Listen/Review: Slug – Greasy Mind

The brainchild of Field Music bassman Ian Black, with the aid of some hands-on engineering skills from his Sunderland bandmates, Slug’s debut album has just hit the shops courtesy of Memphis Industries. This excerpt, ‘Greasy Mind’, is a clean-lined slab of off-kilter anglo-funk that, while notable for its lyrical content – “You’ve got a Greasy Mind/Pulling Wings off Flies” – truly delivers from the desk, thanks to its punchy percussiveness and inventive electro-sonics, most satisfyingly on the absurd guitar solo that veers from Steve Vai-esque fret-frotting to Rhubarb and Custard theme-tune squelch. It’s this playful experimentation that elevates ‘Greasy Mind’ and bodes well for the LP, ‘Ripe’.

Ripe is out now on Memphis Industries
Words by Nick Mee. Follow @Nickjmee on Twitter

Photos/Listen - Moon @ The Finsbury 10th April + EP Stream

Check these exclusive shots from the recent show at The Finsbury by the impressive Moon, who went into interstellar overdrive during a set that managed to encompass elements of Floyd, The Mars Volta, Hawkwind and Rage Against The Machine. The band's new self-titled EP has just been launched, tune in and take off below...
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Listen/Review: Winter – The Biggest Truth

Unlike some of their folk contemporaries, Winter don't hook you with jangling banjos (who doesn't love banjos?) or generic lyrics about Lion Men (or something) on 'The Biggest Truth'. Instead, they pull you in with sincere lyrics about past mistakes, supported by Noah & the Whale-esque acoustics and the ranging vocal tones of Simon and Garfunkel – the duality of which creates a heartfelt and folky tune. A xylophone makes an appearance towards the song’s middle, which, coupled with the opening whistles, gives a lightheartedness that cuts through the seriousness of the vocals. Following on from their spring 2014 release 'The Sea Bites Back', brothers Matt and Joe Winter’s latest offering is much more of a spring than winter. ‘The Biggest Truth’ has a feeling of uncertainty that arises from the brothers’ experience of difficulty in creating music together, after disbanding a previous group, moving away and trying to build new lives. The biggest truth revealed in this track is that there are no real truths, apart from the ones that you create yourself. “Keep pushing on”, say the brothers, even if you can't answer the question: “What will you say when I ask you ‘what did you do yesterday?’”, because the mistakes and choices made in your life aren't necessarily the things that will shape you; how you react and adapt to those decisions is the main crux. It’s a lot to gather from one song, but even if those aren't the biggest truths that Winter wanted you to know, the song's folky simplicity and dual/multiple vocals make for a relaxingly easy listen, yet it contains enough depth to cause your mind to escape. Much as this writer's has.

Winter’s debut album ‘In The Dark’ is out on 4 May on Wild Sound.
Words by Matthew Doyle. Follow @mmmmdoyle on Twitter

Listen/Review: Happyness – A Whole New Shape

South London slacker-rock trio Happyness released a freaking gem of an album last year, ‘Weird Little Birthday’, and the deluxe version is due for release this month. It features a new track ‘A Whole New Shape’, a lazy lo-fi tune with bouncy guitars and slimy vocals. Like a takeaway pizza, it’s deliciously sloppy and soooo good. Despite their name, Happyness revel in not being smiley and shiny and perfect, they’re the antidote to surf-rock; sofa-surf-rock. The singer whines “It's a Bitch Move” with an effortless cool we should all be envious of, and his ending line, “I Wanna Flip You Off” is full of post-teen angst. I first gave it a listen when sat next to the bins outside my front door on a wet and windy Saturday night, locked out of my house, and the song turned out to be the perfect accompaniment. It would also sound perfect if you were in a packed, sweaty tent getting elbowed in the ribs by people who make you feel too old to still be going to festivals, and it’s the anthem of getting unreasonably drunk in the house on a Tuesday afternoon with three mates and a guy someone befriended two nights ago but still seems to be hanging out. In short, it’s music for being unproductive and defying conventional lifestyle expectations. If your habits frequently get described by your upstanding peers as “irresponsible”, go sprawl out on the pile of clothes on your bedroom floor and blast this track at full volume, on repeat, for a few hours of grungy guitar-pop bliss.

A Whole New Shape is out on 30 March on Moshi Moshi Records
Words by Holly Warren. Read more of Holly’s writing here

Listen/Review: MARINE – EP1

MARINE’s debut EP is a work that seamlessly juxtaposes intimate and epic soundscapes. This four-piece, comprising Ruby Jack, Cara Sebastian, Kaja Magsam and Beth Dariti, have been touring independently in Germany and England, packed into a small car with their CDs to sell. This determination and focus is felt in this release. The band have recorded four intricately crafted tracks with instrumental and vocal explorations on personal themes. The guitar is clean and reverby throughout, with melancholy arpeggiated patterns. The rhythm section steers the listener through quiet moments of alienation, crescendoing with tribal drums to mammoth proportions in the choruses. Three of the tracks are in 3/4 or 6/8 time signatures, and they conjure visions of a bizarre medieval waltz, demonstrating a brief glimmer of the band’s folk roots. In the foreground are the remarkable voices of Ruby and Cara. Displaying differing timbres, their vocal lines melt together in a glorious combination. One has a warmer quality and sings the lines pretty straight-up. The other has a slightly more piercing tone, with the warbly vocal inflections that are massive for our generation – a style pioneered by the likes of PJ Harvey or Antony and the Johnsons. Their atypical harmonies interweave like threads in a tapestry, exploring the dark moods with dreamy tones against a stark instrumental background, and soaring over the grand choruses. Producing single-worded, abstractly titled songs – ‘Kraken’ (listen below), ‘Selkie', ‘Anima’ and ‘Werewolf’ – the band fit the zeitgeist of technological detachment and social disillusionment, expressed elsewhere by Alt-J, The xx and London Grammar. Right down to the logo on their website, featuring that bleak Wes Anderson font that is used by so many of their contemporaries, MARINE are a band unafraid to engage in the trending topics of 2015.

EP1 is launched tonight (25 February) at The Macbeth, Hoxton, London.
Words by Charlie Hannah. Read more by Charlie at The Dentist

Listen/Review: Jet Setter – Forget About It

Such is the melodic efficiency of the initial two minutes of Jet Setter’s ‘Forget About It’ that the band can afford to close the tune with an outro loose enough to turn Whiplash’s Terence Fletcher an unholy shade of borscht. Prior to this passage, the Dublin four-piece convey such a pleasing grasp of fretboard sweet-spots and warm overdrive settings, as well as a knack for effortlessly pretty vocal harmonies, that even Fletcher would be inclined cut the band some slack for their subsequent slack. The retro production, especially apparent in the beat-group clip of the bass-sound, makes the song come on like Pavement meeting the The Dave Clark Five with J Mascis adding guitar overdubs. A terrific jangle of nonchalant indie rock, ‘Forget About It’ is the lead track from Jet Setter’s debut EP, ‘Never Had It So Good’, landing in April.

‘Never Had It So Good’ is out on 13 April on Any Other City Records
Words by Nick Mee Follow @Nickjmee on Twitter

Listen/Review: C Duncan – Say

C Duncan shot 2 You know what? This song makes you feel like you're flying over a city and that’s nice. That’s the feel it seems C Duncan, full name Christopher, is going for, especially as his single is illustrated with an aerial shot of his hometown, Glasgow. An accomplished artist, having exhibited all over Scotland, C Duncan created that cover too. ‘Say’ is an impressive listen, filled with ethereal vocals, elegantly brushed drum beats and a choral, dream-pop feel that evokes a vision of Sunday church mass. Except, at this church, everyone’s dancing and swaying. Probably while smiling and closing their eyes. What makes it more impressive is that Chris recorded and played all the instruments himself, all in his bedroom studio in lovely Glasgow. He describes the track as one of “being consumed by the bustle of city life [and] wanting to run away from it”. Or, in this author’s mind, fly away from it. ‘Say’ recalls influences such as Fleet Foxes, with its foresty sound and echoey vocals, but C’s classical background also rings clear in the harmonies and arrangement he so eloquently creates. If these first two singles are anything to go by (listen to ‘For’ here), the forthcoming album, due to drop this summer, should be one heady and layered, yet relaxingly exciting listen.
Say is out on 16 February. Words by Matthew Doyle. Follow @mmmmdoyle on Twitter.

Listen/Review: The Grubby Mitts – Worm of Eternal Return

Andy Holden, Roger Illingworth, Johnny Parry, John Blamey and James MacDowell have been playing together in various line-ups since they were 12 years old. Seven solo albums, one book and numerous art exhibitions later, they became The Grubby Mitts. From the band’s upcoming album, ‘What The World Needs Now Is The Grubby Mitts’ is ‘Worm of Eternal Return’. All a bit at odds with itself, it is a seamless piano-driven pop song of sadness and longing, which begins with a clunky glockenspiel and is composed of lines like: “The Reindeer of Arrogance” and “The Polecat of Clarity”, but this all works together to the song's advantage. Playing among the piano are a jumble of various percussive and robotic sound effects that give a more experimental, DIY finish to what is otherwise a perfectly safe and simple song. The noise of someone playing on empty tin cans is like the sound of wriggling cartoon caterpillars, though it could be anything from “The Octopus of Generosity” to “The Chaffinch of Deceit”. The chorus’ repeated refrain, “Whatever Else I Am/I Am Not In Your Arms”, is so evocative it can fill you with a strange and sudden nostalgia for a love you’d long forgotten. Calling the song 'Worm of Eternal Return', then, makes poetically perfect sense.

What The World Needs Now Is The Grubby Mitts is out on 9 March on Lost Toys Records
Words by Holly Warren. Read more of Holly’s writing here

Listen/Review: Diagrams – Gentle Morning Song

Diagrams’ Sam Genders, former member of Tunng, returns with ‘Gentle Morning Song’, taken from Diagrams' new album ‘Chromatics’, out in the UK now.  The song’s charming, honeyed electronica lends itself to comparisons to The Shins and is probably closer to what you expected from Belle and Sebastian’s new single than the song Belle and Sebastian actually released. In the verses, Sam Genders’ distinctly accented voice sounds as if it’s running across a landscape inhabited solely by Stuart Murdoch, and, as with every offering from Diagrams, the chorus is an endless jug of joy. Its soft, lilting melodies, guitar and strong drum line are strewn with psychedelic sci-fi sounds, which, when combined, create a song that’s both spacey and grounded, like floating just above a city. The lyrics capture this in the line “Im in a safe but frightening dream again”. It ends with a fade into the sounds of a busy street and morning birds, like you’re being carefully landed back to the ground.

'Chromatics' is out now on Full Time Hobby
Words by Holly Warren. Read more of Holly’s writing here

Listen/Review: Shark Dentist – Cut Myself Shaving

IMG_2317 Any band defining themselves by the sub-genre ‘sandwich metal’ warrant attention, and one glance at Shark Dentist’s Facebook page is enough to know theirs isn’t the vibe to accompany earnest soul-searching. The north London teens disingenuously cite their influences as Toto and Snow Patrol, but you really can’t imagine either of those MORish bores being bold enough to address the hazards of the wet-shave in song. So, for sandwich metal read nimble psych-punk fired by six-string squeals, tumbling toms, excessive use of phaser and deadpan doomy humour. ‘Cut Myself Shaving’ is three minutes and 30 of, well, razor-sharp poppy grunge, a full o’ beans salvo from this unsigned quartet who’ve hopefully started as they mean to go on.
Words by Nick Mee Follow @Nickjmee on Twitter Photo: Milo Edwards

Watch/Review: The Acid – Ghost

At a time of year when heavy grey skies seem only to be an apparition of daylight, the spectral sonics and hazy visuals of The Acid’s latest release, taken from last year’s ‘Liminal’ LP, is fittingly austere. The video to ‘Ghost’, shot among sand-dunes, is a shimmering template of surreal focal points and balletic choreography, reflecting a sensory unease that chimes with the sparse, minimal electronica of this transatlantic production trio. Featuring a wounded vocal melody supplied by Ry Cuming, ‘Ghost’ pulses slowly, fizzing and sparking steadily over ominous leftfield downtempo, like the soundtrack to a late-night speakeasy session where Andy Stott and Darkside share sinister tales and hard spirits. The Acid’s hypnotic original has a haunting allure of its own, but two remixes (below) usher it gently towards the dancefloor and dress its skeletal frame a little brighter. Hamburg-based producer Oliver Schories injects a botoxed beat, resulting in some swollen deep-house, while London’s Maya Jane Coles turns on the trance, managing to invert the agitated strains of ‘Ghost’ into a euphoric clubland banger.

Ghost is out now
Words by Nick Mee Follow @Nickjmee on Twitter

Listen/Review: Shiners – Just Got Paid

We don’t have much to tell you about Shiners as they are about as enigmatic as they come; we suspect they are a four-piece (but don't hold us to that!) and they describe themselves as ‘Britwave', which only keeps us guessing. What we do know is that this track is something worth talking about. 'Just Got Paid' casts a strange kind of romance over paycheque-to-paycheque living, telling a brilliantly Britpop tale about sitting in a clapped-out sports car outside a leisure centre, waiting for a girl. The vocalist sounds so Damon Albarn at points, and the line: "Cos her mother worries/He’s over 30 and in a hurry" couldn't sound more Blur if it tried. Its guitar sound is straight out of the Nineties and a ska-style organ riff dances on top of the chorus. Although this one song is all we have to go by, we say bring on the Britwave!

Just Got Paid is out now
Words by Holly Warren. Read more of Holly’s work here

Introducing: Black Yaya – Flying A Rocket

Black Yaya is a new singer-songwriter, although he’s not new to the world of singer-songwriters. Indeed, he used to write, record and perform under the name Herman Dune. After travelling the seven seas and beyond with Herman Dune and recording more than ten albums with that band, David Ivar, for it is he, decided he wanted to create something new, so Black Yaya was born.
Check out his fun track, 'Flying A Rocket' – you'll be hooked in no time at all!

Listen/Review: C Duncan – For

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No easy feat, a well-placed whistle can be a boon to a tune. Think Otis Redding (naturally), Air, Peter, Bjorn & John (begrudgingly), and put Bryan bloody Ferry firmly to the back of your mind. Here’s another contender, new FatCat signing C Duncan, who purses his lips as if conducting a pleasingly mellifluous march during new single ‘For’. That’s not the only thing to recommend this soothing release, though, which touches near-Simon & Garfunkel levels of spiritual folk thanks to psalm-like rounds of perfectly enunciated vocal. The beautifully layered melody is as much evidence of this Glaswegian’s classical training as the inventively fluid progression that circles an unfussy guitar loop (evoking Paul and Art again), while its bubble-wrap rhythm track helps to place it in the present day. C Duncan’s debut album will be released next year; this taster has us licking our lips.

For is out on 24 November on FatCat.
Follow @Nickjmee on Twitter

Listen/Review: Gypsy Hill – Caciula Pa Ureche

A riotous mash-up of almost every rootsy vibe you might encounter on a bar crawl from the Black Sea to Brixton, the debut album by South London’s Gypsy Hill has been out for a couple of months now, but it’s always worthy of a quick blast to clear the pipes. Mixing Balkan swing with Big Beat by way of strident brass, guitars, bass and rhythmic breaks both turntabled and trad, Gypsy Hill’s ‘Our Routes’ is sure to get the limbs flailing. Their punk-funk take on itinerant jazz and Eurasion folk is of similar stock to that aced by Melt Yourself Down, but Gypsy Hill’s is perhaps the more accessible collection. ‘Caciula Pa Ureche’ itself kicks in with a greasy tuba lick stalking a clatter of percussion and Eastern vocalisms, before exploding in a surge of grimy synth-bass that could blow the woofers in a pimped-up Beemer. It’s a creative piece of genre-bending by this duo, who, fleshed out by a host of instrumentalist allies, have cooked up some internationalist party grooves of the most amiable order.
Our Routes is out now.
See Gypsy Hill live: Fri Nov 7 – Exeter Phoenix Fri Dec 19 – London Clore Ballroom
Follow @Nickjmee On Twitter

Watch/Listen/Review: Saint Agnes – A Beautiful Day For Murder/Where The Lightning Strikes 

The first glimpse that Saint Agnes let you have of their world is silver-screened, amatory and undeniably cinematic. The band's second single, ‘A Beautiful Day for Murder’, will leave you numb yet euphoric, a formula that some bands take a career to find. The single could be the perfect berceuse to a Tarantino film or Bond epic, melded by the chemistry between songwriters Jon Tufnell and Kitty Austen, who clearly have a magnetism that would leave Sonny & Cher green with envy. The brooding and sultry aura of 'A Beautiful Day For Murder' enchants you into a dreamlike state, as if you've just been anaesthetised in the dentist cart from Django Unchained. Bewitching and seductive, Saint Agnes have produced the perfect chimera for blues-rock and pysch fans alike. Kitty exudes the chic and 'hang you from the heavens' heel-on-your-throat delivery of Alison Mosshart (The Kills, The Dead Weather) on B-side 'Where The Lightning Strikes' (watch below). It’s invigorating and inspirational enough to have been the soundtrack to Nikola Tesla's working day – embedded with a hammer and tongs riff that The Jim Jones Revue or early BRMC would be proud of. Saint Agnes will undoubtedly enrapture listeners to the extent that they’ll want a repeat prescription for 2015.
A Beautiful Day For Murder is out now on Energy Snake Records
Words By Ali Whaite: Follow @Alister_88 on Twitter

Listen / Review: Tied To The Mast – Humble Pie

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Perhaps the finest under-the-radar rock outfit in the UK, Tied To The Mast furnish their multi-guitar attack and fervent rhythm section with a melodic versatility facilitated by a triumvirate of skilled singer-songwriters. The thrilling alt-rock results offer a taste of what may have happened had Henry Rollins left Black Flag to be replaced by Crosby, Stills and Nash (possibly without their mountainous egos and piles of coke to match, but who’s to say). The Sussex five-piece have a knack of turning out invigorating single-certs and ‘Humble Pie’ is their latest. Beyond a fragile, vaguely ominous intro, the song rumbles into gear with a game-changing guitar clang and tumbling toms, before the chorus surges in on a spirit-rousing rush of aural adrenaline. “Do You Remember The Taste Of Humble Pie?” is the question posed atop a wash of cleansing guitar euphonics. It’s a query that will be rattling around your skull for days, and, with much in the mix to hark to such pop-flecked razor-edged heavyweights as Husker Du or QOTSA, you’ll be glad of it, too. If ‘Humble Pie’ whets the appetite, then catch Tied To The Mast live at the single’s official launch party at The Finsbury, London, on Friday 24 October, where you’ll be truly sated.
Humble Pie is out on 27 October on Professor Records.
Tied To The Mast play at The Finsbury, London N4, on Friday 24 October, with Guitars Have Ghosts, Lunar Effect and Valves.
Words by Nick Mee: Follow @Nickjmee on Twitter

Listen/Review: Glass Caves – Go

Glass Caves started out busking relentlessly around the cobbled streets of Yorkshire and built up a following, honing their boisterous British alt-rock on their travels. They scored a coveted spot on the BBC Introducing stage at this years Reading & Leeds Festivals, but with hooks as good as theirs, Glass Caves could have easily held their own on the Festival Republic stage.
Their debut album 'Alive' is out on 27 October and lead single 'Go' is a fiery and frenetic taster that will tear up venues across the country on tour this month. The track's fierce voluptuousness is a sound that courses through the whole album. Its fast, hard guitars and psychedelic choral falsettos underlaid with a fun electronic beat are reminiscent of Foster The People's 'Supermodel'. The single was mastered by John Davis, who did the same for Catfish and the Bottlemen and Royal Blood, bands whose debuts both rocketed up the album charts this summer, seemingly from out of nowhere, to prove that among the current trend of synth-based pop gems there’s still a place in everyone's hearts for rock’n’roll. Glass Caves’ debut has all the makings of an album that will follow suit.
Alive is out on Tri-Tone on 27 October
Read more of Holly’s reviews here