Music Reviews

all reviews written by Cat Cochrane

CHOMSKY ALLSTARS LP Surfing The Shitegeist: Get in the mood for rock, rant and the inevitable revolution

Chomsky Allstars performing at the Clutha, A Celebration at the Barrowland Ballroom, Feb 2014

Self-proclaimed as 45 minutes of pulsating Truths and Rights & Rock ‘n’ Soul, Chomsky Allstars latest release does exactly what it says on the tin, while going just that little bit further. Laced with high-velocity politico funk bombast, iconic voice dubs and comic strip intros, Surfing the Shitegeist is a down with capitalism, shake the shackles statement of intent.

Relying on more than the odd pun on words, as found in first and final tracks Econopalypse! and Working Class Zero respectively, Shitegeist is a thick bounty of angst by a group old enough to recall Thatcher’s grubby smirch on Britain as it unfolded. Band members Chomsky on vocals and guitar, gentle giant bassist Frankie Coia, aptly monikered Joshua Styx on drums and Craig Nelson with his lips round the harmonica and sax have grouped together a body of work that speaks more about the litany of modern ills than found in a free month’s subscription of the Morning Star.

Homage three tracks in is paid to Patrick Joseph Hill, formerly better known as a member of the Birmingham Six, whose wrongful convictions were quashed in 1991. The sweet sound of the hammond organ laces the following track 271, a carving tale of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi as the final victim of the Lockerbie plane disaster. And so the tapestry of protest is layered throughout the album.

You won’t find this or any other Chomsky Allstars work near the charts, just as you won’t find Gary Barlow at a socialist shindig, but then again just as the album’s trailer tagline asserts so eloquently, ignorance is pish!

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CHVRCHES wow crowds over two nights with hometown gigs at Glasgow’s ABC

First of two sold out nights at the ABC for Chvrches
First of two sold out nights at the ABC for Chvrches

Any jitters floating around Glasgow’s electro pop sensations, Chvrches, as they take to the stage of the ABC to kick off their seven date UK tour, certainly aren’t evident as the trio get down to immediate business and proceed to slipstream through a sell out performance of debut record, The Bones of What You Believe.

With warm Weegie cheer in abundance, synth-laden entry track We Sink lights up the venue, back-dropped in crossover pink and blue strobe. Giving her chords an early little stretch, singer Lauren Mayberry’s voice is to be found full of live purity at much the same high grade as heard on any of the bands’ basement recordings.

Performing a brand new set list, Chvrches might do well to tinker with the track order just to garner a little more momentum in the early part. In saying that, before you know it, this threesome have effortlessly spun off half a dozen memorable wee gems, each so relevant and recognisable there’s no shame attached to joining in on each chorus.

No one’s noticed, but the two electric neon panels front of stage have failed to light up, with the band telling the crowd they’ll accept £50 for the pair, comically bartering in the style of Bargain Hunt auctioneers.

Anyone expecting nothing but a hipster set among the crowd have been sorely disappointed as this eclectic bunch are genuinely on the side of the local trio done good. “We’ve come a long way in a very short space of time,” Martin Doherty says of the band’s stratospheric nine month journey, “and the fact that you guys are here, means a lot to us.”

Glasgow's very own Chvrches entertaining on their hometown stage
Glasgow’s very own Chvrches entertaining on their hometown stage

With the band’s gratitude still ringing the air, Doherty jumps centre stage to perform a supremely controlled vocal for Under the Tide. Dressed in trademark hip-hop cap and buttoned-up collar, his jolty dance moves and echoey haunt are infectious, leaving fans with the hope Doherty’s vocals may feature more on future releases.

Lauren Mayberry cuts a nymph like figure laced with the very antithesis of all things diva. Cradled between two vim-struck synth/guitar/drumbeat playing band mates, she is undoubtedly the face of the group, and for all the right reasons. She shares her own little ABC memory lane moment at the exposure of an ex-boyfriend who once had relations with a girl in the venue’s toilets. “Tragedy and timing equal comedy,” laughs Mayberry, clearly enjoying the spoils of a sense of karma.

A two-track-encore brings its own mini highlight in the shape of the band’s unexpected, almost beyond left field version of Whitney Houston’s It’s Not Right But It’s Okay. Avid fans in the know lap up every beat. The uninitiated gasp, and then lap up every beat.

On a night like this it’s easy to see why Chvrches is not only the band of the moment, but also of the foreseeable. There aren’t many around doing what they do, and those who are aren’t selling out venues all over the UK. Making electro synths sounds popular and accessible without ending up in a Hollyoaks montage surely won’t be their greatest achievement.

With this kind of talent the future looks bright for this home grown trio. It’ll will be very interesting to see what they do with the ‘tricky’ follow-up album.

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CHVRCHES release the spiritual experience that is their debut LP, The Bones of What You Believe

Hot on the heels of their warmly celebrated 11-date North American tour, Glasgow’s brilliantly unstoppable electro pop trio, CHVRCHES, release their much awaited debut album, The Bones of What You Believe.

Since the band’s fifth place spot on the BBC’s Sound of 2013 list of promising new music talent, plaudits have emanated from all directions, allowing CHVRCHES the confidence to create a debut of admirable class.

The 16-track multi-layered synth bop voyage permits Lauren Mayberry’s voice to execute all the promise of the day as she slipstreams effortlessly through electro landscapes brought together by band mates, Iain Cook and Martin Doherty.

Chvrches 3Chvrches 2

The seamless executions within this debut won’t disappoint the band’s ever increasing fan base, with opening track, The Mother We Share kicking off a record that undoubtedly starts as it means to go on. The light and dark of Mayberry’s song writing is announced in the lyric of the opener: ‘And when it all f**** up, you put your head in my hands, it’s a souvenir when you go.’

Under the Tide is an exquisitely Glasgow-accented mid-album track that sculpts components of tight electro melody and brightly echoed vocals to a place worth returning to with each listen. Further down the track list, Lungs and By the Throat are anatomical little gems which cut a deeper slice into the darker side of the band’s talents.

Chvrches 4

The beauty of this debut will no doubt allow CHVRCHES to throw off the status of loiterers on the current electro pop scene. This week’s superb performance on Later with Jools Holland suggests the exposure destined for the trio is theirs for the taking. Such has been the clamour to see the band live, an extra Glasgow date at the Barrowland, on top of their two sold out O2 ABC gigs, has been announced.

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Wax Idols delve into dark post-punk new wave with latest LP

Love your American post-punk with a dark core and dramatic edge? Partial to your female vocalists doused with spectral reverb? If aye, the box-ticker release of the month is Wax Idols second record, Discipline & Desire. Out now on Slumberland Records, this is main Idol, Hether Fortune’s follow up to 2011’s ironically titled debut, No Future.

Accompanied on this project by second vocalist/guitarist Jen Mundy, bassist Amy Rosenoff and drummer Keven Tecon, Discipline & Desire is a tightly controlled venture to a darker place fenced in gothic; leaving behind the loose, jumpy I-I-I love yous on Gold Sneakers from No Future.

Wax Idols 1

Focused on music for as long as her memory will take itself back, Fortune has imposed a determination to mold both herself and craft into something darkly original and worthwhile, in between sleeping on floors during tours. Once asked in interview what she does to prepare for a live show, Fortune replied: “[I] do some stretches, put on eyeliner, pop a valium and cross my fingers.” That’s the kind of girl we want to grab a pint with!

The contribution to the writing process by her fellow band members has evidently aided the outcome of Fortune’s 10-track labour of love. Whether they’ve stepped collectively out of their comfort zone or right into it remains to be seen with follow up ventures. In the meantime, allow these Oaklanders to dark raid your ear drums with their self-described ‘morbid classics’ and silken mid-tempo new wave sound that’s mighty far from the California big Arnie seeked to portray in those damn commercials.

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There’s no masking the Body Rampant with new single, Storm Bandage

The Body Rampant 1

Who said alternative rock and bloodshot masked goblin combos couldn’t work!? South Californian collective, The Body Rampant, are out to defy that very notion, with their somewhat less discomposing chimera than Slipknot and hi-octane new track, Storm Bandage.

As an ear grabber to the band’s debut album, Midnight Mayfair – set for a mid-July release on Archive Records – the intro has all the feel of a loop created to promo the skateboarding section of the X Games. With its hell-bent riffs and lack of whiny confessions, the band avoid too heavy a dip into emo punk that affords them a worthy original tagline.

Check out their 2011 EP Transient Years as a less refined precursor to what Midnight Mayfair promises with this exciting new track.

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Carousel spin it back to front with new single, Jeweler’s Daughter

Carousel Pic 1

Check out the album cover of debut, Jeweler’s Daughter, by Pittsburgh hard rock foursome Carousel and you get the notion that if they’re relying on the old advertising adage that ‘sex sells’ then a few truckloads will be shifted of this one.

Not to be confused with another American group of the same name, who veer toward a very different pop sound, ride along with the title track of this Carousel for a snatch of high velocity, harmonic riffs laced with enough rock snarl charm to whet the appetite for the next 8 tracks.

The band’s sound incorporates new wave British heavy metal, the sexy romanticism and lyrics about the beguiling of the female form akin to Thin Lizzy, a bombardment of punk undertones…all charmed with enough Pittsburgh steel to recognise the Americana.

Carousel were this year signed to New York based label Tee Pee Records. “We couldn’t be more excited to share our new LP, and Tee Pee is the perfect label to help us make that happen,” said the band’s guitar/vocalist Dave Wheeler.

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CFCF release single, Camera from forthcoming concept EP 

CFCF Pic

Ever fancied being subjective about objects? Well here’s a dude who does…musically, and for a living. Montrealer Michael Silver is the one man presence who makes up the déjà vu lettering of band CFCF.

Inspired by a Wim Wenders documentary, Silver’s aim with this EP concept piece, aptly titled, Music for Objects, is to make the inexpressibility of objects, well…expressible.

Trancy jazz notes to sway slow by, fused ambient synth fantasy straight out of a low tempo chase scene from 80’s crime drama, The Equalizer, make up the first track, Camera, now available for download.

The tracklisting of the EP pans out a bit like the game of I Went to the Shop and Bought a… Glass, bowl, turnstile, keys, perfume, lamp and ring. As you do.

Silver is the kind of guy who hears colours, and sets out to share it with a snake charm warmth that’ll leave you tapping into the Canadian’s back catalogue with easy will.

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Parkway Drive’s second single, Wild Eyes released from acclaimed Atlas LP

Parkway Drive 2

Type Parkway Drive, Byron Bay, NSW into Google Earth and you’ll be zoomed into the rural street where the Australian 5-piece practised before their breakthrough on the metalcore scene.

Over a decade and four studio records later, with Wild Eyes comes the second single from the critically acclaimed Atlas LP, released last October on Epitaph Records.

Wild Eyes, with its confrontational apocalyptic overtones does continued good in cementing Parkway Drive’s powerhouse status on the metalcore scene.

Last month the band announced a 10 year anniversary back catalogue tour of their homeland starting in September. Also watch out for their Sunday main stage appearance at this years’ Download Festival.

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Lanterns on the Lake telling tales in the first single from their forthcoming new album

Lanterns on the Lake 1

The new single Another Tale from Another English Town is released this week from Geordie 5-piece, Lanterns on the Lake. It’s a textured reminder that ethereal, female vocal-driven indie pop didn’t die out in the Nineties along with Pale Saints and Dubstar. The band’s second LP is due out later in 2013 on independent label, Bella Union.

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The Boxer Rebellion shine brightly with new single release, Diamonds

The Boxer Rebellion 4

This month, international alt-indie rockers, The Boxer Rebellion’s latest album release, Promises, will have their fans hoping this 11 track LP fulfils exactly what it says on the tin.

The first single, Diamonds, from this the band’s fourth LP is a smooth entry, it’s rhythmics evocative of Richard Ashcroft’s A Song For The Lovers. Promises is out now on Absentee Recordings label.

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On An On release new video for Every Song on return of their European Tour

On An On 2

Within the same week as the final show of their European tour, Minnesota/Illinois trio, On An On, have video released, Every Song, the second single from their album, Give In.

They’ll be delighted to be returning stateside to the ripples of critical acclaim received for their debut LP, which in their absence has hailed them as latest must see and hears.

The texture of Every Song ebbs and ebbs with a tight beat and airy synth, each laced with captivating resound from singer, Nate Eiseland.

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Dawn of Midi’s minute snippet of forthcoming work, Dysomnia

Dawn of Midi 2

As a canny appetiser, Brooklyn trio Dawn of Midi have released a 58-second video snippet of their next record, Dysomnia, earmarked for an early August issue.

Predict the unpredictable with the release of the complete work, a neat reflection of the band’s live shows, and bound to be characteristic of those broody locked in pulses and seemless cast-spelling beats, around the band have made their name.

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Like Swimming? Then drown in this sea of Swedish indie pop

Like Swimming 1

Giving a listen to Like Swimming’s debut single God Knows is like walking past a break up party that’s left the door open to the inevitable gatecrash.

There’s heartache and pain in the barefooted opening, God knows I’d save your ass. Harmonising in sweetly pitched traces of Swedish accent, vocalists Claes and Ida slink into the following line, but there was nothing much to save, shining a light on a quirky Stockholm humour by way of their songwriting.

Like Swimming are a re-incarnation of previous 7-year format, You Say France and I’ll Whistle. If you like swimming in a float of melancholy Swedish indie pop, this is the debut for you.

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Dark Dark Horse off to a flyer with electro debut, Centuries

When bookies give a band odds for lifting the Mercury Prize you know the PR man is going to be rubbing his hands with glee. Despite Dark Dark Horse being something of a, eh dark horse, to lift the coveted gong this year even the staunchest non-gambler could see the black beauty of it. Such publicity can only stand a band in good steed, neigh?

Equine puns aside, singer James Stafford’s sullen-voiced lyrics make good hay with ex-Kyte and current Maybeshewill fellow Jamie Ward’s synth arrangement in their first collaborative album creation, Centuries. 13 tracks of well ventilated, imponderous electronica remind us of all the fun of the 2-pad electronic drum and just when was the last time we dusted off Blue Monday 12”?

Dark Dark Horse 3[1]

The album kicks off with the rifle-splayed cymbal sounds of Sharks upon where Stafford’s effortless melodic diction is introduced and resides nicely throughout. A voice that’s in no hurry and a gentle electronic pounding that in sections waits for no man is standard on the bill of fare for this debut.

Stand out track, Mercury Nevada, has all the makings of a Radio 6 playlist of the year spot, with its clever pop ambience and light commercial fill. When word gets out, Centuries won’t be found wanting at the stalls and Dark Dark Horse certainly look good for the course.

Centuries is now available on Function Records.

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Danish Blaue Blume release organic debut, On New Years Eve

Trying to categorise Danish foursome Blaue Bloom‘s debut track On New Years Eve is much like playing a game of square pegs and round holes…minus the frustration.

This four-and-a-half minute drop has a feel as organic as an allergy to GM food, and much unlike anything you’ll lend an ear to this calendar year. Having taken time to find their sound via a North American road trip followed by the solace of some Danish coastline, the band played just their first gig in Copenhagen last month.

Blaue Blume 1[1]

Already receiving rave reviews, singer Jonas Smith spreads his range around, landing somewhere between the dulcets of Japan’s David Sylvian on Ghosts to the falsettos of an African world music backing singer, in linear fell swoops.

Sit back and await the blossom of this blue flower, anytime now.

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