Submission & Damage: Psychic Lemon present Freak Mammal

Psychic Lemon shoot you up then shoot you down with their monolithic slabs of space rock mashed with dance groove commitment. Their new album, Freak Mammal is a punishing adventure beyond time or reason, pushing every mother fucking boundary.

‘Afrotopic Bomb’: The strict rigidity of the song forces it into a huge edifice. This is a skyscraper set to music. This is architecture in groove. Resident of it’s own time-skin; never ending and changeless.

‘Dark Matter’ sees Massive Attack’s ‘Angel’ set to motorway rock on a crumbling pathway to oblivion. The wagon, packed with explosives. Mudguards splattered in blood and oil. The driver, covered in sweat. Veins popping. Dead behind the eyes. Nightmare without end.

‘Free Electro Collective’ sounds like a French beat poet’s existential crisis.

‘Seeds of Tranquility’ has an echo of The Black Angels ‘Empires’, but swapping gunship heroin runs for Chinese Junks in the Opium Wars as smoke rises languidly from the guitars.

‘White Light’ hits like Julian Cope’s ‘Hanging out & hung up on the line’, co-opting the arch-Drude’s ur-rock and speed-ing it up. We’re back to the motorway as Psychic Lemon live for speed until the fucking axles break.

Psychic Lemon drop rhythms in and out of the songs to create a truly digital form of dance then slave in guitar abuse to make death defying bone crushers.

This is freak out music in the sense of forays into the universe and awe at the vastness of possibility. But there is no free love or abandon here, just submission and damage.

https://psychiclemon.bandcamp.com

Dream Team: Hey Bulldog and Two Skies

In our new edition of Dream Team, we bring together two power trio’s that make noises big enough to fill arena’s: Hey Bulldog and Two Skies! These are two bands that need wind machines…

Hey Bulldog – ‘Al Lupo’

I think I’m hyperventilating here; Hey Bulldog, Manchester’s most exciting band have just dropped the most exciting music video the world has seen since the Beastie Boys perfected the art form. Such an intense rush of sound, colour and movement. I’m going to watch it 20 times over and then be sick all over the living room floor.

‘Al Lupo’ raises it’s head to the sky as a short form blast of everything that is glorious about this band, acting as a superb jumping on point for everyone who loves heavy guitar rampage. And my friend does this rock ‘n’ roll animal deliver. Powered on a hacksaw guitar riff that scrapes each of your vertebrae, this combines the raw simplicity of The Buzzcocks ‘Boredom’ with the forward momentum and amyl nitrate rush of Roxy Music’s ‘Virginia Plain’ and the shrieking hysteria of Grinderman’s ‘Honey Bee’, all squeezed though Hey Bulldog’s aesthetic of groove heavy psych rock. To cap it all you get a RAT powered bass solo.

The vocals: frenzied, a man dangling on the cliffs edge. Rob M, with his purest, most well recorded vocals yet, sings like a man a razors edge, strung out on adrenaline and terror. When he finally hits the desperate refrain of ‘Into the mouth of the wolf’ the song is hitting with a barrage of throwing stars.

Buy it!! FOR GOD SAKE BUY IT!!!

https://heybulldog.bandcamp.com/track/al-lupo

Two Skies – When The Storm Hits EP

England expects. Englands waits, wide eyes and innocent, ready for satisfaction. England wants something big and sexy. England will crave Two Skies.

England wants what we all secretly yearn for; a huge, rambunctious band with an arena sized noise, that could take the sterile inertia of rock and make it sexy, lithe and potent. Two Skies are that band. This is band with a vast, cacophonous guitar attack but with a rhythm section that pummels, that grooves. Oliver on drums and Jamie on bass make Two Skies surge, soar skywards, never looking down.

Their live shows roars a celebration of what music can be, could be and will be.

Their new EP, When The Storm Hits is here…

two skies storm

‘When The Storm Hits’ slow and sexy, rakish ghosts swoon. Mercury guitar licks pose in epic stances. The bass, a rumble of dub thunder from beyond the seas. Past two minutes we are reaching our Two Skies glory, our taste of succour and the hit of addiction. Dan’s guitar shoots energy.

‘Drone Attack DN19’ is a prime cut of punk energy meets movie soundtracks sensibility. Rhythm section races , Dan’s vocals a druggy passenger in this furious joyride. A silver-streaked guitar solo that would make Verlaine weep.

‘Arrows’ seduces with its slow bake. No one does slow like Two Skies. Their slow is a sensual build-up, the tension palpable for the upcoming attack.

‘The Hypnotist’ blows sky high. Motorik cruise pitches a relentless broiling paranoia, a strait-jacket dance. Guitar clips, piranhas on your fingers. Chaos ensues.

Watch ‘Hypnotist’ live

Two Skies… England is waiting.

https://twoskies.bandcamp.com

Howard Devoto’s nose: ILL present ‘Kick Him Out The Disco’

Look, there’s not much point in going “ILL sound like The Slits, or The Au Pairs or sound like Devo”, cos they don’t really. They sound like ILL and sound like 2019.

Sure, they’re post punk but only in a loose sense of style and attitude. Remember that story about an early Fall gig in which Mark E Smith popped into the crowd to shove his finger up Howard Devoto’s nose? That’s the best comparison. ILL are a dirty finger up your nose.

Their latest single, ‘Kick Him Out The Disco’ sounds like a porcupine being lashed around a bus shelter while a car alarm goes off. Describing this song is to miss the point, it’s a bloody racket.

That’s why they’re called ILL. Cos you don’t write about being ILL, you just experience it and feel bad afterwards.

Here you go, a finger up your nose.

ILL’s brilliant new single is available now!

https://weareill.bandcamp.com

No pretence to caress: Hey Bulldog present ‘Death & Greed’

Hey Bulldog have been seducing down the door of late, with their New Order-ish power ballad ‘No Future Part 2’, the highway song ‘California’ and the quick draw six shooter ‘Al Lupo’. This trio of songs have seen the band not so much lighten the tone, but sharpen the scalpel and aim to cut rather than pummel.

Their new single ‘Death & Greed’ however, returns to their take-no-prisoners brand of Attack-Dog rock, cementing their place as Manchester’s loudest, but nimblest war machine. Bear witness to a grenade caught in the moment of detonation.

Like stone striking stone; ‘Death & Greed’ is a grinding, crushing, unstoppable force. These three men whip up a terror storm and kick against the mother fuckin’ pricks. Rob’s vocals return to the higher pitch of former days as his guitar slices acid-dipped katana blades. Drums are aggro powered. A bass solo is a bee the size of a steam train.

It’s partner in crime is ‘If They Could See Us Now’. This is stabler, patterned on surging rhythmic lines before a punchy, winning chorus. This song is a fighter jet on steroids and a pilot on coke.

Bigger, faster, louder and more potent than all the other bands out there, ‘Death & Greed’ is another unmissable release from the Manchester saviours of rock n roll.

‘Death & Greed’ is available on limited edition vinyl and download from:

https://heybulldog.bandcamp.com

Dream Team: Wire, The Maitlands and Total Victory

In our new feature we look back through the archives and suggest artists of like mind and sound, and thus bring their fans to new music that may appeal. Even if you are a fan of legendary post-punk band Wire you may have missed out on Red Barked Tree, that we happen to think might be a career best. And if you like Wire, you’ll probably enjoy The Maitlands and Total Victory, who both offer the best lyricists around these days.

Wire – Red Barked Tree (2010)

“Opera in the age of fragmentation”

With every passing year Wire’s Red Barked Tree becomes ever more relevant. A bile flecked broadside depicting a nation ruled by betrayal, treachery and inanity. A nation divided and subjugated. A nation elated by false hopes and distracted by glittery shinies. And yet within discontent, Wire plant the seeds of hope and look for the victory of common sense. Fighting with sharp words and sharper guitars, Red Barked Tree sees Wire fighting hard.

Wire do need better publicity though. Sure, their initial trio of groundbreaking post punk albums (Pink Flag, Chairs Missing and 154) are hailed, correctly, as iconic, but since their reunion their career has been so low-key that Sherlock Holmes could overlook it.

So, in 2010, when Wire released the brilliant Red Barked Tree, it received positive plaudits, but not the kind of attention that should befit a game-changing band releasing an album that could possibly be their best.

cover wire

The line “Opera in the age of fragmentation” sums up Red Barked Tree. Overcrowding, decay, ecological disaster, bureaucracy, stupidity and alienation are just some of the issues here. It’s not a downer though, as the songs are performed with such brio, verve and fervour. There may be discontent, but’s an anger mixed with style, wordplay and immaculate hooks. The album is chock-a-block with tantalising songs from start to finish.

‘Please Take’ heralds the album with what could be the catchiest, funniest Wire song in their repertoire. As soon as it starts you know Wire have hit pay dirt with a casual gait and jaunty guitars. I won’t spoil the chorus for those who haven’t heard it, but it’s one of the best you’ll ever hear. Meanwhile…

I won’t hear another word
Another sugared lie
I won’t be a part of your
Latest alibi, so,
Please take your knife
Out of my back
And when you do
Please don’t twist it…

‘Now Was’ continues the pace with a high energy shimmer bemoaning look-back-bores (see The Fall’s The Infotainment Scan for an album of such anti nostalgia vitriol) with the bad pun but great sentiment of “You’re the wizard of was”.

‘Adapt’ starts with a riff surprisingly close to ‘Wonderwall’ (go check if you don’t believe me) but is in fact a slowly spun, bubbling, resigned ballad, dispensing advice for the apocalypse such as “Adapt Chekhov to family crest”.

‘Two Minutes’ is a rampage of anger and pummeling mechanical guitars (check out Nnon by The Woken Trees for a band influenced by this kind of punishing post punk) and everything you need to know is summed up with the lyrics: “A dirty cartoon duck covers the village in shit / possibly signalling the end of western civilisation”.

‘Clay’ has a lolloping start but builds into a rising bubbling swell. ‘Bad Worn Thing’ features more brilliant wordplay “Jam sandwich filled with Uzied peelers” and bemoans the “overcrowded nature of things”. ‘Moreover’ has a machine gun delivery of problems and solutions.

‘A Flat Ten’ (not ‘A Flat Tent’ as one lyrics website has it) has a furious, but controlled velocity with Colin Newman’s delivery an immaculate display of wordcraft and delivery.

‘Smash’ has a terrifying salvo of guitars and an almost power pop immediacy (incidentally, the drums provide a crisp, neurotic backbone throughout the album). ‘Down To This’ is an ominous tale; lamenting dissolution.

Finally, ‘Red Barked Trees’ closes the album with intense acoustic strumming backed by bouncing, skittering bass thst grows in stature to a grandstand climax. The repeated “To find the healing red barked trees” offers hope in suggesting a cure for all the problems that have been outlaid over the course of the album.

Red Barked Tree is untethered from Wire’s back catalogue to a degree that Mark E Smith would find impressive. It’s almost as if their history itself does not exist. This is unmistakably a Wire album but the band sounds so fresh, so vital, so urgent that this could easily be mistaken for a debut album by a young band wearing jeans too tight for them. You wonder if it would have been worth putting a different name to this, to stop reviewers reaching for their copies of Pink Flag. The bottom line is, however, this is an excellent album; intelligent, passionate and immaculately constructed.

The Maitlands – ‘Dissatisfied’ (2019)

Chugging away to keep you satisfied…

The tedious maelstrom of life and the overbearing cack handedness of trying to please people bears the brunt of The Maitlands latest missive. What can you do when chisellers and freeloaders snipe at you? What to do when you flog yer guts and get scorn?

The Maitlands, that ever expending ensemble of heroes are creating buzz all around town. Their care free attitude and commitment to having a good ol’ sing song are drawing in fans, as well as more and more band members. ‘Dissatisfied’ is causing waves, smashing 2,000 Spotify in a couple of months. The summer saw festival appearances at Cotton Clouds and Blackthorn, and headlining their own gig at Academy 3 on Sat 10th August.

You look like a dickhead, I look like one myself from time to time…

‘Dissatisfied’ shows a band in full sway. It’s a drawling garage rocker built on a riff resembling the Velvets ‘Sister Ray’, except if the Velvets had been bought up on Vimto, not smack.

On top of this Carl weaves pithy one liners about the perils of trying to appease the unappeasable.

Scratting around behind the undergrowth…

The best thing about The Maitlands these days is just how well the songs are put together. Because the band members are breeding they’ve got a lot of instrumentation going on. Other bands would struggle to not get swamped. Instead every element is crisp and clear, each instrument can be heard playing it’s part, telling it’s own story. Everything is separate and nothing tries to take over. Best of all the drums support the music without cock blocking the words. 

Taking a piss at the side of the M45…

Meanwhile Carl seems to sing and intone ‘Satisfied’ differently every time, meaning he can’t even keep himself satisfied. Some people.

The Maitlands can be heard on spotify, and your favourite download vendors including:

https://themaitlands1.bandcamp.com/track/dissatisfied

Also, The Maitlands enjoy Vimto.

Total Victory – National Service (2012)

Total Victory are a band having their cake and eating it. Delicately walking a balance between shiny accessibility and standing on a soapbox, they provide enough on their 2012 National Service to please a healthy cross-section.

The sound is built on sharp, fluid guitar and bouncy, buoyant bass. As the album continues the music grows more groove orientated. The influence of motorik and punk grows increasingly apparent. This is an album of two halves and sequenced perfectly. So much so I’m wondering if some light-weights may be lost on the way…

Daniel Brookes’ vocals and lyrics are maybe the best thing on display. In an almost accent-less voice he opines and ponders, critiques and hold court. It’s like a mish-mash of Terry Hall, Mark E Smith, Jarvis Cocker and Gang Of Four’s Jon King with the occasional quip worthy of Nigel Blackwell.  Offering a wide array of social critiques presented in a clear, almost monotone manner he is great proof that less is more, much more.

Thanks to the lyrics each song has its own character and offer a wealth of food for thought. I already know I’ll still be contemplating some of the gems offered here for years to come. It’s rare to see a modern singer putting such thought into not just what he is saying, but what he has to say. This is an album where you are left eager for a lyrics sheet.

Let’s look at some of the key moments:

‘Churchbuilder’ starts with an intro of plaintiff piano before rolling out the chiming 80s guitars. It all sounds fairly radio friendly, the sort of thing you could hear playing in the local trendy Hummus bar.  However, the first chorus you hear alerts you that proceedings may not be as cosy as you first thought:

The natural order: the son kills the father
But the father killed the son
The father killed the son
The order was reversed and the father killed the son

‘Secession Day’ has a smooth rolling gait while Brookes spins a story of a small town’s misguided quest for independence that could be a Glastonbury friendly variant of The Fall’s ‘The NWRA’ or about 25% of Half Man Half Biscuit’s back catalogue.

Just after 1pm they renamed the town
And raised a new flag inside the market
Wrote a new national song
Designed new national clothes
And ate new national food

‘Holy Cross’ has a great groove not a million miles away from the realm of Alternative TV with stark guitars dropping in occasionally. A stripped down combination of vocals and bass works perfectly. Over 6 minutes the song grinds out a heady 4/4 stomp. Like steadily chugging a couple of pints of Guinness this is bold, heady stuff.

‘Advice For Men’ is great stuff, inverting Gang Of Four’s anti love song ‘Anthrax’ with a spoken word set of instructions and guidelines. Honest, useful and a long way away from the usual post Lad Rock cock o’ the walk toss-baggery.

I know the sounds obvious
But it’s easy to fall into the trap
Of only meeting women in bars
Here’s the ugly truth: less than 5% of men
Will meet a girl in a bar

Weren’t expecting that were you?

‘King Of Discipline’ is where the band really embraces the inner Gang Of Four with an extended, almost psychedelic march of guitars while Brookes finally loses his cool and starts throwing out a chain of words, leaving the listener to fit the pieces together themselves. Then he starts screaming the killer chorus of ‘I am the king… of discipline’. The album ends with the whole band singing the  following which links us back to the title of the album:

It’s war
Disarm me
And put me in the army

Meanwhile ‘Reverse Formation’ is a bit more of a straightforward indie disco tune. ‘Venn Diagram’ is mid album instrumental sounding vaguely kratrock-ish. By the end of ‘What The Body Wants The Body Gets’ the song has dissolved into the defeated dirge of Joy Division’s Closer from what started as an aggressive Gang Of Four clarion call. Or what about the stomping title track offering spiralling guitar and slanted social satire vox pops:

18 year old,
3 D’s at A Level.
Do you think there are prospects for your television career?

Total Victory are provocative and bold while never losing sight of the need for a catchy melody or a crunching groove. Continuing the lyrical and musical traditions of many of Britain’s finest bands yet with a strict and forceful sense of their own unique identity, Total Victory have delivered a stunning album with Nation Service. They’re not only keeping the flame alive but fanned into a beacon.

https://totalvictory.bandcamp.com/album/national-service

Dream Team: Jennie Vee & The Raft

In our new feature we look back through the archives and suggest artists of like mind and sound, and thus bring their fans to new music that may appeal. Here, if you’re a fan of Jennie Vee, meet The Raft; if you’re a fan of The Raft meet Jennie Vee and if you’re new to both… you’re in for a treat!

Jennie Vee – Spying (2015)

Jennie Vee lies somewhere between the glistening new wave pop of Blondie and the sharp cool futurism of The Jetson’s. The cover of her debut album, Spying, tells the full story: sharp lines, panda eyes, detached melancholia, aching style.

jv

Spying is a place where troubled detachment meets feisty passion. A mixture of hot and cold textures and tastes collide. Love meets loss. Interaction meets isolation. The nearer she gets, the further away she gets. Jennie remains a paradox: both the girl next door and the unassailable star. She’s both glam icon and punk tearaway at once.

And so, subtle flavours of dreampop, new wave, post-punk, bubblegum and electro are combined like little gemstones of music history. You’ll find shards of The Cure, Echo & The Bunnymen, Siousxie & The Banshees and New Order in there. From contemporary music, the spectre of The Raveonettes looms large. Essentially if you like catchy songs with sharp guitars this is for you. Spying is for everyone sensible, then.

Throughout, the guitars are spiking peaks of pleasure, the drums mechanically stuttering nerve agents of rhythm. Jennie’s vocals veer from coquettish to a femme fatale hush. Sometimes she displays a starry-eyed child-like wonder, elsewhere we find her at the realisation that summer is over and things will never be the same again… “Why do you break everything you touch?”

Let’s look at some of the highlights:

‘Delicious’ is a pure winner, with a short, breathless drag race of pleasure. Tangy punk-lite with a hint of The Rezillos.

‘Real Eyes’ slides down like delicious poison; as if someone has twisted anti-freeze with blueberries… It has the same wintry passion and slow burn chorus of The Reegs ‘Chorus Of The Lost’.

‘So Hard’ has a tumbling sensation, like champagne springing from a mountain glade. The song is practically tripping over itself, eager for more.

‘Sleep It Off’ could easily have been created by The Chameleons for the glacial nostalgia of What Does Anything Mean? Basically. Each shuddering twang of the bass ripples like a cold night in Manchester in the 1980s.

‘Kiss The Dust’ clips along with a rocketing thrust, Jennie sounding like an astronaut on a collision course with oblivion.

A place where heartache is sweet and pleasure is never what it seems…

https://jennievee.bandcamp.com/album/spying

Jennie’s debut EP Die Alone was one of the best releases of 2014. Read the review here.

The Raft – Abloom (2019

It’s been far, far too long since the last full length release by The Raft but here we are with Abloom, a gorgeous flowering of Phil Wilson’s brand of summer-y dreampop. Phil’s gift is writing songs perfect for long afternoons in a beer garden with bottle after bottle of fruity cider…

The reason for this being that Phil’s songs inhabit a golden hued world delicately balanced between joy and melancholy.

‘Light Light’ opens the track a little gloomily, like a Dalek lullaby. It’s a cathedral at dusk with Ride at the pulpit. Near the 3 minute mark light (light) is allowed to enter, with a classic shining Raft surge of sweeteners. The curtain is dropped, the walls fall.

‘The Boy With No Soul’ really kicks us off with it’s laid back reminiscence of New Order’s “Regret”. Hmm… if you could bottle the feeling of a festival in summer it would sound like this. If bottles made sounds. Whatever, vibes don’t have to make sense. Guitars make like ripened fruit on the edge of turning sour.

‘Open Up Your Heart’ is more riff-y, like something off a New Wave CD compilation. This showcases a classic Phil chorus, resplendent with backing vocals.

‘The Morning Light’ sinks in quicksand, as life flows in aftermath.

‘Joab’ (I keep thinking it’s called ‘Jump’ too) is pure early 90s. This would slide easily into a breezy comedy movie of the era. Something set in California where the main character drives a VW Beetle.

‘Xanadu’ bursts like every memory of better times, moments of glory played out on a big screen. The spoken word section, slightly too quiet to hear, tickles at you like a memory you can’t place.

‘She Floats’ twangs like a shoegaze spaghetti western and launches into another simple, bold chorus. By the time we hit a guitar solo that’s nearly power ballad territory we’re all seduced.

‘Louie And Julie’ is more jaunty, half sea shanty and half shaggy dog story.

The Raft glisten and glow, beguile and bewitch. Things in your life not going so well… Abloom will lift you up a while.

But in this world, everything rises, everything comes back around, a lot like The Raft.

https://shorediverecords.bandcamp.com/album/abloom

So there we go! Two of the best writers of pop songs in the shoegaze milieu working either side of the Atlantic! Enjoy!

What’s new? Control Of The Going, Andrew DR Abbot and Celestial North

Any hot new releases on bandcamp? Why yes…

Control Of The Going – Reflections EP

Control Of The Going made a big splash a while back with the wildly popular single ‘She’ which drew them to the attention of Clint Boon, leading to a nice little fanbase and an acclaimed debut album album in I Love You But It’s Going To Rain. Then, life took a funny turn, as life is prone to do. Control Of The Going was revealed to be a highly prophetic name as front man Liam Hart upped sticks and went to America, leading to a trans-Atlantic job in order to record a follow up, entitled Reflections.

What becomes clear is that Liam Hart is a rather Edwyn Collins-esque style songwriter; his characters are stricken with self reflection and pine after girls-next-door. ‘Girl Of God’ sums this up, as he idolises a mystery idol over a sugared riff. Whereas Collins’ band, Orange Juice played post punk, COTG play shoegaze. And when looked at it from this angle, their shoegaze is just a medium and the more it becomes about Hart increasingly resembling 80s style solo artists like Collins, ol’ Moz the gammon himself and The The’s Matt Johnson. ‘Reflection’ even has a guitar solo that would sit on any of your favourite reissued CD’s. ‘Day By Day’ is smoother than a choc-ice. On the more malicious end, ‘Panophobia’ even has sounds like a late 80s, Brix era Fall track. Really, have a listen if you don’t believe it.

So, if you like any of the artists mentioned but want to hear that brand of song writing set to shoegaze, hit up Control Of The Going.

https://sister9.com/album/reflections-ep-digital

Andrew DR Abbot – Dead In Chellow Dean

Andrew’s bandcamp page features the following quote:

Through a series of instrumental 8-string baritone acoustic guitar compositions, Abbott conveys a dark and disorientating journey through the beautifully derelict hinterlands of Bradford: the postindustrial city in the North of England. The core tracks of the album are joined together by collages of field recordings and improvisations on handmade instruments.

Which makes a review somewhat unnecessary, the description alone will make you want to swerve or listen.

What we will say though, is that these guitar pieces are essentially like wood carvings on trees in forests; messages from the long ago, distorted faces of elves.

‘Daisy Hill Return’ is a bright piece of folk. ‘Sunny Brow Cave’ is solstice experience with druids. ‘Chellow Dean Top’ is a fast played scurry through the undergrowth. ‘Chellow Dean Bottom’ is more Morricone style shuffles. ‘Hill Top Mountain Retreat’ goes all out for an 8 minute barrage of head spinning guitar playing.

An excellent album of pastoral paintings as Andrew pitches himself as the psych folk Vini Reilly.

https://cful.bandcamp.com/album/andrew-dr-abbott-dead-in-chellow-dean

Celestial North – ‘You Painted A World’ single

Meanwhile, Celestial North has a new single out!

Over a drum beat that recalls ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’, Celestial North’s ultra bright vocals spin us into the hyper catchy ‘You Painted A World’. We noticed on previous releases that her songs can’t sit still and be pigeon holed, and the same remains true here. With vocals as good as this you’d think you’re listening to a bona fide pop hit, but the restless, driving guitars bring you back to post-punk, especially the tranquil breakdown which is a bit Young Marble Giants.

You know what? The way this song rises like an anthem behind her with lines like “If we could make if through the night”, “hold yourself back, hold yourself close… if anything matters at all”… ‘You Painted A World’ shows us a world in which U2 had been much, much better. Now that’s a controversial review. And with the sign of great song, it ends leaving you wanting more!

Another top drawer single from Celestial North!

https://celestialnorth.bandcamp.com/track/you-painted-a-world