Gaz Coombes – Worlds Strongest Man Review

Three years on from releasing the critically acclaimed Matador; Gaz Coombes has released his ‘Frank Ocean inspired’ third album The Worlds Strongest Man on May 4th. It is a culmination of the added hints of experimentation to his ever maturing songwriting in 2015 he was in a new submersible phase. This earned himself a Mercury prize nomination amongst other accolades. His recent comments about his third solo effort only suggest more exploration for the quietly confident singer-songwriter. So if any venture into Pop music comes from Gaz, you know it’ll be a considered and versatile affair.

‘Deep Pockets’ immediately smacks with a buzzing energy and throbbing beat. Gaz’s echoed and wiry vocals skate atop the accelerating feel of the track as it drives towards the chorus to be met with a more rooted, lower vocal to meet the expansive and growing sounds around him. His eccentric melodies and introverted lyrics deliver messages of unchecked masculinity. ‘Walk the Walk’ is no different in its narrative tone and is a steadier affair compared to his last single ‘Deep Pockets’ with meandering riff and bass line with a buzzing synth energy whirring through the track. This album looks to have a more integrated sense of scale accommodated in this instance through sections and a slicker delivery which the first two singles have served as an example of. The new album looks to be another worthy addition to his catalogue.

‘Shit (I’ve done it again)’ is a hazy track of whirring synth chords set around delicate melodies made up from strings and light electronica. The track gradually grows beyond this with prominent percussion, vocal harmonies and charged guitars and whole lot of reverb on top of that. It makes for a controlled and rewarding arrangement. ‘Wounded Egos’ bites with an opening line of ‘wounded egos, right wing psychos’, but this is set through the prism of a light arrangement of light, staccato electronica. The song then strikes an optimistic tone with pacing bass lines, percussion and a resonant synth compliment as Gaz’ piercing vocals sing of ‘chairs flying in the street’ but there being ‘another way’. It becomes of joyous track derived from that scathing opening and all done with a subtlety as worthy as any dramatic shift of tone he could have opted for. Tracks such as ‘Vanishing Act’ produce a sound that pushes a feeling of being on edge as Gaz screams of the need to ‘find my happy face’ and performing a vanishing act. The title track offers a hint of bravado to mock his themed subject around a crisp, slicked arrangement.

This album has saw Gaz tackle issues of masculinity a little more abruptly than he’s directed his solo songwriting before, but he has masterfully utilised his arrangements to manipulate and radiate the messages in his tracks. Sure, it isn’t the most exciting record of the year, but it is an immersive experience that plays off each subtle change in tone that makes this album. Coupled with that overarching sense of vulnerability and you have another strong chapter in Gaz Coombes solo catalogue.

Gaz Coombes – World’s Strongest Man = 8.5/10

Owen Riddle

Single Review – Gaz Coombes – Walk The Walk

Gaz Coombes third solo album The Worlds Strongest Man is due for a May 4th release which so far looks to see him deliver messages of unchecked masculinity amongst other lyrical matters dealt with in Coombes’ typically narrative tone. His latest single is no different and is a steadier affair compared to his last single ‘Deep Pockets’ with meandering riff and bass line with a buzzing synth energy whirring through the track. This album looks to have a more integrated sense of scale accommodated in this instance through sections and a slicker delivery which the first two singles have served as an example of. The new album looks to be another worthy addition to his catalogue.

Owen Riddle

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

Single Review – Gengahr – Is This How You Love

Gengahr have treated us to some beautifully different tracks in the build up for the release of Where Wildness Grows, with their latest offering being Is This How You Love. The newbie follows the more chilled, summery vibes of Before Sunrise and Mallory, as it twinkles with an echoic riff and laidback bass. Felix Bushe’s falsetto tones come out to play a little more, dusting the track with even more sunny glow, before it gets progressively heavier towards the end, though the single never strays from being a golden example of relaxed. With all the incredible singles the band have released in anticipation for their sophomore LP, you can just tell it’ll be a winner.

Ellie Chivers

Single Review – Our Girl – Our Girl

Brighton based three piece Our Girl are a promising young group releasing the follow up to their 2016 EP Normally with new single ‘Our Girl’. This song strikes up a roaring Shoegaze sound equipped with quivering vocals and prominent percussion behind the haze of the guitars. Though a faithful example of the genre, the band show an ability to provide a more tangible, clear base to their sound which suggests a confidence to dip into various styles with ease; backed by their solid delivery and more projective sound. Hopefully another EP or album is on the cards as they seem more than capable of applying their approach to a greater body of work for an immersive listen.

Owen Riddle

Rae Morris – Someone Out There Review

Rae Morris is a name that has bubbled under the surface for a while. A frankly beige debut – Unguarded – released in 2015, was met with mediocre success, with singles simmering at the C List of prime-time Radio 1, and a smattering of advert backing tracks to her name. It seems that come 2018, however, the songstress from Blackpool was bored of bubbling. New record Someone Out There is fluorescent and fiery, its cheeky and incredibly sharp. It doesn’t bubble, it explodes.

It’s an album that doesn’t sit still.

The first single, Reborn, hinted to the new experimental pop avenue right away, with a skittish hook and ethereal synths, while bold follow up Do It ditches the quietness of her first LP to form unfiltered pop perfection, with Dip My Toe following the same kind of lyrical ideas. Other singles Atletico (The Only One) and Lower the Tone are rapturous anthems as well, though the latter begins as a serene robotic croon for affection before launching into a web of synth hooks and relentless bass. The album bought us the first hearing of Rose Garden – a huge asset to the track list – combining the electronica of songs previous, as well as the balladry of her freshman album, to bring lyrics about the confusion and disorientation of panic attacks to life. As well as being an incredible song on its own, it’s meaningful, and expertly crafted.

Unguarded’s musical themes do pop up on occasion. Single Push Me To My Limit is an odd opener to the album; an gentle, airy synth-built track that gives no hints at the uproarious pop direction some of the upcoming numbers follow. The title track is largely Rae’s vocal balanced on top of piano and slow percussion, and is a softly motivational letter to the lonely. Dancing With Character is an emotional conclusion about a widower, still incorporating the mechanics of the pop-y tunes but using it subtly to make for a graceful, authentic closer. Although the more anthemic additions are definitely the best part of the album, the call backs to Rae’s original sound form a bridge between the first and second offering. It’s also nice to have some variety; the album and its songs are so unpredictable, even the calmer songs build excitement – you never know what’s coming next.

Someone Out There is a wild ride, especially considering the somewhat lacklustre debut. So please, Radio 1, put Rae on the A List.

Rae Morris – Someone Out There: 8/10

Ellie Chivers

Single Review – Millie Turner – The Shadow

Mille Turner burst onto the scene with the single ‘Underwater’ sounding like an established vocalist with bags of Pop experience and nuance; you’d be forgiven if the fact she’s 17 might shock you. Regardless of the marvel at her age, it shouldn’t take away from what are confident and assertive pieces of music coming from Millie in their own right. Her latest single ‘The Shadow’ has rotating hooks and popping beats which merge and shift as the song goes on with no transition phase. It is completely fluid from verse, bridge and chorus. Lyrics telling of the shadow being an internal, empowered figure beside her shows her ability to paint a vivid lyrical picture in amongst a busy and powerful piece of music. A rich and dynamic vocal set add to the seamless nature of the track and offers a glimpse of just how talented she is and what else she might be capable of. Keep your eyes and ears out for this one.

Owen Riddle

Django Django – Marble Skies Review

Edinburgh’s accomplished Art-Rockers return with their third full length album Marble Skies after a period of six years plying intricate and eccentric melodic and rhythmic parts to peak the curiosity of listeners as opposed to blowing them away. They have always centred their Art Rock, Neo-Psychedelic and Indie Disco sounds around strong and interchangeable vocals harmonies. A long time has passed since their immaculate debut though and they can’t rely on their eccentricities forever. What have they got up their sleeve on this occasion?

From the moment you press play on ‘In Your Beat’ you enter a labyrinth of psychedelic pop euphoria. Carried by lurching waves of synths galore and video-game-esque touches, the latest single taken from their third album – Marble Skies – is packed with incessant, aggressive eighties notions. The lyrics become part of the instrumentalism, with Vincent Neff’s mechanical vocals blending into the techno backing track. It’s an electronica overload – one which fans of the four-piece’s past tracks, despite still being as eccentric but more compliant with rock stereotypes, may grapple with. ‘Tic Tac Toe’ is another unrelenting track which is based on the jangling riffs of the rhythm sections and a percussion that goes from a pounding to a marching beat. The track occasionally gets lost in needless vocal effects and it’s repetitive nature. What does save it is its energy and the perfect vocal harmonies that seemingly can get them out of any situation.

The title track is a shimmering and glistening piece of retro electronica that is another track driving down a faster time signature. This track gives them a different vocal structure to tackle which changes the complexion of the song to lend itself to the rapid pace, making a solid hook. The fact the music is arranged their vocals and lyrics generates a significant change to their sound that differs from them singing unison contrary to the arrangement. ‘Surface to Air’ feat. Self Esteem demonstrates their ability to produce a piece of chiming, melancholy Pop. ‘Champagne’ is an attempt at some wiry Chamber Pop which akin to Temples, but with a lack of execution. In general the album drifts from solid track to slightly wayward track and despite a faithful map of influences and attempt at mixing things up, they don’t hit the nail on the head here. This leads to an album of familiar plus points and occasional flashes of intrigue interceded by the occasional drop of the ball. They could really make something exciting and innovative, but you have to wonder if they’ve got the temperament to do so.

Django Django – Marble Skies = 6/10

Owen Riddle & Eleanor Chivers

Single Review – Gaz Coombes – Deep Pockets

Three years on from releasing the critically acclaimed Matador; Gaz Coombes is to release his ‘Frank Ocean inspired’ third album The Worlds Strongest Man on May 4th. Once he added hints of experimentation to his ever maturing songwriting in 2015 he was in a new submersible phase. This earned himself a Mercury prize nomination amongst other accolades. His recent comments about his third solo effort only suggest more exploration for the quietly confident singer-songwriter. ‘Deep Pockets’ immediately smacks with a buzzing energy and throbbing beat. Gaz’s echoed and wiry vocals skate atop the accelerating feel of the track as it drives towards the chorus to be met with a more rooted, lower vocal to meet the expansive and growing sounds around him. His eccentric melodies and introverted lyrics deliver messages of unchecked masculinity. Supergrass are but a distant memory and it’s likely it grow ever more distant by May 4th.

Owen Riddle

Single Review – The Vaccines – I Can’t Quit

Since The Vaccines’ last album English Graffiti, drummer Pete Robertson walked out, and Tim Lanham and Ioann Intonti walked in. And despite the switch up, the change in the band’s sound is only that of the clocks being turned back to 2011, as new single I Can’t Quit roars with the same powerful enthusiasm as their earliest anthems. Opening with a head-bopping intro to bass drum and guitar riff, it’s not long before the lyrics of the infectious hook come into play, prepared to take up permanent residence in your head, and even more prepared to sell out massive arena gigs. The lyrics aren’t necessarily sophisticated – this arena filling chorus is a repeated 6-word hook – but you can always rely on the now-5-piece for some straightforward alt-rock to put a smile on your face.

Eleanor Chivers