It would be a lie to say the calm before the storm that is a Brother and Bones gig is, technically, ‘calm’: it’s more of a shuffle for the first-timers to get as close to the speakers as possible, ready to get their ears blitzed by a pounding aural-assault, and a hive of seasoned fans standing just far enough back that they’ll enjoy the gig without losing the bits of their ears that are, well, important.
Before the Southern five-piece take to the rather small stage at The Bodega (no cloakroom; yes, I’m bitter, I had a fucking massive bag), we were treated to local two-piece Noah, whose harmonies were quite beautiful. The only gripe I would have is that their cover of Whitney Houston’s ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’, sadly, was of the same quality as Bastille’s cover of Corona’s ‘Rhythm of the Night’ and conjured in me the same levels of rage and disdain.
So I’ve decided to ignore this obvious crowd pleaser and focus instead on the double’s spellbinding vocals and brilliant storytelling. Their third song, a number about how guitarist Joe stopped a father from beating his son (true story, top man) was told ever so simply and Rebeka Whittle’s voice melted in a striking and soaring harmony that remained true to their minimalist sound. A few more original songs and no more covers and they’ll be headlining shows in Nottingham, no doubt – the talent is undeniably there. Plus, they both have that whole extremely good-looking vibe going on, which tends to help in the music industry, sorry Lauren Mayberry from CHVRCHES.
Which brings me on to a conversation I had before the gig, with Richard Thomas from the headline act Brother and Bones and my compatriot for the night Alex Foxley-Johnson, where we ended up on the situation that Brother and Bones are in: a band with a fantastic underground following, a brilliant mix of carefully put together songs and yet they remain unsigned. Richard says “you’ve pretty much got to be pre-packaged these days” “Should he start twerking?”, I jest. Because falling short of taking part in the newest and grimmest dance craze, it’s difficult to see what else Brother and Bones can do to get themselves noticed.
Surely, they are the full package: a talented, charismatic and ridiculously vocally-gifted frontman, a band of brilliantly experimental musicians who aren’t afraid to push boundaries and who create one hell of a racket when they perform and a gaggle of tunes able to bring any room / festival / audience to their knees, ranging from the staggeringly poignant ‘Gold and Silver’ to the room-shaking beauty of ‘Don’t Forget to Pray’.
Somehow though, Monday’s audience were rather unreceptive to the pure showmanship of Thomas et al. The best reaction it seemed was from a small section of ladies in the middle, who later turned out to be half of the England Women’s Cricket Team, with one of the team taking to Twitter to voice her disdain for the fact the band are not signed. Even with a lethargic crowd, doing their best to suck most of the enthusiasm out of the lively Southern lads, Brother and Bones still managed to produce an ear drum pounding wall of sound. Their set was a showcase to their maturity as well, opening with their some of their most raucous barnstormers and finishing off with a majestic cover of the Black Crowes’ ‘She Talks to Angels’.
It would be lazy to say the Monday night audience were entirely responsible for the sense of lethargy in the crowd; Brother and Bones were putting their blood and grit in to the evening’s set and deserved a better response. They certainly showed why they are still one of the best live acts in the UK at the moment. Catch them, and for god’s sake it’s not a criminal offence to sing along on a Monday evening after work. You showed ’em, cricketers…
What do some of the biggest names in metal, I’m talking Trivium, Killswitch Engage, Kvelertak and behemoths of all that is heavy, Slipknot, have in common with our #9 on our 10 for 2014 list? They’re all signed to Roadrunner Records, who for the last 30 years have been bringing the thrash which makes us, well, thrash…
Comparing up-and-comers Marmozets to Slipknot seems unfair, seeing as the latter have built up a phenomenal reputation since the ’90s as one of the definers of the genre. However, we should point out that Marmozets have been around for 6 years, although you’d be excused for thinking they had formed more recently since they look closer to their GCSEs than A-levels.
Their appearance at Reading Festival 2012 on the BBC Introducing Stage gave everyone an early taste of the carnage and chaos Marmozets would be thrusting upon us in 2013. Now, after touring slots with Enter Shikari and appearances at this year’s Liverpool Sound City and Great Escape, the band have honed their live show into a frenetic, fret-driven beast.
The group from Bingley, West Yorkshire who’ve only just become legal to drink alcohol will be inflicting anarchy on larger audiences throughout 2014, whilst putting pen to paper on a full album. Becca Macintyre is the kind of frontwoman any band starting out needs; she’s an absolute dynamo, showing all the traits of a metal superstar before she hits her twenties. With riffs ahoy and a helluva lot of youthful exuberance about them, there’s absolutely no reason why Marmozets shouldn’t be setting their sights on Slipknot’s level of fame.
2011’s fourth album ‘D’ brought about a continuation of White Denim’s career theme: an eccentric noodling take on math rockery. In ‘D’ they showed an audaciousness that was perhaps unseen in their previous works and served to get them noticed, perhaps so noticed that they ended up headlining TGTF’s stage at The Great Escape in 2011. But that’s by the by.
They were experimental to almost excessive lengths on ‘D’; on their new release ‘Corsicana Lemonade’, they seem even more hell-bent on shoe-horning as many time changes and genres into the record. One moment, you’re bopping at a low key club with an electro beat pumping through you on ‘Limited by Stature’, the next you’re in Rio swept up by a carnival atmosphere before you’re whisked away on a trippy as balls magic carpet by ‘Let It Feel Good (My Eagles)’.
The harsh guitar rhythms are a constant of the album, driving it on; however, it is in songs like the aforementioned ‘Let It Feel Good (My Eagles)’ where White Denim’s funk credentials are unleashed, as they bound forward with an old-school drum beat and some fancy strum work from Austin Jenkins and frontman James Petralli.
The band’s blues and jazz background comes to the fore on this record too, perhaps even more than in ‘D’ and ‘Fits’. We’re even treated to some dirty, DIRTY sax on ‘Cheer Up / Blues’, where Petralli is bleeding a schmooze-y, sexy kind of sleaze. Old-school meets the very, very new-school in a brilliant way throughout this ten-song testament to White Denim’s immense need to challenge everything.
Any semblance of conventional song structure is a thing of the past for the Texas four-piece. It’s a not a ‘giant middle finger’ to the dogma of 21st century experimentation, it’s a whole different take that manages to sound authentic and homely whilst stretching frontiers. Most of the album is rather frenetic, and then everything settles down as the tenth track slides effortlessly in: ‘A Place To Start’ is a contradiction to the rest of the album, it’s spellbindingly simple – a demonstration of how White Denim are developing their sound and using James Petralli’s gorgeous vocals to take them to an entirely new level.
My personal highlight comes within the first 30 seconds of the record, with a criminally funky roll through the chords during ‘A Night in Dreams’. I challenge anyone to listen to the first 30 seconds of this album and not be breaking out a horrendously finicky air guitar. Combine that with the scathing vocals and you’ve got a winner in ‘Corsicana Lemonade’: an album with enough hooks to get them noticed, and enough daring to keep everyone guessing what their next move could be.
‘Corsicana Lemonade’, the latest album from Texans White Denim, is out now on Downtown Records. Watch the band bust out ‘A Night in Dreams’ for LA radio station KCRW below.
2013 may have seen Pure Love unceremoniously dumped from their label and frontman Frank Carter grow a rather unsightly and incredibly hipster ginger beard. But Pure Love are nonetheless one of easiest to recommend live acts doing the rounds at the moment. (And quite nice in person too:read my interview with Carter and musical partner Jim Carroll from last year here.)
Anybody familiar with Mr Carter knows that any live show – whether it’s The Rescue Rooms in Nottingham, The Engine Shed in Lincoln or the NME tent at Reading/Leeds Festival – carries with it a warning, that warning being “at any point Frank Carter may punch you in your face and make you look like a dick”. Yeah, so he is singing songs about being “sick of all the hate”, but that won’t stop the ex-Gallows man slugging you in the chops if you act like a mug in the crowd. Add in to that equation that he spends 90% of the gig in the crowd, singing, screaming and scrapping while also having his photo taken numerous times, and it’s a pretty volatile situation.
A volatile situation, but one that is at least 99% rock and roll.
I mean, for example he got the entire drum kit in the crowd, and started a circle pit around it. That’s fucking cool.
For the epitome of a total live experience, it’s difficult to look any further than Pure Love – and in the searing heat of Austin, Texas, Jonny and Frank are going to cause the kind of sweaty catastrophe of bodies that you would only really expect to find at a really good orgy.
That’s right: a Pure Love gig is like an orgy – sort of. [The kind of orgy that might involve inflatable dingeys; watch below - Ed.]
What sums up the youthful exuberance and blossoming success of the British hardcore/metal scene in 2013? Is it Bring Me the Horizon’s ‘Sempiternal’? Quite possibly. Is it the fact that Arcane Roots have just supported Muse on a stadium tour? Maybe. Or is it the fact that Bingley five-piece Marmozets have been signed to Roadrunner Records and with their new single ‘Move, Shake, Hide’ looks set to catapult them firmly in to the eyes of the great British public? Most definitely.
The rise of Marmozets over the past 2 and a half years has been a slow burner for the most, supplemented by some fearsome tour schedules. Over the last 10 months, though, Marmozets have encapsulated everything that is good about British metal at the moment: a fearlessness to experiment, an arrogance or confidence that can only be borne of youthful enthusiasm and raw talent. Probably the kind of mix Greg Dyke is looking for in the next generation of British footballers… In music though, we don’t get commissions and boards. But we are treated to, in much the same way as football, incredible breakthroughs that get us excited and have us off our seats.
While ‘Born Young and Free’ was probably that first goal which makes you take notice of them, ‘Move, Shake, Hide’ is that one of those feats of near brilliance which lets you know that there is something special. Becca Macintyre’s immense vocals are supplemented by a double guitar assault, with breakdowns that range from the heavy to the funky. I can pay testament to this track in a live arena is utter carnage; orchestrated by Miss Macintyre who is increasingly showing her credentials as the heir to the throne left vacant by Amy Lee – that of the faux-goth superstar.
Chuck in to the mixer that the hooks are despicably catchy, and it’s obvious that Marmozets are no longer new kids on the block. They’re ready to but their 18-year old noses in to the big leagues – at least now school is out.
‘Move, Shake, Hide’ will be Marmozets’ first single to be released on their new label Roadrunner Records on the 18th of November.
Eyes watering, you emerge from the eerie dry ice. All you can do is solemnly bop your head, your face morose after the journey you’ve been on, through the female psyche; the intense neurosis, the sundry delusions of grandeur and dejection all mixed up with feminist ideals and dreams.
These feelings can often be associated with when you leave a rave, eyes stinging at the dreadful mist of dry-ice fumes, cigarette smoke and the faint whiff of cheap back-alley beak. They can also now be associated with the sentiment after listening to Poliça’s second record, ‘Shulamith’: an alt-pop, synth drenched journey, through the intense feminist mind of lead singer and Poliça’s song-writing lynchpin Channy Leanagh.
Leanagh nailed her sufferer of suffrage colours to the mast quite firmly with their debut album ‘Give You The Ghost’ and within 20 seconds of ‘Chain My Name’, the opener of ‘Shulamith’, we’ve got a melancholic cry of feminist rage, as Leanagh mutters, “Are we just made to fight/All our lives?”, in a fairly relatable attack on the dogma of love and relationships. Relatable as hell, does anybody understand relationships? Channy Leanagh sure as hell doesn’t and she isn’t out there pretending to be some kind of expert. She’s giving a fairly bleak example of her situation and her experiences of being a 21st century woman who don’t need no man (insert funny meme here).
But seriously, throughout this record we are treated to a trippy as balls journey, i.e., invasion of Channy Leanagh’s head. It’s murky water at times, treading through a swirling misty pool of darkened imagery, so opaque that you’re worried you may get caught up in some kind of mire. We’re treated to an almost third person journey, with Justin Vernon interspersing the imagery on ‘Tiff’. As previously cited though, the feminist undercurrents are even more apparent in this record, in comparison to the debut. Understandably so, seeing as the title directly infers a relation to Canadian-born feminist, Shulamith Firestone, author The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution.
Back to the music and as far from the ideologies that this record is penned around, we are treated to some mind-fuckerous beats. ‘Matty’ feels like an LSD-infused horse-and carriage ride with the haunches of the beast tapping like a metronome as you take in the views, the despair of a relationship doomed to fail. The beat is reminiscent of a ‘Plastic Beach’-era Gorillaz, while the melody and lyrics are far more morose and disturbing – we’re invited inside Leanagh’s head freely to indulge in the despair.
You’re probably realising that unless you thrive of the gloomy, this record won’t be for you. Understandably with such deep subject matter explored in detail by Poliça, the music though ranges from unquestionably brilliant alternative pop, with beats so infectious they should come with inoculations in the digipak – to synth smothered vocals delivered hauntingly brilliantly by a Lucy Rose/Laura Marling crossover. Channy Leanagh is the quintessential female frontman of this genre, Controlling the band’s movement and rhythm effortlessly with her immense story-telling and understanding of the pace of songs.
‘Shulamith’ is hardly to awaken you from a deep slumber, but it’s far from something to send you to sleep as well. No, it’s more of a meditatory collection of experiences and experimental rhythms, where time signatures and moulded and skewed to fit the author’s pleasures.
A beautiful collection of torment from Poliça, and most certainly not their last.
‘Shulamith’, the sophomore effort from Poliça, is out now on Memphis Industries. The band tour the UK in February; all the details are here.