If you didn’t know, there’s a lot of scary stuff going on in the world. And in this time of need, the angry and confused youth need a role model to cling to, which is where Jordan Cardy, aka Rat Boy, prevails. Interlacing the angsty tones from the likes of Blur and Jamie T, together with reggae, punk, ska and hip hop, the 21-year-old’s freshman album oozes fantastic confidence.SCUM has an icy bite. It’s a brazen view into Cardy’s experiences, his angry shout paired cleverly with animated backing tracks. Sportswear fizzes with reverberating bass and tinny riffs while depicting the life of a young father and questions his life choices. Boiling Point brings violent imagery and political rage to gospel vocal backing and the crash of drums. Revolution is more rebellion than anything else, discussing the struggle for young people to get their voice heard with an infectiously anthemic chorus. The album is injected with a cheeky humour – like adding the iconic Thames TV ident tune to the start of Left 4 Dead and the even more iconic Nokia ringtone snippet concluding Knock Knock Knock – which both helps the album retain a youthful bounce and give Rat Boy a very unique, defining feature. And it’s within this fun/the-world-is-falling-apart dichotomy where Cardy shines through, to make an album both worryingly relevant but hugely enjoyable.

Rat Boy certainly has a definitive voice, but that doesn’t stop him chopping and changing the instrumental to work around him and create exciting and unpredictable directions. While I’ll Be Waiting merges a slightly gloomy, slightly Beatles-like undertone with the eruption of brass, Move is purely flamboyant hip hop. Laidback is a firm attempt at stripped-back almost-balladry, which is welcome when instrument-heavy tracks, such as Knock Knock Knock and Kicked Outta School, swamp the vocals. These two tracks are the most punk inspired, but are side lined by the titular Scum, which is reminiscent of Arctic Monkeys circa Favourite Worst Nightmare. The opening number Turn Round M8 bubbles with reggae, with a repetitive deep bass and syncopated percussion. The list goes on. The exploration of so many different genres, without any song seeming disconnected, is pretty ingenious.

Still to this day, Jamie T’s Sheila is such a cult song. With the talent and critical acclaim Rat Boy has received with his debut, I have no doubt the youth of tomorrow will hold Revolution – or, frankly, any of the powerful tracks on this album – as close to their hearts.

Rat Boy – SCUM: 7/10

Eleanor Chivers

Everything Everything – A Fever Dream Review 

Get To Heaven saw Manchester’s Everything Everything go from the Indie fringes to become one of Britian’s premier creative talents. It was a bold album full of brazen soundscapes and apbrupt transitions and told of the broken world they saw in 2015 (I know…) and the music was a reflection of that. They created a theatrical spectacle which spawned dramatic song progressions that were ushered along by Jonathan Higg’s sharp and at times rough, snarling falsetto. Of course, now they’ve got everyone’s attention they need to find a way of altering the outcome of their sound and keep their sound fresh. With the lyrical content only being ramped up instead of being changed, that leaves an onus on them to reinvent their already standout sound. 

‘Can’t Do’ had obvious shades of their last album with the song immediately opening with blocky synth chords with Higg’s quick/fast, quick/fast verse delivery. The punchy percussion and rumbling bass line add to this familiar setting along with the general rhythm of the track. It would indeed sound well placed on Get To Heaven, but it still packs a punch albeit a less intriguing one. Anything resembling their last effort though still has a semblance of independence from other sounds however. ‘Fever Dream’ starts things off in an ever so slightly different direction. Creating an almost hushed tone, the track begins with echoed choir drifting to a chilled piano line. But as always with Everything Everything, things gradually layer up. The tracks simple, frosty atmosphere unfolds into a more hectic, scattered feeling as familiar synths and intricate arpeggios usher in a shadowiness to the Mancunians instrumentation under pinning Jonathan Higgs vocal, with its sometimes resentful, though often nonchalant edge; ‘I hate the neighbors they hate me too’. Melodically the track spirals onwards, twisting around the outskirts of house beats but still crafting the band’s form of hypnotic repetition. Showing Everything Everything still rival Alt-J with their ability to experiment, things build with aggression into a glitched crescendo. ‘Don’t have a melt down it’s all been a dream’. Disrtorted bass sounds an electronica opens ‘Desire’ and forms the foundation for the song’s chorus. These waves of sound are beefed up by the vocal chorus pushing the song’s title through the opaque arrangement. Chiming rhythm guitars and quick paced bass line are complimented by an intrepid vocal performance throughout the verses. This is a more rough edged and raw version of Everything Everything and it still sounds modern, but perhaps more consistent which in this case is a positive. 

‘Ivory Tower’ is an unabashed attack on the world today. Musically, the roatational, repetive nature of the track, especially in the bridge section where the song’s title is replayed over and over before spilling into a highly charged chorus delivers a dramatic track. The same occurs towards the conclusion of the track, only this time it spills out into a sprawling and heavy instrumental of wiry and tearing guitars. ‘Run The Numbers’ is another example of a heavier sound wing put to use, only here it is taken from sheer rises and drops in sound and volume. ‘Good Shot, One Soilder’ whilst being a little aimless in the verses, features immaculately bridge sections from a lightly whirring synth feeding through Higg’s delicate delivery. The track concludes by going from acapella vocals to a concophony of electronic chords and beats coming to a theatrical fruition. ‘Night of the Long Knives’ opens the album and features shades of an Industrial sound with siren-like whirring in the chorus. This falls into a rapid and intricate rhythm section. Electronic flashes signal the opening of the weighty chorus that is packed by its bulky industrial arrangement. 

Everything Everything have udoubtedly tried to do things differently here. A heavier and rawer sound along with a few forays into different styles. It is still arranged to make a bold, maximum impact and every song is as hard hitting both musically and lyrically as the last. There are the odd moment where they fall into familiar territory or just try something that doesn’t quite succeed, but this album only cements their reputation as a innovative force in British music. 

Everything Everything – A Fever Dream = 8.5/10

Owen Riddle and Hayley Miller

Single Review – QOTSA – The Evil Has Landed

A lot has happened in the world since Queens Of The Stoneage released their last album ‘Like Clockwork’ around four years ago, but listening to new single ‘The Evil Has Landed’, the second from the band’s seventh studio album ‘Villains’ due August 25th, it’s almost too easy to believe hardly anything has changed at all. Falling back into the band’s trade mark creepy edged, sultry vocal, with underlying fuzzy percussion and epic, though familiarly paludal guitar lines, ‘The Evil Has Landed’ spirals within the band’s comfort zone. Becoming faster passed, reminiscent of racing montages everywhere, and ever so slightly clean-cut, perhaps from the input of Mark Ronson and Ranking’s production, as the single draws to its end. With a title like this one it would be understandably easy to assume the track had some connection to recent political events but, distancing his writing from the world we currently find ourselves in, ‘I fall beyond definitions now,’ Homme’s focus is purely on making yet another imposing single to add to QOTSA’s set list.  

Hayley Miller

Single Review – Liam Gallagher – For What It’s Worth 

Liam Gallagher’s third single, from forthcoming debut solo album ‘As You Were’ due for release October 6th, written with Simon Aldred, see’s the Mancunian taking another introspective look at his life so far. Opening line, ‘In my defence all my intentions were good,’ sets the scene for the tracks med-tempo outpouring of significantly calmed emotions. Though never quite a full out apology, ‘Seems that I’ve forgot just what I was fighting for but underneath my skin, there’s a fire within still burning,’ overall the track’s theme feels pretty sincere. Liam’s love it or hate it, though the majority agree, iconic vocal grates mellowly across a fairly remorseful lyric. Instrumentally there is an obvious echo of past sorrowful belter, ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’. Within this landscape of the past, lines like, the Lennon-esque, ‘The first bird to fly gets all the arrows,’ which may be simply a reference to leaving home, or being the older of this imagined conversation, but with a track that feels this much like a public statement, or closer a declaration of humanity amongst media fuelled madness, it’s hard to avoid hoping it’s in reference to a certain high flying bird. But whoever Liam’s words are directed towards ‘For What It’s Worth’ is well worth attention. 

Hayley Miller

Single Review – Alice Glass – Without Love

As Alice Glass goes onwards with life after Crystal Castles, the Ontarian electronic artist has now released her second single in ‘Without Love’; this one a sure precursor to a debut solo album. This single pursues a more underground style of electronica with the churning synths clashing with manipulated sounds and rapidly firing beats. This is set around dropping chords and eerie faux piano parts. This makes for a dark and shadowy atmosphere with the array of effects forging greats depths to the track. The only thing that counters this is Alice’s vocals, which are high, soft and wiry and without the screams of her Crystal Castle years as they remain refrained and are cleverly used as vocal instrumentation. The lyrical content is equally introvert and points towards dealing with self doubt and the battles within. It is certainly the first step towards carving her own space out in the electronic sphere. 

Owen Riddle

This Weeks Music Video with Gorillaz, Liam Gallagher, Beth Ditto, Wolf Alice, Alice Glass, Baio and Lianne La Havas

Single Review – The Horrors – Something To Remember Me By

Electro-Pop was not something we expected to hear from The Horrors, especially after the dark industrial sounds of the lead single ‘Machine’ from their upcoming fifth album V (due for release on Sepetember 22nd). ‘Something to remember me by’ features a crisp Pop beat along with chiming synth chords. The chorus opens up into an array of shimmering electronica and wiry tunes played out by a further set of synths. Faris’ vocals do strain slightly to fit into the pacey and upbeat environment, but just about work into the blazer piece of electronic indulgence which looks to indicate a varied album, but you’d hope the darker landscapes or at least the method behind them prevails for their fifth album as there were only hints at those soundscaping methods in this track.

Owen Riddle

Arcade Fire – Everything Now Review 

‘Everything Now’ is the fifth studio album by Canadian group Arcade Fire. The album is rather more experimental than their last outing, however that does not necessarily mean that they all land. A friend recently described this to me as a “marmite” album, you either like it or you don’t. Maybe I’m odd, but that wasn’t my experience with Arcade Fire’s most recent album, with it coming across to me as an awkwardly average outing by the band, with only a few songs on the album actually being of any interest.​Firstly, let’s talk positives. Both ‘Infinite Content’ and the follow-up ‘Infinite_Content’ are both good outings, with them contrasting each other well, whilst being about the exact same thing. ‘Infinite Content’ is one of the heavier songs on the album, providing thrashing guitars and genuine “head-banging” tunes. It provides a good addition to the dance album that the band appeared to be going for, having a very different sound to songs like of ‘Everything Now’. Contrastingly ‘Infinite_Content’ is a much slower tune, and whilst not being one that you can dance to, it works really well in context. The song lyrics “All your money is already spent on infinite content” fits perfectly with the tune, which to me sounds like the sort of music you would hear inside a shopping mall; calm and upbeat. Out of the singles, both ‘Electric Blue’ and ‘Creature Comfort’ are both fine musical additions. ‘Electric Blue’ is a well produced, quite funky track with an appropriate level of synths that certainly add to the melodic beat. The vocals too are particularly noteworthy, with a falsetto being deployed masterfully in this song. ‘Creature Comfort’ similarly deploys synths brilliantly, creating an 80s-style dance track that is surely enjoyable.

​However, the positives in this album are slightly overshadowed by the negatives. Whilst there are good songs on the album, this album also contains possibly one of the worst songs I have heard this year. ‘Chemistry’ is a basic and lazy addition to the album, it is only memorable by the fact that it is quite dire. The song has a basic marching beat in the background over lyrics sang with little experimentation. The bland nature of the song may work well if the song were a short melody in the album, but at 3:38, it is almost inexcusable. Whilst the album as a whole is experimental, with both hits and misses, it feels like ‘Chemistry’ was produced with next to no effort, which is a shame as we know that Arcade Fire can do so much better than this. ‘Good God Damn’ is alright, but has very little to grip you for an extra listen. Which brings me onto another issue with the album, when it comes at the end, the latter songs on the album are completely forgettable after listening. Both ‘We Don’t Deserve Love’ and ‘Put Your Money On Me’ are instantly forgettable, both have very low-key beats that do not remain with the listener afterwards. And we have seen much better perfomances when it comes to vocals.

​’Everything Now’ does have some stand-out examples of why the experimentalism here was not a waste. There are some songs on the album that are definitely worth adding to your playlist. However, a lot of the album is disappointing. When the band has gone out to create someting a bit more experimental and dance-worthy, it is almost unforgivable just how dull some of the music is. Hardly any of it will be played in your local bar or nightclub, I even doubt there will be many people tapping their foot in the comfort of their own home. What doesn’t help is that a lot of the album is “just alright.” But there is gold to be found here, just not a lot of it.

Arcade Fire – Everything Now – 5/10

Matthew Johnston

This Weeks Music Video with Mick Jagger, Kendrick Lamar feat. Rihanna, Lorde, Stereophonics & Wolf Alice

Single Review – Marsicans – Too Good

Leeds based indie quartet Marsicans are back with new single ‘Too Good’. Sitting comfortably somewhere between The Wombats and The 1975 the track shines with that all too often hidden English summer sun. Opening slightly moodily with some pensive synth and ironic lyric; ‘I’ve been asking myself questions Like: “Are you worth it?” Tried preparing interjections, It’s a shame I’m no wordsmith,’ things quickly pounce, bouncing into life as the tracks perfectly placed childhood references, and moments of normality, somehow sugar coat without being sickly, keeping things introspective and grounded as the bands Sundara Karma style pushes things onwards; ‘you peeled the stickers off my Rubix cube, sunk my battleship.’ Lead vocalist James Newbigging passes thing over to bass guitarist Rob Brander in the bridge, leading to the final uplifting repeated chorus, a hook sure to get stuck in your head; ‘You’ve got me caught in a dream, stuck in a rut where it all seems too good to believe.’ 

Hayley Miller