Category Archives: Indie

CHINA MOON: ‘Sleep Talking’ EP

Manchester three-piece, China Moon, are, I confidently predict, a band you will soon be hearing about on national radio.

Certainly, based on the evidence of the new five-track ‘Sleep Talking‘ EP, they are a perfect fit for Radio 6 Music.

There you go – colours to the mast!

Their music is new to me, but it is such a fresh amalgam of sounds that I was instantly drawn into the first track. ‘Nebula,’ portrays a deep sense of frustration and anger – at least it does to me – with the thumping beat and the vocal delivery in short stanzas. This impression is backed up with the video produced for the track.

The band’s second single release, ‘Lonely Game,’ is also on the new EP. It differs big time from ‘Nebula.‘ It’s perhaps not quite so ‘instant,’ and may appear a bit disjointed on first listen – but stick with it. There’s some lovely little surprises throughout its near four minutes duration.

Next up is ‘She Won’t Go Back To You.’ Again, different.
The song has a more conventional structure than the first two, but the harmonies rise and fall like a fairground carousel; a fairground carousel with slightly demented horses flaring their nostrils, the only mare among them being your nightmare.

Free Fall‘ I’ll be honest, I’m rather unsure about. I’m not convinced. I’m no musician. And I’m no technician either. But I think this could do with a bit of a remix. The vocal delivery doesn’t really work for me.

Final track, ‘Like That,’ is more upbeat and again shows what China Moon are capable of. There would appear to be some Arctic Monkeys echoes in this one.

But overall, China Moon give me the same feeling as did The Savage Nomads (now Artbreak) back in the day. Discordant flashes of guitar; staccato delivery and off kilter drums combine with a light Eastern / Indian style to create something original and exciting.

And hey – maybe you’ll like ‘Free Fall.’ Maybe it’s just a ‘me’ thing.

THE GAA GAA’S: ‘Repulsion Seminar EP’

November the 5th 2019. Guy Fawkes night, here in UK. Mark the date in your diary – in red ink, and circle it.

For this is the day I predict The Gaa Gaa’s (yes, the apostrophe is intended) will finally get the credit and attention they are well overdue.

This is the day, finally, when, after years and years of raised hopes and dashed dreams, The Gaa Gaa’s release their debut album!

If ever there was a Grammy styled award for the band most beset with controversy, mishaps, setbacks and upsets, it’s the band out of Jersey and now London / Brighton based. The Gaa Gaa’s would be an absolute shoo-in, believe me.

That’s not to say they have been dilatory in their efforts to release their music to a wider listening public. It’s just that life, and things, keep getting in the way. Perhaps they lost a little focus as a result, but a look at their Bandcamp page shows that they have had their productive periods.

Their music is loud, dark and manic; it hinges, if indeed it’s not entirely ‘unhinged,’ upon the repetitive motorik pulse of 70s Krautrock. But more fuzzed up.

I first wrote about the band back in early 2011. It was a feature on new and upcoming bands. Some of the personnel have changed in recent times, bu having spoken with guitarist / vocalist Gavin, I know the band are looking upon the album release as a new beginning.

Which is brilliant news for the band and their fans – and means I can regurgitate my interview piece from Artrocker Magazine, almost eight and half years ago!

‘New and upcoming bands?’

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you … The Gaa Gaa’s.

Artrocker # 107. January / February 2011

THE GAA GAA’S……. (NEW BLOOD)

“You’ll never have a revolution if you stay underground!”

It may sound like a rallying call to arms, but this proclamation was not issued by some shady, subversive organisation. Rather, it’s the considered opinion of Jamey, bass player with Brighton three-piece, THE GAA GAA’S. (Stand easy, MI5!)

Describing their music as ‘infectious dance’ and citing such influences as The Danse Society, Brian Jones Town Massacre, The Rapture and King Crimson, vocalist Gavin acknowledges the increasing popularity of scuzzy, dark, dance music. But as drummer Stewart expands:

“It’s nice to be part of an ‘underground’ movement, but we’re not scared of our music becoming fashionable as such. We just love what we’re doing and if it gets some recognition, then that’s a bonus.”

THE GAA GAA’S were formed way back in 2003, however as Gavin explains, it’s only now that they feel ready to formally release their music:

“ There have been many different line-ups over the years, but we’re now at the strongest. We’re all really good friends, from Jersey originally, and have moved to Brighton to ‘fulfil our musical goals.’ The musicianship feels great between us and our debut single, ‘Voltaire,’ is due for release on 1st November on Playground Records. It’ll be available on 7” vinyl format as well as a download basis and the B-side of the vinyl will be a Punx Soundcheck Remix of ‘Voltaire.’”

What was the thinking behind releasing two versions of the same song as the band’s debut, as opposed to showcasing another from their ‘live’ set-list?

Gavin continues:

“That was the label’s idea. Punx Soundcheck work with Playground Records and are part of the Kitsune label who are based in France. The intention is to get our music out to a whole new, additional market.”

Although we play London more than Brighton at present (we’re a lot more suited to the darker dance wave that circulates the Capital) as far as media coverage goes, we’re a lot more established in Europe due to our playing the Drop Dead Festival recently,” says Stewart.

(The Festival organisers for this year’s event approached THE GAA GAA’S as they felt their music and image would fit he bill. When asked how the experience was, Jamey simply replies, “Itchy!”)

(Let’s not go there, shall we?)

With the artwork for the cover of their Demo EP ‘Repulsion Seminar’ influenced by revered French photographer Guy Bourdin, and their new single taking its title from the name of the eighteenth century French Enlightenment writer, it would appear that these guys are pretty well read. That being the case and at the risk of being impolite, I have to ask – why the unnecessary apostrophe in the band name?

“We really like apostrophes,” is the rather simplistic answer from Gavin. “We really like catastrophes as well,” he adds somewhat cryptically.

Hmmm – catastrophes I can do without. But a little revolution never really hurt anyone, did it?!

Sign me up!

                                                                                               

BECKY NINKOVIC: ‘The Carrier.’

I know LOUD HORIZON is officially on the back burner (see posts yesterday) but THIS popped up on Facebook today.

Becky is an old friend from Vancouver who would stay over at my house with her bandmates YOU SAY PARTY! (YSP! WSD!) whenever they were touring UK.

This is so different from the music they produced back in the day – how could I not possibly share it?

CULTDREAMS: ‘Not My Generation.’

Cultdreams, who until March of this year were known as Kamikaze Girls, have released their new single, ‘Not My Generation‘ – this being a precursor to their second album release come mid-August.

After five years and one album under their previous name, the two-piece band from Brighton and Antwerp, whose songs reflect a distinct social conscience, decided they couldn’t risk anyone being offended by their old moniker. They had actually been drawn to the name by a novel about the friendship of two girls in the Japanese countryside. That, and the literal translation of the word meaning, ‘divine wind’ in English, but it also being used to portray wreckless and chaotic behaviour, which they reasoned was an accurate of their music at that time.

Anyway – that’s the back-story – now to this release.

The new album ‘Things That Hurt’ by vocalist Lucinda Livingstone’s own admission, has “… a different vibe to the last one.” It’s darker and more melodic, she says.

As you’d probably expect though, the lyrics, if those of the single are any indication, will still seek to highlight the injustices in the world as well as reassuring listeners that it’s OK to not feel OK. It’s music with principles, in short.

Musically, ‘Not My Generation‘ is a swirling soundscape which in some ways reminds me of the massively underrated Flowered Up, from back in the day, with Lucinda spitting out the words like really pissed off Kate Tempest.

It’s a winner, I tells ya!

(‘Things That Hurt’ will be released through Big Scary Monsters on 16th August 2019)

SLEAVE: ‘Homebound.’

That album, ‘Don’t Expect Anything’ is now completed and primed for release in autumn, this year.

By this time, I was thinking more along the lines of Blink 182 type pop punk bands. And then the mood changed yet again with the chorus which had me convinced their was a wee bit Foo Fighters inspiration creeping in.

So, there’s definitely a lot going on here for just one track! And, I’m pleased to say my UK related were somewhat confirmed when I read that the band have recently signed a deal with UK label Engineer Records.

(It’s tenuous and most probably a simple coincidence, I know, but I’m claiming it anyway!)

THE DARLING FIRE: ‘Dark Celebration.’

A band that boasts members who have played with, amongst others, Poison The Well, Dashboard Confidential and The Rocking Horse Winner are surely going to pique your interest , right?

To class The Darling Fire an Indie Supergroup would be all too easy, and cheezy, but they are most definitely a super group.
(That’s just so stereotypically ‘British,’ sounding isn’t it? And, when I think about, even more cheezy than Supergroup. But it’s done now.)

Dark Celebration‘ is just that. It’s “ …really a celebration of dark themes and experiences that have occurred in our lives both personally and distantly,” says guitar player Matthew Short.

“While we’ve each had some struggles in our lives, we wouldn’t be where we are at this moment if not for those dark times,” vocalist Jolie Lindholm adds.

Album opener ‘For The Loveless,’ is a solid, mid-tempo, driving rock song, as heavy on the drums as the fuzzy guitars.

‘Nevertwin‘ is possibly my favourite track of the eight. It’s of slower pace than the first song and while it has a sort of dreamy, ethereal feel to it, it’s still powerful and totally rocks!

Omaha,’ definitely starts out in a dark place. Mean and moody, the pace picks up for the choruses where it takes on a more expansive sound with some great guitar work. ‘Catatonia,’ raises the tempo somewhat and is classic indie rock, with pounding drums and a catchy chorus.

Silver Spider,’ is the song that convinced me of my (possibly wayward) initial thinking that Jolie’s vocal style is reminiscent of Liz Fraser from The Cocteau Twins. I know that probably sounds odd, and her voice is certainly deeper than Liz’s, but there’s definitely something there. Trust me.

The Constant,’ has a dreamy, relaxed feel to it that builds towards a more full-on climax. ‘Saints in Masquerade,’ is a total indie rocker, definitely vying with ‘Nevertwin‘ as my favourite. I must say too – what a brilliant video! Big props to director Ian Fursa.

The album closes with ‘In Twilight‘ – almost five and a half minutes of slow burning musings from Jolie that build in intensity and confirm my earlier vocal comparison. At least in my head.

Altogether this is one classy rock album. Thoughtful lyrics and concept delivered in a clean and uncluttered fashion. It’s melodic, but not sugar sweet , and best of all, it KICKS ASS!.

PLUVIAM: ‘Searching.’

What began as a musical experiment some eighteen months ago has resulted in the blossoming of Pluviam – an exciting young band now making their mark in the underground music scene of Birmingham.

Eighteen months ago, singer James Riley and drummer Mike Tabone joined forces and dabbled with mixing their various personal musical influences which ranged from Indie-Pop to Metal to 20th Century Expressionism – whatever the hell that is.

James and Mike have subsequently been joined by Tom Boddison on guitar and Calvert Stephens on bass and only last week played to a sell-out crowd at Birmingham’s Sunflower Lounge.

Their debut single, ‘Searching‘ was released in mid-June. It’s a dramatic, three and a half minute opus combining the vocal style of Tom Yorke with a heavy, raucous Linkin Park inspired backing that kicks in for the final half.

Vocalist James explains the band’s sound: “I believe our style to be an amalgamation of all our influences. Where I am into composers such as John Cage, deriving his sound from experimenting with timbral qualities of the piano, and artists such as James Blake and Jordan Rakei, deriving their sound from Jazzy and RnB based roots, Mike is highly influenced by the likes of Metal acts such as Slipknot and also by pop acts such as Amy Winehouse. Therefore, we try to mix it all together in a magnificent blend of experimentation!”

Here’s a ‘teaser’ video, incorporating a snippet from the single, ‘

Could be worth keeping an eye (and ear) out for these guys.