Single Review – The Wombats – Turn

As a student at an artsy, creative university, I can confirm that the general vibe from those ‘indie millennials’ surrounding the comeback of The Wombats is hugely excitable, only to be upped by the release of new single Turn as the next preview into fourth studio album Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life. Differing from Lemon to a Knife Fight, their second single of the year is much more quintessentially Wombats, with a fizzing alt-pop beat undercutting the quirky lyricism and chiming riff. With the rise of the indie pop scene ever on the rise – underpinned by the likes of Sundara Karma and Will Joseph Cook making their mark in the industry during 2017 – The Wombats are set to retain the praise 2015’s Glitterbug earned them, having got elated tunes like Turn thumping throughout their next tracklist.

Ellie Chivers

Single Review – The Wombats – Lemon To A Knife Fight

When life gives you lemons it’s probably best not to take them to a knife fight, no matter how sour they might be, not exactly how the saying goes but still a pretty good piece of advice. After touring this summer in celebration of the 10th anniversary of their debut album The Wombats are back with brand new single ‘Lemon To A Knife Fight’. Maintaining their trademark bittersweet charm Mathew Murphy’s vocal dances along the bands fast-paced indie drumbeat. Though this time synths seem to have been traded for layered guitar riffs, ever so slightly mellowing the bands previous pop sound – but don’t worry only ever so slightly, hints of an Aussie-like summer seem to shine through The Wombats typically British despondent defeatism in the tracks, I’ve lost the argument before we even started, lyrics.

With news of forthcoming fourth album ‘Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life,’ there’s going to be a lot to look forward to from the Liverpudlian trio.

Hayley Miller

Circa Waves – Different Creatures Review 

For me, the jovial indie pop of Circa Waves’ breakout track T-Shirt Weather defined summer 2015: a track fusing frivolous lyricism with cheery guitar hooks, overflowing with sunny vibes. Similar light rock characterised their freshman album Young Chasers, which is why it came as a shock to me that their sophomore offering has taken a distinctly heavier direction. Circa Waves have swapped their youthful and nostalgic indie pop for a grittier, more mature take on the rock genre, making the album’s title, Different Creatures, not only a considered political statement, but also a signpost of Circa Waves’ regeneration.

The first song I heard to come from Different Creatures was Fire That Burns. Though the shuffling percussion holds glimpses of their older tunes, the opening thrash of guitar indicates Different Creatures’ more brutish stance. Contrasting restrained verses, the pre-chorus builds to an explosive chorus, which features the anthemic carriage of lyrics much more developed than those of some predecessors. In the same grungy vein are album opener Wake Up – which begins with a similar opening riff to Young Chaser’s first track Get Away, just in a more pitchy key – Crying Shame, A Night On The Broken Tiles and Goodbye. Other tunes affiliate with the rockier style of these tracks but in a much softer way. Old Friends recaptures the nostalgic edge Young Chasers was spiked with in its reminiscent sweeps of guitar and relaxed percussion. Love’s Run Out is a short pause between equally loud Crying Shame and Stuck, with Kieran Shudall’s quiet vocals driven by a gentle acoustic.

Love’s Run Out is both the most tender song instrumentally and lyrically. It deliberates desire for love and the promises of never leaving, a completely conflicting slant to the exploration of the “dark side of passion” – as Shudall calls it – on Fire That Burns. It’s a genuinely gorgeous number. Circa Waves’ unfamiliar maturity is mostly present, however, in the title track Different Creatures. This song broadcasts the newly-discovered political side to the band, discussing their thoughts on the limitation of the number of refugees allowed into the country. Amongst many-a Trump protest track and other political rants, it’s interesting and hugely satisfying to hear a song about a different issue, especially coming from such a band labelled with such a genre. It’s also great to hear a young and relevant band discussing the effects of media on Stuck. So, to all the critics that say modern music is an endless cycle of meaningless, love-obsessed pop songs, here’s the proof you’re wrong.

Different Creatures is a fantastic album – not necessarily for a totally distinctive sound, because, though it deviates from what we’re used to from this band, it’s not completely different from other rock outfits out there – but for the transition they’ve made to become a noteworthy rival for other indie bands. The sheer jump from 2015 to 2017 for Circa Waves is brilliant in itself, and is extremely promising for the future.

Circa Waves – Different Creatures: 7/10

Eleanor Chivers

Single Review – Circa Waves – Stuck

Liverpool Indie quartet are to release their second album Different Creatures on March 10th and this week they’ve released a new single in ‘Stuck’. Their debut Young Chasers emerged with an average to mildly positive response and so you wonder where the difficult second album will fall. Based on this track, there is no new destination in the grand scheme of things as they churn out a sound worn thread bare over the last sixteen (yes, sixteen) years. What is frustrating about the growing heap of stagnant Indie groups is that not one of them sound better than or anywhere near as good as The Strokes, Kings of Leon, The Killers etc. They’re clearly talented enough and have a decent live sound, but it is difficult to see them and their many other clones as nothing more than glorified tribute act to a sound that had peaked in 2004. 

Owen Riddle 

The Coral – Distance Inbetween Review

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Since they exploded onto the scene with their self-titled album and then followed it up with the even more impressive “Magic & Medicine”, The Coral have moved away from the considerable limelight that those albums created for them. The singles collection paints a pretty picture of what was otherwise a fairly disappointing series of albums for the band. The band was still able to create great tracks like “In The Morning” and “Jacqueline”. “Distance Inbetween” is something quite different. This LP sees the band take a more psychedelic approach spasmodically echoing bands that have taken a similar approach in recent years such as The Black Keys and even elements of Kasabian. Yet, the band still retain to the core blues sound that has served them so well throughout their career even if this time it’s channelled into psychedelica.

The first single, “Chasing The Tail of a Dream” borrows a little from The Black Keys’ “Turn Blue” album especially with the drumming and this is the case for many of the tracks on the album. The track marks more of a departure from the bluesy style that appears elsewhere and the incredible guitar instrumental where it just seems to wander aimlessly in a style clearly reminiscent of the psychedelica of the 1960s and ‘70s is symbolic of this. The more blues but still psychedelic song “Holy Revelation” is perhaps the stand-out of the style that dominates the album. Armed with a psychedelic riff, what sounds like a cow bell and a driving bassline the track highlights all that is good about their reimagining of their music.

Similarly, the follow-up single “Miss Fortune” continues with the classic 1960s feel. It’s dreamlike, fun and lyrical simple nature make a great track in general but even more so in the summer. The vision of the titular character as someone who “the worlds got running/ but she’s not running scared” just oozes cool. The final single “Million Eyes” gives a similar cool impression that only the very best quality of rock music can. The first half of this moody track is relatively uninteresting compared to the other singles as the band follow the rather standard rock and blues style that many others have before even if it’s to a better standard than most. What stands out most is undoubtedly the last two minutes or so. Reminiscent of songs like Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” the track comes to a complete standstill before kicking off again in an amazing instrumental finish.

By contrast, the titular track “Distance In between” feels a little out of place on the album. The rest of the LP’s psychedelic mood clashes with this more dramatic ballad style. The track as a whole is a solid one but special praise has to be given to the guitar solo again as the band emphasise their immense technical skill with a solo that is simultaneously haunting and beautiful. Equally, the track “It’s You” sees the band stake a claim to sing the next Bond track. James Skelly’s haunting voice starts with the Bond-like refrain, ‘you’re a killer in the headlights, a lover in the morning’ is as good as any. This ghostly feeling continues into the chorus with tightly harmonised backing vocals and a laid back but powerful bass before it spaces out with a Black Keys esk guitar solo. The opening track, “Connector” also highlights the more diverse nature of the album. The song starts incredibly well, sounding almost like something that would be found on a Kasabian album but the song seems to lose some momentum and ideas toward the end.

“Distance Inbetween” sees the band make a purposeful return to the spotlight with new ideas and a new sound which puts it amongst the very best of this year. The album bares all the hallmarks of an experienced band whose technical prowess is second to none; the perfect harmonisation on tracks like “It’s You” and guitar instrumentals emphasise this as well as the bands great creative chemistry.

The Coral – Distance Inbetween = 8.5/10

Callum Christie

Sunday Suggestion – George Harrison – Art of Dying

In those immediate months after The Beatles part ways in 1970, the Beatle who existed in the shadow of the Lennon/McCartney rivalry and who struggled to get more than a song or two on each album was the first Beatle to score a number one solo album with All Things Must Pass. That was George Harrison. The modest and uncontroversial Beatle with perhaps the most legitimate reason for the leaving the band behind when you see how all of those songs that he had stacked up over the years were just as good if not better then much of what The Beatles chief songwriters had produced throughout the late 1960s. Many of these songs were immortalised further via his organisation and performance of one of the first major fundraising concerts with his Concert For Bangladesh in 1971. One with particular energy is ‘Art of Dying’. Like most of his tracks from the time it contained a relatable and open spiritual message within it. Around this message is one of his most catchy and dramatic tracks with the exploding riffs that tail off in every direction and the unrelenting roll of the bass line. The brass sections only go on to raise the song to further dramatic highs and gives us a glimpse into Harrison the showman, beyond the reflective and spiritual versions often showcased. Medical set backs after his initial work would sadly see this album be the peak of his efforts and saw him pushed back behind Lennon and McCartney again. This song and album however demonstrates that he was their equal.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Single Review – Lapsley – Hurt Me

One of XL Recordings more recent signings is the singer-songwriter Holly Lapsley Fletcher or ‘Låpsley’ as she’s known as, from Merseyside. She’s already been highlighted as a rising star on the British music scene with her self produced Trip Hop and Chillwave sound which is replicated well with her new single ‘Hurt Me’. The song balances the soft beats and sunken piano chords against her strong and able vocal as it explores it’s various tones in it’s enforced isolation from the shifting sounds and beats. Though it may not be the dance inducing Trip Hop of AlunaGeorge, it is certainly the contemplative side of the genre and can be appreciated in it’s own way. Expect an album from the 19 year old at some point next year.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Stealing Sheep – Not Real Review

On their latest album, Not Real, psych-folk trio Stealing Sheep bounce back and forth between upbeat, peppy tracks and something a little darker. They know exactly how to create fun, energetic melodies that make you want to dance. Standout tracks include ‘Deadlock’, the opening of which sounds like an 80’s arcade game soundtrack, and ‘Sunk’ which gives us powerful, punchy beats offset brilliantly by melodic vocals. ‘Greed’ is a really interesting track; it’s slower and more deliberate with off-key xylophone chimes, with vocals that seem reminiscent of traditional Chinese music or even Gregorian chants… with a psychedelic edge.

On occasions, Stealing Sheep’s high-pitched synth riffs become a little too much and almost enough to make you cringe, particularly when listening with the volume high. In many places there isn’t enough variation in pitch to give your ears a break, and it seems the electronic sound is there simply for the sake of it than providing us with something interesting to listen to. Closing track ‘She’ is the perfect example of this; the song crescendos into a mishmash of noise with screaming electronic sounds which are simply too much. It doesn’t bring the album to an impressive, memorable finish but instead leaves a ringing in your ears and even a little relief that it’s over.

Although it lacks their signature electronic sound, ‘Evolve & Expand’ is one of the most intriguing tracks on the album. It is comprised of light, girlish vocals which are little more than a whisper and a simple and repetitive guitar riff. The simplicity of the song clashes with the rest of the album and really makes it stand out, particularly when the lyrics kick in with a creepy opening line; “They will cook you up and grind you down for glue and clay”. As the track begins to come to a close, the vocals and guitar are slowly muffled and it sounds like the song is peacefully drowning, becoming quieter and quieter until silence. This is an eerie track that interrupts the cheerfulness of the rest of the album, adding enough edge for you to realise that the band has more to offer than just high pitched synth and drum machines.

All in all, Stealing Sheep have a talent for creating engaging rhythmic melodies that have you humming along from the very first listen, as though you’ve heard the track a hundred times before. For that reason Not Real is a fun, feel good album, perfect for summer.

Stealing Sheep – Not Real = 6/10

Ellie Scott @elliemaryscott