Tuesday, 27 August 2013

We PHOPPED Something In The Water

We PHOPPED Something In The Water
Various Artists
Philophobia Music
Philophobia Music is now in its 6th year of nurturing, supporting, recording and releasing music by Wakefield artists. Although I have only been a Wakefield citizen for the past four years I have become aware of both the label and the bands associated with it. Purchasing the odd release and seeing the artists live have been two of the great pleasures of being part of the City. This compilation album, however, is my first real exposure to the quality and breadth of the local music scene.

Featuring 20 bands that are either on, or have been released by the label, the album showcases the sound of this fine City.

Kicking off with Runaround Kids I Can’t Help Myself, boisterous and tender by turns, before moving on to Piskie Sits glorious Viktoria Pizen the album gets off to dream start. And it doesn’t let up for a second.

It is a little unfair on some of the artists to pick other highlights from an album that frankly, does not have a low point…… but I’m going to do it anyway.

From Buen Chico’s tight and catchy Love’s Just A Feeling to the lurching beautiful howl that is The Spills, Friends With Girls. From the heartbreaking beauty of Mi Mye’s Sometimes Lifes Cool, to the driving pop of We Are Losers singing Salt Lips. The quality of the music is relentless and up to now I have only motioned 6 of the bands on show. In fact given the quality of the bands I have not mentioned I feel a slight embarrassment that they have not been included in the review. So here goes:

Fur Blend – Ocean
Protectors – Ubelter
SUGGS – Pregnant
Jack Wynn – Feel anything
Shake Your Halo Down – Home it’s not the heart
SWORDS – Bonehead
Tiny Planets – Finalised
Michael Ainsley Band – Miss most mornings
The Do’s – Hard to see
Yard Wars – Haunted Stadiums
One Day after School – C/Beam
Imp – Elegant man, Elephant woman
Clandestines – You fell, you fell, you fell
St. Gregory Orange – Vacancies

All of you take a bow. No really, go on…. That’s better. You have all been my soundtrack to the last few weeks and it has been a joy.
Comparing an up and coming band with an already established band can present any reviewer with a bit of a dilemma. Its benefit is that it can provide shorthand to the sound and genre of the band. On the other hand it gives a false impression that the band is simply copying the already established act.

So what do the bands recorded and championed by Philophobia Music sound like? The quote I have heard most goes something like “Wakefield bands all sound like Pavement”. You will probably have heard a version of this untruth over the years. If you are going to be influence by a band Pavement is a pretty good choice and although there are echoes of them on this album that is all it amounts to. As I listened to the music I made a mental list of the bands and genres I could hear the influence of. Here goes Nirvana, Dead Kennedy’s, The Lemonheads, 80’s Electro Pop, Bruce Springsteen (really!) Arab Strap. The list goes on but it is only helpful in illustrating the diversity of the music presented on this album.

As well as the fine music on show there is also a hint at the humour that the local scene holds. Two examples of this are the gloriously entitled Elegant Man, Elephant Women (Imp) and the line; “I miss you most in the morning; I miss most mornings” from The Michael Ainsley Band.  

I made my way to Wakefield and its music from a cultural desert of a town which I will not mention for fear of offending its good citizens. So here is something about the local music scene that you either know or take for granted. It is diverse, dynamic, original and is an important cultural cornerstone of the City.

This is a fine, fine album and a wonderful showcase for the local music scene as I have come to discover it.

Philophobia Music is now in its 6th year of nurturing, supporting, recording and releasing music by Wakefield artists and it is hard to imagine Wakefield music without PM being a key part of the jigsaw. You have probably heard of most or all of the bands listed above and there are at least two reasons for that:

  1. They are any good
  2. Philophobia Music


Karl Shore

Friday, 16 August 2013

PH by Niagara Review

Niagara’s second E.P ‘PH’ is wizardry in its purest form. There is a sense of genius and technical accomplishment in both lyric and music for such a young band. Like a person having colour coded labels in a sock drawer, every element in each song seems crafted and slotted into its correct place.
The E.P is four tracks, opening with ‘Death By Imagination’ which paints the scene and lets you float inside, literally pushing you into a dream world. The amalgamation of bohemia, dream pop and experimental lays resonant for every song, which takes you by surprise and warms the brain. Second song is ‘Epiphany Kidd’ which slowly chimes you into another colourful bouquet of wonder, the guitar line could be eaten with every meal; it is an essential condiment. I love the use of female and male vocals bouncing off each other. At this point I’m hooked.
Third song is ‘False Crimes’, my eyes are closed, my shoulders can’t support my head. The subtleties of drums and drawn out vocals with yet another mourish guitar line is simply breathtaking. The E.P ends on ‘Paradise Regained’ which is my personal favourite, it’s slightly more anthemic and dramatic, ending so suddenly it feels like you’ve fallen off a cliff, you feel cheated as you want more. I’m looking forward to future releases, I hope you are too.

Jack Falcon

Monday, 5 August 2013

Burning Stove (Lonely Guy) Review


How do you sum up in words the excitement of feeling like you might just have stumbled upon something really good? Burning Stove (Lonely Guy) ticks a lot of my boxes: loud, loose and with a feeling of ‘not really bothered if you like it’ goes a long way with me! It’s a ‘pay what you want’ download (so free, yeah) but you should probably tip a bit of something into their cap because if you don’t you’ll probably regret it later. 

It is also worth pointing out that this is yet another band benefitting from Michael Ainsley, the man behind my favourite new album this year full stop. This track is catchy as cholera, confident like Cameron and as cool as a fridge full of cucumbers in winter. Or something… Stop reading this now and get it downloaded is what I’m trying to say. Enjoy!

Matt Rhodie

Neon City EP Review

Neon City EP

Interesting one this because the opening bars of You Gotta Help Me Out scream Nu-Rave and that’s never a good thing to scream at me, however, the hook is already working because once the first verse is over they’ve got you. Think jumping about in a tent on a warm summer evening somewhere with your mates and maybe too much cider in you and you’ve got it!

A quick glimpse at their biog suggests it hasn’t been an easy birth for this collection of songs, but the south coast outfit have overcome several obstacles- not least early adoration- to deliver the goods, which has to earn them respect.

Title track, Neon City, builds to a Primal Scream-esque chorus and now we hit the downside because the remaining tracks are pretty formulaic. Now I feel a bit bad about using the ‘f’ word there, because I think what they’ve done is they’ve chosen their style and really gone for it; it’s well shaped, well delivered and well worth a listen, it’s just not really anything new, and that’s what we really want in our summer listening isn’t it, novelty…

Matt Rhodie

Grand Authentic Stage Review

Self released

Having already enjoyed the first release from Dan Hayes’ project Jamiesaysmile, I was more than happy to try out a second instalment. 

This new EP does not disappoint; so far his live shows have been acoustic showcases for his voice and song writing skills, while the recorded output has hinted at what could be with full instrumentation. Now there is a promise of a full live band line-up which is a real positive because my favourite tracks on this EP are the ones featuring that ‘fuller’ sound. Jamiesaysmile proves in this recording that DIY doesn’t have to mean ‘second best’ because the recording oozes quality and has a real sense of polished, painstaking perfection in its production.

As a first encounter, it can’t fail to impress you, as a second taste of what he has up his sleeve it’s doubly delightful, because what he has delivered is another anthemic, perfect pop pearl of a record. Honest!

Matt Rhodie

19 by NARCS review

Clue Records

NARCS (previously British Racing Green) are an alternative rock band from Leeds and “19” is their debut single.  

Recorded by Simon Humphrey some 36 years after his engineering credit on the Clash’s debut album, "19" is the the first offering from their own album due for release on 2nd September on Clue Records. 

The single is tight, melodic, insistent, well produced and at 2 minutes 22 seconds harnesses as much muscle as you can pack into a song. It has energy, verve and drive in equal measure and doesn’t contain a single ounce of fat. 

Comparisons with the Arctic Monkeys don’t flatter them a jot, but are not necessarily helpful in terms of describing their sound. Granted, they sing in their regional accent and give every impression that they are going somewhere but NARCS already know who they are. 

Although the sound is raw it has a level of musical sophistication uncommon in many of the local bands doing the rounds at the moment.

At the risk of going overboard I have to say this is, in my opinion, the best single of the year so far. Really!

Karl Shore