Category Archives: Indie

THE MEMORIES: ‘Pickles & PiES.’

THE MEMORIES formed in the Belmont/Hawthorne district of Southeast Portland, Oregon in the Summer of 2010 by White Fang bandmates and childhood friends Rikky Gage and Kyle Handley. They recorded their first album in one of the upstairs bedrooms at what was called the 40th house, a big three story home on a busy street that was a hangout for local stoners and artists. Their self-titled debut was released on their own Gnar Tapes label as a cassette. Two hundred were ‘pressed,’ and from such humble beginnings etc, etc….

Almost ten years on, and re-located to Los Angeles, The Memories are set to release what I think will be their ninth album (though it could be argued that some of their EP recordings could additionally fall into the ‘LP’ category. Their output has been pretty prolific over the years – check this little lot out – and so I’m surprised to find myself scurrying around the internet to find out more about the band.

Being my first time listening to the band, I’d describe them as a kind of lo-fi, summery, jangly pop type of unit. For instance, I wouldn’t have been too surprised had someone played me ‘Second Try‘ from this new album and told me it was Teenage Fanclub (with a very brief Puddle of Mudd styled intro .) It’s certainly in that groove.

‘In My Heart I Am Sailing,’ has a weird kind of pacing issue at the outset – I don’t know the technical term for this, but it sure grabbed my attention enough to write about it! When it comes in, the main vocal seems to hold a couple of beats longer than the backing harmonies do, so initially, they appear ever so slightly out of kilter. Clever!
The backing vocals wash over, in and out, of the listener like a gentle tide, and there is a very strong Sixties California feel to this song.

THE MEMORIES (May 2017)

It took me a minute or so, but, ‘The Sign‘ is an excellent down-tempo, lovers rock / reggae version of the Ace of Base song from back in the day. I believe the vocals are sung by Colleen Green and they are spot on – a little bit more ‘hushed’ than Jenny of Ace of Base, and I’d say a little more dulcet and playful.

The final final of the four tracks made available on Bandcamp prior to release, is ‘Purple.‘ This seems a little different to the other tracks I’v e heard in that it’s much more soulful, with vocals provided by PYNKIE. I have no idea, but when the chorus comes in and the production becomes that bit more dramatic, then drops down to the finish, I’m put in mind of Prince. But maybe that’s just a word association thing triggered by the word ‘Purple.‘ I don’t know. Whatever – this track’s a grower. (Just listened on repeat four times. It is.)

Yeah – so there it is. To my shame, I hadn’t listened to The Memories before. But right now, I’m off to work my way through their other twenty-seven releases as featured on Bandcamp.

See you the other side of summer.

KILLER WHALE: ‘Everyone You Know Someday.’

When I was a teenager I lied about my age and got a gig supporting Frightened Rabbit (then largely unknown) in a dingy basement bar in Glasgow. Scott Hutchison’s genius that night changed my life. His music was a revelation – you can be from Glasgow and be in a band that doesn’t sound like Oasis! Unfortunately, he quipped that my own ramshackle group reminded him of High School talent shows. Inspired nevertheless, I took my free copy of their home-recorded album, ‘Sing the Greys,’ and I listened to it on repeat all night.

So says Dougie, aka KILLER WHALE, and formerly St. Cool, the masked, shamanic frontman of cult Glasgow’s mentalist, metal-funk band, The Mikey 9s.

From being inspired by a formative Frightened Rabbit to prancing around the stages of the UK gig circuit with Mickey 9s, is quite a transformation.

But as Harry Chapin sang back in ’72, ‘All my life’s a circle …’ and perhaps there is no more appropriate song to describe musical journey (God, I hate that term!) with the release of his debut album as KILLER WHALE.

The eleven tracks on ‘Everyone You Know Someday,’ are thoughtful, and introspective. As Dougie explains, they were written in the comedown of the six-month Scottish darkness that is euphemistically termed ‘winter.’ Yet, creativity often sprouts from bleakness;
” … out of the darkness, light; in the light, shadows; like the patterns on a killer whale.” 

Most of the tracks are mid-tempo, melodic and I have to say exhibit a style that I can only term as typically ‘Glasgow’ – an eclectic mix of folk and ‘indie.’ Others more familiar with this brand of music have suggested:

‘The poetry of Leonard Cohen and Neil Young mixed with the lush musicality of Wilco and Death Cab for Cutie; the sentimental melodies of The Blue Nile and Hot Chip with the experimentality of Brian Eno and The Velvet Underground; the fragile vocals of Arthur Russell and Bon Iver with the sincerity of Joni Mitchell and Frightened Rabbit.’

For me, the outstanding track is the second one in, ‘Something Like That,’ which initially evokes an image of a bleak Scottish landscape before gently bouncing along on a catchy bass line.

If any of that’s your bag, then you’ll be right into this album.


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!)