BIRTHMARKS: …And Then The Rain Stopped.

19 03 2020

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I always thought I’d find it difficult to write about friends I have in bands, but it turns out it’s pretty easy- especially when you love and believe in what they do. Little Death Machine were a band that I absolutely adored and couldn’t get enough of. That band ended, and from it Daniel formed Birthmarks with his pals- Jason and Jonno. As I listen to their debut full length record, I can hear parts of LDM but also a sound of bands/singers I love. It’s a brilliant record, and the fact that Kerrang Magazine have written about them is also a huge deal. Again, another thing to be proud of.

…And Then The Rain Stopped is out next Friday, and with all this painful doom and gloom surrounding us right now, for me, I’m finding comfort in music more than ever. The record starts with How Do You Rule Me which gives me feelings of Bjork (Army Of Me flows right through this) early Placebo and hints of Nine Inch Nails. Basically, this song and the whole damn record sounds like heaven. Daniel’s voice has never sounded so good and so powerful, and when you marry this up with Jason’s drumming and Jonno’s bass playing; you just get something that feeds your soul and beautifully consumes every part of you.

The lyrics will get you right in the gut, and if the song Breathe doesn’t move you then I really don’t know what will. The record is full of songs that will break your heart, but you won’t mind because it will also give you comfort. That’s all you can ask for. If something breaks you, chances are it can comfort you also. The vocals are as raw and as exposed as the lyrics, and because you can truly hear the honesty and feel every single emotion on the songs- you cannot help but connect with them. There’s something so haunting about the whole record, and the darkness on this record really does get you right in the gut. For some it may be uncomfortable but for others, it’s a lifeline. The record is a work of art. I knew it was going to be something truly remarkable, but it goes above and beyond what I or anyone else could ever write about this record.

 

 

The songs touch on everything from love to loss, and all that goes with it.  Daniel’s mentioned that this record took 5 years to make, and you can absolutely hear the hardwork and dedication from them all on this record. I’m obsessed with the drums on this record, and how they heighten the emotions on this record. You have songs like Wax which is such a stripped back and vulnerable song, and it is one of the more tender moments on the record. Again, you can hear the raw emotion in the vocals on this but then it goes right into You Are One which could very well be the anthem for the band. You can imagine the crowd going nuts to this at their shows, it’s got such a grand feel to it and you cannot help but get immersed in it. The way the synths and guitar go together on this is just fantastic, and the way the guitar and drums get heavy at the same time just blows your mind. This one really homes in on the feeling of loss and a sense of betrayal, and it’s a brutal listen but it’s just another reason as to why you cannot help but love this band, and this record.

As far as debut records go, it’s fair to say that this is nothing short of incredible. The production is flawless, and the way the songs sound is just remarkable. It’s hard to believe that this is their debut full length record, and like I mentioned, you can really hear the hardwork in this record. Charcoal is a fierce song, it sounds like it should be in some disturbing thriller, and to be honest I really do see Birthmarks creating the soundtracks for films. This whole record sounds like it was made for a film; it’s a very theatrical record, and the atmosphere on the record will just send shivers right through you. It’s a very dark record, and I love how brutal some of the lyrics are and how fucking honest they are. Charcoal is like a cut to the soul, but you keep digging at it. The record is like an open wound that you cannot help but mess with. It’ll disturb you, you’ll wince, and it will be the best thing you’ve ever heard. I adore this record, and I just respect anyone who is this honest with their art.

The record touches so beautifully on human nature and how we fuck up, how others fuck us up and how it can be a vicious cycle at times. I love how experimental the record is, and how it doesn’t fall into any genre or any sub-genre. It feels like a film, a work of art. If this is what we get from a debut record, then there’s no telling what else they can do. It’s obvious it’s going to be mind-blowing, but I’m just massively in awe of this record and how they’ve all played their part in creating this gorgeous record. Pale and Midnight Blue are prime examples of how talented the band are, and I love that every song on this record gives them all their own moments to shine.

 

 

…And Then The Rain Stopped is mixture of every human emotion possible, it is the beauty of carrying feelings and it is the burden of being a human in one. It is a complex listen, and I can only advise that you listen to this record the first time round on your own, and in order. Just soak up the record. Once you’ve done this, listen however you want. We’re all looking for comfort and the like in isolation, and this record is everything we could possibly need and more. Birthmarks have made the record that makes me want to write about it constantly. Bands like this are why I write about music, and why I refuse to ever do this for money. It has to be for the love of it, and I will only ever write about what I love. Birthmarks have truly made something special here, and I sincerely hope that anyone who listens to this record feels the same because it NEEDS to be heard.

Allow yourself to feel vulnerable, and just open your mind up to this record. It’ll be alright.

Pre-order the record here and you’ll also find their cover of one of the most beautiful songs ever written, True Love Will Find You In The End by Daniel Johnston.





NITE FIELDS: A Voyeur Makes No Mark.

23 02 2020

 

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Where do I even start with writing about the new Nite Fields record? It’s spooky one, and one that I’m honoured to listen to let alone write about. A little different to what I normally write about, but there’s no better way of celebrating 12 years of this site than by writing about an incredible record.

 That’s right, 12 years ago I set this site up whilst in my second year of university. I didn’t think I would carry on with it, let alone let it go on for over a decade! So, with that in mind I’m going to tell you all about the exceptional new record by Nite Fields. If you’re obsessed with the likes of Cold Cave (Wes Eisold is a God/Genius) or Psychic TV or Autumns (Derry’s finest) or even Drab Majesty- chances are you will fall in love with A Voyeur Makes No Mark by Nite Fields. It is this glorious Industrial sounding record that has mind-blowing sounds flowing all the way through. It is made up of 8 tracks that will leave you in awe. When I listen to it, I am reminded of The Vacant Lots- my love for TVL is pretty obvious, and songs like Not Your Time remind me of some of TVL’s songs. I bloody love it, and it is such an exciting record to listen to. I adore the distorted and eerie vocals. Sure, I’m a massive Punk fan, but whatever you want to call this- this is what really gets me in the gut too.

 The new record is a 10/10 for production. Yeah, I never ever mark records because I am not that kind of person, but I really want to point out just how fascinating every element of this record is, and the production is really something else. The new record is essentially a solo project now, and Danny did the record in Moscow. You can hear the coldness in this record, and it is such a great listen.  Invitation and Voyeur are such powerful songs, and they have a grander feel to them than what we have previously heard by Danny/Nite Fields. You can truly hear the devotion and connect with the creative process on this record, and in a world where everyone wants everything immediately and has to annoyingly share it online immediately; I love how Danny has made something truly worthwhile and deserving of treasuring. Honestly, the production on this record is flawless.

 

 

 

A Voyeur Makes No Mark is a really stunning record, and I love how Danny takes you on this highly intense, and euphoric journey. It’s like you’ve stepped into this decadent underworld that not many are aware of, and the possibly shy away from. It’s full of songs that will make you move in ways no other could. It is full of songs to really lose yourself in. It is just a phenomenal record, and I’m pretty sure that amongst fans, this will become an instant classic. It’s a record ahead of its time, and I sure hope it causes enough demand for a UK tour. Depersonalisation came out 5 years ago, and the leap in the sound, arrangement and production is so great. It’s such a joy to listen to and although it is only 8 songs long, it is enough to make you realise that Danny is truly making something special here. I mean it was obvious 5 years ago, but there’s something about this record that is really beyond anyone’s expectations of what was going to come next from Nite Fields.

 The record ends with the mind-fuckery that is Do It In Reverse. Everything about this song feels like it was made to mess with the listener’s head, and I love that. I love music that takes a listener out of their comfort zone and makes them feel a bit on edge. Danny does this all through the record, but the final song really, really does this in a different way. I can’t really explain but what I can tell you is that every ounce of his talent truly comes through on this song (obviously on the whole record too, but you know what I mean!)

I only write about what I love and will always do so. I’ll never ever find fault, and I will always do my best to get across just how great a record is. I really hope I have done this with the new Nite Fields record because it is such a great listen, and the whole experience of listening to it is just perfect. Bands/artists like Autumns, The Vacant Lots, Drab Majesty- they are really making a difference with their sound and take listeners to some place sacred with their art. Danny/Nite Fields does exactly that too.

 The record is out in April and will be released via Lost Race (if you want the vinyl version) and Perfect Aesthetics (if you want it on tape.)





VHS DEATH.

11 01 2020

 

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I’ve said it many times before, there is something really special about Bristol. I don’t need to give you names of the bands I love from there- you already know. There is something about the music scene there that is so diverse, so special and just a joy to listen to. It’s just a haven of exceptional talent, which leads me onto VHS Death.

 VHS Death is the solo project of Natalie Wardle (previously of Returning Videotapes) who is based in Bristol. VHS Death is this beautifully haunting project that is full of these dark and eerie Industrial sounds. Natalie’s debut release as VHS Death consists of seven songs that will hit you in the soul and will be swarming round your head for days. Hawkmoth (Death Head) is just shy of seven minutes long, and it is such an incredibly open song. The lyrics are so brutally honest, and the way Natalie speaks and sings them over this heavy Industrial sound will just blow your mind.

 

 

Although the record came out in November, we can say that this song is one of the heaviest and most honest songs we will get this year. It is heavy in many ways, and I know some of us don’t want deep and meaningful- we want music to be an escape, but with this-it brings you into the reality. It’s nothing short of perfect.

 These seven songs on Llorona are brilliant insight into Natalie’s mind, and these songs are just a masterpiece. They are this captivating journey into the world of VHS Death. I love sounds like this. Sure, at heart, I’m a Punk but I love this sound. Bands like Psychic TV, Cold Cave, Drab Majesty- I bloody love them. VHS Death is up there for bands that will move you, for me. Easily. This is all Natalie’s work, and you can truly hear the passion and devotion to this project in the songs.  I adored Returning Videotapes, but VHS Death is a different direction- and that’s what we need. There are bits of the song DMT that remind me a little bit of A Forest by The Cure. It’s the atmospheric background sound that feels like a grey mist clouding your surroundings. It is wonderful, and just a real joy to listen to.

 Each song is so easy to become obsessed with, and I think when you first listen to this record you see it as this eerie and slightly dangerous body of work. But the more you listen and let yourself mentally dissect the songs- you see it as something completely different. There is so much going on but that doesn’t mean it is a difficult listen at all, far from it. You can truly imagine these songs in a live setting and songs like Prey and Nothing are probably the ones that’ll blow us all away when we see a VHS Death show.

 Something that is just beyond incredible is that Natalie will be taking this project to LA in October as part of the Deathwave Records Festival. If I had a hell of a lot of money, I’d fly Business Class and go out there for it. I say Business Class because I want to be able to sleep in a bed and forget the fact I am up in the sky and cannot roam round freely or get off at the next stop. Maybe one day.

 

 

Broken Glass is a heavenly seven minute euphoric delight, and after it we a treated to the gentle and ethereal Elara. These two songs together are something to really treasure. The way they flow into each other really shows how exceptional Natalie is, and how with just one record as VHS Death has made something you want more and more of. I really cannot wait to see what happens next with this project.

 You can stay up to date with all the VHS Death information you need here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/VHSxDEATH





GROSS NET: Gross Net Means Gross Net.

13 10 2019

GN

 

I’ve said countless times that music is a form of escapism for so many, but sometimes you need something to keep you right where you are- even if it is daunting, or terrible. I’ve always admired Gross Net (or Philip if you want to be proper) and how his mind works. He is one of the most expressive souls out there, and he takes you on this futuristic journey every single time. His newest record, Gross Net Means Gross Net is one of the most experimental records I’ve heard in a long time. It’s got this Scandinavian Noir feel to it; it could easily be played in some Thriller TV series as something truly gruesome and barbaric is about to happen. It is a creepy record, and it is nothing short of exceptional. I’m going to do my best to explain why this is one of the most out there records of the year.

There’s been a few years in between this record, and Philip’s last Gross Net record. This is a totally different sound, and as someone who is influenced by what they see- Philip has truly taken the state of the world (mainly the UK) and given us this tense breakdown of the shitshows that are occurring daily. Think a really political version of Einstürzende Neubauten with hints of Psychic TV. Basically, two of the greatest bands ever rolled in one. But, as we know, Philip is his own creation and a bloody genius. What this record gives you is something so eerie and captivating.

 

 

The best time to listen to this record is when it starts to get dark. This is not a daytime listen- this is dead of the night listen. I mean, it’s only 18:47 but it’s pretty dark out now so, and it works. You cannot help but be absolutely consumed by these songs and how remarkable the production is. It is, for me, the best produced record of the year. Shedding Skin is probably one of the most gloriously composed songs of the year. These aren’t just sounds, these are synth-based symphonies that will take over your soul in the most beautiful way. I love everything about Shedding Skin. It’s just over 6 minutes, and the lyrics are sure to hit you in the gut- they are explicit to the core (I mean in an exposing of the soul kind of way) and it isn’t hard to truly connect with this one. You can just imagine it being performed live in a basement bar, almost pitch black with a smoke machine creating this eerie mood, and a tense atmosphere crashing over.

Every song on this record serves the sole purpose to ignite the listener, and to get them to a place where no other piece of music could. The music alone on this record is so spooky and is comforting at the same time. Although there’s a song on the record named after a terrible person (Theresa May) it is actually one of the most gorgeous pieces of music you’ll hear. There is no need for words on this one, you can create your own story to this beautiful instrumental. In a way on this one, you get a glimpse into how Philip’s mind works- you can hear the care and feel the thought in this piece so much. Then it slides into Gentrification which almost feels like it could be played at a rave at 4am somewhere. He can make you flitter between several emotions on this record, and that just makes me admire him even more. He’s easily one of my favourite musicians around (and I think he knows this!)

 I love how the songs can touch on subjects you don’t really hear in modern music (how we’re all prone to consuming too much and not being aware of the consequence, thus turning a blind eye to our future) which can really be felt on Of Late Capitalism. Gentrification leads into Of Late Capitalism in such a succinct way, again it is another moment on the record where you can really pick up on the thought and care that has gone into this perfect record. Philip has massively pushed himself on this record, when you listen to his previous records you can hear something on this record that you haven’t quite heard him do before. It’s a cross between very early Scott Walker meets Suicide (the best duo ever), with hints of the future. It’s such a stunning record to lose yourself in. Dust To Dust is heart-breaking but my god it is the most beautiful song that Philip has ever done. To date, this song is the best thing he has done. Obviously, that’s just my personal view, and maybe I’ll change my mind but lyrically and the composure of this song is nothing short of mind-blowing. It just shows us how much of a genius he is, and how unafraid he is in his approach to creating such powerful music.

 

 

Gross Net Is Gross Net is one of the most thought-provoking records of the year. Sure, Philip will take you to a different world with the sounds, but the lyrics will bring you right back to Earth. This record is made up of 10 songs to truly hit you in the soul. One person, just one person has made this absolutely vital record. It doesn’t tell a story; it tells the truth. It is a truth to really, really listen to.





URF.

29 05 2019

 

Supporting Crocodiles a few weeks ago were local band, URF. Manchester is known for having brilliant music scene. It’s something to be massively proud of, and another reason as to why I love this city.

URF capture the doom and gloom of daily life, but don’t let that put you off. They do it in a way that is so intricate and articulate; it’s sheer poetry. They have this effortlessly cool Shoegaze sound that will just blow you away. On record they’ve got something that reels you in, but when you see them live something switches. Their live shows are something else. There’s something really mysterious and industrial-like in their sound. They have a song called Night Driving which is one of their greatest, if not best song to date. That’s just my opinion, mind. I love how intense it is, and also has quite delicate moments within it. They take you for a ride on all their songs, but this one in particular takes you further.

 

 

For me, they are the kind of band that after hearing once- you’re hooked. I love bands like that, and I love this really intense atmosphere they have. Each of them create this mood, and it’s just a pleasure to listen to. For The Ride shows us just how powerful Abbi’s voice is, and I can honestly say that her vocals live are even stronger than on record. For The Ride has this euphoric build-up, and the instrumental part of this song will leave you covered in goosebumps. It’s the kind of song that leaves you in awe, and completely taken aback that something can be this great. It’s a beautiful song, and that instrumental part is just perfect.

Now we’re going to get into their new song, Solitude.

Solitude is a heavy word. It’s something most would shy away from. There’s nothing wrong with being alone, and experiencing it is probably good for the soul because if you can’t tolerate your own company- who will? There’s nothing more peaceful and powerful than listening to music on your own. Just taking everything in, and grasping everything a song or record gives you. Solitude isn’t a dirty word. URF have created something really amazing with their new single, and it captures being alone perfectly.

There are dark moments in the song, sure. But it is beautifully done, and it leaves you wanting more and more. The instrumental will have the same effect on you also, and maybe that’ll take you to a different zone. Music that can elevate you or just take you out of where you are mentally is so powerful, and I adore that URF have done this again. They are so hypnotic and bold; it’s a sound that I cannot and will not ever get tired of.

Solitude is the kind of song you’d hear on a Scandinavian detective drama (either whilst a detective loses his mind or something brutal happens) but don’t let that put you off. I’m basically getting at, URF have made something here which shits you up but is also ethereal. Seventeen Seconds by The Cure- that’s the same level that this song is on. Of course all their songs are, but Solitude in particular is on that level.

 

URF are nothing short of incredible. They’ve supported the likes of The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Crocodiles and Estrons. They will also be playing the Manchester Psych Fest this year. They are also playing their own show at YES on 15th June!

Buy their music, go to their shows and wear your URF shirt with pride, like me.

I can’t praise them enough. They’re just such an exciting band, and are making something that really hasn’t been done before. You can throw in all the comparisons all you want, but it won’t stick because URF have something. It’s something that goes beyond words, but will evoke all kinds of feelings. Get lost in the music, it’s all you can do.





COEVAL.

19 09 2018

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You know that feeling you get when you hear a band for the very first time, and you just know that you’re going to be a fan for as long as they make music and not even them splitting up could taint your love for them? That’s EXACTLY how COEVAL have me feeling.

They’re pretty much a brand new band, and the three of them are just exceptional and make bloody amazing music. The songs are dark. Really dark, and really heavy. They aren’t for those who like pointless mushy love songs. They are for those who want something hard-hitting, poetic and haunting.

This dark and eerie sound is something I can’t get enough of- the songs are euphoric and feel like you’ve stepped into a twisted film where you don’t know who to trust, or if you won’t see tomorrow or not. The sinister feel comes through wonderfully on Bene’s vocals. He has such a distinctive voice, and honestly- you cannot compare COEVAL to anything or anyone else. His vocals on Ex-Future will fry your brain and most certainly have you hooked for life.

For a band that are so new, this EP is so perfect and so beautifully put together. They sound like a band who have been doing this for decades. It definitely goes beyond what is expected from a band when they first put their music out into the world. The guitars sound like chain saws on New Light, and pretty much all the songs. They sound like weapons being aimed to take your soul and take over every single part of you. The drums will throb beautifully in your ears, and all you can do is turn the songs louder to reach this state of nirvana that COEVAL bring out. The songs may be dark and whatnot, but my god they are excellent.

I love the unconventional romanticism in the songs. Pure, just like a Nick Cave love song. I love the real rowdiness in the songs and how none of the band members dominate the other with just how talented they are. I am so in awe of this band. They are definitely up there with being one of the most exciting bands I’ve heard this year. They don’t sound like a band from London. They sound like a band who have roamed the Parisian streets at 3am looking for the meaning of life. They have this gorgeous sound that I reckon most will just lump as ‘Goth’ and be unaware of everything that is going on. They aren’t a band that caters to music genres. They are a band that will beautifully rip you apart with their poetic and captivating sound.

The EP has been released on the ever influential and always brilliant, Le Turc Mécanique who are constantly putting out exceptional Punk records, and beyond. It is definitely worth delving into their releases, and if you do- you’ll see exactly why COEVAL made them their home for this record.

Within 15 minutes, COEVAL have established themselves as being one of the best new bands around. If they can leave their mark like this with just four songs, imagine what they can do with more and more records. I’m super excited to see what they give us next and I hope they find their way up here in Manchester soon. Us Northerners would be honoured to have them.

Let the songs ricochet right through you, and fully embrace every feeling that COEVAL give you. Play loud, as always.





SEXTILE: 3.

17 09 2018

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I’m fully aware that Sextile have been a constant feature here recently, but they are THAT good and deserve all the attention possible. Besides, I’m still wanting to go back to Saturday night so I can re-live their show all over again.

3 is their new EP which came out on Friday. It’s made up of five songs to lose your mind to. The songs are dark, synth-filled and all kinds of creepy. Brady’s vocals on this one is pretty incredible. He’s someone with such a powerful voice that makes you just hang on to every word that comes out of his mouth. The way he uses his voice reminds of Wes Eisold. It takes a lot for me to say that because I pretty much idolise Cold Cave/Wes, but there is something about Sextile that makes me feel like I did when I first heard Cold Cave 9 years ago.

The EP opens up with the stunning, Disco and it then rips right into Drop You which is probably my favourite. Well, it’s my favourite today. I’ll probably change my mind in a few hours or so, but I just love this raw Industrial feel. It feels like night-time on the mean streets of Berlin in the 70s or lurking in basement bars in New York. It’s got a real sordid feel to it, and I love that about Sextile. I love music that has this unconventional darkness and some what smuttiness to it. Sextile are such an exciting band, and the best of them truly comes out on Drop You. It’s a song that holds so much within it, and seeing it live just blew my mind.

Paradox is a hypnotic song with early Depeche Mode flowing throughout it. It’s not a gentle song by no means. Their songs aren’t gentle- they are brutal and hold a wealth of fight within them. It’s the kind of song you play as you approach a fist fight or a scrap in a bar. It’s got rage, it’s got power and it’s such an exciting song to listen to. It’s the type of song that just sparks up wild images for your take on what the video should be like to this song if you were to re-create it. There is most certainly something about Sextile that just HAS to be heard and they are a band that stick with you. You’ll remember the first time you heard them, the first time you saw one of their shows- the vital moments stick with you.

Spun is a brilliant song. The guitar on this is so aggressive and it goes so well with Melissa’s drumming and Brady’s commanding vocals. I know I said I’d change my mind within hours as to what my favourite song is, but Spun is definitely up there. I love the sheer uregency  in Brady’s vocals. Like I said earlier, he has such a commanding voice and they both have such an amazing presence on stage too. This song is the one that could set the tamest of the tame free. It could make the calmest person you know just go apeshit.

Hazing closes the EP, and although it’s a fantastic song; it’ll make you want more and more. Thankfully they have enough records to keep you satisfied for now, but it’s definitely a song that shows them for all they are. Call them Post-Punk, call them Industrial or whatever- but genres don’t count here at all. There is something super special about Sextile, and it’s what lures you in. They’ll have you hooked in no time.

A lot of the bands I listen to from Los Angeles sound like you could listen to them on the beach doing a whole load of nothing. Sextile are the polar opposite. They make you want to wander round the city streets late at night in search of something that the daytime cannot give you.

If they are playing a show near you, go see them. Part of the attraction is the relationship between them and the crowd. It’s utterly cult-like, so be well prepared to be initiated.