THE VACANT LOTS: Interzone.

26 06 2020

There’s no better feeling than that excitement of a band you absolutely adore releasing a new record. I’ve had a copy of the new record by The Vacant Lots for a couple of months now, and it’s been so difficult to not write about it until now. But it’s worth the wait; the record is astounding and will just blow you away.

If you’re looking for something to securely take you into a different universe, with the safe reassurance that you’ll never be able to leave, then Interzone is the record for you. Songs like Into The Depths and Party’s Over fully show us why TVL are one of the best bands around, and their electrifying sound is something to truly treasure. This is their first release on Fuzz Club Records, and given the amount of exceptional records that Fuzz Club have put out, it’s only right that TVL did so too.

Rescue was our first taste of the record, and it was the perfect way to get us to fall in love with the new sound they have created. It is is such a phenomenal record that oozes tense build-ups, dramatic sounds and hypnotising vocals. The vocals on Rescue are captivating, and Brian’s vocals are so strong on this record. Jared’s guitar on this record again sound like a beast. They both have this effortlessly cool way of creating their own noise, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anything better than this!

Interzone crosses all styles and will mess with your head in the best way possible. You will want to hear this record at 3am when everything is quiet and your brain won’t switch off. The comfort of this record will give you everything you need, and more. I strongly advise you to listen to Fracture on your own and through headphones. The same goes for Party’s Over. These two songs are beautiful in all ways imaginable. For me, Party’s Over is my favourite right now on the record and I also love how gentle Brian’s vocals are on Fracture- that’s another reason as to why it is a joy to listen to through headphones. Jared’s guitar on this is tamer than normal, but this more relaxed sound just shows us why they are both exceptional musicians.

The big question. Record number 3- is it their best yet? Yes. A huge YES. I’m obsessed with everything they’ve done, and continue to do but there is something about this record that towers over previous releases. There is something about this record that just feels more sacred, and you know, it could be down to what is going on in the world. There could be many reasons as to why, but I can promise you that this record is so beautiful, so gentle but ferocious in all the right places. The times where Brian’s vocals are gentle and where Jared annihilates the guitar- when these two worlds collide, that’s when it kicks off. That’s when you know you’ve not only found an amazing band but also one of the most exciting (and most vital) records of the year.

The lyrics are poetry, and the music is like a dream. Interzone is such a gorgeous record; it will heal the parts of you that you’ve neglected. It’ll also make your record collection look cooler! Every song on this 8 song masterpiece is a work of art. I love how Station goes into Party’s Over. The way it just gently slides into the last song is so beautiful. You feel like the record is a whole journey into something you can’t quite explain, then as Party’s Over hits, that’s when your body starts to wake up. Maybe your mind too. You come alive again, in a totally different way. The essence of this record feels like rebirth or something. The slick change in style and sound on this record is divine, and it’s something you keep falling in love with on every listen. I’m utterly in love with Party’s Over, and I’m pretty sure I can call it as one of my favourite songs that Jared and Brian have ever done. I love the sorrow in it, I love how it could be a dark song but it can also be full of hope. You can take it however you want, and that’s why I love this song and why this record is a masterpiece. It’s their masterpiece, but to be honest, everything they do is a work of art to me anyway.

None of us know when we will see the bands we love perform live again, but we have the music. We have the new records, and the new music can spur us on. This is what we needed, this is what I needed. Interzone is quite simply, a vital listen.





THE VACANT LOTS: Fracture

23 05 2020


With every passing day, we get closer to the new record by The Vacant Lots. I’ve already heard it, and I can promise you that it is a perfect record from start to finish. The record is out 26th June, so I’ll write about it closer to the time.

Jared and Brian released the next single from Interzone yesterday. Fracture is a really calming number and it is one of those songs that leaves you in a solid state of bliss with every single listen. What I absolutely adore about TVL is that they have this strong ability to crush your brain with their louder songs, but when they take a more gentle approach like this, they just soothe your soul. That’s what makes them one of my favourite bands, and I’ve noticed that this is something I gravitate to in the music I love from bands I hold very dear to me.

Oh, and one super cool fact for you- the Arp synth used on the song once belonged to one half of the best band ever- Alan Vega from Suicide, and there are moments on the song where you can hear their influence on Jared and Brian. It’s such a beautiful thing.

Who knows what state the world will be in when Interzone is released; all I know is that whatever the situation the record will make it easier. For now, let’s enjoy the glorious sounds of Fracture and let our minds drift off for a while.





THE VACANT LOTS: Rescue

24 04 2020

 

American death. Nothing matters anymore. Closed casket wedding”

 

Nothing makes me happier than I band I LOVE release new music. I’ve been super vocal about my love for The Vacant Lots for a number of years now, and I still regard their live show in Hoxton as being one of the best shows I have ever seen; then I saw them play the Moth Club and my mind was just blown. My heart was healed, my soul soothed and all was okay. Basically, I love TVL a hell of a lot and they are a band that I’ll never ever be able to get enough of.

I’ve already heard the new record, but that review will be coming in June shortly before the record comes out. However, they have JUST released a brand new song from the record. I can also announce that TVL have signed with Fuzz Club- which is a huge deal. I’m super proud of Jared and Brian, and having a label like Fuzz Club sign them is proof of their hardwork and passion. Now let’s get into the single!

Rescue is everything you could want from TVL. It’s got the Suicide meets Lou Reed sound with parts from another world thrown in. We all need a rescue right now, and this song just pours out the frustrations of isolation and uncertainty. What I’ve always loved about TVL is that their influences aren’t always from music- the way you can pick up on writers such as Burroughs, Baudelaire etc shines through, and Rescue feels like it could have been placed in one of Jared’s poetry books (if you don’t have a copy, get one! I picked one up from a tour and it’s still something I go back to.)

We all have this feeling inside of us to want to escape, and sometimes we push it down because the fire to do so isn’t quite in us. I feel this quote about the song from the band really does sum up the song beautifully, and perfectly: “The need to escape & the need to fight despite things being fucked up in the world or in your life. The song deals with the conflict of wanting to escape but also feeling the contradictory feeling of wanting to fight (before it’s too late).”

 

 

Sometimes you can’t quite bring yourself to escape, but sometimes something else takes over, and I just love this quote also: “Overall in order to tackle themes like problems in society (macro) we have to overcome a lot of our own internal issues (micro).” TVL have this beautiful way of just giving you comfort when you need it, and they’re releasing this single (and the new record) during a time where everyone is unsure of what’s going. We want out, but we also want it to get better. We want something or someone to rescue us, but I guess the key thing here is to have patience and carry on as best as you can.

TVL aren’t a band that fall into one genre, far from it. Rescue is the kind of song you can play at home as loud as you want, but it’d also sound pretty remarkable in a bar/club. There’s an 80s synth feel to the song, and that’s something you’ll be treated to on the new record.

Their new record, Interzone will be out on 26th June via Fuzz Club. Rescue is the perfect introduction to the new record, and honestly, Jared sums it up perfectly:  “We don’t want to waste people’s time and we want people to play it over and over. Our mantra is ‘is it bulletproof? 8 songs. 30 minutes. It’s about intention and vision.” TVL always give us music that you can become obsessed with and keep on playing and trust me, Interzone is nothing short of exceptional.





BAD BRAINS: The Yellow Tape/Debut Record.

16 04 2020

badbrains

 

There are records that become vital to you the second you hear them. The first note, that first lyric- stays with you. Something about it just does something to you, and you seek that same feeling in everything you listen to. This record that becomes your world can be one from decades ago that you’ve only just found, or it can be something brand new. It doesn’t matter. With this, time doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you find it or rather, it finds you.

 Anyone and everyone could talk about what the greatest Punk record of all time is or who the greatest bands are. It’s all a matter of choice. Some people don’t dig the Ramones (don’t ever trust these people) and some people might think that bands like Dead Boys served no purpose (again, don’t trust these people either!) Every band has made an impression. Some did it with one record then disappeared whilst others have lasted and are still being cited as an influence to this day. Again, it’s all choice.

 

 

 

I haven’t gone back and listened to old records I love and written about them in a while. Whilst seeking something new to listen to, I keep gravitating back to Bad Brains, so I’m taking it as a sign that I need to write about their debut record (The Yellow Tape if you want to go that way, it’s your call.) What Bad Brains did on their debut record is something truly remarkable. They merged two hugely vital styles of music- Hardcore Punk and Reggae and made something that just blows you away. Sure, it isn’t for those who may want lovey dovey soft songs, but it’s for those who are frustrated, who want change and are on the outside looking in. Outside of society but aren’t all too mad about it. Bad Brains will ALWAYS be one of the most influential bands of all time. When the record came out in 1982, many were shocked that the band members were African American. When you think about that now, you think “Why the fuck would it matter what they look like or where they are from?!” But sadly, that’s what it was like and to a degree it still happens to this day doesn’t it. All too many times we will see someone express their concerns for someone who is a certain race doing a certain style of music, and they will question it. But here’s the thing- music doesn’t have a race, gender, religion, or sexuality. Bands like Bad Brains are the prime example of music just going beyond labels and whatnot. Their debut record was ahead of its time, and to this day we still haven’t heard anything quite like it. Attitude and Banned In D.C. are just an example of two of the best songs ever created, and if you’re looking for something else to smack you in the kisser then blast out Supertouch/Shitfit as loud as you can. The whole record is a Hardcore masterpiece.

 H.R. has to be one of best frontmen of all time. There’s no one else who had that energy and power, and when you mix that with Darryl, Earl and Dr. Know- then you are going to get a wealth of trouble. They all played their part in creating one of the best and most important records of all time. Leaving Babylon is one of those songs that just play and escape the world; it’s got this power that isn’t found in anything else. Some songs we have H.R. screaming his lungs out, then we have him on this song pouring his heart out. If this song and the lyrics don’t break your heart, then you’re not hearing it right. It is one of the strongest songs of all time, and it’s political without it being all in your face. It perfectly shows injustice, and sadly it is something that still exists. This song, and the whole record are still so relevant.

 

 

Bad Brains are made up of some of the best musicians you will ever hear, and the fact that you can pick up on their distinctive sound, and their own individual style instantly full justifies why this band are nothing short of influential. They go beyond being a band that merged Hardcore Punk and Reggae. They go beyond anything in music could ever compare to; they gave us something that will never ever die out. Their debut record is easily one of the greatest records of all time, but when you go deep into their discography and even solo work, you will truly see that everything they did was just a mind-blowing experience. The way they mess with your head on songs like F.V.K. and are then able to just mellow you out on I Love I Jah (contender for my favourite Bad Brains song ever) is just a testament to their greatness.

 Bad Brains are a band that I’ll never tire of listening to or talking about. They’re one of those bands that have evidently brought people together and created a community with their sound. When I see bands like Ho99o9 (who I fucking love SO much and do amazing covers of Bad Brains songs) I can see another band who will have exactly the same impact Bad Brains did on a new generation. Bad Brains created a monster with their debut record, and that monster will never sleep nor will it fade away.





GNARCISSISTS.

2 04 2020

GNARCISSISTS

 

 

I think I may have found a band that perfectly capture everything I love about music, and the sounds of the bands I really, really love. I’ve said this a few times, and I always mean it. I just really love music and I’m pretty sure I’ve found a band here that just reinforce my love for music yet again.

 Gnarcissists are truly great; they remind me of The Gruesomes and all that good stuff. The bands I absolutely adore and cannot live without. They have this excellent sound that is yet again making me wish I could play guitar or something. I’d love to do that. I’d want to be like Johnny Thunders mixed with Jamie Hince and Gemma from Savages. I’d want to be loud and hold the guitar like a machine gun and it’d give off insane sounds that would deafen anyone who heard me. But I live through the bands I love, and I love Gnarcissists. They have this proper feel good atmosphere in their music, and it just makes you want to forget daily life and go do your thing. If I was a beer drinker, then I’d say this is the best band to drink beer to. It’s not like we’re allowed to leave the house at the moment are we, maybe that could be a new hobby.

 

 

Their most recent record came out in November and is really great record. It’s got songs on there that will make you just want to play it loud and lose your mind. They have a really tight sound on the Caught In The Webb record and it sounds like something you’d expect from a band that have been around for decades! I have no idea how long they’ve been a band or how many records they’ve put out (I’m just going by what’s on Spotify and Bandcamp) but what I’ve been listening to is nothing short of mind-blowing. I love the snarly vocals; I love the filthy music and how it sounds like some sordid back alley affair. It’s a really out there sound, and it’s one you wish you could be part of constantly. I’ve got a feeling that they are another band that are made to be seen live. Imagine their shows! They would be so wild.

 They’ve got some catchy numbers such as Celebrity and Fentanyl- both of which has a really strong Punk sound that makes you feel like you are definitely not listening to a new band! I love that retro kind of feel going on, and how they truly do experiment with their sound. There are times on the Caught In The Webb record where you feel like you are listening to band become stronger in each song. If you play it in order, you’ll definitely get this coming through. You don’t get that very often, and bands like Gnarcissists are to be treasured. I love, LOVE their song Suffocate and how the lyrics are a bit self-deprecating, but they’ve got this Dead Boys and Sex Pistols feel to it. Obnoxious Punk at its best. The vocals on this are my favourite on the record so far. Once I play the record a few more times, I might change my mind but for now I’m really taking in how that snarl gets you right in the gut. It makes you want to scream the song back.  Everything in the world is quite throwaway and everyone wants to consume more and more of the things they love, constantly. But when you have bands like Gnarcissists you can really take in how great they are. Everything about their sound just makes you want to escape deep into their world and be properly part of it.

 On Veut Juste and Buzzin are two other really strong songs to pay close attention to. Their first EP was just a little taste of what was to come and Caught In The Webb just threw them into the unknown and made them the best at what they do. If you’re looking for some rough round the edges Punk in all its beautiful glory, and a Garage Rock band with the kind of attitude you wish you could possess- then Gnarcissists are for you.

 

 

 Their songs were made for us all to sing along to. It doesn’t matter if you’re alone or self-isolating with your cat for the foreseeable; this band will make it a little bit easier. You’ll be singing along to PCP in no time!





BAMBARA: Stray.

16 02 2020

 

bambara

 

My love for Bambara is something else. I practically live in my Bambara shirt, and I still think about their show from last year at the Soup Kitchen. I had no expectations from what I was going to witness, but I knew that from their records I was going to witness something that would blow my mind.

 Stray was released on Valentine’s Day- the perfect date for this record. Stray is made up of dark, deathly and romantic songs that totally justify my belief that Reid Bateh is one of the best songwriters around. For me he possesses that same genius that Nick Cave has. A fearless approach with unconventional romantic tones. Think Rimbaud, think Baudelaire and mix it with William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg- then you’ll get it. My point is this- Reid is an exceptional writer, and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if one day, he writes a novel and that novel gets turned into a film with the band creating the score for it. Can you imagine?! It would be insane.

 

 

 

There’s a fair amount of references to death on this record, and you know, it’s something we cannot avoid at all. My enjoyment for things has dipped a bit since losing my Grandma in August, but I’ve found comfort in music. Bambara have reinforced everything I love about music on this record. They just nail everything I love about dark music that is unafraid to expose the things that we try to shy away from. Everything from the production to the order the songs are in on this record is so carefully done, and you can truly hear the growth in the band on Stray. If you’ve seen them live, you’ll know exactly how intense their shows are. Reid is one of the most captivating front men I’ve ever seen. Blaze is up there as one of my favourite drummers of all time and William is so effortlessly laid-back and cool. You wish you could do what each of them do, and not only do they have this presence live but they also have it on record. Stray shows us all why they are one of, if not THE most vital band around.

 I can’t possibly pick a favourite song on this record; it’s one of those records that you go back to and with every listen, something else just blows your mind. The record is like one euphoric story that builds and builds. I adore the intense sounds on this record and maybe it has this feel due to Reid and Blaze being twins and having this bond but with William he adds this feel to the band that sort of calms the storm slightly. The way Blaze annihilates the drums and how Reid has this snarl-like feel to his vocals is beautifully wrapped up in how soothing William unleashes his inspiring bass playing, and beyond. All three of them are exceptional musicians, and for me, they do justify this on all of their records, but Stray takes you some place else. It’s another world, and a world you never ever want to escape from. It is such a comforting and powerful record, and the production is out of this world.

 Ben & Lily is a prime example of Reid’s songwriting, and how brilliant it is. The way the song flows reminds me a bit of The Bad Seeds’ Thirsty Dog. It also sounds like something you’d hear in an old cowboy film- it’s got a great Spaghetti Western feel to it. Play it loud, and maybe have it on repeat for your next few listens. It feels like a short story, but one you don’t want to end. I just adore the places that Bambara take you and how they can just take you on this ride with them; their music is so soothing and comforting. To others maybe it is too ferocious, but that’s where I find comfort the most.

 There is one part of the record from one song in particular that I keep getting drawn to. This is taken from Made For Me: “Lit cigarettes will rain. On a field where horses roam untamed. See you running with them through the flames. Wild flowers in their manes as you lead the stampede my way.” There is something about this that just hits me in the gut. I mean the whole song does, but this part really hits me. I don’t know why, but it’s just so powerful and beautiful. However, if you’re looking for a song to truly break your heart- then listen to Sweat and I mean REALLY listen to it. It’s fucking brutal, and really heavy.

 

 

 

Stray is magnificent, but what else do you expect from a band as powerful as Bambara? Stray is probably going to end up being my most played record of the year. I cannot get enough of it, nor do I want to. I’m happy to have this record on repeat for the foreseeable now. I felt this way about Shadow On Everything, and they’ve done it again with Stray. I feel I could write about this record forever, and ever. Until words become pointless and no longer carry any meaning. An absolute honour to listen to.

 





DIIV: Deceiver.

6 10 2019

diiv

 

 

Just to make it clear before I go into a possible nonsensical rant about how great the new DIIV record is, I just need to be clear that this is their record of their career. We can dwell on past records if we want, but trust me- this is the record of their career.

The record opens with the glorious and soothing, Horsehead. It’s like early RIDE but with My Bloody Valentine heaviness (Sonny Diperri produced it, so there you go!) It is such a powerful start to the record, and when it kicks in- it really gets you in the gut. It is most certainly my favourite opening on a record this year. It has so much determination and beauty in it. It is 5 glorious minutes of heaven. The remaining 9 songs have a lot to live up to. Fortunately I have utter faith in DIIV and know that this record is perfect from start to finish.

The 10 songs on this poetic and soulful record is a proper headphone experience. You have to make sure your first listen to this record is via headphones, and maybe your second too. But when you are ready, play it so the world can hear. Soak in that beautiful reverb and distorted vocals. Let the reverb take you on this captivating journey, and don’t let go of wwhatever the record makes you feel.

 

 

Deceiver is a record that is an ode to recovery, acceptance and the desire to do, and be better. I won’t delve into Zachary’s personal life as it isn’t the place, but if you’re a fan of DIIV you will know the struggles he has had and what it took to make this record. Of all their records to date, Deceiver is the most exposed and vulnerable. Zachary’s voice at times on this record (especially on Like Before You Were Born) his vocals have the same gentle tone to it like Daniel Johns. I absolutely adore his vocals on this, and it sounds like a sweet lullaby. His vocals have always been soothing, but on this record he’s truly outdone himself. The whole band have outdone themselves, and I can definitely say that this is one of the most important records of the year. One listen, and you’re just hooked. In the 44 minutes that this record has you for, you feel like you are floating through time and space. DIIV take you on this gorgeous journey where it is okay to be completely open and brutally honest. I mean, it is anyway but some think it isn’t but whatever.

There is so much darkness on this record, but the way it has been produced and put together makes you put it to one side, and you see and hear different sides of this record. Like I mentioned, it is a really vulnerable record with some tense subject matter but it’s done in a way that makes you just connect. It’s a record that is easy to love and completely connect with. One of the songs that Zachary has spoken about is Skin Game and how it is a dialogue between two characters, and when you dissect the lyrics and take them in, you truly pick up on this. For me, the chorus is so powerful; “Fighting to get through the door, but I can’t live like this anymore. They gave us wings to fly, but then they took away the sky.” Given what Zachary has been through, you can picture him having the conversation with himself or just anyone who has/is struggling with addiction or any form of demon. It’s a tough listen, but the beauty in the record allows you to just massively respect the band for being this open.

I’ve gone back and forth with trying to pick a song that resonates the most with me, and I think I’m going to have to side with Between Tides. One line on this song just seems to have stuck with me more than most, and quite possibly more than any song I’ve heard all year. “I’m just waiting for the storm to die out” it is so simple and to the point, and sometimes that is all you need. There is so much sadness on this record but there is also so much hope. I think this line just sums it up. It’s the acceptance of how bad things are, yet knowing it may just pass. It has to pass. I guess that’s the kind of thing I need to hear right now. My storm may never pass, but I have to wait it out. I’ve got no other choice.

 

 

DIIV have made the record of their career; the songs Zachary and Colin have written together are just masterpieces. They are the purest form of poetry, and the most hard-hitting songs we may hear all year. The production is nothing short of divine. It is a heavenly body of art, and I cannot wait to see this record live (providing the dates don’t sell out before I get a ticket!) I have loved DIIV since the start, and I am so utterly proud of what they have done on this record, and how unafraid they have been to push themselves on this. They have absolutely outdone themselves on this record. I have never heard Ben, Colin, Zachary and Andrew sound so good and so together. This is such an important record for many reasons. Acheron closes the record, and if you ever wanted to hear what a phenomenal group of musicians sound like- then soak up this 7 minute beauty. It will leave you covered in goose-bumps and in awe of what you have heard.

If you’ve never listened to DIIV before- start from the beginning then work your way on to Deceiver and you will hear just how much they have grown, and developed a sound that is so sacred to them.

Put your headphones on, turn the lights out and play Deceiver until you feel calm again. It’s a record for the soul; a sacred listen that you cannot help but lose yourself in completely, and utterly.





WOMEN OF THE NIGHT: Pastel Colors.

11 07 2019

 

Some time ago, I wrote about the New York band, Women Of The Night. Obviously if you look the band name up, you might get something suspicious but it’s okay. You’ve probably got worse on your internet history.

Pastel Colors is a body of work that is to be played almost religiously and without any distractions. It is an ethereal and beautifully sordid record. It is gentle and it makes you feel like Jim Morrison has come back to make a Post-Punk kind of record. It is such a effortlessly cool record that just makes you want to sit in the dark, with your headphones in and just slip into a different world. Alternatively, it also makes you want to wander the streets late at night and take everything in that’s around you.

I love the song White Lighter which reminds me slightly of The Velvet Underground. Jords has something about him that reminds you of Jim Morrison and Lou Reed. It’s that snarl in his voice and delivery of the songs that make you feel like you’ve headed back in time. They mix everything I love about music, and create something that you just can’t get enough of.

 

 

It is such a soulful record that makes you completely lose yourself in every word, every song. As someone who has been a fan for some time now, I love hearing how they’ve developed their sound and created something truly magical on Pastel Colors. It’s got that seedy alleyway sound that you just want to be completely immersed in. I love the unconventional romantic tones in the songs (think Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen) and how they are unafraid to be so stripped back with the lyrics. Songs like Brighton Beach give you this cloak of comfort that you freely wrap yourself in.

I have no idea what genre you’d put them in, but why do they need one? This record goes beyond- it cannot be restricted in any way. I love how this record appears to the loner in us all, and makes it romantic. There’s nothing wrong with this  at all, and sometimes it does the soul good to be alone. Pastel Colors is the ideal record to just take time out to.  Quiet Nights is a beautiful example of this. The vocals and the relaxed guitar sounds just soothe the mind. It is almost like a lullaby for the mind. I’d say it makes me want to take a nap, but I could take a nap anywhere at any time. Solitude can be bliss, and Pastel Colors is one blissful record.

You feel like you’re living these songs out with them, and to be this connected to the songs is something to truly admire. They do it with so much ease. Regular Day exposes how mundane everyday life can sometimes be, and there’s slight humour in the lyrics. I guess it’s only funny if you can relate, mind!

 

 

I think one of the main things that I adore about this record is the dark mood in the songs, but also hints of hope and love. These 13 songs are just gorgeous, and it is entirely criminal that Women Of The Night are massive. I’m also desperate for them to tour the UK. I’m a fan of music that gives us an escape route; something to just get lost in, you know? Women Of the Night do it in a way that is beautifully addictive. You can’t leave it alone. Then again, why would you want to?

 

 





THE VOIDZ: Virtue.

12 10 2018

aafb04c27216da9b07e7f8c080079453

 

“Everything I say is everything you wanna hear
My heart is broken through my dreams

I don’t wanna be a puppet that the ghost of my young self still controls
Jackets are the eyes to the soul.”

 

If you’re looking for a group of musicians who have come together to create something weird and mind-bending, then obviously you need to listen to Virtue by The Voidz. Fronted by my constant obsession, Julian Casablancas- The Voidz are nothing like The Strokes so don’t even bother carrying that assumption round. The Voidz are from outer space via New York City/LA.

Virtue has been floating around since March, so with me being stupidly late to the party. Here is my take on one of the most exciting records of the year.

Something I really love and respect about the band is that they are so care-free with their sound. I love how you can truly hear how daring they are, and on this record they go beyond what they gave us with Tyranny. This incredible futuristic sound on Virtue is like nothing else I’ve heard. For me, its songs like Pyramids of Bones that really push every single boundary possible. It’s like the Misfits head butted a kraut rock band, then created a soundtrack to a video game-  resulting in this masterpiece. The lyrics are great, and Julian’s voice has honestly never sounded so good. I love how you can tell they all push each other to go further with their sound. Being so fearless pays off, and you can’t help but wish you could have been in the studio with them when they made this insane record.

I love how at times, this record feels like Julian is delivering a sermon and the band are echoing his truths with some of the most amazing sounds you’ll ever hear. I know some have regarded The Voidz as being too much or too strange, but fuck that! These songs are unlike anything and everything you’ve heard. Also, Jeramy Gritter is one of the best guitarists we’ll see in our lifetime. The Voidz aren’t a band; they’re a gang. A gang of buddies, musicians who are here to blow your mind with their genius ways.

Permanent High School reels off the strain and frustration of high school, and how it can easily find its way into adulthood. Certain aspects just don’t go. When you hear Jules sing about it all, you find the stress of it all easing off. ALieNNatioN is such a hypnotic song, it’s the perfect song to listen to if you’re looking to zone out, or feel like you’ve taken something you probably shouldn’t have. It eases you in, and you slip into such a calming state. You won’t nod off though. The musicianship on the record is nothing short of brilliant, and ALieNNatioN is truly one of those songs that make you really see how incredible a band is.

I love hearing bands like this, and seeing how fearless they are. The Voidz are a band that don’t fall into any genre at all. They just make you feel good, and also leave you in awe of how exceedingly great they are. I’ve always loved Jules’ way with words, and on this record he really is showing us some of his best work.

The record consists of 15 songs and lasts a little under an hour. For me, I could listen to double this. On repeat. Constantly. Like I mentioned earlier, it does feel like someone is giving us all life lessons with mind-blowing and mind-bending sounds echoing it all.

Is it a record to play loud? You know, I’m not sure. I think with this one and it’s probably because Jules is someone I have looked up to since Is This It, but for me this is a sacred listening kind of record. The songs are gentle but also wonderfully rebellious with hints of Punk throughout. The attitude and essence of Punk is so obvious here, and it’s probably one of the reasons why I love this record. I loved Tyranny, but there is something about Virtue that towers above it slightly.

Next month, The Voidz are coming back to the UK for some shows. I guess this means birthday month for me this year is going to be pretty great again!

If you’re looking for a record that messes with all genres but at the same time, sticks a middle finger up at all and what society and the world expects of us/you- then Virtue is the record for you.





12 Essential New York Records.

8 02 2018

CBGB bowery OMFUG rock punk

 

I’m not someone who gets overly annoyed easily (but if you chew loudly or sniff constantly on public transport, I’ll probably want to smack you in the kisser.) However, after reading the apparent “essential” NYC records chosen by BBC 6Music, I got annoyed. In fact, it went beyond being annoyed. I am pissed off. A pissed off Punk who is absolutely infuriated by this list and I know that I am not alone in this.

If you want to share my rage, here is the list:

1. The Strokes – Is This It
2. Wu Tang Clan – Enter The 36 Chambers
3. Blondie – Parallel Lines
4. Talking Heads – 77
5. Nas – Illmatic
6. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Fever To Tell
7. Simon & Garfunkel – Bookends
8. Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend
9. Princess Nokia – 1992 Deluxe
10. The Rapture – Echoes
11. Interpol – Turn On The Bright Lights
12. LCD Soundsystem – Sound Of Silver

 

I am a massive fan of Nas, Wu Tang, Interpol, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Strokes. The Strokes first record was my crutch for a long time, and I do agree with it being there- but not at the top. There is so much missing from this list- how can you even condense it down to 12 anyway? Maybe 20 wouldn’t even be enough.

So with my burning rage, I have to come up with my own list. I don’t want to claim that my list is correct or anything like that- it’s just an opinion. I could be wrong, or someone may feel like they agree with me. The severe lack of Punk in the list just makes me sad. I do agree, as I said with some of the records being there, but some are wrongfully missed.

Also, it isn’t in any order- I don’t like order, it makes me nervous.

Ramones-Ramones.

It was either this or Leave Home. I think Leave Home is my favourite Ramones record, but their debut deserves to be there because of the huge impact it had. I remember hearing it for the first time when I was about 14/156. The age where everything and anything can influence you. I remember hearing it and feeling like I had been born in the wrong era. Every song gave me this incredible feeling, and every song just made me idolise them. I think it is obvious that I worship Joey Ramone. Oh man, Beat On The Brat is one of my favourite Ramones songs. I love the lyrics and I love the humour in their songs but there is a real sensitivity in Joey’s voice that is so unique and beautiful. It’’ just such an iconic record. It was made to influence and to be played loud.

Lou Reed-Transformer.

The most important NYC record of all time. ALL.TIME. Why the hell wasn’t it included?! It’s pretty insulting to Lou’s legacy that this record isn’t on there. It’s not only a great NYC record; it’s probably my favourite record of all time. As a gay person, this record gave me this sense of freedom that I hadn’t found in any other record when I first heard it. I didn’t come out until years after hearing this record, but it gave me this feeling of being alright with who I was. Besides, me being gay doesn’t define me. Never has, never will Transformer is just the coolest record ever made. I hate the word cool, we know that but fucking hell Lou Reed was THE coolest person to have ever lived and he just smacks it in our faces with this record. Sally Can’t Dance and Coney Island Baby are obviously worth mentioning. Pretty sure my list could just be Lou and Ramones records. Vicious and Andy’s Chest…man alive! “You hit me with a flower.” That’s GOT to move you in some way. I love the lyrics to Vicious, and I think this whole record shows Lou in a different way, you know? He just expressed himself in a way nobody else had dared to. I still don’t think anything can touch this record.

New York Dolls-New York Dolls.

The clue is in the bloody name really. Absolutely criminal and horrendous that this record isn’t on the list. My mum got me into the Dolls at a very young age. I don’t even think I was a teenager. I remember finding her copy of the record, and being in awe of the Dolls in drag. How beautiful they were! I was drawn of course, to Johnny Thunders (the greatest guitarist of all time.) Subway Train is such a beautiful song. Jet Boy has this incredible snarl to it. The whole record oozes attitude that is so unique to the Dolls. The lyrics to Trash and Personality Crisis are just great. This record is New York through and through. It’s got the charm and grit. It’s got the attitude and bite. It’s a record that I always find myself going to time and time again, and discovering more things to love about it. It’s just timeless.

Richard Hell + The Voidoids-Blank Generation.

Alright so Richard isn’t from New York- but this record was recorded at Electric Lady Studios so, it’s a NYC record. And he moved there pretty early on, so it’s fine. It’s acceptable.

I am a Richard Hell obsessive. I paid £30 once for a Richard Hell t-shirt from a shop on Brick Lane. Yeah it was too much money, but it’s Richard Hell.

Blank Generation would easily be in my list of best Punk records. It’s got this raw attitude to it, and I just love Richard’s voice. As a singer and as a writer, I just love him. His autobiography is one of the best of its kind I’ve read. He has most certainly lived a colourful life. Sure he’s done questionable things, the little bugger. But, he’s made some incredible music along the way.

Suicide-Suicide

Suicide are probably the best duo of all time. Frankie Teardrop is the best 10 minute song of all time. Dream Baby Dream is a masterpiece. The whole record is a work of art. If any record can capture the roughness of New York in the 70s, it’s this record. It is such a grand record and well ahead of its time. It still is. Nothing and no one has ever come close to this. For me, I think Suicide are massively underrated but they have influenced so many bands that I adore. It still hurts and it still sucks that Alan Vega is no longer here. I remember when he passed; I had the same reaction most had for Bowie. Suicide were never afraid to push their sound and to make music that was entirely different. It is a beautiful noise that brings such pleasure and joy to the ears. It is a gritty record from start to finish, and they keep that grittiness throughout every record they have ever made.

The Heartbreakers-L.A.M.F

I think this was recorded in London, but Johnny Thunders was a New Yorker, The Heartbreakers were a supergroup. I did want to pick a solo Johnny record, but I remembered how much I am obsessed with L.A.M.F (it stands for Like A Mother Fucker.) and how One Track Mind is such a great song. I can’t help but imagine what it would be like if Johnny was still here. Like I said earlier on, for me he’s the greatest guitarist of all time. His style was just impeccable and one of a kind. No one else could play like him. His style was way ahead of its time. He was ahead of his time.  He had this way of just magnetising you with every note. The record has been reissued so many times, but regardless of what version you have- it’s a genius record. It is proper Rock N Roll and has Punk foundations. Of all the records I own, I think this might be my most played. It’s one of those records I just really enjoy listening to over and over again.

Nas-Illmatic

Nas is one of the greatest rappers of all time, that’s obvious. There are so many Hip Hop records I could have chosen. I know that The Big Picture by Big L is one of the best. I bought it when it came out, and to this day it is still one of my favourite records. Like Nas, Big L was and still is above the rest. Illmatic portrays New York in a way that most don’t want to hear. Nas is not, and has never been afraid to show the harsher side of life. From losing friends to growing up in the projects in Queens- he really takes you there. He’s a poet, a storyteller. Halftime is one of the songs on Illmatic that really show this. He makes you see the world and his world the way he does with Illmatic. Is it his best record? For sure. It’s one of the best Hip Hop records of all time. Nas has constantly brought out remarkable records that have, and still do influence so many. It’s one of those records that you can’t imagine not ever happening. It is such an important record- irrespective of what kind of music you’re into; it is such a phenomenal record. What he did with this debut record most want from their whole career.

A Tribe Called Quest-People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm

Tribe have always made consistently great records that are so experimental and diverse. They fused together all styles of music. There are so many records by them I could have chosen, but it felt right to go with their debut. It came out in a time where you had groups like NWA with their aggressive songs. Sure their songs may have been, but it is important to remember that NWA were telling us about the things that were happening in Compton- it is just as important and to an extent maybe more so. But this about New York right now. What I love about the first Tribe record is that it frees your mind, it gives you something that you won’t find anywhere else. Q-Tip and Phife are two great rappers, and I don’t think they have ever got enough credit it. Tribe’s records each have distinctive sounds. Push It Along is nearly 8 minutes long, Bonita Applebum is genius, I Left My Wallet In El Segundo is timeless and Luck of Lucien is just amazing. The samples on this record used range from Grace Jones to The Beatles to Lou Reed. It’s a record that quite simply, you need to own.

 Sonic Youth-Confusion Is Sex

I could have happily listed every single record by Sonic Youth. I’d have no idea where to start- so I went to the start. It’s such a heavy record; it’s a record that has influenced so many. It is powerful, it is loud and it has Jim Sclavunos on drums. What more do you need? (She’s In A) Bad Mood is such a brilliant way to start the record. Jim’s drumming is so brutal; they all just move you in a way that you wouldn’t expect. There is nothing calming about the sound on this record- they just rile you up in a way that is mind-blowing.

I think it is possible the record that shows us all just how amazing Kim Gordon is. I mean, we know that anyway but Confusion Is Sex has some awesome moments that just leave you inspired by Kim. Shaking Hell is my favourite on this record; it’s so aggressive and really brutal. The louder you play this, the better. The way she yells “Shake off your flesh!” is so hypnotising.

The Velvet Underground-Loaded

Maybe I should have gone with their first record. Maybe. But, Loaded is my favourite and I remember buying my copy of this in Brussels and feeling like I had won the lottery. My copy doesn’t play as well as it should but that’s because I am always playing it. I love listening to it and allowing Velvet Underground to take me some place really magical. Rock & Roll is such a fantastic song, and you can’t help but think you’re the person Lou has written about. Lonesome Cowboy Bill is out of this world- it’s not like anything else.

Oh! Sweet Nuthin’ is up there as being one of the greatest songs of all time. It’s one of Lou’s best, easily. I’ve written about this record so many times, and I’m sure I have never done it justice.

Television-Marquee Moon

I cannot make this list without mentioning Television, and this record. Many have regarded it as one of the best records ever made, and they aren’t wrong. It is such a wonderfully created record. From the vocals to the production- it is so effortlessly great and really does have a slick sound that you know is from New York. Every song on Marquee Moon is so distinctive. You hear one note, and you immediately know that it is them. The intro to the title song is one of the most iconic ones of all time. It’s an intro that just stays with you. You immediately go back to the first time you heard it as soon as it comes on. It’s just a magnificent record that definitely does deserve its status as being one of the greatest records ever made.

The Strokes-Is This It

There are a number of records I could have picked. I could have gone with Foxy Brown, Mos Def, Interpol, Talking Heads, Big L- so many. Why did I stick with The Strokes when I could have picked someone else? Because this record holds a lot of importance to me. It’s got me through hell and back. It still does. I adore Julian. I love his words, his voice and just him. It’s a record I constantly go back to. I can play it and I immediately go back to my first time hearing it. I was 15 years old, being bullied at school. I’d play it every day. And every single day I would imagine I was hanging out with Julian in New York City eating pizza, going to record stores and going to shows. This record was my escape, and it still is. It captures New York and it captures what music means to me. So from a totally personal point of view, this record is New York. This record is important. Again, it is one that is still a massive influence to bands. They are all great musicians, and there will never be anything else quite like it- just like all the records I have mentioned.

 

Like I said, there are so many records that could have been named. This is just my personal take. Maybe it is wrong, maybe it is right. It’s just a point of view, like the 6Music one is. But I just find it hard to accept that so many great and influential records were missed off.