Posts Tagged ‘UK Indie’

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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Our Girl – “In My Head”

UK indie trio Our Girl have had some excellent run up singles in advance of their debut, Stranger Today. They pair their latest cut, “In My Head,” a dark, rumbling burner slashed by moody guitars, with a surreal cut n’ paste video that drops the second Michel Gondry reference of the day. The band cites The Science of Sleep as an inspiration and it’s easy to see how the collage work pulls from his melancholy love story. The track is a sobering tale of miscommunication with a cooldown hook and a frothing scratch of feedback that threatens menace from behind the somber vocals. The band’s record arrives next month and this video serves as a pretty strong argument in favor of putting in on the ol’ wishlist.

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Sauna Youth – “Percentages”

UK DIY outfit Sauna Youth are headed back to record store shelves this fall with their latest LP Deaths. The first cut finds the band in bracing, raised hackles punk position – blaring air raid siren riffs undercut with breathless rhythm work. The track feels as if it might burst into flame at any moment. In under a minute twenty-five the band boils the blood and gets listener’s ready to careen into just about anything in their paths. Their last LP, 2015’s Distractions was sorely (almost criminally) overlooked on this side of the Atlantic, so let’s try not to make the same mistake this time around. The record lands on September 7th.



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Vital Idles

Glasgow’s Vital Idles sketch out the bare bones of post-punk on their debut for Upset The Rhythm, but even without a hefty whallop in their collective pockets, the band remains utterly captivating. In the grand tradition of Young Marble Giants or Tallulah Gosh the group makes the most of the basics, imbuing their songs with a driving heart that chews on jangles until they fray like unkempt guitar strings. True purveyors of the aesthetics over expertise approach, Vital Idles have bundled their urgency and wiry worry into an art school folio that pulls straight from the last waves of cool fleeing the class of ’79. It’s a package that’s built to crash but holding tight. That fragile edge gives the band, for lack of a better term, a vitality and its absolutely infectious.

Eschewing many of their modern contemporaries’ reliance on rhythm as the driving force behind post-punk preferences, the Idles pin their charms on the junk shop shapes of their jangles and the asymmetrical bite of Jessica Higgins’ vocals. While there are some fine hooks holed up on the album, its Higgins that elevates Left Hand from practice space sketches to something with a whole lot more mettle. The recordings crackle life. The songs never feel worked over – practiced, sure, but almost certainly fresh in the band’s repertoire when they hit the tape. In the end, that’s the best quality of post-punk. Rubber legged bass is fun but exhausting in quantity, hangovers of dub tend to dissipate, but the hook that snags the hardest is that feeling that it could all fall apart at any moment. Vital Idles embody that fragility, bearing the scars of past scrapes on their knees like badges, signaling all the likeminded souls that they’re versed and ready for another go.

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Vinyl Staircase – “Cherry”

Over here in The States, the rolodex of young British bands can sometimes go unchecked – people seem to get stuck in the old “if I can’t see ‘em who gives a crap” mentality. But weaving among the overhyped excess across the pond there are still plenty of young’uns with their hearts and guitars in the right place. Vinyl Staircases’ debut EP culls together four rather infectious tracks, with lead single “Cherry” leading the way. The track is wholeheartedly in the pocket ‘90s holdovers, but mixing their clans in a nice way, reimagining the Blur crowd mixing it up with The Dandy Warhols and BJM for a Britpop that swings a bit more paisley than mod. The track and vid are a whole lot of fun, and along with follow-up single “Dandelion Wine” the EP shows a band that’s got a lot more to give.

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Vital Idles – “Solid States”

Glasgow DIY-ers Vital Idles give a warm up to their upcoming album with the stark, bristly “Solid States.” The band have nailed the less is more punk aesthetic that drove classics from Young Marble Giants and The Slits and they bring that vibe out in full force here. There’s a detached quality to the song, ably reflected in the accompanying video of the band looking sullen at best and bored for the majority of the clip. The song is calm at first blush, but revels in a kind of below the surface restlessness that’s crackling with static electricity – bone dry but ready to bite when you least expect it. Looking forward to more from these folks.



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