Live Review: Employed To Serve at Rebellion in Manchester 29 March 2019

Surrey based metalcore mavericks Employed To Serve seem very much the frontrunners of the UK’s heavy scene right now, having made two brutally brilliant albums and terrorising audiences around the world with an ear bursting live show. It makes total sense the quintet have signed a major label deal to release their third album, which drops in May. Tonight we are at a packed out Rebellion Bar in Manchester for an exclusive headline show to kick off a busy year of touring in support of this highly anticipated release.

The band enter the stage all dressed in matching windbreakers donning the new album cover on the back and the band’s initials on the front. Although everything is impressive about tonight’s set, it’s the fact all members make it through still rocking the windbreaker that I find especially impressive. But down to the tunes. The set opens with ‘Force Fed‘, the first track we’ve heard from the new LP and it sounds as ripping live as it does on record, with an intro that reminds me of early Slipknot, breaking into a proper tough guy hardcore riff that gets the pit moving immediately.

I must admit I was desperate to hear as much new material as possible from ‘Eternal Forward Motion‘, but the band keep us on our toes with three new tracks including recent single release ‘Harsh Truth‘ and another cut which I didn’t catch the name of. Everything new we hear sounds fucking crushing, the riffs are as sharp as hell, the breakdowns make me wanna put my head through a glass door and the vocals are as fearless and heartfelt than ever. I have a feeling that this new album is going to go heavier and deeper than before and I can already hear this becoming the most important metal record of the year.

For the rest of the set we get straight bangers, mostly lifted from their faultless sophomore effort ‘The Warmth Of A Dying Sun‘. I saw the band a few times during the promotional run of this record but it still sounds ridiculously fresh and exciting, from the sky scraping ‘Lethargy‘ to the thunderous groove of ‘Good For Nothing‘, the whole room is lost in a barrage of head banging or screaming their lungs out back to vocalist Justine. They never let the energy get lost though as guitarist Richard punches the air and screams along with the front row whilst other guitarist Sammy demands circle pits and, along with Justine, makes sure the room is constantly moving while they deliver these Metalcore monsters.

I’m almost a little bit sad when the set finishes tonight as I could easily hear the whole thing again. Employed To Serve not only put on a solid live show but they have a whole army of brilliantly written tunes that go from soaring melodies to fucking punishing breakdowns. Particularly with these new tunes, tonight they seem unstoppable. I predict seeing them tear apart a room twice this size on their next visit up north!

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A Tribute to Her’s

(Photo Credit: Neelam Khan Vela)
Words: Jack Brownbill

My friends put on their bravest face.

The line I quote is taken from the Her’s track ‘What Once Was’. In the recent tragedy, it speaks volumes.

I have always been into new bands. It’s always been my thing. I enjoy hearing new sounds. New people. When can I see them? They’ve just started out so they should be playing one of the small venues. The excitement is all encapsulated within one. When I first heard Her’s, this was no different. The same feelings. It was about three years ago I first came across the music of Stephen Fitzpatrick and Audun Laading, the musical duo who, like many prestigious acts before them, hailed from the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA).

To my delight, Her’s came at the right time for me. As soon as I heard the pulsating pickings of Stephen, the big bass sounds from Audun, all compiled with their melancholy lyrics, the affinity for them was instant. You were forgiven thinking there was more than two in this band. I was lucky enough to watch them in the Summer of 2016 at Manchester’s then premier Northern Quarter festival for new bands – A Carefully Planned Festival – at Mint Lounge. I was also in the company of the band during a pulsating performance from Trudy & The Romance at Soup Kitchen. It was back to back – the music scene coming straight out of Liverpool. To be honest, it was the main reason I bought my ticket for that weekend. Sods law would dictate it being back ended to late night Sunday, but I didn’t care. Watching Her’s at Mint Lounge was a joy. You knew from watching them, they instantly had a rapport with the audience. High energy and mountains of enthusiasm.

From then on, I was hooked on Her’s. I even had a random encounter with them at a service station off the M6. Anyone who has travelled north of Manchester on the M6 knows about Tebay services! It’s the stuff of motorways legend. On a trip to the Lakes with the Mrs, I was wandering about the place when a chap walked past dressed to the nines in hipster clothing. My initial reaction was “I know that lad”, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. It was only after taking a few looks at the table across the way whilst having my breakfast that I realised who it was. It was that band of Her’s.

Now, I’ll let you into a little thing that occurs between me and the other half. We have a knack of running into famous people and with me being a ’no filter northerner’, I don’t get too fussed about walking over and having a chat with anyone that might be half famous. So coming back from the toilet, I walked straight over to the table and said “You’re that band called Her’s aren’t you.” I noticed Stephen was eating what looked like the biggest tub of olives and he looked like he was about to spit them out when I went over to say hello and he realised they had been recognised. Audun just nodded politely and said “Yes we are and thanks”! I mentioned that I had seen them at Carefully Planned and really liked their music and they smiled and chatted. They were charming, friendly and gave a lovely warm vibe.

I tweeted them after the chance encounter, about bumping into them and regretting not asking for an impromptu performance. A swift response from them suggested it would have been the perfect spot for a bit of music in front of the pond that homes Tebay’s resident ducks (again, this is not like any service station you have been too!) I spoke about the encounter for the rest of the trip, probably to the annoyance of my Mrs! To some, it might mean nothing. Many might even think ‘who?’ But to me, it’s the whole reason I love new music and new bands. There is something indescribable when I hear a new song that I instantly fall in love with. ‘What Once Was’ and ‘Dorothy’ gave me those feelings, and when I find a new band, I can’t help but share that with everyone and anyone who will listen. I want them to feel what I feel. I want them to get just as excited about a song or a band as I do.

When I saw Her’s and chatted to them, they were currently on a UK tour – Probably to some of the UK’s smallest venues. But that encounter made my day. I knew that it might have come as a surprise to them that they were ‘recognised’, but I hoped that it was just a little reminder and gratification that they were doing something right. I can only imagine starting out as a band and being spotted, which must be a surreal yet humbling feeling. I didn’t do it to feed their egos, but I did it from the goodness of my heart as a fan, music lover and new band enthusiast. Jut a reminder to say – keep doing what you are doing. Starting out, they must have got that from many fans across the country. I can’t have been the only one.

When I heard debut EP ‘Songs of Her’s’, I loved it. The LP followed and it was everything I wanted from the band. The lads were accomplished musicians, which didn’t come as a surprise. Having visited LIPA in the past and seeing first-hand the students that attend there, as a musician myself it’s pretty intimidating. Real, raw talent is on show everywhere. In every nook and cranny, there is a gem to found. People go there to start dreams. Stephen and Audun were doing just that.

When I woke up to the news of the awful tragedy, I had read a tweet when I was half asleep and didn’t register what I was reading. It wasn’t until I went back on Twitter and saw the full extent of the tweets. I was numb. As reports are coming out, it’s circulating that the other person involved may have been drink driving. I could easily rant and be bitter and angry about such a selfish act from another human being, but this is about two best mates playing music and how much it touched people. I choose to focus on that. Their label Heist or Hit described them as “one of the UK’s most loved up and coming bands”.

We are all heartbroken. Their energy, vibrancy and talent came to define our label. As humans, they were warm, gentle and hilarious.” The label said in a statement. Even Hollywood megastar Pierce Brosnan paid tribute (Her’s used a cardboard cut out of the former James Bond in most of their shows). Mr Brosnan posted “I never knew these lads or their music till just now, but their music will be forever in my heart”.

IDLES are currently touring and treated fans at BBC 6 Music Festival in Liverpool to their take on Her’s ‘Harvey’. From fellow Liverpudlians Circa Waves to Sam Fender and even a lovely touch from Coldplay (which echoes their beautiful tribute to Viola Beach), Her’s have been championed by all corners of the music world, making it sad all the same that the wider world discovered who they were through these circumstances. Another shout out must go to Shell Zenner as well for her lovely tribute on BBC News.

To try and comprehend what their friends and families must be going through would be impossible. In time, that lyric I referred to at the start will stand the test of time, because that will be exactly the case. Fans, friends, loved ones and close ones will have to do just that – put on a brave face. But let’s not forget what Her’s did for us in such a short space of time. The music community. The scene. Liverpool. Norway. Indie music. Starting bands. Making it. Creating music. Touring the UK. Touring America. Being mates. I for one will always find time to listen to their work and in years to come when I listen to the album, I will always make sure people remember Her’s.

We will always have Tebay, lads. RIP.

(Photo Credit: Neelam Khan Vela)

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a/s/l: DBOY

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: Having recently signed up to Alcopop Records, and with a UK tour imminent, leather-clad, nice-jacket-wearing trio DBOY!

Too old to sleep on floors, but too young to care all that much/apologetically male/Niagara, Ontario.

Who is your favourite Simpsons character?
Joey Ramone, Season 5, Episode 4.

What T-Shirt are you wearing?
More of a ‘proper, white button-up’ guy, really.

What did your last text message say?
‘Bella Ciao

What’s the last song you listened to?
Cate Le Bon – ‘Sisters (Yes mate! – Ed)

How did you meet the people in your band?
Fate works in mysterious ways. Arguably, there are two reactions to meeting gimp-masked and largely androgynous creatures of lust and habit in a Fenwick bathhouse: fight, or flight. It is with great fortune to the modern free world and the universal aesthetic that a third option became apparent: form a creative collective.

What’s the first record you bought?
Welcome to the Rugged North – A collection of forest sounds from above the Canadian Shield.

Have you ever kissed someone & regretted it?
Part of the allure is that as a group, Dboy don’t kiss and tell.

Best Physical Feature?
Cheekbones through a leather mask come off as subtle yet meaningful to those close enough to feel each stitch and socket. The clothes maketh the boy.

Reasonably ok/not bad feature that you’re not fussed about?
I’d say that we are a full package, no? You can’t fuss over aesthetic perfection.

Do you have any pets?
Two: Al Right on Drums, and Ted Bare on Bass.

Ever picked up any injuries on tour?
Trench foot from wallowing in tasteless and boring indie rock from time to time.

What did you do for your last birthday?
Each day is a self-reflexive celebration. That day is no different.

Name something you CANNOT wait for?
In May, we will venture to England, Scotland, and Wales for the first time. On behalf of the people of the UK who I can most certainly speak for, I am excited to spread Dboy’s body of work to current and future subjects of the Scout’s Order.

Do you have a crush on someone?
Collectively, we favour the New World Order built on love, understanding, and sonic progression.

What’s the shittest experience you’ve had as a musician?
The pre-Dboy era… all of it.

If you could go back in time, how far would you go?

How do you want to die?
Consumed by wild wolves, preferably before we hit a hypothetical adult contemporary phase.

What are you craving right now?
More Dboy Scouts.

Have you ever been on a horse?
Horses mount Dboy, rather than vice versa. The derby is such a cruel world. We’d like to take the load off, ideally.

What did you dream about last night?
Lou Reed/Jimmy Buffet collaborative record.

If you could go back in time and kill the baby Hitler, would you?
Without any shadow of a doubt.

Have you ever been on TV?
Since seizing the means of production, the Dboy Broadcasting Corporation has become to main source of entertainment for the modern free world, so yes.

What do you want to be when you grow up?
Bigger than Lennon.

Dboy For President’ is out now through our mates at Alcopop Records! All details here – Pledge allegiance today!

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Album Review: Beige Palace – Leg

It was almost four years ago that I made the move from Leeds to Manchester, however I still manage to make regular trips back over the Pennines to see the odd gig and catch up with friends. It’s roughly an hours journey; whether that be on the ever-costly and condensed TransPennine Express train, the (slightly longer) arcane shit-shuttle that is Northern Rail, or via the surprisingly smooth and frugal (albeit humid) National Express coach. Whatever the mode of transport, the feeling is always the same. Body sinking into the valley as my mind transmits over the pulsing contours of the hills, my essence now free to ply the land. A land of legacy; built on syncopated factory echoes clapping through the smoked lapels of burnt peat escaping prehistoric inertia, the blackened obsidian sod growling as it rolls out of bed towards the yawning embers on the horizon. A conspiracy of murder and snow above baleful bodies of water, held back by concrete palms, that of a byzantine Jesu bearing a crown of rose thorns seeping an efflorescence of both crimson and ivory.

It is this ritual pilgrimage which I endure, and yet every time I pass through this sublime portal I find folly at its arse end, when I finally get off in Leeds and discover a band like Beige Palace.

It can’t be overstated how many gold nuggets Leeds has sharted out over the past 20 years, simply because no-one was paying attention, and so they could get away with whatever they wanted… how deplorable. Bands seem to be evolving at an alarming rate and even forming new hybrids. Beige Palace are an abbreviated formation of members former and concurrent noise-oriented projects (Cattle, Gloomy Planets, Thank, Magnapinna, Puddin’), comprising of; Ant Bedford (drums/vocals), Kelly Bishop (keys/violin/vocals) and Freddy Vinehill Cliffe (guitar/keys/vocals). Their distilled brand of noise-rock has even captured the attention of comedian Stewart Lee, who placed the bands ‘Gravel Time’ EP on a list of his favourite records.

On appearance, Beige Palace look like a happy family, the sort of happy family you might come across on a budget campsite at the edge of some Anglian coastal cliff. What could have possibly brought this incongruous unit together other than blood, or possibly a dark shared secret? Something about them makes you feel warm and comfortable, like your Nan’s chair, but that soon gives way to a disquieting, conjured by three alluring characters who wouldn’t feel out of place in a Reece Shearsmith creation. What have we walked into?

The band now find themselves with a full-length record by the name of ‘Leg’, and it’s the limb that brought you here so you might as well stay for the duration of the performance, at least out of politeness before curiosity. It is a record that swells, bares teeth and even bites across its thirty-two minutes.

From the opening shanty of ‘Mum, Tell Him’ sung by Mr. Bedford (often to be found bespectacled and holding the groove at the rear, anointed the father of the band), backed by his twin daughter Kelly who makes her synthesizer breathe like an accordion before asserting a truth so cold as “I just sometimes feel like you take better care of the plants than you do of yourself, and now even the plants are dying”…I mean, damn. Twin brother Freddy (also occasionally bespectacled like his father) ushers in the second track ‘Dr. Thingy’ with his throttling guitars before a beautifully antagonistic acapella harmony between the two twins stops us in our tracks. They begin in unison, before diverging into their own independent but simultaneous verses, battling it out to bore into your consciousness like Toxoplasmosis, until we’re stupefied into a flourish of la-la-las for the crescendo.

Laughing With Friend, Washing Our Hand’ takes us out the frame for a brief interlude, though with this kind of surrealist gallivanting, one begins to question the dimensions and parameters of the frame. It presents itself as a lapse in lucidity, the coughing up of dry ice before the next scene, as the “genu-ine actors” change costume behind the curtain and eventually return for the warm sinews of ‘Candy Pink Sparkle’. It’s a song of anguish served on top of a gorgeous bed of strings, a patchwork tapestry woven of contradictions as the belted refrain suggests; “I don’t have the time but i’m all the time in the world”. It’s as serene as this band gets, and perfectly placed at the end of the first half of the record.

Illegal Backflip’ is a fairly typical jangular discordant rock number that stands out merely because it never commits that which it threatens. The family affair continues, as what is revealed to be Bishop’s real father (credited here simply as David) reads a poem for ‘Aggregate’. His words restrained under a soporific Yorkshire timbre, over the rustling of paper and wind, and what sounds like a Sunday league football game going on in the background.

Lead single ‘Ketchup Dirt’ is a well-rounded and brevitous consolidation of Beige Palace’s artistic fervor, riding into town on a foreboding groove before breaking down into a nightmare realisation, with screams of “Oh my God it’s on my shirt!”. It reminds us that the smallest of mishaps can lead to complete and utter malfunction. Closing track ‘Dinner Practice’ takes us home with its heroic strings and unabated melodic yelling from Freddy. A gargantuan octave powered riff acts as the hook that, while providing some sturdiness, warns of impending danger, which inevitably subsides with a chaotic finale.

For a band as daring as Beige Palace, ‘Leg’ makes some major accomplishments; offering enough surprises and genuine moments of lasting beauty. A black comedy, which manages to speak to both the esoteric and universal. It’s the slow motion shot as you knock your morning coffee off the desk, providing a rarely afforded window of time to digest the calamity of life, panning outward to view an amalgamous mess that has been piling up this corner of the galaxy for eons. The previously unknown pains and pleasures hidden beneath the noise reveal themselves through the arched vertebrae pronounced over an absurd island, not at the centre of nowhere, but on the periphery of everyone.

Accompany this review with our exclusive premiere of ‘Leg’, which you can listen to in full reight here!

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What’s On Michael Portillo’s iPod: Upset The Rhythm 15th Anniversary Special!

Here at Birthday Cake For Breakfast, we like to get to the heart of what an artist is all about. We feel the music they listen to is just as important as the music they make.

In the past, we’ve had the likes of Sweet Baboo and SHOPPING in the hot seat talking inspirations, but for this edition we’ve reached out to the folks at one of our favourite indies – LDN label UPSET THE RHYTHM – who are celebrating their 15th Birthday this month! To coincide with this big-boy birthday, they’ve had a week’s worth of shows up and down the country, culminating in two big shows this weekend in Salford and Cardiff! Details of these can be found here.

Across these shows they’ve been showcasing their diverse roster, so we got to thinking – what’ve been their favourite releases from these artists over the years? Label man Chris was happy to tell us!

DOG CHOCOLATETesco Flag’ (Moody Balloon Baby, 2018)

“A timely anthem questioning notions of national identity done that classic Dog Chocolate way with humour and waywardly wonky panache. Every Dog Chocolate song is saturated with the concerns of life on ‘planet what’s next?’ and their wry take on this really marks them out, thoughtful, considered and often important insights hidden within some of the truly most laugh-out-loud dollops of song imaginable.

ROBERT SOTELO‘Brother You’re Complicated’ (Cusp, 2017)

Andrew Doig is a genius when it comes to abstracting songs into new dimensions, his arrangements for rock group, brass/woodwind trio and electronics are as welcoming and diverse as his take on everyday existence. I just love this song, I listen to it on repeat all the time, it’s so simple and catchy and true in sentiment, which is a lot harder to do than it seems. Serene pop of the highest calibre from one of the UK’s real-deal, next level auteurs of sound and sensibility. So excited for his next record this summer too, ‘Infinite Sprawling’, his cat Raspberry is also a legend! The company they keep!”

RATTLE – ‘Disco’ (Sequence, 2018)

Rattle are a duo from Nottingham, Katy and Tez, seeing how they’ve developed their practice over the last few years has been one of the most rewarding and inspiring things to witness, they are masters of the low and highs, percussion turned into landscape, turned into impulse. ‘Disco’ is a great example of how they’ve pushed their approach of duelling drums and vocalisations into vast vistas of experimental dance sensation and primal lift. Total Euphorics, tension and release. Quite simply they make music that’s unique and celebratory of intuition, just magic music / music magic. Also, here’s a special shout out to Mark Spivey, what a wizard of the dub delay, a third member for the third eye even.”

TRASH KITMedicine’ (Confidence, 2014)

Trash Kit make me proud to be a record label, to get to work with these three, deeply creative and endlessly awesome individuals is the stuff of dreams. With each record they bound into the future with all the charm and musicality of their debut record intact. Now the focus for them has edged towards a perfect construct of the personal politic and the profound, quiet, almost unnoticed observations that we all make through each day without realising their true significance. ‘Medicine’ marks a magnificent turning point for them, as the band started to tangle with longer-form songwriting and stretched the fabric of their compositions into smart new shapes, they began to run away with refrains and unlocked the dancefoor. Everything Trash Kit do is astounding to me and forthcoming record ‘Horizon’ is no exception, look out for that in July!”

SAUNA YOUTHThe Bridge’ (Distractions, 2015)

Sauna Youth are modernist punks from London, book-smart heroes of the underground in all its varied multitude of forms. ‘The Bridge’ is one of my favourite tracks we’ve ever worked on and the video is a remarkable distillation of everything they excel in. A clever, pointed, abstract and ultimately natural expression of the human experience. They bring it live like a comet soaring through the stratosphere, the room crackles with energy, it makes you come alive, become, truly connect.

GUTTERSNIPELoaded From Vector Trap’ (My Mother The Vent, 2018)

Put simply, Guttersnipe rip a hole in the very reality of time, space and sound. I could have chosen any song by the Leeds duo as they all 100% deliver you into their chasm of chaotic splendour. Seeing them embraced by a world often wary of the word WEIRD makes me feel like there’s a new hope for the multiverse. Turn it up, flip out, step through the portal, magnify and disintegrate.”

VITAL IDLESCareful Extracts’ (S/T, 2019)

“Careful Extracts is what great music really should be, it occupies, confounds, surprises and opens you up to dimensions previously un-wondered at. I think Vital Idles are one of the most essential bands out there, they speak into thought process, they deconstruct the very nature of song. The music reigns/rains hard, Jess’ lyrics are nothing short of stunning muses on the poetic verse of now. Consciousness spills from this song, beyond excellent, excelling.

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Exclusive: Stream ‘Leg’ – The debut album from Beige Palace

Leeds, Leeds, Leeds – Birthday Cake For Breakfast has a lorra love for Leeds.

A DIY spirit like no other, any local band you encounter from the Northern city is likely the side-band for the drummer, the singer of which has a side-band playing next door, the guitarist of whom is doing sound for the first band etc. It would be exhausting if it wasn’t so blinking life-giving and exciting.

With their exquisite name, Beige Palace are all the above. Consisting of bods from Puddin’, Thank, Magnapinna and more, next week sees the trio of Kelly Bishop, Freddy Vinehill-Cliffe and Ant Bedford put out their debut album.

From the building euphoria of the brilliantly titled ‘Mum, Tell Him’ to the mega riff of the horribly titled ‘Ketchup Dirt’, ‘Legis discordant shouts one minute, in brilliant post-punk territory the next and delightfully heavy in parts. Then there’s the bite-size chunks, your haunting and sparse ‘Aggregate’, as well as the half-an-eccie horror of ‘Laughing With Friend, Washing Our Hand’.

Ahead of its April 5th release on Buzzhowl Records, we’re pleased as punch to let you listen to it in full below. Get on this, kid!

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