Saturday, 30 March 2013

Phosphorescent - Muchacho


The first thing you notice about Matthew Houck’s sixth album is it’s sense of warmth; the smell of grass drifting across a field of prairie, a backyard barbecue or kicking back in a bar with a few fellow travellers. The scent wafts out and you’re inevitably drawn in. Band of Horses have led the charge in making beardy southern dudes emoting both popular and commercially viable but Houck strays away from the bar-room anthemics in favour of a more intimate, delicate approach to songcraft.

Yet within this carefully established framework, ‘Muchacho’ finds Houck branching out from previous Phosphorescent releases, subtly playing with gentle synth figures on opening invocation ‘Sun Arise!’ or quirky saxophone on the wartime requiem ‘Down to Go’. Lead single ‘Song for Zula’ has the potential to be his breakthrough moment, with an earnest but insistent melody that inadvertently nods its cowboy hat to U2’s ‘With or Without You’.

Your enjoyment of much of ‘Muchacho’ may depend on how you respond to Houck’s rasping vocals, which fall somewhere between Conor Oberst and Tom Waits but tracks like ‘A Charm / A Blade’ demonstrate a gift for turning these quirks to his advantage, casting him as a prairie-roaming, one-man Fleet Foxes.

As usual Houck’s fine lyrics are steeped in biblical allusion and some of his arrangements stylistically predate the birth of rock n’ roll but if you’re prepared to tackle a beautiful, contemplative record that undoubtedly takes several listens to unfold then ‘Muchacho’ might well be one of your albums of the year.

8

Max Sefton

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Live: Wet Nuns – Birthdays




“I don’t know why they booked a bunch of heavier bands before us.” Drummer Alexis is miffed. Wet Nuns are in London to promote their new single Broken Teeth and the bands on before them have screamed in deep voices words like “DOOOOOMMM” without even a hint of Dalston’s finest irony. Luckily, things always make sense at a Wet Nuns show.

As the bull-horns are placed on the drum kit, the lights kept to a minimum and arguments with the crowd about previous London shows, converse and the geographical heritage of the two members of the Sheffield band (neither are from Yorkshire) are complete however; that mirage of sanity goes out the window. Surely something can make this evening make sense? I mean, Sound Influx did this evening pay a fiver for a rum and coke in a part of London that five years ago he would have expected to been able to at least buy a double for that.

The music. Thank goodness the headliners play music! The aforementioned new single sounds fresh amongst a series of songs that make the Black Keys look like posers whilst rock and roll screams on in El Camino’s tracks.  Racing through an hour long setlist in order to fit it into a 45minute slot seems to suit the duo, complete with bull horns on Alexis’ drum kit power through tour-track Broken Teeth and sound like a tighter unit than we’ve ever heard them before in the process. Tracks such Heaven’s Below turn frontman Rob from relatively unassuming chap into rock colossus as his command of the guitar and powerful roar takes the relatively small venue by hold and the crowd by storm.

From this point, its rather difficult to tell what happens. The Nuns are so loud and the crowd begin to be so raucous that it’s impossible to take even phone notes from where Sound Influx is stood, right at the front. For this, we apologise. For imparting the knowledge upon you that as far as bands that make you want to rock without sounding dated in the slightest; bands that spend time joking with the crowd before kicking into no-nonsence two-piece heavy-blues; bands that won’t stick out in a tiny Dalston venue nor Reading stage but will stand out anywhere; you want Wet Nuns. 

Braden Fletcher

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Daughter - If You Leave



It seems to have been quite a long time since Elena Tonra first delicately touched our ears and hearts with the His Young Heart EP and the Wild Youth EP. It’s hard to think that it’s been 18 months since the latter was released. This is surprising for two reasons; the first being that the EPs sound as familiar to this writer as the first records he remembers hearing. Second is that they still sound as fresh as the opening track of Daughter’s debut record If You Leave, Winter.

With indie-titans 4AD releasing it and recorded in an array of spaces before being mastered at Abbey Roads, If You Leave is as well crafted as it is cared for and produced. The lead single Smother is painstakingly beautiful and demonstrates first hand the work that’s gone into this record for almost a year. The reworked version of Youth leaves negative amounts to be desired as its swell fills the listener with a series of emotions that are somehow both delicate and powerful whilst following it with newest single Still reminds you of how Tonra’s lyrics can cut straight to the core. 

At times you just have to take a moment to exhale during If You Leave. As personal as it is to the band, it’s in some ways relateable even if it didn’t have lyrics. As tomorrow kicks in half way through, Daughter unleash the rich tapestry they’re truly capable of; adding and taking away the muscle of their sound with total control and on Human, you see the breadth of music they’re capable of making as the beating backline of the track could be somewhere between Sigur Ros’ Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust and Bombay Bicycle Club.

The overall sound of the record creates an inescapable atmosphere; conflicted, ambivalent, painful in a good way. In some ways, pain is the one thing that keeps us human so to feel something that doesn’t so much perpetuate but alleviate pain whilst tapping into the deepest emotions you posses  that’s something to revel in. Whilst there’s an eleven minute Shallows at the end of the record that leaves a heck of a lot to be desired of a closing track of its length, If You Leave proves that Daughter have gone from creating music focused on pain, to creating music that encapsulates pain and acts as medicine. Some may call it depressing, I’d argue they’ve not listened hard enough.


8.5

Braden Fletcher 

Monday, 25 March 2013

The Strokes - Comedown Machine


Nowadays every music fan is familiar with The Strokes story: four sharply dressed New Yorkers reinvent rock n’ roll with debut ‘Is This It?’, follow it up with a lesser facsimile, go experimental for round three with patchy results, bicker, fall out, make solo records and eventually realise they’re stronger together, reconvening for 2011’s ‘Angles, a record which, whilst far from perfect, seemed to at least offer some hope that The Strokes had a viable future. Perhaps this assessment damns with faint praise records which each tended to contain a handful of great songs – I’m thinking the likes of ‘Reptilia’ ‘Heart in a Cage’ and ‘Machu Picchu’ – but they’ve certainly never felt as vital and alive as on their seminal debut.

Shackled to a fair amount of baggage therefore, ‘Comedown Machine’ feels somewhat paradoxical – on one hand it’s a fairly natural successor to both ‘Angles’ and Julian’s solo debut ‘Phrazes for the Young’ yet on the other it’s hamstrung by a sense of jaded ennui normally only experienced by acts stumbling into their third decade.

When they first broke through The Strokes were frequently compared to New York punk godfathers Television yet the quintet have always been highly strung, with none of Tom Verlaine’s crew’s looseness so with a few years hindsight it’s clear a more accurate comparison would be to a different group of dual guitar wielding rockers: seminal new-wavers The Cars. This influence has been present all along: tightly wound guitars, short, sharp songs fusing the best of rock and pop, but more than ever ‘Comedown Machine’ is informed by this sensibility.

It’s a shame therefore that ‘All the Time’ is probably the weakest Strokes lead single to date, though a keen amateur psychologist might find unexpected depths in lines like ‘You’re living a lie, you’re living too fast’ and the fleet-fingered guitar solo does deliver a brief rush. Likewise, diehard fans reacted poorly to ‘One Way Trigger’ when it appeared as a free download a few months ago and, though in the context of the rest of the record it’s somewhat redeemed, the mix of Gameboy bleeps and A-ha style falsetto is hard to stomach. Far better is ‘80’s Comedown Machine’ which rings a ragged, desperate vocal from Julian, coming closest to replicating the full-throated intensity of their debut album whilst rocking the catchiest guitar riff on the record.

‘50/50’s programmed beats and overlaid synth/guitar duplicate the woozy atmosphere of Albert Hammons Jr’s ‘Yours to Keep’ but it’s a tune that never really goes anywhere; one of several moments where Julian has nothing to say and five minutes to say it.

Thankfully ‘Comedown Machine’ recovers on a fine final third that finally feels as if some life has been breathed into tired lungs. ‘Happy Ending’ in particular offers a lean, catchy keyboard and guitars update of their classic sound whilst ‘Call it Fate, Call it Karma’ is their finest genre pastiche – a spooky music hall piano and falsetto waltz that feels as if it’s being beamed in on some cosmic radio.

Why was ‘Comedown Machine’ a group effort rather than a Casablancas solo record? Will they tour it? How many references to Duran Duran is too many? All these questions remain unanswered on a record which many will ultimately find rather unsatisfying.

6

Max Sefton

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Nai Harvest - Whatever


It has been interesting to see how the trail of underground punk has altered and evolved over the last few years; or at the very least, from the route on which I have found myself. Over the last two years, there has been a very gradual but solid revival of emo, a genre somewhat redefined by the early 00's post-screamo boomers. But I wont give you a history lesson in the chronology of the emo/screamo scene, as, frankly, I'm not educated enough on the subject. Look it up.

However, it's fair to say that Nai Harvest do. Finding themselves as fair spearheads for the modern emo resurgence, their get up and go ethics, punk enthusiasm and thirst for shows has found them a place on an the modern map of emo (or something). Noted for their fair use of the twiddle and dismissal of the power chord, they built themselves a reputation within the emo/punk/hardcore scene for their seeming mastering of combining the sensibilities of emo and making it catchy as hell. The song "The Bikes And The Basement" was arguably the tipping point for a lot of hardcore kids to consider emo in a way they hadn't before, if at all. The song is formidable, in terms of craft. From the smart, yet tight and powerful drumming to the delicious arpeggio harmonic tapping guitar. A key factor in Nai Harvest's force is their clear understanding of the genre they are in, their representation of the other genres that represent them and their unabashed enthusiasm to create something passionate and distinctly their own. 

With a few years under their belt and a chance to settle into themselves comes the release of 'WHATEVER', their album. In truth, this album is the album they were supposed to make. It represents everything about what made the band distinctive. Despite clearly wanting to lessen the usage of the twiddle and implement a stronger college rock edge to their sound, it would be foolish to say that this isn't the same band that they started as. Taking in more of a well rounded influence from heavy 90s grunge and college rock bands, 'WHATEVER' seals the archive of the band's catalogue into a tidy package. And you can see the bands development in the actual album. The eponymous opening track bares a lot of similarities, in terms of aesthetic, to the band's earlier work, to be totally pushed aside for the more straight and to the point 'FLOOR' which follows after. It almost feels like a conscious effort to say: 'Do you remember what we used to sound like? Like this, yeah. Well, whatever, we've moved on. You've had a sucker-taste of our old sound, and here is how we sound now". This might be one of the best releases this year so far. I highly recommend it.

8

Eliot Humphreys 

Monday, 18 March 2013

Beyoncé - Bow Down / I Been On



Her Superbowl halftime show proved that no-one can do a grand show quite like Queen B and her ‘Mrs Carter Show’ sold out in minutes even as her decision to tour under her hubbies’ name drew the ire of some critics so it’s no surprise that the ‘Independent Woman’ singer has come out fighting on these two new tracks released ahead of next month’s live dates.


‘Bow Down’ is produced by Hit-Boy, erstwhile beatmaker for Jay-Z on his millionaire’s playground ‘Watch the Throne’ but it’s mostly likely to garner attention for the line ‘bow down bitches’ seemingly targeted at the likes of Rita Ora. The intro’s chop shop sampling gives way to a dramatic Beyonce intoning “I know when you were little girls/You dreamt of being in my world” and “I took some time to live my life/Don't think I'm just his little wife”. Insights into her life aside, the trap influenced beat and pitch shifted samples do Beyonce few favours and make the track feel a little cluttered but by re-asserting her place at the top of the food chain it hints that she’s coming into her fifth record more fired up than ever.

‘I Been On’ features a beat from super-producer Timbaland, fresh from reintroducing Justin Timberlake to the world, but unfortunately this can’t salvage a track which makes the bizarre decision of dropping Beyonce’s voice by several octaves until her rap sounds as if it’s being delivered by a twenty-stone professional wrestler locked in a trunk and dropped in the sea. It’s dire.

Max Sefton

Kavinsky - Outrun


Kavinsky is a French dj and producer, specializing in mixing Italo, prog, hip-hop and synth-pop into a neon lit blend of sleazy discos and dark alleys. Over the last ten years he’s remixed the likes of Klaxons and Sebastien Tellier and appeared in Grand Theft Auto as a radio disc jockey but his career got its biggest boost when his track ‘Nightcall’, featuring Lovefoxx from CSS, appeared over the opening credits of the highly successful Ryan Gosling film ‘Drive’.
He’s happy to exploit the cinematic connection here, with the spoken-word opener ‘Prelude’ setting up a B-movie-esque concept of crashing cars and zombie-like resurrection, which weaves in and out of ‘Outrun’. ‘Blizzard’s catchy synth riff channels Daft Punk by the dashboard light whilst ‘Protovision’s swirling hair-metal guitar and monumental drum kick sounds like M83 hitting the club but it’s ‘Oddlook’ which bares the closest resemblance to the ubiquitous ‘Nightcall’, fronted by a drawling vocal from French singer Sebastian that ratchets up the menace.

Tellingly Kavinsky keeps us waiting until track eight to deliver ‘Nightcall’ itself, the track whose slow, textured synth and metronomic thump has become synonymous with Ryan Gosling’s turn as the calm, slightly menacing getaway driver of Nicholas Winding Refn’s BAFTA winning movie. Even two years after we heard it, the bleeps and heavily treated vocals still sound beguiling, with Lovefoxx’s cooed chorus giving a voice to Carey Mulligan’s scared single mother.

Another older track ‘Testarossa Autodrive’ dates back to 2006 yet draws on the same Ferrari freeway computer game that gives the record its title. Launched in 1984 as the stock market
peaked, the car itself is synonymous with eighties excess so it’s only fitting that the song is a suitably unsubtle blend of 4/4 kick and skyscraping synths on a record which treats restraint as merely one more obstacle to be driven over in a screech of blue tyre smoke.
However, for all its free-ride fantasies, ‘Outrun’s greatest flaw is one highlighted by the appearance of Havoc from Mobb Deep with a stale, car-themed rap: predictability. True, subtlety was never going to be a primary concern on a record that broadcasts its aesthetic concerns in garish script on the cover but every chord change, whistling synth line or effects-laden vocal may as well be signposted in twenty foot high neon letters. Perhaps it’s a product of his commitment to bringing to life the sounds of the late eighties but a little deftness of touch would doubtless do no harm.

Like fellow Frenchman M83, Kavinsky makes music to explode into life as a snowboarder hurls himself over the edge of a mountain or a climber leaps for that elusive edge, but for all its epic soundtrack potential and its overwhelming obsession with 1986 the real surprise about ‘Outrun’ is, for the most part, how vital it sounds. Kavinsky’s glossy production sweeps you into a world in which synths blare from every stereo and white, satin scorpion jackets are a legitimate fashion choice and as such it’s difficult to resist the call to put the pedal to the metal.

8

Max Sefton

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Deathfix - Deathfix


Signed to Dischord, the legendary DC punk label of perpetually angry Fugazi/Minor Threat mainman Ian MacKaye, Deathfix seek to bring a classic-rock feel to a label best associated with releasing straight-edge, hardcore and riot grrl releases from the likes of Jawbox and Rites of Spring.

Ex-Fugazi drummer Branden Canty and former singer-songwriter and DJ Rich Morel met as part of Bob Mould’s touring band yet Deathfix, their new joint project, betrays little trace of either brutal post-hardcore or acoustic guitar laments. Instead they’re animated by the spirit of ’72, whipping between propulsive funk, open-armed glam-rock and a sense of inherent preposterous that makes a mockery of their overly serious moniker.

‘Low Lying Dreams’ is dominated by Morel’s Mark Lanegan worthy croak and ‘Hospital’ racks up a bodycount Nick Cave would be proud of but they’re preceded by ‘Better than Bad’ which packs gently-chugging riffs and expansive drumming into a Foo Fighters-esque anthem that crams in more hooks than a Japanese whaling ship.

Elsewhere, the rampant surrealism of the eight minute ‘Dali’s House’ pokes fun at LCD Soundsystem, claiming ‘I wish I was James Murphy’s house because you can steal ideas and Daft Punk is always playing there’ whilst rattling off a list of icons and their abodes over a playful funk rhythm.

With multi-instrumentalists Mark Cisneros and Devin Ocampo holding down the rhythm section Canty and Morel are free to trade riffs, lines and ideas at such a rapid rate that there’s little in the way of a coherent thread to hold the seven tracks of their debut mini-album together but when they gauge the lightness of touch just right - as on the excellent ‘Mind Control’ – Deathfix are proof that sometimes all that’s needed is to kick back with a couple of guitars and a bunch of friends to craft something catchy, likeable and fun.


7

Max Sefton

Suede - Bloodsports


With a seemingly perpetual deluge of brit-pop copycats emerging, and then swiftly vanishing, in recent years it often feels like the movement (which by all accounts ended a long time ago) has truly run out of steam. Aside from the obligatory reunion gigs for brit-pop's big players (blur, pulp) and some more than questionable solo endeavors from Oasis, the aesthetic and manifesto hasn't successfully been revived, and arguably doesn't really need to be.

So where does the new album from 90s stalwarts and lovers of the dramatic Suede come into play? Can Suede, a band largely known for their work 20 years ago really be relevant at all with such a focus on newness in modern music? The answer, surprisingly is yes. 'Bloodsports', the first album since 1999's 'Head Music' is a resounding triumph and proof that sticking to the tried and tested Suede formula has worked without sounding horribly dated.

The album fulfills both the expectations Suede have laid out across their career, primarily the big bombastic pop songs and secondly a passion for the exuberant and the exaggeration of emotions, which they tackled so masterfully on the now seminal 'Dog Man Star'. 'Sabotage' is a prime example, with Brett Anderson's trade mark squeals echoing 'Our love is sabotage' in the sassy impassioned manner you'd expect from the formidable frontman. Listening to many of the songs on 'Bloodsports' conjures images of Brett flinging himself sweatily around a stage with his hair flopping wildly, just like he did so iconically 20 years ago.

The knack for writing a catchy song certainly hasn't faded either, opening track 'Barriers' is rousing, packing an explosive chorus that in a better world would be echoing around arenas to adoring singalongs in place of bands like Muse. 'It Starts And Ends With You' too, mirrors the primal ridiculousness of 90s hits 'Animal Nitrate' and 'Beautiful Ones' and takes its place amongst the most impressive of Suede's song cannon. It's an absolutely joyous track, with the ludicrous lyrics about hairline cracks in radiators and cogs without martyrs leading into an insanely catchy chorus. 'Hit Me' too reads religiously from the Suede blueprint with Anderson again springing into life with his impassioned yelps.

The moments of tenderness hit the spot too, 'What Are You Not Telling Me?' works magnificently as a pained emotive song about lies and deceit, and the addition of a string section on 'Faultlines' is nothing short of majestic. 'Bloodsports' certainly represents a return to form for Suede, and one that few were really expecting after a shoddy Anderson solo album and years of no new material. It may be a little too late for Suede to trouble the charts and really cause a stir again, but this album is evidence if needed that they're still on top of their game.

8

Toby McCarron

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Laura Mvula - Sing To The Moon



When Laura Mvula was announced as one of the nominees for the BBC’s Sound of 2013 list attention turned to her debut single ‘She’, a bittersweet tale of feminine hurt and longing backed by minimal, hushed instrumentation that owed more to the bleak and downbeat moments of Nina Simone than the big-lunged over-emoting that propelled Adele’s ‘21’ or Florence’s ‘Celebrations’ to global success. With its gospel backing vocals and never-ending build-up of tension it was a technically impressive performance and a great bit of songwriting that never sacrificed emotion for bluster. Six months on and Laura Mvula is in the spotlight once more with the release of her debut LP ‘Sing to the Moon’.


Partially written whilst working as a supply teacher in a Birmingham school; Mvula was nonetheless well versed enough in jazz, soul and gospel to land a record deal with an enthusiastic RCA. As labels search for the next Adele or Emeli Sande, the addition of the soulful Mvula seemed like sound business acumen; the latest in a line of Radio 2 friendly cash-cows, yet ‘She’ offered glimpses of something more: a new Tracy Chapman or Amy Winehouse who sang about her life in such a way as to reinvent the clichés of what soul music had to sound like.

Unfortunately, at fourteen tracks ‘Sing to the Moon’ is overlong yet disappointingly short on the hard-hitting songwriting that shaded her debut single so vividly. The title track is the sort of empty torch ballad that if distilled properly would give Ken Bruce an erection but trigger a seizure in anyone who expects their music to challenge, confuse or surprise them. Elsewhere the stately ‘Father, Father’ is indicative of the gentle, tastefully arranged but ultimately shallow arrangements that take up the better part of the record.

It’s a shame ‘Sing to the Moon’ sees Mvula fail to live up to her early promise because her voice is, in itself, very impressive and when the arrangements take a turn for the left-field she’s clearly a talented composer too. ‘Flying Without You’s quirky trumpet and high-pitched delivery would sit far more comfortably on one of Bjork’s records than Corinne Bailey Rae’s and it makes you wonder if all the dreary balladeering is a product of record company pressure rather than genuine desire to sit on the Radio 2 A-list. You can expect Laura Mvula to be soundtracking John Lewis adverts come Christmas 2013 but pity her if she does because with a voice like hers it wouldn’t hurt to bare her soul a little more often.

5

Max Sefton

Low - The Invisible Way



In the year in which they will be celebrating their 20th anniversary the Minnesota trio are releasing their 10th album. If their career path thus far can be described as slow-burn – though they formed in 1993 they never hit the Billboard Top 200 until 2007’s ‘Drums and Guns’ – then their music can certainly be described in the same way.

2011’s lush, towering ‘C’mon’ proved to be a career highpoint, earning the trio unanimous critical acclaim but ‘The Invisible Way’, released on Sub Pop and produced by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy in his Chicago studio, goes even further in its masterly command of atmosphere and songcraft.
 

Opener ‘Plastic Cup’ is a masterpiece of spinning minute details into a rich narrative with a sharply sketched sense of character and ghostly harmonies. It feels like the opening chapter of a novel – a fantastic sense of detail, inviting yet elusive that sucks you into the record until you find yourself picking up on tiny nuances in intonation and delivery that turn a song on its head or paint the lyrics in subtle shades. Another standout moment comes on ‘Holy Ghost’, a plea to hold on for better times to come. The quiver in Mimi Parker’s voice as she sings ‘feeds my passion for transcendence / turns my water into wine’ is stunning – exquisitely executed to convey a world of emotion and rising to a querulous high note.

It’s not the kind of album that revels in instant gratification but if you let them the minimal arrangements and stirring harmonies start to take on a life of their own and nowhere is this better illustrated better than on the gently building ‘Clarence White’ or the gospel-psychedelia ‘On My Own’ which soar on little more than sparse drumming and soft strokes of acoustic guitar. Both are tracks which the similarly religiously inspired Spiritualized would
be proud to call their own. Low’s path to greatness been long, slow and winding. If they carry on producing gems like this long may it continue to be so. 

8

Max Sefton

Monday, 11 March 2013

The 1975 - Music for Cars EP





How much material is it safe for a band to release before their debut record? Do you simply do a run of singles in the wind up or do you release one or two EPs to generate hype? For the1975, this question has been made even more difficult in that they’ve been a series of other bands before finally settling down . As such, they’ve been sat on a lot of material for a while, becoming a stronger unit in the process. Now ready to unleash a record on the public in May, the Music for Cars EP is the third in a series of releases that have stood out but not quite shone.

The Facedown EP featured their first heatseaker in The City and demonstrated their quiet side whilst the Sex EP’s hit was its self titled track (She’s got a boyfriend anyway) and You also proved to be an indication that they could be a big band without necessarily having to make the ‘big tracks’.

So why a third EP on top of this?  The hope that the music will do the talking starts to make some sense in Anobrain. Sounding like an electronic version of the band Frightened Rabbit before kicking in to be standout track Chocolate, its pretty much the same as we’ve come to expect from a 1975 EP. Chocolate’s feel of auto-tuned edges lets it down comparatively to Sex and The City, but it’s still got a big feeling around it; the kind of song that will most probably ignite crowds at the many festivals the band have booked so far. The same can hardly be said about Head.Cars.Bending though. Whilst we’re all aware by this point that the1975 are using these EPs to experiment before launching an album that has been ready for months, you’d just like them to skip to that point.

EP closer Me serves as a sort of part two to the Sex EP’s You. A wind down with the kind of feel you’ve come to expect of Snow Patrol should they have reached their synth influenced phase towards the front of their mid-twenties. That’s not even a criticism really; whilst Snow Patrol aren’t everyone’s idea of exciting and groundbreaking its hard to question Lightbody’s song-writing abilities.

Maybe that then is the problem here, and it begs two questions.
Could the1975 have put Chocolate on the Facedown EP instead of Antichrist? Probably. Would that have meant that two condensed EPs were significantly better than three? Most likely.

Still, they’re one of the hottest properties to keep a watch on and its worth doing it before the album comes out if you fancy keeping hold of the contents of your wallet. The1975 are on their way up and all it’s going to take is the removal of some filler.

6

Braden Fletcher

Bands to look out for #17


Monkey Puzzle

Having written the book on sensitive indie-pop in the eighties and nineties, delivered everything from suave indie-rock to searching singer-songwriters in the noughties and given us some of the most promising electro-pop acts around in the form of Chvrches and Giant Fang, perhaps the next music scene Glasgow will come to dominate will be rap. Led by the fearsome duo Hector Bizerk (think Death Grips covering ‘Ill Manors’) and the sample-heavy collective Stanley Odd hip-hop has finally come to the banks of the Clyde.

Mixing live instrumentation with ‘mic strangler’ Conor Moore’s aggressive flow, young quartet, Monkey Puzzle announce ‘we are that punk rap shit’. Channelling Rage Against the Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers and their fair share of rapcore oddities they make pounding funk-metal that fits comfortably beneath their frontman’s raucous burr. This could easily have seen them turn into Scotland’s answer to effluvial musical lunkheads Limp Bizkit but live there’s an unstoppable energy that renders such comparisons null and void. New material hints at an increasing focus on melody but the young group are knocking out tracks so quickly that their recorded output struggles to keep up.

‘Let’s get Funky’ packs an irresistible party groove whilst ‘Flow With Me’s gives it the full on Rage treatment with popping bass and heavy riffing, topped off with Moore’s self-aggrandising lyrics. Whether headlining Glasgow’s underground proving ground Pivo Pivo after just three shows or winning over death-metal fans whilst supporting hard-rockers Sound Over Silence, the young quartet are proving that it doesn’t matter where you’re from, it’s where you’re at that counts.

Max Sefton