Posts Tagged ‘UK Indie’

The Pheromoans – “The Sixth Bell”

UK DIY outfit The Pheromoans have been a lot of things over the past few years, but consistent is not one of them. The band is historically chameleonic – adapting to fit whims rather than trends, swerving through garage, autumnal pop, and the more driven sound that fits their current iteration. With a new album on the way for ALTER, the band unleashes a breathless single, “The Sixth Bell,” that’s clenched to the teeth with an itchy beat that only relents as the song skids to a close on a dirty mattress of relief. Shot through with siren stabs of synth and puffs of flute, the song jostles the listener around the room, careening and curving at the edges, but driving them nonetheless like base impulses that can’t be ignored. I’m always keen to see where The Pheramoans are at when a release lands and this seems like good ground to chew for nine tracks or so. I’m all in to see where this one leads.



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Vital Idles – “Careful Extracts”

Got another peek at the new Vital Idles EP, out today on Upset The Rhythm, and it cuts just as hard as “Break A.” Clangin’ the post-punk dinner bell hard and making the call out to those with a hankering for a crunchin’ crush of guitars, clipped rhythms, and the strident slash of Jessica Higgins’ urgent vocals – “Careful Extracts” is another stunner. Jessica weighed in on the track, saying, “Just me and my, who cares! I wrote the words from bed, who cares! Really, it’s trying to shout or work through or against the looking for something with which to build a rationale, or being rational, or even being asked to be rationed, as in economic or efficient, while actually, sensually, potentially (phrasing not my own) having a rationale all the while of undoing and of trying to spread into that gap between being in a private space and anticipating the requirement to present.”

The band paired the track with a video that’s obscured and claustrophobic – the members flashing camera bulbs over themselves in barely seen snatches. It’s a complimentary take on their sun-parched propulsions. Grab that EP over at UTR ASAP!

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Holiday Ghosts

UK four-piece Holiday Ghosts began molding their sound on their eponymous debut, but they’ve cemented it on the follow-up, West Bay Playroom. Named after their recording and rehearsal space, an actual playroom in guitarist’s Sam Stacpoole’s childhood home, the album has an appropriate feeling of playfulness and a loose-slung ease that feels less like a band nailing takes and more like a band simply enjoying themselves with luck keeping the tape rolling. Antithetical to many of their UK counterparts, the record is shaggy, loose and jangled in a way that’s more akin to Aussie exports, Athens indie-pop purveyors, and downstream Boston jangle-punks hung on Jonathan Richman now and forever.

The songwriting bounces nicely between Stacpoole and the equal charms of drummer Katja Rackin, but the band’s got a knack for sunny-sky harmonies that make every song feel like a family affair. They cycle through their jangles with an egalitarian ear – bouncing from the paisley popped blues of the ‘60s through Go-Betweens sleekness of the ‘80s. Yet they push beyond the sometimes high-buttoned affectations of the style, instead injecting a jocularity, humor and twang that feels like they have a few copies of Violent Femmes, Camper Van Beethoven, and Meat Puppets knocking around their personal collections as well. Ultimately, the record coheres into a fun rumble through racks that never feels cobbled together, but rather cherry picked with an eclectic love for bittersweet pop and four conduits built to pull it off without a hitch.



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Working Men’s Club – “Bad Blood”

UK post-punks Working Men’s Club act as a testament to the binge influence of the internet in 2019. Hailing from the tiny town of Todmorden, were it not for the heavy spread of access and rabbit hole drilldown of influences that pervades the tubes it seems unlikely that a group of seventeen-year-olds would produce a single that effortlessly echoes the rubber band snap of The Monochrome Set commingling with new wave keys and a touch of Medium Medium’s dance freak streak. “Bad Blood” shouldn’t sound like such a natural amalgam of the past while still feeling modern enough to drop in beside newer body shakers like Lithics, Future Punx, or School Damage but it does and we’re all better for it. This single certainly puts the band on the list to watch, but first it puts them on repeat, domineering the speakers with a brittle beat.




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Martha – “Love Keeps Kicking”

Another great track from UK punks Martha lands today and with it the news that the band have an album on the way in April from Dirtnap. As with the previously released “Heart is Healing,” the song tackles the heartbreak that seems to be the core of their new LP. The band’s grip on power pop is as deft as ever and, while not quite as anthemic as “Heart is Healing,” they’ve still got great handle on a hook and a indominatble spirit for charming as hell indie-pop. The accompanying clip sends up ’50s monster movies with a black n’ white on a budget / Ed Wood vibe that keeps the whole thing silly from the start. Looking forward to the album when it drops on April 5th.

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NRP: Razorcuts – The World Keeps Turning

Its been a while since I’ve gotten to dig into a Necessary Repress, but the list is long and heavy. For a refresher, the series aims to look at releases that have been left out of the vinyl boom and the constant savaging for every conceivable pop artifact to put back into circulation. This usually comes to a head around Record Store Day when labels look at rosters for any item they can cannibalize back into the market, without thinking about how necessary represses of best of compilations and unloved singles truly are. That’s not to say that there aren’t deserving corners of the market still left out of the spotlight, though. Its just never the ones you love, is it? In that regard, I submit the catalog of C86 / Creation alums Razorcuts, and more specifically, their excellent sophomore album The World Keeps Turning.

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Martha – “Heart Is Healing”

I dug Martha’s last album of emotionally raw power punk, but came to it late, making me feel like I’d been missing out until that moment. The band picks at the bones of pop punk but adds a heavier hit with touches of Ted Leo in their DNA and a jangle splattered twang that belies their UK roots. This time I’ve vowed to pay attention and it seems to have paid off. On their way to what I’d hope is an announcement for LP3, the band has offered up a new single and video for the strummy, knotty, and as might be expected, emotionally fraught “Heart Is Healing.” The video is a dizzy, homey shot of the band lounging, but it lets the song stand out as the focus here. The track lands among their stronger singles, hinged on a hook but letting some slippery slide work smoothe the edges on those jangles. Its a damn fun ride and hopefully a herald of new works to come.



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Comet Gain – “If Not Tomorrow” b/w “I Was More of a Mess Then”

If there’s one thing that can be counted on from Comet Gain, the long running UK jangle-pop hearthrobs, its that any release will be rife with earworms. Furthermore those earworms will burrow their way into your life until they become new favorites. Membership changes, labels change, even styles change – from the upbeat clatter of Réalistes to the polished punk hijinks of catalog highlight Howl of the Lonely Crowd and on down to the bittersweet bliss of Paperback Ghosts – the band always jangles, but they’re willing ping-pong between camps that employ the sound. They’re post-punks with a pop heart, indie rockers with a ’77 punk sneer in their back pockets, and this new single-sized offering is the latest bit of pop-strummin’ goodness from their ranks.

The band’s working up a potpourri of an album for Tapete and “If Not Tomorrow” marks the first peek under the hood. The A-side’s not wholly out of line with their aforementioned 2014 heartbreaker Paperback Ghosts, and its definitely showcasing the band’s autumnal sweet side. The guitar line’s bouncing gently, lapping against the swells of organ and a promise of change from David Feck’s earnest croon. While I prefer my Comet Gain with a bit of the bite, I can’t say no to a hummably good jangler that feels like a lost Go-Betweens outtake. The b-side pops the tempo up and dirties the mix with a bit of fuzz and Sarah Bleach running down the regrets. Its a fine pairing and only whets the appetite for more. If you’re already on board the Comet, this won’t knock you loose. If you’re new to the ride, then maybe take this as inspiration to parse back through one of indie pop’s greatest catalogs.


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Our Girl

In addition to my usual music scraping through the Aussie underground, I’ve found the UK indies have been doing their fair share to offer up some quality releases this year. High on that list is the debut LP from Our Girl. The Brighton trio has a mastery over calm menace and a knack for noisy hooks. They’re straddling a tenuous line between the shrouded shine of shoegaze and the boiled bones of grunge. From the latter they don’t cherry pick the usual touchstones – the gutterfuzz rumble, the scorched howl of angst – instead they pipe in the parched and prickly deliveries of PJ Harvey, The Breeders and by natural extension The Amps. Where those artists found a way to bite for blood with catchy results, Our Girl follows suit, but they wrap their songs in the mists of Chapterhouse, Slowdive and The Lilys.

The band succeeds in divining the crumbling beauty that shoegaze was striving for by tipping the ship out of the muck just enough to catch the moonlight. The band doesn’t dwell too long on slapping the listener with hooks. They float them to the surface and then let them ripple in the haze that they’ve created before embracing the steamroller guitar workouts that made the genre a household name. Singer Soph Nathan (also of Big Moon) has a love for alienation tinged with hope and her trepidation melts into the wells of noise with an introverted glee – feeling free to revel in the comfort corners of haze and heat and light. Its a stunner of a debut that’s outpacing plenty of others chasing either side of the genre coin they flip. Feels like this might just be the beginning as well, that looking back Stranger Today might just wind up the match that lights the wildfire they set in motion.




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Doe – “Heated”

UK trio Doe follow on their 2016 album, Some Things Last Longer Than You, with a sophomore record for Glasgow’s Big Scary Monsters (on Topshelf in the US). The album embraces themes of getting older, finding freedom in maturity and solace in death. While the subject matter is heavy, there’s still plenty of room for hooks. The first track, “Heated,” dredges up visions of ’90s crunch pop from Veruca Salt and they’re picking at a lot of the same alt bones that drove last year’s standout from Charley Bliss. The band aren’t content to be backed into a genre corner, though. The track pushes and pulls between quiet, grinning contempt and explosive fuzz riffs that push for the kind of catharsis that fits their aim of growing up without letting the anchor of youth weigh you down or tie you up. Gonna want to hear some more of this record, but this is a nice opening shot and a step up from their DIY past.

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