The Growlers – City Club

The Growlers have built a vast musical catalogue since their inception a decade ago. Four albums, a smattering of EPs and the coining of a festival has meant the band are constantly working – you can stuff your Jack Whites and Damon Albarns, this group have slaved away into the dirt and had the energy to dig themselves out again.

‘Beach Goth’ was not only a genre that moulded around the group but similarly a festival that they began – hosting names as esteemed as Bon Iver, James Blake and Grimes. As they return in 2016, following up on their successful 2014 release, Chinese Fountain, the group have signed to Julian Casablancas’ Cult Records. Not only have they signed to his label but The Strokes frontman has taken production duties onboard too. Chinese Fountain paved a path into a wider audience for the group, it bled as much scuzz-rock as it did reggae, country and Americana; new genres are good to expand with and City Club stretches further and further too.

City Club weighs in as one of the group’s longer efforts; the songs are longer and stand in a sturdy list of thirteen. ‘City Club’, the opening track and title track begins with purpose – it has dense slices of funk that cut through in the bass, tinkering guitar lines gleefully smile upwards whilst Brooks Nielsen’s unique voice sings with as much anguish as it always did. It is Brooks’ voice that really sells the sentiment in the song as he croons: “I love her just the way she is.”

‘I’ll Be Around’ begins with as much force as its predecessor; it is here that Casablanca’s techniques work perfectly for the group – where the bass may have previously struggled within the raucous scuzz slacker-rock, it now stands firmly in the foreground. The chorus carries a football fan chant-come-conversation between the rest of the group and Nielsen; it kind of has that De La Soul, early hip-hop vibe about it which leads for something marvellously catchy.

Breaking away from the garage-rock hype that currently occupies contemporary music is a brave move for The Growlers but ‘Vacant Lot’, with its slightly post-punk, Gang Of Four shadow and the seedy-neon groove of ‘Night Ride’ emphasises what a good decision it was. As Nielsen sings in the background of ‘Night Ride’ – “Now you see there never was a point,” it feels as if he agrees with the step forward too.

‘Dope On A Rope’ makes lyrical lightness of what may be perceived as addiction. As a title it continues to play on the uncanny sinister feel of City Club, an album that, as you venture further into, begins to reveal its darker underbelly. As a song it carries a more assertive tempo than the opening fragment of the album, Brooks’ voice carries more of a glide than the previous stoned lull as he murmurs upon 80s synth tones. ‘When You Were Made’ is the spine of the album and slows affairs with twiddling guitar finding closer sentiment to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young than anything else. ‘Rubber & Bone’ introduces the first wedge of thick fuzz that we hear from the group so far, it introduces those chanting conversations once more between Brooks and the group yelling: “It could happen to you / You will do”, to one another.

As we begin to flirt with City Club’s tail end, the album doesn’t lose strength and purpose, it continues down the sordid 80s glitter path, picking at the coke-fuelled alleys of Manhattan with slight glam-rock influences. ‘The Daisy Chain’ links tacky haunted house keys with 60s garage-psych choruses and a bizarre classic-rock sounding guitar solo. ‘World Unglued’ is a woozy comedown affair that melts as it hits you with lullaby vocals and the scuzz of ‘Neverending Line’ shows that the sink-or-swim-end-of-the-album is well and truly afloat in this case. ‘Too Many Times’ reverts slightly to The Growlers’ garage-rock root with a particularly heavy lo-fi effect on Nielsen’s voice – the updating of production courtesy of Casablancas means that the music behind the voice keeps its crispness and vitality – the contrast is astonishing and works perfectly. ‘Blood Of A Mutt’ – despite the violent title – is a melodic jam that meanders and oozes, the strength is in the rhythm section and is sure to be a lighters-out-waving-slowly-in-the-crowd moment.

As we close on the big band sound of ‘Speed Living’, it is startlingly clear that The Growlers have hit back with quite the arduous statement on City Club. Anybody who may have questioned Casablancas’ control at the realm has been proved unconditionally wrong. It is not only the production that moves with a neon-shimmer-grace but similarly the seedy, funk angle that the group have moved towards is something so refreshing to hear. With a touch more production, Nielsen’s gravely croon keeps its cigarette charred presence but stands on a polished background – the juxtaposition suits the group and suits their new sound.

Tom Churchill

Website: thegrowlers.com
Facebook: facebook.com/losGrowlers

Goat – Requiem

What sound does Goat make? What does it look like? When talking about the Swedish band Goat that is, it is hard to say. It is certainly psychedelic but when Brightonsfinest did an interview with the band they said, “Psychedelia is music that is free” of any barriers, meaning it could be anything. No one knows what they look like either, or whether they are the same band from one moment to the next – mainly due to the band being dressed head-to-toe in tribal wear with their identity always hidden. The band's genre of highly rhythmic and trance-like music has been played for generations by the Korpilombolo villagers, where the name derives from in Sweden, “Goat as a musical tradition is old, and we are just a recent example of the project…. , there have been recordings of Goat for the last 30 or 40 years”. They say, “part of the tradition is to be very open-minded to music from all parts of the world. People who have played music in our village have always brought in different forms of music”, hence why their first album was called World Music which also best describes the musical mystic of Goat.

It is safe to say that when Goat released their debut album, minds were blown – the cosmic nature of the enthralling 2012 release came out of nowhere and quickly made them one of the most interesting bands out there. And then you add their truly incredible live show into the equation that not only showcases the exemplary musicianship the band have, but also the intoxicating mentality of their performances where endless jams and ritual dancing not only add a new life to their songs but takes you to their gratifying world – Goat stand pretty uniquely in this musical world.

The album's influences run far and wide – the opening track from Requiem, ‘Union of Mind and Soul’, takes note from the 1960s legendary Brazilian psychedelic rock group Os Mutantes. After calming tropical bird song and the unison singing by the two female lead vocalists starts proceedings, a dual recorder hook acts as a chorus that separates the anarchistic style of vocals that could have fitted nicely in the Tropicália movement. An untypically calm track follows in the form of ‘I Sing In Silence’. Though the two female lead vocals are sung in an unhinged manner, the rest of the track takes the shape of North African desert guitar melody that easily whisks you away for a hedonistic four-and-a-half-minutes. Influences don’t stand still for long with ‘Alarms’ holding the stance of an early 70s French avant-garde pop/rock track and the danceable gangly guitars in ‘Trouble In The Streets’ reminiscent of West African highlife music.

Jamming and finding songs “in the moment” is a big part of how Goat make their music but it does leave the door open for songs being a little tiresome. Tracks such as ‘Temple Rhythms’, ‘Goatband’ and ‘Goatfuzz’ fall into this and at times sound incomplete, almost as if they were the best recordings of a bunch of seven minute plus jams. However, this can bring out the absolute best in Goat; with the chilled groovieness of ‘Psychedelic Lover’, the feel-good invocation of ‘It’s Not Me’ and the hypnotic Moroccan flair in ‘Goodbye’ being amongst some of the best tracks the band have made. Final track, ‘Ubuntu’, leaves the listener in a bit of a quandary. The song is mostly field recordings, something Goat have never done to date, where you can hear wind, waves and a ticking clock as well as voice recordings of people talking about our human existence. The oddest has to be the short clip of ‘Diarabi’ toward the end of the song's duration which is then followed by nothing other than sparse thundering waves till its close – with the album being called Requiem, could this signify the end of Goat?

Iain Lauder

Facebook: facebook.com/goatsweden
Twitter: twitter.com/goatband

Black Foxxes – Interview – 2016

After their thrilling show at The Great Escape 2016, Black Foxxes are a band that are hard to ignore. Taking rock’s recent resurgence in their stride, the trio stand out high above the rest of the competition, helped by the release of their stunning debut LP, I’m Not Well. The album is a kaleidoscope of passions, emotions, dreams and anger that pulls you along for a blistering ride of rocking jams and diverse melodies. We put some questions to drummer Ant Thornton to find out more about the band.

Read More...

Boxed In – Melt

There has been a bit of a gap emerging, left by the likes of LCD Soundsystem and Hot Chip, a gap that has been longing for the new generation electro pop act where people can dance and sing to feel good rhythms and forget about everything apart from the moment they are in. After releasing one of the stand out debuts of 2015 with his self-titled LP, Boxed In staked his claim to this void showing that he is the new master craftsman in the genre. Oli Bayston, the mind behind Boxed In, has long been a musician that has been brimming with potential – even before he had a release to his name Oli had been writing songs for Lily Allen, engineered for Toy’s debut album as well as having played on albums for the likes of Willy Mason, Steve Mason and The 2 Bears. As confessed in our interview with Boxed In last year, Oli is a serial songwriter and writes about a song a day, so we knew album number two was not far around the corner.

Setting the scene for what is generally a more introspective album when compared to the eponymous debut, the soothing instrumental ‘Intro’ leads into the indie funk stylings in ‘Jist’ that have become a triumphant characteristic of the Boxed In sound. Its deep looping bassline and circling synthwave undercurrents are a welcome return to Oli’s musical prowess, one that is sure to have you dancing by the song’s end. If that hasn’t got you moving, then the warm infectious sounds in ‘Shadowboxing’ will, as it is Boxed In at their very best. Its simple motoric drumbeat and the swell of synths underneath Oli’s mellifluent deadpan vocals hits a frenzied climax as the song erupts midway through with the feel good of all feel good guitar solos. Melt’s strong start continues in the title track, starting with a repetitive cowbell in the 90s techno drum pattern and a throbbing bassline. Boxed In have found the knack of finding extraordinary euphoric highs in their dance pop anthems that not only sound great but make you want to listen to them over and over.

It’s not all smooth swimming on Melt as the next few numbers don’t exactly hit the same heights that have come before. ‘London Lights’ is overly pleasant, featuring slow classic 90s house piano stabs, shiny synth chords and futuristic atmospherics that fail to be memorable. The beginning of ‘Forget’ (as painful as it is to say) reminded me of ‘Bangerang’ by Skrillex, however, it does turn into a far, far better song, albeit a little simple sounding. Then ‘Up To You/Down To Me’ sounds like a song that would have been better given to another artist. Not all is lost in the remainder of the album, as ‘Black Prism’ is yet another moment of brilliance from Boxed In, this time being a lot more of an experimental approach by mixing gargantuan big room reverbing horn synths with quiet emotional calms of a lonely piano. As is ‘Underbelly’, which mixes instrumental stylings of BadBadNotGood and Kid A era Radiohead then erupts into the driving electronic rhythms and Krautrock-esque beat that could only be Boxed In. Then the final song ‘Open Ended’ nicely seals off the album in a calming reflective way that showcases exactly why Oli Bayston with his Boxed In alias has become so sought after in the music world.

There is no doubt that that Dan Carey (Kate Tempest, Emiliana Torrini, Hot Chip, The Kills) and Oli, who co-produced both Boxed In LP’s, is a match made in musical heaven – always creating a sound that is clean, cool and controlled. There are some truly fantastic songs on Melt and this is by no means a slouch in the quality of Oli Bayston’s work but, with the inconsistency in some of the tracks, I do get the feeling that the best is still to come from Boxed In.
Iain Lauder

Read our interview with Boxed In HERE.

Website: boxedinmusic.com
Facebook: facebook.com/boxedinuk
Twitter: twitter.com/boxedinuk

 

 

Bamboo – Interview – 2016

Bamboo are back with their second album The Dragon Flies Away, telling a story that loosely revolves around the Hannya demon masks in the Noh theatres' Dojoji story. Bamboo’s vivid journey through the emotions that the Hannya mask is capable of portraying (obsession, jealousy, sorrow and rage) is a gorgeous mixture of intriguing world influences and electronic mysticism. The project brings together two of music’s most innovative brains, Nick Carlisle (of Peepholes, Don’t Argue) and Rachel Horwood (of Trash Kit, Halo Halo), I put some question to them both to find out more about Bamboo.

Read More...

Blush – Interview – 2016

There is nothing better than randomly discovering a band that make you go, “Wow, they have got something special”. I came across Blush supporting Mothers recently at the Green Door Store and their beautiful grungy surf-pop sound utterly captivated and left the room thinking, “Who is this local act?”. So much so that I had to find out more about them. I met up with Alex, Asya, Joseph and Naomi for a swift pint ahead of their support slot for Sunflower Bean to find out more about this emerging act.

Read More...

Breathe Panel – Interview – 2016

Coming out of the Brighton's now infamous music crop which includes the likes of The Magic Gang, Abattoir Blues, Birdskulls and Sulky Boy, Breathe Panel are the newest seed to flower with their début single release ‘On My Way' / 'Try To See’. After building a strong Brighton following, the band recently became part of the FatCat Records (Big Deal, C Duncan, The Twilight Sad) family after the local label caught a glimpse of the bursting ability and promise that come out of this four-piece. It is too easy to become obsessed with the band’s first effort, we certainly have had it on repeat, so to try and get it out of our heads we sat down in a sunny Brighton park and got to know Breathe Panel a little bit more.

Read More...

Beach Baby – No Mind No Money

From the beginning of 2016, Beach Baby have been featured widely on critics lists touting which acts are going to come to the forefront of the UK music scene, and this London based act have flourished under the expectation. I first came across them a year ago in a crowded room at the Green Door Store, where they supported Hooton Tennis Club, and you could immediately see there was something special in the four-piece. The effortless wistful charm in each and every one of the tacks they played was extremely moreish and it left everyone in the room wanting to hear more. Since then the band, who all met at Goldsmith University, have released an array of fantastic singles as well as taking the UK festival circuit by storm, so hopes were high for Beach Baby’s debut LP, No Mind No Money.

You start as you mean to go on and ‘Limousine’ certainly sets the bar high from the very begining. The driving drum beat and funky bass licks take you from zero to one hundred miles per hour in an instant, and you are smitten for the complete duration. The jangly guitar melody in this perfect indie pop opener is addictive and will have you bobbing, if not singing, in a matter of seconds. The guitar sound carries on over to the next track ‘Lost Soul’, which is where Beach Baby have been getting their Mac DeMarco references from. Classic Beatles “Ooohh’s” ring blissfully in a track that shows the bands impressive lyricism, painting a picture of the anguish of “feeling like a spectator in your own life”. The title track, ‘No Mind No Money’, typifies their talent for a catchy beat, a sweet melody and luscious harmonies. Taking the best of 80s and 90s power chords, dreamy synths and a tasty solo reigning supreme in showing what the band is capable of.

The groovy bassline in ‘Sleeperhead’ hits the twilight period – the album is in full-flow and you suddenly realize that all is well in life. That moment when the drink is flowing at a party, no one is crying and there is even a warm summer breeze keeping people mellow – however, once you hit that peak there is nowere else to go other than down and ‘Smoke Won’t Get Me High’ starts things slowing down by being the voice of a disconcerting and languorous time in their lives, which any young person could relate to in some measure.

Whereas previously released singles have long gained the seal of approval from fans, the unearthed songs on the No Mind No Money album shows a newly emerged assurance from the band. Tracks like ‘Hot Weather’ and ‘Powderbaby’ mix soft synth sounds of the 80s and a dreamy 90s post-punk edge, giving light to what is to come from Beach Baby. Album closer ‘How Lucky You Are’ makes for a truly triumphant finale. The chorus guitar doused in reverb and the lead singer’s charismatic warm vocals is a welcome invitation into a hazy daydream-malaise of inviting tones that will ring around your head for days to come.

It is indeed a very good album by a very good band, reminding me of acts that had similar high quality debut albums (Kasabian, The Maccabees, Bloc Party or Jamie T) – could they go on to have the same celebrated success? I definitely think so. With the albums sunny disposition now turning into the nostalgic sound of summer and the weeks of youthful careless thought you wait all year to feel again, the album’s title track perfectly sums this up, “I have no mind, no money / I have no mind, no money / Who cares”.
Iain Lauder

Facebook: facebook.com/BeachBabyMusic
Twitter: twitter.com/BeachBabyMusic

 


 


 


 

Mothers – Green Door Store – 22nd August 2016

The Great Escape Festival was great, no doubt about that. But one of my main regrets of the mammoth three days of music was missing Mothers. Whenever I spoke to fellow music lovers at the festival, time after time it would be, “Have you heard this American band called Mothers? They were amazing!” Well yes I have, but I decided to see someone else instead. Since then, I have become slightly obsessed with their debut album, When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired, waiting for a UK tour to be announced. Elation came the day that the great people at Teen Creeps made sure Mothers had a Brighton date on their schedule.

Read More...