Album Review: Late Bloomer – Things Change
Knowing nothing about the band and having no expectations, apart from liking the great cover art, I put this record on, and was instantly drawn in. North Carolina trio Late Bloomer make me reminisce – bringing back memories of albums I loved in the 90s by Dinosaur Jr. and Galaxie 500 amongst others. Things Change successfully melds the fuzz and distortion of a classic indie/shoegaze outfit with the melodies, riffs and vocals you’d expect to find in catchy indie-rock. However, it must be said, that the joy of the record comes not from the nostalgic feelings created, but the way the band have brought these sounds bang up to date, by mixing in many other things; from warm gruff punkish vocals, to new wave emo and hardcore, there is nothing they’re not afraid to blend in but it’s all constructed in a sympathetic way making many of the tunes here instantly likeable.
One of the clever things the trio does is take a flexible approach to vocals, each band member taking the helm when it suits the track – they each have quite different tones so this enables them to shift the style of each track and try out new things. Listen to Dr. Abernathy and you get the full late 80s/early 90s indie treatment – minimal instrumentation with washes of fuzz, moody vocals and the guitars ringing out with echoes. Mirror opts for more complex beats and discordant, meaty riffage and has a fantastic sing along quality. Title track Things Change goes all gruff on us, punky vocals and a catchy chorus backed by rock guitars, whilst No Mistakes is a poppy number with a surf-rock edge and lighter vocals.
The stable core of fuzzy and melodic indie/rock which holds together the record makes it very cohesive and listenable, but its the variety which gives the band their disctinctive sound and gives the listener something fresh in every bite. Recommended.
Pissghetti – So Much For My Happy Ending Review
I was convinced I wouldn’t like this mini album; the band name and awful album cover almost made me consign it to the not-a-chance-bin and based on initial appearances I was expecting some generic pop-punk nightmare but I’m glad I gave it a chance.
So Much For My Happy Ending does actually have a pop-punk twang after all, but at the fore is a 90s feel – it owes a debt to Pavement and Weezer amongst others – fuzzy lo-fi production (which muffles things at times) and jangly guitars backed by gently dreamy vocals make the record feel like something that should have appeared on The Adventures of Pete and Pete and that’s something I can really get behind. The middle three tracks are the ones that speak to me the most, flowing almost seamlessly – Earth Sucks Without You has a quietly melancholic feel which takes me back; Surf’s Up takes the pace up a notch but retains that sadness and Tiny Hands, my vote for track of the album, has sweet vocals backed by an oh so danceable beat and guitars that bring to mind all my favourite indie bands of the 90s.
The Virginia Beach four piece deliver great melodies but it’s the warm production and sing along vocal lines which are the real winner here – they are like a comfy old sweater and have had me playing this on repeat.
check out Pissghetti at Bandcamp and grab this album at a price that suits your pocket.
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.
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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.
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Swn Festival 2013 – Day 1 & 2 Highlights
Day 1 – Thursday 17th
The Opening band of the weekend for me was His Naked Torso, a discordant, angular duo from Cardiff dealing in noise-rock of the ear shredding variety. The Moon was pretty full of curious onlookers but the duo still managed to make enough noise that I got out my earplugs immediately. They used drums and guitar along with some caustic screams to get their point across and melded in some nice head-bobbing beats to keep us all hooked.
Even for a Saturday night the room downstairs at Clwb was pretty packed for Jetplane’s set and It was clear from the crowd chatter that fans haven’t lost any of their love for the band during their 6 year haitus; those present were certainly geared up to rock out. This was the last date on the tour before they returned to Ireland and the band could be seen chatting with the crowd as they always do, creating a relaxed atmosphere.
Once they they took to the floor and started pumping out those heady rock tunes it was clear that they were on form and playing hard and fast – set opener Acrimony sounded intense and almost epic in that space. Front man Andrew Ferris commented that the venue was perfect for them – no stage, just a row of monitors to separate them from us so we were eyeball to eyeball, they really looked like they were enjoying performing once again.
With Mr Ferris grinning inbetween lines of lyric they pumped out a volley of hits, including tracks from their superb new album Don’t Try. Single, Radio Heart, sounded even better played loud and the excellent Walls Of Derry went down a treat; the personal nature of the song really coming through in the live setting. Old favourites, I Opt Out, The Violence and Brave Gravity (from Once Like A Spark) sounded tight and melodic but with a gritty edge, the crowd were at this point singing back the lyrics at full volume and getting closer to the stage and more energetic with each passing track. Tunes from their previous album Backlash Cop including the title track and Why Do They Never Play Les Savy Fav on the Radio? added texture to the set and reminded us all of how diverse their back catalogue is; a solid mix of tracks overall.
It was a pleasure to have JPL back in Cardiff and playing on such great form; this was a set of winners played with style and heart and it made us all realise how much we’d missed seeing them play. If you’ve not caught them on tour make sure you go out of your way to catch them next time, you won’t regret it.
Annabel deal in the kind of tunes that make your heart soar; uplifting sing-along melodies, gang vocals, intense and rich guitar sounds and marching drum beats that make you want to move. They walk the line somewhere between indie and emo, a kind of jangly, emotional rock base with some nicely anthemic song structures and the odd twiddly guitar part thrown in for good measure. Read more
Another installment of my gig tickets photo blog where I take a trip down memory lane. This time we start in June 2005 with…
Reggie and the Full Effect at the Barfly in Cardiff, it says on the ticket that My Awesome Compilation supported but honestly I have to admit I don’t remember them at all. July 2005 and Rammstein at the CIA. This was a memorable gig, oddly they didn’t have any support but this may be due to the set up of the stage show which involved a huge cauldron and lots of pyrotechnics which you could feel from half way back in the venue, other props included a bloody butchers apron and a meat cleaver. Also notable as I stood on James Dean Bradfield’s foot in the crowd – he looked really pissed at me actually!
Funeral For a Friend, we went as Gratitude supported but now I don’t remember this gig AT ALL, obviously a bit of a non-event. Compass Point was at Coopers Field in the castle grounds in Cardiff. We went because Million Dead were playing and sat about in a field drinking beer. I remember chatting to Julia Ruzica by the fence to the backstage area for a while and Million Dead were really, really good. There were a few decent bands on that day including Biffy Clyro and Queen Adreena.
Day three and an early start – 2pm at The Moon and a batch of what turned out to be rather excellent hardcore bands placed well together by the festival organisers.
Up first are MINE, excellent swirly guitar sound and screamy vocals, apparently this was their second show…not sure if they meant second show ever, if so they did a pretty good job of winning me over. I liked them so much I bought a tape from their very nice frontman afterwards. Gnarwolves suffer some technical issues but in the end get down to business with some pretty decent skate-punk tunes. Goodtime Boys really impress – Alex Pennie’s new band – emo-H/C , he really goes for it on vocals and they have a nice line in quirky, dreamy riffage which counteracts the screaming nicely. Last up at The Moon are Pariso, again, they impress, this time we have downtuned, dirty guitars and screaming with grooveable rhythms you can move to, great stuff.
Over to Clwb Ifor Bach after a quick coffee break to perk me up and Black Moth who are excellent – their front woman works the crowd well with her sexy rock and roll vocals and their metal riffage sound brilliantly heavy and dark live. They pull in a big crowd and everyone leaves on a high.
Last up for me tonight is Holy Mountain, the heavy duty stoner rock meanderings of these Glasgow boys goes down really well – the crowd does thin out towards the end but there are plenty more gigs going on so it’s not a reflection on their set although the scant vocals do tend to get lost in the mix somewhere which is a shame.
Swn started in earnest last night. After picking up my wristband in the afternoon I took some time out to draw up my final plan of action using the programme – it did take a while for me to decide whether or not to go and see Gallows and stay in Roath or head into town but in the end I chose the town option and headed over to Clwb Ifor Bach to see Effluence at 7.15pm downstairs. They were excellent – the programme calls them “funk-rock noise a la The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster”, but the only part of that I agree with was they certainly were noisy. Manic but controlled, some brilliant interplay between the bass and guitar (very playful stuff going on there), great mix of screaming and singing, many, many changes of tempo and rhythm but also melodic and very entertaining. Not a great deal of stage presence at the moment but it’s early days and the front man had a nice line in spazzy dancing going on.
Also worth a mention were Pulled Apart By Horses who played upstairs at Clwb at 9.00pm. They are obviously well practised and they make it all look very easy – tight as a drum, crowd interaction was relaxed and chatty and they really got everyone going. There was a manic pit going most of the way through resulting in some poor guy getting a bloody face but by the end the whole place was moving. PABH are a proper party band – entertaining and with some proper rock out tunes. A solid set.
Still playing Neon Piss’ self titled LP, a great punk record with tunes to move to and not just slabs of noise. Also Slices album Still Cruising is really hitting the spot, hardcore-punk inflused with noise-rock scuzz and rock and roll rhythms – seriously good but very nasty.
For a total change of pace I’ve been replaying Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven by GY!BE in preparation for the new album out on 15th October, looking forward to hearing that one very much.
My final pick for October is Cursive and I Am Gemini this is the Nebraska indie-rockers seventh album and it’s another brilliant record I can’t get enough of – I actually can’t believe it came out in February because it still sounds fresh.