29 December 2010


You know how some stuff you really like but you can’t quite describe why? Yeah. Childhood is this. That may seem like a lazy blogger’s cop-out for writing anything worthwhile and, hey, maybe it is, but who cares if a) you’re reading this, b) the music is good, and c) points are made much better if there are three of them.

Woozy, jangly pop that is gentle enough to not disturb you too much from your mid-afternoon day-dream, but catchy enough to still hold your attention. I suppose that’s why I like it afterall.

Childhood - Blue Velvet

Childhood - Paper Wave

28 December 2010


As much as I love looping experimental synth-led songs and bands with 15 members and 20 effects pedals, no frills punk still more than does it for me. And not even just the early and original punk of The Ramones and The Clash, I welcome with open arms bands carrying on where they left off.

Apparently an off-shoot of two other Wales-based punk acts - State Run and Facel Vega – Leeds’ Twisted (internet-less as far as I’m aware) are unfortunately no more, but their angry strums, passionate growls, bags of energy, and bursting songs rarely passing the 2 minute mark live on in glorious MP3 form. For me, they kind of merge early Stiff Little Fingers and The Clash with hints of more modern, Lovvers-esque noise – and one track ‘Four’ which sounds a lot to me like The Hold Steady gone punk, but somehow in a good way.

They released stuff through and appeared on a compilation for Art For Blind (who also released a 7” by personal favourite Saturday’s Kids), with stuff available from them still. Other than playing or downloading the songs below, you can download a 7” available for free download from bandcamp, or you can head to reeksofeffortt for more words and a link to a different EP.

Twisted - Two

Twisted - One

27 December 2010


When writing blog posts, there are certain bands that - although you enjoy to listen to - you are never really sure if they will be appropriately appreciated by the public or even the wider music community. But then there are other bands that you immediately sense are destined for wide adoration after listening to just a few of their tracks.

Birthdays are one of those bands whose hype is easily understood, and most of the reason the hype is so easily understood in all honesty is the one track Howolding Girls (which you may have heard or read of an earlier version, which was called Procreating Flower Bug). As much of a boring cliché it is, it’s one of those songs that really is gripping from the start – opening with vibrant looping synth sounds and bursting into life with celebratory and chant-like distorted vocals and drumming that switches from dance-y bass-snare to tribal tom rolls. It’s a bit like eating sour flavoured Skittles for the first time; the intense flavour forcing your face to do all sorts of unexplained weird shit.

As far as looping experimental psych pop goes, Boston-based Sam (who makes up one-man-band Birthdays, and is also apparently vegan, which makes him cool even without the great music) aren’t a one song pony. I’m Keeping Some Of Mine For Me is a slow-paced droning take on the Animal Collective sound, yet still excites and brims with brilliance. Part That Grows has a country/folk-y Conor Oberst feel to it yet through an underlying pulsing drum beat and rattle shakes, unusual strums, and some “ooh”-s chucked in for good measure, it manages to not feel out of place alongside his other work.

Pretty darn exciting stuff. Listen and download below, and find more on HypeMachine.

Birthdays - Howolding Girls

Birthdays - Software

Birthdays - I'm Keeping Some Of Mine For Me

24 December 2010

Happy Christmas

Happy Christmas music lovers of the world. Here's a little festive tune for you to enjoy - Stiff Little Fingers covering White Christmas live. My Dad thinks it's rubbish, bu I disagree.

Have a good one!

20 December 2010

Curly Hair

The height of twee folk's popularity has been and gone, probably to a fair few people's relief - typical boy-girl harmonies, acoustic guitar strums, glockenspiel pings, cutesy lyrics, but too often had little imagination behind them. What can occur when a 'scene' fizzles out, though, is that all the popularity-chasing bands pack up shop and head on to new, now-hip ventures, leaving only those genuine bands from the lesser-popular genre standing.

Curly Hair were never really your typical boring twee folk/folk pop duo, but could have been lumped in with the movement given their male/female harmonies, acoustic guitar, and odd use of glock, (plus the fact that the male vocalist sometimes wore a scout shirt to gigs). The statement that they weren't in it for the popularity can now be said with a little more confidence now, given that plenty of other folk acts have up and chased the surfy/lo-fi thing (Lightspeed Champion's second album, Jay Jay Pistolet in The Vaccines, etc), whereas Brighton's Curly Hair stay true to their name, still plugging away at the music that their love is genuine for.

I don't know that much about Curly Hair. Not even the number of official band members. The photo above suggests five, their MySpace profile picture suggests just the one, when I saw them live it was two, and plenty of other live photos show three. To be perfectly honest, I'd almost forgot of their existence until an email from Toy Soldier Records plopped into my inbox with a new free song, thanks to the recent snow forcing the cancellation of a gig. But I do know that their lo-fi folk-y sounds, the male-female vocals, the occasional high pitched keyboard tones, out-loud metronome, and glock, as well as their pop sensibilities make me very happy.

Download (the lovely) High Fives, Low Fives taken from debut EP (from 2009) Ivy League from The Line Of Best Fit here, or stream and download (the older) Blow The House Down and (the brand new) demo Plentiful Is The Choir below.

Curly Hair - Blow The House Down

Curly Hair - Plentiful Is The Choir (demo)

19 December 2010

The Louche F.C. (Again)

Still haven't gotten over these since posting about them in August. Feel very teased by the small amount I have heard from them, in fact.

Just re-stumbled upon the track (I Cannot Be) Much More Than This, and I really, really love it. The perfect blend of 90s 'gazey jangly pop, and fits in perfectly with my recent listening habits of Beat Happening and Galaxie 500.

Motorcycle Au Pair is still pretty darn great, too. Still pop, but a bit more of a 60s vibe to it.

More stuff soon, hopefully.

The Louche F.C - (I Cannot Be) Much More Than This

The Louche F.C - Motorcycle Au Pair Boy

18 December 2010

Video: Smith Westerns - Weekend

Smith Westerns - Weekend from Fat Possum Records on Vimeo.

I know they're playing us all like suckers, and I don't even care. Haven't been this excited for an album in a long time - Dye It Blonde is out on Fat Possum, January 18.

14 December 2010

Saturday's Kids Update #2

More new sounds from the band that don't cease to impress me. It's a little boring to use the whole "maturing band" thing, but they kind of are - each new release brings tonnes of new ideas.

MySpace here, more songs at Art For Blind's bandcamp here, online shop here, listen below or download a zip (with permission).

Saturday's Kids - Whisper In My Ear

Saturday's Kids - Theorem

Saturday's Kids - Unattainable

9 December 2010

New Yuck, Again

This is probably getting a bit boring, but Yuck have a new song and it's good. Can't wait for the full-length next year.

Yuck - Holing Out

8 December 2010

Top 10 Discoveries of 2010

I didn’t listen to enough albums to make a "Top 10 Albums of 2010" list, but I did listen to lots of new music, so instead I’m making a list of my 10 favourite bands or labels or musical things that I found out about this year. These are things that I’ve really enjoyed, and hopefully you might not have known about and will enjoy too. So, in no particular order:

H. Hawkline
H. Hawkline kind of came out of nowhere for me. One minute I’m listening to some brilliantly spooky weird folk songs on Huw Evans’ (H. Hawkline’s) MySpace to write a blurb for the Swn Festival programme, the next I’m watching Huw plus 2 friends play some brilliant psych surf pop in Cardiff Arts Institute almost ending the show in a scuffle with an audience member, and then in barely no time I’m listening to a beautiful full-length album (released through the wonderful Shape Records, who also released Islet, who would have been on this list had I not seen them live in 2009) of weird instrumental folk meets driving psychedelic krautrock. He’s just finished touring the UK with Gruff Rhys, and apparently might be doing some more recording soon. Seriously good.

H. Hawkline - Gelly

Art Is Hard Records
Only a recent discovery, Plymouth-based independent label Arts Is Hard, but certainly a significant one, especially for me as Plymouth is my home town. There isn’t a great deal of stuff going on here, music-wise (or at all, to be honest), but Art Is Hard really have got me excited and made me believe that the country doesn’t stop at Bristol. Their most recent release has just come out on iTunes (and they also have some vinyl available) – a split with Falmouth’s The Black Tambourines and Exeter’s New Years Evil – and they also released a compilation of some exciting ‘local’ artists. So, so glad I found these.

The Black Tambourines - Tommy

Cycling Season - 1943

Probably one of my first new band discoveries in 2010 and possibly my favourite, too. ‘Georgia’ gripped me on first listen way back in January and Yuck have been a brilliant, if a little teasing, ride since then. More songs have slowly trickled out throughout the year – the sludgey drone of ‘Rubber’, the melancholy jangle of ‘Suicide Policeman’, the driving fuzz of ‘Sunday’ – and they played a great set at Latitude. With a full-length is expected towards the start of 2011, and having recently being named on BBC’s Sound of 2011 list, next year could be an exciting year.

Yuck - Georgia

Yuck - Rubber

Jay Reatard
As tragic as it is, I (and probably lots of other people like me) only ever listened to a Jay Reatard song after the news of his suicide in January of 2010. I didn’t realise what a talent the world of music had lost before it was already gone, but, although I am obviously sad about the his death, I do feel privileged to be able to listen to some of the fantastic music he left behind.

Jay Reatard - It Ain't Gonna Save Me

Barely Regal Records
The second new independent label on this list, Barely Regal are Cardiff based and are doing some mighty fine things. I interviewed Matt and Isaac ages ago (word of warning to potential employees: an interview I still haven’t actually transcribed) and we quickly became good chums, but that’s not to say that they appear on this list for that reason alone. They released a compilation a good few months back featuring bands either from or with a link to the city, have put on a good amount of good gigs (including taking over Irish pub Dempsey’s for a night of Swn curating), and have some exciting releases upcoming from the likes of Among Brothers (who Isaac and Matt both are part of) and Strange News From Another Star.

Among Brothers - Montgolfier

Strange News From Another Star - Bullets (Crop)

Okay, so technically I first heard about Leeds (ish)-based (and blog post cover star)Spectrals in 2009 after a blog post in November by The Pigeon Post, he only properly became stuck in my mind in early 2010 so I think Louis Jones (the one young man behind Spectrals) still deserves a place on this list. First came some fuzzy demos, then came some more fuzzy demos, and then came a brilliant show at Latitude, and finally a month or so ago came the wonderful and surprisingly clean 60s wall of sound inspired debut EP, A Spectrals Extended Play (and then came not seeing him at Swn Festival, but I wont focus on that). It must have been an exciting year for Louis, starting it fairly innocuously, and ending it casually Tweeting Best Coast after a string of support slots. Two-thousand-and-ten truly would have been a far more dull and drab year without his music, and I hope there’s much more to come in 2011.

Spectrals - Peppermint

Spectrals - Keep Your Magic Out Of My House

Manchester’s Mazes were just about the only redeeming factor of 1234 Shoreditch festival lazy summer, but they alone made the price of the tickets and the journey from Cardiff to East London via Egham and the very nearly missed last train from Reading worth it alone. Like Spectrals, I found out about Mazes from The Pigeon Post and, like Spectrals, Mazes also take influence from the 60s, only add a little extra rock and roll rather than pop. Putting out material on the brilliant Suffering Jukebox (which is part run by Jack of Mazes and puts out stuff by lots of other good bands), I’ve been really enjoying their stuff and am excited to hear lots more.

Mazes - Painting Of Tupac Shakur

Mazes - Don't Worry Baby

Beaty Heart
London’s Beaty Heart first grabbed my attention in Loud and Quiet magazine, not for their description of the band, but for the trousers worn in the photo of the band by one of the drummers (notice the plural – they have three drummers altogether). It was nice to find, once listening to their stuff, the band’s sound was as Afro-influenced as the trousers. The fact that they have more than one drummer comes across in their sound, and with a focus on drum beats as well as harmonic vocals, it’s difficult for me not to mention Animal Collective. They’re far from a plain old covers band though, which I reckon they’ll show in style next year when hopefully we’ll get to hear a whole lot more other than the few tracks up on MySpace.

Beaty Heart - Cola

Beaty Heart - Lekka Freakout (demo)

Killing Joke
What kind of moron only discovers Killing Joke in 2010? This kind of moron. I’ve so far only managed to Spotify their debut 1980 self-titled release, and it is incredible. The number of bands that I love that they have clearly had a strong influence on is ridiculous (including a fair few of the bands my Dad has played in over the years) - the riffing, distorted guitar; the angry, harsh vocals; the synth-y buzz; the tight, driving drum beats. I’m disgusted at myself for only listening to these now, but excited to gradually work through their extensive catalogue.

Killing Joke – Requiem

Best Coast
This list would be a lie without Best Coast. As much as I wish I found about Bethany Cosentino’s brilliance before Best Coast, and as much as I wish I found out about Best Coast before 12 months ago, I didn’t. The early, scruffy demos had me incredibly excited, her live performance at Bristol’s Louisiana (where Surfer Blood were also in the crowd) confirmed that they were definitely something special, and then the debut album managed to live up to and exceed all expectations. Much cleaner than the demos but still 60s pop inspired, it allowed Bethany’s fantastic voice to really take centre stage. Her Christmas song with boyfriend Nathan Williams (Wavves) may be a bit pants, and her bratty lyrics combined with her weed consumption may make her a little irritating, but the music is wonderful.

Best Coast - When The Sun Don't Shine

Obviously there was much more in 2010, but these are the 10 that stand out, and that will probably continue having an effect on me well into 2011. Narrowly missing out on this top 10 list were: Twin Sister, Pheromoans, The Racket, The Human Race, Human Hair, and Effort, so check out these, too.

6 December 2010

Art Is Hard

The music scene in the south-west is still a long way off from being anywhere near as busy or thriving as most other parts of the country, but that's not to say that there isn't anything good going on down in these parts. Art Is Hard Records are slowly making me believe that.

Predominantly based in Plymouth, and sometimes based in Bournemouth and Portsmouth depending on university term dates, Art Is Hard is a DIY bedroom label in the truest sense of the word. Run by two friends, they are looking beneath each under-explored rock and in every nook and cranny in the area to find local bands doing something worth listening to, and they're doing a good job of it - having released a compilation album of south-west bands (available through purchasing a t-shirt) and more recently a split release between The Black Tambourines and New Years Evil, they're making sure that people like me are made aware that there are things worth listening to down here. I spoke to (emailed) David about his label.

Hello, Art Is Hard. Who am I speaking to, and tell us a little about the things that you do?

Hello! You're speaking to David. Art is Hard is a record label, but not in a traditional sense I guess. I think I view what we do as more of an outlet, or an aggregator or a cataloger? So far we've only worked with bands from the South West. Although this is more by accident than anything else, it seems to be working quite well for us at the moment.

It’s more and more common for bands to do things completely themselves, and it’s increasingly difficult to break even let alone make money in the music industry today. What motivates you to run a small record label?

I think putting out music by bands you love is something everybody who has more than a fleeting interest in music dreams of. I'm not sure how it really escalated from this pipedream to where we are now. I think one of the main motivations for doing it is drunkenly telling uninterested people in nightclubs that I run a record label.

The South-West of England isn’t best known for its rich collection of alternative music. Why there, and does it have more going on than people think it does?

I think wherever you look there's always something worth your time if you scratch beneath the surface of no-hoping open mic and pay-to-play pop punk bands. It just seems that in the South West you have to do a little more scratching than in other places. The whole 'only releasing bands from the South West' thing was only intended as a theme for the first release; but it feels like it's stuck and when you look back at the great labels (Factory, DTTR, Dischord) they've always had a very strong emphasis on location. Whether we can produce anything as seminal as those releases is yet to be seen.

You said in other interviews that you have some new and interesting ideas, such as your first release (the compilation) being available through purchasing a t-shirt. Without giving too much away, what other interesting ideas do you have as a label?

The great thing about t-shirts is that people always buy them, so you can almost trick people into being interested in the music. Other things young people would rather spend money on than music include pizza and beer, so maybe we'll work on this basis. In all seriousness though we do have a couple of weird release concepts but they'd only lose us more money if we tried them out now. Maybe sometime next year!

You, your most recent release (New Years Evil/The Black Tambourines), and the bands on it have all been getting some decent press coverage recently on blogs and websites, and in magazines. Have you been surprised by how well what you have been doing has gone down?

It's always nice to find somebody has even taken the time to listen, let alone write about us and the bands. Unfortunately we're already coming to realise that selling actual records is pretty hard, irrelevant of how many times you get on the hype machine. God I sound bitter and ungrateful, we're happy really!

Have you got many more releases lined up? What does 2011 hold?

We're undecided what order our next releases will go out in but we have some really great artists lined up. Hopefully an AIH tour within the first months of the year. We definitely have a lot to give in 2011.



Find Art Is Hard on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter or at their blog. Listen to the tracks from their latest release, a split with The Black Tambourines and New Years Evil, as well as some tracks from their first compilation release below.

The Black Tambourines - Tommy

Colours - Desert Dessert

New Years Evil - Shame

4 December 2010

Future of the Left: New Demos

Future of the Left have posted links to some new demos, which will presumably eventually appear on their upcoming third studio album, on their Facebook page. It's the first chance fans will have had to listen to what the Cardiff band has been up to since their line-up change earlier in the year, other than from live videos like this one. Stream the tracks tracks below.

Future Of The Left - I Am The Least Of Your Problems (demo)

Future of the Left - Notes On Achieving Orbit

Future of the Left - My Wife Is Unhappy

2 December 2010


I don't know much about drum and bass. In fact, I know hardly anything whatsoever, and to be honest, I don't like a whole load of it. Still, I wrote about Conek4 (real name John Barr, based in Cardiff) during my esteemed role as music editor of my student union newspaper a year ago and I like the music that he makes, in a kind of feeling drunk without drinking way. Some people who actually know stuff about music like it too, such as BBC Radio Wales' Adam Walton. Listen below and decide for yourself.

If you're interested to read the interview I did with John in December last year, head here. To hear more, visit John's Soundcloud. John also plays regularly at Clwb Ifor Bach, so check there for info of future happenings.

Conek4- Catharsis

Conek4- Chasing le Lotus

1 December 2010

The Pigeon Post's Great Mixtape Swap 3

The Pigeon Post is a blog similar to this one, only better. They too write words about some of the best new bands, but they also regularly gather up all the music community spirit through running their mixtape feature. Now in its third installment, this will be my first time to get involved which is, I know, a poor effort. The premise is as simple as it sounds. A bunch of people interested in music make a playlist of around 10 tracks of new, interesting, and lesser well known songs, upload it to a file-sharing website, and send the link to Matthew at The Pigeon Post. He then puts all of the digital mixtapes into a big e-hat, plucks out the different mixtapes one by one, and sends them back to everyone who had sent one in - thus all those who join in both receive and create a little bit of happiness through the medium of music they hopefully haven't heard of and enjoy. I'm looking forward to it.

To get involved, or to read more about the mixtape (as well as the most recent Ducktapes release), click on these underlined words.

Arc Light

The words to mention when describing Arc Light seem to be "lo-fi", "psychedelic" and "pop", but for me this is far too basic a reduction of the complex sounds coming from the project of Brooklyn's Ryan Gabel.

In fairness to the bloggers and Last FM taggers, these are some of the words Gabel himself uses to tag his releases on bandcamp page. As well as that, Arc Light, in Gabel's words with Ashtapes, make the sound of "too much inspirational music" and indeed it's immediately clear from listening to his music the juxtaposition of a wide range of influences. Hints of psychedelic and pop are evident (the king of the combo Bowie comes across at times, especially in "Mind Me Mr. Halloway"), and there is a lo-fi and DIY feel to the sounds where you can imagine Gabel sat in a dark bedroom conjuring these sounds, but other than that Gabel also seems to be a fan of post-punk, shoegaze and heavier industrial sounds - songs almost always featuring an electronic drumbeat, lots of synth experimentation, and plenty of whirring noise. Even in poppier moments like during the catchy beats and high-pitched harmonies of "The Interview" songs have a real dark and sinsister feel to them - like The Beach Boys, not everything beneath the surface of the songs might be as jolly as first seems apparent.

Obviously it's not practical to tag himself with a whole paragraph of adjectives when describing his own sound - such is the nature of the music industry we live in today - but even so, you get the sense that Gabel is selling himself a bit short, especially considering he is making some of the most interesting music I have heard in a good while.

Download lots of content for free from the bandcamp page - including Arc Light's s/t debut full-length - or purchase his most recent album Westinghousing here, find out a little more from MySpace, or stream and download some tracks below.

>Arc Light - Battery Children

Arc Light - SmokeRings

Arc Light - Reverb Mystic

Arc Light - Digi Wiki

30 November 2010

Thunder Bunny

It can sometimes feel a little false and pre-meditated when a modern band sounds exactly like the ‘sound’ from a specific era. Lots of the time it can be a sound fashionable at the time. The shoegaze scene is a clear influence on lots of the noisey and droney bands around today, and the Phil Spector wall of sound is seeing a good resurgence, too. IOf course it is increasingly difficult to be truly original, and it’s not necessarily a negative criticism of a band to sound exactly like the bands of a movement from yesteryear (The Horrors’ Primary Colours springs to mind, sounding a carbon copy of the likes of The Chameleons), but it can hint at a lack of personal creativity or just lazy song-writing.

If there’s one band that would be allowed some leeway with this, though, it’s Thunder Bunny, seeing the 90’s is when they were first active and all. Although lead man Christopher Padula – and pretty much the only ‘proper’ band member since starting Thunder Bunny back in 1995 and resurrecting it with some friends recently – denies the shoegaze (hence the 90’s reference) sound, the layers of noise, the distant vocals, and the distorted guitar sounds do at least hint otherwise; though beneath the fuzz does lie beautiful and almost folk-y songs with some definite hints of psychedelia and pop. Sometimes building from slow-paced acoustic guitar lines, a staple of the sound are guitars sounding like they were recorded in another room with the doors shut and Christopher’s calming, ethereal, and slightly effeminate vocals.

Head to their MySpace page for more information. Download “The World Gathered To Watch Him Fade Away” and “Sleepy Head” from Ashtapes here, stream and download Storm below, or here if that doesn’t work, where you can also buy tonnes of Thunder Bunny releases old and new.

Thunder Bunny - Storm

Well, This Is Just Darn Lovely: Teen Daze - Beach Dreams

I know it's not an especially sociable hour (in the UK at least), but Teen Daze have posted a new song on their bandcamp page and it's lovely. So lovely it even features Christmassy harmonies and jingly bells. Listen below, or at their bandcamp page:

29 November 2010

Old Smile

Listening to my HypeMachine favourited blog-list whilst doing a bit of writing, two bands caught my attention enough to write a mental note to find out their name once I'd finished these few sentences - one with some wonderful psychedelic and jazzy pop reminding me of Connan Mockasin, the other bare and beautiful folk. Upon finishing the sentences and researching the names of these bands, the two bands were in fact just one, and this band was Old Smile.

Old Smile is apparently the project of a Tom Herman, who is apparently also of the band Arches (who maybe I should check out more of). This information isn't particularly important. What is important is that the music of Old Smile, and EP Hawkins Bridge, is lovely.

On his bandcamp, Tom tags himself with "ambient", "pop", and "psychedelic", which gives a good insight into his sound. "Mirrors" opens with a Portishead-like walking bass-line and rattling, jazzy snare rolls; slowly opening up with Tom's unusually high-pitched and effected vocals (again the Connan Mockasin comparison is relevant) and gently echoing guitar strums. "Swept Up With The Tide" continues in beautiful, psychedelic tendencies, this time with clear folk influences and "Want To Be" has at least a few Deerhunter moments - the EP rumbles and crackles, like the record you'd expect to hear in the basement of a vintage furniture store.

Stream and download Hawkins Bridge below, or do the same at their bandcamp. You can also purchase the cassette from Treetop Sorbet

26 November 2010

Sauna Youth

Having an obsession with the Ramones is no bad thing. Try to search for the word "criticism" on their Wikipedia page and you won't find it. Proof, if anybody needed it, that the punks are a perfect band to aspire to be like.

Take Brighton's Sauna Youth. They might not sound exactly like the Ramones, but they certainly take a lot of influence from - from the simple, fast-paced, driving motorik-like drum-beat; to the raucous racket; to the general punk ethic. But far from being plain old punk rock (not that there is anything wrong with that, other than a band doing that today would be lacking at least a little in originality), the four-piece break up noisey, thrashing guitars and angry shouts with some experimentation; namely through lengthy moments of looping noise and drone, often combined with story-telling, with tales of swimming pools and masturbation.

Another advocate of doing-it-yourself, the band have self-released a number of limited-runs of cassettes and often put on their own gigs (often in less usual venues, such as an alcohol-free, all ages community centre) - although they will soon be teaming up Sex Is Disgusting (Mazes/Spectrals split, Prize Pets, Human Hair etc) which I think is an equally sensible move. According to MySpace, they have an LP upcoming which, along with releases from Pheromoans and Human Hair, makes 2011 looking like it will be an exciting year for DIY punk. Quite excited that my girlfriend now lives in Brighton, too.

Download the digital version of one of their tapes here, two songs from Pinglewood, and stream some (as well as reading some better words) at futuresoundstemporary. You can also read some of their band's own words at their blog, and buy the cassettes (the ones that aren't sold-out) at their online shop.

23 November 2010

The Black Tambourines

Most holidays, I go back home to Plymouth to visit friends and family. It's nice to see them, but going back can be a little depressing with just how non-existent the music scene is in the South-West (beyond Bristol...) of England as a whole. That's why I assumed that the blog No Fear Of Pop must have made some sort of a mistake when featuring a band from "the very southwest of the United Kingdom".

Cornwall's (Falmouth, to be more geographically accurate) The Black Tambourines are the perfect blend of everything that's big right now; surf, garage rock, punk, and noise. It might seem like a band trying to jump on the hipster band wagon, but it's more likely a combination of a range of influences and a DIY ethic from a band simply wanting to make music that they love.

With a split release with New Years Evil out now on the exciting Art Is Hard Records and a slowly growing blog-buzz around them, The Black Tambourines both have an interesting few months ahead of them and have got me looking forward to going home for Christmas.

The split is available to buy from Rough Trade here or from Art Is Hard's online store here, or to stream the whole set from their SoundCloud here.

I Don't Wanna Be Yr Lover - The Black Tambourines

Tommy - The Black Tambourines

22 November 2010


Christmas compilation album featuring the likes of Crystal Antlers, Coconut Records, and the first collaboration of stoner-lovers Best Coast and Wavves, streamable here. I'm not saying it's good, but it's certainly festive.

17 November 2010

Strange News From Another Star

Photo courtesy of Paul Gregory, Lense Eyes.

Back in 2005, The Independent were correct when they wrote that “one way or another, we will be hearing quite a lot more of Jimmy Watkins.” Referring to an on-track incident where, during his career in athletics a few years back, Jimmy farted whilst lining up for a race, although The Independent, even after that, probably weren’t expecting for us to hear more of him quite in the way that we have over the past year or so.

Indeed, the Jimmy Watkins in that article is the same Jimmy Watkins who fronts Cardiff band Strange News From Another Star and, indeed, also the same Jimmy Watkins who was asked to join Future Of The Left, one of his favourite bands, as guitarist and fourth member not long ago.

Jimmy likes to make a bit of a pillock of himself. Anybody who has ever even briefly met him or seen him play live (be it outdoors strumming an acoustic with his trousers around his ankles, dressed either in denim from head to toe or, with his now slightly plumper figure [sorry Jimmy], in his old athletics kit onstage) will be testament to that. Strange News' debut EP Full Frontal, although a strong release that a lot of hard work went into, was still Jimmy - and bandmate’s Mark Foley, bass, and Harry Jones, drums - in all of his usual silliness through the medium of raucous, blues-influenced, alternative rock. Since the release of Full Frontal last year, Mark has had a shave and a haircut, Harry has graduated from university, Jimmy, whilst still working in a Welsh wool shop, has joined Future Of The Left, and Strange News From Another Star have made some new recordings.

Now, it’d be foolish to suggest that with these new recordings Strange News have turned sensible because, well, they haven’t. They’re still completely nuts. For example, ‘A Ballad Of John Rostron’ is a song to/for/about/containing Cardiff-based music promoter and Swn Festival co-organiser John Rostron, where Jimmy asks “Where’s the car park?/Where’s the car park?/Where’s the car park, John?” (no idea...). ‘Deathbyugg’, besides from being perhaps the best named song ever, features a female/Jimmy unusual duet, ending with Jimmy, all Welsh accented, repeating “Burn that Tesco, burn that Tesco down, burn that Tesco, burn that Tesco down”. ‘White Man Blues’ is two minutes of heavy, blues-y guitar riffs, pausing occasionally for lines like “Tell your mother I’m back again/This time a respectable man.” And, after all, the band are still sponsored by a sandwich shop. But in these songs - some of which that will form an EP at some point - Jimmy, Mark, and Harry are, it’s fair to say, taking their music a lot more seriously and are certainly seeming a lot more relaxed, comfortable, and confident with their sound.

Although no gigs seem to be lined up at the moment, and there are no firm plans for this new EP, there will be some updates within the coming months, no doubt.

Head here for a playlist made by Jimmy for The 405, here to stream both debut EP Full Frontal and a live radio session for Bethan Elfyn, or follow them on Twitter here for more news on live shows, a possible EP, etc, and listen to clips of some of the new recordings below.

Strange News From Another Star - I Am Weatherproof (Crop)

Strange News From Another Star - Bullets (Crop)

Strange News From Another Star - Last Night I Happened Twice (Crop)

16 November 2010

Michael Parallax - Ghosts (Spirit Come In)

Yeah, more Animal Collective stuff. This time a chilled out sample-use from a song by the Florida-based Michael Parallax.

Download Ghosts (Sprit Come In) from Pasta Primavera here, or tonnes of his stuff from his bandcamp page.

15 November 2010

Oui Messy EP

Perhaps one of one of the most enjoyable parts of listening to music is being pleasantly surprised. It’s all too easy to dismiss a band on the blandness of their list of influences or the bagginess of their jeans (I jest, of course). Perhaps even better than that is being surprised when a band who have already put out some strong material come back with stuff that’s even better.

I posted about Cardiff-based Oui Messy a few months back, based on one live performance and regular listens of a small collection of songs on MySpace, and listening to their most recent EP was exciting.

Such is often the case with young bands the Oui Messy sound is a constantly evolving one, like a band who are both still yet to find a place they are completely comfortable with, as well as one constantly finding new great old bands to influence them. Not that that’s any sort of criticism; EP Gelert (and bonus tracks) are all the better for it. Initially, Gelert may feel a little plain-indie and almost Arctic Monkeys-y, but, given time, it’s a strong demonstration of one of Cardiff’s most exciting offerings.

Lots of small bands seem to find the transition from popular local act to one being more widely appreciated a difficult one, but Oui Messy are looking good for that wider audience so far.

Download or stream EP ‘Gelert’, as well as bonus tracks ‘…and Other Short Stories’ from here, stream Bubblegum (from it) or Salesman (an earlier track, not on it) below.

Oi Messy - Salesman

Oui Messy - Bubblegum

14 November 2010


It's a Sunday, so this post isn't a long one, alright? Triptides are three American guys making surfy pop music who aren't releasing stuff through Holiday Records, but could be. Their six-track album/EP is downloadable for any name-able price (including $0) in the space below (or here if that fails), and is enjoyable on the ears.

12 November 2010

H. Hawkline

There’s lots to be praised for playing in a band, but there must be nothing more satisfying for a musician than releasing something that you can completely call your own.

Cardiff-based musician Huw Evans has been playing in the bands of Sweet Baboo, Richard James, and Cate Le Bon for a while, and he’s even credited with assisting with some recorded Islet output, but only now that he is releasing a solo album under his H. Hawkline moniker may he be truly appreciated for his efforts.

I made a bit of a bluff describing H. Hawkline in the Swn Festival 2010 programme as “psychedelic and gypsy-inspired folk sounds - often largely instrumental and almost always spooky,” or at least I thought I’d made a huge bluff. Basing that description entirely on MySpace plays, I saw H. Hawkline live a few days after the programme would have already gone to print, where Huw was joined by two friends; playing catchy psychedelic pop, with vocals. Turns out my original description wasn’t a hundred miles off the mark after all (although, I’m told, his Swn performance was much like the one I’d witnessed).

Huw’s solo debut album A Cup Of Salt (put out through the wonderful Shape Records) is, largely, back to the spooky and weird instrumental (although not strictly without vocals) folk sounds of those early MySpace listens of mine. Beautifully constructed and well layered, it’s a wonderful krautrock-inspired mix of acoustic-led weird folk and driving psychedelic sounds, and it’s really exciting.

Which face of H. Hawkline Huw decides to show doesn't really matter, they're all bloody good.

Download H. Hawkline’s Gelly from A Track In A Box here, catch him live as he tours the UK with Gruff Rhys, and order A Cup Of Salt from Shape records here.

Edited to add:Stream the full album from H. Hawkline's bandcamp here, or listen to Gelly below.

H. Hawkline - Gelly

11 November 2010

Beaty Heart: Free Song

I mention the words "Animal Collective" far too often. Whatever. This new Beaty Heart track reminds me of them, as well as The Ruby Suns. I really like it.

Download "Lekka Freakout" from the box below. Oh, and if you missed "Cola", head to The Mix Tape to grab that or listen below, too.

Beaty Heart - Cola

Living Rooms

It is dull and tedious to read so many bands said to be influenced by Animal Collective, but Animal Collective are almost a genre all of their own now. The biggest reason bands are compared to the Baltimore quartet tend to be either a tendency to opt for a worldly and ‘tribal’ drum sound, the recognisable heavy use of loops and effects, and unusual, drawn out, high pitched, harmonised (or at least echoing) vocals in the style of members Panda Bear or Avey Tare.

Living Rooms are no straight up Animal Collective rip-off, instead borrowing bits and bobs (primarily the echoing, high pitched, unusual vocals), using them in as so far unused ways and, obviously, adding stuff. More beats, more bleeps, more electro, more pop and at times, arguably, more weird. “Worlds” features a sped up vocal sample which reminds me of Amon Tobin’s Precursor, which is cool.

It’s beautiful, bouncey, woozy electropop with an Animal Collective topping, and it’s all the better for it.

Download full album ‘House Kid’ for free from the box below or, failing that, from their bandcamp direct, here.

With thanks to Pasta Primavera.

10 November 2010


This blogging world can be a fickle old place. It feels like some blogs will ignore a band if another blog has already covered them. Clearly if I went by that ethos, I would have very little content, but I’d also be going against the reasons I write here.

Selebrities have been hyped from the four corners of the globe for a good few months already, but I’ve only recently discovered, and fell in love with, their music.

Putting a charming twist on a number of different movements, Selebrities are less inventors and more recyclers, taking old things and using them in different, but still beautiful, ways. Clearly influenced from lots of the post-punk/goth that the 80s, according to popular nightclub chains at least, are less remembered for, Selebrities also varyingly add shoegazey as well as electro moments and surfy guitar twangs, all fronted with (I want to call them fragile, but I don't really think they are) female vocals. It’s very often very The Cure-like, but there’s very little wrong with that.

Their debut EP is downloadable for free from Cascine, here. You can also download 'When I Look At You' form The 405 here.

When I Look At You - Selebrities

Selebrities - The Moonlight

Selebrities - Secret Garden

8 November 2010

Boy or Bison

The amount of material I am stealing off of The Pigeon Post is becoming worrying. Luckily for me, he's a nice d00d and doesn't seem to mind too much. Plus, it's kind of his fault for posting so much material that I feel I have to share.

Boy or Bison make hazy, almost lazy sounding, pop music that is indeed too good not to (steal to) share. With bits and bobs borrowed from other related musical genres (think along surfy, jangly, garage lines), Boy or Bison have a wide appeal - including mums, dad, granddads and grans - with their sound which, although not overly original since clearly heavily influenced by doo-wop, is well worth your time.

They've decided to release their most recent EP for free, available in the handy box below (or here if that fails). You can also download a lo-fi jangle-pop version of Metallica's Enter Sadman over at The Pigeon Post.


When I was young, I used to listen to music with my dad. My dad’s a fan of Tom Waits, though evidently he was blissfully unaware just how terrifying “What’s He Building” might be to a young boy. Fifteen-odd years later, and I can just about listen to Mule Variations the whole way through without crying. To me, Gindrinker’s “Bob Grainger: Sexual Pervert” is Waits’ follow up.

Opening with deep, heavy breathing which is then accompanied by birdsong, the track taken from the Cardiff band’s split release with Joy of Sex (out on I Blame The Parents Records in Septeber) is a fitting example of the weird and wonderful world of both Gindrinker and the Cardiff music scene as a whole. Witty, amusing, yet still seriously dark and disconcerting, it’s a brilliant track of semi-spoken-word vocals, riffing blues-y guitar lines, and drum machine.

It’s a familiar formula (one that leads to results not too dissimilar to The Fall on occasion, for some added lazy journalism there) for the two men – Graf (also of Threatmantics) and Gates (also of Brandyman) – who make up Gindrinker, and it’s an effective one, although they do sometimes like to mix things up a little by adding some trumpet, would you have guessed?

Gindrinker are certainly no new band, but when you’re new to a city (which I was 3 years ago) it’s fairly easy to be up to date with all of the great new stuff being released, yet completely unaware and unappreciative of some of the greatness that has been around for a number of years. I’m slowly making amends, and Gindrinker are another band I can add to the “Cardiff bands I really enjoy” list.

You can find “Bob Grainger: Sexual Pervert”, as well as the great “Y Chromosome”, on the band’s joint release Split Definitives, available from Rough Trade here. You can also download “Gorsedd” for free here, or stream lots more on their MySpace.

Gindrinker - Y Chromosome

Gindrinker - Gorsedd

4 November 2010


Making music with the aim of becoming popular is one of the worst things that a band can do. Music is about expression, entertainment, passion, enjoyment; not about dating Hermione Grainger (I’m looking at you, One Night Only).

It comes as a relief, then, to read on Pheromoan’s MySpace page, in a blog post addressed to potential promoters, that the band have no desire to become big. This statement should not only demonstrate that the band don’t want to be celebs, but it might also quash the possibility that they are making the music that they are right now – music with minimal production, lo-fi recording means, and a seemingly care-free attitude to getting things perfect – because it’s what is hip today. The fact that they have been release music like this for years through DIY labels goes one step further to removing this possibility.

Indeed, I’d happily Last FM tag Pheromoans with “lo-fi”, as well as “post-punk” (avoid ‘garage rock’, though – this is another point they make in their blog post), but the band don’t restrict themselves to one genre alone. “Robotic Son”, for example, features guitar twangs and jangles to a plodding bass-line in upbeat and light fashion; whereas “Soft Targets” is fast-paced and frantic shout-y post-punk. “Theme To Cole’s Law” sluggishly drags with distorted vocals and swelled guitar chords reminding of T-Rex; “On The Rec Again” is frantic, jerky and screeching, evoking thoughts of riot grrrl (despite being male vocals and not referencing feminism at all); and “Funny Names” is slow-paced guitar repetitive-ness and spoken word vocals next to a wobbling and bleep-y synth, like XX Teens arm-wrestling Mark E Smith. Lots of bands would either sound pretentious or plain shit, but Pheromoans manage to avoid both.

They release their first full-length It Still Rankles in January which promises to be 17 tracks of unreleased racket. The band, who are "scattered around the South East, (which is why things happen so slow)" also promise that they'll be touring around January/February time.

Listen to two tracks that aren't on the album but might be a little what the album might sound like below.

Pheromoans - Robotic Son

Pheromoans - Sussex Tomb 1

3 November 2010

Sweet Bulbs

Although this style of music journalism is incredibly lazy, describing Sweet Bulbs as ‘Best Coast if Bethany Cosentino listened more to Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine’ does give you a fairly accurate idea of how the band sound.

Sweet female vocals accompany noisey and bending guitar distortions to delightful effect. According to their MySpace, their debut self-titled LP should be released now, though I haven’t managed to find it anywhere just yet.

Download ‘Kissing Clouds’ from Gorilla vs Bear here, or do some listening below.

Sweet Bulbs - Springstung

Sweet Bulbs - Eyes Feathers

1 November 2010

Jonny: Free EP

Turnstile have been good to us these past few weeks. Free Gruff Rhys, free Girls, and now a free 4-track EP from Jonny; the collaboration between the greats Euros Child and Norman Blake.

The free EP also arrives with the news of a full-length debut, (album artwork above) due out on 31st January, and a UK tour, dates here.

Download the free EP by exchanging an email address in the box below:

31 October 2010

The Human Race

If there’s one blog it is acceptable to steal the ideas and featured bands from, it’s No Pain In Pop. They seem to be so ahead of everything that even if you don’t get around to posting essentially one of their posts as your own for almost a year, it doesn’t matter as nobody else will have caught on yet anyway.

Indeed this is the case with The Human Race. I downloaded the two free tracks from No Pain In Pop in January and decided recently that it was about time I did some more ‘research’ on this band, only to find that HypeMachine still wasn’t riddled with adoring love letters to the band members.

The description from the blog of the label releasing their EP calls the band “drone punk” which seems about as accurate as describing them in two words as possible – although this description may have you imagining the band are a little more slow paced than is actually the case.

The band would probably fall into the lo-fi punk category as well as “drone punk”, but falling like one of those Tetris shapes that almost makes a line along the bottom but doesn’t quite – their “lo-fi” feel is probably more a necessity rather than a choice so the band can’t quite be lumped in with the rest of this tag. “Incantation” features repetitive and noisey bass buzz and drum rhythms with screechy guitars and atonal vocals that accompany much of their Duality EP; “Insane Trip” opens with a bass-line that feels The Drums might have made a guest appearance on the end of the EP, before the atonal and semi-monotonous (this sounds like negative criticism, but it isn’t) vocals kick in with far more sincerity than The Drums could ever muster; and “Brain” has a fuzzy pop-punk guitar riff straight out of the Jay Reatard book of ‘how-to’ and bass follows suit shortly before the vocals reveal “my brain is sick of MTV, my brain is sick of pornography.”

The EP is a real gem and I feel privileged to own a copy; especially considering it was limited to 50 copies. Incredibly it still hasn’t sold out, so head to Savoury Days to purchase the tiniest little CD ever and get yourself a free poster at the same time. Stream it first if you don’t trust my judgement.

Download Incantation and Insane Trip from No Pain In Pop here

28 October 2010

Swathes: More Stuff

The music made by Swathes is enjoyable. But it's also highly impressive. The instrumental noise of Swathes, reminiscent of much of the shoegaze scene of yesteryear; droningly swirling and bloating, is quite incredibly made by one man alone.

I've almost seen Matt Webber, the man behind Swathes who is based in North Wales, live twice. The first time was at Cardiff Arts Institute (complete technology fail) and the second at 1234 Shoreditch (though at one of the festival's after-parties, not the festival itself, it transpired). Both times I was pretty annoyed, but pleasantly I can now sit here alone in this cold, bland bedroom of mine, shut my eyes, and imagine myself with a beer in hand standing in a crowd of skinny-jeaned types finally managing to experience all of the loops, drum machines and guitar noise unfold right before my eyes; for Matt has posted a link (he did it months ago but I've only just noticed) to a live radio session.

Download the four live tracks from Swathes' very own bandcamp here, and don't forget to say "thank you".

25 October 2010

Three Free Things

Whilst I slave away at a dead-end job, the music world is busy doing its thing. Find below three free things (and four songs altogether) that have been widely written about many hours ago.

Girls – Heartbreaker

A fantastic freebie from San Francisco’s Girls, as they also announce details of six-song mini album Broken Dreams Club - which is to be released on 22nd November through Fantasytrashcan/Turnstile Music. Their 9/10 Pitchfork rated debut album Album will be tough to top, but I think Christopher Owens et al are well up for the challenge. I fancy their chances judging from this jangly loveliness, too. Grab it, in exchange for an email address, from Turnstile here.

Is Tropical – South Pacific

Although the demo has been knocking around for a while now, Is Tropical have decided to release ‘South Pacific’ (‘SOUTH PACIFIC’, to be accurate) as a free download. Featuring their usual catchy electro beats, it’s the band’s second single release in the build up to the release of their debut album, which is due out on KITSUNÉ / Cooperative Music early next year. Not a whole load has changed from the earlier demo, but it’s definitely worth a download for both those who have and haven’t heard their earlier stuff. Download here, also in exchange for an email address.

Lykke Li – Get Some

The lovely Lykke Li offers us new single ‘Get Some’, as well as b-side ‘Paris Blue’ for free download, as well as releasing it on vinyl for fans of that format. Specific album details are also expected shortly. So far, the best prediction we have is early next year. Until then, download both beautiful tracks below, or download here.