Monthly Archives: April 2014

Cousins To Release New Album, Halls Of Wickwire

Cousins, the big and booming duo of Aaron Mangle and Leigh Dotey, are releasing their new album, Halls Of Wickwire, on May 13. It will be a co-release with Ba Da Bing and Hand Drawn Dracula.

After several years of skin shedding metamorphosis, near-endless north American touring, two full length albums and a string of limited edition releases on various formats and labels, they’ve grown up, they sound refreshed and unencumbered by the weight of the region or their own history. Produced by Graham Walsh (holy fuck, Metz, Hannah Georgas) Halls Of Wickwire is warm and fully blasted and it’s a recording that finally matches their powerful live shows.

The first song to be released from the album, Mess, is a perfect indication of the volume to come. A driving drumbeat builds to an explosive chorus while the guitar mops up the wreckage left behind.

You can catch Cousins live on the following dates:

* with Chad Vangaalen

May 14 :: Boston, MA :: TT The Bear’s Place *

May 15 :: Brooklyn, NY :: Bell House *

May 16 :: Philadelphia, PA :: Milkboy *

May 17 :: Washington, DC :: Rock N Roll Hotel *

May 18 :: Pittsburgh, PA :: Brillobox *

May 19 :: Cincinnati, OH :: MOTR Pub *

May 20 :: Columbus, OH :: The Basement *

May 21 :: Indianapolis, IN :: Do317 Lounge *

May 22 :: Chicago, IL :: Empty Bottle *

May 23 :: Pontiac, MI :: Pike Room *

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Flatcat – Heartless Machine Album Review

Heartless Machine is Flatcat’s first album in eight years. Flatcat are from Bruges, Belgium and their newest album, Heartless Machine, has recently been released on Eye Spy Records.

This is the band’s third and most labour-intensive studio release to date. In the last two years Dieter “Minx” Meyns (vocals/guitar) learned all about recording music with only one goal: to record most of the new Flatcat album himself. This explains the long wait…

Over the last two years, the band acquired professional recording gear to take care of vocals, guitars and bass themselves to leave only the recording of drums up to Dé Studio in Belgium (that also recorded Flatcat’s debut album back in 2002). In search for the ultimate punk rock sounding album, Minx made an appointment and had an intensive talk with Bill Stevenson (Descendents/Black Flag) after the Descendents show at Groezrock 2011.

The band decided to work with Bill and Jason Livermore who mixed and mastered the album at The Blasting Room in Fort Collins, Colorado. The result is Heartless Machine.

First stand out track is Loose Tongues which has influences of Sum41, classic Green Day and Jimmy Eat World in it. It’s punk rock done in the American style. It’s the sort of music you used to love in your teens and a slight guilty pleasure.

Title track Heartless Machine has a darker, grungier sound to it. It’s got a good sing along chorus that will be perfect for live shows, “Here we go again/It all looks so well-rehearsed/Dragging me back in/Thought I was blessed but I am cursed/You must be/You must be the most vicious girl I’ve ever seen/You heartless machine.”

The Maladjusted is a punchy, punk rock, teenage rebellion track. It’s the distorted guitar that kicks this song off. On this song, Flatcat sound very similar to Simple Plan’s original pop/punk rock sound they introduced to the music industry back in 1999. Flatcat seem to have a knack for writing great sing along choruses, “Spat out by your loved ones/Condemned by those we trusted/If growing up means giving in/Call us the maladjusted.”

Take Shelter is another song that has an incredibly catchy chorus which is instantly recognisable even if you’ve only heard this song once. Take Shelter is the sort of song you’ll want to hear again. It has a surprisingly summery upbeat guitar riff which kicks it off alongside the fast tempo drums. There are elements of Blink 182 that can be heard in this song. Take Shelter explores the idea of isolation and loneliness through cleverly written metaphorical lyrics: “I wonder if you hear it too the rolling thunder/Am I alone feeling the rain ‘cause I’m going under/Don’t want to get caught in the storm/I need to take shelter.”

Leech will get your feet tapping – it just suits a summer afternoon driving around in your car, “You’re a leech sucking my blood/Trying to drain me but I’m holding strong/You’re a leech sucking my blood/And you’ve been doing it too long/Doing it too long.”

Not What I Signed Up For features an acoustic start to the track which is refreshing after all the punk rock focus in the other songs. The vocals seem softer and are very Billy Joe Armstrong inspired. The music seems chirpier and more stripped back than the previous tracks. It has a happier sound despite the lyrics, “This is not what I signed up for/This is not what I had in mind…”.

The Great Escape is the best track on Heartless Machine. There are folk influences heard in the guitar riff which is a first for this record. It sounds like a completely different band as Flatcat introduce Mumford and Sons influences into parts of the track. The Great Escape has that upbeat folk tempo that blends perfectly with the “Oh oh oh oh/I I I I/ Won’t let you down” chorus. It’s the penultimate track on the record and is a brilliant one at that.

Flatcat’s Heartless Machine is out now via Eye Spy Records.

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Subrosa – Solar, Lunar, Polar EP Review

New band from London, Subrosa, have recently released their latest EP, Solar, Lunar, Polar.

The Solar, Lunar, Polar EP sees this band introduce their explosive and soundscape sound in three perfectly formed tracks. Introductory track, Steal Our Love, demonstrates Subrosa’s soundscape qualities; it has a dramatic and filmic style. The vocals, “Steal our love/Out of their hands…” are catchy and melodic making it an attractive song to listen to. The only downside is that Steal Our Love does have slightly indecipherable vocals in places. But this isn’t always a bad thing as you’re drawn in by the instruments and the melody that’s carried through the song by the vocals rather than being hung up on the lyrics.

The second track Hands Around has a little bit of indie influences such as the likes of The Editors in it. Hands Around features a great drum beat that keeps the fast tempo. There’s a superb break down towards the end of the track where the drums take a back seat, the continuous scattering guitar slows to a soft guitar riff and the bass steps to the front. The vocals are the most clear here allowing those David Bowie influences to be heard.

The final song that features on the EP, Crests, recaptures that dramatic and filmic sound that began the EP. Crests thrives on crashing drums and desperate vocals, “We’re in this together/We’re coming to the end of each other/End of each other/End of each other…” It’s a song whose style mimics the start of the EP allowing it to end symmetrically.

Subrosa’s Solar, Lunar, Polar is out now.

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Amen Dunes’ New Single, I Can’t Dig It, Online Now

Amen Dunes is just off a tour supporting Mac DeMarco and in the midst of a run with Thee Silver Mt. Zion, Damon McMahon’s Amen Dunes offers an entirely different vibe present on forthcoming album, Love, with new song I Can’t Dig It. This follows previously shared tracks, Lonely Richard and Lilac In Hand from the forthcoming LP out May 12 via Sacred Bones.

Featuring Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s Efrim Menuck (lead guitar) and Colin Stetson (sax) alongside Parker Kindred (drums, percussion) and Damon (piano, synths, rhythm guitar, vocals) who wrote the song in China, I Can’t Dig It celebrates all the good ways of failing.

Amen Dunes

Amen Dunes

Amen Dunes, the project of New York-based Damon McMahon, is set to release his third full-length album Love on March 12 via Sacred Bones. The upcoming album is inarguably McMahon’s most focused and ambitious work yet. Amen Dunes has always been rooted in traditional song and sound but Love is his first work in which this so clearly shines through. The guiding influence of Astral Weeks, Sam Cooke, Tim Hardin, Marvin Gaye, Hector Lavoe and the cosmic non-verbal mediations of Leon Thomas, all kept vigil over the songwriting of Love, and the spirit of late 60’s/early 70’s spiritual jazz of Pharaoh Sanders and Alice Coltrane channeled the sound. These are elemental songs about time, love and memory, as much about the listener as they are about the writer: pure, open and beautiful.

Amen Dunes was born out of a collection of songs made in the autumn of 2006 in upstate New York. They were originally personal recordings not intended for release but after moving to China for a while, the tapes were released to unexpected critical acclaim back in New York. The intimate sentiment shines through on the new album more so than any previous release and the result is simply the most substantial Amen Dunes record to date.

You can catch Amen Dunes live on the following dates:

19 May – The Old Market ( w/Mac de Marco), Brighton UK
21 May – Sound Control (w/ Mac de Marco), Manchester UK
22 May – Koko (w/Mac de Marco), London UK
23 May – OT301, Amsterdam, NL
24 May – Espace B, Paris, FR
28 May – Westgermany , Berlin, DE
29 May – Trix, Antwerp BE
30 May – Salle Rogier Brussels, BE
3 June – Electric Ballroom (w/ Wooden Shjips), London UK
31 July – OFF Festival Poland, PL
08 Aug – Way Out West Festival Sweden, SE
15 Aug – Jabberwocky Festival, London UK
27 Sept – Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia UK

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Introducing…James Bay

Hailing from Hitchin, Hertfordshire, James was discovered by Republic Records after a fan uploaded a video of him performing in a Kentish Town pub to YouTube. After months of playing open mic nights in both Brighton and London, James was flown to New York and signed his record deal. In 2013 he released Dark of the Morning EP and is set to release new music this year. He has supported John Newman, Kodaline, Tom Odell, Beth Orton and The Rolling Stones at their 2013 Hyde Park shows.

James Bay’s new single Let It Go was produced by Jacquire King (Kings of Leon, Of Monsters and Men) and is a heartfelt bookend to a past relationship which James admits was “super personal and quite hard to write. It outlines the point in a relationship where you think that you should perhaps put it all to bed. We tried it again and we tried really hard. Maybe we can just be friends and let it go. It’s really honest and I got something off my chest.”

As Bay said this song is really personal and this can be felt in the way that he sings it. There’s true emotion and passion in this voice. You’d have to have a heart made of stone not to have a tear in your eye at the end of this song. His lyrics are beautiful, “From throwing clothes across the floor/To teeth and claws and slamming doors at you/If this is all we’re living for/Why are we doing it doing it doing it anymore?/I used to recognise myself it’s funny how reflections change/We’re becoming something else I think it’s time to walk away”. Bay’s voice is reminiscent of James Morrison’s with hints of soul and blues influences. It’s strong, dynamic and interesting. His style is unique – you’ll be instantly attracted to his music.

Let It Go is out now.

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