Category Archives: Indie

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.

ABEL RAISE THE CAIN: ‘History Scenes.’

Abel Raise The Cain are a five-piece band from Teeside in the North East of England.

Since forming around seven years ago, they have built a fiercely loyal fanbase in their own neck of the woods and I see from their Soundcloud page, they have been given airplay by Radio 6 Music’s Steve Lamaq.

I don’t know if they have any plans for world domination, but if they have designs on breaking out of their locale, then their latest single, ‘History Scenes,’ may just be the track to help them on their way.

The band themselves describe their music as being ‘epic / indie / orchestral / experimental / rock’ and they have piled all of these influences into this song. Well, maybe not so much of the ‘experimental,’ but everything else.

In recent years we have seen / listened to bands such as Elbow and Coldplay amongst others, have success with slow-burning tracks that build and build into a grandiose crescendo. ‘History Scenes,’ is of that ilk.

But rather than sounding anything like the two afore-mentioned bands, I hear this epic, swaying soundscape as more in the mould of very early James (‘Stripmine‘ album era) with the huge, anthemic choruses of Snow Patrol.

Yeah – that’ll just about do it. Nice job, lads – now spread those wings and fly!

THE GOA EXPRESS: ‘The Day.’

Helpful Hint #1 for any budding music scribe: “where does your name come from?” is not a particularly good opening gambit when interviewing a band. In fact, it’s probably best avoid the question altogether. So I’m just going to dive straight in.

The name of this five -piece band from Burnley is actually a bit of a dichotomy, because nothing goes fast in Goa. OK – the scooters and cars do, but definitely not the trains.

Of course, ‘Express’ could refer to a newspaper, but that would put a real kybosh on my planned introduction to ‘The Day,’ the latest single release from The Goa Express.

Now based in Manchester where the lads are studying at Uni, Goa Express have honed their music and style over a number of years. And since moving to the ‘big city’ their development has benefited with support slots for the likes of Cabbage, Yak and The Orielles. They have also played with one of my favourite psyche bands, Moon Duo.

I absolutely love this track. It’s one of those instant songs. No build up, no faffing about – it’s in your face immediately. The vocals sound real snotty, with a ‘couldn’t give a tu’penny f***’ attitude to them; like a sleep deprived and caffeine overdosed Bob Dylan. Whirling Inspiral Carpets type organ, shrieking guitar and crashing cymbals prop up the song, which jumps out the speakers, shouts at you, then runs away. Just like that. Two minutes and fourteen seconds.

It’s a glorious hark back to the early days of punk. We need more of this.

(These lads have just taken over the mantle of my ‘new favourite band,’ from The Naked Party.)

Here’s a wee bonus to this post – a track from the 2018 EP ‘Use Your Brain.’

(‘The Day’ is released on Friday July 5th.)

THE VAGARY: ‘Outta Sight, Outta Mind.’

VAGARY definition: An unpredictable development or change of circumstances.

That would seem just about right for the Amsterdam band, who after attracting a degree of attention, success and prime support slots with the likes of Pete Doherty and Kurt Vile, drifted into a prolonged hibernation.

Now, almost five years later, The Vagary are back with their second album due for a summer release and the lead single, ‘Outta Sight, Outta Mind,’ available now.

There had been no plans made for the band to get back together any time soon, but as guitar player Julien explains:

“When our friends of St. Tropez asked us to record in their studio, we hadn’t played in a while, and to be honest, we didn’t see it happen any time soon. We were all working on different projects. Luckily, Thijs (vocals, guitar), had some ideas laying around. When we were working these out and rehearsing them for the recording session, we realized how much we had missed playing together. Just the four of us; grabbing our instruments and just play. With Outta Sight, Outta Mind, and the other new material, we want to express that feeling of being a tightknit band, playing their heart out.”

The single, and presumably therefore also the album, exhibits a bit of change in direction for the band. Their earlier work was very much synthesizer lead, whereas the new material seems to be more organic, with the focus simply on guitar, bass and drums.

Outta Sight, Outta Mind,’ also reflects the more soulful sounds they were listening to when the decision was taken to get back into the recording studio. It’s like a blues infused Average White Band tune to me, though I have to say the chorus reminds me very much of Gallagher & Lyle’s ‘Heart On My Sleeve.

Sorry, I hate to make comparisons, but we all do it. Though that’s two pretty decent acts to be measured with.
(And both were Scottish!)