NEW MUSIC: Drens – All My Friends Got Time

Super catchy summer vibes on this recently released track from Drens, who hail from Dortmund, Germany – apparently Europe’s capital of moustache style!

‘All My Friends Got Time’ is a bouncy, slacker surf track which comes from their new Pet Peeves EP. I can hear bands like Girls and Black Lips in their sound and they pull it off well, never forgetting the simple joy of hooks and killer melodies. A mad gaming-themed video clip too. Surf’s up!

SPECIAL SOUNDS FOR STRANGE TIMES

Over the last few months, one of the things many people have been turning to during periods of isolation during the pandemic is music. Music for distraction, companionship, solace and joy. Whatever the reason, putting on a favourite album or discovering something new that pulls you in and hits the spot, intellectually or emotionally, can be a great and wonderful experience. In this series we check in with musicians, journalists and broadcasters to see what has inspired repeat listening and provided some special sounds for these strange times.

First up is Darren Cross, he of Gerling and Jep and Dep fame who has most recently been releasing solo material as D.C Cross. Under that moniker he’s created two excellent albums (Ecstatic Racquet (2019), Terabithian (2020)) that blend American Primitive guitar stylings with arcane English folk picking and immersive washes of new age-inspired drone and ambience.

Leonard Cohen – Songs of Love and Hate (1971)

When it’s cold near/in winter time, I love to listen to depressing music. I don’t know, it’s just the way it is. One year, in the coldest house I have ever lived, Jack Elias’ Chopping Board was the winter breakfast album in our Alaskan house kitchen. A local songsmith, influenced by Cohen but even bleaker than Cohen, the half Lebanese guy Elias really hits you were it hurts.

Songs of Love and Hate has been flipped on the record player many a time during this Covid time. Its weird, I watched the Cohen documentary Bird On Wire for the first time recently. It’s about a 20 date tour that ended up in Israel in the 70’s where Cohen and his band are tripping balls on LSD and he is crying during his performance of S’o Long Marianne’ – mind blowing!

The guitar on Songs of Love and Hate is astounding – highlighting what Cohen calls “his chops” – his distinct picking style. This album is tender and angry and evil all at once… and the sentiment is perfect for a heartless winter.

Trumans Water – 10X My Age EP (1993)

When I was a wee lad in the 90’s, Trumans Water really blew my mind. Hailing from San Diego around the time Pavement appeared, (before Pavement ended up sounding like the the Verve) Trumans Water were deconstructionist – dismantling pop-grunge-math-rock that sounded like Captain Beefheart playing the angriest parts of Sonic Youth but 10x angrier, while collapsing down an eternal staircase to infinity.

I bought this 10 inch as I just had to hear these songs on vinyl. I mean one song is just a lo-fi recording of the drummer trying to learn the drum beat (bit annoying) but tracks like ‘Empty Queen II’ and ‘Enflamed’ still impress the hell out of me.

I recently found a rad doco about the San Diego punk scene called It’s Gonna Blow!!! – San Diego’s Music Underground 1986-1996 – which was unfindable online until recent times. I am pretty sure the title of the film comes from the Trumans Water anthem ‘Aroma Of Gina Arnold’ which is another of my favourite Trumans songs. Hunt this down. Such a great band. The artwork of the albums was really inspirational as well, long before collage and dadaism became a hipster staple.

Liquid Mind – Liquid Mind I : Ambience Minimus (1994)

Being a restaurant DJ and working on Saturday mornings as a thrift store sorter (go through the garbage, mould, urns of dead people, to find things to sell to rich people in rich areas) was playing havoc on my sleeping patterns. DJ’ing until 3am (playing ‘Thriller’ to 20 year olds on MDMA) then getting up to work and sort through the junk was really whacking me out (so I quit the sorting job). Not being able to sleep led me to those YouTube ambient music sets of three hours of buzzing electronic drone sounds that hypnotise you into sleepy slumberland submission. Luckily for me I really love those sounds and dug a bit deeper and found Chuck Wild, the godfather of 90’s ambient music.

Chuck Wild’s Liquid Mind I : Ambience Minimus (1994) is probably my favourite and it seemed really fitting, during these Covid times, to reach for this CD and sail away on cloud Chuck.

Chuck Wild went from doing the music composition on that crazy, ground-breaking 80’s, MTV-loving TV show Max Headroom, to a nervous breakdown where he stunningly chose meditation over medication and help invent 90’s ambient music.

The first track, ‘Zero Degrees Zero’ goes for over 28 minutes and like the most of this album, creates understated wooshes of pure 90’s ecstasy drone candy. This album has made me fell less anxious in this really weird and eerie time of self-isolation.

Coffee. Sleep. Sitting on the couch. More sleep. Trying to forget I can’t travel overseas to see my friends in Europe. Play guitar. Beer. Forgetting Covid – Liquid Mind I : Ambience Minimus – Suits my many moods. Repeat. Repeat.

NEWS: IDLES announce new LP Ultra Mono

IDLES are back with a new album called Ultra Mono that will be released on September 25th, 2020.

Accompanying today’s announcement, the band have shared album highlight and thunderous call-to-action Grounds’ alongside a music video (dir. by Rob French). 

Recorded in Paris and produced by Nick Launay (Nick Cave, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Arcade Fire) and Adam ‘Atom’ Greenspan (Anna Calvi, Cut Copy), with Kenny Beats (FKA Twigs, DaBaby, Vince Staples) providing additional programming, Ultra Mono was sonically constructed to capture the feeling of a hip-hop record. Across all twelve brutally relevant tracks, the band double down on the vitriolic sneer and blunt social commentary of their past work, with themes of active presence, inclusivity, class, gender inequality, nationalism, community, and toxic masculinity remaining ever-present. Ultra Mono also features guest vocals from Jehnny Beth (Savages), and additional guest contributions from Warren Ellis (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds), David Yow, and Jamie Cullum.

Ultra Mono tracklisting:
1. War
2. Grounds
3. Mr. Motivator
4. Anxiety
5. Kill Them With Kindness
6. Model Village
7. Ne Touche Pas Moi (feat. Jehnny Beth)
8. Carcinogenic 
9. Reigns 
10. The Lover
11. A Hymn
12. Danke

Frontman Joe Talbot says of ‘Grounds’: “We wanted to write a song that embodied self-belief, and gave us self-belief – a counter-punch to all the doubt we build up from all the noise we so easily let in. We wanted to make the sound of our own hearts’ marching band, armed with a jack hammer and a smile. We wanted to make the sound of our engine starting. So we did. Thank you.”

NEW MUSIC: Kidsmoke – The Bluest You

North Wales’ Kidsmoke released their single ‘The Bluest You’ back in April and it’s a wonderfully bright and sparkling slice of indie guitar pop that billows and cascades on the back of a pliable rhythm section and guitars that aren’t afraid to hit the effect pedals and soar above the clouds.

This song is a live favourite of ours. It is a fly on the wall look into a household where one person’s depression is affecting everyone else who lives there. The song doesn’t address the feelings of the person suffering with depression, it is a sort of commentary from the viewpoint of the rest of the family.”

The band have released EPs and a string of singles over the last few years, in the process gaining great recognition from the likes of BBC 6 Music and NPR, was well as an invitation to play at the Robert Smith (The Cure) curated Meltdown Festival. Kidsmoke also have a new single out called ‘Layla’s Love‘ which reminds us of the pure, pristine melodies of Prefab Sprout and The Boo Radleys.

Both singles appear on Kidsmoke’s debut album A Vision In The Dark which will be released on 19th June via Libertino Records.

NEW MUSIC: Koalra – Dear Daylight

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Hailing from Chicago Illinois, Koalra cut some fine indie rock shapes on this single ‘Dear Daylight’. There’s the rough and tumbling guitars – part jangle, part visceral screes – post-punk rhythms and a voice that hollers and sings with a beautiful melancholic angst. It all fits together just right on the single, one of many great tracks on their EP Surprise Lights.

Koalra call themselves a noise punk band and there’s undoubtedly that in the abandon and frantic pace of their songs, but they also dial into that sweet spot between energetic flailing and clever, twisting guitar shapes, in the lineage of Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr and No Age.

ALBUM REVIEW: Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Sideways To New Italy

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Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever
Sideways To New Italy
Ivy League

Since the release of their debut album, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever have traversed the globe, playing numerous headline shows and music festivals. Now those experiences and the associated dizzying dislocation have fed into their second record, a consistently superb collection of songs that matches the hit rate of their debut.

All three singer/guitarist songwriters again contribute songs, managing to stamp their own style and  personalities without bending or breaking the symbiotic jangly guitar rush and heady pop clamour that defines their sound. You get a sense of homesickness – both geographically and emotionally, a searching for place and context after the last few years of the band. 

Joe White’s She’s There and The Only One are love songs, the latter introducing a 80s indie pop sound reminiscent of Prefab Sprout while the former tumbles forth with irresistible guitar riffs. Fran Keaney’s Cars In Space is both urgent and intricate, like The Smiths at their most nimble. Sunglasses At Night imagines itself as a lost You Am I ballad, while the guitars of Not Tonight swoon and dive before the band hits one of their most divine pop choruses to date.

The heady rush of the band’s sound is still intact but there’s an additional sense of wistful reflection and a wider musical palette on Sideways To New Italy that takes their sound to even greater heights. 

Chris Familton

New Media – Tunnel Vision

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New Media are an indie rock quartet from who channel a shoegaze sound reminiscent of Ride, the rhythmic influence of Manchester and the heavier guitar sounds of bands like The Cure.

Tunnel Vision‘, their second single of 2020, winds its way around knotty drums and guitars that squeal and squall, adding to the rising sense of tension before it jumps the tracks in the last minute and heads for the highest windswept sonic vantage point.

““Tunnel Vision”, is about the link between insomnia and inspiration. It’s that 3 o’clock in the morning feeling, when the subconscious mind is at its most active. Every car outside, every seemingly insignificant noise or stimuli steals your focus towards it, like a magnet. Watching (and hearing) the sound of traffic gliding up and down “rain soaked streets” from an obscured hotel window and that intellectual tug of war that plays out, between wanting to capture it and letting the thought pass. It’s that intense obsessive compulsion of chasing an idea to its creative fruition, that feverish intensity that can take on a kind of “tunnel vision”, where the mind has the desire to wade ever-deeper into the waters of the subconsciousness, while one foot remains in the shallow edge of the water.”

NEW MUSIC: Blue Canopy – St. Albans

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Here’s a really nice slice of 60s-tinged, indie guitar pop from Portland-based artist Alex Schiff who records under the name Blue Canopy. The vocal layering in particular grabbed our attention with their tripped-out Beach Boys vibe. ‘St. Albans‘ comes from his debut EP Mild Anxiety which is out now.

“St. Albans is about an old friend who I lost touch with, but consistently visits me in dreams. It’s probably my only falling out (outside of romantic relationships) that felt like a breakup. The relationship was a little toxic, but we were very, very close. We were also songwriting partners through college, and when I decided to end our band, he decided he didn’t want to ever speak with me again. The song is part reminiscent/memory lane and part my feelings about it now after all these years. I showed him the record (we communicate a little bit now) and that was his favorite song! It’s also a little bit Beatles-esque which is his favorite band, so that’s a little bit of a nod to him.”