‘I think I would like to play chess with the devil’ rasps Liverpudlian Louis Berry over the opening salvos of his debut single’s lean psychobilly shuffle. And, sounding like Dan Sartain turned Scouse and streetwise, or a modern-day P Paul Fenech from The Meteors, Berry has a malevolence to his voice that insists you believe him. It’s the spark that illuminates this lively slice of unidirectional rock’n’roll.
45 is out now as a free download
Words by Nick Mee: Follow @Nickjmee on Twitter
Words By Nick Mee - Follow Nick on Twitter @nickjmee
So the stage has changed position, the sound-system has been upgraded, there’s a new dressing room, back bar, toilets and space for a few more punters to lively up themselves on the dancefloor. Essentially, The Finsbury has had a makeover, giving it a slicker aspect and spec yet, crucially, without sacrificing the low-lit easy ambience, welcoming lack of pretention and fabulous acoustics. A grand redesign that would have Kevin McCloud spewing superlatives over the closing credits. Were he a live music fan.
First to grace the new crescent-shaped stage on one of many unofficial relaunches this month were HOO HAs, whose blend of blues-rock and Britpop was driven by rough-and-ready lead licks, evoking the current surfeit of post-White Stripes duos but given greater range and scope by the simple factor of being fleshed-out by a four-piece. Their reach was extended further by each of the band weighing in on vocals, the backers layering laddish unison chanting to HOO HAs’ catchy tunes, bringing to mind bygone bands such as early Kaiser Chiefs and – mainly due to the Albarnesque quaver of frontman Jamie – Blur, most obviously during the earthy tale of a day by the Westway, ‘Carnival’. HOO HAs’ rootsier stateside flipside was best captured on closing number ‘Early Film Noir’, a ballsy riff-fest driven by the raucous chops of guitarist Mark, animating the band and indicating there’s plenty of stage-stealing rock’n’roll posturing in these fellas when the fires begin to burn.
Follow-up four-piece Furs’ poppy electro-soul was enhanced by sample triggers and loops, leading to a vibe that fell somewhere between Spectorish wall-of-sound and indie twee, waving in the general direction of Camera Obscura or a more proficient Alvvays. Vocalist Elle is aptly named due to her chic, Jane Birkin-like Sixties allure, and her compact band dished up sweet helpings of sugary psych-pop on tracks such as ‘Just Kids’. Furs have a look and a sound that never seems to go entirely out of vogue, and, although their set needs the odd tweak to maintain the standard, are clearly a band of some potential. The Finsbury, too, requires a few final nips and tucks before the overhaul is truly complete, but in the meantime it’s just a pleasure to be watching bands there again.
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"More glam power-pop than punk – this bottle-blond number is fun and fizzy – without the distraction of grit-in-the-eye aggro or over-spun political fury" RawRampRead More
Welsh-born and Bristol-based, but with an ear cocked somewhere to the south of the Mason-Dixon line, Jane Allison releases her pretty collection of Celtic Country & (Great?) Western in September. Backed by an able assemblage of Bristol’s finest folk players, Allison’s expansive vocal and beautifully formed harmonies are top-drawer, lending emotion and authenticity to her rootsy musings. ‘Just Another Girl’ is being marketed as Americana, and certainly the delightful Southern swing of ‘Hymn To Hope’ (listen below), the homespun ‘Country Lovin’ and the poppy title-track display many C&W tropes (chicken-peckin’ steel guitar, standup-bass-and-brushes shuffles, hell, even banjo). Yet a chunk of the album is actually taken up with ethereal piano balladry, the most striking of which – the powerful gospel lament ‘Real Life’ and the mournful AoR of ‘Wait For Me’ – touch on mystic folkisms that are more Brecon Beacons than Blue Ridge Mountains. The intersection of these two approaches is reached on ‘Fading Moon’, which, lovelorn subject matter aside, sounds like something off PJ Harvey’s ‘Let England Shake’. All considered construction, polished instrumentation and consummate vocal, Allison’s songs have bountiful commercial scope, in whatever style she chooses to perform them. Already an established actress, she plays two musical roles equally effectively on ‘Just Another Girl’: her next move may be to decide which one suits her best.
Just Another Girl is out on 6 September.
Words by Nick Mee: Follow @Nickjmee on Twitter
Candy Darling are named after Lou Reed’s transgender muse, so it’s perhaps no surprise that their debut single is all brash melodrama. Yet the camp theatrics of the Bristol trio’s grinding electro noir is shot through with malice on ‘Money’, a spurned lover’s defiant stand given edge by the cold-hearted clarity of Emily Breeze’s powerful vocal (reminiscent of Karen O’s), as she proclaims: “Next time I see you I’ll be laughing/and you’ll be shot down with regret”. Her memorable couplets adorn an industrial meld of serrated synth oscillations, distorted glam guitar and piercing snare claps shattering a lazy 4/4 that gives the track an unhurried, peacocking swagger. ‘Money’ is a sleazy, bittersweet egocentric shout-out which, like all the best comebacks, is delivered with a good deal of wit.
Money is out on 1 September
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Listening to Wampire's latest offering, 'Wizard Staff', it becomes clear why the band titled their upcoming sophomore album 'Bazaar'. This chilled-out 70's soft-rock inspired track is a jumble of assorted sounds and styles. Carried by a solid but lazy drum beat, it strays from the path at will, its Mayer-esque guitar riff unexpectedly accented with blues licks and fleeting saxophone flourishes. The combination of Eric Phipps and Rocky Tinder's vocals bring an air of psychedelia as they drift blearily through the song, and just as the listener begins to get comfortable, that sax floods through and commandeers the bridge, sounding as if it's crying out into the night from high on a lonely rooftop. 'Wizard Staff' won't become Wampire's go-to encore hit, it's not going to incite a frenzy. It's the song playing in the background when you're sat in an empty bar in Shoreditch on a Tuesday night, waiting for it to get busy, yet it never does. We can't say it's exactly what you'd expect from a song called 'Wizard Staff', but we think that's probably a good thing...
'Bazaar' is out on October 7 on Polyvinyl.
Words by Holly Warren - Read more of Holly's work here
Live Bookings: Chris@lostinthemanor.co.ukPress: Chris@lostinthemanor.co.uk, Nick@lostinthemanor.co.uk
Justifiably massive in their homeland, where they have released two albums, soundtracked two films and won numerous awards, including Best Song, Album of the Year and Best Dance Song, Keymono’s unique fusion of digitalism, fluid percussiveness and pulsing rootsy horns is now set to take the UK by storm. The band’s instrumental arsenal encompasses keys, trumpet, flute, sax, bass and drums to colour the bytes and beats that drive their sound. Citing influences as diverse as Prince, Chaka Khan, Little Dragon, Pink Floyd and Beethoven, theirs is a truly original mash-up of nailed-on floor-fillers that synthesise man and machine into an irresistible tribal groove. Trust us, Keymono’s rapturous high-energy electronica is not a sound you will be able to, or will be willing to, forget.
In 2013 KEYMONO signed a publishing deal with EMC/SONY music and released an album combining their past creations from their first 2 albums.
"A perfect blueprint for anyone who dares to fuse futuristic electronic sounds with strings and brass. The lower bass rumble in the drops is definitely one for the sub. This is pop the way we deserve it." Scott McGerty, Amazing Radio
"Keymono’s performance and energy was absolutely amazing and their adventurous sound will delight anyone with an ear for good dance music" Dylan Statow, The Peoples Music Awards
"This band just get better and better. 'Run Boy' is a beautiful slice of pop magic: slick and crispy and, as always, Daiva kills it on the vocals. A real summer hit" =EVM128= DJ/Producer/Somethinksounds
The Peoples Music Awards (international) Bubble in a trouble best Dance track Online Music Awards (international) Everything best Dance track.
Past Festivals UK: Soundcrash Alldayer, Sheep Music Festival Lithuania: (Be2Gether, KaunasJazz, Vilnius MamaJazz, Karkle, Tamsta Music Festival, Galapagai, Satta festival) Latvia: (Positivus, Pestivals) Estonia: Tallinn Music Week Russia: Don Chento Jazz Festival Georgia: Black Sea International Jazz Festival France: Europavox.
In a year when the sombre balladeer pining across forgettable laptop-lite has become the default delivery for the unimaginative, we should applaud the return of Rökkurró, whose new single, ‘The Backbone’, a paean to their Reykjavik home, is a triumph of slow and moody electronica-edged introspection, thanks to its orchestral approach. Sure, the chord progression holds no shocks, but listen to that compatible lope of kick-drum and snare, those gorgeous fretless bass runs, that misty synth enveloping slivers of piano, the track’s measured wax and wane, and, of course, the voluptuous vocal of Hildur Kristín Stefánsdóttir (we’re guessing ‘Hildy' to friends). Kate Bush-like in its outlandish scope and inevitably Bjorkish in stress, her voice forms the emotional vanguard to this Icelandic tearjerker, a lesson in how to wallow opulently.
The Backbone is out now.
Words by Nick Mee: Follow @Nickjmee on Twitter
Hailing from South London, but sounding like they’ve been locked up in J Mascis' basement for the past year, living on a strict diet of fish heads and fuzz pedals, alt-rock three-piece Happyness are the slackers’ and sofa-surfers’ new favourite band.
‘Anything I Do Is All Right’ is the first single from their debut album ‘Weird Little Birthday’. Powered by a riff that wouldn’t sound out of place on Graham Coxon’s ‘Happiness in Magazines’, this track is their most disorderly and frenzied offering. Like a Tasmanian devil causing chaos in a field full of Daisies of the Galaxy, picked by E from Eels, the single has instant intensity and mass appeal. Don’t expect the rest of ‘Weird Little Birthday’ to resemble ‘Anything I Do is All Right’, though, as most tracks lean towards a more minimal, elegant sound, which brings cohesion to an albu, bathed in an opulent, lo-fi vocal effect. Standout track has to be 'Pumpkin Noir', which could be the soundtrack to most Ouija-board enthusiasts’ evenings.
Everything Happyness have released so far bleeds 90s Sub-Pop. From the scribbled handwriting on their artwork to the video for ‘Great Minds Think Alike, All Brains Taste The Same’ (which could be something out of Garth from Wayne’s World’s VHS collection), the band have a clear direction of where they are going from an artistic and recording viewpoint. They know how to trigger their fan base’s pressure points by giving them well-constructed college-rock pleasers. With appearances on the BBC Introducing stages at Reading and Leeds later this month as well as Bestival in September, it’ll be Happyness’ turn to soundtrack your t-shirt tan and lukewarm can of Carling this summer.
‘Anything I Do is All Right’ EP is out on Noisey on 1 September
Words by Ali Waite: Follow @Alister_88 on Twitter
Such is the vigorous collision of crunching guttural bass, pummelling drums and distant distorted guitar riffage that the initial 50 seconds of Prawn’s ‘Glass, Irony’ could comfortably be extended into a zippy alt-metal instrumental, dispensing with such conventions as lyrical angst. In fact, it’s almost a downer when singer Tony Clark introduces his emo-esque New Jersey drawl. But hang in there, listener, as that uplifting opening sequence returns to underpin the chorus, and is only enhanced by Clark’s “Let’s Keep Swimming” line, before the track goes rollicking off in unforeseen directions towards fade-out, even finding room for a blast of trumpet among the controlled clout and overdrive. One senses, despite the occasional ugly Durstish belch, that these boys relish in scratching at the frontiers of streamlined stateside punk, and ‘Glass, Irony’ certainly preps the palate for Prawn’s second album, ‘Kingfisher’, washing up on this side of the pond next week.
Kingfisher is out on 12 August on Topshelf Records.
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"Funky with a capital F. The London six-piece ooze dancefloor delirium" When the gramophone ringsRead More
After calling time on the Five O’Clock Heroes, AJ Ellis’ first solo album finds him of contemplative singer-songwriter vintage, blessed with a warm baritone and a knack for penning catchy adult-oriented pop. At its best, ‘Bury the Devil’ evokes the work of Lloyd Cole or Roddy Frame, or even a Robyn Hitchcock shorn of the surreal. This polished, uncluttered LP is a good-natured body of work: the cheerful calypso-soul of ‘Stand Up’ and the all-go-to-the-hoppish country skiffle of ‘Dance All Night’, for example, offer an upbeat bed for lyrics that seem to have been written by a man coming to terms with emotional commitment. Ellis unearths the odd ear worm with the likes of the jangly ‘Isambard’, on which he engineers a lovely bridge-chorus combo, and LITM’s favourite, ‘I Belong To You’, perhaps the most complete pop tune here, from its smooth rimshot’n’harmonics opening through a celebratory chorus to the searing guitar solo. Morphing from subdued soul man on ‘Hit the Bottom’ to honky-tonk crooner on the title track, on which he determines to ditch those demons for good, Ellis can be a hard man to pigeonhole. That this New Yorker’s debut was recorded in Yorkshire, mixed in Nashville and mastered in Kentucky may go some way to explaining why there’s no defining influence here, no real sense of place or scene, other than vague Americana, to tag this collection with. But its easy listening feel is of universal appeal and stands or falls on the strength of the tunes, most of which, appropriate to ‘Bury the Devil’’s theme, get better with familiarity.
Bury the Devil is out on 28 July on Ragtime Records.
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The Ghost Wolves are doing it right – simplicity is key. While other garage-rock bands muddle their already lo-fi sound with excessive instrumentation, keys and overdubs, The Ghost Wolves are about at stripped-down as it gets. This two-piece feature tasty blues-rock licks and tight drum tracks, à la ‘Icky Thump’-era White Stripes. The kicker: female lead vocals and guitars from Carley Wolf. We’ve entered Bizarro World, folks.
‘Baby Fang Thang’ features catchy sing-song vocals, along with some tough and fuzzy stomp grooves. Carley rips a short bridge solo, showcasing some serious axe chops in the style of Jack White. Jonathan Wolf channels his inner John Bonham, beating the skins with some distinctly Bonham-esque patterns. This is most prominent during the outro, where the duo delve into a Led Zeppelin-fuelled coda, even featuring some psych-rock influenced vocals. Taken from the band’s debut album, ‘Man, Woman, Beast’, this is a killer track for anyone after simple, hard-hitting rock music.
For fans of: The White Stripes, Hanni El Khatib, Led Zeppelin
‘Man, Woman, Beast’ is out now on Plowboy Records
Words Mike Guerard: Follow Mike_Guerard on Twitter
‘Distant Camps’ begins in a simple, slow tempo led by the crisp, clean vocals of Becky Brown against a haunting piano melody. You might be forgiven for thinking this is going to be anything but the sound of the twinkliest dream pop you have ever heard, until, about a minute in, you are whipped into a ‘wait, what…’ feeling as the beat slaps against your eardrums. And as the fires burn, a sense of refreshing enthusiasm is injected into the track, driven by deep, raw African beats and an almost choired set of backing vocals. ‘Distant Camps’ is a heady, hearty, multi-layered, enriching blend of inspiration and an invigorating sound for the ages. All three members of Mountainear are professional percussionists and, suffice to say, their rhythmic subtlety and agility have been captured beautifully on this track.
Distant Camps is out now.
Words by Kai Reddy: Follow @flyinglotus49 on Twitter
Fading in with a psychedelic introduction before kicking off with ‘Society’, an upbeat rock’n’roller with an angular riff, tight harmonies and a Beatles-esque groove, The Moons’ new album, ‘Mindwaves’, littered with brilliant licks and psychedelic lyrics, gets off to a strong start. Standout track, ‘Fever’, best encapsulates the group’s kaleidoscopic Sixties-inspired sound. The album drops in tempo on ‘All In My Mind’ but gets back up to speed with ‘Time’s Not Forever’ and carries on in a similar vein until the climax; nice touches like the use of brass on several of the slower songs keep things fresh throughout.
Vocals wise, Andy Croft’s style is often reminiscent of fellow Midlands band The Enemy, although comparing the two acts musically would be doing a disservice to The Moons, who have an ear for far more exciting and original sounds. Ironically, The Moons will get the chance to eclipse their Coventry-based neighbours when they support them on the Northampton date of their tour, on 27 September.
The video for the four-piece’s most recent single, ‘Body Snatchers’ (listen below), makes it clear why their keen riffs and retro appeal evoke the likes of Miles Kane and Paul Weller, with sharp haircuts and vintage style galore. It’s not surprising that The Moons have received acclaim from the Modfather himself, as they seem set to carry on the modish rock lineage from acts such as Weller and The Kinks on to current high flyers Kasabian, such is their retro take on modern life, particularly evident on songs such as ‘Society’ and ‘All In My Mind’.
Mindwaves is out on 21 July on Schnitzel Records.
Words Adam Pizey: Follow @A_Pizey On Twitter
Though not without its abstract moments, notably the whimsical breakdown, ‘Celina’ is an obvious call as the leading track from Batsch’s skittish new EP, ‘Collar’, being as close to conventional pop as the band care to venture. Atop a slippery, octave-jumping bassline wriggling in a lo-fi web of art-school funk and pale high-life, singer Mason Le Long’s temperate vocal gives the groove its grip. His “Be gentle as you can be” refrain is apt, as there can’t be many aspiring floor-fillers that sound so polite. Quirky, cool and a little detached, ‘Celina’ belongs in the club, but as more of a glassy reflection of proceedings in the glitterball than hip-grinding on the dancefloor itself. Elsewhere on the EP, ’22’ is built around Joe Carvell’s gravelly baseline set just awry of a sparse beat, some shrill synth from Andy Whitehead and Le Long’s musings on love gone stale. It’s enjoyably skeletal, lightweight dub, as if Mad Professor set to work on Haircut 100. That percussive bass leads the way again on the darker ‘Did You Here About Argine’, while ‘Mirrorball’ is so pared-down it even dispenses with the trademark bass before its discordant crescendo. EP closer ‘Can’t Tell’ is perhaps the most demented, as each band member packs plenty to the bar, but in such a frantic and featherlight manner it’s like listening to a marching piece for mice. It’s music that tickles. There’s knowledge to Batsch’s experimental mania on ‘Collar’, delivering some fine passages of sound, if no real knockout tunes. Yet the tracks unfold entirely unpredictably, and for that this Midlands four-piece deserve a big hand. Cue the video…
Collar is out now on Tin Angel
Words Nick Mee: Follow @Nickjmee on Twitter
One of the summer’s hotly anticipated releases is Traams’ new EP, ‘Cissa’. After an abrasive tour across Europe with indie heroes Wire, Traams made their mark on SxSW and gathered a global fan base thanks to a mix of art-rock that would make Stephen Malkmus’ hairdresser happy for eternity. One of the flagship acts on Brighton-based FatCat records, the band are a true reflection of the restlessness that defines growing up in a small town – never satisfied or content, just trying to drive past the Little Chef on the A27 outside of their Chichester home, never to return.
‘Selma’, the first offering from ‘Cissa', is a succinct, hook-laden 2.20 track featuring the signature askew, off-kilter guitar work that will make the trio’s fans salivate. Having previously worked with producers Rory Attwell (Yuck, Male Bonding) & MJ of Hookworms, the group are currently at the cutting-edge of angular alternative music. Expect this EP to be full of short, instant and contagious songs that will complement the soundtrack to your summer. Check them out live at their EP launch at Bleach (Brighton's hottest sweatbox) on July 12th or at Beacons festival in August.
Cissa is out on July 14 on FatCat Records.
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The days when the pop-cultural output of Australia could be charted in 25-minute segments of preposterous teatime soap have long been dunked into the billabong by such inventive and untethered rock acts as Courtney Barnett, Tame Impala and Jagwar Ma. The latest technicolour troubadours to bubble up from down under are Wunder Wunder, whose debut album, ‘Everything Infinite’, arrives on these shores on 14 July. Their taster single, ‘Coastline’, is a shot of sonic serotonin if ever there was, a psychedelic summertime high founded on a burst of shimmering guitar accessorised with oscillating synths. The beat is classic soul, the lyrics are submerged among the many reverbed layers, and the vibe lies closer to the West Coast than Highway 101 itself, but ‘Coastline’ is a feelgood composite that marks this Melbourne outfit as worthy contributors to the fertile Aussie canon. Even Mrs Mangel would be getting her groove on.
Everything Infinite is out on Dovecote on 14 July.
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