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In an ever-more-likely attempt at world domination, PINS demonstrate their impeccable taste, and perhaps betray more than a little of their idolatry, with the advent of their ‘Come Back’ EP, released on cassette to coincide with Cassette Store Day on 27th September. Gadzooks – what next? Wax Cylinder Week? Floppy Disk Fortnight?
Each of the three tracks is a cover – ‘Come Back’ is by The Belles, ‘I’m Leaving You’ by Char Vinnedge and Mary Gallagher, and ‘You Don’t Love Me’ by bluesman Willie Cobbs, which is perhaps the most instantly recognisable song – think Dawn Penn’s skanking reggae version with added “na na na”s, or perhaps, for the younger generation, Beyoncé’s brief poptastic live cover. Whichever way you cut it though, PINS deliver the definitive garage-rock version here.
More intriguing still is the origins of the title track. The Belles are a little-known Miami group from the early ‘60s, with nary an album to their name. How they can come up with something as spanking as ‘Come Back’ and thereafter sink into obscurity is unknown, and something of a shame. They did a cover of Them’s ‘Gloria’, changing the title to ‘Melvin’, with tongue-in-cheek consequences, but that’s about all we know about them. Certainly deserving of a modest revival courtesy of PINS. Cleverly, the original of ‘Come Back’ is 2 minutes, 12 seconds long; the cover is exactly the same length. Spooky coincidence or admirable attention to detail? You decide.
‘Come Back’ will be released on cassette in a limited run of 100 for Cassette Store Day on Saturday, the 27th of September, so get eBaying for those vintage Walkmans right away.
By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 16th September 2014 at 11:00 am
Yes, it’s September, and summer festival season is over. But that doesn’t mean that Young Kato are taking any breaks. The Cheltenham group released their latest EP this week, titled ‘Sunshine’. (You can read my In the Post analysis of the track here.)
I had the opportunity to chat with their rather well-coiffed Young Kato frontman Tommy Wright at Liverpool Sound City back in May. It was a particularly busy weekend that saw the group from Cheltenham play a show at Live at Leeds that Saturday afternoon before travelling west for their appearance at the Zanzibar in Scouseland. “Everywhere we go, we’re still quite a small band, up and coming, we expect to play to no-one, so when we walk in to something like Live at Leeds, where there are so many bands to choose from and you have a full room, what a great atmosphere. It’s a great experience.”
As strongly supported by the comments of Henry Binns in Carrie’s recent Skype interview with the producer/musician of Zero 7, song syncing in television is now an important source of revenue for bands. But what seems more important in the case of Young Kato is the visibility leading to fame. There is no denying that the size of the throngs that now seem to follow the six-piece around the country are at least in part a direct benefit from their music being played on and their gig associations with E4 reality drama Made in Chelsea, which has clearly made the band much more well known in the country. When I asked him about how it happened, Wright said he wasn’t sure how MiC’s music producer Andrea found their music, but “she played us a few times in the background, they put us on a Spotify playlist, and the script was written with the idea that there would be a band on the show, playing live. Fortunately, she pushed for us and so that’s how it came about. And it’s been amazing for us, obviously.”
He also told me an amusing anecdote about how he’d still been working in a shop around the time when the episode with their live appearance aired and the next morning, “someone walked into the shop and stared at me for a long, long time and asked, ‘were you on tv last night?’ ‘Uh, yeah…” Still, he said at the time the guys don’t expect to be recognised when they’re out and about but when they are, it’s really nice to be noticed. I think it’s safe to say that they should be getting comfortable with the notion of this now, having graduated to a contract with major label BMG, “a force to be reckoned with”.
This past weekend, I was lucky enough to touch base with Tommy again to see how their summer had been. “Our summer was great, thank you! We’ve been kept busy playing festies and writing more and more music. Highlights have to be playing BST Hyde Park, [our] London headline show at the Islington and writing/recording the upcoming EP.” I prodded him for more about the ‘Sunshine’ EP and how it fits in the ongoing Young Kato story. “I believe ‘Sunshine’ is a perfect representation to where we are as a band at this very moment. We’re in very good place, hence the joyous and carefree vibe. Not everyone’s the same, but it’s completely natural to me for my writing to be dictated by how I’m feeling at the time.”
It sounds like the new EP is a good next progression for the band such that they’re not staying in the same place, while also not saying goodbye to what has made them already fast fan favourites all over the UK. “The songs on the EP certainly keep with the Young Kato sound and feel. I’d say ‘Sunshine’ leans more towards [former single] ‘Drink, Dance, Play’ due to its natural energy, chants and all. I’m most proud of track two, ‘Ultraviolet’, as it is heavily inspired by big ‘80s tunes. [Bandmate and guitarist Joe] Green and I have even included breathing loops throughout, inspired by a Kraftwerk song we stumbled upon around the time we were writing it. This EP is fun, a celebration of where we’re at right now.” I also asked that given that we’re closing in on astrological autumn, if he or the band had any reservations on the release date in September for an album clearly made in a sunnier, warmer environment. His reply was brilliant: “I guess it is slightly weird, but that’s the beauty of music. Music has the ability to brighten up even the darkest, coldest days.” That’s very true, isn’t it?
The promo video for ‘Sunshine’ released in early August doesn’t star the band – I’m sure many fans are mourning over this – but instead features a young girl listening to music on her headphones, dancing in her own dream world although she’s actually in a council estate. Tommy explains the premise: “The ‘Sunshine’ video for me needed to be simplistic and sunny. This would allow our song with a joyous chorus, big chants and hooks to be the centre point. Given that, we always take care in the aesthetics of a video, hand picking directors we like who cinematically are [at the] top of their game.” This attention to detail is, to me, yet another indicator of Young Kato’s great pride in being in a band and making music for the masses.
Going back to the song, I had to ask Tommy what the deal was with the saxophone. “We had the hook nailed in the song for a long time, then we set off to investigate sounds that would be best suited for the role. When researching back to some great ‘90s dance tunes and even some more current songs around at the moment, Harry [Steele, their keyboardist] thought the use of a saxophone would be ideal. There’s only one tune with the sax unfortunately, and that’s ‘Sunshine’! It’s something we’d definitely think about using again though.”
Finally, before I could leave the young Mr Wright alone, I had to ask how progress was coming along with their debut album release. In Liverpool in May, he’d said that they were the ultimate in perfectionists, going back into the studio to faff around with already worked on tune again. This time when I asked though, it sounds like things are set in stone, or are at least closer to being that way: “The album is on its way and we can guarantee that an album will be out, [we’re] looking at early next year! We’ve been adding some finishing touches to it, but it will be everything we’ve promised and more. Keep your eyes peeled.” And that we shall.
Many thanks to Tommy for being so kind to answer my questions yet again (we’re either headed towards becoming best buds or he already thinks I’m super annoying, ha!) and Paul for his assistance with this. You can listen to ‘Light It Up’ from the EP below, and for more TGTF writing on Young Kato, head this way.
By Mary Chang
on Friday, 12th September 2014 at 12:00 pm
It’s been about a year and a half since Manchester’s City Reign released their well-received debut album ‘Another Step’. The band will be releasing a new single soon and unlike ‘See What It’s Worth’ b-side ‘Package It Up’ that I reviewed back in January of this year, this song sounds much less poignant, at least on the surface. The difference in tempo is obvious and the overall sound is much brighter and brasher as well, which should make it a firm radio favourite.
As you might have already guessed from its title, ‘When You Got It All’ is about how you look at the things you have in life. As a kid when I couldn’t get my way, my brother would annoyingly reference the Stones’ ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’. In the context of an up-and-coming band such as theirs, this single first addresses the thirst for success can seem unquenchable unless certain goals are met. The accompanying press release even begins with a joke by the writer: he says it would take owning a large yacht and a helicopter for him to have known he’d made it.
I have seen this kind of phenomenon happen before my very eyes with bands I have known when they were first starting up, watching them coming up the ranks of stardom. Fame and money, regardless what your vocation, can be addictive if you’ve been working so hard to get somewhere and it seems you’ve made it. But this single asks, “does it feel the same?” when you have it all? This isn’t asked gently. This is emphatically shouted during the powerful chorus. And really, once you reach a certain level of success, things don’t feel the same because they really are never the same again. To its credit, this single doesn’t favour the obvious direction for rock stars enjoying the spoils, that once ‘you have it all’, things might not actually be for the better. In that way, the song mirrors the sentiment of the Stones’ song probably more than they meant to.
And, just like the stock market and all bands’ trajectories, what goes up must come down. City Reign address this in verse 2, in which frontman Chris Bull emotes, “tell me a reason, there must be a reason / we all owe it to reason, to figure it out / why we’re coming down, why we’re coming down”. Is the forcefulness of this song supposed to reflect the frustration of having met those aforementioned goals and getting to the place you wanted, but finding out what is there is not what you wanted at all? Definite food for thought.
‘When You Got It All’, Manchester-based band City Reign’s next single, is out on the 22nd of September on Car Boot Records.
By Mary Chang
on Wednesday, 10th September 2014 at 12:00 pm
This week sees the release of London band Duologue‘s second album. Their 2012 debut ‘Song & Dance’ featured the epic ‘Cut and Run’ and the wholly mesmerising ‘Machine Stop’, so the question was always going to be, in what direction would the band going to go for album #2? Even having listened to ‘Never Get Lost’ a couple times, I’m still not sure myself, as the songs contained within it vary from track to track in tempo and mood. The best description I can come up with so far is that like some of Broken Bells‘ music, it sounds like Duologue were trying to make a record that sounded like it had come from another world or at the very least by seriously unconventional means, which I realise could be take either as a compliment or insult, depending on the company.
The two early teasers from the band this summer were certainly intriguing. The suitably electronic geek-titled ‘Drag & Drop’ shows off singer Tim Digby-Bell’s soulful yet at times nearly desperate vocals, while the glitchy wub wub wubs and big beats go on as if in indifference to his emotions. It’s pretty brilliant. ‘Forests’, which we gave away in mid-June in this previous MP3 of the Day post, features a catchy, shuffling electronic rhythm that draws you in. Important to note are Digby-Bell’s expansive vocals in its chorus, in addition to the overall feel of the song, is much gentler than those of ‘Drag & Drop’. But what of the other tracks on ‘Never Get Lost’?
The album begins rather darkly and in a brooding way with ‘Memex’. The electronics are minimised on this track, presumably to invite the listener in slowly but surely into the world that Duologue has woven so carefully. Shortly after the 3 and a half minute mark, the song is thrown into urgency, as electronics essentially take over the album. ‘This is Happening’, with its sardonic synth line and its all-pervading sinisterness, it is one of the album’s standouts as a memorable slow groove. Whoever decided to place ‘Drag & Drop’ after it deserves a gold star, as the pair of songs sound perfect one after another.
Going back to that alien feeling, ‘All Night Shows’ in the middle of the LP is the most otherworldly of the bunch. If you’re an electro head, I can see you digging this. I couldn’t imagine myself listening to it often, only when I was in the mood, but I can appreciate the effort. But for anyone else, I suspect it sounds overdone, overwrought and over the top and in some ways, entirely inhuman as it squeaks and squeals its way to its end. Rhythmically engaging ‘Traps’ also falls into this alien music category. Contrast these songs with the album’s last two tracks and most of ‘Departures’ and the first third of ‘Parts of the Blame’, which showcase more conventional pop songwriting structures. Are we still listening to the same album?
The schizophrenic ‘Siblings’ is a good example of where this album falls flat: it’s admirable with its many layers of textures but nevertheless, it lacks focus. For sure, there are some great electronic beat heights and some truly wonderful moments on ‘Never Get Lost’. But if one looks at the sum of its parts, it feels like this album might have done better with a case of less is more. Any electronic artist will tell you the most difficult part of creating music is self-editing.
Duologue’s second album ‘Never Get Lost’ is out now on Wild Game Records.
Header photo by Leigh Burnette
Chesapeake, Virginia six-piece band The Last Bison are set to release their 3rd studio album, ‘VA’ (as in the American postal abbreviation for the state of Virginia), on the 30th of September via Media House Music. The group released their first album, 2011’s ‘Quill’, independently before signing to Universal Republic Records for their 2013 release ‘Inheritance’. ‘VA’ finds The Last Bison harkening back to their earlier independence, self-producing the songs they recorded in an old A-frame cottage near southern Virginia’s Great Dismal Swamp.
The sheer number of members in their band allows The Last Bison to create a uniquely lush, richly-textured sonic backdrop for its otherwise very basic folk-pop tunes. Their latest single, ‘Bad Country’ would seem to be a perfect fit for radio, with its uplifting optimism, soaring string arrangement and melodically memorable chorus, “I feel the wind blowing south again to the bad country / so it begins, we’re going down again to the bad country”. Frontman Ben Hardesty’s gritty singing voice has just the right balance of warmth and traction to make the song’s emotion feel authentic.
The true outstanding moment in ‘Bad Country’ is its anthemic and evocative bridge section, “scorched by the blazing sun / burnt to the falls we run / into the dark we dive / coming alive”. Maybe it’s my own recent move to the American Southwest, but to my ear, the backing vocals sound like eerie canyon echoes, bringing to mind imagery of treacherous mountains and rough desert terrain.
Earlier single ‘Every Time’ (which can also be found on the band’s Soundcloud page) is more traditionally folk-flavoured, but with powerful tribal percussion rhythms and strong backing vocals punctuating the verses. The insistent repeated lyrics in the chorus, “every time I look back / you were standing there / casually aware of me”, along with the dramatic and unrelenting percussion drive the song perpetually forward. The dynamic contrast and instrumental variation in the far-too-brief bridge section whets the appetite for more potential sonic brilliance on the full album.
For an even more tempting taste of what The Last Bison have to offer, check out their video trailer for ‘VA’, filmed at their rustic and secluded recording studio, just below.
Singer-songwriter James Bay will follow his two sold out September shows at St. Stephen’s Church with a full headline tour of the UK and Ireland slated for this November. His recent EP ‘Let It Go’ has been featured on Radio One’s BBC Introducing playlist as well as right here at TGTF. You can stream its title track below the tour date listing, or listen to the entire EP on Bay’s Soundcloud.
Tickets for the following dates will be available starting tomorrow, Friday the 5th of September, at 9 AM, except for the London show, which is on sale now.
Friday 14th November 2014 – Manchester Academy 3
Sunday 16th November 2014 – Glasgow Art School
Monday 17th November 2014 – Dublin Academy
Tuesday 18th November 2014 – Leeds Brudenell Social Club
Thursday 20th November 2014 – Bristol Thekla
Friday 21st November 2014 – Brighton Haunt
Saturday 22nd November 2014 – Norwich Waterfront Studio
Monday 24th November 2014 – Birmingham Academy 3
Tuesday 25th November 2014 – London Scala
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