Tag Archives: indie

SINGLE REVIEW: Homesick (Catfish and the Bottlemen)

16 Jun

Mixing an explosive chorus with a down-key verse can often sound contrived and incohesive, but Catfish and the Bottlemen manage to avoid falling into the trap on new single ‘Homesick’. The track clocks in at two and a half minutes but feels like it’s over before you know it, stopping and starting in bursts without needing to catch its breath. Despite the young age of the band, there’s no sign of immaturity or inexperience – instead, just potential. ‘Homesick’ they might be, but it’ll take a while before we’re sick of this ourselves.


SINGLE REVIEW: Upon The North (Eliza and the Bear)

18 Jan

Before anyone asks, Eliza and the Bear have taken the precaution of putting in their Twitter bio, ‘no one in this band is called Eliza.’ We’re going to assume that no one in the band is an actual bear either, although that’s possibly more disappointing than the lack of an Eliza.

Eliza and the Bear are a five-piece indie sort of band from London. I say ‘indie sort of’ because they’re one of those who are difficult to pin down and partly because indie is becoming a vague enough term these days that using it doesn’t really give any sort of idea what the music is actually like.

Their upcoming single ‘Upon The North’ – which you can listen to at the bottom of this post – is set to be released on 25 February, as part of a double A-side with their track ‘The Southern Wild’ (click here to watch a YouTube video of the band performing it live).

And it’s worth checking out. I hesitate to make the Mumford & Sons reference – their particular brand of fauxlk-rock is something I don’t hide my distaste of – and yet it’s along those lines, but with more sincerity and charm. While Mumford feel like a gimmick, Eliza and the Bear feel earnest, and there’s just the right amount of yearning in the song to make you lay back and think of wind in trees and walking around outside. You know the sort of thing.

I’ve seen it described as summery and yet it’s more of an autumn to winter song; not cold, but red-nosed and pink eared, kicking leaves about and feeling the sting of fresh air. The jangling guitars and cheerful cymbals have a resonating contrast with the almost reverent lyrics, and the breakdown at the end is definitely worth a mention – the band tread the line well between a big sound and an over the top one, and there’s a definite British take on the feeling of Americana.

They’ve spent summers away, according to the lyrics. But now they’re back, and ready to take you by storm. Just let them.


14 Jan


So, that posting once a week thing went well, huh? We’re going to try it again, so stay tuned. Everyone knows that New Year’s Resolutions don’t really count until at least February. Or is that when they stop counting? Never mind.

Let’s focus on the letter ‘P’ today! A la Sesame Street.

First up, Peace. You’ve probably already heard of them – they made it into the BBC Sound of 2013 poll, placing sixth, and they’ve been championed by the NME (although not as much as another band we’re going to talk about soon). They’re going on tour with the NME Awards and I’d recommend that you go see them live if you get the chance. Here is a link to a review I did of their live show; “It’s 2013 now, and Peace are not just another buzz band.”

Here is a link to an interview I did with Harrison Koisser. This was one of my favourite interviews, which usually isn’t a good sign – if you have fun talking to someone, it doesn’t always translate into a good interview because you get distracted having a conversation, instead of asking things that you want to. Nevertheless, I genuinely think this is an interesting read; “And if you could achieve just one thing this year, what would it be?” “To meet Justin Bieber. I’m so into Never Say Never. I watched it last night for the first time ever and I’m just inspired. I just want to go and achieve my dream.”

Speaking of Justin Bieber and Peace, listen to their cover of ‘Beauty and the Beat’ below. I’m stupidly addicted.

Second P band is Post-War Years. I was actually supposed to interview them a year or two ago when they played The Bowery in Sheffield but it unfortunately didn’t happen (due to complications on my part). Disappointed! I expect good things from them this year. Their album Galapagos is out soon and I’m excited to hear it. Watch the video for their upcoming single ‘All Eyes’ below. Recommended if you like eerie drones, fizzy synths and dizzying heights.

A great thing about Post-War Years is that they reinvent themselves on each EP, but not enough to be obnoxious. Glass House alone sees them swing from genre to genre, which means that Galapagos promises to be even more interesting – whether they choose one genre to stick to this time or not, it’s undoubted that whatever they do, they’re going to do it well.

Third band is Playlounge. Another lot who are guaranteed big things for 2013 (well, maybe not guaranteed, like I’m not going to promise you your money back or anything), Playlounge kind of remind me of the Japandroids, but in that annoyingly vague way which leaves me struggling a little to back it up. The point is that Playlounge are raw and visceral, while managing to remain catchy and not just outright noise (which there’s a time and a place for).

I think part of my love for Playlounge is tied closely to my love for the 80s American indie underground – it’s the same sort of unreserved energy. Husker Du, especially, feel like they draw comparisons. But Playlounge also have something British about them, and it’s the sort of contradiction that I enjoy. They’re not regurgitating the 80s, but they’re not wholly distinct from them either. The point is, listen to the songs – blink and you’ll miss them.

And finally, we’ve covered Pools Are Nice here before, but that’s no reason at all to leave them out of the P round up. (Pround up? Maybe that wouldn’t catch on). Lo-fi fuzzy rock, for some reason this band just aren’t getting the recognition that they deserve, which is sad! They’re thoroughly enjoyable and I’ve got a soft spot for any music that has that golden summer feel, particularly with the weather being what it is at the moment (London doing its best to snow). Also, most of their music is available to download for free, so there’s no real reason not to give it a try.

Their latest EP, We live here now, has an impassioned edge – the vocals bring a certain kind of desperate rawness to the familiar sound, pushing it just over the edge into post-punk. There’s something incredibly relatable about lo-fi, when it feels like you could be hearing the band live in some dusty basement – although if you were, there’d be no chance you’d be caught standing still.

Here’s a link to a review of their EP, Then you’re thinking too much; “Feeling almost 90s at times, without falling back on the failsafe 90s nostalgia boat, there’s a slight dusty Americana infusion – think Lords of Dogtown and you’ll get what I mean.”

Honorable mentions to: Palma Violets, Phosphorescent, Pink Dollaz, Paper Crows, Passion Pit.

ALBUM REVIEW: The Vaccines Come Of Age (The Vaccines)

8 Aug

The Vaccines have only been around since 2010 but they’re already raring to go and release their second album. After debut album ‘What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?’ hit our headphone only last year, the band didn’t rest on their laurels but instead toured and then jumped right back into the studio.

Follow up album ‘The Vaccines Come Of Age’ has already come under criticism from being released too soon, but is that really such a bad thing? I take an early listen to the album and let you know what I think of each track…

Read it here.

LIVE REVIEW: Of Monsters and Men (12.07.12)

13 Jul

Crouching on the benches at the back of the Scala and twisting into an awkward position in order to balance isn’t necessarily the best way to see Of Monsters and Men, but the venue is so packed that people resort to anything they can to catch a glimpse of the Icelandic band. 

Read the rest here.

EP REVIEW: Then you’re thinking too much (Pools Are Nice)

25 Jun


In some ways, Pools Are Nice has a deceptive name. Forget daydreams of floating lazily in the summer time and instead, Pools Are Nice will be cannonballing into the deep end.

Okay, maybe there’s such a thing as taking a metaphor too far, but the ‘Then you’re thinking too much’ EP from the Connecticut band takes any preformed opinions on them that you might have and puts them into a blender. Twice. Before handing it back to you and making you like it.

To be more specific, Pools Are Nice share with us their distinct brand of lo-fi fuzz rock. Feeling almost 90s at times, without falling back on the failsafe 90s nostalgia boat, there’s a slight dusty Americana infusion – think Lords of Dogtown and you’ll get what I mean. ‘Natasha (You’ve Got Tomorrow)’ is a particular stand-out, with more of a pop-punk edge than some of the other tracks – but then ‘Weirdo’ has something more exhilarating about it, the emotional influence visible beneath the murky guitars.

It’s difficult not to be vague about Pools Are Nice. There’s a definite joie de vivre that it’s difficult to put a finger on and the mash of genre tags on their Bandcamp page doesn’t help. The best thing to do would be to download their EP for free, and check them out for yourselves.

RIYL: No Age, Japandroids.

Download their EP here.

VIDEO: Late Spring Morning Sunlight (Ghost Lake)

22 May

Swedish indie act Ghost Lake have released the video to Late Spring Morning Sunlight, the first single from the EP of the same name. Quiet, understated and surprisingly catchy – there’s no questioning that the song is a grower. The perfect soundtrack to lazy summer (or spring) days lounging around with grass marks on the back of your legs, Ghost Lake haven’t reinvented the wheel but it’s still a pleasant listen.

The video has a quirky surrealism – monster masks and slowed apartment dancing seem almost at odds with the laidback sound of the single.

Marie Herdensjö, the dance choreographer for the video, said she was inspired by the “crazy feelings of unrequited love” and the exaggerated story telling of the lyrics.

“It’s a Gondry-esque zombie outbreak, at its early stages, where people are still hopeful,” said Director Henric Wallmark. “Played out in the dark ages, but in a modern day apartment.”

Whatever the inspiration, there’s no doubt that the video is well worth a watch.

Listen to Late Spring Morning Sunlight here.