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Released Out now

 

Different Paths (Single)

Matchstick Men

Holier Than Thou Records

With Matchstick Men’s new single arriving at Famous last Words (FLW) recently, and knowing next to nothing about this band from Liverpool, the immediate feeling before hearing a single note of ‘Different Paths’ was of 90s era baggy and Britpop. The truth of the matter is far from such a prediction, as Matchstick Men forge a sound that is far closer to American (alternative) rock than anything resembling a Merseyside influence when considering what has gone before. Country of origin aside, Matchstick Men deliver the goods in fine style with the ballad-esque ‘Different Paths’. With this new single acting as a precursor to the band’s forthcoming sophomore long player, ‘From Our Own Ashes’, it certainly bodes well for what’s to come as lead vocalist, Lewis Wright, offers a reason for one to confront their fears by way of a compelling voice, that is enhanced via Iain Forsyth’s backing vocal and tight musicianship from the band in general. More Goo Goo Dolls than anything resembling CAST for example, Matchstick Men is certainly taking a different route, but one that serves the contents of ‘Different Paths’ perfectly.


Released Out now

 

Leave Everything Move Out

Craig Ward

Wardism

The highly productive Craig Ward returns for a second solo jaunt with latest album, ‘Leave Everything Move Out’. After dropping in and out of this current project, the former dEUS guitarist finally found the appetite to complete the task by writing and recording the five instrumentals on offer here. With the barebones of this record having started as far back as 2009, when Craig Ward was in the middle of a sabbatical year in North America, the creative drive to recover a previous attempt at recording ‘Leave Everything Move Out’ managed to find its way back to this artist. To aid this newly found impetus, Craig Ward enlisted friend and producer, David Odlum, as well as being fortunate to receive Lottery funding from Creative Scotland to help pay the bills. After such a lengthy duration to get to the point where ‘Leave Everything Move Out’ finally gets to air it contents in the public sphere is no doubt of great relief to Craig Ward, and all those who caught wind of the initial foundations of this project and therefore waiting in anticipation for its release. You will not be disappointed as the five compositions of ‘Leave Everything Move Out’ are built of sturdy materials, with their architect patiently applying the layers whether beginning with synths or guitar and drums. ‘New Haven’ is one such example where the faintest waft of electronica gives way to a repetitive piano pattern and a glistening guitar sound that is trademark Explosions in the Sky, only for Craig Ward to develop it further by adding a slight Celtic influence accompanied by a semi-military procession beat. From such a strong opening ‘Addict’ applies considerable weight by looping a firm guitar and solid drum sound that becomes increasingly raw nearing its end. The closing ‘Trinity’ contains aspects of the former ‘New Haven’, but where that song appeared to take its time, ‘Trinity’ is more direct with the guitar(s) forceful and on the verge of breaking into a melodic sound. ‘Leave Everything Move Out’ is an accomplished achievement, and one that was wisely resumed by Craig Ward after nearly discarding it altogether.


Released Out now

 

Until The Morning Comes

Richard Ginns

Eilean Records

Beautifully packaged, with artwork by Cameron Robbins and mastering handled by Fletcher McDermott, is the latest album, ‘Until The Morning Comes’, by musician Richard Ginns. What sounds like an attempt to capture the smallest of sounds, Ginns proves a master of his craft where the vibrations of the acoustic guitar strings can be heard once plucked, for example, down to the fizzing static of background atmospherics that surround all of us. By opening with ‘Threads Of Light And The Quiet Hum’ the intimacy created by capturing numerous sounds, such as the faint trickle of water and the creaking of furniture, produces a sense of wonder as it does unease in the listener because it generates of feeling of prying on the privacy of this particular individual or household. This of course does not detract Ginns, who continues to weave an instrumental spell that attempts to capture any nuances of human behaviour, as well as the environment, through varying degrees of sounds that are often the thinnest of threads and where, for example, (sun)light is breaking through the darkest and coldest of winters (other descriptions available such is this record’s ability to generate different moods). It’s an expertly controlled lo-fi record that offers much beauty as it does melancholy in its sonic textures, rendering ‘Until The Morning Comes’ a worthy addition to Ginns’ recorded output.


Released Out now

 

Two Years No Basement

Vicky Speedboat

Huber & Lindsay Music

After a hefty bout of travelling and considerable soul searching along the way, the duo of Sean Huber (Modern Baseball) and Will Lindsay (W.C. Lindsay) came to a decision that a once talked about creative pairing between the two should actually become a reality. The two years spent trawling through several foreign lands, and meeting countless strangers, provided the impetus to set the creative wheels in motion, and thus Vicky Speedboat was born. The results of this decision to combine their creative efforts is ‘Two Years No Basement’; a six-track EP containing a mixture of melodic and raw indie punk rock, and a trading of vocals between the two central musicians of Huber and Lindsay that makes for an engaging listen. Recorded in 2015 at Kennedy Studios in Burlington, MA, by Steve Aliperta and Chris LaRoque (The Colour and Sound), ‘Two Years No Basement’ leaves you wondering why the pairing of Huber and Lindsay left it so long because it’s an impressive start for Vicky Speedboat. Evidence of the quality of the songs on offer here can be heard from the energetic intro, ‘Philadelphia Contact High’, and then followed by the far grittier and passionate vocals of ‘Roman Candle Fires’. By naming one of your songs ‘Passing Through Wales’ is enough to spark intrigue here, but it’s also the speed of its delivery via some punk-pop and sharp lyrics about issues concerning a midlife crisis for example. As its chant of, “I’m not going to be alone any more” rings out, the chance of that continuing is highly unlikely because ‘Two Years No Basement’ is a record that will acquire friends quickly and deservedly so.


Released 11 December

 

Seed EP

Glue Foot

Crust Baby Records

Grunge is alive and well and residing in the South West of England and South Wales. With a sound that is more akin to the cities of Boston and Seattle rather than the cities of Bristol and near neighbour Cardiff, relatively new trio, Glue Foot, is ready to unleash their noise for a second time with the forthcoming ‘Seed’ EP. With a loyal following having been steadily built through a number of gigs but, more interestingly, by opting for a different environment of performing at multiple house shows with a variety of their contemporaries, Glue Foot reveal a strong identity that is fiercely independent and backed up by a robust sound. Such qualities can be heard in the band’s ‘Seed’ EP where opening song ‘Guilt Milk Mix’ begins in a low-key, hazy acoustic strum that eventually gives way to a barrage of noise where drums crash and tumble, and the guitars sound gigantic. The ensuing ‘Silk’ is built of a slightly different consistency that is very bruised and sore around its edges as emphasised by its rugged bass and detached sounding vocal, before it develops into a fuller sound that is quite seething by the time it runs out. The high quality continues with the loose pop strands attached to a predominant grunge sound of ‘Grangetown’ where kicking one’s heels in frustration, due to a small-town existence, is definitely the main emotion expressed. With the final song, ‘Floating Like A Leaf’, splintering in two, with its second act offering a few poetic words, Glue Foot is delivering their own message, with a small amount of assistance from 90s era grunge that is definitely ripe for a revival.


Released Out now

 

Perdition (Single)

Kolektiv

Kolektiv Music

Having arrived on the FLW desk recently with the briefest of paragraphs confessing a great attraction to the practices of DIY when it comes to creativity, very little is known about this indie band who go by the name of Kolektiv. Apart from Belgium being the country of origin, the only other known fact is that ‘Perdition’ and ‘Potemkin’ are the two nominated songs making up the current single by Kolektiv. With this being a digital download only release, coupled with a lack of information to go by, any notion regarding promotion in relation to this single release is definitely not at the top of the agenda here. The idea of burying as far underground as feasibly possible regarding one’s creative ideas and processes is more in line with the sounds of Kolektiv. Lead track, ‘Perdition’ certainly takes its time by weaving a drum and guitar pattern with atmospheric vocals, that sets a gradual rhythm and ends up sounding rather scorched around the edges as it reaches its conclusion. The flipside, ‘Potemkin’, introduces a short flurry of electronic pulses and then proceeds to build in similar manner to ‘Perdition’ only for segments of its rhythmic pattern sounding slightly more complex by giving the impression of playing out in reverse. Whether it’s post-grunge, math rock or quite simply alternative rock, Kolektiv is certainly building towards something rather intriguing, especially considering the scant information given. It’s definitely a case of let the music speak for itself when it comes to Kolektiv.


Released Out now

 

Why?

Monster Jaw

Cobra Kitten Records/Code 7

Under a cloud of mixed emotions, Monster Jaw is parting ways after three years together. With the spilt described as “amicable”, the final track to be left as part of their legacy is the appropriately named ‘Why?’. Appropriate because there are a number of questions that remain unanswered in terms of an industry that seems to be increasingly concerned with social media figures and, in the process, forgetting where the real song writing lies. Truth be said, Monster Jaw were never really going to fit in with such plastic times with a sound that would have appealed to fans of the much-missed indie music channel SnubTV of the early 90s, and therefore a classic example of right band, but wrong time. Still, final single, ‘Why?’, is the perfect send off as it brings together the lo-fi qualities of more recent works, only for a soaring guitar sound loosening the intensity somewhat yet generating an emotive feel where there is a real sense of letting go. It will be difficult to wave goodbye to the trio of Mik Davis, Neil Short and John Bradford, but at least they are leaving behind a trail of EPs and singles that really stirred the emotions and generated much enthusiasm from those true believers.


Released 13 November

 

This December (Single)

Ine Hoem

Slaraffen Songs / Starbox Recordings

After this year’s debut album, ‘Angerville’, and appropriate single, ‘This Year’ that received much radio play in her home country of Norway, Ine Hoem made a swift return to the recording studio to maintain the attention her indie electronic pop has been receiving. Sweden has been the choice of destination to record the new material for Ine Hoem’s next album, with producer Tobias Fröberg (Ane Brun, Loreen, Anna Bergendahl) selected, along with musicians Lars Skoglund (Lykke Li) and Robert Elovsson (Robyn) to add their guidance and expertise as well. The first fruit to surface from this process is the song, ‘This December’ that pays reference to personal aspects of Ine Hoem’s life, against a seasonal period that can be both impressive and miserable in equal measure. Such feelings are echoed by the lyrics and the manner in which Ine Hoem expresses these words, where the enthusiasm for “I plan to have a party” is not really quite there, and seems more a nostalgic reference than anything else. The low-key electronic pop generated here also gives the game away that all is perhaps not well in the Hoem household, where the desire for a feline friend at the top of the Christmas list looks odds on favourite to win. There is a dark humour at the bottom of this song, it just takes a few rounds to hear it. In terms of what to expect regarding the new album is as good as anybody’s guess because Ine Hoem is definitely keeping her cards close to her chest.


Released 6 November

 

Social Coma

Cold Sweats

Six 3 Collective

Incredible to think that Binghamton and Brooklyn’s Cold Sweats formed only five months ago, yet here they are with full album in hand and living true to that punk DIY ethic where rock and roll really is for everyone, if you have the audacity to give it a go that is. What’s even more impressive, however, is the manner in which Cold Sweats set about their business by constructing a series of songs that contain a considerable amount of variation between the layers of punk rock, where influences range from indie, pop and surf rock, but ultimately Cold Sweats has managed to cultivate a sound that is uniquely their own. Evidence of this can be garnered from the opening song, ‘The Business’ that stretches out its message by means of wavering guitar noises and a sinister vocal that has a habit of lingering, before crossing paths and imploding in a crescendo of noise. Elsewhere, ‘Coney Island Cops’ is straining at the leash, full of snarling attitude via its vocal and backed with a real vicious edge by way of a razor-sharp guitar. It’s a definite short sharp jolt to the system, and one with a single finger salute to authority. As mentioned, rather than pursuing the formulaic route of a punk rock album, Cold Sweats continue the variation with the scathing sentiments of ‘Waste of a Day’, that comes complete with a jarring guitar riff and pounding drums that manages to wedge itself deep in the mind, and continue echoing there long after it’s finished. ‘Souvenir’ takes an immediate stranglehold via the guitar and pretty much continues its hold over the entire song, only to find next the vocal taking centre stage, or at least try, as it staggers about in what sounds like a drunken state, relaying fragments of disaffected lives during ‘Problem Kids’. With the album having been produced by Hunter Davidsohn and recorded in a destitute and abandoned area of Binghamton, which just happens to be home to Twilight Zone creator Rod Sterling, it’s no wonder that Cold Sweats became influenced, in part, by their surroundings, where a combination of an extremely raw punk sound, in addition to various aspects of post-hardcore, combined with darker and more eccentric influences such as The Cramps, for example, can be heard,. ‘Social Coma’ is an astute collection of ideas, compellingly executed, and one that stands (far) outside the usual formula and expectations when it comes to punk rock albums, which makes this long player one of the definite highlights of this year without any doubt.


Released Out now

 

Monochrome / Derailed (Single)

Leatherneck

FITA Records

By producing a sound that is more in line with the alternative rock and early grunge that was vastly popular during 90’s America, but not without notable mentions to the likes of early shoegaze with UK indie band Ride, the band at the centre of this glorious racket that is the double A side single, ‘Monochrome / Derailed’, is Leatherneck. The North West of England is the actual destination where Leatherneck has been busy constructing these two songs that run similar themes reflecting on life’s struggles, and the changes these can bring in terms of the people involved and how they’re perceived. The backdrop, musically, to both of these narratives is gritty and guitar-driven, but not without subtle melodic touches that can be heard during both numbers. For example, there’s a definite sweet edge to the guitars of ‘Monochrome’ that sweep along at considerable pace, and countered by the blunt edges of the vocal that makes for a compelling experience. The other offering, ‘Derailed’, is similar in its delivery, only the guitars possess a greater sheen (that’s not a reference to being commercial by the way) which, by the song’s conclusion, are sounding absolutely red hot. An EP is scheduled for next year which, on the basis of this current single, is worth further investigation, especially to see whether Leatherneck can expand on their sound to add variation to the quality set by ‘Monochrome / Derailed’.


Released Out now

 

Dead City Dreams

TimeKillers

Inverse Records / Secret Entertainment

Stemming from a remote part of Finland where the lifeblood of any such town is held in the local corner shop, punk-rock outfit, TimeKillers, and their debut album, ‘Dead City Dreams’, is a reactionary call to the boredom and despair that such an existence can ultimately bring. With song titles alluding to such anxiety and desperation, as well as having a habit of producing a wry smile (‘Friday The 13th‘, ‘Don’t Let Me Sleep’, ‘Mirage’), the sounds produced by TimeKillers is predominantly a straight-ahead punk-rock affair with a definite whiff of old-school surrounding it. There are some deviations from such an approach, with the restrained ‘Don’t Let Me Sleep’ that only reverts to type during its finale. The acoustic intro of ‘Happy People’ is another example where other ideas are attempted, despite the foot to the floor rhythm that eventually muscles in, yet it remains an interesting song for its lyrics, that purport to the dead-end existence of the small-town environment, and for the reason that it could function equally as well unplugged. This is a large part of the attraction here, as the honest emotions expressed, coupled with enough melodic touches via the choruses and then mixed with the rawness of the guitars makes for a heady concoction. Head straight to ‘The City’ for the TimeKillers strongest statement on all such levels, as it won’t be long until this band are heading in the opposite direction because there is much to get excited about when it comes to ‘Dead City Dreams’.


Released Out now

 

Nordic Tanzen Am Sonntag EP

Elefant

Elefant Music

Recorded live at Charlatan, Ghent, earlier this year, Elefant fill the room with a largely instrumental sound that contains warped guitars, kraut rock, sludge and interestingly, in their words, “nachtwinkel” that translates as night shop for their current EP ‘Nordic Tanzen Am Sonntag’. Opening track ‘Proteus’ is the stuff of late nights, where a nightmarish vision exists via sinister guitars with bouts of distortion, and a backbeat that gives the impression of wading through sludge and making for a very claustrophobic experience. Follow on track, ‘Smithers’, continues along similar lines, only its rhythm is struggling at greater depths with its bass scraping along the bottom yet, despite such adverse conditions, Elefant mange such difficulties by creating an impressive and absolute monster of a rhythm. From these two heavy slabs of instrumentation, the load lessens somewhat during ‘Elefanten’ with the guitars providing direction, yet still fuelling the band’s sound with a creepy element as heard by the skeletal tones of the guitars and additional keyboards. It’s not all about providing a soundtrack, however, as Elefant show that they can do conventional which, by their standards, is still some considerable distance from such a description with the concluding, and frenzied state of ‘Depression’, where instruments intertwine and go into overload with only brief respites via the lead vocal. A real surprise, and one that will take some adjusting to considering its off-kilter approach compared to what’s currently out there, Elefant’s ‘Nordic Tanzen Am Sonntag’ is a welcome addition as well as a welcome relief.



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