings, God Damn have never sounded so chunky. Recent single ‘Shit Guitar’ is a stoner pop classic in the making, sporting a planet moving riff that displays their dual guitar attack, while the two-part track ‘Little Dead Souls’ brilliantly marries gnarly punk and key tinkering atmospherics.

God Damn’s core members Thom and Ash have always put every ounce of energy into this project, but I feel that by doing this by themselves they sound at their most free, saying and doing exactly they want. I mean, there’s always been a zero fucks attitude baked into this band, but never has an album sounded so abrasive but playful at the same time. It’s still super obnoxious and pissed off, but there is something that feels very cathartic about that and it’s that outpouring that actually brings an element of fun into the record. Just when I thought God Damn had made the most God Damn sounding record, ‘Raw Coward’ comes out swinging with their most brash, bold and brilliantly bonkers effort to date.

I Feel Fine – The Cold In Every Shelter
(Venn)

IFF

I remember being very excited when I first heard the debut EP from Brighton based quartet I Feel Fine. It felt like it had been a while since a UK band had done that twinkly emo thing with such authenticity and sincerity. It was the four-way gang vocals that really sold it to me, that sense of togetherness and brotherhood just felt so joyous and heartfelt. It’s been four years since that record came out, so I was thrilled to hear that a full length had been committed to tape late last year.

The Cold In Every Shelter’ keeps up the same warming twiddle pop stylings as before but naturally moves forward with tighter performances, catchier hooks and some beautifully crafted dynamics. Lyrically, this is a deep look into the human condition, with all four members of the band singing in unison to unburden themselves from thoughts of feeling out of sync with the rest of the world. There is such a heightened level of euphoria that comes within the vocals, which only elevates the already incredibly sharp emo punk instrumentals.

Something New To Worry About’ is an intensely strong opener that moves through many dynamic shapes, but immediately brings into focus a level of warmth and passion. Melodically, the songs are so rich – whether it’s the super strength guitar work in ‘Elemenohpea’ or the bright harmonies of ‘Selfsame’, there is a high level of craft that’s been put into these songs that twist and turn with a lot of grace. Nostalgic, comforting but an awareness that looks forward; ‘The Cold In Every Shelter’ is a heart-warming hug of a debut that you emo heads are gonna fall head over heels for.

Low – HEY WHAT
(Sub Pop)

HW

Minnesota formed outfit Low have always had an unrivalled sense of uniqueness about their sound. Setting off as front runners of the 90’s slow-core scene, the duo have never stopped experimenting, leading to their most ambitious project to date on 2018’s ‘Double Negative’ LP. I love the fact that nearly three decades into their career and about to release the 13th studio album, Low continue to delve deep and show no mercy in their sonic explorations.

HEY WHAT’ feels like a more refined approach on the mind blowing production of its predecessor. Don’t get it twisted, this still requires a lot of patience and is a fully immersive soundscape set to challenge you, but this time melody and harmony comes stronger into focus.

White Horses’ is such a powerful opener that has this punishing, blown out instrumental, but with absolutely colossal vocal harmonies that soar over top. I think that’s the main draw to this album for me, it has this incredible balance of really maxed out industrial electronica and fierce, instant indie rock vocals. ’Days Like These’ Is the all transcendent centrepiece which brings forward-thinking production together with towering vocals to build this beautifully euphoric walk of harmony.

Though the album is only six tracks in at this point, I do feel like that would’ve been an incredible way to close. However, the remaining four tracks still grab your attention as it’s hard not to be fully immersed by the noise fuelled crescendo of closer ‘The Price You Pay(It Must Be Wearing Off). Combining mind bending sounds with majestically delivered hooks, Low continue to dazzle with brains, brawn and beauty.

We Were Promised Jetpacks – Enjoy The View
(Big Scary Monsters)

WWPJ

Last year was the first time in their 15+ year career that the three old school friends that make up We Were Promised Jetpacks weren’t in the practice room together making music. Instead, the last year saw them chipping away at new songs remotely in the comfort of their own homes. Able to reunite in the autumn of last year, the Edinburgh based outfit entered the studio, vitalised and hopeful, a feeling that is very much distilled into the sound of their fifth long player ‘Enjoy The View’.

On previous album, 2018’s ‘The More I Sleep The Less I Dream’, the band recreated the sky scraping dynamics found on their seminal debut album, but with a wiser head on its shoulders. ‘Enjoy The View’ goes down a slightly different route sonically but overall retains the same maturity and warmth that won me over on its predecessor. Opener ‘Not Me Anymore’ has this laid back, dream pop quality to it; a sound that the band haven’t touched much on before but one that definitely suits them.

This newfound, synth laden sound is then taken up a notch on the sprightly groove of ‘Fat Chance’. However, the band haven’t gone complete synth-pop as you might think, with track three ’All That Glittered’ coming in with the pensive indie rock tone we know them so well for.

The rest of the album flickers between alt rock urgency and more expansive, alt pop dynamics. But ultimately, what brings it all together is the strength of the songwriting. Vocalist and guitarist Adam has always felt like such a genuine voice and here he speaks with a lot of warmth and hope and as an old fan, it brings me much comfort. I think that’s the one thing I will say about this record, it seems like an album that not all fans will fall into straight away. This is definitely the sound of a more settled band, but for those that have grown up with them, this is another beautifully crafted set to sink into.

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Live Review: Manchester Psych Fest 04 September 2021

Of all the things we’ve missed about live music over the past 12+ months, an inner-city all-dayer is certainly up there. Nipping from venue to venue, catching bands of all sizes playing to rooms and people they might not usually encounter, drinking from the early afternoon into the wee hours. It’s one of the many benefits of living in Manchester as we’ve never been short of quality festivals in our fair city, particularly the formative and much missed Carefully Planned.

Because of the pandemic, it feels like donkeys since we’ve managed one and as such, we were possibly a little bit rusty on the planning, not heeding the promoters warning the morning of Manchester Psych Fest that ticket collection might be a tad busy. A street beer soothed things somewhat as we found ourselves joining the gigantic queue behind everyone else who’d not thought ahead. Luckily for us, we were stuck behind a trio having a riveting ten+ minute conversation about Greggs vegan sausage rolls… A good start.

Whilst we were a bit gutted to miss The Goa Express (what would turn out to be their first of three sets) – and just as gutted to miss Kokoroko, who they’d replaced – our first highlight came via hotly tipped Hebden Bridge quartet The Lounge Society (who just so happened to have supported The Cribs the night before!)

Our first time in Gorilla since doors re-opened unfortunately started on a sour note as a grotty bastard announced to the rest of the toilet that he couldn’t be arsed to wash his hands. At 4pm. During a pandemic. Cheers dickhead.

The Lounge Society started off like a rocket first song in and it sounded great, though we felt ancient seeing how young they all were… A proper psych type outing on the one song guided us into the festival of psych and everything they subsequently offered up from on stage sounded solid. The quartet let rip throughout their allotted time and built tremendously on the promising run of singles we’ve heard thus far. ‘Television‘ ends up being a revved up delight and one has to admit that this group of lids appear to be the real deal.

An incredibly hot room yet the band didn’t let up, making it difficult to imagine how the drummer (who’s particularly great) was coping. Funnily enough, on the way out, under the bridge outside the venue, the drummer was found red faced but in a leather jacket (!), smoking a well deserved tab.

LS

Down in the basement at The Ritz – which one did not know existed until this very festival – we couldn’t even see Folly Group when we manage to squeeze into the room, but sure enough you could hear them loud and clear, with the busy room a good indicator that we’d made the right choice. Everything sounded better than what we’ve heard on record, which is equally a good sign.

Pillars block any/all vision, but we could just about catch a glimpse of shadow from the kit against the wall – eventually a cymbal came into view and a bass guitar could be seen if one squinted. The new stuff they announce sounds cool as anything but really, the stuff we know from their debut release ‘Awake and Hungry‘ is reasonably new to us anyhoo. Either way, the bodies were moving about throughout the room for the band no one could see. The playing is rapid as fuck towards the end of their set and of the heads I could see up front, everyone was into it.

Not long after this, I realised the clash finder printed off before the festival was lost somewhere in Manchester (possibly as a result of the delicious Margaritas we’d been drinking over the road…), but we couldn’t forget Irish lot Girl Band and soon found ourselves upstairs in the main room at The Ritz. Inside the venue it was like walking on the sun. The heat hit you immediately and Girl Band were already fully stuck in, no doubt contributing to the heat with their deafening and intoxicating noise.

It was good being back at The Ritz and it’s a feeling we won’t likely take for granted any time soon. It’s also good to find there was a little bloke stood near the front eating biscuits watching the bands! The graphic behind the stage highlighting ‘THIS IS NOT PSYCH‘ was a nice touch.

The first crowd surf we’d seen all day occurred a few songs in and fuck me if it wasn’t a bleach blonde Neo from The Matrix as the pit got particularly tasty underneath them. Rather fittingly, the in-between tuning up from the band sounded like heavy machinery – gurgles and whizzes and crunches.

GB

Pint glasses were chucked sky high for ‘Going Norway‘ which seemed at odds with Girl Band, but yes – dickheads have returned to live audiences. Also making a return (a welcome one) was vocalist Dara Kiely giving his absolute all to a Manchester crowd, clutching the microphone cable close to his chest as it all came out. The hurtling assault of ‘Amygdala‘ is always a treat (if you can call it that) and certainly a highlight – both here and on their latest record ‘The Talkies‘.

A frantic, seemingly 10 second number had the front middle going mad and this bled expertly into the much slower build of ‘Shoulderblades‘, the rumble pulsating up ones legs over its 6+ minutes.

The closer is hypnotising and chaotic in equal measure – a brutally lengthy dance-a-thon. A few rows from us a lad looked utterly fucked, so I can’t imagine what was happening in his head whilst this assault took place. Mission accomplished no doubt. Before knocking it on the head, Kiely tucked a newly grabbed Heineken from the crate on stage into his shabby jacket pocket. Save that for later.

A mammoth queue stretching up the street for Yard Act was concerning for anyone worried about seeing anything at YES…Dark Days‘ sounded great, albeit from the stairs leading up to the Pink Room outside. When we finally made it in, the room seemed ridiculously overcrowded. Looking on the bright side of it however, it’s great seeing the band do so well, and we’ve had a soft spot for vocalist James and guitarist Ryan off the back of their previous outfits Menace Beach and Post War Glamour Girls.

The crowd – as potentially oversold as it was – were into absolutely everything and it was a joy to hear them singing back and yucking it up for all the humour being dished out from vocalist James. He’s a great front man and hopefully we’ll be able to catch them when it’s a bit more low key (which might be difficult given they’re being so well received wherever they go!)

YA

Back up the road for Stereolab at The Ritz and a giant, room shaking cheer greeted them when the lights faded. Everything’s effortless and perfectly done – all sounding great. Main highlights came from the guitarist looking a tad like Scottish comic Limmy and Lætitia Sadier letting rip when she picked up the guitar herself. I can’t stop telling people she’s playing Levenshulme in a few weeks… Understandably everyone ate it up, though there’s clearly much to talk about over dinner as it was chat central in the room.

The YES queuing debacle struck again for Crack Cloud and rather humorously, Stereolab turned up at the front door and even they struggled to get in! With Crack Cloud being our number one band to see, it was rather disheartening to be stood on the stairs waiting to get into the Pink Room as time ticked on, having already spent 40 minutes stuck in the snaking queue outside. Talk amongst those queuing suggested the festival was above capacity and I felt sorry for the security staff, seemingly unsure of what to do, with some punters looking to go up to just the roof terrace being told to stay downstairs. Advice provided at the start of the day was to manage expectations, but bloody hell…

Thankfully, the Canadian collective were late to start things off, so there was enough time to make friends by squeezing through the wall of people to get a good view. ‘Crackin Up‘ opened it up and all negative thoughts soon dissappeared. What a band.

There’s a number of new members in the band it seems and the regulars themselves looked different too. This is one of the many things I like about Crack Cloud – they switch it up on the regular and are definitely always interesting to watch. It’s a topless affair from 90% of them and one of the new lads looks like he’d asked the hairdresser for a teen heartthrob cut from the 90s. Very swish. Whoever is on keys is equally great, but he’s more about getting right into it – when he’s not playing, he’s vibe central, dancing away in his little spot or shouting his head off.

The crowd went nuts for just about anything/everything and watching them absolutely smash it to such an appreciative and large audience was like watching your kids grow up. Gatekeeping is a load of crap, but we’ve not stopped going on about them since we were at some of their earliest – if not first – UK shows in tiny rooms up North.

Post Truth‘ sounded hard as fuck and was swiftly followed up by ‘Bastard Basket‘, one of many from their latest, the riveting ‘PAIN OLYMPICS‘. The crew played something that sounded like INXS and fair play – it was catchy as hell. The last time they were knocking out pop smashers like that, it eventually became ‘Ouster Stew‘, so fingers crossed for what’s to come.

We were treated to a lengthy and captivating ‘Empty Cell‘, highlighted by Bryce Cloghesy (aka Military Genius) wailing away on the sax. ‘Philosopher’s Calling‘ saw bodies flying everywhere and people continued to become unhinged as crowd surfing kicked up a notch. Noted pop smasher ‘Ouster Stew‘ made an appearance and was perfect, whilst lights were down for ‘Swish Swash‘. Building and building, their last of the evening was both incredible and disgusting. A swift exit followed and we were off to Archies for something equally incredible and disgusting. Good night.

CC

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Live Review: The Cribs at The Piece Hall in Halifax 03 September 2021

It almost sounds like a siren ringing out across The Piece Hall as Everything Everything arrive on stage early Friday evening, bleeding into opener ‘Lost Powers‘, the kick off point from latest album ‘RE-ANIMATOR‘. The Grade I listed Piece Hall is an architectural marvel, and it’s mildly surreal – following a near 12 months sat at home twiddling thumbs – to be catching one of our favourite bands doing their thing within its surroundings.

It’s evident the crowd are up for getting lashed and singing along, helped on no doubt by support earlier in the afternoon from Black Honey, The Lounge Society and locals The Orielles. ‘Cough Cough‘ and ‘Can’t Do‘ come out early and just at the right time, the former with a drum sound like a big shotgun blast, the latter seeing finger pointing aplenty amongst the audience.

Vocalist Jonathan Higgs has not lost the stage presence in his time away, even giving it the Robbie Williams extended arm ‘You-know-the-words-Wembley‘ on the chorus. The band are all decked out in the same livery, everyone except bassist Jeremy Pritchard, electing instead to knock about in a turtleneck like a Bond villain.

From where we’re stood we almost miss out on seeing most important member, percussionist and all rounder Peter Sené! A short change of position soon sorts that though, and we’re stationed elsewhere just to catch the mammoth stomp of ‘Regret‘, which really gets the crowd going under the pink stage lights.

It’s great to hear the likes of new ones ‘Arch Enemy‘, ‘SUPERNORMAL‘ and the anthemic ‘Violent Sun‘, having unfortunately been kept at a 2 metre distance (and then some) since the album and subsequent single came out during the pandemic. But it’s a trio of big hitters from 2015’s ‘Get To Heaven‘ that sends them off, ‘Spring / Sun / Winter / Dread‘ getting everyone’s hips wiggling as a bloke from behind sings the chorus at the top of his lungs like he’s already sunk 10 pints (and to be fair, he may very well have).

No Reptiles‘ is as euphoric as ever, and the crowd is a sea of outstretched arms, many holding a pint in one hand and phone in the other. People are on shoulders soon enough and pint pots are getting chucked sky high. Gigs are indeed back to normal. ‘Distant Past‘ keeps the vibe well and truly going and with the lights flashing and the punters getting fully stuck in, it feels like we’re back to business! Higgs quite rightly picks up on the atmosphere and calls out “Let me fucking hear you!” to the packed out Piece Hall.

A wealth of pop hits soundtrack the changeover, a perfect accompaniment to our allocated churro snack time like Smooth FM might soundtrack your drive home. Bliss. It’s elevated by the beautiful spire all lit up and it’s such a treat to be back in the venue. Soon enough the lit up spire is of little interest, as the stage lights glow red and the ultimate pop banger, Yazoo’sOnly You‘, blares out, bringing the local lads on to deafening applause.

Running Into You‘, best song from their new album ‘Night Network‘, kicks it off good and proper after a load of crunching feedback. The £6 pint pots are instantly flying, people wasting no time in clambering onto shoulders as the crowd suddenly seems to grow 5x in size. Confetti cannons burst two songs in and arms are around shoulders everywhere the eye can see.

Cheers Halifax, ow the fuck you doing?” Shouts one Jarman before the other has to repeat himself when he asks “We ready to go fucking mental Halifax or what?” No words from drummer Ross Jarman, but he does his talking behind the kit, stood up and battering the cymbals early on for “an old one“.

You’ve all got ‘Night Network‘, right?” We’re asked before they rip into the heart-swelling ‘Never Thought I’d Feel Again‘. The recently announced ‘Sonic Blew Singles Club‘ throws up the goods too via initial offering ‘Swinging At Shadows‘ and you can hear the ‘oooh oooh‘ all over Calderdale as punters get bang into it.

It feels very festival like and one loves how you can move about the venue, grab a beer, nip to the loo, snack on a churro and be completely immersed in the sound bouncing around the hall wherever you go. A great view of the band can be found at every point – even with an Adidas track-suited arm bouncing energetically in front of your nut.

Guitarist Ryan at one point borrows from the Freddie Mercury Live Aid playbook to get the crowd even more pumped but really, the siblings could say anything. The crowd are right with the Wakefield trio from the word go, erupting at anything and everything said from on stage. It’s not unusual for fans to hang off every word a band might have to say, but this felt different, the packed house fully behind them no matter what. Later on, Ryan’s at it again, telling a funny twisting-and-turning tale about almost becoming disillusioned by it all and winding up working in a health store just outside of NYC, but soon coming to his senses having heard The Cribs on the radio alongside the likes of Journey. Must get back to the actual day job!

Cribs2

Speaking of NYC, the lights drop out at one point and Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo comes through the speakers on ‘Be Safe‘, so convincing that I thought he was bloody there! Plumes of smoke rise above the audience and it’s people up on shoulders again, the whole crowd becoming one as they scream along whenever The Cribs come in on vocals. It’s cute to see so many proper lad types become unglued and bounce around like kids, unlocking something deep inside them. Like a giant creche for ex-indie heads.

A brief Ryan and Ross led rendition of ‘Wonderful World‘ by Sam Cooke unexpectedly kicks into the incredible ‘Men’s Needs‘ and one doesn’t really need to let you know how the crowd reacted to it. Can you imagine? Just up the road from Wakefield, in front of a packed out crowd after a whole year off from gigging? Oof! You can just about hear the vocals over the crowd noise…

We’re The Cribs from Wakefield, thanks for coming out” Signals the end as confetti cannons burst once again on the euphoric closer ‘Pink Snow‘.

I’m not a die hard by any means but the atmosphere and enthusiasm throughout their set is intoxicating, so it’s hard not to fall into singing back every chorus with a big grin. Bassist Gary acknowledges their 2016 Millennium Square performance was a life highlight, but reckons The Piece Hall might be just as big. Sure enough, as close as we could get to Wakefield big venue wise, it’s just a joy to experience their big moment amongst a gathering that are with them all the way.

NN

Night Network‘ – Reviewed here!

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Live Review: Demob Happy at The Deaf Institute in Manchester 01 September 2021

Having previously shared stages with the likes of Jack White and Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, when we last caught Demob Happy live in Manchester, we quite rightly predicted the trio would be “setting themselves up for a big year“. Sure enough, it took a year for the world to hit standstill following their big showing at Soup Kitchen in February 2019, so the next twelve months saw them on the road throughout Europe, Canada and the states, racking up further support slots for the likes of Royal Blood and Band of Skulls.

2020 then? Fucked it. Not their fault mind, and a UK tour was squeezed in for Independent Venue Week at the start of the year, but other than that the Demob Happy trio were, for the most part, holed up at home like the rest of us schmucks. Until now!

Having just finished off a weekend of Reading and Leeds festivities, Demob Happy returned to the live circuit this past week, bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to kick the arse of Covid-19 and its social distancing. Recent photographic evidence identifies that Demob Happy dress just as well as they ever have in a live setting, suited and booted more often than not. In Manchester last night however they’d dialled it down ever so slightly, only bassist Matthew Marcantonio sporting a sharp blazer. Even still, they all looked like a 1000 quid right enough.

What they haven’t dialled down is just how LOUD they are and a massive drum intro from Thomas Armstrong offered a glimpse of what was to come over the next 60 minutes. Hammering away at the kit like it’s the last song of the night, it kicked off 2019 single ‘Autoportrait‘ in explosive fashion and the crowd were mega into it from note one.

Every introduction was greeted with an eruption of noise from the punters – ‘Loosen It‘ seeing everyone up front bouncing, whilst ‘Liar in your Head‘ had a proper pit open up (albeit a friendly looking one!) Soon after the old gig staples were in full force, as guitarist Adam Godfrey and Armstrong got the crowd clapping along and it was a joy to get back to some form of normality.

You all just look like a big blur to me…” Says Marcantonio a few songs in, acknowledging he couldn’t make out just who’s in the room through the smoke in his eyes. Later he asked if we’ve missed getting in amongst it, having spent the pandemic stuck dancing in our living rooms awaiting this moment.

Having suggested their sound drifts between ‘Era VulgarisQueens of the Stone Age and The Beatles later works, first listen of new single ‘Sympathy Boy‘ suggested they were offering up something more akin to The Strokes. Fair enough – any reservations about a slight change in direction were put to bed early on, with their latest release sounding gigantic live, Godfrey laying down some tasty guitar work.

You can tell drummer Armstrong loves playing live and he’s long been one of our favourite parts of their shows – head back, eyes closed singing one minute to standing up off the stool and screaming into the back row the next. An utter powerhouse behind the kit, he led the way on building ‘Fake Satan‘ to stadium rock heights.

The undeniably catchy ‘Junk DNA‘ – an early QOTSA style rager – was a proper highlight and this time around, the lead stayed in Godfrey’s guitar (!) leaving Marcantonio to accidentally smash his microphone stand into the crowd. Luckily its caught by an out stretched hand as the bassist looked on in delight and carried on.

They let on that they would play us a few new ones – including their collective favourite – all of which we’ll have never heard (“you’re not gonna know, unless ya hacked us“). A trio of never before heard tracks are greeted with much favour and sound promising, the third particularly – a stonker of ‘Holy Doom‘ proportions. The new album is apparently coming on well but, as they jokingly tell us, the pandemic has well and truly fucked them release wise and they’re desperate to get it out.

They were able to get something together for new single ‘Hades, Baby‘ however, recently putting out a live recording at Abbey Road Studios with a full orchestra backing. Sadly we’re told there’s no orchestra on the night, but they’ll play it anyway. Hands in the air and the crowd are on every chorus for this cinematic Beatles-esque number and it sounded perfect in The Deaf Institute. I’ve never heard so many people singing ‘Tetrahedron‘…

Marcantonio was thankful for everyone making the trip out, admitting he’s felt like half a person for the past year. Sadly there’s no Smiths cover to follow his ‘Half A Person‘ announcement (even in Manchester!), instead we’re hit with another recent single via the glam stomp of ‘Mother Machine‘.

Be Your Man‘ finished it off – we’re told it’s definitely their last song (no mucking about), but they’re happy to jump behind the merch desk immediately afterward. The crowd almost became one with the early rumble of the closer, becoming unglued for the final time in the evening. “Get those fucking hands in the air Manchester!” Screamed Armstrong as a lad surfed triumphantly over the punters.

Following 12+ months of no shows, we’ve so far managed to get out to a sit down affair and a bit of an experimental outing. This felt more like it, a right fucking go of it with all the hallmarks of live shows on offer. Judging by the queue for the merch desk, Demob Happy most certainly did the job tonight. Top marks.

DH2

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Listening Post – September 2021

Now that live music is making a return (for those not terrified by rising cases and the very real pandemic threat), you might think you only need to listen to music IRL from now on. But hold on there, buddy boy – you still need a heads up on what’s hot and what’s not, right?

Luckily for you, Birthday Cake For Breakfast is back with an ever punctual NEW playlist for the month!

You know the story, friend – 20 tunes, old and new – all well worth your time (and then some!) Get yourself involved now!

The B-52’s – Give Me Back My Man
(Wild Planet)

Once again opening up a new playlist for the month, legendary Athens, Georgia outfit The B-52’s still sound fresh on ‘Give Me Back My Man‘ from their second studio album. It was a live vid of this that caught my eye early into the month and the powerhouse vocal of Cindy Wilson that kept me coming back for more.

Ty Segall – Feel Good
(Harmonizer)

Ty is back, baby! Another belter on offer from the unbeatable combo of Denée and Ty Segall, ‘Feel Good‘ has Denée taking care of vocal duties whilst Ty lets rip on guitar (and knowing him, drums too). The record itself sees another side of Ty on offer, but this nails single packs in everything we love about the blonde bombshell.

Kacy & Clayton, Marlon Williams – I Wonder Why
(Plastic Bouquet)

Canadian duo Kacy & Clayton hook up with New Zealander Marlon Williams with tantalising results, as evidenced on this cut from their 2020 collaboration record. As sweet as a sugar ring donut, the country twang of ‘I Wonder Why‘ is a total pleasure.

Folly Group – Fewer Closer Friends
(Awake and Hungry)

From an EP with a title describing my every waking moment, the Folly Group lads are causing quite the stir off the back of debut EP ‘Awake and Hungry‘. Having signed to tastemakers So Young Records and publishers The Hot Wave (featuring Joseph Mount of Metronomy), It was a comparison to Crack Cloud that got us on board, with this razor sharp number from the LDN based quartet having us particularly excited to hear what else they’ve got up their collective sleeves.

UMO

Unknown Mortal Orchestra – That Life

Off the back of previous single ‘Weekend Run‘ – one we suggested features the best naming of days of the week since Craig David dropped ‘7 Days” – Ruban Nielson once again comes up with the goods in the terrific ‘That Life‘. Whilst there’s no official announcement of a follow up to 2018’s ‘Sex & Food‘, we just hope Unknown Mortal Orchestra keep churning out these undeniable hits.

XTC – That’s Really Super, Supergirl
(Skylarking)

Having been obsessed with ‘Black Sea‘ throughout most of 2020, I’ve recently found myself stuck on ‘Skylarking‘, playing it front to back on most days. Bloody hell, that Andy Partridge knows how to write a catchy tune. ‘That’s Really Super, Supergirl‘ is a wonky pop smasher and will no doubt get stuck in your head like it has been mine.

Stuck – Labor Leisure
(Content That Makes You Feel Good)

Chicago bad lads Stuck very recently followed up their very good debut album ‘Change Is Bad‘ with the equally swish ‘Content That Makes You Feel Good‘. Opener ‘Labor Leisure‘ is an absolute box ticker for us. Raging.

Villagers – So Simpatico
(Fever Dreams)

From latest album ‘Fever Dreams‘, Dublin outfit Villagers – a.k.a. the work of twice Mercury nominated Conor O’Brien – make hearts swell on the incredibly mesmerizing ‘So Simpatico‘. Thanks to O’Brien for stretching this Beatles-esque beauty out for a good 7 minutes so you can truly let it sink in.

Iggy Pop – James Bond
(Free)

Playing pool the other evening (what am I like, eh) and this came on, the cucumber cool, sultry number from Iggy matching the faux American aesthetics of the Mancunian bar. Daft but great, bringing to mind his brilliant mid-80’s pop smash ‘Shades‘.

Pooneh Ghana

(Photo Credit: Pooneh Ghana)

Parquet Courts – Walking at a Downtown Pace
(Sympathy for Life)

Fair fucks to the Parquet Courts lads, one return single was all it took to feel a range of emotions regarding their forthcoming new album. From a little bit of uncertainty at first and a niggle of doubt to fist pumping and singing along by the final chorus! Never in doubt.

GRETA – Forever We’ll Be Dancing
(Forever We’ll Be Dancing)

New Order/International Teachers of Pop vibes aplenty on the title track from the newly announced GRETA album. The Copenhagen-based songwriter, composer and producer was born in a little seaside town in Northern Germany, building up to her future career getting people on the dancefloor via an education from her parents’ Abba and Kate Bush records.

Freddie King – San-Ho-Zay
(Let’s Dance Away and Hide Away)

Let the good times roll! Rocking stuff from one of the original Blues guitar kings, Freddie King (naturally), this has got big grins in mind, an absolute smasher.

TURNSTILE – UNDERWATER BOI
(GLOW ON)

Can’t stop hammering this record, you know. The boys did good on this one and the swell vibes of ‘UNDERWATER BOI‘ caught us straight away on first listen to the record (estimate I’m now on 100+ listens…) Such a jam.

Well Yeah – Hello

Latin flavours galore on the debut single from Well Yeah, the new project from Los BitchosCarolina Faruolo. On their introduction – the aptly titled ‘Hello‘ – Well Yeah very much bring a spicy vibe, hypnotising listeners across its three minutes.

Filth Is Eternal – On The Rake
(Love Is A Lie, Filth Is Eternal)

Sixty seconds, in and out – get it done. EASILY the best band name going at the moment. Filth Is Eternal just put out a new record – the perfectly titled ‘Love Is A Lie, Filth Is Eternal‘ – and early single ‘On The Rake‘ is a total head-crushing joy.

Parsnip

Parsnip – Health
(Health)

A throwback delight from Aussie lot Parsnip, taken from their 2017 debut EP. Chuffed to have uncovered the Melbourne quartet, who very much hit the ground running a number of years back with this sun-soaked slice of nice.

UV-TV – Back to Nowhere
(Always Something)

Another joyful outing from New York based trio UV-TV – the speedy summer breeze of ‘Back to Nowhere‘ is the perfect antidote to those dark nights creeping back in, as one hits play and forgets it’s going to be getting awfully cold over the next few months…

PYLON – Cool

Out walking the dog on Sunday morning with spotify on radio, shuffling out a wunderbar selection. Every time a really good song came on that I couldn’t place, it was ineveitably the work of Athens, Georgia outfit PYLON. Sounding very much like every current band knocking out a similar sound, it’s crystal clear that the quartet really paved the way.

Ausmuteants – Freedom of Information
(Order of Operation)

If you’ve been following Birthday Cake For Breakfast for a while, you know we’re suckers for an Aussie punk band. Geelong seems to be the spot – having birthed the likes of GONZO and Vintage Crop – and Ausmuteants very much hit the spot for us with their raging, synth heavy blend of punk. Catchy as hell.

GOAT – Fill My Mouth
(Headsoup)

A captivating concoction of African Rock, Jazz, Reggae and Psych saw to it that ‘RHYTHMS‘, the debut album from GOATMAN, rarely left our turntable on release. The record also opened the door for us on Swedish Leg-ends GOAT, GOATMAN being one of many mysterious masked members that makes up its numbers. New album ‘Headsoup’ is a compilation across the outfits near ten years together, bringing together non-album material, standalone singles, B-sides and TWO new songs, including the trippy, mind-melting psych party that is ‘Fill My Mouth‘. Fill My Mouth? Fill my ears, GOAT!

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Release Rundown – Chubby And The Gang, Filth Is Eternal, Sugar Horse and TURNSTILE

Chubby And The Gang – The Mutt’s Nuts
(Partisan)

CG

It was around this time last year that I bumped into a friend wearing a Chubby and the Gang T-shirt. Unaware of their shenanigans at the time, I enquired about his shirt to which he replied ‘they’ve made the best party punk album of the year’. So, naturally I went home and put on the West London outfit’s 2020 debut ‘Speed Kills’ and was immediately sucker punched by their authentic brand of 70s inspired Brit Punk. Naturally, the underground buzz that preceded the release led to them signing to Partisan and getting snappy with making a follow up.

The energy is certainly kept up on ‘The Mutt’s Nuts’, but like all good second albums it manages to expand the band’s sonic palette with some 50’s doo-wop style slow jams in the mix (closer ‘I Hate The Radio’ being a lighter swaying highlight) and there’s a few harmonica solos thrown in for some proper good pub rock vibes (‘Life On The Bayou’ is a full on pint swirling, knee stomper).

However, I find that this slight dart in direction comes more in the second half of the album, while the first brings pure punk ferocity but with an even more anthemic slant. ‘Coming Up Tough’ is one of the many punk rock bangers that dominate the record, reminding me of Fucked Up at their most instant, which makes sense knowing that FU guitarist Jonah Falco produced the record.

For those thinking they’ve made a crowd pleasing pop record, this is still hungry for the pit and for the most part is a million miles an hour. But if anything, Chubby and the Gang have leant even harder on their punk credentials by not making the same record twice and delivering songs that bring together a sense of unity, whether it’s shouting yer head off or singing sweetly. In short, ‘The Mutt’s Nuts’ is a solid set that more than lives up to its title.

Filth Is Eternal – Love Is A Lie, Filth Is Eternal
(Church Road)

FIE

A new name to me, the brilliantly named Filth is Eternal have been snapped up by our favourites Church Road Records for the release of their second full length, the equally well titled ‘Love Is A Lie, Filth Is Eternal’. Consisting of members from a whole heap of well loved bands within the alternative metal scene, the Seattle based four piece combine the skills sharpened across their impressive CV’s to bring us an absolutely raging set of hardcore punk.

It makes sense to me that vocalist Lisa Mungo was a former touring member of Daughters, as she delivers these seething, gnarly as fuck vocals that are equal amounts powerful and intense. This is backed by a fiercely tight band that pack a shit ton of bludgeoning riffs in – taking sludge, thrash and pure solid hardcore in the space of 20 minutes.

It’s impressive how cohesive this record is while delivering interesting musical switch ups at every turn. It’s clear that this is a band that have thought about their art and there is this knife edge tension to these performances that creates a bigger sense of intrigue than your average hardcore record.

What really grabbed me was the last track on the record, titled ‘Filth Is Eternal’. To me, naming a song after your band is a very bold statement. What struck me about this track is its tighter grasp of rhythm and melody. It’s still proper brutal, but there is a sense of control in the performance that just feels so powerful and unlike the full throttle nature of the rest of the record. Basically, Filth Is Eternal keep you on your toes with this record and I have a feeling that they have only just gotten started.

Sugar Horse – The Live Long After
(Small Pond)

SH

In spite of the obvious obstacles, last year was a pretty decent year for Bristolian outfit Sugar Horse, who kicked off the year by releasing the huge sounding ‘DRUGS’ EP, which saw them continue to majestically blend post-rock, doom-metal and goth-pop. Aside from some additional and just as ambitious releases that came out later in the year, the four piece still found the time to construct and record their highly anticipated debut album.

The Live Long After’ is what I hoped I’d get as the Sugar Horse debut album in as much as I wanted to expect the unexpected. From the hushed count in of opener ‘I Am Not Now, Nor Have I Ever Been…’ I still wasn’t expecting to get my head blown clean off so soon by an earth shattering riff. It’s this wonderfully executed range of dynamics that flows thick through Sugar Horses‘ world, as you become submersed by this all encompassing soundtrack.

There’s a wistfully unique flow to the album, opening with a trio of doom-laden, riff monsters before soaking into two beautifully ethereal, post-rock passages; the wonderfully titled ‘Phil Spector in Hell’ being its transcendental centrepiece.

It’s clear to hear the diversity within the band’s musical influences, and I’m a fan of how vocalist Ashley Tubb can one minute sound like Robert Smith at his most poised and the next scream his head off as if possessed by Lucifer himself.

It takes strong musicianship and sturdy songcraft skills to pull off the genre bending trickery of Sugar Horse, with all the pieces of this extravagant puzzle fitting together so snuggly. ‘The Live Long After‘ has the depth, range and ambition of bands twice the size and age of a band like Sugar Horse and the fact that this is just their debut is even more impressive. A beautiful, brave and fearless effort.

TURNSTILE – Glow On
(Roadrunner)

TS

In 2018, Baltimore’s TURNSTILE really upped the game for US Hardcore with their superb second LP ‘Time & Space‘. Still smashing through the hard as nails hardcore they so well delivered on their debut, it was the little pushes into alt rock and contemporary music that helped usher in a new dawn for the genre. At this point, I think many would say that TURNSTILE are at the peak of their powers, though with an album as good as ‘Time & Space‘, there is definitely a pressure for them to deliver.

Pressure? What Pressure? Fuck that! TURNSTILE sound effortless as they boldly continue to go where not many have been before and do a bang up job of it. ‘Glow On‘ is a flamboyant mix of punk rock belters, hardcore smashers and space pop slayers.

I remember just a few months ago we had an immaculate EP gifted to us, which turned out to be a sampler for the album, featuring the likes of hardcore anthem in the making ‘T.L.C (Turnstile Love Connection)’ and maybe one of the best alt rock tunes of the year in form of ‘Mystery‘. As expected, the album goes even deeper to bringing forward the biggest riffs (‘Endless‘) and the dopest hooks (‘Underwater Boi‘) this band have written.

It’s a testament to the ambition of TURNSTILE that they have no fear in stomping your head with a slam dance friendly breakdown (‘Humanoid/Shake It Up‘), but then wanna give you a smooch on a psychedelic slow jam (‘Alien Love Call‘). It’s one thing writing a heap of eclectic tunes, but it’s another trying to bring them all together to create this multi coloured collage that actually works incredibly well as a full piece. ‘Glow On‘ is a non-stop banger shop; a huge statement of record that is all about the TLC.

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Live Review: Deliluh at The Castle Hotel in Manchester 23 August 2021

The first/last time I caught Deliluh, the Canadian quartet were coming to Europe hot off the release of their latest album ‘Beneath The Floors‘. Tucked into the basement of Manchester’s YES venue at the tail end of 2019 on a Sunday evening, it was the type of night that you often think back on, thankful you were one of the lucky few in attendance.

One of the many nights on a run of European shows, the trip over also marked the transition of the group from one continent to another, the quartet leaving Canada behind for pastures new. With a certain global pandemic soon taking the centre of attention and impacting scheduling, the move eventually resulted in a slimming down of Deliluh, with one member returning to Canada and another leaving the band altogether.

Stripped from four to two, it was of much interest to hear what they’d be cooking up in a live setting, following initial offerings as a two piece on their most recent release, the brooding and intense ‘Amulet‘. Split across two sides of wax, each captures the band before and after the line-up change from four members to two.

Pandemic still in full effect but with live shows allowed to return, it was a delight to kick off the week visiting The Castle Hotel in Manchester, a much missed local institution we’ve been raring to re-visit over the past 15+ months. One thing you never forget is how loud it is – even outside the venue, as the drums could be heard pounding as one walked up the road. There’s a big queue out the door too, but even still it’s clear that it would be deafening within the main room.

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(Photo Credit: Will Shields)

It’s a great turnout for the support and the room was peppered with lots of familiar faces. The first ever live outing for local lot Mandy, Indiana (formerly Gary, Indiana), they create a proper hypnotic, driving Girl Band type of rumble, the four up front cooking up some proper fuzzy noise as vocalist Valentine Caulfield bopped from foot to foot front and centre.

The striking Caulfield moves through many styles, one minute a breathy French delivery, the next laughing out loud then frantic shouting as the drummer went at it 100mph and the on hand synth/drum accompaniment for the evening (who looks a lot like the promoter…) hammered at his own wee kit with all the vigour of the Energiser bunny.

The crowd were well into it, getting amped during a particularly dance-y section before something cut out for the guitarist. One half of Deliluh jumped on stage to assist as Caulfield howled “No!” Assessing the situation, she announced soon after “We might be back…

It’s a brief snafu before they’re soon right back into that last part, the feet beginning to shuffle on the floor again like nothing had changed. Whilst one half of Deliluh was on hand to fix any issues, the other was a gentleman in the crowd, allowing a group of women into his spot for a better view. I quite like that – there’s no air about either of them, both were stood in amongst the crowd, watching near enough all of the support and getting into it just as much as the punters around them.

Some things never change as it turns out. In front of the stage there’s loads of room available, though no one dares to stand in it, electing instead to cram themselves in the middle of the room. Even in a socially distanced pandemic, no one wants to venture to the very front! Caulfield did get stuck in herself however during big single ‘Alien 3‘, hopping off stage – having ditched her ‘I Don’t Bang Tories‘ top – to dance in the vacant spot whilst the rest on stage relentlessly built up this beefy whopper.

Deliluh definitely look like they’ve moved from Canada to Europe with every piece of gear they own. The stage was cluttered for their arrival with all manner of chunky kit, looking like the gadget pages from an Index catalogue in the early 90s. The duo also look and sound very much like they’ve just recently moved to Berlin, the glass of red awaiting vocalist Kyle Knapp a nice touch.

Things built slowly, both Knapp and synth player Julius Pederson positioned opposite each other, peaking above their various bits of kit, Pederson near enough backed into a corner stood over his modular synth and a mess of wires. The tracks on the night were all about build build build, the pair meticulously moving about the stage throughout to pick up whichever instrument was needed at the time. On the opener, Knapp moved between holding just the microphone to picking up a saxophone and wailing, to playing some lap steel deal-y. Later on he’s going full pelt at that little gizmo, hammering away like he’s scratching a record on a turntable.

Guitars came out two songs in and when Knapp strummed down it comes out like an avalanche of noise, looped again and again for crushing impact. On another he gripped the microphone and took himself out into the first few rows, looking wide eyed amongst the crowd as he let out a stream of consciousness vocal. This came with traumatic memories of almost losing my front teeth in the same venue once when a vocalist stormed the crowd and knocked my pint glass up into my mouth…

A rare moment of silence allowed a brief bit of applause, but it’s soon drowned out by the invigorating ‘Amulet B‘. It’s soon followed by a total wash of noise that shook the walls and was ribcage rattlingly loud – almost euphoric, if not deafening. It was the last of the evening and possibly a bit too long, evidenced by Knapp rolling a cigarette halfway through his vocal and walking out whilst the music continued. Pederson stuck about as the synth rang out, before he too ducked through the crowd and out the door.

I really like how natural and experimental it all came about, without being laboured or awkward. The pair used the space around them and instruments at their disposal to craft each piece to engaging results. A well put together set, but it’s clearly not yet the finished article. That’s not to take away from it however, rather this is something of a glimpse into what more they have on the horizon – more excitement to come as Deliluh explore and figure themselves out as a duo.

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(Photo Credit: Romain Silvi)

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