DIIV: Deceiver.

6 10 2019

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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.





DRAB MAJESTY + SRSQ: Soup Kitchen, Manchester. 19/09/2019.

20 09 2019

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If ever there was a dream line-up, then this would be one of them: Drab Majesty AND SRSQ together. Playing a venue that I adore, even if it was an absolute sweat box last night. I missed the first song of SRSQ’s set because I am shit at catching the tram from my flat to town, but that’s irrelevant.

Kennedy (who is SRSQ) was part of a band that I was obsessed with; Them Are Us Too, and to see someone who was part of a band who have left a lasting impact on me live, was something to truly treasure. There is the same passion there, and it is just a beautiful thing to be immersed in. For me, the music Kennedy makes as SRSQ is so ethereal and so delicate. I adore her vocals so much, and how Kennedy has this impressive power within their vocals that are just a thrill to witness. The way Kennedy controls the room with this gorgeous voice and haunting songs just leave you covered in goose bumps. For me it is songs like Cherish that show us just how effortlessly brilliant Kennedy is, and how every fibre of their being is exposed on stage.

 

 

Kennedy uses her voice how a guitarist would create fury with their instrument. She does it all on her own, and you cannot help but be in awe. Her music has been a massive comfort for me recently, with my Grandma dying very recently. I have used her music to escape a little, and to see these songs live just got me. If it can hit you in the gut, then you’ve found a band worth holding on to. Kennedy tells stories and takes you off into another world with her music, and the way she does it in a live setting is just nothing short of beautiful, in its truest and purest form. Only One was the song that just moved me the most. It made me think of listening to Zola Jesus for the first time- they both have this power in their voice, and this tone that is just unlike anything else. It can make you cry almost instantly because it is that soothing and perfect. I hope she comes back to the UK and does her own headline tour because her set was just a joy to watch.

Now it is time for Drab Majesty to take to the stage.

A couple of months ago, Drab Majesty released the chilling new record, Modern Mirror. This is a record that is dripping in synth-filled songs to hit you right in the soul. The songs were made to hit you right in the pit of your stomach. So how do they do this live? Effortlessly. So easy. Deb and Mona D are two exceptional musicians who just have this stage presence that leaves you so intrigued and moved by what you are witnessing. Their songs are euphoric symphonies that make you feel as if you have found yourself in the underworld where Deb and Mona are your leaders.

As someone who has frequent panic attacks (and they are ever increasing) I find bands like Drab Majesty and SRSQ so calming. It is the relaxed tone in the vocals, and it is the purity in the sound. It just eases me. They open their set with A Dialogue, which kicks off their new record. The perfect opener to their set. I’ve waited a hell of a long time to see this band, and I can honestly say it was one of the most moving shows I’ve been to. Something I really admire about Drab Majesty is that their music feels like it could be in a film, and they make you feel like you are part of it. There is so much fragility in the music, and I love it so much. I love how they are unafraid to be gentle in their music. The Other Side broke my heart, but to see it live was just remarkable.

 

 

It was such a joy to see both bands last night, and to see them both command the stage in ways that show us that less is truly more. In an ideal world, I’d watch their sets every single day and be in a constant state of bliss. They all make you want to create this dark, moving music to release all that you’re carrying. You can see for Kennedy that there’s a fair bit of release when she performs live and Drab Majesty have this hypnotic and stoic stance on stage, but there is so much emotion within all of them when they perform their songs. You can truly see how much it means to them, and given that most of this tour is sold out- it shows us just how much they are loved. It was so good to see the venue packed for Kennedy’s set. There was just a lot of love and respect in the venue for both sets, and to see this was nothing short of wonderful.

I can only urge you to see both bands whenever you can. It will feel like the most perfect out of body experience, and you will feel like both bands are in control of how you move during the show. You’re their puppet, and in this instance it really isn’t a bad thing. As hard as it was for me to leave the house last night and go to the show, I’m so glad I did. This is what I needed at this moment, what comes next now I have no idea but I have this to hold on to for a little while.

I can only reiterate that you just need to see both bands, and allow yourself to be immersed in such beauty and ethereal synth magic.

 





DRAB MAJESTY: Modern Mirror.

14 06 2019

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One of the most exciting duos around, Drab Majesty are releasing a new record in July. A record that will reinforce our love for them, and get us excited over their UK tour in September. Deb Demure and Mona D make exquisite music together, and I’m going to explore that with my take on Modern Mirror.

The record opens with the haunting yet angelic A Dialogue. The song is highly atmospheric, and I cannot help but feel this could be a song that they open their sets with. It’s got something about it that is stoic and something that just grabs you. It starts with these strong vocals, then it all comes together and it is this huge sound. The kind of sound that you’d probably hear at the end of the night in a dingy, dark club as you make your way outside. There is something euphoric yet final about it. It’s the perfect song to start the record with.

 

 

 

Drab Majesty have been a band I have leant on for some time, like Cold Cave. There is something about the lyrics and the way the music eases any ugly feelings, and lord knows I’ve been at my worst recently. Music is powerful, and music can heal. It can be that thing that just holds you together, and I hold Drab Majesty so highly- purely because of what they mean to me. It goes beyond being a band that evoke escapism; they have something about them that just makes me fall in love with them every single time I listen to them.

The Other Side is 6 minutes of sheer heaven, and it makes you wish you were wandering the streets of L.A. taking this song in, and ignoring the world for a while. There’s a lot of Garage Rock bands I love that come from L.A. but Drab Majesty are on the other spectrum of the music I love, and it’s this dark and intense sound. Some may call it “Goth” or “Darkwave” but I really don’t have a name for it. All I know is that their lyrics, and songs are so powerful and so wonderful to get lost in.

Only a couple of songs on this record are under 5 minutes long, which I adore. I love songs that last over the 5 minute mark and have intense and euphoric build-ups. Drab Majesty are pros at this, and knowing that they will be playing my favourite venue in Manchester (Soup Kitchen) in a few months, just makes me super happy. It’s the perfect venue for them and I cannot wait to hear the new record here.

There’s this devotion and passion in these new songs that shows how they aren’t afraid of experimenting with new sounds and pushing their sound further. Careless and The Demonstration are two perfect records, and with their third they do something beyond what they’ve done before. The best way to experience this record is to listen to Careless, then The Demonstration; then allow yourself to immerse yourself in all that Modern Mirror is. You’ll hear this subtle growth, but the beautiful darkness is there. Ellipsis and Dolls in The Dark are for me, their biggest sounding songs on the record. They take you somewhere new on these songs, somewhere no other record or song ever has. If you’ve never listened to Drab Majesty before, please invest in their previous two records in time for the release of this gorgeous record that is, Modern Mirror.

Modern Mirror may only be 8 songs long (as a massive fan, I could quite happily listen to triple the amount!) but it is a record to truly cherish and keep close. It’s the kind of record that’ll keep nightmares at bay, and allow you to soak up the darkness in order to be less afraid. I needed this record more than I thought I did. There’s something about it that is so soothing, and I think a huge part of this is Deb’s voice. It is so comforting and easy to just fall in love with. The songs tell a story, and that just makes you connect even more so with this stunning record.

Modern Mirror shows us exactly why Drab Majesty are one of the best bands around. Their sound is heavy, eerie and sublime. There’s no denying just how phenomenal the new record is. Buy the record when it comes out in July, and please come see them on tour.

 

 

Modern Mirror will be released on 12th July via Dais Records.

Tour dates are:

18th Sept – Dingwalls, LONDON

19th Sept – Soup Kitchen, MANCHESTER

21st Sept – Wharf Chambers, LEEDS

22nd Sept – Clwb Ilfor Bach, CARDIFF

They will be joined by the equally beautiful, SRSQ.





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.





THE UNDERGROUND YOUTH: Montage Images Of Lust & Fear.

15 04 2019

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The Underground Youth are such an incredibly underrated band, and with each record they have this ability to just shock you with their sound. A sound that is in no other band you’ve listened to, a sound that you cannot get enough of. The Underground Youth have yet again, put out another exquisite record. A record that pierces right through your heart and soul. A record that must be played obsessively.

Montage Images Of Lust & Fear is not only a great name for a record, but it totally sums up the atmosphere on this record. I’ve been a fan of The Underground Youth for a stupid amount of time, and I remember seeing them live a couple of years ago, and I was just in awe of their set. Easily one of the most impressive bands I’ve ever seen live, and I cannot wait to see them again next week at my favourite venue in Manchester but before then- I’m going to go on about their new record.

 

9 songs. 43 minutes. What can you get from a record in that amount of time? What do you expect from a record in that amount of time? Well, with this record think Rowland S. Howard’s Teenage Snuff Film meets Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds’ Let Love In record. Craig’s vocals have never ever sounded better. I absolutely love the bones of this record, and I adore how you can hear so much growth in this record. The Underground Youth are one of the hardest working bands around, and always seem to be on tour. So when you listen to this record, you cannot help but think of how these songs are going to sound live. I’m already obsessed with Craig’s vocals on Last Exit To Nowhere. It’s the second song on the record, and it just blitzes its way right on through you. It doesn’t calm down after that. The Death Of The Author is a gorgeous and eerie song that sends shivers right through you.

I love how drums can give a record or a song a mood, or create an atmosphere that just spooks you. Olya’s one of the best drummers around- she has this effortlessly cool way of just beating the shit out of the drums and letting every beat shatter through your body. You move to her beat, and the way she does this is something I’ve never seen before. She gives so much tension in the way she plays, and it is the kind of tension that you crave from music. It’s the kind of tension that makes you love the band you’re obsessed with even more than you already are. In short, she’s incredible. The Underground Youth are incredible, but you probably already know that.

Montage Images Of Lust & Fear is a record that will scare the shit out of you, but will also be a record that you cannot get enough of. It’s a record that consumes you in the best way imaginable. The atmosphere on this record makes you wish you could make something like this, but let’s be honest- no one can do it like The Underground Youth. I love the romanticism in their music. It’s not the conventional and boring type, it’s something beyond anything you’ve ever known. I’ve been listening to The Underground Youth for a long time now, and with every record they blow my mind but this record has something else. It’s heavier, it’s darker and keeps you right on the edge. You can’t help but wonder what is going to happen next on the songs. You don’t know what part of the song is going to rip right through you.

Although it is a heavy record, one song in particular is on the gentle side. Too Innocent To Be True is such a beautiful and timid song. There is this wonderful gentleness to Craig’s vocals on this, and I hope they play this song on their tour because I think it’ll show a side to the band that doesn’t get shown often. It’s a mellow moment, and it fits so perfectly on the record. The bass on this song carries you away, and you just float on with it.

Blind I and Blind II feel like they could be some creepy thriller film, set in black and white. There’s something really magical about how Blind I flows right into Blind II. Blind I feels like the build up and eruption of something really bad happening, and Blind II is like the aftermath of it. Play the songs right after each other, and hopefully you’ll see what I mean. Blind II reminds me a little bit of Ghost Rider by Suicide, which is always a good thing. The song feels like a chase, and the way Craig quiets down on this song, when they do this live I’m pretty sure the crowds will go nuts especially when it picks up again. It’s probably my favourite song on the record at the moment. It’ll change though, because a record this fantastic isn’t made for you to just have one solid favourite. Every song is there to be adored and obsessed over. Each song will get their turn, I promise.

 

Of course I’d love more songs on this record because I just love The Underground Youth a hell of lot but with just 9 songs, they again blow your mind. Play the songs as loud as you want, listen to it over and over. Every listen will give you something new to love about the band and this record.

Montage Images Of Lust & Fear is a truly remarkable record, and for me, has left a lasting impact. It’s an absolute pleasure to listen to and just fall in love with.





STONY SUGARSKULL.

11 03 2019

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Berlin is home to many brilliant bands. The ones I love have a raw and eerie feel to them. I really thought I had written about Stony Sugarskull before, but I checked thoroughly to see that I stupidly hadn’t. I used to make lists on my phone or bits of paper of bands I needed to write about, but as of late I’ve got sloppy with it. I’ll redeem myself now.

Stony Sugarskull make dreamy yet dark music. Music that makes you feel like you’re in a haunting place like The Cure’s Seventeen Seconds. If you’ve ever read anything I’ve written, you’ll know that I compare a lot of music to that record. If a band or record can make me feel how that record does, I’ll fall in love with it. I’ve already headed that way with Stony Sugarskull. They make me feel like I’m watching a Nordic tv thriller or something. They fill you will grey and black imagery. You don’t see bright colours, and I love that about them. I love how they create this almost smoky effect with their music. It’s as if everything is in a haze, and you’re slipping in and out of a dream.

Monika’s vocals are so ethereal and they evoke all sorts of images in your mind. Her voice is gentle in all the right places, but she can make it gnarly when she needs to. The only person I can liken her voice to is Sade from my beloved LA Witch. I love the calmness in Monika’s voice, and she’s such a great guitarist too. You can really tell that she has such a strong vision with Stony Sugarskull. I think this project has only been going a couple of years or so, but you can definitely hear someone who has studied and worked at they do. The sound is so strong and so unlike anything else. There are elements of 60s Rock ‘n’ Roll but there’s something else lurking within; I’m not entirely sure what it is, and because I’m questioning it, it makes me listen more than I already do. When you find something that gives you this constant wonder, I think that’s when you know you’ve found something you’re going to love for a hell of a long time.

For me, its songs like Party Girl and Skunk Ghosts that really standout. They’re the ones I keep  going back to, in like a ritualistic listen. When you can become obsessed like this with the music, that’s when you know you’ve found something you’ll treasure for a hell of a long time. I just adore the darkness and chilling feel in the music. I love how it can terrify you and can then soothe you in the same breath. This conflict is what keeps you with them. Butterflies has this haunting feel to it, but Monika’s voice is so calming you can’t get freaked out by it, it just heals the parts of you that other songs can’t quite get to. It’s got the vulnerable feel to it like Fade Into You by Mazzy Star (that song never fails to instantly make me sob.)

Stony Sugarskull make you feel like you’ve discovered My Bloody Valentine for the first time. Their sound is out there, completely and beautifully unusual- and just a sheer revelation. I can’t believe I hadn’t written about them before, but after years of listening, the love for them grew. Maybe that had to happen first. I love everything about this band. I love the trippy feel they have, I love how the drums and the guitar reverb come together to make this delicate but whole sound. I love how the vocals are intertwined with it all to create this perfect sound that makes you feel like that this is what’s been missing from you for years.

I honestly cannot express my love for this band any more than I have, or maybe I can. We’ll have to wait and see, but I’m sure I can. I’m super excited to hear more from them, and to be taken on a whole new trip with these beautiful sounds.





HOORSEES.

6 03 2019

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One band I have written about tons of times is Dr Chan. I love their flawless Garage Rock sound. I love how they just make brilliant songs that never get old. Every listen is like listening to them for the first time. A huge part of my love for Dr Chan, and now Hoorsees is due to my love for Alexin’s voice. He has such a distinctive voice, and is of course, a brilliant musician. Dr Chan and Hoorsees are made up of excellent musicians, and its fairly obvious that France is consistent in giving us some amazing music.

Hoorsees have been around for a few years, and their songs are just an absolute joy to listen to. The music takes you off into this Shoegazey kind of dreamland. It’s just wonderful to listen to. Especially on songs like Bad Words. Then you have Pitfall which again sounds like My Bloody Valentine but with less reverb. Hoorsees have such a strong sound, and it’s a sound that you cannot get enough of. They send you off into a whirl with their gorgeous sound. You don’t want to come down from this at all.

Their debut record is due out this year sometime, and going by what they’ve released so far- I’m pretty sure we are in for a treat. Hoorsees are a band that once you listen to, you just fall instantly in love with them. Bands like this are rare, but are a real pleasure to find. By no means am I making any comparisons between Alexin’s two bands, but one thing they sure have in common is that they make music that just makes you feel good. When you hear something that just grips you, and you cannot find the words to fully explain it- I think that is when you know you’ve found something you’re going to love for years and years to come. Whilst we are in an age where everything seems so throwaway, it’s bloody good to have bands like Hoorsees who give you something to hold on to.

I love listening to a band, finding out where they are from and feeling like I am in their city or wherever taking everything in. Hoorsees make you feel like you are wandering around the city with a load of nothing to do, just killing time. They have a relaxed sound, but also one that is very defined. I’m going to go back to their song Pitfall quickly. I really love this song, and how there’s this pleading, almost romantic desperation in the vocals. Call it passion, call it art. Call it what you want, but it’s so great to hear. I love the strength in the vocals and the way they are married up with this 90s reverb sound.

Hoorsees also give you that notion of clinging onto your youth/childhood. Given that the world is probably going to shit, this is something we are probably doing more than ever. The closer on their Youth EP, Wasted Youth, definitely gives you this feeling. It is also something that is quite apparent on their new single, Boyhood.

Boyhood is the perfect song to eases you into their debut record. It shows a lot of growth from their Youth EP which came out nearly two years ago. Hoorsees are made up of brilliant musicians who really hit you in the gut with their music. They’re a really great band to listen to through headphones, and just zone out from everything to. The create this escapism in their music that is just so good, and so beautiful.

Play ’em loud in your ear. Wander round your city, and just give yourself some time- and self-care.