Another pair of songs from Leeds based performance poet and multi-instrumentalist Tom Priestley, and his partner in art Martin Trippett.
‘Sick!’ – The ‘A Side’ – takes a sparse abrasive sound; a sound I’m going to describe as early Fall like. I’d describe it as punk but I’m not of the opinion that The Fall were really a punk band as such. Way too much Krautrock in there for that. Anyway that’s my opinion, feel free to disagree.
The key here is that It’s your basic guitar and drums deployed with a sense of frustration and no little aggression to match the words. The words, delivered with Tom’s usual completely unmistakably Leeds’ thing, speak of a variety of ways you can be sick or sick of things; sick of feeling ill, sick of being hopeless, sick of the eternal time that, I assume, passes by with no variation.
And while the words might speak of frustration. A dose of anger; the way Tom puts those words together has that wry dry as fuck humour I’ve come to expect.
The ‘B Side’ ‘Lifeless Culture’ is less a song and more a poem with musical backing. This makes it no less compelling. The sound is fuller; driving sparse drums, bass and two guitars. One of those guitars provides atmospheric sounds.
The words are a journey through our culture now; that’s culture in a wider sense. How the beauty of the world is drowned out by a tsunami of worthless, well, crap to be honest. It references, at least I think so, social media. The drowning out of proper discussion. The draining of hope. It therefore seems to expand on, or add to, the themes of ‘Sick!’.
While these two tracks might seem to be depressing as hell, they do come with joy; the joy of words put together with craft and art. The thrill of discovering that dark messages can be delivered with words that make you smile.
These are obviously a must if you’ve already discovered the words and music of Priestley and Trippett. If you’ve not done that yet, I suggest that these are a starter for ten, an introduction to them. Words and music in glorious lockstep. Words that tell of now, words that tell of our lives.
The song is about ‘anger at being spoken over by men who frankly don’t know what they are on about, the scream representing the internal groan all women do when someone starts mansplaining. Its explicit lyrics border on the comedic and ironic side of the misogyny the girls of the band have faced, while driving in that annoyed tone’.
There are things to love about this track. Let’s start with the humour; it’s used to drive home the message. Then there’s the fact that this is punky, very punky. Do be fooled by the gentle start. this thing blasts into a riot of guitar and screams. It’s angry, you get me. And those screams, the meaning of the song in a sound.
Drifting back to the humour. The song is funny, the words are gonna make you smile but it’s all more than tinged with anger and frustration. I don’t know whether there’s a thing called angry humour but this is what this song is.
There’s nothing left to say. This song bloody rocks. It’s a glorious shout of anger.
The Strangerz are an alternative, shouty feminist and punk band with a fun spin on gender norms and gender attitudes. They pride themselves on high energy sets and lyrics which are fun but highlight key issues close to their hearts.
The band formed in college in Doncaster over a lunch time pot noodle with Martha and Shannon, and the band have been making music together ever since.
Frontwoman- Martha Kelly (she/her)
Drummer- Shannon Gebbie (sher/her)
Guitarist- Thomas Kelly (he/him)
Bassist- Will Darracott (they/their/him/he/she/her)
29th of June- Jacaranda basement in Liverpool
9th of July- Bloom Building Birkenhead
15th of July- The Leopard in Doncaster.
29th of July- Rainbow in Birmingham
13th of August- London for loud women promotions
Halifax based L.O.E (it’s short for Last Of Eden) make progressive post rock music. Actually being more ‘accurate’ they make instrumental progressive post rock music. It does come with found speech but the power of their songs in in the composition and the playing.
‘People Like People Like Them’ is ‘a reflection of modern society and a window into frustration and anger. It provides a message of hope and a call to action. It is a voice for the forgotten and a soundtrack for the unheard. The track aims to capture the desperation, futility and shift in hope and power felt by anyone driven to despair at the state of the world. It aims to provide a reminder that by standing together we can overcome. We don’t have to take this anymore. The words that resonate over the music are still as pertinent and relevant today as they ever were. They shine a light on how society exploits disaster, pain and conflict to turn a profit. It shows how far we still have to come as a society and how unjust the world still is’.
This is a pretty big message to convey through music and found speech, I think we’d all agree. The question is does it work? The answer to this is a resounding yes.
The music reflects the desperation, frustration and, frankly, anxiety in the world now, and then the potential power of the people with a powerful emotional sound that leaves you without words. While the found speech sets that emotional sound in a context.
This is big music, music that’s as wide and deep as you’d ever want. The sound of guitars washes over you like a crashing wave. It is at once both simple and complex; this isn’t music showcasing the individual skills of the musicians but the power of a band who are absolutely locked together. The emotional power of the track comes from the dynamics, the shifts in feel and loudness.
Once again I find myself surprised by how compelling L.O.E’s music is, and how I don’t miss vocals. I think I do instinctively think of rock music as having vocals, of those vocals conveying the message and a large part of the emotion. The fact that I don’t miss them shows just how effective and frankly brilliant L.O.E are.
This is an incredible track that is very much pertinent to now, that provides a rallying cry. To sum up, I can think of nothing better to say than, this is outstanding, wow.
‘People Like People Like Them’ is the first single to be released by the band through Hopeful Tragedy Records. It follows the success of their debut release in December 2019.
L.O.E’s music tries to capture and reflect triumph, heroism, anguish and struggle throughout society. Not as a political stand, but to hold a mirror up to humanity. Weaving speech and video into live performance to create a cinematic experience of popular culture and a reflection of our times.
Matilda Shakes make music that positively screams ‘Let’s pppppaaaeettyyyyy people’. This goes beyond screaming; it assembles a crowd to yell support, it buys peak time advertising., it mounts a full on social media campaign. If you’re getting the idea that I rather like this track, you’d be wrong, I adore it.
Gradually Matilda Shakes have been creeping towards a full on Classic RnB Rock sound, and ‘Fast Lane’ is a big step towards that. It takes the sounds of bluesy classic rock – I’m thinking Ian Gillan period Deep Purple – and a harder more up to date alternative rock, and makes of them something absolutely fucking wild. Raw, raucous, dance your arse off music that makes you want to dance like nobody’s watching.
‘Fast Lane’ is for that moment in your Summer Parties when people lose all their inhibitions, when you need to take everything up a notch.
Party with Matilda Shakes, people.
In my last review I questioned who Matilda is, and why she was shaking. In fact I should have been what, or better where, Matilda is. This is because the band were nice enough to explain the origin of the name. In short the band is named after Matilda Street in Sheffield. A street that does indeed shake it.
In 2020 – boy, does time fly, where does it go – I reviewed Soup Review’s album ‘Beneath the Big White Moon’. The question on whether I should review it came with something of a touch of indecision. Thankfully, no such question arose with their new album. Expect their usual folk/ant-folk/alt-folk sounding songs with sometimes a touch of laugh out loudness, that are sometimes wry, and sometimes set out to tell stories of everyday folk and life.
Album opener is a lovely, and horribly earwormy, tune called ‘Too Long’. A simple song, but simple is difficult to do, with a beautifully sparse guitar and harmonica. While the words tell of a journey back to somebody that they’ve been apart from for too long. It’s wonderfully touching.
And why not follow that with a song about mustangs – the wild horses – called appropriately ‘Mustangs’. Or is it? Well it opens with a line about them, but I think not. Turning all Americana rock the duo sing of, well to be honest I have not the slightest idea. For this reason I am most puzzled by the line ‘Sea monkeys were invented in The Philippines’. Anyway hours or possibly days of enjoyment is provided by trying to work out quite what the song is about while soaking up that delicious guitar and organ.
Update No 1: Chris from the duo has informed me that I misheard the line ‘Sea monkeys were invented in The Philippines’, it’s actually ‘sea monkeys were invented in the fifties’. Clearly a case of my misfunctioning ears there. Although that hasn’t helped me to understand what the song is about any more clearly.
Update No 2: Oh wow the duo have actually recorded a podcast discussing ‘Mustangs’. So take a listen to learn more.
We return to a traditional English musical form – something Sea Shanty like – for the song ‘Chesil Beach. This is not a song about the beach as such but more about a visit there. This is frankly laugh-out loud silly.’
The folky ‘17 Days Of Wind’ tells of, hey guess what, 17 days of wind in the South-West. I say folky but it’s folky in a sort of Incredible String band way. It’s fantastically charming. Now we have a Bowie fan in-joke ‘Memory Of A Food Festival’. Over what I’m going to call a jaunty tune they sing of the hot sauce stall and cheese vendor.
‘You Left After a Snow Storm’ is one of those songs that on the face of it sounds a bit silly but it’s actually strangely touching. It’s basically about somebody following the tracks of a cat through the snow, and the other tracks they find on the way.
‘I Want To See What It Looks Like’ – a song that comes with a video – I think is a love song. It’s expressed in a strange way. Anyway it’s one of the duo’s songs that is irresistibly catchy. ‘Greet the Morning with Joy’ is an alt-folk song about waking up with the one you love.’Wind Chimes’ is a song about a set of home made wind chimes. And as mundane as it sounds, it has a strange beauty.
‘Foxes’ is a gentle song about being woken as a child by foxes. It’s weird but by this point in the album I was so tuned into what Soup Review do that I found this intensely moving. ‘Washing Up Liquid’ is a song about washing up, And yes, it really is.
‘Houses by the Sea’ is a memory of houses by the sea. Now what I have in mind is beach huts; something that resonates with me because I used to visit my Grand-parent’s beach hut regularly as a child. ‘Hotel Film’ is a charming short song that fits in with a theme I will ponder on soon.
Along with the title, there’s songs that, or possibly all the songs. point towards a theme of past and present visits, trips and holidays. Getting that makes the vignettes in the songs become more emotional; even the ones that, and there are, make you smile, chuckle and laugh. Now what I have to address here is, and I hate to use this word but others will, the somewhat quirky nature of their songs. The thing is that Soup Review may have their own individual approach to song-writing but this shouldn’t colour your opinion of them. As they say ‘they write songs that masquerade as comic, but on closer listening reveal themselves to be a deep and poignant exploration of the human condition’.
For me this is a charming and compelling set of songs that I have become quite addicted to. Listen and be enchanted.
Soup Review are what happens when South Yorkshire meets South Coast, when folk tradition meets anti-folk downbeat self- deprecation.
Chris Delamere is the son of a morris dancer. Mario D’Agostino arrived in Sheffield from Weymouth.
Together they write songs that masquerade as comic, but on closer listening reveal themselves to be a deep and poignant exploration of the human condition.
Well, I do love finding a band right at the start of their journey; this is EYEBRIGHT’s debut single, so there’s a box ticked right there.
The sound is, let’s call it melodic alternative rock; it’s heavy but not heavy heavy, and there’s something of a pop sensibility. Part of this is Jenny’s vocals which hit both that tuneful and way out there markers without going screamy. The vocals rock, OK.
Another thing that’s going to strike you is the guitar sounds. These go from a fuzzy overdriven sound to something that sounds a bit U2. But then suddenly there’s something that sounds a little psychedelic surf. It’s a wild guitar ride. Listen closer and you hear some great bass and drums. A thing to love here is where the bass sits in the mix.
The more I listen to this track, the more I get the impression that in addition to the more up to date influences, there’s something of further back influences that I find difficult to put my finger on exactly. So it may be better to say It’s alternative rock in that it’s not straight rock, and I’m not entirely sure it’s straight alternative rock.
I love a band who are doing something new, adding their own twist, and EYEBRIGHT are doing that. ‘On My Mind’ is fucking glorious, people. I wait, with bated breath, for more music from them.
Eyebright are a new female fronted alternative rock band from Yorkshire consisting of Jenny Staniforth on vocals, Rowan Minnis on guitar, Curtis Knowles on bass and Alex Banner on the drum kit.
The members met each other via the local music scene and from being in previous bands, but they formed to create something new and exciting for our local music scene. The band are inspired by a range of musical influences including bands such as Wolf Alice,The Kills, Idles and Kings of Leon.
The band have their debut gig at the Key club in Leeds on 5th August and aim to release their debut EP later this year.
What a day Long Division 2022 was; great atmosphere, venues and a range of bands and artists to please anyone’s tastes. Actually if I have one complaint, it’s that there were too many artists to see. So not for me flitting from venue to venue catching half a set there and half a set here; for a start it just doesn’t work AND I want to see a full set. What this meant was, and I assume it was the same for others, making some hard choices and missing some acts I really wanted to see so that I saw as many Yorkshire artists as possible.
The word on the street – or more accurately an email from a trusted friend – was that Terror Cult ‘are fucking good’ and that ‘I should kill, if necessary, to see them’. Thankfully no killing was necessary, just a stroll down from wristband exchange to Establishment.
The band play loud and raucous, punky stuff. But there’s a kicker; sometimes it’s surprisingly tuneful, and in that raucous stuff there is some great playing. Shoutout here to the guitarist who threw in some Fast Eddie like licks. The songs kinda hit the range of punky sounds – from loud and hard to that US punk vibe – but without losing that thing that makes them their songs.
While 12,15 may not be the best time for this, and I suspect it’s not a time the band see that often, they killed it, completely. Terror Cult are indeed ‘fucking good’, see them.
Next up for me was Fuzz Lightyear at Vortex. Now I’ve reviewed their releases, and been incredibly impressed, but with what I’m going to describe broadly as noise rock it’s the live immersion that is the real thing.
Boy do they bring their own twist. Yes, there is FX loaded guitar and bass, and yes there is relentless drumming – you’d expect that – but there is an Industrial feel and a dash of the post-punk of Joy Division that adds, shall we say, a bleakness. A bleakness that fills me with joy. I’m not entirely sure I expected that sound but that’s what I got. This is an experience I want again, and soon.
|I’ll start by saying that, for me at least, there are bands who make their recorded material so much more powerful, mesmerising and compelling live. They take them to the next level and beyond. Pleasure Centre are one of those bands.
If they are new to you, they play a kind of shoegaze/alternative rock/indie thing; although this is nowhere near enough descriptive of their sound. Yes, there’s the heavily fx’ed guitars that wash over you like a wave of sound. Yes, there’s the quiet loud thing. And yes, there are catchy tunes sometimes buried in there. But somehow it doesn’t capture the glorious strangeness of the way the songs are put together.. Nor does it adequately describe the ethereal beauty of the sound they make.
The extra they add to their live performance – the live music experience is outstanding – is performance. The sense of controlled wildness. Touches of stagecraft; like band members standing motionless while another gives it their all. And an intensity of connection with the audience; not for them the usual asking the crowd to come forward, just a couple of simple beckoning gestures. There were moments of overwhelming power, moments of fragile beauty, and moments of pure emotion. There were times when I feared the intensity of their performance would overwhelm them. There are times when I’m moved to tears by a live band, and this was one of those.
So do both the ‘listening to the release’ and the ‘seeing them live’, I insist.
I then reached a time of decision; go see Deep Tan or see Mollie Coddled. Mollie Coddled won that decision. Given that I loved the released songs I’ve reviewed from her and never seen her live, this was the right decision. Her ‘bedroom pop’ was just what I needed.
Her music is part bedroom pop and part Nu-Soul. It sounds lovely; great tunes and her voice is a joy. But the spice in her music is the words; bittersweet songs would be an accurate description. The songs tell of drinking too much coffee, doing nothing but eating and watching movies, and her narcissistic ex.
A set of pure enjoyment and joy.
Mi Mye. I’ve wanted to see this band desperately since I reviewed a couple of singles. And the word on the streets is nothing but good. Mi Mye are a big band with a lot of equipment, and the stage of Vortex is small; so it was pretty packed. As was the room. I think we could describe this as an intimate set.
They usually describe themselves as an alt-folk band, although I’m not sure this is the full story. Their music sometimes has a feeling of indie-pop, and sometimes a DIY feel. So, for me, the whole genre thing is a bit meaningless. What they do is to write and play music that has depth and feeling that seems to always have a hint, or more, of folk.
And what a range of instruments – guitars, fiddle, trumpet, keyboards. The musical skills on show are incredibly impressive. But again that isn’t the point.
The point – finally – is the songs they play and sing; always compelling, sometimes haunting, sometimes funny, sometimes about something personal or somebody they know. And this is the point of folk; to tell stories, to reflect life as it relates to the writer or ordinary people. And to bring people together as a community. And this, dear reader, is what Mi Mye do, and they do it wonderfully, in a way that is very much their own.
Another must see band up next, Household Dogs. The opening line of my notes is ‘Bloody hell that was intense’; I’m calling this out as an understatement ‘fucking intense’ or ‘scarily intense’ would be way more accurate.
Declan stalks the stage like a caged animal while producing vocals that astound. Guitars cut through with mournful or haunting sounds. The sound and performance is huge, as big as the sky, yet somehow intimate. Their sound is one of those that defines a snappy description; you could try Americana Post-Punk. I say this because their distinctive sound relies on the sound and feel of slide guitar.
As their set progresses Declan’s stalking becomes more frenetic, there is a distinct feeling that he’s going to explode.. He doesn’t but it adds to the audience’s emotional engagement.
The set is basically the recent EP and the more recent single. And, as with Pleasure Centre, the live performance from a band as good as this adds to the songs; it makes them bigger, more widescreen.
Look, seeing Household Dogs live is an experience, one that you should have even if you’re not a fan of the band. Although you will be one after that. Just do it. OK.
Venus Grrls, just seeing the name on the listings sent a shiver of excitement up my spine. I’ve not seen them play for a while but know it’s going to be good. What I didn’t expect was getting this feeling of ‘well, fuck me sideways, they’re brilliant’ all over again. Weird, strange, but entirely good.
And they killed it, playing in the Town Hall in a strange kind of half daylight, half stage lighting, they owned that stage. Playing it like a headline slot even though they were the first band on at the venue.
What they do is relentless; but not in a ‘play at full power all the time’ or ‘all the songs merge into one’ way. Their songs are dynamic and don’t follow the same template all the time. It’s relentless in a ‘not one of these songs is a break, a time to take a breath’, they’re all brilliant. And the playing, the playing is amazing.
I know you probably know all of this already but on the off chance you’re not aware of this band, if you love loud brilliantly played alternative rock go see Venus Grrls.
Now, if you’ve been keeping up, you’ll know that one of my particular habits at this sort of festival is to pick a band at random. This time it was Modern Woman, a band I knew nothing about. However watching the setup and seeing random percussion, a violin and a saxophone the indications were good.
And bloody hell were they wonderful. Their sound, well, eclectic might be a starting point. Their Facebook Page says, for information, ‘London-based Modern Woman began as the songwriting project of Sophie Harris. The band’s music, still based around Harris’ songwriting, explores a diverse range of sounds drawing from their melting pot of influences’. There are hints of Radiohead, way out there experimental jazz, experimental rock of the 60s. It’s sometimes ultra-beaty, sometimes full of odd disjointed sounds. It can be delicate and then suddenly raucous.
But whatever it’s doing their music is mesmerising, it engages your brain as well as your emotions. It’s clever but never loses an emotional feel. Wonderful stuff, truly wonderful.
My final band of the day was Fiat Lux. Playing their hometown for the first time after decades.
I am torn about this band because they represent a part of my youth, and unsurprisingly the audience did have people like me in it.On the other hand I want to recommend that you go see them if you don’t remember them from the first time around.
What they do is electro-pop; big classic pop with synths, guitar and saxophone. And it still sounds vital. Just forget that they may be playing a hit from the 89s. And they don’t rest on the laurels of their past hits (and they could if they wanted to); they’re still writing new songs.
The playing is fabulous, and features more out there guitar than you may expect from an electro-pop band. This is both music to listen to and to dance to. It’s honestly brilliant class pop. This is a band who still do it, and long may they continue.
Sadly my enjoyment of their set was cut short by the ridiculousness of the time of the last train home. But even the part of the set I caught is going to stay with me.
Gawjuss make music that has that something out of the ordinary, that doesn’t do what you expect it to do. This is true of ‘Cry Harder’ which takes the format of alternative rock and twists it, hard.
The sound is loud, raw and relentless, it’s frankly shouty. I wouldn’t object if you were to think it of being punky. But listen harder because you’ll hear that the band have added in what I’m going to call, their trademark warped sound. Guitars sound off-kilter, there are retro sounding synths. The vocals are on the edge of degenerating into chaotic sound; a primal scream. This is the sound of anxiety, of fear and desperation.
It is both the twisted sound and the raw emotion that make this so compelling to listen to. But on the other hand it demands that you completely lose your shit, to dance like nobody’s watching.
This is simply brilliant. I’m holding my breath for the album,
Initially the solo monicker of Kieran Wade Clarke, Gawjuss has flourished into a fully
formed outlet for not only Clarke’s prolific writing, but also co-lead James Douglas
Wilkinson’s never ending craft.
This single is taken from the band’s debut album Prototypical out 2nd September 2022 via Clue Records.
When asked about the track, Wilkinson explained “Cry Harder is about coming to terms with who you used to be after too much time spent alone”
The album was recorded in the isolation of Wilkinson’s family home, a farm in the beautiful green countryside of Wetherby on the outskirts of Leeds. Given the time, space and isolation to dive into their own thoughts, Wilkinson and Clarke wrote non-stop for months, learning to self-produce and indulge in writing music without thought towards one particular style. Despite this, there is a clear Gawjuss sound captured on Prototypical.
Speaking about the album, Wilkinson explains “I’d never mixed a song until I started writing with Kieran. Technically I’m pretty useless when it comes to producing, but perfection was never the aim. Some of the best nights of my life were spent writing these songs. The songs were born and raised in the same old house containing a plethora of forgotten instruments that my Grandpa would pick up at markets and car boot sales to keep my Grandma entertained. They all found their way onto the album”
The Town Hall was the venue for talks on folk traditions and related issues. Jennifer Reid, delighting in the dialect, gave us lively Lancashire songs. John Billingsley told us of traditions about Stoodley Pike and the area around it, and Zaffar Kunial read us intriguing poems from his forthcoming book “England’s Green”.
There were many music venues, and at the White Swan Becca Phatbass entertained us with songs, including a lively performance of Joni Mitchell’s satirical “Big Yellow Taxi”.
She was followed by the amazing world music group “Soma” who gave us English, Hungarian and other music with verve. They had much of the audience up and dancing, especially with the rollicking witches’ song that they did as an encore.
I’d expect something wonderful from George Bloomfield, but this, this is something else. It wraps you up, keeps you warm and soothes your soul. The sound is one part dream pop, one part jazz; and if that sounds simple it isn’t. The feel is a beguilingly beautiful lullaby, or possibly love song. You can feel the love.
For those of you that haven’t turned on to George’s music, he combines jazz and dream pop into something that is magical. In this the wonderfully warped dream pop guitar and jazz guitar meld in a way that positively astounds; while taking you to a happy place. The horns that creep in add another layer of stardust and wonder.
But while this amazes on technical and musical skill levels; that really isn’t the point. It’s the emotion that is conveyed that’s the whole point of this song. Yes, do spend some time appreciating the songwriting and musical skills on display but then just let yourself float off in the beauty of the music.