Author Archives: Tommy Royds

Album picks from 2014

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2014 was the year Taylor Swift changed the music industry because she removed her music from Spotify. Funnily enough, it seems bigger artists can now earn more money licensing their songs through Build-A-Bear toys than streaming services.

Here’s what albums over the last twelve months I feel should be inside cuddly bears around the world:

10. RADIATOR HOSPITAL – TORCH SONG

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Sam-Cook Parrot and the gang squeeze more drops of fun with new album Torch Song. Anyone already acquainted with the Radiator Hospital frontmans pipes (like on this acoustic rendition of Our Song) will realise the guy possesses a voice unlike no other, especially when accompanied by his band mate Cynthia Schemmer on their second, i say, properly released full-length. Each song is short, sharp, to the point. Hopefully they’ll come over here at some point. Ahem.

 

9. KING OF CATS – WORKING OUT

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King of Cats is the startling music project from Ealing-stroke-Brighton chap Max Levy. Now taking form by way of a full band, with flutes, organs and all important more shrieks and cries from other people is Working Out, his most professional release to date through Art Reeks, a collaboration between Art is Hard and Reeks of Effort. Speaking to the NME rag, Max says these songs came about through “…the fear of being trapped in a feeble body, dreams of a muscular form and the relationship between one’s environment, one’s body and one’s being an idiot. I don’t work out a lot, but I think about it often.”

8. playlounge – pilot

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playlounge make it a thing that whatever show gets offered to them, they play it, which is pretty incomparable to a lot of bands based around the capital who choose NOT to play for fear of becoming one of the furniture. Balls to that. pilot (lowercase remember) is the debut from playlounge and undoubtedly their bestest to date. If you’re looking for a favourite, look no further than Sick Kid.

7. KITTYHAWK – HELLO, AGAIN

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The Anniversary were a band who existed between 1997 – 2004. Like with most of these snazzy, college rock bands I was too young to be in with a chance of getting it. Thankfully it’s 2014 now and there’s bands like Kittyhawk who don’t want to play with a bass guitarist either. Over the Autumn, I had the great fortune of organising a tour for this bunch with Dowsing and it was sure as hell sweet to hang out with them for a few days. Cracking knack for melodies, as this debut proves.

6. HAPPYNESS – WEIRD LITTLE BIRTHDAYS

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Considering a relatively short-existence (they formed only in September 2013), Happyness have released a fair amount of music. From their EP earlier this year, which didn’t phase me all this much to Weird Little Birthdays, their hotly disputed album. It’s simple, melodic and lovely on the ears, astute fans might say there’s comparisons to be made with Eels Beautiful Freak or Broken Social Scene You Forget It In People. Both albums that plod on solemnly till they reach their graceful end, and like with Happyness leave you with an elated, fuzzy feeling.

5. PRAWN – KINGFISHER

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After a few swap arounds that included a departing guitarist, a graduating bassist and the introduction of a new one on the four-string, New Jerseys Prawn released Kingfisher, an album as beautiful sounding as it is held in your hands. The real churner on here is “Glass, Irony” around 2:10. You’ll know it when you hear it.

4. FUCKED UP – GLASS BOYS

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The Toronto punks has some serious work to do if they were going to bring an album that punched as high as 2012 David Comes To Life, which although stood it’s great in the first half, did leave you pondering over the idea where it was best to shave things down a bit. Coming it a more digestible 10 tracks is Glass Boys, which for the true fans also includes an alternate “Slow Version” with half-time drums. Either way, you’ll have little chance to listen to the latter as you’ll be stuck looping the first.

 

3. DELAY – CIRCLE CHANGES

 

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If you’re not familiar with Salinas Records, please stop what you’re doing and go and check them out now. The Detroit label has help release records for the likes of P.S. Eliot, Radiator Hospital, All Dogs, joyride! and you guessed it, Delay.

Like with 2012’s Rushing Ceremony, Circle Change sees the Ohio 3-piece delve more and more into moodier, indie-rock territory that hits hard on the lyrical front “I need to trust my own guts again instead of getting fucking high”.

Safe to say, these were the best band at The Fest this year.

2. HUMAN HANDS – S/T EP

 

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Human Hands from Birmingham released their first ever full-length in January and remain one of the few crops from the UK emo heyday (Kids Return, Your Neighbour The Liar, Bird Calls etc)

Even though guitarist Clyde now lives in Iceland, the three still cart on making music – and these 6 songs proves it’s all the more worthwhile. Drawing influence from bands like Yaphett Kotto or Indian Summer, the weary cries and drawn-out build-ups may leave you feeling a little agitated, like the world is falling around you or something perhaps less dramatic. Be sure to take this one one step at a time.

 


1. BATON ROUGE – TOTEM

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Containing all but one of DIY screamo Parisian legends Daïtro are Lyon’s Baton Rouge. Hearing the news of album numero deux cast serious doubts in my mind that the French four-piece would top 2011’s Fragments D’Eux​-​Mêmesa post-punk showstopper from start to finish.

Yet packaged in beautiful patterned black, red and white comes their triumphant return Totem, why if you’re not whistling to the meandering slow songs, you’ll be screaming along in French in what may be considered your best accent. Pretty unbeatable.

OTHER REALLY GREAT ALBUMS

Papayér – Boo
Martha – Courting Strong
Cymbals Eat Guitars – Lose
Luke Abbott – Wysing Forest
Plaids – Plaids S/T (RIP – boo!)
Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate) – You Will Eventually Be Forgotten
Perfect Pussy – Say Yes To Love
Literature – Chorus
Young Fathers – Dead
How To Dress Well – “What Is This Heart?”
Cloud Nothings – Here and Nowhere Else
Joyce Manor – Never Hungover Again
Future Islands – Singles
Ought – More Than Any Other Day
Adebisi Shank – This Is The Third Album of a Band Called Adebisi Shank
The Hotelier – Home, Like Noplace Is There
Hookworms – The Impasse

7″: Charlotte Light and Dark

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Charlotte Light and Dark describe themselves as ‘cubist hardcore’ on their facebook page. As injokes go it hits the spot – the UK/French bands weird ‘avant-garde’ style (ahem) on this latest 7″ finds itself wedged between Justin Pearson styled insanity and chuggy tech metal. You won’t know where to look, but this might be just what you’re searching for.

Limited to 100 on wax from those lovely folk at Wolf Town DIY.

About Time #3 Festival

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I’ve been away from Z&NH for quite some time now, and I must apologise. Aside from the usual summer time gallivanting, us and Barely Regal have been busy on the Vested Interest show front for September. So far we’ve orchestrated the likes of Bitpart, Crows-An Wra and Signals Midwest and are dead excited to be organising shows for Auxes, Bokanovsky, Black Love as well as the first show for my new band, Skinning Dipping. Perhaps most exciting of all, is that we can finally reveal the details for our third installment of About Time. This year we’ve try to really mix things up a bit, and unlike the first (which was for the most part emo) you can expect an eclectic mix of indie-pop, garage-rock, crushing screamo and even folk.

Taking place across two floors at Total Refreshment Studios in Stoke Newington, London, on Saturday 29 November. About Time #3 Festival will be host to Makthaverskan‘s first ever UK show, as well as welcoming back French post-punk heroes Baton Rouge and lo-fi emo darlings Dowsing back to the big smoke. The headliners will be joined by some of our favourite DIY bands to come out of the UK and Europe in recent years, including:

Baton Rouge (FR)

+ We’ve already confirmed stalls from Food Rules Kitchen, Parkin’s Drawing Club and much more.

Tickets are available over via Limited Run (£10 early bird / £13 otherwise).

Video footage from last year is on it’s way!

ep: Love Among The Mannequins – My Uncle’s Ball of Lightning Will Put an End to Your Warped Psychology

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Members of Brighton based four-piece Love Among the Mannequins have been swamped in their other music capacities: Alex Petersen does Vincent Vocoder Voice, Steven Stride strums in Chalk while Tobias Hayes new project Eugene Quell saw him proposing onstage to his girlfriend at a recent gig in London. It’s fab to see new projects forming (and relationships blossoming) but all the pleasing to see LATM still doing the rounds.

The lengthy titled My Uncle’s Ball.. takes a lunge towards the darker elements of your favourite Q And Not U or The pAper chAse record. Inspired by Milton Rokeach book “The Three Christs of Ypsilanti“, a work the band refer to as “an absolutely fascinating insight into the human condition, and our extreme talents for performing phenomenal acts of creative self-deception to stay “sane”, even if the price is – in the eyes of society-at-large – “insanity””, this EP is a gutsy appetiser for the next full-length, which for everyone’s sake shouldn’t be too far away now.

split: My Heart In Your Hand 10″

Slow-churning and sparingly bleak emo from 5 bands across the globe. Check out their individual pages: Human Hands (UK), Nebraska (Australia), Asthenia (Japan), Manku Kapak & Duct Hearts (Germany).

Each copy has been painted and printed by German label time as a colour with copies divvied out between strictly no capital letters, Blue. September. Blue., Mum Says; Be Polite, Stereo Dasein, Caleiah, Desertion Records & Red Panda Records. Now that’s what I called good distribution.

album: Crows-An-Wra – Kalopsia

Kalopsia, the debut LP from Cornwall ‘space punks’ Crows-An-Wra sees the band experiment with 9 tracks of dizzying post-hardcore. Peeling away at their old screamo sticker, the four-piece find new comforts with increasingly weirdo hooks, extra reverb and accompanying guest vocals (tracks 6 & 7). Go fetch this on pre-order via UK’s labels Barely Regal Records, Wolftown DIY & Boslevan Records, Adagio 830 (EU) or Middleman Records (US).

ep: Vincent Vocoder Voice – Full Heart, Deaf Ears

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Vincent Vocoder Voice is the brainchild of Brighton musician Alex Petersen, formally/currently of Love Among The Mannequins. His highbrow influences include the books of Sartre, Ballard and John Gray, the music of Swans, Cursive and the 20th century polystylistic composer Alfred Schnittke (wow). Haunting and quirky, hear VVV’s new EP Full Heart, Deaf Ears on virtual release via Sonic Anhedonic Recording Company (Eugene Quell, Chalk.)

single: Grubs – Dec 15 / Gym Shame

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Snappy three-piece Grubs are becoming so popular that Shazam is now taking note (as I unashamedly detected at the Los Campesinos! show in London last night). In a matter of minutes do the trio (who star members of Trust Fund, Joanna Gruesome and King Of Cats) whiz through infectious pop that veers unintentionally to Rose Melberg’s back catalogue of bands. Available on funky double A-side transparent flexidisc single on Cool Your Jets (UK) and Aloe Music (US).

song: Adult Jazz – Spook

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In their heyday, bands like Jonquil and Youthmovies left their own noticeable mark on the jeering folk-rock being played by their counterparts Anathallo and Efterklang in the US and Denmark. As a band you need to be tight (which means practicing lots), be prepared to fork out on a recording that isn’t too scrappy and if you want interesting percussion, then that’s a whole other cost altogether. Whether this may have led to their subsequent departures – Youthmovies disbandment in 2010 and Jonquil’s move to writing pop music, is perhaps a matter for another time.

From both their retrospective graves of experimentalism do they pass the baton to new Leeds-based Adult Jazz. Keeping themselves to themselves, certainly stocking up on tickets before they ride the festival circuit later this summer, do the band shock and enthrall with song ‘Spook’, a captivating 9-minute plus journey that dots together stunning vocals, sparse guitars and brass sections with quite-so less conventional african drum tones. Startling happy to incredibly sad, stay alert for Gist, their full-length out next month on Spare Thought.

album: Eric Funn – No More Blue Tomorrows

There’s something very appealing about DIY house show folk singer Eric Funn, whether it’s his characteristic vocal style (he goes really low), the lyrics (“miss the Mississippi“) or his rough recording style, it feels like simplicity at its best.

Eric is quick to question his one-take to live cassette sound “Please don’t think that because I use a seemingly simple recording method that this album was just slapped together”  and similarly as his latest album No More Blue Tomorrows is concerned “A lot of my earlier work maybe erred on the side of being quirky or whimsical as a way to avoid putting anything on the line emotionally.  For this one I wanted to write about what was really on my mind and I hope that people will be able to relate to some of the stuff I’m singing about.  These songs mean a lot to me personally and I hope they’ll mean something to the lives of the people who hear them.”

Eric runs his own record label, Funn Folk Sounds and lives in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.