Southampton’s Beat Easton like to keep themselves to themselves. Finding time away from their respective university degrees, the three-piece broke their consecutive show record last month touring the UK with I Love Your Lifestyle, (a further sacrifice entailed a stint in the recording and CD burning department). Much like it’s 2013 predecessor, In Situ lends itself to bands like Death Cab For Cutie and Empire! Empire!, laying on levels of reverby, sweeping guitars. Though as is often the case with Beat Easton it’s the vocal game which is just as strong.
Ratboys have been likened to Waxahatchee and Hop Along and it’s lazy and annoying. When your main songwriter is a women, it seems all too easy for people to compare you to a bunch of indie-rock bands located hundreds of miles East.
A history lesson – Chicago’s Ratboys added the ‘s’ when Julia Steiner and guitarist Dave Sagan added bassist Will Lange (who plays in Dowsing) and drummer Jordan Parel. Their latest album, AOID sees the four-piece converting from folky strums to shimmering indie-rock, proven on tracks like Tixis and Charles Bernstein which feel like they were written for the looming summer sun.
Adult Mom is the brainwave of New Yorker Steph Knipe. Typically, as these things usually pan out – people get recruited to play other instruments, which would explain the extra sounds in the audio department.
Track Survival, taken from the bands new full-length Momentary Lapse of Happily out on Tiny Engines sounds deceptively sad on paper. Simple pop songs, lyrically documenting a gender-weird queer navigating through life various stresses, are for the most part, plodding and upbeat. Like Knipe’s tingling harmonies, which hit in all the right places.
King of Cats formed in the early 1990s following Levy’s bout as King of the World (1981-1985). “I spoke with a very good lawyer who pointed out that if I tried to make music nobody would care or really know who I am. This has helped me lie low for a while and, touch wood, I have avoided being charged with anything I did during those heady years. It is a good ploy I guess.”
Microwave Oven, the second album from train fixer Max Levy is available in cassette form from Art Reeks. Lap it up good and proper.
Bristol has a good thing going on, and I’m not just talking about its excellent location right by the sea, or the food (Bagel Bros is great though) or its fine booze establishments, rather I’m alluding to its many bands like Alimony Hustle who help make the city what it is.
Bucking the fuzzy guitar trend with their clean harmonies, the West-Country two-piece strike a chord with past 90’s band Pohgoh, with big riffs to win over the Superchunk devout. Ahead of their upcoming shows with Cymbals Eat Guitars and Football, etc (we’re doing one of those infact), I caught up with Leah (guitar + vox) and Matt (drumboy) to see what’s what.
Hello Alimony Hustle, where’da name come from?
Leah: Our friends have a twitter (@possbames) where they keep all the band names they come up with, which is mostly incoherent rubbish they’ve spaffed out at the pub (recent examples: 83 Inches of Burrito, Proximity Jemble, Wake Up Sheeple) but we saw “Alimony Hustle” on a list they made before making them all public and we liked its vibe and ring so we snagged it. I think it was actually my housemate who came up with it but we will never give him any credit, monetary or otherwise.
Matt: I’m terrible at band names, evidenced by my only suggestion prior to this being The Non-White Stripes, so really like that we managed to outsource it.
How did you guys meet? Have you been in any bands before?
Leah: We met in 2011 when we replied to ads for a bassist and a vocalist for a new band, and then we played together in that for nearly three years. I left about a year ago and then the other three stopped playing together shortly after, which is when me and Matt decided to try and do something together.
I think it’s really difficult to have four people be on the same page with a band – the amount of practicing and touring you want to do, the way you want to release recordings, the amount of outside involvement you want (labels, PR, etc) and it was just too much to try and please everyone – I think we lost what made it fun and worthwhile, and we briefly tried to troubleshoot but we’d left it too late and there didn’t seem to be a way to make everyone (or even anyone) happy.
It was only really after the band broke up that me and Matt became really close – we hung out a lot and went to a lot of this one pop club night and Matt would stay at my house most weekends. We’re really close friends and that’s helped make this band fun and good because we can both be honest with each other about what we want to do with it, and we’re looking after ourselves and making sure we only say yes to things if we truly want to- rather than trying to please all the butthead male promoters who nearly all seem to view bands with women as either tokens to patronise or tick a box with, or possible conquests.
Are you a two-piece, because I hear bass on the record! Do you keep to it a duo live?
Leah: It’s just the two of us live so we can try and maintain the fun ~dynamic~ we’ve got, and also keep rehearsals and touring as stress and admin-free as possible. I just don’t see how we could find someone who would fit into the band and also who we love as much as we love each other. Matt plays bass on the recordings because he is the greatest bassist in the world (imo) and I do a second guitar.
Matt: I like that it messes with people’s perceptions like, ‘are you a two piece or a four-piece’ and sticks two fingers up to any sense of two piece indie-rock purists dynamics. Essentially we’re just doing what we want.
The lyrics in DWUW talk about an eating disorder “Called it off during a week I couldn’t eat, talked you up, even as I coughed up blood,” and in Deep End, you make reference to a regret that happened at 24. Do you find it hard singing about these things on record?
Leah: I wrote DWUW during – and about – a really horrible time of anxiety and depression, possibly my worst and most persistent bouts of either, and I guess in the future it might be hard to sing and/or listen to, but at the moment I’m very happy and so it’s kind of uplifting to look back and know that it ended. I feel very detached from that song, and ‘Gutter…’, which maybe I shouldn’t admit because I know I like to think people are really ~feeling~ everything they sing every time they sing it, but on another level I think it’s really cool that you can spaff out your devastating feelings in a song and then one day they’re completely gone.
Matt: I’m really terrible at picking up lyrics from listening to songs to the extent that I don’t even really bother, so it was only when Leah sent me typed out copies of the lyrics for the tracks that I became fully aware of what she was singing about. I was taken aback at how personal the lyrics were even though I’d seen Leah go through all the stuff that she had written about. I think the closeness of our friendship and having both gone through some really hard stuff over the previous year made this a safe space to be vulnerable and honest in a way that gives depth and meaning to the music. I do think it’s important to deal with these issues in art especially not just in an abstract way but with a lived through honesty.
The Bristol scene looks super healthy right now. What are some of your favourite bands / places to pass the time?
Leah: As far as Bristol bands go, nearly every one I’ve seen recently has been at Roll for the Soul, which is a really great bike shop/cafe with theeee best coffee in Bristol. I would recommend misandrist power trio Towel, Two White Cranes, The Jelas and Grubs.
Matt: I can heartily second all Leah’s choices I’m also a bit sad that Bristol has lost two of its best and certainly my two favourites, Caves and Personal Best. Saying that, it feels great to be surrounded by so many talented friends that share an enthusiasm for creating, and spaces likes Roll for the Soul that really support what’s going on.
Leah: I love Cymbals Eat Guitars. It’s embarrassing to admit to liking a band of white men so much, but whatever. One time at End of the Road a few years ago they were doing a signing – me and my friend Glenn went to the Rough Trade tent next door and bought like 10 overpriced copies of their album each and handed them to strangers and forced them to go get them signed. I truly believe I am their biggest fan.
Matt: I’m a more recent convert to CEG, it’s hard not to become a fan of anything that Leah really loves cos she is such an enthusiastic evangelist for her fav things. I’m glad that she is though, cos LOSE is a fantastic album that is always in my car.
What in store for the future, as far as playing shows and releasing music goes?
Leah: We have some shows coming up in Sheffield and Glasgow and London and Bristol, and maybe Manchester later in the year, and if something horrible happens to me soon then we’ll have some new music at some point too.
Please enlighten us with a YouTube video that perfectly sums up AH?
Teeth-gritting stuff here from Leeds’ No Form. Barrier, taken from their new 12″ out on Muscle Horse and Reagent Records is a sludgy barrage of hellish post-punk distortion, a bewildering cross between hardcore punk and something which could be mistook for new wave.
It’s fairly impossible to bypass the insurmountable levels of thud in Gaffe of A Lifetime. The moniker of Waterbury, CT resident Alex Petion (Brass City to him) - GOAL sounds like The Cyclist taken to new extreme levels, pushing the processing power of a laptop computer to it’s absolute maximum, spluttering out in all directions and back again.
Considering how exhausting and depressing today has been (five more years of Eton mess), you’ll be very relieved to hear this split by pop sweethearts Martha and the awesome Benny The Jet Rodriguez from San Pedro (I caught them playing a Mexican restaurant in Tampa Bay last year). Oh yes, it’s poppy, full of hooks and yours to own from Drunken Sailor Records.
Some people are unhappy about Departures and Landfalls getting a re-release on Topshelf Records in August. Heck, why the fuss? Such a killer record that deserves a dusting out of the archive and onto wax once again. Only wish I could be at their reunion show with Giants Chair (!) in Kansas City.