Saturday, 28 December 2013

2013: Personal Best

Photo by PZS

Noteworthy Albums:
* click album names for tracks *

Vision Fortune - Mas Fiestas con el Grupo Vision Fortune (Faux Discx/Gringo)
Pissed Jeans - Honeys (Sub Pop)
Mazes - Ores and Minerals (Fat Cat)
Hookworms - Pearl Mystic (Gringo)
Thee Oh Sees - Floating Coffin (Castle Face)
Fists - Phantasm (Gringo/Hello Thor)
Parquet Courts - Light Up Gold (What's Yr Rupture)
Shopping - Consumer Complaints (Milk Records)
Just Handshakes - Say It (Bleeding Gold)
White Denim - Corsicana Lemonade (Downtown)
Bill Callahan - Dream River (Drag City)
Factory Floor - Factory Floor (DFA Records)
Julia Holter - Loud City Song (Domino)
Pond - Hobo Rocket (Modular)
Quasi - Mole City (Domino)
The Space Lady - Greatest Hits (Night School Records)
The Julie Ruin - Run Fast (Dischord / TJR)
Mariam The Believer - Blood Donation (Moshi Moshi Records)
Kurt Vile - Wakin On A Pretty Daze (Matador)
Julianna Barwick - Nepenthe (Dead Oceans)
The Mantles - Long Enough To Leave (Slumberland)
Larry Gus - Years Not Living (DFA Records)
Au Revoir Simone - Move In Spectrums (Moshi Moshi Records)
Deptford Goth - Life After Defo (Merok)
No Bra - Candy (LP on Address)
A Grave With No Name - Whirlpool (Lefse Records)
Gun Outfit - Hard Coming Down (PPM)
The Haxan Cloak - Excavation (Tri Angle)
The Growlers - Hung At Heart (Fat Cat)

.. There is so much more that's interested me, but I'd feel weird including an album I haven't listened to more than twice - I need to do some serious catching up.

Noteworthy Songs:

Sauna Youth - False Jesii Pt II
Primitive Parts - Another Night / Dust
Elenor Friedberger - Stare At The Sun
The Pastels - Check My Heart
Withered Hand - Black Tambourine
Virginia Wing - Donna's Gift
Teardrop Factory - Vanity Unfair
Witching Waves - Barber
Slowcoaches - Total Block
Tense Men - RNRFON
Girl Called Johnny - Heaven Knows

New Finds:

Ed Schrader's Music Beat
Claw Marks
Occult Hand
Men Oh Pause
Androgynous Mind
The Wharves
Good Throb
Zombie Crash
Joey Fourr
Nu Sensae

The Best of 2013:

Supernormal Festival (all of it)
Tramlines (aka Sweatfest '13) at Tye Die Tapes HQ w. Slowcoaches, Omi Palone, Collider, Fawn Spots, Feature & Pjaro
Ed Schrader's Music Beat at TDT HQ (especially the Bowie ad-lib)
Seeing The Breeders for the first time (twice!)
Daniel Johnston at Protein Gallery
Lydia Lunch terrifying & charming everyone at the 100 Club
The London screening of Kathleen Hanna doc 'The Punk Singer'
Primavera (but not the cold weather)
White Denim at Village Underground
First and second visits to Amsterdam

Looking forward to in 2014:

An album from Omi Palone!
New Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks record
New York trip
The Space Lady World Tour (!)
Portugal & Barcelona
Potential UK tour w. Feature


Sunday, 8 December 2013

One Beat - Best of 2013 Playlist

I now spend so much time speaking to other (much more capable) writers about new music, that I'm left with pretty much no time to actually keep up with my own writing. It's a small price to pay though, as this little playlist will show.

So here is a selection of a few of my favourite tracks that I've worked on from the past year. (Note: I've picked solely from my freelance roster rather than including the [PIAS] Cooperative stuff too, simply because otherwise it would go on for HOURS and HOURS. Expect that little round-up to appear online soon.) It was also strange to realise that I'd already written about so many of the bands long before I got the chance to work with them. Seems being a massive fangirl does pay off sometimes, who'd have thought?!

Follow at:

Monday, 1 July 2013

The Mantles - Hello

The Mantles' new album is all kinds of great. And this is just one reason why... (directed by Grass Widow's Hannah Lew)...

Slumberland Records are releasing Long Enough To Leave in the UK on 15th July. Visit them at:

Monday, 22 April 2013

Playing Catch Up - New Sounds

Oh time, where the heck do you go these days? One day we're still deep in winter, shivering in rented flats and buying plane tickets for far off excursions, and suddenly you wake up in the morning and it's almost May and you're in a new room, commuting to a new office and everything is odd and new, though it only feels like an eyelid has flickered shut for a brief moment.

One thing that might have aided this sudden rush through to the future (besides big location changes in life, settling in and all the rest of it), is the sheer amount of music coming through at such a high standard, which takes a while to fully digest. In the past few months I've done a fair bit of time travelling - I've relived what it feels like to go to a gig when everyone feels young and un-ironically sings their hearts out to every lyric and it all ends in a sweaty pile of slippery floorboards and soaked-through t-shirts (The Cribs at 100 Club). There have been the Next Big Thing shows - packed into Dalston buzz bars, crammed between video cameras and photographers lining the front row as they crane their cameras to get just one. more. defining shot, when all you want to do is get a decent view and have some fun watching a band who might not return to such a small capacity again (Parquet Courts at the Shacklewell Arms). And then there is the future: down at the bottom of a small tucked-away alley, TV screens flickering in time to music, dancers you can only just catch the tips of over a crowd of tall men, lights flashing like urgent sirens, half the audience forced to listen from the street as you get the sense you're missing something spectacular as the music bends through the window outside (Vision Fortune at Protein Gallery).

There were years when it felt like there was a lot of space to fill, sounds yet to discover and audible yawns in record shops. Now, it's coming back, streaming around the globe, ideas being shared and live bands that stop you in your tracks. Patti Smith recently said, "I'm sure that each generation could say that their time was the best and the worst of times, but I think that right now we are at something different... It's a pioneering time because there's no other time in history like right now... it is a time of the people, because technology has really democratised self-expression. Instead of a handful of people making their own records or writing their own songs, everybody can write them... everyone has access". It does feel as though there is a lot to write about, to write for, to put a little part of yourself out there, no matter how scary. In the past year or so games have been upped, and it's not just about drinking beers, uploading photos and hoping for the best anymore.

To summarise this somewhat uncalled for, introspective ramble that verges on a tiring diary update, here are some recent songs that I have been enjoying, and that serve to show that there is a new wave of gripping music that seems to be unfolding constantly... (and hell, it makes the Tube commute a little brighter every morning).

Terror Bird - The Wrong Way

Vision Fortune - XIV

Hookworms - In Our Time

Theo Verney - Moving Forever

Parquet Courts - Stoned and Starving

More to follow soon.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Weird Menace - Beyond Belief

I wrote about Weird Menace some time ago, when they first outed the stark, subconscious roaming of the self-explanatory song, 'Demo'. It was all hazy vocals against a firm repetition, with occasional streaks of chorus lines, that wasn't yet fully formed, but hinted at what could be.

In the past year or so, the trio became a duo and then a trio once again, and their faces were shown on this virtual domain; a single press shot showed them to be Emma Wigham, Katy Cotterell and Bob D'Mello (Merida from La La Vasquez was their original drummer). Their new song, 'Beyond Belief' is a striking and tense offering, and can be downloaded for free below.

Suplex Cassettes will release Weird Menace's debut EP on the 18th March. The 'Weird Menace EP' features 5 songs on white cassette, available with two alternate covers, and limited to 100 copies (+ each comes with an instant download code). Available at

There will also be a tape release party at Power Lunches on 14th March.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Edible Arrangements - Edible Arrangements Tape

Though I still haven't caught Edible Arrangements in the flesh, their organ-doomed pop has been slowly creeping up on live bills in London, Brighton and around the UK. They have now put their unnerving songs to tape, so that winter hermits like myself can finally get a taste.

Their spidery compositions come fixed with an eerie tension, and despite excellent titles like 'Catholic Quilt', 'Second Hand Shit That You Live In' and 'Witch Fingers' and their self-coined naming of 'Broom and Gloom', there isn't a trace of kitsch or twee at play here, but merely a sense of building unease. Certain moments remind me of The Shaggs, as though Dot, Helen and Betty had mastered their instruments, broken free of their father and all shared an unhealthy fascination with b-movies. If you're in Brighton on 15th March, be sure to head to the Molly Nilsson gig early to catch their set.

Stream the 'Edible Arrangements Tape' in full...

Order the cassette at Comfortable on a Tightrope.

Facebook link.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Primitive Parts - Another Day

Last week, Primitive Parts performed at Upset The Rhythm's Raymond Pettibon film screening night at SPACE gallery, and the setting couldn't have been better - with no stage, the trio took over a corner of the room, backed by a large stack of TV's looping the bright frames of an undisclosed movie, guitars held high, soft-shoe shuffling their way through a set of unperturbed brilliance.

With Kev and Robin also 2/3rds of Male Bonding and Lindsay splitting time with Sauna Youth, this new venture leaves behind their renowned pulse-racing immediacy and wanders a more languid and considered path. Listen to 'Another Night' here...

They play the Victoria in Dalston on 8th March with The Homosexuals.
There are no other links, yet.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Just Handshakes - London Bound

I spent my University years in Cornwall, studying next to the beach, going for long walks on the cliffs, avoiding reggae (where possible), being awoken by seagulls every day and going to the kinds of house parties that would require clearing three whole days beforehand just to work on the fancy dress costume. I loved it, felt closed in by it, had some wonderful and some terrible times there, and never regretted the three years that saw me living in multicoloured houses and eat more beach bbq's than other forms of hot meals. But being so far away from everything and everyone certainly had it's downfalls, and I'd long for the rare weekends when I could jump on a train back to civilisation.

In my final year, thanks to some MySpace browsing I can across Twee As Fuck, a club night in London that opened my eyes to indie pop. Bands like The Pastels, Comet Gain, Shop Assistants, The Field Mice, Talulah Gosh and Dolly Mixture filled my record collection, all whispered vocals, tatty pop melodies and a fey sweetness that grunge, punk and other teenage favourites hadn't quite delivered. It's funny to think about it now, but those visits to London to Twee As Fuck gigs were like pilgrimages; I'd drag along a friend, and we'd sit quietly at the back in a room full of then strangers, sipping beers and soaking it all in, feeling as though we'd stumbled on something very special.

After moving to Brighton a year or so later, I realised that this wasn't the niche scene I'd presumed; it was everywhere, and I wasn't alone in my starry-eyed fangirl appreciation. There were Indie Pop Sundays, dance nights and zine fairs that all catered to this certain kind of music geek, and I continued to delve into the Peel sessions and 7 inches of the glory days.

Although there is by no means any kind of indie pop drought, it's been a while since I found a new band to fall for (not since Veronica Falls' first shared 'Beachy Head', anyway) but Just Handshakes stirred up those old memories of time spent on trains journeying to the big city. With the very apt title of 'London Bound', the Leeds' band's new single is a four and a half minute pop gem, with racing drums and intertwining guitar melodies that you can almost picture as being delivered by a cardigan-wearing Johnny Marr convert, echoing out under building synths and high reaching vocals, that pay tribute to bands past whilst keeping eyes fixed squarely on the here and now.

Having penned a deal with Bleeding Gold Records, Just Handshakes are giving away their new single for free, and I highly recommend you snap it up before the downloads reach their limit! A new album is also set to follow later in the year, so stay in touch...

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Mazes - Skulking

With frames that chop with acute precision, the new Mazes' visuals for 'Skulking' bring an even more hypnotic quality to the song's already tightly wound structure. Their new album, Ores and Minerals is out in a few weeks' on FatCat Records, and is already gunning for the top spot as my Album of the Year (yes, really). Go get lost --

Friday, 18 January 2013

The Growlers - One Million Lovers

Though their name has popped up on a few feeds recently, my knowledge of The Growlers' has been pretty limited - but all that is about to change. They've won me over with their far-out
slacker psych sounds, and are the much-needed winter warmer to what's been a pretty grim British January. Formed in Long Beach, California, way back in 2006, The Growlers blend surfing and experimentation, both in music and lifestyle. Now, with several moon cycles and a couple of hundred tunes behind them, Hung At Heart marks their latest release.

Having only occasionally tripped it across the ocean, it might come as a surprise to find out that this is The Growlers' third full record, and despite initial dabblings with high-profile producers it's as homegrown as they come, recorded by the band with no outsider input, in Costa Mesa.

After all sharing a warehouse right by Newport Beach, surfing, putting on bands and throwing parties, their shambolic sound and extravagant showmanship naturally took shape. These are warped pop songs; an occasionally unsettling circus of psychedelia, surf-rock and hints of country, fed with cryptic lyrics.

Check out 'One Million Lovers', taken from Hung At Heart --

Hung At Heart is released on 25th March via FatCat Records & the band are coming to the UK in April! By all accounts, things are gonna get freaky...

24th April - Shacklewell Arms, London, UK *just added*
25th April - Shacklewell Arms, London, UK
26th April - Green Door Store, Brighton, UK

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Verity Susman - To Make You Afraid

I can never quite put my finger on why, but Verity Susman's voice always makes me well up a bit. In a similar way to Trish Keenan's delicate delivery, there's something in the tone that feels as though her voice is plugged directly into the inner self, with nothing constructed or manipulated; open to all of the elements.

After Electrelane's many reunion shows eventually petered out, her work as a solo artist has meant that their presence is still very much felt. Now fully exploring the importance of the visual as well as sound in her live performance, Verity credits Laurie Andserson and Meredith Monk as the main influences that have shaped her transition into an audio-visual artist. In a recent interview, she described her new venture:

"I’m using quite a lot of spoken word... and I wanted the visuals to enhance and sometimes also distort or contradict the things that are being spoken about. Film is also a way to illustrate some of the things I’ve been thinking about recently, like how it would be if your instrument was a part of your body, which is quite a visceral thought for a wind instrument player because you are breathing in and out of something in a way that can really feel like it’s a part of you."

Having supported Atlas Sound last year and played shows in Berlin and Paris, 'To Make You Afraid' marks her first official release of new material. While on the first few listens I felt it recalled Molly Nilsson, having listened further, the depth of sound continues to spread, with bursts of shining synths and wails that transcend the dark, glittering interior.

Verity will be playing two shows this month - one in London on the 24th January, and THIS one in Brighton on 25th, at the Green Door Store. It's free, and a Friday night, so no excuses.