Drowners - ‘Luv, Hold Me Down’ Single Review

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Still riding high off the back of alluring debut EP ‘Between Us Girls’ eight months later , New York city’s newest romantics Drowners have announced details of their eponymous debut- due to drop early 2014. In the meantime they have left us with tantalising track “Luv, Hold Me Down”- the first single to come from their upcoming record. Frontman and model, Matt Hitt found a place in Drowners as their singer-guitarist upon moving to the big apple from a small Welsh town and now, the four-piece have become the ultimate instant pick-me-up. Their growing reputation has led fans of Arctic Monkeys to follow, from earning the impressive opportunity to open for them on their US tour.

“Luv, Hold Me Down” is an upbeat and infectious take on a love interest, casually dressed up in this post-punk, indie-rock outfit. This track is totally replay worthy and bursting with charm, as Hitt croons “So hold me down and never let me go” you’ll fall in love over and over. Only clocking in at just less than three minutes, Drowners leave us still wanting more and you’ll be completely hooked right from the very first beat, wanting to frolic around endlessly. Hitt’s voice is gritty, yet his soft and indie delivery works perfectly with the smooth bass and playful drums. Their signature retro feel is sensed instantly; From Hitt’s ability to give the simplest lyrics meaning to the Smiths influenced guitars. Best of all, it’s available for free download and available now.

Overall Rating: 5/5

Follow Drowners on Twitter and keep up on Facebook
Download the track here. 
By Mollie Butlin

The Rebel Light - ‘Jukebox Dream’ Single Review

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Recorded in a DIY studio (their home) by the beach on west coast USA, it seems it’s becoming more and more fashionable to make a band with your family: as have Alan and Jarrett Steil and Brandon Cooke done with The Rebel Light, consisting of two brothers and their cousin.

The LA indie pop band flaunt their warm sun kissed 60s vibes on new single, “Jukebox Dream”, which proves to please fans of Best Coast and Dum Dum Girls.  The chorus is a sweet mix of catchy lyrics and playful horns, fixating our minds on that sunny, carefree LA scene. However, by the time the 2nd verse comes around it feels like a serious case of Déjà vu. Steil swoons the lyrics “Last night I fell for you, I gotta love that’s coming true” repetitively with a vintage feel over blissful strings which moulds a genuine and nostalgic sound you can’t resist singing along to. An obvious Beach Boys sound dominates the track and makes “Jukebox Dream” that radiant, retro fix some of us are looking for. The Rebel Light have created a track so infectious and laid-back that it’s clear this is no summer fling.

“Jukebox Dream” is released 19 November 2013. Keep up to date with The Rebel Light on Twitter and Facebook.

Overall rating: 4/5

By Mollie Butlin


Review: Arctic Monkeys, Earls Court-25th October 2013

“See Arctic Monkeys live” is likely to be on the bucket list of any indie music lover, so the Sheffield foursome’s dates at Earls Court this October were arguably the gigs of 2013. Fresh from releasing the critically acclaimed fifth album AM, the band embarked on a 9 date UK arena tour. With the unsurpassable hype surrounding them since the release of their ground-breaking debut album Whatever People Say I Am That’s What I’m Not (2006), it’s no surprise that it sold out almost instantly, which led to the addition of a second date at Earls Court.

On the first night (Friday 25th October) the arena was packed by around 7pm, with hoards of people donned in Harringtons and Arctic Monkeys bobble hats, waiting eagerly for their heroes.

Cavan four-piece The Strypes, with a combined age of just 65, had the esteemed role of kicking off the evening. They did a good job considering the size of the crowd and the high standards they held, but unfortunately, the set just went on for far too long. 7 or 8 songs in and the crowd began to lose interest, so a 14 song set was an optimistic move for a band with 6 singles playing to 20,000 impatient monkeys fans.

Just half an hour after The Strypes left the stage, the lights dimmed and the gargantuan letters AM were illuminated to the absolute elation of the fans. So began the steady, rock beat of Do I Wanna Know? , lead single from AM. Jamie Cook’s incredible riff was virtually inaudible over the voices singing every single note. The chorus caused absolute carnage in the stalls as pints soared over the crowd and circles began to form. It was an incredible start to the set.

Next came hit after hit after hit. A 5 album repertoire gave the band a huge choice of tracks to play, and the set was full of their very best. Each went down incredibly well with the crowd from the first chord. Particular highlights were Reckless Serenade, a hugely overlooked album track taken from album 4, Suck It And See, and set closer (pre-encore) I Wanna Be Yours, which was an unusual but incredibly suitable finish, complete with confetti cannons and an unprecedented flare gun oxidisation from a fan in the middle of the crowd.

It was a well-balanced set, with a good mix of raucous belters and acoustic ballads. It would have been nice to see a little more from Suck It And See, from which only 2 songs were played that evening. However, the band did well to select the best 3 songs to play from Humbug, which is widely renowned as “The duff one”.

Returning to the stage after ear-splitting chants for more, the band played Snap Out Of It, fan favourite Mardy Bum, and finished off with heavy AM anthem R U Mine? Although this wasn’t the obvious choice for the final track, it was received enthusiastically and carried out with overwhelming energy.

Although they are pretty much the biggest band in the world right now, it’s not just a hype thing. If you’re seeing Arctic Monkeys, yes it will be more than a huge party, but you’re also being graced by 4 of the finest musicians around. It’s easy to forget that when they rattle on our radios every day, but when seeing them live, you really become aware of how incredibly talented they are and how far they have managed to come since their Whatever People Say I Am…. days just 7 years ago.

So now that they’ve conquered the world, where can they go from here? Only time will tell, but there’s no doubt that the future’s looking especially promising for them.

Jessie Drabble


Band Feature: JAWS

Commonly known as the little brothers of Birmingham big boys, Peace and Swim Deep; JAWS have started making a name for themselves outside of the West Midlands- and a more than respectable one to boot. Currently on tour with The Twang and soon with Spector, they are working themselves to the brim and it’s finally starting to pay off. After releasing an energetic and charming debut EP titled ‘Milkshake’ earlier this year, conveniently made up of all their singles and B-sides for you, the buzz around JAWS has grown immensely.
Their live shows have attracted many across the year and become somewhat legendary amongst fans. The band never fails to offer fans a refreshing taste of their signature hazy and laid-back ‘surf rock’ sound, as well as new tracks which provide an effortless blast of just this. Whatever the weather, get JAWS oozing through your headphones and you’ll automatically find yourself on a dreamy beach soaking up those rays.
With Connor Schofield’s dazed vocals and catchy lyrics fitting perfectly with Eddy Geach’s loud and contagious drum beats, Jake Cooper’s smooth bass lines and Alex Hudson’s chilled out riffs: together, they make JAWS the ultimate carefree band and it’s hard to resist at least a small sway. They’ve achieved more than most in their time, whilst  regularly being tipped by others- I wouldn’t be surprised to see them at the top of every ‘ones to watch’ list for the next year.

Band Feature: Archers

Emerging from down-under in Adelaide, new breezy rockers Archers have already had a taste of the high life after securing themselves on the bill at major festivals in Australia, such as Big Day Out and Spin Off festival. Along with an exciting and bright debut EP, ‘What Birds Think’, released in October of last year; it’s no surprise they have earned themselves noticeable slots supporting other well-known bands and at festivals, and big ones to boot. Consisting of 5 members, Archers produce warm rhythmic tunes to quickly energise any crowd, and whatever the weather.

Their spirited debut will transport you back to the summer days, with vocalist Hugh Black’s laid back vocals paired with the infectious guitars; they create that perfect dazed vibe to see your summer through. With the delivery of their new music to follow their epic debut; they plunge into a slightly more sinister scene with new release ‘Nobodies’, which will be available for download in September, along with the release of the third Archers/Capital Waste Pictures film-clip collaboration.

Archers seem to be breaking through all boundaries with their psychedelic post rock, and following in the footsteps of fellow Aussie residents The Morning After Girls, Alpine and DZ Deathrays to name just a few. We can expect that what’s left of 2013 and 2014 will play host to their most exciting move to date, so make sure they are sitting comfortably at the top of your ‘ones to watch’ list. If their debut EP is anything to go by, we can expect great things to come.

Keep up to date on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/archersmusic?fref=ts 

By Mollie Butlin


Album Review: The Kissaway Trail - Breach

image The Copenhagen born trio return with their third album ‘Breach,’ which fills your ears with an effortless blast of what has been described as ‘noise pop’. The Kissaway Trail lead you to a record full of tuneful and enjoyable tracks, starting with characteristic promise.  Each track goes hand-in-hand with the next to make for a well-structured and put together album that flows well, but it’s questionable that they would sound just as good separately. As every song sounds so similar, it proves difficult for a first time listener to remember each track individually.
But are the tracks too similar for this album to work? No. First two tracks “Telly the truth” and more awkwardly named “NøRrebro,” kick start the album strongly with the infectious lyrics, raucous drums and an overall laidback feel. As we reach third track “Cuts of Youth (Eternal Summer)”, the repetition of simple lyrics and familiar riffs start to lose the spark. However, the superb simplicity of the album draws in both old and new fans, creating replay value and an album that is easy to immerse yourself in if you’re not looking for something intense or complex.
‘Breach’ shows that they have kept a real consistency throughout. Their use of synths to create forceful beats and raw tones pay off more and kindles an interest further on in the album. Especially in tracks “Beauty Still Rebels” and “A Rainy Night in Soho”. Pair this with beguiling guitars, an echo of clear-cut lyrics and you have ‘Breach’ in a nutshell.
Nonetheless, the Kissaway Trail combine enough personality and ambition to make it a relevant and worthy record. Keep on their trail as they can only lead you to new heights.
6/10 

By Mollie Butlin

Review: Southsea Fest 2013

On Saturday 14th September, Albert Road’s best venues hosted some of the greatest local and international acts around for the 7th annual Southsea Fest.

As with all busy, multi-venue festivals, difficult clashes came up, making it tricky to choose who to see out of this year’s spectacular line-up, but from what I caught of it, it did not disappoint.

Complete with incense and pineapples, local band Kassassin Street’s early set at the Wedgewood Rooms was full of energy. Their psychedelic sound, combined with singer Rowan Bastable’s Suede-esque vocals went down immensely well with the crowd.

Southampton based New Desert Blues played Little Johnny Russel’s in the afternoon. Unfortunately some problems with the sound affected their first couple of tracks, but despite this they played an excellent set, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them on a significantly bigger stage next year.

Although the day was filled with excellent acts, it was really all about Jaws, Splashh and Superfood in the evening. All 3 have been heavily featured in the top music magazines and blogs recently, and Splashh in particular have released one of the best debut albums of this year. It was going to be an exciting end to the festival, but unfortunately, this was when it all went a bit pear-shaped.

Due to earlier delays, there were 2 acts still to play by the time Jaws’ set was due to begin. However, the venue was already full of familiar faces from various Jaws/Swim Deep/Peace gigs around the South. There was very little chance of getting out of the packed venue and back in again once you had entered, so sadly fans were forced to miss Superfood at the Wedgewood Rooms in order to see Jaws.

The crowd waited patiently as a couple of mediocre acts trudged through their sets and members of Jaws and Splashh watched through the window, checking their watches. Unfortunately for the acts playing it was very clear that the crowd had been waiting for Jaws, as when the festival favourites finally kicked off their set they received the biggest and loudest sing along of the whole event. They performed tracks off the much-loved Milkshake EP, plus new single Gold. They were definitely worth the 2 hour wait.

Regrettably for the last-train-home-ers (including myself), Splashh were then due to be on at gone midnight, so there was no possibility of seeing them. I was able to catch Temples at the Wedgewood rooms instead, who had an incredibly welcome reception , as they turned up donned in glitter to perform a sensational 45-minute set, featuring singles “Shelter Song” and “Colours To Life”.

All things considered, it was a brilliant day, and a great first experience of Southsea Fest for me. It’s the perfect way to check out local talent as well as big names, with an excellent atmosphere right on the doorstep.

Check out: MT, The Family Rain

Jessie Drabble


Review: Modern Vampires Of The City

After waiting patiently since the release of 2010’s Contra, Vampire Weekend fans everywhere are now able to get their hands on the highly anticipated third album: Modern Vampires Of The City.  In their 7 years of dominating the indie music scene, New York four-piece Vampire Weekend have built up quite a reputation for themselves as being a very happy band. So this album marks a slight change in direction. The music is jolly as ever, however lyrically there are incredibly serious underlying themes; death, religion, and even forbidden love.

What’s great about this album is that these somewhat sinister themes are totally disguised by the pure brilliance of the tracks themselves. The lead single, Diane Young, has practically been played on repeat on Radio 1 since its release in March, and it is pretty much impossible to listen to without finding a massive grin forming on your face. Similarly Finger Back and Worship You are especially uplifting.

As well as these, there are some slowed down, lullaby tracks to break it up a little. Obvious Bicycle and Step provide the break to stop and catch your breath, with stunning vocals and poetic lyrics.

And of course, no album is complete without a big powerful love song. Hannah Hunt is the romantic belter in the middle of this album. It’s a favourite among fans and is probably the song that best flaunts singer Ezra Koenig’s exquisite vocals.

In truth, every track on this album is uniquely fantastic. It’s easy to listen to from start to finish and definitely will not disappoint.

Jessie Drabble


You could call them the “little brothers” of beloved Birmingham bands Swim Deep and Peace, however, JAWS are very quickly catching up with them to achieve “big deal” status. Their support slots for Swim Deep, and first partially headline tour were electrifying to witness, and their Milkshake EP, released in April, was an absolute gem.

Their latest track, Gold, was officially premiered by Huw Stephens on Radio 1 last night, and is every bit as good as (if not better than) all their other material.

The lyrics and vocals are typically JAWS; lazy and mostly about sunshine or beaches. Connor Schoffield’s sleepy voice croons, Take me where the gold drips from the sun to my back.

With excellent drumming and soft, uplifting riffs, it makes for the perfect summer belter and could well be their very own King City or Bloodshake.

Jessie Drabble


Band Feature: Hill Valley High

Hill Valley High are a 5 piece alternative pop band consisting of Phil Marsh (lead vocals), Olly Holmes (Guitar/vocals), Scott Evans (bass/vocals), Joe Mason (guitar/vocals) and Danny Hall (drums). After forming in 2006 in Telford, England, they are finally making a name for themselves. Together they produce exuberant and exciting alternative pop/rock that can match any mood.

Their infectious tunes crowned them 2nd place in the Redbull ‘Bedroom Jam’ competition, which gave the band a chance to play at some of the best known festivals in the UK, such as T In The Park, Download and Sonisphere to name a few.  They have also extensively toured the States and Brazil, as well as playing a bunch of local gigs. Their energetic live shows and persistance has allowed the band to garner a loyal group of fans, who helped launch a MySpace campaign back in 2009 to help the band achieve an opening slot opening for Mcfly on their Brazilian tour.  Though this was unsuccessful, their fan base had now become international. They have since secured opening slots with big names such as Tinie Tempah, Madina Lake and Mayday Parade.

The band released a memorable debut EP in 2012, which was produced by Larry Hibbit (Hundred Reasons) and it shows that Hill Valley High have the talent to be around for some time to come. No one can fault their enthusiasm or passion for music, yet they seem to have received little acknowledgement. I expect with their newly announced UK tour; they’ll generate some of the love they deserve.

By Mollie Butlin

See if they are touring near you
Find them on Twitter or Facebook

Band Feature: Hill Valley High


Review: Bravestation - IV

Toronto natives, Bravestation, emerge with a brand new offering of innovative tracks ready to become the sound of summer.  With contagious beats and fragile lyrics; a sense of innocence pervades the four tracks.  This EP is late nights and sunsets on the beach, so if that sounds like your thing: this most certainly will be. With sounds similar to the likes of The Other Tribe; it was refreshing to hear the band producing their own signature sound- which has heaps of potential and recently labelled as ‘apocalyptic pop’.  ‘IV’ moves beyond their previously set standards and is an impressive step forward in the progression of their music.

Bravestation have layered various profound beats, twinkling keys and harmonious vocals and as hectic as that sounds- it works. As singer Devin Wilson gracefully swoons partially indistinguishable lyrics on first track “All We Have is us”, over the sound of spaced-out guitars, it’s in real contrast with the most vivacious track “Ancient Kids” which is energy infused, but still maintains the spirit of their sound. Wilson’s pensive vocals on poignant track “Rain Child”, add a hint of delicacy to the ethereal electronics. Whereas the bubbly nature and faultless synth beats on “Somewhere We Belong”, come together to create their strongest electronic affair to date.

It’s hard to put your finger on where Bravestation fit in to the music spectrum and also what it’s all about. Whilst being the breezy but fun fix needed for those summer nights, there’s something missing in the trio’s frantic compilation. Even though ‘IV’ makes for a great evening stroll soundtrack; the sound became repetitive and it could make for a lacklustre and tiresome live set. But one or two will definitely make it to the summer playlist of 2013 nonetheless.

Overall Rating: 7/10

By Mollie Butlin
Check ‘IV’ out here: https://soundcloud.com/bravestation/sets/iv 
Find them on Twitter and Facebook


Music in Portsmouth/ Southsea Bandstand Summer Sessions

I’d like to challenge the notion that there is nothing to do in Portsmouth, particularly for a music lover like myself.

Although I often find myself travelling to Brighton or Southampton for gigs, I consider the Wedgewood Rooms in Southsea my second home. It hosts some of the best small acts that the alternative music scene has to offer, and the atmosphere there is unlike that of any other venue.

I have also seen some spectacular larger-scale shows at the Guildhall which were a fantastic experience.

Yesterday, however, I decided to try something totally different, and headed to the bandstand on Southsea common for the “New and Original” summer session.

What attracted me in the first place was the fact that Hampshire based band New Desert Blues were headlining. I had recently seen them supporting Swim Deep at Southampton Joiners, Britain’s best small venue according to NME. They were incredible.

To my disappointment, the band pulled out due to illness. Kassassin Street were shifted to the headline spot.

After flipping through the 7”s at Pie and Vinyl, Southsea’s unique and independent record store/ café, I headed down to the seafront with my hot 3 cheese pasty just in time for Murdoch. Just a few songs in and they already had most of the 2000 strong crowd on their feet. They even covered Daft Punk’s Get Lucky, which went down exceptionally well.

Next were the Planes; 3 Julian Casablancas lookalikes, plus drummer, with infectious tracks comparable to The Kooks and Razorlight.

Kassasin Street ended the afternoon with a bang. Their energy encapsulated the whole crowd, and the dance floor was alive with activity. They were fantastic headliners.

The bandstand sessions run every Sunday to the end of August. They are absolutely free and a great way to check out the local talent.

 

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Murdoch

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Kassasin Street

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Gig-goers down south may have had the pleasure of seeing local band New Desert Blues playing in small venues in Southampton or Portsmouth, and hearing exquisite demos Daniel and Thom amongst others. As good as they were however, they are not a patch on their debut single Adam, for which the video was released last week. The haunting vocals and mellow riffs make for an infectious track that is comparable to the sound of UNKLE and Mona. It’s perfect debut, and the future is looking very promising for them.

Jessie Drabble


Review: Peace @ Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms 23/04/13

Having recently opened up for this year’s NME Awards Tour, and released their debut album In Love, which reached number 16 in the UK album chart, Birmingham based quartet Peace have earned a huge amount of hype surrounding them, and last night they were welcomed to the Portsmouth Wedgewood rooms by an audience of 500, most of whom were in their teens and dressed to the nines in tie die and sequins, trying to replicate the band’s own psychedelic style.

Their devoted fan base has grown exponentially since the release of their stunning EP Delicious last September, and this made for an electric atmosphere from the moment fans started queuing (6.00pm!) until the band left the stage.

Warming up for them were Superfood, fellow brummies with a fun and energetic set to kick the night off. They closed with their groovy self-titled track Superfood, their only song that has officially been made available to the public, which was particularly impressive. As well as this, it was great to hear their other material for the first time, and they certainly made it clear that Birmingham is the place for music right now.

Peace arrived on stage to an ecstatic crowd, from which came clamorous chants of “If you all love Peace, clap your hands!” They opened with Delicious, a track taken from their debut album, which had the crowd singing and dancing to every word from the off.

Throughout their set, the buzz and activity in the crowd was non-stop. As someone who witnessed the whole gig from the barrier, I can say that I felt the full force of it. The audience surged forward on every beat in an attempt to get just one step closer to dreamy frontman Harrison Koisser.

A particular highlight of the set was Float Forever, which Harrison introduced as “The emotional one”. This was another album track which provoked the biggest sing along I may have ever heard in such a small venue. To watch everybody sing in unison was a sight to behold and a beautiful part of the evening.

When Harrison announced that for their final song they were going to play a track from their EP that was “Really really really long”, piercing screams erupted instantly from the audience. It was of course, 1998, a Binary Finary track which the band so brilliantly reinvented into a 10 minute epic and a favourite among fans. It was the track that everybody had been waiting for, and the ambience throughout its entirety was utterly euphoric.

It goes without saying then, that the crowd had had nowhere near enough by the time Peace left the stage, and chanted “One more song! One more song!” until they returned to perform California Daze. It was an interesting choice for the encore, due to its slow tempo and emotional character, but it still went down incredibly well and had everybody singing along.

Finally, Peace played Bloodshake, arguably the first track that made everybody fall in love (If you’ll excuse the pun) with them in the first place. It was a brilliant way to end the night, and the audience were on cloud nine throughout it. Guitarist Doug Castle went into the crowd only to be almost ripped to shreds by hysterical fans and pulled back by security.

The whole evening was electric, and it’s clear that this band have a hugely keen and dedicated following, which is what made their show so intimate and special.

 Jessie Drabble

 

 


Review: King Charles @ Brighton Haunt 17/04/13

Nearly one year after His stunning debut album, King Charles’ reign over the UK is still going strong, and rightly so.  Suited to his name, King Charles Graced the Brighton haunt with his eccentric and witty presence that attracted a procession of teenagers and this particular date had sold out. The evening would generally showcase the best of Loveblood and a handful of new tracks to tingle our taste buds.

Opening with new offering ‘MMM’, there was a strong buzz of excitement amongst the audience- a buzz that was ever growing until obvious crowd pleaser ‘Bam Bam’ played and it was then the crowd started letting go and beginning the usual gig antics.
 After bringing special guest Jessica to the stage, who lent her dazzling vocals to new song ‘Love Is War’, it was clear that his fresh material was stepping up his unique sound even further and  These new tracks went down just as well as typical favourites ‘Mississippi Isabel’ and ‘Love Lust’, which reassured all faith in his awaited second record.

We were all captivated from the start, and it was hard not to be due to the king’s electrifying and vibrant performance.  But the definite highlight was the encore, in which he covered Billy Joel’s renowned ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’, he even took the time to edit in references to Thatcher and others- updating and putting a spin on a classic. An immaculate and impressive finish to a fantastic evening.
 Whilst flaunting his lyrical abilities on tracks such as ‘Ivory Road’, his marvellous theatrics, along with his flamboyance and garishness, its obvious King Charles knows how to put on a good show, and so effortlessly too. Long live the king.

-Mollie Butlin