Music Reviews, Uncategorized

Since her mainstream breakthrough in 2013 Charli XCX has quickly become one of the most interesting British pop stars of the decade. The last 12 months have been a new era for XCX her infamous Vroom Vroom EP resulted in her stealing the title of PC Music’s poster girl from Hannah Diamond.

But unlike Diamond Charli XCX is no angel regardless of what this mixtape’s title might suggest. Despite the list of Producers working on this project including Life Sim, Danny L Harle, Easyfun, SOPHIE and A.G Cook, Number 1 Angel doesn’t sound like a typical PC Music project. In fact this record takes a lot more from the quirky style of Trap that artists like Lil Yachty have been splitting critics with. Charli’s voice is sugar coated in glossy autotune on tracks like Blame it On You and Drugs, which compliments her singing style as she sounds like she may have been listening to Young Thug and Lil Uzi Vert whilst recording this project. It’s no surprise that the most interesting instrumentals here are provided by SOPHIE, the track Roll With Me contains one of the most infectious dance beats he’s ever produced whilst Charli’s vocal cuts through the high pitch synths resulting in electro pop perfection. This song is held together by a powerful 808 bass and is sprinkled with SOPHIE’s trade mark squeaking and screeching noises which could prevent this song from having any chart success.

The closer Lipgloss is also a highlight with a vocal hook that only the most conservative music fans wouldn’t want to sing along to and Cupcake’s adds some hilarious verses with sexual innuendos about Whinie The Pooh and Flavor Flav. On the track Emotional Charli sounds at her most vulnerable delivering a Bjork esc chorus. The track ILY2 is a much needed 2000s throwback track with Charli bringing a vocal hook that could have come from Avril Levine at the peak of her popularity, but this kind of melody on top of a Danny L Harle Production is a genius move. Even though she shows her softer side Number 1 Angel is still dominated by Charli’s powerful and boastful lyrical themes and delivery the opening line of the record being “I’m a Dreamer step step out the Beemer”. Maybe on this record she is not as ferocious as she was on the Vroom Vroom EP, but her more down to earth persona here is a much welcome change for Charli. Moments like Babygirl and 3am wouldn’t sound out of place on a Carly Rae Jepsen record which is possibly the biggest compliment you could give in a pop review.

The truth is you’re probably not going to hear a better pop album this year it’s a perfect blend of fun and obscurity and it’s the best thing XCX has released thus far.

(Written by Aimee Armstrong)




Brooklyn’s premier C86-cum-dream pop revivalists Beach Fossils have announced their first album since 2013’s Clash The Truth with a brand new single by the name of This Year.

The album ‘Somersault’ will be their first after a lengthy break, and their first for Bayonet Records, a label started by the band’s frontman Dustin Payseur.

Of the single, dream pop kingpin Payseur said “This Year” is about facing mistakes you’ve made, aiming to work on it and better yourself, but ending up making the same mistakes again. It’s kind of an endless loop. People always aim to make New Year’s resolutions, get a fresh start, but ultimately fall back into these old bad habits.”

The nostalgic tone of the jangle-pop gutars is certainly reflective of this, but the album promises a diverse range of “immersive soundscapes” contrasted with “bright guitars”, and will even feature an appearance from Rachel Goswell, the frontwoman of shoegazing goliaths Slowdive.

Somersault is out June 2nd via Bayonet Records

(Written by Cal Cashin)


Music Reviews, Uncategorized

Regardless of your political stance it’s indisputable that we are living in dark and dangerous times. With rise of the alt-right, England leaving the EU and of course the election of Donald Trump you could be forgiven for wanting a good cry. With the seismic shift of the political tectonic plates however there comes emergences in the form of musical brilliance and Sleaford Mods are the mother of all volcanoes. Since 2013 vocalist Jason Williamson and producer/pint holder Andrew Fearn have produced molten hot electro-punk hits.

2017 sees the release of their fourth album English Tapas and if you thought there was a chance they might have mellowed you’d be very, very wrong. Opener Army Nights it’s very much Mods by numbers but it has it’s gems “They call me Dyson I fucking clean up”. Over a drum machine and a thudding bass line, it’s not a particularly dangerous start but it’s an assured one.

The bitter wit follows on Just Like We Do, it opens with Williams mocking pretentious music fans and mumbling about music recorded in the “black forests of Germany”. As Sleaford Mods first post-Brexit record it’d be rude for them to not acknowledge it and they do “Scratching my head as the people burn for what they wanted” sings Williams on Snout.

Nobody is safe from Williams laser sharp deconstruction of them, on Dull he takes aim at NME “Try scrolling down a website, the NME, without laughing, I’ll give you ten quid if you can keep a straight face, Honestly, just fucking try it, mate”. On BHS Williams kicks it up a gear and this time his eyes are fixed on the company’s owner Philip Green. “We’re goin down like BHS while the able bodied vultures monitor and pick at us” sings Williams.

Musically English Tapas can be a bit of a labour of love, Sleaford Mods are sadly victims of their own success and the simplicity that makes them so brilliant also leaves them a bit stuck. It does feel like the Mods are running out of ideas on this album but if you can see past that and appreciate the lyrics that are as brutal as ever then you can take something from this record. There’s no shortage of twats in the world and whilst they exist the Mods will call them out on it like nobody else can.

(Written by Jack Winstanley)



Good Kind Of Froze reflects your most abrasive release to date, what’s influenced this latest change in sound? 
I’d say just timing as much as anything. I think if I were to make another Brief Introduction or Red Tide Opal that wouldn’t be treating my artistry with any conviction. I’ve always wanted to push myself forward, I don’t want to keep repeating myself and so by divorcing myself and departing from those records it was kind of a way that I could try on a new musical skin.

How have you go about evolving yourself as an artist, what’s the process for you as you continue to progress?
From day one I’ve always presented myself with certain limitations, using a finite amount of tools to make these records. Usually I restrict myself to acoustic instruments whereas this time I’ve been a lot freer with effects pedals and synthesisers and naturally its evolved around that. The process is virtually the same, it’s just that I’m giving myself different limitations.

As a result of this would say now that despite only being 3 years old that A Brief Introduction feels like a distant memory in some ways?
I actually made that record quite some time before Howling Owl approached me about putting the record out and the same kind of goes for Red Tide Opal. The records are still relevant to me, I still have feelings attached to them but I feel differently about things now, certainly with what I’ve been doing recently, it’s a lot less self-aware and introverted. This new record is slightly more traditional in that its more observations, taking inspiration more from things outside of myself.

Are these changes in sound therefore more reflective of where you are personally rather than conscious decisions to reinvent yourself?
I’m not sure I’d use the word reinvention, it’s all very much natural, I don’t put and pressure on myself to be different, that happens naturally. I don’t have to be strict with myself, it’s just what I crave, I crave new sounds and this record is a new set of sounds that I’ve found and I’ve arranged them in this way. It’s hard for me to explain but it’s very much a natural thing.

The latest single has some of the most experimental features of anything you’ve release this far. Is this what we can expect from the new album?
Very much so, the record that I’m going to put out early next year is definitely the most experimental I’ve been with creating atmospheres and soundscapes. It’s a different, more abrasive pallet but I wouldn’t say it’s a radical departure. There’s still plenty of the pallets and sounds I used on the previous records, I’ve just introduced some new ones and hopefully progress the other ones as well. I’m not going to alienate anyone.

You spoke before about having some mixed feelings with the last LP you put out, was it a difficult process for you to start writing again?
It was very difficult. Long Hold Star was a failed attempt at an album and due to mental and physical health issues I was unable to do it really. I let the label put out the LP but it doesn’t feel like my statement or my piece of work so I don’t feel very attached to it. I appreciate that other people like it and it’s not like I hate it; I just don’t consider it to be mine.

Do you feel a lot more attachment to this new LP?
Very much so, me and Connor, who’s my bassist, has helped me through a lot of shit over the last couple of years and very much babysat me through the studio process and got me to do it. I had skeletons and embryonic versions of the songs ready to go and he helped motivate me and fleshed them out with his own ideas. This record is more the way I do things, I’ve come to a point now where I trust my own judgement and my own instinct and I’m not going to turn my back on it again.

Can you describe the sound of the album?
Its more intense, there’s a lot more epic soundscapes and the atmospheres are a lot more vibrant, although there are many dark moments there’s lots of moments of light and clarity. I’ve played around with the clichés and traditions of pop music and pop form and just fucked them up a bit, making them ugly and a caricature of themselves in a way. There’s epic 7 minute songs and there’s 3-minute pop songs. I would say if anyone liked the previous records they’ll love this one, if they’re willing to give me the chance to try something new then I think they’re really going to like it.

Is this LP about pushing the boundaries then?
Yeah I think so, the music I made for the previous LPs I’d made before I’d even considered putting them out so this is the first time where I’ve thought: if I were a fan of myself what would I want to hear? I wouldn’t want another ‘Brief Introduction’, I wouldn’t want another ‘Red Tide Opal’ and that’s how I feel about all the bands I listen to. I thought about what direction I’d like to go in and it got to the point where I stopped thinking about it and trying and it just came naturally.

You worked on the collection of Oro Swimming Hour tracks released earlier this year, was this your first experience of being part of a project aside from your own?
Yeah it was, Nicholas is a really old friend of mine, we’ve known each other for years. I’m not very good at collaborating with people on my projects as its obviously very personal and part of the very fabric of my being. A lot of my friends in Bristol have something on the side apart from their main work as a way of exercising their artistic muscles so to speak. Naturally they’re intrinsically linked and they only complement each other in ways that they couldn’t do if they didn’t exist. Oro Swimming Hour was just a way for me and Nick to exercise and try experiment with the craft of song writing. In Bristol the sonic feel is moving a lot more to electronic music and techno and I absolutely love that but it doesn’t come naturally to me whereas song writing does and it’s not a craft that I want to see lost. What song writing needs is a bit of freshening up and what we’re doing and the concepts we’re building are quite fresh and interesting. We’re going to release a full length album in January and it’s going to be 20/25 songs long, and we’re just going to experiment with language and writing in the same way that we would if we were using a bunch of effects pedals.

You mentioned finding it difficult to collaborate with other musicians on your own projects, did anyone feature in the creation of your forthcoming LP?
I have some good collaborations on this new one, some things that I’m really happy with. I’ve worked with Fenne Lily, a girl called Emily Isherwood who’s the lead singer of a band called Rink, Bristol noise band Spectres, Giant Swan, The Naturals and Something Anorak who’re another great Bristol duo. The thing with collaborations is that I’d never just do it for the sake of it, it has to be something they do that I can fit into my world somehow. I wouldn’t feel right doing it just because they were my friend, I don’t want their sound on my record, but if I place a limitation on myself and their creative overcoming of that limitation is something I want to capture in my music, that’s the best way of explaining it.

(Written by Joe Austin)


Music Reviews, Uncategorized

No band has baffled and excited in equal measure in recent years, maybe ever, but HMLTD prove with their latest single that the hype is more than justified. An uneasy bricolage of glam, bright electro-pop and Western themes, their latest single To The Door is an obnoxiously loud number, that splices so many things together at once.

Complete with a video that combines the sexy glam rock sleaze of 72 Bowie with the haphazard blood lust of Tarantino, this single is one that should make you sit up and take note. If you’re not fully aware of who HMLTD, you are now. Go forth and spread the word.

This adds to their already stellar back catalogue, pushing their total of released songs up to a meaty, meaty 3. But despite this, because of their intense live shows, major recording contract and their collective cohesive band style, you know that HMLTD is an entity that will only get bigger by the second. By The Second.

(Written by Cal Cashin)


Music Reviews, Uncategorized

Husky Loops are a trio of Italian pals living in London making some of the most out there guitar rock in the world today. A combination of so many genres gives them a totally unique sound, with unusual influences spilling out of their deranged grooves left, right and centre.

Their latest single is called Tempo, and will open their self titled 4 track EP, coming next month. It combines the intimidating basslines of Primus, with visceral, unusual guitar tones that draw heavily from the most experimental post-punk innovators. The guitar line that opens this is nothing but stunning, an R2D2 malfunction you didn’t know a guitar could make.

Frontman Danio’s voice sounds calm yet on edge, as if for the whole of the runtime he’s about to bottle up and explode, before the cataclysmic breakdown at the end.

Less than 3 minutes in runtime, it’s a convulsion of tetchy guitars and a throbbing intensity that proves this band really are one to watch this year.

(Written by Cal Cashin)


Music Reviews, Uncategorized

Welsh baroque pop beaut Meilyr Jones today unveiled his first new song since the release of last year’s harrowingly beautiful debut 2013. Heartbreak’s still a strong theme on Watchers. In a tale as old as time, the narrator’s love is taken by the stormy waters. The song describes him giving himself over to the sea, in a bid to see her one last time.

Like most of Meilyr’s output, it brings elements of classical into a song structure more commonly recognisable. An orchestra caresses his tender voice, on what might be his most sombre and solemn song to date.

Choral “oooohs” sit perfectly with imperial trumpets at first, as more strings and horns burst their way into the fold. “I am a watcher, from the cliff/I am a painter, impressionist” he cries, an ode to loneliness and tribute to heartbreak.

Meilyr Jones is nothing short of a songsmith, pulling together bits and pieces from across time. With lots of post-punk, shoegazing or garage-rocking carbon copies about (no real criticism of those genres though, there’s so much great stuff out there), it’s easy to say that EVERYBODY weaves together elements of the past. That might be try, but Mr Jones certainly has the desire to delve deeper than any of his contemporaries, and the rewards are vast because of it.

(Written by Cal Cashin)



Enigma, visionary, genius. There isn’t enough room on the page to describe the enormity of the genius exuded by Mark E Smith, frontman of The Fall. But what’s most surprising about that northern goblin is that he’s – tomorrow – gonna have managed to make it to 60 years of age. 60. The big six-oh. That’s today that is, confirmation that the hip priest has reached 6 decades whilst I’m struggling to get through 2.

Normally, when it comes to music I refrain from saying people “don’t get things” because they’re too “stupid”, but those out there that don’t like The Fall are well and truly lesser minded individuals. There’s a superiority complex that comes with listening to The Fall, as you kick back in the knowledge that this is a complete artwork almost unconditionally unenjoyable to idiots.

But have you tried listening to The Fall, and just not got it? Even though you’re fairly sure you’re not an actual idiot, right? Well, come hither scumbag, this is your last chance. Hand-picked for the aural pleasure of you, here’s 5 songs by the almighty Manchester band who have been genuinely great, consistently for 40 years.

Totally Wired

Okay, let’s start with the basics, OK? OK, not the basics, it’s in chronological order, but this is a good “let’s start with the basics” track, innit? Mark E Smith’s role as the era’s most charismatic deliverer of the vocals is so prominent here, aggressively stuttering through an intensely catchy Class A anthem. Twitchy, tetchy, it’s pretty cleanly produced, and keeps up a throbbing near-euphoric intensity throughout the build-up to Mark’s outbursts.

The Classical

If ever there was a greater mission statement at the top of an album, I’m yet to hear it. Opening Hex Enduction Hour, the best album by the band, and probably any other British band ever, this is a free verse rant atop an uncompromisingly invasive bassline. A variety of one liners are spewed in this anti-industry outcry, with the bleakly funny “I’ve never felt better in my life” the most memorable. If you’re reading through the list and listening to the songs, and after you’ve put this on you feel a bit dirty in a way you can’t enjoy, stop reading this now because you really are an idiot of the highest degree and the contempt I have for you is going to build and build throughout the rest of this article. “Built with the finest British attention, to the wrong details”.

Big New Prinz

A real glam stomp, think The Jean Genie’s off the cocaine and chooses to drink 17 pints of Guinness a day instead. Mark bellows “He! Is! Not! APPRECIATED” in one of a number of songs about himself. This is maybe the most instantly confrontational Fall song, the most stomping, and just a fucking banger, really. I’m going to drop the whole character where I get angry at people for not liking the same things as me very soon, because I’m aware that people have probably stopped reading, but c’mon. If you don’t like Big New Prinz, who hurt you? If you don’t want to affectionately launch pints at balding men to this then you well and truly are a degenerate.


This came out nearly 30 years after the band first started being a thing, and they were still a thing that were perfect then. But in 2005, they released this. An eternal, transcendent moment of genius, with the greatest bassline in music. They even did this on fucking Jools. What more is to say about this song? Just fucking listen to it, pleb.

Dedication Not Medication

This is from the most recent Fall album, and whilst any ability you had to be able to make out the words died years ago, this is a work of brilliance. A chugging bassline that sounds almost like some kinda raw, unhinged dance track, and a hellish industrial synth-line that goes “vor-wow-wa-wow-wow” are what makes this an instant classic. So menacing, so angry, is this track that I’m planning on closing my next DJ set with it to scare away those normies they have these days. I’m edgy and cool and I enjoy othering people more popular than me to feel better about myself. Oh, yeah.

And if you’re not into The Fall now, don’t you dare try and initiate eye contact with me in the street.

(Written by Cal Cashin)