H.GRIMACE- Immaterial Girl.

13 01 2015

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H.Grimce don’t sound like anything that’s around now. They sound like early Silverchair with the heaviness of the Melvins and the rage of a band like Savages. They also have a delicate surfer-pop kind of feel floating through their songs, especially in the title track of the EP.

Immaterial Girl will be released shortly via the ever wonderful, Soft Power. Soft Power have yet to put out something crap. Actually no, that’s unfair because I don’t want them to do that. They couldn’t anyway. Everything they release is just bloody good and could be why I whine about having no money. It’s alright, there are worse things I could spend my money on. Immaterial Girl makes you wish H.Grimace would just hurry up and release a full length record, but its not easy. It’s never easy. They’re a band who leave you wanting more with their EPs, and that’s how you get it right.

I adore the song Great Divide, it reminds me of early Hole. That’s always a good thing, I’m a fan of Courtney Love and I don’t understand how anyone couldn’t be. Well, we know why don’t we. Never mind… Immaterial Girl is a remarkable EP that as soon as you get to the last few seconds of the last track, Wasted Sun you find yourself hovering over the back button to start it the EP all over again. I’ve played Immaterial Girl a lot this morning, I’m not sure how many listens I’m up to now but there’s something massively addictive about it. Like penny sweets from the corner shop (they’re not that cheap at all now, sadly or fortunately, depends.)

H.Grimace are an exceptional band (and they come from near where I used to live) who don’t hide behind a big sound. They have this strong grip on creating euphoric moments in their songs, and Wasted Sun is definitely a prime example of that.

We need to talk about the song Imogen. Not only is Imogen the name of my Goddaughter (yes, someone was daft enough to make a Godmother, it’s okay we’ve known each other since we were 4 and we’re both as daft as each other.) The bass on Imogen sounds like it was crafted for a James Bond film. The bass creates some kind of heightened suspense and the vocals are creepy at times, it’s bloody wonderful and I’m fairly sure it is THE song that those “critics” will end up wetting themselves over, and you know what? Rightfully so.

H.Grimace will be playing Power Lunches in Dalston on 24th January (release show/fundraiser for the US tour)and after that they’ll head out on tour in America with West Coast delights, Couches. Immaterial Girl will be released via Soft Power Records on 26th January as cassette release.





THE DEBUTANTES.

16 09 2014

 

 

 

Any band that can mix a 60s girl group feel with sad/woeful guitar sounds will probably become a band I end up adoring. The Debutantes are pretty much that band.

The Debutantes consist of Sarah and Paula from September Girls and their pal Leon. Together they have made something really beautiful. They have this sadness flowing throughout their songs which is done in a way that isn’t all “PITY ME! LIFE IS HARD!” kind of bullshitty way. Their songs will heal hearts and make you want to dance. If you don’t end up doing questionable moves to Burn The Merchandise then something isn’t right. Perhaps go see a doctor.

In the midst of the reverb sounds, you can’t tell that they are from Ireland. They sound like a band from the West Coast with their sun-kissed guitar sounds, but don’t let location fool you. A great band can make you feel like you are anywhere in the world and that is what makes The Debutantes so great.

With the sun appearing less, walk into the dusk with their record blaring in your ears. Or be a bedroom dancer and sway to their summery grooves in a freeing fashion. The Debutantes will make your heart swoon and make you gush with glee. They are just a brilliant band.

The EP will be released as a cassette on the ever wonderful Soft Power Records, and you can catch Soft Power at the Indie Label Market in Edinburgh on 11th October (day of the EP release also.) The tape is limited to only 100 copies.

You can stream the EP here: http://softpowerrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-debutantes-s-t-e-p





6 Years.

21 02 2014

“If you ever get lonely, just got to the record store and visit your friends.”

Six years ago in a classroom at University I set up this blog as part of an Online Journalism module I had to take. As someone who cares far too much about writing and music, I decided to keep at this for longer than I probably should have. There have been times where I am supposed to have done something “important” but decided to write about a band instead. I’ll always do that, and I don’t see anything wrong with it.

Over the past six years I have done the ridiculous (met Patti Smith) and the relatively sane (standard record reviews.) I don’t find writing about music I love exhausting, but Writer’s Block can sometimes smack me in the face leaving me feeling entirely frustrated and annoyed with my abilities, or in that case- a lack of. Everyone has something that they truly care about, something that forces them to wake up in the morning and to keep going.

I decided to keep this blog up because I was annoyed with typical Music Journalists who seem to enjoy slagging off bands in their writing. Sure I dislike boring bands such as Coldplay, Mumford & Sons and the dull sounds of that guy with the poor quiff, Bastille but I’m not going to waste my time writing a thousand words as to why I dislike them. I’d rather write about a band/singer/song/record that has truly moved me because it makes me feel like I’ve done something worthwhile I guess. My words won’t change the world, they won’t make someone else go out and buy a record and they won’t make a band I love become huge. They’re just words. Words some will skim over. Words that may not go read. Words that most won’t agree with. But seeking approval is the worst thing a person can do to themselves because they will lose sight of who they are.

Maybe I’ve got another year in this or maybe I’ll be 90 years old dribbling on the keyboard writing about “that time I saw….” I have no idea. All I know is that you cannot put a price on doing what you love. I’ve never received money for writing about a band.

I wish I could name every single band that has sent me their music, but I can’t. I’ve got a rubbish memory, but everything I’m sent gets written about.

However, I would like to specially thank the following for being exceptionally generous with their music and time:

-Royal Chant

-Savage Sister

-Soft Power Records

-Nita Keeler

-Little Death Machine

-Autumns

-Hana Piranha

-Birdeatsbaby

-The #1s

-The Creeping Ivies

-L.A Witch

-The Long Wives

There’s many more, but as I’ve mentioned I don’t really have the best memory.

Any email or comment left about anything I’ve written means a hell of a lot. I remember when I posted my Warpaint interview and reading the emails I got sent-I felt proud and that maybe someone got the point I was trying to make.

Thank you! xx

The Smiths debut record came out 30 years ago. There’s no other reason really.





THE WHARVES/THE ROSY CRUCIFIXION.

15 10 2013

 

 

Soft Power Records have got a back catalogue that is on the same level as Sacred Bones to Art Fag. They have the weird and wonderful on their label. From Dirty Beaches split 7″ to Autumns, they are responsible (for the most part) for what I listen to on an almost daily basis. So it is with no surprise at all that they’ve sent me something else for me to fall hopelessly in love with.

This time, they’ve sent something they’ve never done before- a split LP. Knowing this is an entirely new thing made the whole listening process of the record much more exciting than most. This is a big deal for both bands and of course Soft Power Records.

The first half of the record belongs to The Wharves, and it’s ridiculous. They’re from London. They have a creepy late night alleyway danger feel about them. It’s the kind of music you’d imagine Jack The Ripper stalking the streets of Whitechapel to. It is entirely eerie but nothing short of brilliant. They do have a Garage rock atmosphere that floats throughout, but the thing that really stands out for me is the vocals. The vocals on Thick Syrup is just stunning, a brilliant way to start this LP. The vocals are on a different level. I’m not even going to try find a comparison because it will not work. But if you’re fans of September Girls and The Black Belles, then you’ll probably love The Wharves. Unhand Me is something that should be on Halloween playlists. Again, the vocals are divine but on this one they are slightly chilling. There’s a cryptic  feel that flows throughout and I think that is what instantly draws you in. I probably couldn’t switch it off even if I wanted to. The Wharves make music that sounds like it should have been in a Vincent Price film. They stir up the beast inside of you and unleash a thousand furies. Bloody brilliant.

Scotland is the home to fine music. From my hero Shirley Manson to The Jesus And Mary Chain to The Creeping Ivies to The Rosy Crucifixion. Emily from the band was once described in an interview as Patsy Cline’s evil sister. To be described like that is awesome, more singers should aspire to that. Her vocals have an attitude that is found in the likes of Faith from PINS to Alison Mosshart from The Kills. There’s this infectious power there that just lures you in. I feel as if I should be wearing a cloak whilst listening to them (I’m actually wearing Superhero and a band t-shirt. The band? Loom.) They have a ghastly vibe; and I firmly believe that if music doesn’t scare you even a tiny bit, then there’s no point. Most of the bands I listen to have sinister sound. I think this makes up for the fact that I’m far too sensitive/gentle for my own good at times. Even if I’m not, music makes me feel tougher than I am. It’s like when you listen to the Ramones and you feel as if you can take on the world- you just don’t care. The Rosy Crucifixion and The Wharves have come together, and has led to something truly memorable and beautiful being created. I’ve heard a lot of new music this year, but to hear two of the most exciting bands around on one record like this just, as a music lover, well it feels like Christmas but better. Sinners has an enchanting voodoo feel about it. You can imagine Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (if he was alive obviously) just creeping up and yelling some crazy shit.

Both bands have made something that would sound perfect in a film from say, the 1920s. If I was 15 years old hearing this, it would sure make me go out and learn to play the guitar and create something as thrilling as this. This is what I want to hear. This is what I want on the airwaves and television sets. This split LP is something that sounds like it is from another time and planet. Play it loud and let everything around you just spiral out of control.

The LP is out 25th November 2013 on Soft Power Records.

Stream it here: http://softpowerrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-wharves-the-rosy-crucifixion-split-vinyl-lp





ANCIENT TIMES.

6 08 2013

 

 

I should probably start some kind of support group for my addiction to Soft Power Records. However they are the ones fuelling my addiction and I’m more than okay with it.

They’ve sent me a lot of music that is just exceptional. Especially the likes of Autumns and September Girls. They’re like a tailor-made music service. So when I checked my emails earlier and saw something from them, I knew I was about to listen to something that would be nothing short of brilliant.

Like Autumns, Ancient Times is one person making their own sound. They have each created something that maybe has been done before, but by no means are they a copy. As I listened to Ancient Times I immediately thought of one person who George Smale reminded me slightly of; Morrissey. I imagine those who dislike/don’t get Moz will automatically turn their noses up at this, but whatever. George has a vulnerable voice that flows so beautifully over wonderfully crafted crooked and creepy sounds.  You’d think hailing from the sunny delight that is Brighton he would make music that projects that; well, he doesn’t nor does he need to. His music makes me happy but he doesn’t need to go on about how beautiful everything looks in order to do this. Everyone experiences happiness in different ways, and beauty too.

His latest single, Nightschool/Hieroglyphic is a perfect introduction to the debut vinyl release of such a talent. With the likes of Dirty Beaches proving you do not need to have 5 people in a band to make glorious music; I think Ancient Times is going to be just fine with what he does. When one person puts their all into something, they become more believable and maybe accessible. There are no hidden meanings, just a wealth of passion in his music which is bloody infectious and of course, delightful.

Now I’m not fully aware of the music scene in Brighton. I can only hope Brighton is aware of George and treasures him as he makes his way into the corrupt world of the music industry. But I think he will be just fine. There’s strength in his vocals and poise in his lyrics. He’s going to go far, there’s no denying that.

The vinyl is released  via Soft Power Records on 16th September 2013, and you can listen to it here: http://softpowerrecords.bandcamp.com/releases

 





MARNIE-The Hunter.

1 08 2013

 

 

I was sent something today from my pals over at  Soft Power Records. They are easily my favourite label (excluding Art Fag, Zoo Music and Sacred Bones.) They put out strange sounds that just reinforces my love for music. But listening to music at the moment is a painful thing.  On Saturday I was meant to fly home for the weekend. I didn’t go because I had an ear infection. However, I rang NHS Direct and they said it was my teeth and I should go register with a dentist. And also take paracetamol. I went to a Walk-In Centre on Sunday and was told it was a throat infection. I was given antibiotics which were bright pink, and my girlfriend would text me at certain times to remind me to take them. I just wanted to sleep. I went to the doctor yesterday, and I was told it’s an ear infection. My ear drops are bright yellow. Hearing out of my right ear is painful. I don’t trust NHS Direct. I don’t think anyone should. So with a painful ear, I listened to something. I listened to something extremely beautiful.

Who is Marnie?

Marnie is Helen Marnie. She’s in Ladytron. Ladytron make wonderful electro music. Electro music is easy to mess up. It is easy to overdo it and just sound like a child hitting demo. Thankfully, Ladytron never did that. Thankfully Marnie has made something equally brilliant.

I do like Ladytron, I like them a lot. But after listening to Marnie; I think I’ve sided with her solo work just because it sounds a lot more sinister. I don’t want to listen to something that makes me feel like I’m running through a field with kittens (dogs are far better anyway) Marnie makes music that does something to your insides. Something gets lifted inside of you. Her sister sound with this is the likes of Bat For Lashes. She has that eerie feel to her voice that is portrayed so beautifully in Natasha Khan’s voice- Marnie does exactly the same. The vulnerability in Marnie’s voice in The Hunter is absolutely gorgeous. It may be utterly painful for me hear anything, but this is nothing short of stunning. It’s worth the pain. I know I know I’ve made it worse for myself, but music is always worth it.

Her debut record, Crystal World via PledgeMusic for funding. That site has become a platform for all kinds of artists, and without it- maybe music like this wouldn’t be released. Then you have the likes of Soft Power Records who put out 7″ singles, and it just makes everything better doesn’t it.

The Wind Breezes On is an awesome b-side. It feels like an old folk tale. There’s something about it that oozes fight and courage. I can’t really explain it, you just need to listen to it to truly feel it. But if you don’t feel it, I guess that’s okay.

The vocals on her solo work are more clear and in some respects more delicate than what she does in Ladytron but hey- no point in comparing because they are both different. When a singer can do this, that’s when you know they are truly remarkable. Electronic music can be the happiest beat with the saddest lyrics; for some that’s why they love it. That’s why I love it; when it is done like this. It can mask the sadness with ethereal sounds.

A lot of solid music has emerged this year, Marnie is easily at the front of this. If you like Ladytron, hopefully you’ll dig this. Even if you don’t like Ladytron, I think Marnie may offer you something you’ll enjoy.

You can listen to the single here: http://softpowerrecords.bandcamp.com/releases

The Hunter is released via Soft Power Records on 12th August to a limited amount of 300 copies. The Hunter is produced by fellow Ladytron member, Daniel Hunt.





AUTUMNS:Interview.

27 04 2013

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Finding new music that blows your mind is one of the best feelings. Writing up an interview of someone who’s not been interviewed before is pretty daunting. If I balls this up, I am sincerely sorry. The music speaks for itself with this musicians, but as someone who really cares (understatement) about music and the process that goes on to make it-I guess part of me is a bit nosy in that respects. For everything else, I don’t really care what anyone does. That’s how it should be. I don’t want to know what Morrissey had for breakfast; I want to know what was going on in his head when he wrote the lyrics to certain songs. These are the things that matter. And this is why I’ll never be paid for this. Money isn’t important (I wish I could tell O2 that though..) doing something you really care about is what counts. We punish ourselves by doing things for others that make us miserable. This is coming from my own personal experiences, some a lot more recent than others. But there is always a handful of musicians who unleash the fury in a way a never could; by being mind-blowing musicians.

About a month or so ago I was introduced to a musician who instantly became my favourite new artist of this year. I was in awe of his brutal sounds, his eerie voice; distorted and fuzzy. It felt like a dream hearing this kind of music. In short, Autumns made me feel like the lucky ones did when The Jesus And Mary Chain first came out. Except Autumns is just one person. One person brave enough to make his own sound in his own way. On his terms.

When I interviewed Dirty Beaches I was really intrigued as to why he went it alone. He was frustrated and knew that the only way to make the music he wanted was to do it on his own. As a solo artist who posses the same qualities (I think) as he does- I asked Christian aka Autumns why he also chose to go it alone and if he’d ever record as part of a band:

“I made the decision because I was getting into interesting music and I thought I could do that, I don’t want to sound stuck up but no one I knew was into the music I was freaking out to and people didn’t have the ideas or beliefs that I think musicians or artists should have. – I’m really happy recording on my own, I mean I play with my friends live and it’s great but I just love to do everything myself. I don’t need to wait for others, ask for opinions, I just do it. Maybe someday I’ll collaborate with others and make it a proper band who knows, but right now I’m happy with the way it is.”

If you want something doing, do it yourself. This brilliant DIY ethic Christian has is enough to inspire talentless folks like myself to start some kind of music project. Don’t worry though, I won’t be doing that. I cannot sing or anything. I just write shitty poetry. Being content with going it alone is such a great way to approach music. He doesn’t have to look out for anyone else or check if its good enough. Christians knows himself that he has total control over making something truly magnificent.

When I heard his music I could pick up sounds of various bands but no solid nor obvious influence. I think this is what immediately lured me into his music. I love music that isn’t obvious. I don’t want to hear something that is a blatant rip-off of a band I love. If I wanted that, I’d just stick to the old stuff. His music sounds as if it’d fit a dingy basement bar or blasting on a beach in Los Angeles. Thing is, Christian is from Derry in Ireland. The music scene in Ireland is something I’m not massively familiar with. Besides Christian, the only other band I’ve listened to recently from Ireland are September Girls. He’s set to play with them very soon, but what is the music scene like in Ireland and is it easy to get noticed?

“I can’t really speak for Dublin or Belfast. But in Derry anyway it’s awful, I can easily say that I don’t fit into any part of the ”scene” here. A lot of bands/artists are just making either acoustic break up songs or are Arctic Monkeys wannabees etc. I don’t want to be apart of it in any way. There are a few bands in Derry doing some cool things, for example a band called Strength. They make hypnotic synth pop songs which is out there.”

Being from a small place is never good because it causes people to have small minds. A prime example of this is the place I sadly grew up and had the life sucked out of me- the Isle of Man. With no redeeming features (apart from the airport) it’s hard to see any good. Everything and everyone is the same. You carry a wealth of frustration on your shoulders in the hopes you can just get out before it totally ruins you. When I read Christian’s response to my question about the Irish music scene, I suddenly felt something else towards his music. That he doesn’t just make music because he’s talented. He makes it because it is obvious that he needs to get out. The frustration is even more obvious in his music now by knowing this. Something which you cannot help but admire and completely respect.

“As far as I’m concerned I want to get out of here as soon as possible and for Autumns to be unknown here. People just copy everyone and are doing everything for the wrong reasons. I guess it’s why I consider my music and beliefs very Nowave. – To get noticed is hard and easy. If you’re playing like I said acoustic break up songs and you get a number of hits on YouTube you will probably be very successful but for people like me it’s harder, it’s not music for the masses but then again people like me don’t want fame we just want our records out and maybe influence someone enough that they might start a band. That’s what I want, that and a tour. But overall there is a few bands I like from Ireland like September Girls, Sea Pinks, Documenta and Girls Names. It’s not all bad.”

The music that Christian makes appeals to people who believe in music and those who do not want the bullshit that is played to us on a loop on obvious radio stations. It doesn’t matter that you may never hear this kind of music as you drive home from work. What matters is that people like this still exist. People still make music that has a lot of fight in it. Music that makes you want to start your own riot and raise your voice. You’ve got something to prove, so do it. There is a huge Punk ethic to the way Christian approaches this. I don’t know if he knows it or not- but that is the trait that makes him believable and such a rare talent. With many just wanting a hit song to make them enough money to secure them a place in a decent care home, there are still artists like Christian around who make music because the desire and hunger to do so is in them. They are the ones we should be watching. Maybe one day it will all turn around. Keep the faith.

We all have a time in our lives where something happens that just inspires us to be what we want to be. I always wanted to write because I had a massive love for words from a very young age, and a love for music which occurred when I was even younger. I’ve always really cared about what inspires the musicians I love. What made them want to pick up an instrument and make music? Sometimes it isn’t always a band. It can be a piece of literature or even a film. What made Christian want to make music? What made him think “I can do that”?

“Theres definitely a band and a record. The first time I heard Loveless by MBV (generic choice) was just out of this world. It gave me those feelings inside that only music could give to me and I have become so attached to that album, it means the world it me.

An artist that made an impact like that to me was either Rowland S. Howard or The Wake. I can’t even decide. They are both out of this world, I could only dream to develop into the writers they are. (I got greedy with this question)”

On record, you get a brilliant ferocious feel to his music- especially on my favourite song Tired Eyes. I think the title alone just speaks to me. You cannot help but imagine his live shows would involve a lot of sweat and blood dripping from his fingers as he unapologetically slays the guitar into oblivion. His first gig was a week ago for Record Store Day, the most important day in music. Of course you should buy records all the time, but having a day dedicated to one of the finest things in life is something special and to play your first gig on that day? Well….even better!

“Tired Eyes is my favourite too. I played my first gig on RSD, it’s my first time doing this so I can’t really give a good overall review of my shows yet. But I definitely got into the music and zoned out on RSD. We completely went for it. I don’t want to sit around and nod my head like everyone expects you to do. I want to put on a show and make a spectacle, give people something to talk about. Our shows aren’t about trying to be cool. Don’t get me wrong there’s nothing planned for the shows apart from the songs we play. It will be us reacting to the music and letting the spontaneous things happen.”

Like I’ve stated many times before about Christian, you can truly sense that making music to him is so vital. That he just HAS to do it. The passion he plays with is so obvious and such an important feature about him to treasure. Zoning out and just letting the music take you where you let it is exactly what it should be about. A band or singer should never be afraid to really feel the songs they are performing. When you do that you build up a lasting relationship with fans who want nothing from you apart from you to keep that fire alive. Again, these are the things that make you believable. If the person standing in front of you on stage is too afraid to let go as they perform their own songs, how on earth can you expect the audience to care? We need more fearless musicians like Christian. We really really do.

Distraction is something that creeps up on us all. You can be reading a book and suddenly you’ve been asleep for 3 hours (this is me every time) or you can be doing something important and you’ve drifted off into a beautiful daydream. Does recording alone mean Christian gets distracted like the rest of us? Does he start on one song then suddenly find himself making another half-way through? Self-discipline is hard to master, but once you have that’s it for life. Are there unfinished songs scattered about on his laptop? How does he find recording on his own?

“I find it very easy to record due to lack of equipment so I don’t have to sit around setting things up, I only use one mic and a laptop. I find that when I plan to record it never turns out well unfortunately. I mean Tired Eyes was written, recorded and finished in about twenty minutes and that was just because I just randomly wanted to do it and never knew this was going to happen. I can’t lie it happens to us all, you write something, you record it and then you just leave it there. I have lots of files on my laptop with guitar ideas etc which I will probably never use but are probably  decent.”

I think it is obvious how much of a fan I am of Autumns and even though I think I asked him THE important questions, I was quite curious as to why he called himself Autumns. I know it’s a stupidly generic question, but I had to do it:

“I came up with a name which I’m too embarrassed to say before I came up with Autumns. I basically judge what’s a good name if I’m embarrassed to say it or not. When I was confident enough to put songs up and send them out I just had to change it and Autumns was the last-minute name. I think it’s pretty nice and compliments the music maybe?”

I think it does. Autumn is like the underdog season I reckon, and this is the kind of music that those on the outside looking in and shaking their heads at fools can relate to. Compliments the music entirely.

This was Christian’s first ever interview and I feel honoured, and also proud to have been the one to do it. I really cannot tell you enough how brilliant his music is, but hopefully you’ll feel exactly how I do about his music and be bloody glad that someone is making music like this.

You can listen to Autumns here: https://soundcloud.com/#autumns

Soft Power Records and FatCat Records websites also have information about how you can purchase Christian’s music so check them out.