31 January 2011

One Inch Badge presents: Sea Monsters – Day Two

With Speak Galactic, The Sticks, Cold Pumas, and Drum Eyes

Sea Monsters is a mini festival in Brighton put on by local label One Inch Badge celebrating some of the city’s best musical output over five days in The Prince Albert. I didn’t manage to make day one because I’m rubbish and I’m not able to make days four and five for similar but more legitimate reasons, but I will be attempting to write about day two.

The thing I always forget about gigs is to not turn up when doors are supposed to open, especially when you’re going on your own. Even with a phone that you can pretend to text with and a toilet you can pretend to wee in every so often, you still look at the very least a little bit odd standing at the bottom of a flight of stairs, unsure if the doors are already open or not, then trying, finding out they aren’t opening and repeating the process - especially when you don’t know the venue or anybody in it. Still, that was more my lack of foresight than a criticism of the evening. What obviously matters at a gig is the bands, of which I can make few criticisms.

First up is Speak Galactic [link] (not that we catch what he’s called throughout his set – the one guy who makes up the act too involved in the music to remember telling us his name), who layers distorted guitar sounds with noisey samples and a drum-machine, finishing it off with high-pitched echoing vocals. It’s reverb drenched and abrasive noise that would be easy to dismiss (as some do, popping their heads in the door before heading back downstairs) but beneath the layers upon layers of crackle and fuzz is essentially pop. Although it may lack slightly in substance and actual ‘song’ on this evening (recorded songs seem to have more a bit more melody), it’s made up for in heart and an ethic which I respect and appreciate. Keep an eye on for sure.

Speak Galactic - Spector Spectre

Next on is The Sticks who, despite being a member down tonight, still do a good job of showing off their scruffy lo-fi (and annoyingly difficult to describe) sound. Stand up scrappy drumming accompanies strummed guitar for songs that are often instrumental for long periods of time, broken up with periods of semi–spoken word atonal vocals and harmonised “aah”-s. The duo swap instruments too, taking turns to switch between franticly shuffle their hands between snare and floor tom (in place of a bass drum) and producing sometimes surf-ish and sometimes post-punk-ish guitar sounds. They apologise for constantly switching roles and quip that a real band wouldn’t, but that’s exactly the point – they don’t need to do what a ‘real’ band does. It’s brilliant carefree fun - and it stands up just as well live as it does on record.

The Sticks - Messing Around

Cold Pumas are next on, the increasingly hyped three-piece playing a hometown show despite recently releasing a split with Americans Fair Ohs and Women. Their set is also largely instrumental, a motrik drum-beat/tom-rolls the central feature while two guitars rally together to create all sorts of dinny goodness. Even when there are vocals they have so much feedback that they more serve as another instrument than a way of communicating any sort of lyrical message. The songs are krautrock-inspired long jams, the guitarists bouncing off each other and switching between effects pedals, the drums fast-paced, rolling and driving. You can understand why the hype around them at the moment, their kraut-y-meets-post-punky sound and lo-fi aesthetic work in their favour today, as well as the fact that the songs are bloody good, even if not the whole audience seem to appreciate it.

Cold Pumas - Dawn Lobby

Drum Eyes are on after a lengthy pause, which works for those in the audience not prepared for the hefty drinks prices. Okay, I had to quickly nip to the cash-point, running in a panic that I’d miss some of the set. I didn’t miss any though, which is good, because Drum Eyes are an incredible live experience. Among its five members are probably twice as many instruments, two drummers, a guitarist, a keyboard player/noise fiddler, and also Shigeru Ishihara (aka DJ Scotch Egg). A ferociously in your face yet technically incredible experience, they combine the energy and complexity of bands like Battles and Holy Fuck through double-drumming, impressive guitar-work, and an electro-backing track through laptop but also add a sparkling charm through the central Shigeru on five-string bass - who spirals his bass and leaps through the crowd to the noise of Nintendo game sound-effetcs. It’s hypnotising whilst also gobsmacking in impressive musicianship, bringing a smile to the face with how sheer brilliant they are.

Drum Eyes - 50/50

There's a compilation of the best Brighton bands coming out following the weekend, with info over at One Inch Badge's website at some point, I presume.

30 January 2011


So it turns out when I was writing about Dan Amos a few weeks back I might have actually been talking about the band Burglarised. Dan Amos may have been a pretty main member, but still, should have probably got my facts right.

Also, it turns out that Burglarised have a good few releases to their name (according to their MySpace, 7 EPs or LPs, one as recent as last year) including Thunderheart!, which I posted about it. It also looks like Burglarised were played on Radio 1 by Rob Da Bank back in 2006 and also received some online press here and here (some of it pretty amusing in its criticism of the lo-fi sound before it was so common).

Obviously it doesn't make the music any worse. If anything it makes the whole lo-fi thing deserve even more respect in that Dan/Burglarised did it a long time before it was widely popular. But it does make me a rubbish blogger and for this I am sorry. I hope you accept my apologies. I also hope you love their music. I think it's great. Enjoy the utterly brilliant You Can Rest Easy Now, by BAND, Burglarised, below.

Burglarised - You Can Rest Easy Now

29 January 2011

Releases: Best of the Week

Plenty of decent stuff this week worth buying (from your local independent record store!) and a strong debut or two.

Week starting Monday 31 January:

Jonny - Jonny (Turnstile)

Jonny - Michaelangelo
(non-album track taken from their free EP)

Esben and the Witch - Violet Cries (Matador Records)
The Go! Team - Rolling Blackouts (Memphis Industries)
Hercules and Love Affair - Blue Songs (Moshi Moshi)
Seefeel – Seefeel (Warp)

Remember you can get in touch if you want to suggest things I've missed or stuff out soon I should know of but might not know because I'm rubbish.

28 January 2011

Yes Know

One of the great things about music is that there’s stuff to suit all moods and moments. To get the best out of some music, you need to have four pints of beer sloshing around in your stomach and a big field to stand around in the sun in – the speakers blaring out, the bass thudding you in the chest like fist into a punch bag. Other music is best enjoyed in a relaxed and quiet evening, the moonlight shining into your bedroom as you sit alone in a half-asleep daze.

The music of Californian Sandy Gilfillan aka Yes Know firmly sits in the latter camp of sounds. Chilled out and frankly beautiful, Sandy’s dreamy vocals sit alongside all sorts of twinkling sounds and soft, sparse beats (when there are any) while guitar is softly strummed. It’s by no means chillwave, but it has that similar relaxed and hazy feel – they’re entirely hypnotising and wholly captivating sounds.

There are lots of tracks available on bandcamp, though they are apparently just a group of songs and strictly not an album. According to Sandy the album isn’t ready, but as far as my ears can tell this is more than good enough right now. Listen to and download a pick of some songs below. Usually, these would be long thought out selections to show the artist in the best light, but with Yes Know there was really little need to be selective at all.

Yes Know - Crumble Or Flow

Yes Know - Roll

Yes Know - The Upward Stairs

Bandcamp | Facebook | SoundCloud

27 January 2011

Aux Arc

Aux Arc aren’t the newest band you’ll find being written about on the internet given that they were blogged about almost a year ago now, but they may well be one of the more underrated. Yet they seem to have been largely ignored and unheard since being blogged about back then, despite it being the kind of music that you’d expect to find its way to every crevasse of HypeMachine in mere moments of retweeting and via’s.

Formed of three guys based in Savannah, Georgia, Aux Arc make perfect pop music, albeit influenced by a lap around the globe and a step back to the doo-wop of the 60s. Vocals – when not harmonised in celebrator manner – carry a melancholic fragility, often while guitar licks, piano tinkles and all sorts of manipulated noises and other additions (whistling, harmonica and others) dance merrily in the background. It’s just really fun music.

I’m not too sure how it’s pronounced, but if you believe other bloggers, it might be “oz-ark” or something vaguely similar.

Aux Arc - Round House

Aux Arc - Jumps

Aux Arc - Highnoon

Bandcamp | MySpace | Facebook

26 January 2011

Livid Kids

This is a lazy and frankly half-arsed write-up, but I’m in a bit of a rush (which is a poor excuse, I know), and all you really want is to hear the songs rather than read my words anyway.

Livid Kids are a two-piece from Indiana, making lazy lo-fi garage rock along Beat Happening and Moldy Peaches lines. Vocals have that lack of caring, atonal quality – slowly dragging on whilst the guitar and drums and franticly worked alongside them, which makes for a nice effect. It was apparently recorded in a bedroom. I wish I was the next door neighbour.

Michael Bishop/On The Green LP, their second release, is out now and available on their bandcamp.

Livid Kids - Be Cool

Livid Kids - Arcade

Bandcamp | MySpace

25 January 2011


With all the wonderful music from around the world readily available at the tip of a finger, bands perhaps have an even tougher time than in previous years deciding exactly which styles will contribute to their own sounds, and which are simply more to be enjoyed rather than replicated. Of course, there’s always the argument that you could just cram all of your favourite music into your own and hope that it comes out as some sort of coherent sound rather than a big, confusing mess. After all, it’s worked for Brighton’s Soccer96.

Forcing together psychedelic world sounds with electronica, post-rock, math-rock, and even prog and jazz, the two-piece come out the end of the long and dark tunnel smelling of roses and with all the girls trailing behind them. It’s simultaneously fun yet kind of in-your-face, both chilled out and laid back yet impressive. And taking influence for your name from legendary gaming systems like the Megadrive and NES – well, that’s just inspired.

Soccer96 should be touring the UK (perhaps with Illness, previously featured here) soon, and are looking to also release an EP in the coming months. Until then, listen and download below.

Soccer96 - Level8Clouds

Soccer96 - SuperWarrior

MySpace |

24 January 2011


Don’t know a whole load about Minneapolis, Minnesota-based Tim Kraus aka Maymok but his tracks have had my head on a constant spin these past few days. Wonderful looping, psychedelic and kaleidoPOPic (I know, I'm shameless) beats.

Maymok - Family/Friends

Maymok - Spacestation

Bandcamp | MySpace | EP at Two Michael Jordans

22 January 2011

Releases: Best of the Week

Still going strong. Some of the best releases from the alternative crowd this week. Good releases from bands new and old.

Week starting Monday January 24:

The Joy Formidable - The Big Roar (Atlantic)

The Joy Formidable - Whirring

Cloud Nothings - Cloud Nothings (Wichita)
Cold War Kids – Mine Is Yours (V2)
Deerhoof - Deerhoof vs. Evil (PolyVinyl)
Gang Of Four – Content (Gronland)
Young Prisms – Friends for Now (Kanine)

21 January 2011

Under Alien Skies

What happens when you take all of the best music of the last few years and compact it into one EP? A band trying their hardest to thrust themselves into the hipster limelight? An over-complicated and poorly flowing collision of incompatible sounds? Maybe for most bands, but not if you’re Under Alien Skies, apparently.

Their sounds feels fresh from a dream, the north-Walian duo combining woozy harmonised vocals, tender trip-hop beats, electro-tinged wavy reverb and world-y influences creating just the sort of laid-back sounds for a hungover Saturday morning.

They’re soon to be touring and are also in the process of putting together a full-length release - though there are no firm details of either just yet. Until then, listen below, or hear the Paste EP and download the Powder EP from their bandcamp.

Under Alien Skies - Papillion

Under Alien Skies - Overseas

Bandcamp | MySpace | Twitter

20 January 2011

Right Hand Left Hand

I’ve been meaning to post about these for quite a long time but, as usual, I somehow never got around to it. Right Hand Left Hand are one of Cardiff’s most exhilarating, interesting, and quite simply impressive bands at the moment, and should have been an obvious choice for me to write about here months ago, to be honest.

Formed of two veterans of the Cardiff music scene – Rhodri Viney, who has been credited as a member or musician (or whatever) on albums so many times it’d be difficult to keep count (but some that pop to my mind now include ex-Boo Radley songwriter Martin Carr, experimental folk-y/krauter H. Hawkline, post-rockers Vito and who also runs solo project Ratatosk, and Andrew ‘Bernie’ Plain, who joins Rhodri in Vito, also played with Martin Carr, was in Curveside, and also helps to run Cardiff music hub Music Box and h - Right Hand Left Hand sounds more like the work of six musicians than two, making really impressive use of looping pedals that works brilliantly on record, but that creates a truly dumbfounding and stunning live experience.

What starts out as a singular guitar riff on the bassier top strings is gradually added to, layer by layer, until the music is of massive complex, math-y guitar work scale, all while the drums are technically (but still brutally) smashed into a frenzy. There’s even some instrument swapping and now I think they even include some double drumming, just to make you truly sick with envy.

They’ve been a bit quiet as of late, but I’ve been told that a full-length album is in the pipelines - though there are no firm details as of yet. Until then, you can see if you can get your hands on either of the discs that Right Hand Left Hand appear one for Cardiff label Barely Regal - the Zero Years of Barely Regal compilation, or their free Swn Festival mix – or, for now, just listen to two tracks below. Do see them live whenever you get the opportunity, though.

Right Hand Left Hand - Stanislav Petrov

Right Hand Left Hand - Harry Powell

MySpace | Twitter

19 January 2011


As much as the lo-fi sound is loved by many, when it’s chosen by a band (rather than forced on them by necessity of lack of equipment/funds etc) I always think it comes as a bit of a risk. As well as those who live the DIY feel, there are always those people (and there are probably more of them) who seem unable to listen to any music that crackles or fuzzes. Of course, a band might not necessarily want this type of person to like their music or be making music with the aim of anyone liking it whatsoever, but it can still be, at times, cutting off a big proportion of potential fans or gig-goers.

Brighton two-piece Illness go one further by opting for the lo-fi sound, as well as deciding against any vocals whatsoever; making noisey, scrappy instrumental math-meets-punk-meets-blues-y rock – cutting out both those potential fans who don’t like lo-fi and those who, for whatever bizarre reason, don’t like instrumental music. They deserve credit for making these choices as a band alone, let alone the fact that they’ve managed to make so little sound good.

Naturally, it won’t be to everyone’s tastes but for me it hits the spot and doesn’t even feel like anything is lacking. Illness have a self-released full-length due out in February. Listen to two tracks below or hear more at Tumblr.

Illness - Psychology Serious

Illness - Bedlington Terrier

Tumblr | MySpace

18 January 2011

Their Only Dreams

The more years go by, the more new things are tried, the more difficult it becomes for musicians to make sounds that can be considered truly original. Dubstep producers cut and sample stuff from the past, adding their own beats and twists; some bands not always succesfully try to make something completely their own, but the vast majority of (usually mainstream) bands regurgitate sounds from the past without even an ounce of originality.

Their Only Dreams is Californian-based musician David Lyudmirsky. David borrows bits and bobs from the past, namely 70s psychedelia along David Bowie/Lou Reed/Gary Numan (sorry for being uninventive, but it’s probably quite accurate) lines with vocals sometimes reminding of Lennon, but puts his own stamp on things, too – hints of electro experimentation, sprinklings of world music, and even an appreciating of the lo-fi/more minimal sound, David perhaps benefitting from the retrospective, avoiding some of the lesser enjoyable traits of the era such as the ‘big’ and brash sounds that could be/have been seen as pretentious or, even worse, show-boating.

Their Only Dreams music is interesting, unusual, and pop enjoyable. Listen and download some stuff below, or head to Their Only Dreams’ bandcamp page for full album (all three tracks below) Darling In Dream Dimension - 14 tracks of more of the same.

Their Only Dreams - Calculator In The Sky

Their Only Dreams - So Far So Close

Their Only Dreams - OMGSDS

MySpace | Bandcamp | thanks to Ryan Gabel (Arc Light) for the tip

17 January 2011

Lizard Queen

With every new blog post, I try to avoid things becoming boring by saying something a bit different from the previous few posts, when, a lot of the time, all I really want to say is “THIS BAND MAKES REALLY GOOD MUSIC PLEASE LISTEN TO IT.”

Lizard Queen is a band from the northwest of England, near Leeds, Bradford, Huddersfield and Wakefield, but not near enough to any of these places to call them a Leeds/Bradford/Huddersfield/Wakefield-based band. Among its four members is Will Jones, drummer for and brother of Louis Jones and his band Spectrals, who sings here in Lizard Queen.

Like Spectrals, Lizard Queen opt for a lo-fi sound to songs, though with a far more gruff and heavy feel (not too different from upcoming Suffering Jukebox releasees Brown Brogues, who I posted the video of here) - vocals are waffled with mic-distortion and guitars riff under a sheet of feedback. Though they might be much heavier in sound - guitars strummed, vocals delivered and drums crashing all with an aggression behind them - songs do still hold enough of a pop hint to make them full sing along catchy, though perhaps beware joining in on I'm Afraid, at least when your mum’s around, while Will sings “maybe we should hang out so I can fuck your brains out” in a droning in-your-face kind of way. THIS BAND MAKES REALLY GOOD MUSIC PLEASE LISTEN TO IT.

That was refreshing. Lizard Queen have an EP, possibly on tape, due out shortly. Listen to two out of the four songs from it below. No webspace as of yet, though, as far as I know.

Lizard Queen - Take It Easy

Lizard Queen - Fun?

15 January 2011

Releases: Best of the Week

Another week of some of the best releases from (some) new bands.

Week starting Monday 17 December:

Smith Westerns – Dye It Blonde (Fat Possum)

Smith Westerns - All Die Young >

Anna Calvi - Anna Calvi (Domino)
The Decemberists - The King Is Dead (Capitol)
Hot Club De Paris – Free The Pterodactyle 3 [Compilation] (Moshi Moshi)
Tennis – Cape Dory (Fat Possum)

Feel free to get in touch to make any recommendations on future releases.

14 January 2011


Bands often share members. That’s obviously commonplace. But Cardiff as a city seems to have a higher proportion of bands sharing members than most other places. Perhaps it’s because that, for a capital city with lots going on culturally and a large student population, it’s quite a small place, or perhaps it’s just because it’s the music scene I know the most about. Probably that one, to be honest.

Regardless, VVOLVES (two v’s, not one w) are a band that fit into the possibly invalid Cardiff-band-members-share theory. Lead-singer Tom is also (or perhaps previously – not sure if they are still active) of electro-guitar one-man-band Zimmermans (who were part of the Swn 09 line-up), and the other three members were formerly of Byd Dydd Sul, and bassist Rhys also of personal south-Wales favourite Saturday’s Kids (previously blogged here).

A four-piece split between Monmouth and Cardiff, VVOLVES make unusual and interesting sounds; buzzing-synth led indie rock songs with distorted, chopped up vocals, minimal guitar taps, and pop hooks – and managing it without seeming gimmicky or false. Driving drum beats and synth lines help to make the music catchy and accessible, but not to a point where the songs are too much or just annoying, but there are also plenty of noisey moments of synth echoing and vocal effects to keep things interesting. It'd perhaps benefit from being slightly more on the edgey and experimental side, but for now this will certainly do.

Perhaps the benefit of having musicians in a number of different bands is the varied musical tastes of the band members, and the interesting sounds that often come of this.

VVOLVES’ EP Wolves - about as DIY as it comes with personalised artwork for each – is out through independent label Peski Records on January 31. Listen and download below or hear more at Peski's SoundCloud.


VVOLVES - Sailing From Youth

Bandcamp | MySpace | Facebook | Twitter

13 January 2011

Video: Brown Brogues

I’ve been meaning to post about Brown Brogues for a good few months but somehow never got round to it. Their carefree and lo-fi take on garage rock has got them catching the attention of a good few fans during 2010, and 2011 looks to be an exciting year for them.

The Wigan band have just made a video for single Treet U Beta to promote their upcoming 7" through Suffering Jukebox. The video was made with the guys that do the videos for Manchester Scenewipe, so it was always going to be good. It features beer, crooning, and old ladies dancing – and a pretty darn good song. Watch (and listen to) it below.

Facebook | Bandcamp | MySpace

Dan Amos

I've just been sent an album by an artist called Dan Amos from the guys in the band Illness, who are doing their best to share the love of some very, very good and very, very lo-fi experimental psych pop.

Between us, we don’t know much about Dan. We think he’s from Kent, we’re not sure if he plays live, and we’re not sure if he still even makes music anymore but we do know he makes awesome music, and that’s what matters.

Thunderheart is 17 tracks of passion, joy, and a natural flare for writing what seem to be effortlessly brilliant pop songs – dirty synth sounds burst into colour alongside Dan’s weirdo vocals and a catchy drum beat. They might be covered in thick layers upon thick layers of noise and fuzz, but dig below the surface and you will be more than rewarded with sweet, sweet goodness.

Listen and download below, or grab the whole album here.

Dan Amos - You Can Rest Easy Now

Dan Amos - You Get No Protection From Me

Update here.

12 January 2011


Fuzzy garage rock from Wrexham, with hints of surf, punk, and pop. Who’d have thought it?

Download some tracks below, at the band's Last FM page, or download the Excellent, OK EP plus two demos from their bandcamp.

Mowbird - Oh, Susan

Mowbird - Thank You, You Are Revolting (demo)

Facebook | MySpace | via waitfortheclick

11 January 2011


Florida’s Levek may have been first blogged in 2009 last year, made some blogs best of 2010 lists, and possibly even have been active since 2008 (judging from MySpace dates), but that doesn’t mean I can’t share his stuff now, right? It’s seriously good, so it’d seem a shame not to.

The work of David Levesque, apparently a former school bus driver if you believe the words that anybody who has ever written about him has mentioned, Levek is self-described as “Mickey Mouse tribal sounds”.

As sarcastic as that may sound, much of the music isn’t actually that far off the description. NW 4th St., for instance, genuinely sounds like it should soundtrack Lion King, and Heave Ho, taken from the Dumbo EP brings forth childhood visions of the seven dwarves. But that’s not to say it’s silly music. Tracks are (largely) layered and complex experimental pop – ranging through tribal rumbles, clicks, and tings to jazzy/progressive styled drum patterns, wonderful and wonky vocals (sometimes in acapella styling or harmonised beautifully), moments of Dirty Projectors guitar shuffling, hints of synth, handclaps, to even moments of panpipes. From moments of dark drama to complete celebratory joy, Levek doesn’t sit still for one minute.

For fans of Islet, Connan Mockasin, and the obvious Dirty Projectors, Animal Collective and Grizzly Bear.

MySpace | Facebook | Bandcamp

Levek - NW 4th St.

Levek - Look On The Bright Side

Levek - Dream Entry No 1

10 January 2011

Red Psalm

Post-punk has really had a kick in the teeth from mainstream bands in the past few years. For a genre so important and creative, recent dull Joy Division carbon copies (White Lies, Editors, Chapel Club etc) will have left a generation of youth wondering what the fuss was all about. If there was any justice in this industry, Red Psalm would storm the charts and re-inspire the masses.

Red Psalm is Kansas City’s John Dickson. Basic guitar lines accompany bass-snare drum machine, buzzing bass, whirring synth, and John’s recognisable deep monotone vocals and some noisey droning effects. As obvious as it is that this is the music of one man sat in his bedroom recording on a laptop, the music still manages to hold an unnerving and powerful feel – atmospheric and dark psych-y post-punk. This is good.

Stay Subtle EP will be out this year on AMDISCS.

MySpace | Facebook

Red Psalm - Your Wedding Cake

Red Psalm - Colorhouse

Red Psalm - Monster City

8 January 2011

Coolrunnings: New Song

Sweet new track from Knoxville's Coolrunnings. Reminds me of Smith Westerns' 70s vibe, but maybe that's just because Dye It Blonde is brilliant.

Coolrunnings - Jesse (demo)

More downloads here.

Facebook | Twitter | MySpace | Bandcamp

Releases: Best of the Week

In a feature I hope to run weekly, I'll highlight some of the best album (or EP) releases from the upcoming week - with a focus on, but not strictly limited to, new bands and independent labels.

Week starting Monday January 10:

British Sea Power - Valhalla Dancehall (Rough Trade)

British Sea Power - Living Is So Easy (via)

Ducktails - Ducktails III: Arcade Dynamics (Woodsist)
Jim Noir - Zooper Dooper EP (Self-released)
Wire - Red Barked Tree (Pink Flag)
Cake – Showroom of Compassion (Upbeat Records/ADA)

7 January 2011

Featured Blog: Reeks Of Effort

As odd as it may seem as a blogger, I've decided to feature other blogs and writers on here so to draw attention to the good things other people are doing. It's a bit like Tesco telling their shoppers to go to Asda, I know, but I'm crazy like that.

The first of hopefully many other blog features is Reeks Of Effort - a blog run by some guys from Cardiff that I only stumbled upon fairly recently. What I liked about it was that it's main focus seemed to be on lesser known older bands, rather than bands that have barely had chance to play their first show. I also liked that I didn't have a clue about a good few of these bands yet loved their music almost instantly. Find below an email conversation with those behind that blog, disguised cleverly as a face-to-face interview.

Hello, Reeks Of Effort. Who am I speaking to today

Owen and Alex.

Describe to me what your blog is, and the reasons that you and your friends write on it?

Owen: It's basically something I started when i was bored and felt like inflicting my favourite records on anyone who cared enough to look at it. Then it gradually expanded into something that reviewed gigs we'd been to around Cardiff or whatever, and I started to let my stupid friends write about records and shows. It's main function is to introduce people to independent music that may have been overlooked or forgotten. Me and Alex are the factory owners and James, Max and Rob are the minions.

Alex: I'd written for a site for the better part of two years but it's difficult to keep interested in writing about music when you spend half time sugar-coating reviews of mediocre albums to keep the labels happy so they don't cut the stream of promos off. I figured writing for this blog gave me a chance to talk about music on my own terms free of label politics, not to sound all "fuck the man" about it.

Aged under 20, you’re posting about the likes of Beat Happening, Sarah Records, The Vaselines and even more obscure bands largely from the early 90s. How did you get so deep into a scene that isn’t especially well known and that started before you were even born?

Owen: Well, I can't speak for Al, but I was pretty into DC punk bands like Rites of Spring and Nation of Ulysses, which in turn led me to Riot Grrrrrl bands like Bikini Kill. So then I was listening to a Bikini Kill song, I think it was "False Start", and she was just singing in this kinda child like way over some dumb riff and I loved it. This helpfully coincided with going to see a screening of the K Records film with a Q and A from Calvin Johnson, I remember the bands on it sounded exactly like "False Start" and so I started listening to those K bands like Tiger Trap and Mecca Normal. It was all like dominos falling, and Sarah records etc was just part of that. It felt like i'd tapped into a pretty rich vein.

Alex: Well, with the internet obviously our age isn't a barrier in anyway, or even I guess the obscurity of the records. I was pretty into Husker Du, Black Flag, Dino Jr etc. and I happened to be reading Our Band Could Be Your Life which I guess is a beginner's guide to that sort of thing. It was when reading the chapter on Beat Happening that I started becoming aware of the legacy of Calvin Johnson, who I'm ashamed to admit I'd previously dismissed as a minor player in some biography of Kurt Cobain I read when I was like 14. Of course this was around the time he was doing the K Records night, so I guess I ended up following pretty much the same trail as Owen. I always feel I'm relatively lacking in knowledge of K/Sarah bands behind the more obvious ones, though.

For you, who were the best or most influential band of the 90s?

Owen: I really couldn't say, there was too much good shit. Lou Bega?

Alex: Maybe My Bloody Valentine? I seem to hear bits of them at every stage of their career in every new shoegaze/jangle/whatever band about.

Owen: Yeah, that's the band that might come the closest, but most of that MBV stuff i really love was from the 80s.

You went to see Sonic Youth in London recently, right? Were they as incredible as everyone would expect them to be, or can people like me who missed them not feel like complete idiots for doing so because that they weren't that good?

Owen: They were obviously great, but overshadowed by Shellac, who killed it. Al wrote a review of the show on the blog if you wanna take a look (here). Sonic Youth definitely felt like headliners though, whatever that means.

Alex: Yeh, with Sonic Youth you pretty much know you're gonna get a good show. I'm sure a lot of people who don't really follow the band these days would've been a bit disappointed by the lack of old stuff and I guess I'd have liked to have seen them play a couple more old ones. But the new album's as worthy as anything else they've done and I think it's pretty cool they're not doing the typical rockstar thing of just going through a greatest hits set.

We know about some of the older bands and labels you’re fond of, any new stuff worth checking out that people might not know of?

Owen: Harbour (MySpace) are probably the best hardcore band I know of at the moment, and they're from Cardiff, so check that out. They released a split with Facel Vega a while ago, who are equally awesome. The Sceptres (MySpace) are also pretty cool, kind of garage rock, maybe like Slant 6. I play in two bands, one of which has the nerve to call itself something as stupid as Joanna Gruesome, so I get to see equally stupid bands that I would never see otherwise. I can't think of anything that's totally, totally new though. Uhhh, well, last year I enjoyed this Asobi Seksu album and I like the new PJ Harvey single. Oh, Seapony (bandcamp) and Dysneyland (MySpace) are fun, check that out. Try to avoid a band called "Saturday's Kids" if you can, though.

Alex: I'm actually presenting a student radio show at the moment so I feel I'm supposed to be some kind of expert on this. Only problem is you end up thinking in terms of singles rather than albums. So I apologise if I'm hyping bands based on the strength of one or two songs here. Feels a bit obvious to mention twee/shoegaze bands but whatever. Apart from Seapony, I thought Young Prisms (MySpace) and Weekend (MySpace) released some promising singles. I feel I should mention Ringo Deathstarr (MySpace), they released an album in '09 but I feel they're gonna get a lot more exposure this year. Apart from that there's a band called TV Girl (bandcamp) who seem to be doing pretty cool indie pop and they're named after a Beat Happening song so bonus points for that. Some guy called Levek (MySpace) is doing this kinda cool stuff that sounds like the soundtrack to a really awesome 70s movie, maybe check him out? And a band called Gauntlet Hair (MySpace) released a single called Out Don't which I liked despite it being totally trendy sounding. I could list more but I'd basically be regurgitating playlists at you.

Owen: Gurgle Gurgle. Gauntlet Hair is a shitty band name

Thanks a lot!

If you're looking to get more acquainted with bands from yesteryear you might have missed, as well as the odd new band feature or gig review, Reeks Of Effort is definitely a good place to check out. Keep reading here, though. I don't want this featured blogs thing to backfire.

6 January 2011

Among Brothers – Homes EP

Following a band’s growth is a really interesting and exciting process. Seeing them move from playing a show to a small room of people, to following the progress of them recording their first batch of songs, to them putting out their first official release. It gives you a personal insight into the band and the sounds they construct, but as well as sometimes making you feel a bit stalker-ish, it can also give you a strange and undue sense of pride and ownership when their first release is put out and received positively, as if you contributed somehow.

Of course I didn’t at all contribute to Among Brothers' music. I’m not in the band. I wasn’t in the recording studio. I didn’t oversee the mastering. The band haven’t even gone anywhere near as far along their musical lives or reached the heights of their popularity as they are likely to go, yet debut EP Homes is something I almost feel some kind of parental pride towards.

It’s a powerful and awe inspiring blend of mainly electro-tinged post-rock and folk from the Cardiff six-piece – songs drive with harmonic chants and electronic bass beats and clicks; swoop with the cries of violin, and build again with layers of guitars, drum clicks, bass and synth. Alex’s vocals, although slightly hinging on emo which is something I wouldn’t usually be fond of, have a wonderfully delicate yet powerful feel both drawing you in and blowing you away.

As eluded to, it’s probably not the best release they will ever put out, but that’s a statement of my confidence in them as a band rather than a criticism of this release. Impressive.

EP Homes officially released January 24, through Barely Regal Records.
[MySpace] [bandcamp]

Among Brothers - Montgolfier

5 January 2011

The Yes Club

Dirty, dusty, abrasive, fast-paced, and noisey, New York-based The Yes Club have only two songs uploaded on to bandcamp for free download, yet have caught the attention of music bloggers worldwide. Awesome noisey psych garage. We don’t have much info or music from these yet (MySpace suggests they may have only been a band for 3 months), but I’m expecting we’ll hear lots more about and from them soon.

Until then, download 'Whoa' and 'Second Sunday' below (or at their bandcamp), or hear a third track on MySpace.

The Yes Club - Second Sunday

The Yes Club - Whoa

4 January 2011

Gala Drop

Supporting Panda Bear is usually a good sign that your music is getting heard by the right people, as is being featured on blogs such as Altered Zones, yvynyl, and Salad Fork, but it’s with good reason that Gala Drop are developing a real buzz.

As you might expect from an artist supporting Panda Bear, Portugal’s Gala Drop are a little bit weird, which is something that works in their favour given that being odd is pretty fashionable at the moment. They cover a good range of weird, too, rather than sticking to one area of weirdness. Weird. Drop opens with Wild Beasts’ styled drum patterns, delicate guitar twangs and pleasant looping bleeps which continue to build throughout the song, layers coming and going. There’s a lot going on, yet it’s surprisingly relaxing and charming. Izod, on the other hand, is all funk-y bouncing synth lines and dancey bass-handclap alternations which feels like it’s been dreamt up for the opening sequence of terrible 80s film – yet works. Track Overcoat Heat verges from psych pop to electro experimentation to prog rock at times, with a synth-y semi-solo alongside fast hi-hat/cymbal tinkers (even if from a computer).

God knows where they’ll go next, but their ouput so far (check out EP Overcoat Heat) is pretty darn exciting.

Gala Drop - Overcoat Heat

Gala Drop - Gauze