Tag Archives: Fierce Panda Records

The Crookes Release New Single, Don’t Put Your Faith In Me

The Crookes consist of George Waite (vocals/bass), Daniel Hopewell (guitar), Tom Dakin (guitar) and Russell Bates (drums). They live in Sheffield and infamously found (most of) each other, bleary of eye and dancing alone, on the indie dance floor at the city’s Fuzz Club near the close of the previous decade.

Five years, 40-odd songs and hundreds of live shows down the line, The Crookes are now hardly lacking in fans, followers or worthwhile friends but Don’t Put Your Faith In Me – the second single from their Soapbox album, itself released on fierce panda on April 14 (their third, which makes The Crookes the first band to release three albums on fierce panda since Death Cab For Cutie a decade ago) – still sees them revel in the role of loners.

You can catch The Crookes live on the following dates:

MAY 17 MILAN Lofi
MAY 18 MANTOVA Tresor
MAY 20 ZURICH Exil
MAY 21 LAUSANNE Bleu Lezard
MAY 22 LILLE La Peniche
MAY 23 AMSTERDAM Paradiso
MAY 31 SHEFFIELD Leadmill (Homecoming show)

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The Crookes – Soapbox Album Review

Sheffield’s hard-grafting purveyors of incisive indie pop The Crookes have announced the release of their new album Soapbox on Monday 14 April via fierce panda records on CD, LP and digitally.

The Crookes consist of George Waite (vocals /bass), Daniel Hopewell (guitar), Tom Dakin (guitar) and Russell Bates (drums).

The Crookes

The Crookes Soapbox album artwork

Soapbox saw the band forego the studio-related home comforts of South Yorkshire and instead drive their gear and recording facilities to the Alpine wilds of Italy at the start of winter. If these pleasures were a wayward distraction then the band’s sense of isolation manifested itself in Soapbox, a record which is littered with put downs and push offs.

The album kick starts with recent single release, Play Dumb. Play Dumb has a brilliantly crafted chorus, “I’m under your thumb/I’m trying hard not to play dumb/But I don’t need you no more/I’m waking up dumb…” The thumping drum beat introduces the track and is bound to get you moving. Play Dumb is worthy of being a single release; its upbeat, fast tempo makes this song instantly irresistible.

Don’t Put Your Faith In Me has a slightly darker tone than the previous track. The vocals are more paramount on this track and the music more simplified. The bass riff carries this song. There’s a little bit of doo-wop style in this song. It sounds like a 1950s diner ballad.

The next track Echolalia has a 1980s sound to it. The music has a lot of 80s influences giving it that old yet modern soundscape style. The rhythm guitar is minimal whereas the bass is pushed to the forefront giving it that punch. Echolalia has layers of instrumentation which keeps this song interesting. The way Waite sings “Echolalia” is beautiful.

Before The Night Falls has influences of Pete Doherty in Babyshambles in the vocals. The Crookes’ indie sound is mixed with a doo-wop style and dramatic chorus making it the perfect indulgence. It has drama and emotion as well as a dance-able beat.

Holy Innocents is the ballad of the album. The vocals are accompanied by a simplistic yet tear-jerking piano melody and sad vocals where Waite’s voice cracks occasionally. The lyrics are beautiful and tell a narrative, “Maybe I remember every word you ever said/As day bled to night from the corner of your bed/I swear to God we were holy innocents/Your friends all bore me why can’t we be alone/I don’t want to speak to no-one else/I just want to hide like holy innocents/I met you at the fountain outside the station/Nothing else matters except dull conversation/Our whole world and holy innocents…” This song is entirely different from the rest of the songs on Soapbox and is a true representation of this band’s musical abilities and variety.

Marcy is the rockiest track on the record by far. It has punch and energy. The vocals have a distorted effect giving it that rock edge. The vocals are much less controlled than on the previous tracks, “Marcy my dear you got me strung out”. You’re bound to love this track instantly.

Soapbox, the title track of record, ends the record and what a song to go out on. Its fast tempo and high pitched, scattered guitar riffs bring energy and life to the end of the album. The guitar riffs almost sound like improvisation which gives Soapbox a unique feel.

Soapbox is a wonderful album full of lows and heartache yet the songs’ upbeat tempos and summery vibes help to give this record a pleasant feel. There’s a lot to be said for The Crookes’ sound. You’ll find something to love here.

The Crookes’ new album, Soapbox, is due out on 14 April via fierce panda records.

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Fierce Panda To Release Compilation CD To Celebrate Twenty Year Anniversary

The fierce panda record company turned 20 years old on February 24. To mark this somewhat surprising event the label is releasing an 18-track compilation comprised of some of the weepiest tunes it has released over the past ten years.

Due for release as its own separate entity on Monday 7 April, the album is called endangered: fierce panda 2004–2014 and will be given away to anyone and everyone who buys a record from the online shop at www.fiercepanda.co.uk.

The endangered: fierce panda 2004–2014 track listing is below:

WOODPIGEON The Saddest Music In The World

MILO GREENE Son My Son

GOLDHEART ASSEMBLY Last Decade

THE WALKMEN In The New Year

THE HOSTS Would You Be Blue

THE CROOKES Howl

ACRES OF LIONS Collections

DINGUS KHAN Made A List

ART BRUT Rusted Guns Of Milan

THE RAVEONETTES Last Dance

HATCHAM SOCIAL Sidewalk

DEPARTMENT M J-Hop

HEY SHOLAY The Bears The Bees The Clocks

THE SPINTO BAND They All Laughed

MELANIE PAIN How Bad Can It Be

TOM HICKOX Let Me Be Your Lover

I LIKE TRAINS A Rook House For Bobby

ULTRASOUND Sovereign

In 1994 fierce panda records was invented by three NME journalists in The Blue Posts on Tottenham Court Road. Their intentions were clear: to release the Shagging In The Streets EP, the double-vinyl six-track tribute to the magnesium flare which was The New Wave Of New Wave, and then call it a day – you don’t call yourself something as trite as fierce panda if you intend to make it to Christmas. That day was February 24 and would never be the same again.

Time, as tends to be the case, has moved on: The Blue Posts is now a Boots chemist and The New Wave Of New Wave is now a footnote in the NME scene-inventing filing cabinet. Unbelievably however fierce panda has survived against several odds, flourishing throughout the end of the previous century with a cavalcade of cheery one-off singles and cripplingly cheekily-titled compilation EPs like Mortal Wombat and Otter Than July. And Songs About Plucking. And Screecher Comforts…the list is endless.

Indeed, in 2004 fierce panda records released decade: ten years of fierce panda, a compilation album which hauled together a savvy selection of those pivotal singles and early nuggets from the likes of Placebo, Ash, The Bluetones, Idlewild, Coldplay, Keane, Death Cab For Cutie and – but of course – Winnebago Deal.

Time, as still tends to be the case, has moved on again. Having retired from the world of one-off singles in 2006 fierce panda has been attempting to make some kind of sense in a music industry gone mad. There is fierce panda songs for publishing, there is fierce panda management for managing, there is even fierce panda books for, umm, booking. And there have been fierce panda albums. Lots and lots of lovely great big grown up albums.

Which bring us rather too neatly to endangered: fierce panda 2004–2014, a compilation album which starts with The Saddest Music In The World by Woodpigeon and ends with one of the saddest songs in the world in Sovereign by Ultrasound. In between is a gentle, genteel and occasionally very grumpy emotional rollercoaster ride through the past ten years of slow-moving independent chaos. The artwork is cribbed from The Hurting by Tears For Fears. The vibe is taken from a deserted old man’s pub in the middle of a long, lost afternoon. All 18 songs are culled from the multitude of fierce panda albums and mini-albums released since 2004.

Perversely, for a record which pertains to be a Best Of… collection, several of the tracks on the compilation were never released as singles because they were too long, too languid or just too damn lovely. Even more perversely, some of these languid, lovely, too-long tracks were actually released as singles. What fierce panda do know is that, far from those early snotty New Wave Of New Wave-raving days in The Blue Posts, two of these bands have recently been playlisted on the comfy airwaves of Radio 2 and another six of them should have been.

Terrible sacrifices have been made. Because all the tracks are off albums, they’ve had to leave behind classic fierce panda one-off singles from Battle, The Maccabees, Boy Kill Boy and Dead Disco. Because all of the compilation tracks are endeavouring to capture a sense of slow-moving sadness, they have had to leave out the heavy monster sounds of Hawk Eyes, The Blackout and The Computers. And how How Come You Don’t Hold Me No More by Welsh Wonders The Hot Puppies – who put the ABBA into Aberystwyth – isn’t on here only the traumatised compiler knows.

endangered: fierce panda 2004 – 2014 sees the record label going from Shagging In The Streets to sobbing under the sheets. It’s been one heck of a journey. endangered: fierce panda 2004 – 2014 will be released on 7 April.

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The Hosts – Softly, Softly Album Review

The Hosts are from Sheffield. They are five smartly-attired gentlemen from the North and they have been smoldering away in the musical margins, waiting in their waistcoats for their moment to shine. Signing to Fierce Panda Records, they announce the release of their debut album Softly, Softly on CD and digitally on Monday 10 February 2014, with their single September Song following a week later. It is one of two tracks on the album recorded by local compatriot, Richard Hawley.

The Hosts consist of Tom Hogg (vocals, guitar), Jim Fisher (keyboards), Jamie Shipley (guitar), David Glover (bass) and Adam Crofts (drums).

Earlier in 2013, the quintet tickled the underbelly of the mainstream beast with September Song (a self release) and Give Your Love To Her (on Label Fandango), two raffish slabs of retro alternative pop which represented the missing link between Roy Orbison and Richard Hawley and which waltzed all over BBC 6 Music and Radio 2.

September Song – itself reissued as a Fierce Panda single on 17 February – and Give Your Love To Her appear on Softly, Softly, alongside another eight slabs of melody-powered melancholy. Fittingly, a couple of these songs – tracks one and two – were actually produced by local compatriot Hawley while another of them is a version of The Big O’s In Dreams.

In The Hosts’ world no chorus can be big enough. No sentiment can be bitter sweet enough. No emotion can be a deep enough shade of blue. All of which befits a band whose wall-of-soundscape has been known to take in Buddy Holly, Phil Spector, The Velvet Underground, The Beach Boys and Jonathan Fire*Eater.

Tellingly, Softly, Softly is released on the week of Valentine’s Day, for as the band themselves say: “With its euphoric highs and sentimental lows Softly, Softly paints a picture of modern romance in vivid Techno-colour. It is a journey that mirrors the band’s own highs and lows and one which finds them waiting, now ready to catch their monkey.”

The Hosts make quite the perfect live guests too: they’ve toured with Paul Weller, The Walkmen and Cold War Kids and played their broken hearts out with Mr Hawley, Cherry Ghost and other such sombre cats. Because out of that darkness and out of those shadows comes light and so it is that The Hosts are preparing for the launch of Softly, Softly.

The Hosts

Sheffield’s retro pop band, The Hosts

Track one Would You Be Blue allows this record to snap straight into action. The song resembles a romantic Christmas number with its dramatic melodies and passionate lyrics, “When I said I’d be true/When I said only you/Why on Earth would you be blue?” It’s a retro pop song full of dramatic beats, chiming bells and rhythms you can click your fingers to which, when added together, creates an atmospheric 1950s Rock ‘n’ Roll feel.

September Song feels like a Green Day song when it starts (that’s if Green Day were an alternative retro pop band). The vocals are very Billie Joe Armstrong sounding and rightly so, seeing as Billie Joe and Norah Jones released a tribute album to the Everly Brothers last November.

The One is a very 1950s Rock ‘n’ Roll inspired track with clear influences from Roy Orbison being heard in this track. The verse, “Remember all the suitors in your dreams/It’s funny how they all looked just like me/You were holding out for something that can’t be/Do you remember?/How you danced away that starry, starry night/Hoping for those feelings you can’t fight/I told you in the end you would be mine/Do you remember?” is very sweetly written and sung. It tugs at the heart and allows you to go a little bit teary eyed. The chorus then helps to emphasise the love that inspired this song even more, “I’ll be the one who will know you/The one who will hold you/The one you will run to/In the night/I’ll be the one who will love you/This time I will show you/The one who will make you remember”. Add these gooey lyrics to the swayable, finger clicking melodies and you have the perfect pop love song.

The Hosts Softly, Softly

The Hosts Softly, Softly album artwork

In Dreams starts with deeper vocals and the simple strum of a guitar before those 50s inspired rhythms set in. You can’t help but enjoy The Hosts’ music – it’s catchy, loving, affectionate, fun, emotional and tuneful. The Hosts won’t fail to get your feet moving, your head bobbing and your body swaying in time to their delightful melodies. In Dreams instantly sounds vintage – it’s a classic, love-me-do pop song.

With You is quite a sad number on Softly, Softly compared to the other tracks which, although some may be sad in terms of subject, generally have happy or uplifting sounding melodies. With You is a lot darker and more sinister with the lyrics, “As I lay here in fields of snow I’ll wait my turn when the whistle blows/I’ll climb to the stars/But I’m cold/I’m so cold/These tears travel dry as my mind flashes by/When I sit at home one winters night/And see the kids and watch them fight/Those moments pass so slow/With you/With you…” illustrating the love loss and heartache felt. It’s a really deep song that won’t fail to get your eyes welling up with tears.

The Hosts produce brilliant, vintage pop which is refreshing to hear. There’s none of the cheesy boy band rubbish – they are taking pop back to how it used to be known; The Monkees, Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison. They are taking pop back to something to be proud of, not embarrassed by. Softly, Softly is an explosion of drama, emotion, swinging pop melodies and wonderfully silky vocals. It’s an album to get in 2014.

Softly, Softly will be released on February 10 through Fierce Panda Records.

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