Roomthirteen End Notes

I stopped working for Roomthirteen a few months back after a heady 8 years of writing, gigging and editing.  I finally realised I was never going to get paid for doing this and that I didn’t have the energy to keep up two jobs and so the dream ended.  Sadly this seems to be a story I’ve heard time and time again – the days of falling into a journalist job have long gone and unless you already know someone who knows someone, all doors are closed to you and it’s a full time job trying to get noticed. I salute those who can maintain the enthusiasm.

I’d thought it would leave me with tons of time to blog and listen to new music but truthfully I’ve found other ways to fill the time and now I’m not sure how I fitted it in at all.  The reality was that I was spending eight hours a day on a computer in work and then three or four hours a night at home, again staring at a screen but this time editing and writing. Editing the website eventually became a chore; at first it was like a drug, exciting and compulsive, but after a while I was spending half my time checking and replying to emails and the rest editing other peoples work, so that the writing, the reason I got into it in the first place, fell by the wayside and when I was reviewing something it was often awful, or even worse, mediocre.

So what’s the moral of the story? For me I don’t think there is one – as well as now having the time to do other things (including spending more time with my long suffering boyfriend) I’m still compelled to constantly listen to and write about music and can’t see myself stopping any time soon; for now though I prefer the more organic nature of a personal blog.  Being able to listen to what I want and review things that inspire me has revitalised my love of music and writing again and I’m finding that the urge to put finger to keyboard has returned.

Of course, regradless of my circumstances It’s great that there are still a steady stream of aspiring writers and editors that keep volunteering for non-profit sites like Roomthirteen. On sites like these, without the pressure to give a positive write-up to keep the money rolling in, there is the freedom to review something honestly, and in the world of PR pleasing fake reviews and back-handers it’s refreshing to read that kind of writing, long may it continue.

 

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Nai Harvest – Hold Open My Head EP Review

Nai Harvest - Hold Open My Head
The new EP from British Emo duo Nai Harvest is one that I’ve been listening to a lot recently.  Since catching them at Swn festival last year (even despite the terrible sound quality at the venue that night)  I’ve been curious to hear some new stuff from them and this record is lovely, really fulfilling my need for something mellow yet upbeat.

The EP has four fantastically catchy tunes, they are so melodic and sing along I’ve been catching myself humming them at random moments and I have no doubt they’ll worm their way into your life in the same way. The vocals are sweet but not sickly and the simple yet effective riffs round things out nicely. Tunes like the opener, Rush, and title track, Hold Open My Head, blossom in all the right places from gentle verse to melodic sing along chorus and I especially love the moments where the 90s inspired guitar takes over; when that classic, full, yet slightly muffled production suddenly morphs into open jangles I always end up with a smile on my face.

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Joie De Vivre / Prawn Split EP Review

Joie de Vivre / Prawn Split EP Review

Joie De Vivre & Prawn SplitThe three tracks on this split EP from Joie De Vivre are solid; nicely melodic and full of their comfortable miserablist midwestmo. If you’re familiar with them you’ll find nothing unexpected here.  As usual I actually find that introspective feel, the downbeat lyrics and the familiarity that comes with them oddly comforting.   The tunes all have emotive vocals and a sweet, fuzzy, vaguely Promise Ring feel, my initial favourite is Tenspopet with its lively, jangly guitars and gently poppy tune.

Prawn I’ll confess I’m less familiar with, but initially I’m liking what I hear from them here -  an Emo base with some really nice post-rock style dreamy sections to the fore and a clear ringing guitar sound. Parts of Why You Always Leave a Note actually reminded me of Brand New in their quieter moments. Their second tune is much more like the Joie De Vivre tracks on the EP – it fits well with the overall feel of the record but is, a little flat in comparison to the first track featured here.  Overall, worth checking out and if you’ve not heard either band before this is a good place to start.

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Cayetana – Hot Dad Calendar Review

Cayetana – Hot Dad Calendar 7″ single review

cayetana cover
Cayetana continue their run as one of my new favourite bands and if they carry on making awesomely catchy fuzzy-punky-pop tunes like this they will stay in my good books for some time to come. Following on from their fantastic demo last year, this single consists of the punchy and melodic Hot Dad Calendar and the laid back and fuzzy Ella.

The former has a simple yet bouncy tune – one of Cayetana’s strengths is in their ability to mix melody with raw vocals and a lo-fi scuzzy overlay, and you really hear that in this track. It starts strong and has you hooked until the last note, thanks to sing along vocals and a lovely, high in the mix bass, rounding out the sound. Track two, Ella, is nicely muzzy with a more laid back feel; richly fuzzy guitars and another great vocal line bringing it all together.

If you’re still not familiar with this all girl trio then I urge you to get on board now.

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Tangled Talk Free Compilation

Tangled Talk Comp Cover
New up and worth a listen is Tangled Talk’s compilation album, available via their new website.  It’s 40 tracks featuring some great bands – Pariso and Svalbard amongst them, the full track listing is below. Also, well, it’s free, so why not.

 

 

Radical Friends

  1. Goodtime Boys – Callous
  2. The Long Haul – Black Dog
  3. Listener – Good News First
  4. Gnarwolves – Melody Has Big Plans
  5. Darkshaft – Free Ben Shunna
  6. Svalbard – Flightless Birds
  7. Pariso – Tower of Genus
  8. Vales – Scripted
  9. The Prestige – Ballroom
  10. Stallone – Nailed Myself To The Cross
  11. The JCQ – Plainview
  12. Let’s Talk Daggers – Humannequin
  13. Battle For Paris – Here’s To Swimming With Bowlegged Women
  14. Blak Nite – Understnd
  15. Tigerscout – Never Knows Best
  16. Moose Blood – Bukowski
  17. The Story So Far – Empty Space
  18. Hop Along – Tibetan Pop Stars
  19. Katie Malco – His Face Is A Map
  20. Nai Harvest – Whatever
  21. Dikembe – Apology Not Fucking Accepted
  22. CityCop – Hospital Beds
  23. Brontide – Coloured Tongues
  24. Holland – Everything You Know Is Lost, But Us
  25. We Never Learned To Live – Crow’s Feet
  26. BATALJ – Snail Satan
  27. Andrew Thomson – Bus Pass
  28. Otto – Clouds
  29. Hey, Joni – Isabelle
  30. The American Scene – Just Say It
  31. Shark Bait – Crippled Youth
  32. Baby Godzilla – A Good Idea Realised
  33. Weak Teeth – ‘I Do Believe We’re Naked’ by Funky C, Funky Do
  34. BATS – Astronomy Astrology
  35. The Physics House Band – Titan
  36. Spirit Moves – Afterglow
  37. Anteater – Vague Unrest
  38. The Tidal Sleep – Failures/Off
  39. I Kill Giants – Part 3
  40. Thom Weeks – The Following Is My Eulogy

Download for free at tangledtalk.com.

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Acid Fast, Rabid Moon Album Review

Acid Fast – Rabid Moon Album Review

acid fast cover imageThis excellent debut full-length album, released in early January through Protagonist Music, has been eagerly anticipated (well, by me anyway), the record is washed in a 90s feel; scuzzy guitars and great melodies at the forefront of the sound.

I’d been keen to get hold of the record since hearing opener Tangle back in mid-December and being instantly impressed with the rich sounding guitars,  great melody and lovely fuzz, so when the full album arrived in my inbox I had to take a listen; I was not disappointed.

The Oakland punks have an old school sound – at its core are those excellent melodies with a backing of solidly hooky bass lines and sing along vocals rounding things out. The 90s influence, which is reminiscent of bands like Jawbreaker, Superchunk and, to a certain extent, The Breeders, makes the album sound like it was released an age ago and has just been discovered in a dusty attic somewhere; never a bad thing in my opinion. Tracks like Old Ideas are laid back and get you swaying with the danceable rhythms, then there are more brash moments like Rupert with its shouty female vocals and my personal favourite, Descending, which verges on epic with its brilliant central riff and gang vocals lifting your spirits.

Since its release this is an album I have been listening to non-stop; the mix of brilliantly catchy tunes, sing along vocals and solid danceable beats lined with fuzz will no doubt have me coming back for more for the foreseeable future.  Having such a great release so early in the year leaves me optimistic about the year ahead – may there be many more like this to come.

 

 

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Zine Reviews January

Seven Inches To Freedom Fanzine issue 12

SITF 12 CoverThis issue of SITF Fanzine came out in November ’13 and finds Joe Lachut in a very introspective mood.  In the mag he talks about his experience on tour with band Panzram and the zine also includes a very downbeat column from Bob Suren.

Joe reviews the bands they played with on tour through demos and tapes picked up and swapped at the gigs, and also writes about the band themselves through his experience of playing with them and hanging out with them. He obviously discovered a to of great new music on the journey and his enthusiastic discussion of each band makes you really want to check them all out.  In the columns mulls over his state of mind, which by all accounts was pretty ropey throughout the tour and although its very raw and emotive it also makes fascinating reading.

Pick up a copy of the fanzine via the SITF Big Cartel  as well as copies of previous issues.

 

Degenerate issue 14

Degenerate 14 Cover
Always an enjoyable read, issue 14 is no less so, with Sam Lefebvre’s usual mix of thoughtful critique and interviews on offer there’s plenty to get your teeth into, and of course, it’s always interesting to read about local scenes elsewhere.

In this issue, alongside interviews with David King and Jess Scott he discusses the creation of the zine, the continued existence of record stores and the the way that production effects hardcore recordings.  The layout is lovely and feels almost organic at times, like an artists sketchbook, and the conversational yet intelligent writing style is more than satisfying.

For more information head over to tumblr and contact Sam via email.

 

Sam has kindly sent me an extra copy of issue 14 of Degenerate to pass on and by an accident of fate I also have a spare copy of SITF issue 12.  If anyone out there would like to get hold of copies of either of these two great US fanzines I’m all ears. Get in touch via the contact form or post a comment.

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Braidedveins Review

Braidedveins, Future/Forever Review

Braided Veins CoverThis was a late release in December 2013 from the Michigan five piece but it still easily made it into my best of the year list.  This is one of those bands whose press release reads, ‘made up of members of’… so this is an underground supergroup of sorts, mixing all their influences and sounds into one happy mashup that’s part punk, part garage, part alt-rock.

 

The record is laced with bags of energy and attitude – the kind of raw sounding, jagged riffage I love, and tunes you can rock out to, which makes it a pretty addictive package.  Opener Watch Carefully leads you in, with discordant guitar, thunderous bass and shouty but sung vocals, rather than full on screams, (think a grungier These Arms Are Snakes for a comparison of sorts).  The 7 track record has plenty of this discord but also impresses with little snatches of (dirty) melody – The Nature Cruise Of The Century! has another of those superb, sexy yet melodic bass lines and along with the off kilter vocals and riffs, you have a sound that makes you want to get up and move.

I recommend you track down a copy from Save Your Generation Records on 12″ Vinyl or digital, top stuff.

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Records Of The Year 2013

Compared to 2012′s bumper crop of releases, this year has been slim pickings (in my opinion) so I’ve cropped my list down to a modest 6 albums and 5 EPs.
There have been lots of good releases, just not many that have blown me away, The Coltranes new album for example was one I was really looking forward to and while I’ve enjoyed listening to it, it didn’t excite me like their last one did.  In fact, many of the records I’ve loved this year have been older releases – Swearin’s 2012 release is a real corker and Make Wave’s 2011 album is an utterly charming slice of indie-surf and was the soundtrack of my summer.   Albeit it’s shorter than I’d intended, but for what it’s worth, here is my best of 2013 list, if you don’t agree let me know what I should have been listening to!


Drug Church CoverDrug Church – Paul Walker

The New York punk-rock five piece released this belter of an album in July, i knew at the time it would make my end of year ‘best of’ list and compared them to Fucked Up, Blacklisters and Slices in my review for Room Thirteen.
Read full review


pariso cover imagePariso – Consanguinity

After catching Pariso a couple of years ago at Swn Festival in Cardiff (and being impressed by them) I’ve been checking back on the UK five piece regularly and was pleased to discover they were releasing this full-length album in the Summer. I had this to say about it: The album is never just nasty however, right from the start you have the finesse of the slow, doomy (and dare I say melodic) sections of The Separation to lead you in to the sound of the record and many of the other tracks are peppered with interest.
Read full review

 

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Looking Forward To 2014

I’ve been looking at what’s coming up in the new year just prior to my rundown of 2013, which will hopefully be going live towards the end of this week.

First up is Nai Harvest, the Sheffield Indie Punks have a new EP coming next March through Dog Knights Productions and Hold Open My Head  is the title track from it which I’m liking very much at the moment.

HarbourerAlso of note and being released on 31st January is Harbourer’s debut self-titled 7″ single, the Australian melodic-punks have a grunge edge which adds an edge to their sound I really like.

You can take a listen over at their label’s Bandcamp

 

 

Finally, I’m loving Acid Fast, who also have a new release in January, which you can hear a track of over at Punknews.org. The East Bay four piece bring to mind Swearin’ and Jawbreaker amongst others.  ADAGIO830 will apparently be handling the Euro release of this one but so far no info has surfaced on their website so I’m keeping my fingers crossed I don’t have to import from America again.

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