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

Sexy hammer blows: Hey Bulldog live at Jimmy’s August 2019

The Mancunian saviours of rock n roll, Manchester Guns Of Navarone, the mighty Hey Bulldog  are booming. Saturday night saw them smash up Jimmy’s, notching up their first ever sold out headline show; coming off the back of radio exposure for their brand new single, ‘Death & Greed’, available on limited edition vinyl.

Cementing their status as a power trio for the psych age, this is attack dog rock that goes for the jugular. They are unleashed and taut, not an inch of fat on this beast.

They respond to the sell out crowd with a huge performance. Heads are down and tails are up. No one gets out of here alive, boys. Leading the onslaught, ‘Death & Greed’ comes at you first. ‘California’ kills you with it’s rat run bass and S. McQueen on the hills of San Fran cool.

More subtler shades come with ‘No Future’ in which their New Order-meets-power-ballads dream display starts with it’s rarely spotted ‘Part 1’ intro then kicking into it’s shimmering extended run of guitar showdowns.

‘Al Lupo’; the teetering see-saw of furious fuzz rock becomes even more coagulated and rampant.

Best of all though is the best ever ‘Divide & Conquer’ which transmits such transformative juice it whips up a mosh crowd down front, pummelling them with sexy hammer blows.

The band are living it. Rob M, the Cuban heeled swagger jet himself, plays his guitar like Bowie and Thunders, swiping and swooping as he shoots vicious needles of noise.

Imagine a man sized octopus, enmeshed forcibly into a drum machine. Imagine then that the octopus loves this oily life of rhythm. This beat arithmetic. This is Ben Howarth-Less, ultimate man machine. William Gibson’s wet dream.

Matt Parry on bass throws down like a man strangling a grizzly bear to death with a King Cobra. His bass lines run, fight, collide and careen.  When he and Rob lock down they are like what you imagine The MC5 were, but probably weren’t.

This is the night Hey Bulldog have been waiting for. This rock n roll animal is ready for the big time.

E GONE – Shipwrecks and Stray Cats

Intriguing snapshots into the vaults of E GONE, one of our very favourite artists. Shipwrecks and Stray Cats offers rare cuts from the long, long days. Let’s look inside…

‘The Quality Of Uselessness’ shows Harry Lime skulking in streets, time running down as the authorities close in.

‘Earwigs’ smashes banjos with badass big drum beats, like a post-apocalyptic ‘Fucking In The Bushes’. Energy waves shoot up from below the surface as submarines cruise. Dance folk for the well disposed. 

‘Hekatomb for Christ’ returns E GONE to Constantinople for one more mission from the man from SMOKEDIVER; one more saber wielding assassin to dispatch in the name of king and country.

‘The Captain Is Sober’ is a freaky remix of an Eastern European kids shows with heavy handed warnings about the dangers of sniffin glue.

‘Chapter 1- Lost Music In An Old World’ sees Nico and Sigur Ros collaborating; emitting creation as entropy folds the world back in on itself. We head into the sweeping post rock tinged middle section of the album…

Harmoniums and banjos usher new born animals into the brightly lit world on ‘Next Passage’, ushering a new age of pastoral music; a Beethoven of psych folk, spreading life into the countryside and painting pictures with sound.

‘Everybody Must Get Throned’ is avant-garde sci-fi from the 60s; monochrome robots milling around the eye line in the factory, getting on with their daily routines. Treadmills trundle. Large riveted doors clang while erratic grabbers grasp at goods on the production line. Some of the robots life expire as batteries run down, factory owners long dead in the offices, cobwebs forming on their unblinking bodies.

Buy it, buy everything!

https://egone.bandcamp.com

From the fjords to the universe: Brilliant Apparatus EP and the majestic of EGONE

Stepping over the borders between the shadow dimensions is EGONE, spirit animal of Daniel Westurlund. A splintered, shimmering beast of rippling opulent colours, EGONE uses his magical DNA to traverse the shadow realms, spanning huge distances from folk to post punk to world music to psych to ambient  to space rock to drone. In his latest landfall he finds himself in the bright world of fractured electro and dub.

Wherever EGONE lands he masters the art form. If he lands in folk, (see Behold A New Traveller) he produces heart felt gorgeous tales from the mystic fjords. If he travels to drone, such as the second half of All The Suns Of The Earth, he produces deep cutting swathes of entropic noise from the very ends of the universe. On SMOKEDIVER he travelled east of Constantinople, running with spies through gardened patios, playing The Great Game and besting evil adversaries.

Now, on Brilliant Apparatus he offers frisky, cheeky cut ups of electronic garblings, noises from here and there, smashed with the ghosts of game boys and Vincent Price. Here we find him playful and jocular, jostling beats and samples where he once drove drones and plucked guitars.

Brilliant Apparatus doesn’t have the heart or beauty of some of his other work, but it has the joy of discovery and the thrill he finds in his boundless musicology.

This isn’t really a review of Brilliant Apparatus but an ode to EGONE telling you to buy everything he’s ever made. EGONE is a 21st century genius who sees all of music, comprehends it’s limitless scope, then makes music to bedazzle every inch of your soul.

https://egone.bandcamp.com

https://thegoner.bandcamp.com/album/bitemarks-ep

Los Mundos – Calor Central

Given that they call it “rock” music it’s amazing that our shelves and hard drives aren’t groaning under the weight of concept albums about Journey To The Centre Of The Earth. Adventures in the subterranean realm! Wooo!

A rare member of this exclusive club then is Los Mundos rip-roaring, acid flinging, trip Calor Central, which pulls through all manner of psych and rock into a bracing whirlpool of dinosaur sized thrills that’s shot in technicolour and filmed in cinemascope.

When the album starts, the slow and deliberate march of drums you could be forgiven for thinking we’re in Sigur Ros territory, where all is airy fairy and up in the clouds. Fear not! These long patterns of drums merely guide us down the first hole of our trip, moreover they alert us to the fact that big, booming drums will be our companions through our voyage. And, my word, the drums sound magnificent all the way through Calor Central.

Individual songs are not so important here as what matter the most is the experience and discovery. Having said that, ‘Subterraneo Mar Jurasico’ is the standout, a grandiose 9 minute thrill ride that stalks us with huge riffs. At the halfway point it knuckles down into a frenetic clipped motorism as we escape the beasts of the underworld and leave our fates to to the whims of the ocean beneath our feet.

Calor Central is a mighty, mighty album and a proud edition to the overwhelming quality of South American psych.

https://losmundos.bandcamp.com/album/calor-central

https://cful.bandcamp.com/album/los-mundos-calor-central

Dr Feelgood’s Nuggets – Three Dimensional Tanx live at The Castle July 2019

Some bands play as if their lives depend on it. Some bands play to release their art. Some bands want to change the world. Three Dimensional Tanx play because they fucking love it. This is a band that lives for rock n roll.

Their garage psych is now honed into sonic bullets. Short, waspish manoeuvres to attack the ribs. They’re changing though, getting more rhythmic and clipped. In the previous two-guitar line up, Brother Pete and Brother Rich turned up the MC5 rammalamma and turned it into a right old ding dong. Now, slimmed down to a four piece, it’s closer to a demented Northern Soul, with the emphasis on fast speed-y grooves. All in all if Dr Feelgood had been weaned on Nuggets not r ‘n’ b then it coulda sounded like this.

Sean on bass runs down his riffs like Donkey Kong running up that whatsit. Loz, the most enertaining drummer you’ll ever see puts on a one man show. Spacey’s keys flick at you like a wet towel on the arse while he teaches his twisted speech.

Their set was comprised of a large chunk of their most recent album, A Compulsion For Propulsion, which perfectly captures their live energy while giving it a studio sheen. Plus there’s ‘Hotdog’ from Attack! and the classic “ballad” ‘The Moon & The Wrecker’, arguably their definitive song.

Want a band to get tattooed on your arm? Three Dimensional Tanx is it.

https://threedimensionaltanx.bandcamp.com/album/a-compulsion-for-propulsion-studio-album-2018

The Maitlands – Dissatisfied

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 1,000 Spotify listens in a week, ahead of their 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.

Invocation: New Age Healers present Debris

New Age Healers are like a crack Commando unit from some old war movie. And to say a crack Commando unit, that means a Commando unit that’s really good, not a Commando unit on crack. You know, some roughnecks who don’t follow orders too well get thrown together to go and destroy some Nazi installation between enemy lines. You’ve got the dynamite expert played by the posh English guy, the mechanic, the knife dude etc. Essentially, New Age Healers could be trusted to blow up U-Boat pens in Peenemunde. New Age Healers are not repeat not, a crack Commando unit, having been born too late and having a taste for Altoids (watch the music vid below), instead they turn their deadly skills to the music biz, which is less dangerous but has more villains. Debris is their new album…

‘Message From The Past’ is a pure slice of overdriven warrior psych with a huge helping of Echo & The Bunnymen, “you can’t hurt me… when I hurt myself, you can’t hate me… when I hate myself” might even be an especially mopey set of Mac lyrics.

Meanwhile ‘Hang On’ is blissed out Ride. ‘Satellites’ is pacy open road pop on it’s streamlined Velvets riff. ‘There Goes The Sun’ climbs on a hugely ascending hero riff. ‘Valentine’s Day Massacre’ hugs each hairpin. ‘I Followed A Sound’ stomps like The Black Angels.

New Age Healers have a consistent guitar sound which really helps forge their own identity. It’s a hot hydrogen inrush of noise that characterises them. The rhythm section is pacier than most shoegaze-y type music too. Speed and cruising on the highway is the order of the day. Each song zooms into the next like street lights in a tunnel. New Age Healers wanna burn and go places in cars that can really go.

https://newagehealers.bandcamp.com/album/debris

The Battery Farm – ’97/91′

Doom-punk?! That inspires less confidence that all other hyphenated music genres except all the ones that include the word “jazz”. 

So it was with some trepidation when The Battery Farm start up/ pipe up. Luckily The Battery Farm’s new single isn’t some kind of horrendous metal + something else mess you find cluttering bandcamp with faux Celtic artwork.

If The Battery Farm are punk, they’re closer to Pere Ubu or some weirdy weird US shitsville punk that they’d call Proto-Punk on some fancy pants website like Pitchfork. Or, the stuttering, looping rhythm is like some mad, experimental glam. You could see Brian Eno wanting to get his hands on this, and doing a bad job of producing this lot. All these means that The Battery Farm are some Devo/ Pere Ubu breeding programme gone wrong.

So that’s the music sorted. The vocals are diatribe, punk but in a declamatory way, either John Cooper Clarke or some US Dead Kennedy’s type biz. It’s very reminiscent of Dead Sea Apes’ recent collab with Adam Stone, Warheads, which fused British dystopia with old style punk riffs. So if you liked that, you’ll like this, and vice-y versa.

The words are mysterious, open ended and more short story-esque. This is a writer more concerned in transmitting ideas than song structure and this is what makes The Battery Farm an interesting proposition. It’s more told than sung and more cryptic than flag waving.

Plus the album art reminds me of Calamity James from The Beano having a strangle wank.

https://thebatteryfarm.bandcamp.com/releases