Fickle Friends – You Are Someone Else Review

Have you ever gone through a long, dreary day at work thinking about a giant chocolate bar or something you’re going to devour when you get home, and then when you eventually eat it you eat it too quickly, or have too much, and you feel a bit off for the rest of the evening? A bit of a disappointment, right? Well, that’s kind of what Fickle Friends’ debut album, You Are Someone Else, feels like.

The Brighton-based 5-piece first started getting noticed in 2013 after playing Jamie Oliver’s ‘The Big Feastival’, and five years later their first LP has finally arrived. The album hosts 16 tracks, filled with glimmering indie-pop hits, guaranteed to soundtrack the ideal summer barbeque. Summing up their sound best is Brooklyn, with pulses of eighties sizzle pumped throughout to support catchy lyrics and chorus instrumentalism comparable to a more pop-ish The 1975. It’s a track guaranteed to inspire emphatic dancing in the venues they’ll sell out. In similar veins come Lovesick – which has an incredible bass hook – Hello Hello, and Say No More. Alternatively, Midnight injects a bit of a heavier element of bass in the intro, showing a little more diversity to their happy-go-lucky indie style. Aside from that, there’s not a whole lot of change. Fickle Friends’ take on the genre is one I really like, and many songs will definitely feature on a good summer playlist, but there’s just a lot of it, with no songs really standing out, as many just blur into the next.

Having said that, not everything is all smiles and rainbows. The shimmery synths often engulf introspective and bleak lyricism. Hard To Be Myself is riddled with anxiety, while Paris offers a sense of self doubt when it comes to ending a relationship. The youthful euphoria of the backing tracks often juxtapose the lyrics, which seems to be a clever way of representing a sense of naivety as this young band begin to experience different things for the first time; dominated fervour and ecstasy, underscored with a tinge of fear.

Other times, the solemn lyrics are more noticeable. The incessant joyous instrumentalism is broken up by In My Head, which strips away the extravagance of the earlier songs to provide a raw intermission about mental deterioration and loneliness. Album opener Wake Me Up – though much more prevalent in it’s instrumental presence and thumping bassline – chants some pretty pessimistic lyrics: the chorus, for example, is dominated by the words “we are absolutely failing”.

There’s not much more to say about You Are Someone Else other than it’s just…good. There’s no doubt Fickle Friends are hugely talented musicians – this album proves it in bucket loads – but after you’re 16 songs worth of persistent jaunty indie-pop down, you’d be forgiven for switching onto something else.

Fickle Friends – You Are Someone Else: 6/10

Ellie Chivers

Gengahr – Where Wildness Grows Review

When you first hear the title of Gengahr’s second LP – Where Wildness Grows – you might think that it could signify a more experimental, more ‘out-there’ album than their previous. No. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing; the album is a subtle, shimmery nod to a chilled summer playlist, with the wildest thing to come from it being a solid Gengahr identity emerging from behind the shrubbery.

Where Wildness Grows cements a definite sound for the London four-piece. Many of the songs (Pull Over (Now), Before Sunrise, Is This How You Love) find their greatest assets in their twinkling, echoic riffs; they give the otherwise-basic-indie tracks extra buoyancy, something to remember them by. Each song is wonderfully layered and textured – take the eponymous Where Wildness Grows, for example, which sizzles with minor distortion and shudders with bass, juxtaposing the delicate vocals of Felix Bushe and the quiet finger picking on the guitar. However, Mallory is the track to sum up the album best: rich with different flavours and a range of sounds that are so fluent, it feels like relaxing on a pool lounger.

While many of the tracks sparkle in the sunlight, others a darker and gloomier. An track list highlight is single Carrion, in which an eerier intro paves way for a rock-centred labyrinth of fierce guitars and a pulsating bass. Whole Again begins in the same vein, with thrashing guitars leading the way, but drifts softly back into the colourful pool of indie rock we’ve already come to know. The instrumental section at the end, however, is something quite wonderful, and as a conclusion to the track list, works excellently. Even the songs that divert from Where Wildness Grows’ framework don’t seem out of place; the album flows pretty nicely.

Well, maybe too nicely. A lot of the tracks sound the same. While the slightly-edgy agenda of a pretty riff, some kind of percussion and chords lying on top works very well indeed, it’s also kind of boring. There’s no doubt that this is an ideal album to relax to for any indie fan, but maybe not one to enjoy with any particular fervour.

Gengahr – Where Wildness Grows: 7/10

Ellie Chivers

The Sherlocks – Live For The Moment


Despite the immediacy of a title like ‘Live For The Moment’ The Sherlocks debut album feels more like a nostalgic step back to 2005 than an angst driven 2017 high-octane onslaught. Opener ‘Will You Be There?’ sets the tone resoundly from the start. These are tracks with simple lyrics revolving around, hang overs and late teen/early twenty-something relationships. Often sounding like a tiny Alex Turner sat in lead singer Kiaran Crook’s pocket during the bands writing process – unfortunately tiny Alex perhaps didn’t share his ability to wrap a comical metaphor into a neatly lyrical verse or two, but still an ability to wear a heart on a folded up shirt sleeve does break through.Musically tracks are crafted in a clean-cut style that works to drive things forwards. 

Remastering tracks that kick-started the band towards their debut, title track ‘Live For The Moment’, first released back in 2014, continues the Arctic Monkey’s mixed with The Libertines – a band that The Sherlocks have supported – vocal. Potentially why the temptation to sing ‘can’t stand me now’ over Kiaran Crook’s attempt at swagger is at times too much to bear. 

Though these aren’t the only bands that have influenced the Bolton upon Dearne four piece. More recent singles ‘Chasing Shadows’ and ‘Blue’ bring a little The Vaccines into play, as the last rays of sunlight set on a summer festival field somewhere in a muddy English county. 

As much as The Sherlock’s, no doubt, would like to build their own unique sound ‘Live For The Moment’ see’s the band reminiscing heavily on past sounds. I’m sure the band would be fed up to their back teeth of this whole Arctic Monkeys referencing. I mean just because they come from almost the same place, and happen to be an indie band with a slight grumpy mod style and all. But even if this band was formed in Azerbaijan ‘Live For The Moment’ feels more like a love letter to bands that shaped the sound of British indie music, than it does anything remotely ground breaking in itself. That’s not to the say that the album won’t push The Sherlock’s towards bigger things. They do say, whoever they are, that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and whether or not that’s true ‘Live For The Moment’ isn’t the most offensive offering a band could create as a debut album. 

‘Was It Really Worth It’ brings delicate harmonies into the bands stirring guitar riffs, building into another gentle summer anthem. While ‘Turn The Clock’ see’s a mellow air descend, as things sway into the albums slow number, even including a little-added harmonica. While ‘Last Night’ and ‘Hear Of Gold’ quickly kick things back into the bouncing 2005 swing of things, hangover in tow. And with an outtakes style beginnings ‘Motions’ and ‘Candlelight’ even attempt to bring in a little rough around the edges charm to ‘Live For The Moment’s clean production, though that does soon fade into the band’s crisp sound as violins gradually bring the album to its close. 

Signed to Infectious Music (giving them label mates Alt-J and Bloc Party) you might have hoped for something a little more experimental amongst these soft edged indie summer anthems. And yes many tracks might just go ‘in one ear and out the other’, as track ‘Nobody Knows’ states, just because these may not be the most original of tracks out there doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of fun to be had in a classic indie-rock sound. Besides, why worry about always having to create something earth shatteringly new when you can have fun playing in a band, and living for the moment. 

The Sherlocks – Live For The Moment = 6.5/10

Hayley Miller

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

Single Review – DIIV – Bent (Roi’s Song)

 

Brooklyn Indie Rockers DIIV o return with a follow up on their 2012 album Oshin with a February 5th release of their second album Is the Is Are. the second track to come from the album is ‘Bent (Roi’s Song)’ and it very much follows the path of many Indie groups who dip their toe into Psychedelica. The loose riffs echoed modestly across the track and is underpinned as always be a steady and lightly rumbling bass line. The nonchalant and dazed vocals ink into the instrumentation and is perhaps because of this, the song progresses uncomfortably and indefinitely until you get the guitars hook in the chorus. Musically, it has a little more mystery to it then most of their Indie counterparts produce and hopefully this will be replicated in the rest of their upcoming effort.

 

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Single Review – The Neighbourhood – Prey

The Californian Indie quintet are close to releasing their second studio album with Wiped Out! on October 30th as a follow up to their debut I Love You from 2013. ‘Prey’ is one of the final singles released from the album before it’s available and it provides safe and simple Indie rock with a little bit of production edge. Loose riffs and tambourines are the order of the day before developing into a track which tumbles back and forth via the cascading percussion. The whole song has a slight distortion filtered upon it and this combined with the aforementioned aspects do little to set this song out from the Indie crowd. It is a sound that The Black Keys had down back in 2010 with a bit more of energy. This track is inoffensive Indie Rock epitomised.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Single Review – The Escapists – What Are You Waiting For?

ESCAPISTS have come back to our ears with a new beauty ‘What Are You Waiting For?’ This guitar filled tune will have your eardrums tingling the band have gone with a more playful upbeat sound; the strong melody gets your head-nodding into full action. Also the distinctive vocal cuts through the melody guiding the stream of sound through your ears. They care very little for silence but with powerful guitars sounding this energetic and vocals this clean, it gives the track movement rather than a dull sound. ESCAPISTS have given us an absolute belter; this track will be a huge hit.

Heather Burlington @heaatherB

The Libertines – Anthems For A Doomed Youth

The Libertines should need no introduction. The band were one of the most prominent bands coming out of the revival of indie rock in the 2000s. To just put them in a group with every other band in that period would be undeserving however, considering there more rag-tag punk poetry edge (much like the Clash in areas) and the lyrical genius of both Pete Doherty and Carl Barat. The band broke up in 2004 after an infamous high profile personal feud between the songwriters and eleven years later after several reunion shows we have the “Anthem for a Doomed Youth” LP. The danger signs were flashing for this album when it was announced that Jake Gosling would be producing it considering his CV includes One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful” and Ed Sheeran’s album “+”. Yet, surprisingly, The Libertine’s create a fairly good LP. It is far from perfect or even great especially instrumentally but lyrically Doherty and Barat are as good as ever.

The album opener, “Barbarians” is in the vein of the Libertines we know and love but with a darker tinge in the instrumental sections between verse and chorus. It also has a bit of 60s pop feel with the cheesy “ooooos” on the chorus which has a pretty good line in typical pessimistic Libertines fashion “the world’s fucked but it won’t let me down”. The next track “Gunga Din” has a strange reggae grove which oddly fits in perfectly with Doherty’s eccentric vocal style. Yet, what the song lacks is energy; particularly in the chorus in which the reggae style of the verse disappears into a standard conventional chorus without a great deal of enthusiasm. It’s particularly noticeable considering the set up for the chorus is so good especially when Barat’s “Oh **** it, here I go again!” scream is followed up by a chorus that plainly lacks the imagination of its lyrics. This is apparent again on “Belly of the beast” or at least for the first half. In the second half they change it up and it becomes more interesting. Again, on “Glasgow Coma Scale Blues” energy is lacking. Most notably on the chorus where the vocals are on the monotonous side and the instruments just need to be turned up to eleven in order to give that rag-tag chaotic feel that so often works in the livelier Libertines songs.

On “fame and fortune” the band takes some obvious influence from the Arctic Monkeys’ third album, “Humbug”. It has that same darkly mysterious circus like tone (most similar to Arctic Monkeys’ “Jewellers Hands” song) but it’s not produced to nearly the same standard. Comparatively it feels small to the encompassing atmosphere of some tracks on “Humbug”. It felt more like earlier attempts at capturing that same sound in the early 2000s where they hadn’t quite got it spot on yet, The Coral’s “Don’t Think You’re The First” from “Magic & Medicine” comes to mind. “You’re My Waterloo” is infinitely more interesting. A smoky piano accompanies some truly amazing song writing “You’ll never fumigate the demons/No matter how much you smoke/So just say you love me/For three good reasons/And I’ll throw you the rope”. The guitar solo toward the end doesn’t quite nail the emotion of the song which is bottled up and overflowing; I really wanted it to burst out of the song. That might just be because I want every guitar solo in a piano ballad to be Slash coming out of that church in the desert in “November Rain” but you can’t win them all.

“Iceman” sees the band take on a much more Kinks-esk style of storytelling in acoustic style which obviously unsurprisingly suits their poetic style. At the other end of the spectrum, “Fury of Chonburi” is much heavier. It has what is lacking in some of the other tracks, real energy. “Belly of the Beast” could definitely have used some of that oomph. Lyrically it is far superior to Chonburi but it feels like the band is just going through the motions; it just feels a bit flat. The closer, “Dead for Love” is a song that sounds almost as good as it reads. An almost horror movie style piano accompanies a dark poem about love and murder. Filled with some dark and luscious imagery you can easily see it playing out as a movie script.

The Libertines’ welcome return to making new music is a good one. Barat and Doherty create some incredibly clever and moving poetry at times and it is perhaps for this reason it is the ballads that are the real stand out on this LP (especially “You’re My Waterloo”). When they try to pick up the pace a bit they seem to lack the energy and imagination to match their lyrics; which of course can sometimes take away from their impactful lyrics. The first half suffers more than the second in this respect but overall it’s an impressive return after eleven years out of a recording studio together. Should they make a second album it could well be one to watch out for.

The Libertines – Anthems For A Doomed Youth = 7/10

Callum Christie  @christiecallum

Single Review – Tennis – Needle and a Knife

American indie pop band Tennis, consisting of husband and wife duo Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley have recently released their live video for the 2014 track “Needle and a Knife” from the LP “Ritual In Repeat”. The duo took inspiration from photographer Petra Collins when compiling their visual accompaniment for the track, which is evident in the trademark curls Alaina has adopted. It’s entirely fitting and flattering of the song’s mood, a mixture of breezy 70’s and pastels that can only add emphasis to the almost spiritual lyrics.

After the intro, Alaina sings unaccompanied with nothing but the drum beat behind her. For these 30 seconds, it was impossible to shift the evident similarities of Haim, and any fans of the girl band will have found a new muse to bop to in the form of Tennis. Alaina’s effortless vocals are harmonised with two backing singers in the video, creating just the right amount of vocal texture for the song without taking attention away from the few instruments present. All in all a beautiful piece I’m sure will go down well on their Spring tour that kicked off in their hometown of Denver this April.

Hannah Crowe

Sunday Suggestion – The Smiths – What Difference Does It Make?

Though there is such an immediate fixation and almost constant factory-line of teenage kids heading for The Smiths music, I was admittedly never one of them. I never quite understood, but always respected their status that for some makes them “the only decent band of the 80’s.” Though that is simply not true, their impact is unavoidable. With this in mind, I decided to take a look at one of their most prominent tracks in ‘What Difference Does It Make?’ from 1984. Taken from their tediously worked debut album The Smiths, the track opens with that indelible, rotating, jangling riff from Marr’s Rickenbacker that’s reminiscent of such rhythm sections as The Byrds, but with a little more drive and purpose. With this as the song’s base, the echoed percussion and additional guitar parts filter from it. These hook-laden instrumentals are swept and swooned over by Morrissey with his grey, wistful melody. The song has a kick and an appeal for participation whether it be dancing or singing along so it certainly fits into the 80’s pop requirements. But it has much more substance musically and more depth lyrically and might explain their continued success today.