Tag Archives: bandcamp

Review: Dowsing – It’s Still Pretty Terrible

Band – Dowsing

Album – It’s still pretty terrible

Label – Count Your Lucky Stars

This album came out a little while ago on the amazing Count Your Lucky Stars label but I figured that it’s never too late to write nice things about an album that you really enjoy. I’m the first to admit that I’m a bit lazy when it comes to most aspects of being alive and writing reviews is no exception, if the album is good enough then I will get there eventually and you can be rest assured that this album is more than good enough.

With ‘It’s still pretty terrible’, Dowsing have made a pretty refreshing record. Refreshing in the sense that their straightforward take on making great quality songs makes them stand out from the crowd. They’ve taken the basics of what you need to be a really incredible band and perfected them. There is no gimmick or tricks to be found instead you have 10 tracks of catchy guitar led indie rock with a good slap of pop thrown in too. The guitars are (mostly) clean, the keyboard/organ sounds gorgeous and the songs are packed with plenty of heart and charm. This is the kind of record that The Get Up Kids should have followed up ‘Something to write home about’ with if they were looking to ease off of the pop punk and lean more on the indie side of emo instead of the disappointing ‘On a wire’. If they had things could have been really different.

Dowsing ease us in to the record with the gentle instrumental, ‘Get Dead’, it is pretty and lovely and all kinds of nice things. We then move on to ‘What did you ever do?’, which exemplifies what Dowsing do best. Some albums take a while to get in to or need some time to grow on you and some are so instantly likeable that you count yourself a fan on the first listen. A song like ‘What did you ever do?’, as well as others like ‘Wired for success’ and the fantastic ‘Terminals’, sees Dowsing’s ‘It’s still pretty terrible’ firmly in the latter category. And this is what you find throughout the rest of the album. Dowsing know how to write a good song, simple yet completely effective and loveable, and each one is a pleasure to listen to. The album is closed by the bittersweet ‘Somerset’, an alternative full band version of which was on their split with Parker earlier in the year. Here it is stripped back to an acoustic guitar and keyboards and sounds all the better for it, a real treat to finish the record with.

‘It’s still pretty terrible’ is a great record, it reminds me somewhat of the songs I used to try to write back in the day. Try and always fail. I will keep trying and one day I might get there (I won’t) but in the meantime Dowsing will see you good.

You can download the record from the Count Your Lucky Stars Bandcamp page HERE

Or if, like me, you live in the UK you can buy it on vinyl from the good, and very trusting, people at View From The Attic records HERE

Thanks for reading x

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Review: Ape Up! – Kemosabe

Band – Ape Up!

Album – Kemosabe

Label – Count Your Lucky Stars

I have said it before and now I’ll say it again. In the last couple of years music, in my opinion, has been completely reinvigorated. I seriously don’t think it has been as good as it currently is for years. Any band that says that “rock’n’roll is dead” or any article that bemoans the continuing fall in record sales is missing the point. I feel very sorry for these people. Especially if they haven’t heard Ape Up! yet. This band is further proof that all is good and well in music.

Being released on 10″ vinyl and digitally through Count Your Lucky Stars records, ‘Kemosabe’ by Ape Up! is the nearest these guys have come to putting out a full length record. I say nearest thing because, although there are 9 songs on it, the record clocks in at just under 20 minutes. Not that it feels like this though as there is much to savour and enjoy.

Ape Up! play big and to the point punk anthems, with a knack for melody and fantastically gruff vocals. The kind of sound you’d get if you could imagine Braid covering Algernon Cadwallader and the kind of songs that will have you finger pointing/singing along by the second listen. Opening track, ‘Nothing Serious’, gets the record started as they mean to go along. It launches straight in, sweeps you up and gets you immediately on board with their punchy, no nonsense brand of killer punk brilliance. ‘Kemosabe’ then continues in this vein through the next 4 songs with no dips in pace or quality. Track 5, ‘Drainbow’, gives the record a bit of a breather with some lovely Grandaddy-esque lo-fi noodling but it’s only a brief respite before they come back at you with more of the aforementioned goodness.

It’s hard to pick or suggest a favourite song from ‘Kemosabe’ but if I was pressed on the matter then I would have to go with the title track. ‘Kemosabe’ is a song impossible not to like, I am a complete sucker for a sing along and some gang vocals which is something this song delivers on to great effect. The ninth and final song, ‘Tejas’, is, at 2 minutes and 43 seconds, one of the longer songs on the record. It is also a great finisher as it displays a different side to Ape Up!, a slightly darker side. As they sing repeatedly “They won’t come around”, it’s a touching end to the album. An ending that leaves you wanting a hell of a lot more.

Ape Up! are going to be in the UK in a couple of weeks, touring with the brilliant PRAWN. I will be busting a gut to get to see them play in Folkestone at the View on the 15th of June, the poster for the show is pictured below. If they are this good on record then I imagine seeing them live will be an experience you’re not going to want to miss. Go see them!!

To download or stream the record click HERE to go the Count Your Lucky Stars bandcamp page.

Cheers for reading, more reviews coming very soon xx

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Review: The Saddest Landscape – After the lights

Band – The Saddest Landscape

Album – After the lights

Label – Topshelf records

Sometimes, listening to the the type of music I listen to can send me one of two ways. It’ll either make me launch myself around the room, throwing all sorts of crazy shapes whilst pointing my fingers in a insane manner. Or, it will leave me cuddled up on the floor questioning existence itself. Some would mock, some would query why, all would laugh. Predominantly, it will have the first effect. It’s the genius of this emotional brand of punk rock, a song that is lyrically desperate and musically traumatising can have an uplifting and positive affect on you.

It’s hard to say which way The Saddest Landscape will send me, it could go either way but will take a few listens to get there. They are back with their new 7-track album released on everyone’s favourite label, Topshelf records. Again, it’s a solid and well crafted record as you would expect from this band. But they make you work for it. By that I mean, like their other records, It’s not instantly easily accessible. Without taking anything away from the band, the music that The Saddest Landscape make is not as instantly likeable as bands such as Pianos Become The Teeth or Touché Amoré. With those bands you get swept away on the first listen and get immediate gratification. The Saddest Landscape don’t give it to you on a plate, they make you work for it. But work and you will be rewarded, greatly so.

The Saddest Landscape play modern emotional hardcore. Its a scene/genre that has been re-awakened and set alight in recent years. These are exciting times and The Saddest Landscape can rightly stake their place amongst the bands taking credit for this. ‘After the lights’ builds on the consistency of the last album ‘You will not survive’, it doesn’t take giant strides forwards in evolving their sound into something new, but then it doesn’t have to. It is nice to know what you’re going to get with some bands, not every record has to be a game changer.

‘After the lights’ is dark, emotionally open and unsettling. Musically, the use of dynamics is put to great use. The gentle opening soft guitar play on the first song ‘In love with the sound’ quickly blasts into a wall of sound and from there on the use of quiet/loud is used consistently well. Most notably on ‘When everything seemed to matter’, when a cello is weaved into the mix, softening the guitars and making it all the more intense when the full band kicks back in. The further in to the record as well the more melody plays a part, as if the band are starting to trust you and open up to you the more you stick with them.

It may have taken me 4 or 5 good listens to really be sold on ‘After the lights’ but I am so glad I kept with it. I am now desperate they see The Saddest Landscape play live as I think most of these songs will be taken to the next level in that environment, and I can have a fair guess as to which way I’d react.  If you are a fan of intense angry and emotional punk rock full of driving riffs then this is definitely for you.

Click here to go to the Topshelf Records bandcamp page where you can stream/buy the record.

Cheers for reading xx

Below is the video for the opening track ‘In love with the sound’

After The Lights Cover Art

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Review: Daylight – The Difference In Good And Bad Dreams EP

Band – Daylight

EP – The difference in good and bad dreams

Label – Run For Cover Records

My first, actual, music purchase of 2012 is this, the new EP from Daylight. So, I could be cheeky and say that this is the best release of 2012 (which currently it technically is), or I could just be honest and say it’s rather bloody good, which it also is.

Daylight were one of the few bands that I got to see play live in 2011 when they visited our sunny seaside town of Margate on their UK tour with Hostage Calm. They were on great form that night so it’s a pleasure to get hold of some new material. ‘The difference in good and bad dreams’ is 4 tracks long, it is the bands third EP and is a precursor to a debut full length album which is expected later this year.

Building on the groundwork laid out on their previous EPs, this feels like a definite step forward. The sound is brilliant here, really thick and dirty guitars over a solid, galloping rhythm section. I’ve noticed elsewhere a lot of comparisons being made with Title Fight, which is understandable for the new wave of pop punk aspect but they are a lot darker than Title Fight. Although catchy and memorable, they songs have pain and misery seeping throughout the 4 songs. They also have elements of grunge to their sound, which has a similarity to Balance and Composure, but not in any obvious kind of way. Although it’s hard to describe how a grunge influence could be subtle, I suppose you could say that there is an essence of grunge. You could also describe it as an emo grunge but all this would do a disservice to what is a great EP.

‘The difference in good and bad dreams’ is a solid, personal, honest and exciting punk rock record which is passionately delivered. It powers through from the opening angst ridden song ‘On the way to Dads’, to the slower paced finisher ‘In my dreams’ staying intense all the way.

My appetite for a full length Daylight LP is now fully whetted, very exciting to think it may be here within the calendar year. Until then this will saty on heavy rotation. Daylight are touring throughout Europe in March and April, if you get the chance then go!!

You can buy the EP now as a digital download from the Run For Cover Bandcamp site, go there now by clicking HERE

As always, cheers guys.

Below is the video for ‘Damp’, the third track from the EP (check out how seriously awesome their drummers beard is!)

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The 10 best records of 2011 (according to me)

2011 has been a very weird year!

If you’ve watched the news for more than 10 seconds at any given point during the last 12 months then you will be of the opinion that the world is ruined. What we need in these times is something to distract our worried minds, after all ignorance is indeed bliss. So, luckily, it’s been a very good year music wise. There have been so many amazing bands making amazing music that I’ve fallen behind and am still playing catch up.

This is a list of the 10 records released this year that have meant the most to me.

10 – Basement – I Wish I Could Stay Here

My favourite British band of this year and one of the only bands I actually got to see live in 2011, Basement, represent all that is good about underground music. Working towards a hardcore DIY ethic, making honest music and getting out, playing live with no hidden agenda. They released their debut full length ‘I wish I could stay here’ during the summer on Run For Cover records and it’s 10 tracks of brilliant, heartfelt post hardcore.

Click HERE to go to their site

9 – Polar Bear Club – Clash Battle Guilt Pride

Polar Bear Club brought a maturity to their sound and songwriting on this peach of an album. Still keeping the rawness of their previous output, ‘Clash Battle Guilt Pride’ saw the band come into their own. Instantly likeable, heart on their sleeve punk rock. And Jimmy Stadt has just about one of the best voices in rock and roll right now.

Click HERE to go their myspace page

8 – Touché Amoré – Parting the sea between brightness and me

‘Parting the sea….’ is 13 tracks of superb hardcore compacted in to 22 minutes. There is no messing about here, they had a job to do and they got that job done. Intense, precise, raw and powerful. A very good friend of mine, Paul (who also blogs HERE), recently stated that “Hardcore needs more hooks”. I do completely agree with that but you can definately find hooks, melody and more on this brilliant record. Touché Amoré do a brilliant job of mixing the quiet with the loud while at no point losing any of their power. 22 minutes of joy!!

Click HERE to go to their website

7 – Wavelets – Athaletics

I keep returning to this album time and time again. It’s deliciously warm charm has dug it’s claws deep into me. The songs are intricately complex and uplifting in equal measure. Embracing the indie emo sound from the late 90’s and with a perfectly lo-fi production this record sets itself apart from the over produced, copycat bands that claim to be from the same scene. And with song titles like ‘We’re really jazzed about the gig’ and ‘Bad scene, Jawbreakers fault’, how could you resist? Also has my favourite cover artwork of this year too.

Click HERE to go to their bandcamp page

6 – I am the avalanche – Avalanche United

Not many bands could leave SIX years between releasing their first and second albums and get away with it. IATA have pulled it off though, and with good reason. ‘Avalanche United’ is everything a good pop punk album should be, loud, in you face and catchy as hell. I was surprised how good an album this was, I didn’t think it would better the first album which has been on the stereo in our house consistently over the last 6 years, but that it did. They certainly deserve the adulation they receive just maybe don’t leave us hanging so long next time, huh??

Click HERE to go to their myspace

5 – Defeater – Empty Days & Sleepless nights

Defeater are setting the bar for modern hardcore bands. Environmentally conscious and socially aware, they are trying something different and succeeding. ‘Empty days & Sleepless nights’ continues with their narrative concept that begun with their debut album ‘Travels’. They back this up with brutally brilliant and infectious hardcore/post hardcore/screamo or whatever it is that describes them best. Fucking awesome is probably the best description I can give.

4 – Title Fight -Shed

Title Fight have been touring the UK recently and I am completely gutted that i’ve missed out. Their debut album, ‘Shed’, is a lesson in how fresh, honest and amazing pop punk can sound. Produced by the legend that is Walter Schreifels (Rival Schools, Quicksand, Gorilla Biscuits), this is 12 punchy tracks delivered at pace with brilliantly delivered, almost screamed vocals. Watching them on youtube, they seem to stir up a stagediving frenzy every time they play live, so here’s hoping that they return to these shores sooner rather than later.

3 – Algernon Cadwallader – Parrot Flies

If I ever feel down in the dumps and it happens, this year has been hard at times, I know that if I reach for this record a smile on my face won’t be long in coming. There is something in the sound and the way that they play that brings me much pleasure, they manage to out Cap’n Jazz as the kings of Cap’n Jazz style emo pop. Not that they sound the same as other bands, they manage to bring originality and joy to the scene. Perfect indie fare that also brings to mind Built to Spill and Pavement in places. Especially at the end of the first track, ‘Springing Leaks’, when it tails off into the most gorgeous guitar solo that evokes summer like no other band could.

Click HERE to go and listen at bandcamp

2 – Transit – Listen & Forgive

Transit win the 2011 award for “Album I’ve most embarrassed myself by singing along very loudly in my car to!!!”. It’s not a very prestigious title but it’s definitely an amazing record. How could you put it on and not sing along? It’s hit after hit of Pop punk goodness but with a healthy 90’s emo leaning. The Get Up Kids must’ve listened to this record and wished they could still make them as good.
They were also on the tour with Title Fight in the UK recently and by all accounts were completely amazing, so that’s more reason for me to damn my stupid back to hell. I’ll just have to console myself with another hearty singalong.

1 – Pianos become the teeth – The Lack Long After

If you’ve been a regular reader of this blog, and if you have can I just take this opportunity to say “wow, thanks and you have my pity x”, then it will come as no surprise that I have chosen ‘The lack long after’ as the best record of 2011. Pianos Become The Teeth are my current favourite band in the world and this album, to me, is an instant classic. Genuinely affecting and at times exhausting to listen to, this album stands head and shoulders above the rest this year. It is dark and heavy but also beautiful, Kyle Durfey has a voice full of pain and anguish that manages to be both powerful and fragile, sometimes even in the same song. Essential music that I can whole heartedly reccomend to anyone.

So, have I got it right? What do you think are the best records of 2011? What am I missing? Let me know.
Cheers xx

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Review: Signals Midwest – Latitudes and Longitudes

Band – Signals Midwest

Album – Latitudes and Longitudes

Label – Tiny Engines

The second of the two new albums from Tiny Engines that have been filling my ears with joy this week is the second album from Signals Midwest.

It may have taken a couple of listens to get in to, but ‘Latitudes and Longitudes’ has really grown on me. I think the album gets better with every listen. I keep finding something new each time I hear it, a new hook or lyric that I hadn’t noticed the time before that makes me enamoured with the whole record. You see, Signals Midwest throw you a bit of curve ball to begin with. The first track ‘In Tensions’ starts off mysteriously, using a retro Spanish flamenco-esque guitar riff to knock you off balance. You wonder just where the hell they are going to take you with it. Then they launch into the ballsy punk rock you were expecting and all is ok in the world again.

‘Latitudes and Longitudes’ is the follow up to Signals Midwest’s debut release, the 2009 album ‘Burn the blueprints’. Since then, they have fleshed out their sound with the addition of a second guitar player, which has really paid off. ‘Latitudes and Longitudes’ has a maturity to it’s ten tracks. It feels very personal and open with songs about love, family and the distance that sometimes keeps you apart from where you want to be. It’s an album packed full of energy, every time you listen you can’t help wishing you were standing in front of the band in a dark, sweaty venue with a couple of hundred other people all screaming the lyrics and throwing themselves into one another. There are also quite a few different elements to the sound that makes up the album. It’s not just staright up punk rock, there are Folk and pop elements to be found. It’s hard to compare but maybe Hot Water Music meets Frank Turner with occasional bursts of Braid and Piebald for good measure might give you some indication of what to expect. And just when you think you’ve got the album figured out they hit you with ‘January & Seven’, a gentle, simple, heart on your sleeve, acoustic love letter that could bring a tear to your eye before it launches into it’s epic grunge finale. The record is then finished off with my two favourite tracks ‘Construction Paper’ and ‘The Weight and the Waiting’, the latter finishing things off in style with the sublime use of a horn section. It leaves you happily content with a very satisfied smile.

I would highly recommend this band/album to anyone who likes good, honest punk rock with a sensitive edge. Hopefully, Signals Midwest will cross the pond and come play in the UK sometime soon. In the meantime you can stream the record or download it at a bargain price from the Tiny Engines Bandcamp page. The link is below. Cheers xx

Click here to go to the bandcamp page

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Review: Wavelets – Athaletics

Band – Wavelets

Album – Athaletics

Label – Tiny Engines

This week, apart from trying to provide plenty of half term entertainment for our many children, I’ve been very much enjoying two new releases from the fantastic and ever reliable label Tiny Engines. I will post the review of the other one as soon as but first up is the new album by Wavelets.

Wavelets hail from Gainesville, Florida. A place synonymous with men with beards and gruff voices playing awesome music. Although Wavelets don’t play in that ‘No idea’ style, they do play great music and ‘Athaletics’ is an album that truly reflects this.
A friend of mine complained to me recently that all bands sound far too over produced these days and therefore new bands don’t have that heart that old bands had. Well, as a case in point that this is not true I will be very insistent that they check this album out.
‘Athaletics’ is a nine track album that sounds deliciously lo-fi, the kind of sound that will instantly melt your heart and remind you of how good indie emo bands can be. They have been compared to another great band Algernon Cadwallader and you can understand why, but you get a different feel listening to Wavelets. The album in many places really reminds me of ’30 degrees everywhere’ era Promise Ring. It has that same catchiness and good use of repetition in places . The songs have a nice balance of delicately complex guitar play with straight up indie pop, they also have that bittersweet emo feel that is ideal for listening to at this time of year when the days feel colder and the night comes earlier.
The vocals are packed with the right level of emotion/intensity to bring the songs alive and it’s always a joy to hear gang vocals put to such uplifting good use.

The album is rounded off by beautiful artwork and some great song titles, ‘We’re really jazzed about the gig’ and ‘Bad scene, Jawbreakers fault’ are a couple of my personal faves. In all, ‘Athaletics’ is a beautiful album proving that there is still much scope to be found in that old emo sound. It’s currently available for digital download via the Tiny Engines Bandcamp page for approximately £3.73 ($6), and you can’t say fairer than that now can you!!!?!!

Click here to go the bandcamp page

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