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.
Joie de Vivre / Prawn Split EP Review
The 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.
Cayetana – Hot Dad Calendar 7″ single review
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.
Acid Fast – Rabid Moon Album Review
This 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.
Seven Inches To Freedom Fanzine issue 12
This 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
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.
Braidedveins, Future/Forever Review
This 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.
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 – 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 – 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
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.
Also 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.