As the festival season rolls on, this weekend the Hit The Deck Festival returns for its fourth outing. As always with over 40 bands playing across 6 stages, the Already Heard team has picked out 10 must-see bands to see at this weekend’s festival.
This Saturday the 2014 edition of Record Store Day takes place. With wealth of rare
releases to buy, Already Heard and Jon Tolley of Banquet Records have picked out 5 must by RSD 2014 releases.
Next week Philadelphia indie punks The Menzingers release, 'Rented World,' one of the
highly anticipated records of 2014 so far. In parts, it picks up where 2012's 'On The
Impossible Past' left off but it also shows the bands growth as songwriters and musicians. We recently spoke to Greg Barnett to discuss the album, the pressure of following up 'On The Impossible Past', their forthcoming London show and the Grozerock Festival.
Despite only forming last year, Essex rockers New City Kings have already gathered plenty of attention from their debut EP - 'Change.' Their radio-friendly rock sound that has seen them compared to a range of bands; Foo Fighters, Deaf Havana, and The Gaslight Anthem.
Already Heard spoke to Mark Kovic to find out more about New City Kings.
With their return to the UK imminent, the latest edition of "Versus" sees us putting the
focus on Alkaline Trio. Self-confessed Trio MEGA fan Jay Sullivan tells us why 'From
Here to Infirmary' is the band’s finest work. Whilst Alex Phelan explains how 'Maybe
I'll Catch Fire' is a superb example of musical catharsis.
12 months from releasing their debut EP, we speak to Blackpool pop-punk/emo
quintet Boston Manor to discuss their influences, achievements so far and thoughts on their contemporaries.
With their latest EP 'Change Nothing, Regret Everything.', Woking five-piece Employed
To Serve have produced 12 minutes of frantic, unrelenting hardcore that finds the band somewhere between The Dillinger Escape Plan and The Chariot. We spoke to Justine from the band to find out how the band has transitioned from a duo to a quintet and she discussed
being part of the Holy Roar! roster, they chaotic yet contained live shows and more.
In the latest edition of our "Tour Tales" feature, Irish doom-punk band Hornets talk us
through their recent UK tour where they played 8 shows in 7 days.
Leeds-based four-piece Walleater are set to digitally release their debut self titled EP next Monday (14th April) through Close To Home Records. We've got the exclusive first play
right here on Already Heard.
Straight up, I should probably declare my bias towards Morain. The members themselves are friends of friends from university and I’ve seen them live a number of times, it’s even my guitar in their video for the previously released ‘Are We Lost’. So how can my opinion remain impartial throughout this review? Well I thought long and hard about this, and realised that my objectivity could only really be validated by telling you that, at first, I didn’t actually like this EP. And I’ll explain everything now.
It’s been a long time since the last proper Morain release, and in that time a lot has happened to the musical landscape. Music is a continually evolving thing and as time passes people’s tastes, my own included, also change. I think that’s perhaps why the EP didn’t particularly capture me the same way that the first listen of ‘Animals’ did all that time ago. By the second full listen through though, this initial negativity towards ‘Worlds Apart’ evaporated and, again, I can explain everything.
Five years ago in this reviewer’s household, no EP had been spun nearly as much as Defeater’s ’Lost Ground’ EP. There was a band who truly seemed to reinvigorate the term emotional hardcore. Their stories might be figments of their imagination, but its distinctive delivery - a voice persistently haunted by agonizing pain - ensured the effect was never anything but poignant (at best downright heart-wrenching). Many of us, I’m sure, have finally started to come to terms with the fact that Defeater are unlikely to ever reach those heights again, as evidenced by their positively average ’Letters Home’. If this reviewer’s mourning process has eased a little, it’s most certainly in part due to the handful of talented bands who have proved themselves capable and willing to carry the torch. One such band is More Than Life, who have surely released their finest effort yet with second LP ’What’s Left Of Me’.
Of course, it’s not entirely fair to mindlessly lump them in together, but when those similarities do rise to the surface, for the most part they reflect well on UK outfit. More Than Life are perhaps less interested in the texture and tone of their instruments than Defeater are, but they bear an almost parallel balance of aggression and melody, as well as a comparable outlook on life (though More Than Life do betray a hopeful streak here). Perhaps the best summary of what this band are about, ’Weight Of The World’, is on one hand hand strongly riff-centric, but it’s almost always accompanied by contrapuntal, reverb-heavy, melodic background guitarwork. The track’s penultimate section is an engrossing mixture of passionate vocal work, heavy riffs and delicate melodies, the first of several instances of the band acing bridges, middle-eights and pre-finales.
Manchester lads Nine Black Alps couldn’t have enjoyed a more emphatic entrance to the music scene back in 2005 when, after only a handful of shows, they were snapped up by Island Records before embarking on a helter-skelter journey of high profile tours and festivals across the world.
Their momentum slowed considerably a few years later, but the indie-grunge outfit maintained a consistent output, and now reach their fifth studio album in ‘Candy for the Clowns’. The new record is solid evidence that, although the band’s time in the limelight may have been short-lived, it wasn’t a fluke.
The loud and groaning Smashing Pumpkins-style riffs in ‘Novokaine’ immediately take you back to the early noughties, where British guitar bands were still all over the charts and stamping their identity on a generation rediscovering rock music. It’s cool and moody, but full of vigour and panache, like the theme-tune to a Bond film directed by Guy Ritchie.
It may seem a little harsh to say, but sometimes reviewing new upcoming bands on their earliest releases can be a slightly onerous business. There are so many bands hurriedly rushing out material and clamouring for writers’ attention, before they or their music is ready for it, that it can be hard to be enthusiastic about every previously unheralded release that finds its way into your inbox. Fortunately, there are bands like Dundee’s Copper Lungs out there. Cunningly waiting to stop unsuspecting critics dead in their tracks, make them say something along the lines of “hello, hello, hello, what have we hear then” in the style of a badly caricatured policeman, and then come back for another listen, and another, and many more after that.
Such is the quality of the band’s new self-titled EP that as soon as you hit play, you best live with the fact that you’re unlikely to be listening to anything else for quite some time. Packing big angular riffs, and even bigger impassioned, emphatically delivered choruses, there hasn’t been a new pop-rock act break out of Scotland that are this good since Twin Atlantic, seemingly overnight, became most of Britain’s favourite band a few years back.
Its refreshing that Copper Lungs have opted to choose quality over quantity, making all six tracks here as great as they could be, rather than recording a second full length, all killer, no filler definitely being the order of the day here. Although lead single ‘Lost Without You’ is the pick of an excellent bunch, every track on offer could potentially be single material.
If doom and gloom is your ray of sunshine, then Limb are probably right up your street with their self titled debut album. Whilst it may heavily juxtapose the summer sun that’s started to sneak itself into our bleak British lives, ‘Limb’ will no doubt remind you that dark forces are forever at play. That, and that it’s only a riff if it makes you bang your head.
‘Twelve Ghosts’ opens up this ten track album with a slowly building, note held riff with plenty of noise and feedback developing into the head-banging riff that’s currently got a hold of my own head. This sludge opener delves into more of a 70s based verse before bringing it all back down for the groove; refreshing and juxtaposing. It’s a common trait dealt across the album that allows for plenty of styles to join the horde.
It seems to be a current craze in alternative music for two-pieces to be at the forefront of the scene. The latest duo to burst onto the scene is Margates’ Two-Bit Sister. The pair play a blend of old school grunge riffs mixed with catchy lyrics and choruses. Even though their debut record is only four tracks, 'The Jackal' supplies your ears with four very memorable songs.
With 10 songs coming in just under the 20 minute mark, California’s Plague Vendor clearly have no time for substance with this debut effort. On 'Free To Eat', the recent Epitaph signees’ LP is a brash, frantic record but leaves a good impression.
The opening bars 'Black Sap Scriptures', the band’s garage punk influence is very much in tact with rowdy vocals courtesy of Brandon Blaine and razor-sharp guitar lines from Jay Rogers. It’s unrelentless tempo is something that grabs hold of you early on and doesn’t let go for the next 20 minutes.
Last year saw Johnathan Miller’s self-proclaimed “ramshackle psych” project Hand Sand Hands release debut album 'Lord Of Talk', a record that may have in all likelihood slipped under most radars. You’d be forgiven if it did; any emerging act to release their first full-length foray into the music world in the same month as Pearl Jam and Miley Cyrus album launches will have to fight for any attention they can get. It didn’t go unnoticed, however, with US label Autumn + Colour snapping the project up and kicking off this month with a re-release of last year’s inaugural effort for any who may have missed it first time around. It’s definitely second time lucky here, and we’re not along amongst a sea of new converts to the glistening, out of this world shoegaze vibes that Hand Sand Hands instills.
Few bands can evoke a sense of place the way Banner Pilot do. Their music conjures up images of the Midwest, of endless stretches of road and dust, of positivity and hope, all in a seemingly timeless fashion. While their music may be heavily influenced by Jawbreaker and Hot Water Music, at the heart there’s the influence of a novelist, lyrically they’re certainly rooted in Steinbeck and Kerouac.
Banner Pilot do not tend towards solid, tangible themes for their songs, instead they provide the listener with snapshots and moments frozen in time. Descriptions of place followed by the emotion connected with that place are frequent in ‘Souvenir’, such as the combination of “on your rooftop drunk in the springtime” followed by “I’m trying but I’m falling down” in opener ‘Modern Shakes’. The majority of the songs are written about a proverbial ‘you’, a lover whose identity is not revealed and sometimes this tense stretches to include ‘we’, giving a personal touch that draws you into the emotions of the album.
A few days back I was asked what my favourite record labels were. The top of that list, you ask? Count Your Lucky Stars. Why? It’s because of records like this. Two Knights is a two-piece band from Texas. They play the kind of songs you’d perhaps expect a two-piece band from Texas signed to CYLS to play: Raw, twangy, and incredible. Over the course of 13 songs, ‘Shut Up’ is both devastating and heart swelling. Not from song to song, not from verse to chorus, but always. Two ends of the emotional spectrum wrapped in a blanket of nostalgia and played fantastically.
‘If It’s Brocken, It’s Brocken’ demonstrates this from the off. Flitting from fuzz to clean tones, from angelic vocals to screeches in a heartbeat. ‘It Doesn’t Matter Matt, I’m Never Going To Cast Boulderfall’ is a driving beast,and following track, ‘Just Pick a Dead End and Chill Out Till You Die’, is a beauty. Off the back of these opening three tracks it’s apparent that Two Knights have played a masterstroke with ‘Shut Up’. For this record to average out poorly the remaining ten tracks would have to be unlistenable.
The latest release from Donovan Wolfington isn’t really an EP, more a collection of unrelated tracks, clustered together like awkward guests at a party. While you’d expect this disjointed nature to be off-putting, it all seems to come together after a few listens, resulting in an EP that is both fresh and familiar – a wonderful juxtaposition of opposites.
‘Scary Stories You Tell in the Dark’ is undoubtedly a chameleon record. Opening track ‘Sleeping’ leads you to believe you’re listening to a Front Bottoms-esque indie release, with a slick intro and lulling, muddy male and female vocals, before your sense of security is ripped away by ‘Qutting’, a track reminiscent of later Brand New, with screaming vocals, amazing guitar work and a strong post-hardcore sound. Donovan Wolfington are not a band with a comfort zone, and this is what makes them great. ‘Keef Ripper’ switches styles again with up-tempo pop rock, yet despite this none of the styles seem forced; in fact their fluidity makes each song interesting in its own right.
We’ve been fans of Leeds’ Walleater for quite some time now here at Already Heard, so you’ll probably guess we’ll be giving their new self-titled effort a glowing review right? Well nearly.
Don’t get me wrong, 'Walleater' certainly backs up any hype or momentum the quartet have. Throughout the band’s use of effect pedals giveaway to a sonic-sized soundscapes that are throughly pleasing. Opening track 'Give In To Me' is downtrodden in its delivery with a synth-like chorus giving the track resonance.
Having built up a veritable who’s who of former tour mates from the cream of British and International metal, and played Download all before releasing their debut album, Yorkshire’s With One Last Breath look set to finally be considered major players in their own right with hugely accomplished first long player ‘The Fearless Ones’.
The album title is certainly an apt one. ‘TFO’ brims with confidence and self-belief, and see’s the band come out all guns blazing from start to finish. Capturing just the right blend of brash, energetic passion and melodic awareness that a metal act hoping for major success needs to achieve, With One Last Breath have clearly learnt plenty from spending time on the road with such esteemed company.
No matter how oversaturated the scene gets, no matter how tired the tropes of the genre become, deathcore, it seems, steadfastly refuses to die. It may be a different beast now than it was back in 2006 when it was little more than ridiculous MySpace profile photos, chugs and pig squeals - it has had to relentlessly evolve and become more and more extreme to stand out from the competition. Deathcore doesn’t get much more extreme than Sunderland’s Nexilva, whose new record ‘Eschatologies’ is a monolithically crushing work, encompassing elements of djent and progressive metal into their bruising maelstrom of harsh vocals, monumental riffs and pounding blastbeats. However, for all its technical proficiency, and my personal pangs of jealousy at the otherworldly skills of the band at an age range of 20-22 (I’ve wasted my life…), the music feels a little soulless - besides “Wow, you’re really good at your chosen instruments”, it won’t make you feel much of anything.
After a brief intro track, the album gets underway with 'The Misdirection Of God', a tour-de-force of brutality played at an unrelentingly blistering pace. It becomes very apparent very quickly, though, that this album cannot be called out for particular high or low points - it’s all a dazzling spectacle in punishing technicality, like all the fireworks in a display going off at once, but no big bonfire afterwards to warm your cockles, thereby leaving one colder than an early November evening. Nexilva do occasionally temper their constant assault with some “ooky shpooky” synth parts borrowed from black metal, and while they do provide the occasional respite from the constant pummelling 'Eschathologies' doles out, they only serve to add a slight scent of Gorgonzola to proceedings.
Fairly recently, through a series of bizarre events, I found myself at an extremely nostalgic Panic! At The Disco gig. Upon arrival I was instantly taken back by a) the amount of people there, and b) the size of the room that the band were still filling, even with their newer material. Call me ignorant, but I thought that most of Fueled By Ramen bands had largely disappeared into the ether. It seems though that the genre the label patented, you know the one, that so-sweet-it-makes-you-sick-pop-rock, is alive and well. It seems that we might even be leading the revival (probably too soon to call it a revival) with the UK’s own, The Afterparty.
To anyone of a similar age (23) and who followed a similar sort of scene, The Afterparty’s sound will remind you of being around 15/16 years old, it might not be entirely coincidental that during ‘Cover Up’’, lead singer, Nic Matthew, amongst almost signature delayed guitars, references the tender age. ‘Distances’ in itself can come across a little cliched in these type of signatures, but by this point in the mini-album, if you don’t like it you never will. The Afterparty don’t disguise what they are, they do what they do and they do it pretty well, and if it has got you by this point, then the only problem with the mini-album ,for you, is that it only has six tracks.