Tag Archives: gnarwolves

The Is This Thing On? Top 20 Records of 2014

Working out this list has made me realise that, although this hasn’t been the best year for new music (found myself at some points being much more excited by old music than new), there has been some flipping brilliant records this year. Deciding upon a top 20 has been harder than I first imagined, but I did it!! So here we go:

20. Hightide Hotel – Naturally

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After announcing they would be splitting up in 2012, there was always promise they would release one more LP. Luckily we got it this year and it was worth the wait. A brilliant swan song record that reminds of how bummed you were when you heard they were calling it a day.

To stream/download click HERE

19. Gnarwolves – S/T

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I think Gnarwolves played a blinder not rush releasing their debut full length record. They have been relentlessly gigging for years but this year seemed the perfect time to put this record out and with it they’re likely to take over the world. Some bands have been trying to defend pop punk for ages but Gnarwolves have delivered a record which makes that an actual possibility. Fantastic!!

To buy click HERE

18. Playlounge – Pilot

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I must start by saying that the 2 guys that make up Playlounge are two of the nicest people you’re ever likely to meet. It was an honour to put them on in Margate at the start of the summer, I listened to ‘Pilot’ so much around that time, when I put it on now it takes me right back!

To stream/download click HERE

17. Dikembe – Mediumship

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That difficult second record handled perfectly with all the usual heart you’ve come to expect from Dikembe, backed up by a big slab of 90s grunge. A mix that works so well, ‘Mediumship’ is an album I’ve returned too lots over the last few months. It’s a really relaxed and easy listen, love it!

To stream/download click HERE

16. Three Man Cannon – Pretty Many People

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American Indie music in the great tradition of bands like Pavement, Grandaddy and Built To Spill will always make me weak at the knees when done well. It completely bowls me over when done as well as Three Man Cannon do on ‘Pretty Many People’. I didn’t really know what to expect when I put it on for the first time and have been consistently blown away by it on each listen since. Great record!!

To stream/download click HERE

15. Cosmic Thoughts – S/T

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It’s been a really great year for Cosmic Thoughts and the local scene that they’ve had a big hand in reinvigorating. Their S/T debut record is infectious beat after infectious beat and far too good to be ignored. If you haven’t already please check the album out, you won’t regret it.

To stream/download click HERE

14. Cayetana – Nervous Like Me

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The early promise shown on their demo and 7″ is fully realised on ‘Nervous Like Me’. A lot of people had high hopes for this record and I’ve not heard of anyone being disappointed. Lo-fi indie punk in the form of 3 minute pop gems delivered to perfection!

To stream/download click HERE

13. Acid Fast – Rabid Moon

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This was the first new record I got this year and I knew I’d be discussing it here with you now even then. ‘Rabid Moon’ bounces along with plenty of energy and not a fuzzy note out of place.

To stream/download click HERE

12. Baton Rouge – Totem

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Kicking myself that I missed the opportunity to see Baton Rouge on their recent UK tour, in fact this year has not been the best for me getting to shows, something that will hopefully be rectified next year. This album is an amazing progression from a superb debut record, it’s beautifully packaged and completely sets them apart from being just another French screamo band.

To stream/download click HERE

11. Prawn – Kingfisher

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Whilst never quite reaching the dizzy heights of their last EP ‘Ships’, ‘Kingfisher’ definitely cements Prawn’s position as one of the leading lights in the current wave of Emo bands. They have really made this post rock/indie Emo crossover sound their own and have been consistently brilliant on every release, ‘Kingfisher’ is no exception.

To stream/download click HERE

10. Cloud Nothings – Here and Nowhere else

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Fucking ATP! Cancelling Jabberwocky just days before I was supposed to attend, meaning I missed out on seeing an array of incredible bands – namely Cloud Nothings. ‘Here and Nowhere Else’ is perhaps the catchiest and fastest indie rock album of the year. Love it.

To buy click HERE

9. Crows-An-Wra – Kalopsia

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It’s amazing that in 2014 bands can still push the envelope of what post hardcore is and how it sounds, but that’s exactly what Cornwall’s Crows-An-Wra do on their debut LP, ‘Kalopsia’. The result is terrifyingly brilliant. The electronic melody mixed with the vain bursting screams of 2nd track ‘Perseus’ make for one of my favourite songs of the year.

To stream/download click HERE

8. Sport – Bon Voyage

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As I said in my review of ‘Bon Voyage’ at the start of the year, if you’re gonna include on one of your songs a sample of Steve Buscemi talking from my favourite film of all time, Fargo, then you’re gonna get me on side straight away. Sport did just that. Obviously it helps that it’s backed up by some of the best indie/Emo/punk music of the year. Still can’t believe they’ve called it a day.

To stream/download click HERE

7. Kind Eyes – It’s ok, It’s not ok

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I don’t even this has been or will be released apart from being made available on bandcamp, hopefully it will and if it does, buy all the copies you can. It’s fucking brilliant. Margate’s finest smashing out riff after riff, it just gets better and better throughout the record. Love these guys!!

To stream/download click HERE

6. Tigers Jaw – Charmer

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Deep down, everyone knew Tigers Jaw would be just fine. They are one of the most consistently brilliant bands of the last few years, something which they further proved with the amazing ‘Charmer’ released earlier this year. They are the ultimate downbeat indie/Emo Rock band.

To stream/download click HERE

5. Human Hands – S/T

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After being completely blown away by Human Hands when I saw them live for the first time in 2013, I knew their debut LP would be one of the highlights of 2015 and I wasn’t wrong. 6 songs so gut wrenchingly beautiful and heartfelt that they leave you exhausted by the end. The gloriously lo-fi packaging tops off what is a must have record!

To stream/download click HERE

4. Plaids – Plaids

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Plaids recently called it a day, which is way more than an utter shame, but not before releasing a killer record. Channeling influences like Dag Nasty/Jawbox etc.. into what is an essential and relevant modern punk record. This band will be missed 😦

To stream/download click HERE

3. Braid – No Coast

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I’m sorry but did Braid not only reform but come back with one of the albums of their career? Yes they bloody well did. It still surprises me (in a really good way) just how amazing this record is, in a year of disappointing ‘nu-emo’ records it’s a big relief that some of the forefathers of this movement can come back and show everyone how it’s done. Hopefully they’re here to stay.

To stream/download click HERE

2. Papayér – Boo

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What could possibly make an Emo band even better? Well, one answer may be to take a huge Pavement influence and put out an album of incredibly well crafted pop songs. This is what Papayér have done and the results are astonishing. British independent music is in a really good place right now and, for me, Papayér are right at the forefront. And if they keep making music as good as this it won’t be long until they’re my favourite band. Incredible!

To stream/download click HERE

1. Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate) – You Will Eventually Be Forgotten

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They made us wait a hell of a long time for the full length follow up to 2009’s debut LP ‘What It Takes To Move Forward’ but 2014 finally bought the long promised new record. And what a blindingly brilliant record it is. Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate) are unique, not in the style of music they play which follows a great Emo tradition, but in the fact that they have made this sound completely their own. You who it is as soon as you hear the first notes being played. Also, switching to a straight, autobiographical narrative to the lyrics set this record apart from anything they have put out before. ‘You will eventually be forgotten’ is a really wonderful record, and thoroughly deserves to be album of the year. Thanks guys x

To stream/download click HERE

Thanks for reading. Get in touch. http://www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog, ittoblog@gmail.com, or Twitter @alex_itto

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Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate), Brighton 17/11/2012

I haven’t written anything for a couple of weeks and I kind of have an excuse for that. In fact the last thing I posted was an interview with Keith from Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate) and if you haven’t already read that then do it now by clicking HERE. Back to the excuse, I’ve been sent a few things for review and this usually takes me some time to get through because I like to listen to something several times before I write about it. I have had the intention to get on and do this but all I’ve been wanting to listen to for the last few weeks has been Empire! Empire! The fact that I was about to go and see the band for the first time had got me just a little bit excited so I decided to sod everything else off and just indulge myself in their back catalogue until the time for the gig came.

I love Brighton, it’s an awesome city and always a great place to see a show. Plus my brother lives there so I can park for free which is a massive bonus. My good friend Paul and I made the 2 hour drive from Thanet down on a chilly and overcast Saturday evening in November and before long we were walking round like a pair of lost tourists trying to seek the venue out. The Green Door Store, as its name suggests, can be identified by its green door, with our combined brain power we worked this out and ventured in to the venue. The signs that this was going to be a great night were already there as soon as we entered as we took an instant liking to the place. It’s a charming venue situated underneath Brighton train station and we got there early so we could see every band on the five band bill.

First up were Summerslam 88, their lively pop punk seemed to go down really well with the early attendees which included the singers mum. My mum never came to any of my gigs, mainly because I never told her when we were playing. She would only have slagged it all off anyway, the guy from Summerslam 88’s mum seemed to really enjoy their set which was nice to see. Second on the bill were Me and Goliath who were extremely impressive, their short set of emotional hardcore reminded me of seeing Suis La Lune the first time. And they were loud, so loud that at one point during a wall of noise in the their last song I even had to take my coat off for fear of passing out. Any more of that and I’d be saying “Woah there fellas!”, luckily it didn’t come to that. Seriously though, I would love to see these guys play again and hopefully will one day. Then it was the turn of Gnarwolves. Judging by onstage banter and crowd reaction I was possibly the only person in the room to have never seen Gnarwolves before. I had read about them though and seen their name all over the place, I now know that this is due to the fact they can write pop punk songs with the best of them and cut it live too. I really liked seeing the crowd swell in size and voice during their set, they did an incredible job of warming everyone up for what was about to come.

Then it was time for The Reptilian to take things to the next level. I took my place at the front and expectations were high due in part to Tommy Royds from the great Zine and not heard, who I’d just met for the first time in the bar, telling me just how awesome they had been a couple of nights previous in London. And he was right. They won the crowd over instantly with their energy, off kilter rhythms and mind-blowing fret tapping. However good I get at the guitar I’ll never be as good as the guy from The Reptilian at fret tapping, I’ve made my peace with this now and can appreciate just how awe inspiringly good he was. The whole band played as tight as any band you’re likely to see and this topped by the fact that they have some really kick arse songs made their set memorable for all the right reasons.

Finally, it was Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate)’s turn to play. This was their last night of a 2 week tour of the UK and Ireland and there seemed to be a real party atmosphere in the air as they played through their set. They seemed to be genuinely touched by the response they had gotten over here and repaid us with a set full of some of their best songs. The sound was incredible too all the way through their set, from the sweet interlocking guitars at the start of ‘Turbo Stasis’ to the massive full band rock of ‘Keep what you have built up here’. That second song I mention there whipped the crowd in to a frenzy of vocals and pointed fingers which reminded me of why I love going to see bands play so much. I’ve said this before and I’ll no doubt say this again, I feel so lucky that there are bands like E!E!(IWALE) out there right now playing this sort of music to crowds full of like-minded people. I wouldn’t have believed it possible 7 or 8 years ago when I’d become so jaded that I was starting to think that music was a write off. I can now go and see of my current favourite emo bands and there is a brilliant turn out, amazing atmosphere and a real energy about the scene. This makes me so happy which kind of takes away from the misery of liking emo music but , oh well, I’m sure I’ll get over that.

And if it isn’t enough that Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate) are blowing us away already with their beautiful noise they also come with added extras. Because the band has only 2 permanent members (Keith and Cathy) this means that when touring they need to have back up musicians come with them and when said back up musicians include Warren Franklin then that can only be seen as a massive bonus to us fans. Especially when, during the set, he swaps his bass for a guitar and takes up lead vocal duties as the band play his song ‘You get weary’. Warren Franklin’s voice is incredible, hearing his voice live is a real treat and a definite highlight of the night. This treat then continues when Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate) go to play their last song. ‘An idea is a greater monument than a cathedral’, the closing song of their full length lp ‘What it takes to move forward’, has to be one of my favourite Empire! Empire! songs and would be my choice as the perfect song for them to play last. So, as they play through the opening bars of the song I start to get excited. This then escalates when I realise Warren Franklin will be singing the gorgeous backing vocals at the end. It’s every bit as perfect as you can imagine and an awesome way to finish their set and their UK tour as a whole.

It was an unforgettable show, it totally lived up to the massive expectations which I had placed upon it. I hope they go home and tell every other band on the Count your lucky stars roster to get themselves over here asap. Although if they do I can say with some certainty that they won’t be recommending American Airlines as a means of transport. Upon arrival in the UK, Keith discovered his Gibson Les Paul had the headstock snapped even though it was in a flight case marked fragile. Luckily, someone lent him a guitar for the tour and even managed to fix his by the last show. You could see how happy Keith was to be playing on his own guitar at last, but this happiness was short-lived because on arrival back in America he found that the same airline had done the same thing to his guitar. There is a lesson here for us all. American Airlines don’t seem to be forthcoming with any sort of apology or compensation so please join the many others already doing so and hassle them on every social media outlet until they agree to do something about it.

Me with Keith and Cathy

Thanks for reading guys!!!

To stream/download songs by Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate) click HERE

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