Monday, 9 January 2017

My Tracks of 2016


It was a year that divided us in politics and then united us in grief for the many we’ve lost. It shocked us with each week and in some cases each day that passed; Bowie must have known something when he bowed out at the start of the year.
However, like each year before and each year that will follow, the music we listen to scores the scenes that play out in our lives. We all heard ‘Black Star’ and ‘Lemonade’ and agree they are fantastic, so rather than another list that highlights the hits and then champions the aforementioned; in no particular order, these were my favourite sounds that played through my 2016.


Modern Baseball – Holy Ghost
I read about the release of ‘Holy Ghost’ and decided to check it out on Spotify. Modern baseball was a band I was aware of but hadn’t really listened to for some reason, but upon listening to the album from start to finish I then went on to listen to their back catalogue the same day. I found their music and lyrics relatable, an image of suburban issues and similar experiences of growing up. Their sound is awesome too, like post punk meets death cab, melodic with pit worthy songs you can lose yourself within. They are a band I will always follow closely from now and will be one of the few saving graces of 2016.



 LvL Up – Somebody Kill Me Please
I shared this track in March 2015 but have continued to listen to it throughout this year. To me it’s one of the greatest tracks to begin with (seriously) but then LVL UP brought a band to it and a melody and substance and just… This might make the list every year.



Alexander Bent + The Emptiness – Dead, In The Water
I am not sure how I ended up on Alex’s Instagram, I think I was lost in a scroll session. I followed some links and soon enough I was on his Soundcloud listening to his output. What struck me first was the production quality; it’s flawless and immediately validates everything that has gone into the tracks. Since that first listen I’ve spoke with Alex a number of times and he’s a truly humble guy. His tracks lay everything bare and he shares his raw emotions with you through each piece. Apart from ‘Hold On To Me Forever’ the music rarely follows a standard structure, and is often comprised of several songs within the song. When I asked Alex about this he said his music is influenced by the ambience of dreams. This is most clearly evident in my favourite track ‘Interlude for the Mood’ which takes you through different scenes in a very dream like manner. This album didn’t receive any mass recognition, but the listens are there and hopefully these will grow. I honestly believe this has the potential to be an album that’s looked back on as the start of something great.




 Surf Cassette – Summers End
This year I started using Instagram to find new music online and thankfully so as without it I would likely not heard ‘Summers End’ by Milan duo Surf Cassette. It takes clear influence from 60’s pop with simple chord structures and a train like drum beat, all touched with a lo-fi feel that cements the song together. It’s a format that has seen resurgence with the likes of Burger Records and the artists they represent, and you would be hugely mistaken if you thought it was an easy one to recreate… Not everyone can get it just right like Surf Cassette have here.




Let’s Eat Grandma – ‘Sax In The City’
The creativity behind this track is unfathomable. Imagined by the young multi-instrumental duo ‘Let’s Eat Grandma’, the track has depths and textures to make the most established acts enviable. Silk vocals and a myriad of sounds are layered to create a fantastic end result. I particulate like the solo which comes in at 3:50 and carries the track out, it reminds me of Soft Cell and how seemingly simple sounds can be used to create the most beautiful of melodies.


   Isolation Party – Be Easy
I have been gripped by ‘Be Easy’ since first hearing it. It’s HUGE, weighty and uses all the right chords to give me that feeling right in the middle of my chest. It’s the all-consuming feeling you get when you know you are hearing something magical. Some tracks have that effect and for me this really is one of those tracks. I think I will always listen to ‘Be Easy’ and somehow it feels like I always have. 



Music is always best shared, thanks for reading. 
Matt

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

The Summus Peak : What We Could Be


The Summus Peak are an Alternative Hardcore band from Wigan in the UK and consists of 4 friends, James Sheppard, Lucci Ormrod, Chris Jones and Andy McGrail. Each member was working on their own thing when the band came together to collaborate on material wrote by James, started as a side project from his band Cale Lane. In contrast to the firmly 'Metal' Cale Lane, their music is more melodic with a cleaner sound; drawing influence from bands like Alexisonfire and other post hardcore bands.

Below is their latest offering 'What We Could Be', a track of epic proportions that firmly claims their place and creates intrigue and interest in what will follow.


I spoke to Chris from the band to find out more about this emerging force.

How did you decide on the band name and what's the meaning behind it?
James already had the band name for his project when it all first started; Summus means highest in Latin so it basically means the highest peak. He chose it because he writes positive lyrics and has a love for the outdoors and nature. It pays homage to his favorite pastime - mountaineering.

Who and what influences your music?
We drew our initial sound from European post-hardcore bands such as viva Belgrado and the tidal sleep. We are really inspired by their large atmospheric passionate sounds and wanted to bring that to the music we make.

How does the writing process work for you? Do you work separately and come together with ideas or is it a jamming session and seeing what comes out of it?
Originally James had a lot of material written as the band began so we just worked on it together in the practice room, but in the most recent months everyone has been bringing chords and ideas to the table. The lyrics to our newest song was written by Luci from her own inspiration. She also decided the structure, but the chords where written by Chris and Andy, so we're getting input from everyone really.

There are some long time friendships in the band, does this help when working on new songs and writing parts for each other?
Andy and Luci worked together as a wedding band where they would cover bands such as fleet foxes and first aid kit so they have a really good idea of how to create harmonies. They're both multi instrumentalist too so they can write for most instruments and help structure and arrange the songs. James and myself have played in different bands together for years now and both have a very similar music taste. We both know what each other wants to achieve musically from this band so that really helps. 

What inspired your track ‘What We Could Be’ and what does it mean to the band?
What We Could Be was written as we approached a stage in life where people around us are dropping hobbies/musical projects and changing life direction or "growing up". The song is questioning whether there is a right time to drop a passion that has been your life as well as encouraging doing what you love. I don't have this answer.

What’s the bands plan for the near future? Can we expect any releases?
Yeah we're currently working hard to get a solid set of songs together so we can record an EP, and we are aiming to be in the studio early next year.

Finally, if you could do a split 7” vinyl release with ANY band… who would it be and why?
Alexisonfire.....because they are the only band ever.

You can hear their music on Spotify and Bandcamp and follow their facebook page for updates of new releases and shows.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Meals : Come Clean


I heard this track late last night and loved it instantly. A second of fuzz and the distorted guitar crackles in; you know as the riff repeats that this is something good. It's soon confirmed as the lead and drums drop in, followed by some nice vocals. Make sure you check out their other tracks 'Running Out' and 'Dig You Up' on their Soundcloud page.

'Come Clean' by Meals is being released via Major Leagues Records on tape cassette and download September 2nd. The track features on the six track cassette 'Sour Coast Vol. 1; limited to 80 translucent red copies and you can buy this HERE from their bandcamp page. I hope to hear more from both Meals and MLR in the future.



If you like the track above you should also check out 'I Quit Girls', a Japandroids cover by Be Forest. It shares the same feel as 'Come Clean' and with its looping riffs and LoFi qualities it hits you in the same way. I love the beautiful vocals on this track, along with the build of this song. It will never last long enough, I need a six hour version.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Guadalupe Plata : First UK tour!


Guadalupe Plata have a sound so refined and pure it conjures images of of the Mississippi Delta, their dirty riffs transporting you there. The first sign that this is something different hits you with the first vocal and the origins of the sound soon become ambiguous. 

Our name comes from our hometown’s patron, the virgin of Guadalupe, so she protects us as we play the devil’s music,” they say. “Our music inhabits that place in our collective imagination where the demonic force straddles the blues and cante jondo.”

Hailing from the Spanish town of Ubeda, made famous for Spaghetti Western films, the trio are bringing their music to the UK in their first UK tour this September. Having received great acclaim from numerous critics, coupled with prizes won at the Impala Awards and Independent Music Awards, these are not ones to miss. Their lives sets are an experience beyond most, playing out tunes on cigar box guitars, coffee can percussion and even an electrified washtub bass!


The tour follows the release of their latest 'Red Album' which was released earlier this year on Everlasting.

 You can catch Guadalupe Plata at the following dates and venues:

WED 14 – Norwich, Jug Jaws @ The Crypt

THU 15 – BBC 6 Music, Marc Riley Session

THU 15 – Manchester, The Castle

FRI   16 – Birmingham, Rainbow

SAT  17 – London, Stowfest

SUN 18 – Exeter, The Phoenix

TUE  20 – Bristol, Start The Bus

WED 21 – Glasgow, Broadcast

THU  22 – Newcastle, Cluny

FRI   23 – Cardiff, The Moon

SAT  24 – Liverpool Festival Of Psychedelia

SUN 25 – Brighton, The Hope & Ruin

Hooton Tennis Club share new track 'Katy-Anne Bellis'


Ahead of their second album 'Big Box Of Chocolates', Hooton Tennis Club have shared 'Katy-Anne Bellis'. The track is about band member Ryan's ex flat-mate Katy and keeping in touch after 15 months of living together. Its a nice slice of indie with some catchy lyrics and melodies. The album tracks reveal stories about characters (both fictional and real) like Katy and even BBC6's Lauren Laverne, turning vocalists Ryan Murphy and James Madden into album narrators.



Hooton Tennis Club have played at numerous festivals including Glastonbury and Greenman, along with a string of gigs at SXSW and CMJ New York. Its no surprise then the day after 'Big Box Of Chocolates' is released on October 21st, the band take to the road to spread their music on an extensive tour of the UK and Europe.

You can pre-order their upcoming album HERE which is released by the awesome Heavenly Recordings. To see the band live, tickets are available for the following dates:

OCTOBER
22nd Birmingham, All Years Leaving
24th Dublin, Grand Social
26th Leeds, Wardrobe
27th Norwich, Waterfront Studio
29th Glasgow, Hug & Pint
30th Edinburgh, Electric Circus
31st Newcastle, Think Tank

                   NOVEMBER                
1st Sheffield, Leadmill
3rd Cambridge, Portland Arms
5th Cardiff, Globe
6th Manchester, Deaf Institute
7th Bristol, Thekla
8th Guildford, Boileroom
9th Milton Keynes, Crauford Arms
10th Brighton, Bleach
12th St Albans, Horn
13th Southampton, The Joiners
15th Nottingham, Bodega
16th London, The Garage
17th Tunbridge Wells, The Forum
19th Brussels, Botanique Witloofbar
21st Amsterdam, Paradiso
22nd Hamburg, Molotow
23rd Cologne, MTC
24th Berlin, Cassiopeia
25th Vienna, Chelsea
26th Bologne, Covo Club
28th Zurich, Neo
29th Paris, Supersonic

                                    DECEMBER                                  
9th Liverpool, Invisible Wind Factory

Friday, 26 August 2016

Honey Spider : Safe Haven (New Band You Need To Hear)


Today I heard Honey Spider for the first time, a new band with one track online. I guess its good for them that 'Safe Haven' is an instant draw. Queued in by drums, the sound is full speed in seconds with the melody full flow. I got a really nice Jimmy Eat World vibe from it, which can only be good.

As yet I can only tell you the band are Andy, John, Matt & Dave, coming from the UK. Emerging with a track on Soundcloud and Bandcamp, a post was uploaded to Facebook with the status 'Hello good people of the Internet, We are fresh meat and here's our first offering. FFO: Citizen, Basement, Title Fight, Turnover, Smashing Pumpkins.' 


If you like the sound these guys make then you can catch them at the following dates and venues; I might pop down the A6 for Preston or Chorley.

Friday 26th August - 12 Bar Cafe, Colne - 10pm
Sunday 28th August - Suff Studio, Colne
Saturday 24th Sept - Brock n Broll Studio, Chorley
Saturday 15th Oct - The Ferret, Preston

Monday, 22 August 2016

Jordan Allen : The Ruby Lounge Manchester 20/08/16


On Saturday Jordan Allen had their biggest headline show to date at The Ruby Lounge in Manchester.

Having spent a good few years as a solo artist, Jordan Allen recruited his fellow band members late 2015. Wasting no time this outfit have created a set of live songs to showcase their talent of writing exuberant indie wonders. Having received great reviews of their packed-out gig at this years Dot To Dot festival and being given  a slot on Radio-X's playlist, demand to see the band grows.

The Ruby Lounge is a great gig venue in Manchester; entering down off the street, you descend the steps into a basement bar and dark gig space. When I arrived Laura Esther was warming up the crowd with some really nice acoustic music, backed by a violinist and box drummer. The tracks I heard reminded me of Gogol Bordello with an almost Gypsy Punk feel. Saytr Play took to the stage next, taking things up a level with some lively Indie guitar tracks. The crowed filled in from the bar within the first song, and by the end the crowd were dancing along. Make sure you check out their track 'Rebound' on YouTube.

With the crowd eager for more music, front man Jordan Allen opened the set with some solo verses, an ode to one of his idols John Cooper Clarke. Quickly bursting into their set you can see why people are listening. The first song is 'Remembered', penned when Jordan performed solo. Its the bands 'I Wanna Be Adored' and naturally the perfect opener. It is the statement behind the headline gig with its memorable lyrics 'I wanna be remembered, I wanna be seen, not just another woulda, coulda, should have been'. Keen to share new music, the band also played 'Rosie' which had all the makings of an Indie hit.

The audience bounced as they played through their set, singing along to 'Helter Skelter' and 'White Lines' and crowd members climbing on each others shoulders to dance through the bands final song of the night 'Set In Stone'.

With an arsenal of great tacks that stick in your mind, coupled with a growing lively crowd; Jordan Allen are one to see live.

Listen to their single 'Too Much Too Soon' below.