Just when you thought it was safe to come back to the water of rock, The Pit is back with its razor sharp punk, terrifying metal and bone chomping indie. There’s something for everyone here, as per usual, so get stuck in and check out what the writers have going on their stereos at the moment. Nothing fishy about that!
Dee Massey‘s Playlist:
THE FORMAT – Dog Problems
What do you do when your relationship starts to fall apart? Get a dog of course, a band-aid pet to stick the flailing couple together. At least that’s what Nate Ruess, frontman of Arizona upstarts The Format decided. Whether or not it worked is neither here not there, but it did provide the title of their debut album, out now on their own vanity label. Not only did these guys have girl problems, but they also got unceremoniously dumped by Atlantic too – and in the bun fight by majors to pick them up, decided to go it alone, without the ‘guiding’ hand of a label hovering over them in the studio. The result, ‘Dog Problems’, was produced by Steve McDonald and is an homage to their dedication to their own sound.
Ranging from run of the mill American indie ( ‘Pick Me Up’) , to blues, to upbeat pop (‘She Doesn’t Get It’)to an almost vaudeville show boat style in some track (‘Dog Problems’), duo Nate Ruess and Sam Means have patched together a theatrical, exciting and catchy sound, with hook laden tracks which can’t fail to delight. Every track has a new quality, a different sound, a new style, ‘Dog Problems‘ is a dizzying mix of poetry, indie and Beach Boys-esque pop. Catch them on tour now in the UK, supporting All American Rejects.
THE HEDRONS – I Need You
2006 has been quite a year for the Glaswegian four piece, The Hedrons – from playing at Download, opening for Alice in Chains, and obviously being interviewed for the Upstarts section on Crossfire *cough* they’ve ridden the wave of their success, partying and rocking their way around the UK, even apparently out partying hair metallers Towers of London. To top off their blinder of a year, they’re releasing ‘ I Need You’ on limited edition signed vinyl 7″ and digital download.
Tippi’s drawling vocals are swaggering and arrogant, these girls do gritty punk rock and they do it well. It’s no wonder that these four pouting, punky beauties have over 82,000 friends on My Space alone, with their brand of raw, dirty rock, they’re the real deal and ‘I Need You’ simply confirms what we already knew – The Hedrons are well on their way to becoming a real force to reckon with. Bring it on.
THE HOLLOWAYS – Generator
Nambucca’s finest are back with their second single on TVT Records, a fresh mix of Generator (previously released on Sensible Records). Listening to this first thing in the morning after a, quite frankly, shit night, I can grudgingly admit, that it had even me cracking a smile after 2 plays. It’s so endearingly happy, so upbeat, Alfie Jackson’s charming vocals “I can get a record player and a generator, generate the music to make you feel better” busy the proceedings along, and you’re left wishing you were dancing to this in a club, not nursing the first coffee of the day.
There’s a glow of infectious energy bouncing out with the bass line, a effervescent happiness – if they played this on the tube on a Monday morning, the world would be a better place. The Holloways are currently on tour with Babyshambles on the Frog Tour, they’re going from strength to strength, here’s hoping the album makes good the promises laid down in the singles.
THE LEMONHEADS – The Lemonheads
It’s been almost ten years since The Lemonheads disintegrated post Reading ’97, following frontman Evan Dando’s very public battle with drug addiction, and following a ‘Best of’ release by Atlantic, all went quiet on The Lemonheads front. But, you can’t keep a good man down. A decade later, Dando is clean, coping with bipolar, and this week sees the much anticipated release of a brand new self titled album on Vagrant/Polydor.
Recorded in seclusion at Allaire Studios, NY, the album brought together two of Dando’s strongest influences, drummer Bill Stevenson (Descendants, Black Flag) and basist Karl Alvarez ( Descendents), who along with Dando’s long term Australian colleraborator from Smudge, Tom Morgan, co-wrote an album of melodic, emotive and wonderfully reflective rock. The overall sound is wonderfully familiar, as the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. ‘Become The Enemy’ is already a mainstay on their live show, a husky break in Dando’s vocals, that overwhelmed feel to the lyrics adding to the pumped up guitars. J Mascis adds his scuzzy guitars to ‘No Backbone’ and ‘Steve’s Boy’. Other guests include Garth Hudson on keyboards and Josh Lattanzi on ‘Let’s Just Laugh’ adds to pumped up drawling power pop – its the kind of infectious animated and melodic tune that Dando and Co did so well in the 90’s.
It’s almost as thought Dando’s simply been on pause for the last ten years or so, and are back with an album that’s every bit as infectious and endearing at ‘It’s a Shame About Ray’. So often you dread a favourite band’s ‘come back’, but this is a welcome exception. If you were a fan back in the day – you’ll be happy Dando’s stayed true to his sound, and at only 35 minutes long, it’s a short but sweet return to form from Evan Dando. Long may it last.
SOUND TEAM – Born To Please
The Texas based six-piece Sound Team step up to the plate with their debut single ‘Born To Please’, taken from their forthcoming album ‘Movie Monster’. Recorded at their own Big Orange studio, ‘Born To Please’ has a relentless beat, throbbing away as the track waltzes and meanders, blissfully chilled out at times, with passion searing through sporadically.
Charmingly familiar riffs and a multi textured sound combine to create a track that’s immediately likeable; the laid back Texan vibe combines with their indie sensibilities to produce a single that never quite grabs your attention with any one particular thing, but is a absolute gem of a track. One listen simply isn’t enough, and whilst you can’t pinpoint what’s so captivating about it – it simply curls its way into your memory. Frontman Matt Oliver’s vocals are engaging and sincere, backed up by his ‘team’ of friends, this is just the first offering off a debut album that could well be the surprise indie classic of the year. Close your eyes and let yourself be charmed.
Rebecca Geach‘s playlist:
THE DUNES – Socializing W/Life
How’s your day been? Depressing? Then I would not recommend Socializing W/Life for the instant uplifting remedy you need. Indeed, one might almost mistake the album for a rip off of Coldplay until track 6, when it mysteriously takes a deep dive into grunge.
It picks up a little in track 7, but never quite makes it back to the indie of the first few songs. For such an unusual mix of styles the listener might at least expect the orgy of depression to sound colourful and varied. Disappointingly however, I must used that dreaded word ‘samey’ to describe most of the songs. Dune really does try to add some diversity, but it can never quite depart from the bottomless pit of misery.
Having said that, Socilazing W/Life does have several redeeming melodies which are worth a listen. Hurry Up and The Easiest are solid tunes, but this album really does save the best till last. Lost is original and actually quite artistic, particularly in the way it starts and ends. It is a mesmerising tune which I admit to listening to over and over again. Ultimately, Socializing W/Life is no masterpiece but it’s also certainly no disaster.
THE LONDON APARTMENTS – Logistics And Navigation
(Beggars Banquet Records)
There is no beginning or end to Logistics And Navigation. The music seems to rotate in one circle, never changing and never moving away from the place where it all began. Apparently there are four tracks to this album, but apart from the five second gasp between songs, it sounds like one long 20 minute track to me. This is not to say that the music is bad. In fact Street Lights Are Soldiers kicks off with great promise.
There is a slow melodic beat interspersed with a smoky female voice. The mix of drums and electronics is smooth and original. It sounds as if Justin Langlois took his inspiration from Zero 7 and Air, but crucially he did not fall into the trap of copying them as is so easy for mystic-wannabee-musicians to do. No, he in fact fell into another, more common trap for all music artists-that of not making his songs sounding significantly different from each other. Maybe that is why The London Apartments ends at track 4. The even thump of electronic mystique soon ran out of steam. But for quick relaxation, 20 minutes of The London Apartments is just right. It’s easy to close your eyes to and go to sleep – and I don’t mean that in a bad way at all.
BONNIE “PRINCE” BILLY – The Letting Go
I’m not quite sure what I’m listening to. Is it folk? Is it blues? Is it Country? Or is it just the ramblings of a man who simply picked up his guitar and just decided to strum out some songs. It does not matter. Whatever the category or categories, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy’s The Letting Go is heart renderingly beautiful. Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy has a reputation for pleasing both folk and blues lovers alike, but The Letting Go should please anyone who has a profound love of genuinely good music.
Its art not only lies in its soulful harmonies but also in its deception. On first playing it, the listener can be easily fooled into thinking that there is a strong orchestra supporting the music, but actually it only took five talented people to make the magic. With Dawn McCarthy’s pure voice stringing along Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy’s raw rasps to a haunting instrumental background, the mix is perfect. There was only one track, The Seedling, which, overcrowded with disjointed sounds, was hard to tune into. But hey, you can’t have it all, and 11/12 fantastic tracks certainly isn’t bad for an album. The Letting Go is perfect for putting your feet up and relaxing to. Go on, you know you deserve it.
THE EARLY YEARS – The Early Years
(Beggars Banquet Records)
The Early Years self-titled debut album is the definitive modern psychedelic trip. Having learnt well from their ancestors -The Beach Boys, U2, The Velvet Underground and of course the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour – The Early Years have twisted that old hippie formula of sitars and guitars into something new and shining. The band wastes no time. Track one, Ones And Zeros, lifts you up and never chucks you down. Those faints echoes of, “Freedom, freedom…” weaved into heart thumping beats and mind flowing chords, are liberating and exciting.
The unusually titled Musik Der Fuhen Jahre, is a five minute twisting, spinning hallucinatory spiral. The wordless track demonstrates the musical talents of the band. Do not mistake this album though for one plateau of high in the sky tunes. Every song is dynamic and often filled with something a little bit more than psychedelica. For example, Song For Elizabeth is a subtle tribute to a long lost love. The Early Years is not just a chill out session but also an inspiring piece of work. It’s easy to sleep to and it’s easy to think to. What more could you want from an album? For a debut, The Early Years is definitely an impressive start, and hopefully an indication of great things to come.
THE VIEW – Superstar Tradesman
Full of energy and a happy go lucky beat, Superstar Tradesman is a great song to just get up and bounce to. Every second is valuable bouncing time. It is no surprise then that The View is turning out to be a big must-see band. After the success of its first single Wasted Little DJs, Superstar Tradesman has been released to give music lovers another little taste of what’s to come in The View’s upcoming debut album. Superstar Tradesman is definitely a good wetting of the appetite, but be warned, it will leave you craving more. Supported by strong bass and drum, and lined with steely vocals, the four man band have created a simple light hearted song. On playing this you know it’s going to be a great day and more importantly, a great night.
Alex Gosman‘s playlist.
AGAINST ME! – Americans Abroad!!! Against Me!!! Live In London!!!
(Fat Wreck Chords)
It seems that just about every band and their dog are releasing live albums these days, although such recordings are rarely essential. In the case of Against Me‘s effort, the only incentive for die-hard fans is a solitary new track, but overall this record serves as a good overview of the Floridian folk-punk quartet’s career to date. The cynics that criticised them for their recent signing to Sire Records will hopefully take ‘Americans Abroad…’ as proof that the band’s righteous ire burns as fiercely as ever; every song here is infused with all the conviction you’d expect from such seasoned road-dogs as this lot. If you’re not yet familiar with Against Me, here’s a chance to catch up.
THE BRONX – The Bronx
A hint to bands wanting to recreate the energy of their live set on record; throw all that stupid multi-track/overdub crap aside and just record it live. That’s what LA quartet The Bronx did on their debut, and although the band’s hardcore fury has been tempered slightly on this second album, the likes of ‘Shitty Future’ and ‘Rape Zombie’ are sure to bring a smile to the face of those who yearn for Nick Oliveri’s return to Queens Of The Stone Age. There’s no time wasted here, as the band rip through thirteen songs in just over half an hour; just rock n’ roll played fast and raw – the way it oughta be.
FIVE O’ CLOCK HEROES – Bend To The Breaks
The words ‘scratchy guitar-pop’ may have been tainted somewhat by the legions of second-rate Libertines copyists currently clogging up the toilet circuit nationwide, but thankfully NYC’s Five O’ Clock Heroes are a different proposition entirely. ‘Bend To The Breaks’ is more reminiscent of The Cars than The Clash, more Joe Jackson than Joey Ramone. Essentially, it’s a record of unashamedly catchy tunes that will quickly take up residence in your brain. Songs like ‘Time On My Hands’ and ‘White Girls’ are infused with a healthy dose of funk and addictive choruses, so get your dancing shoes on and enjoy.
FUCKED UP – Hidden World
As you might have guessed from their name, Fucked Up aren’t out to make friends, or to fit into someone else’s preconceptions of what constitutes ‘punk rock’. This – their debut album – takes in the fury of early American hardcore, shout-along choruses reminiscent of British street-punk and passages of drawn-out instrumentation allegedly inspired by (ahem) Pink Floyd. Bizarre as it might sound, this mix of influences works a treat; with the band creating a raw, twisted sound that is both confusing and deeply compelling. If you like your punk rock to be dangerous and unpredictable, then it’s time to get Fucked Up.
TILLY AND THE WALL – Bottoms Of Barrels
Two guys and three girls, one of whom tap dances in place of a drummer? It might seem gimmicky, but if ever there was a band to make me push aside my ever-growing cynicism for a while, Tilly And The Wall are it. The band are based in Omaha, Nebraska, and this is their second album of sweet folk-pop odes to love, friendship and the innocence of youth. There’s a mischievous sense of humour at work on songs like ‘Bad Education’ and future single ‘Sing Songs Along’ that could charm the birds from the trees. Seriously, if you’re feeling a bit jaded these days, give ‘Bottoms Of Barrels’ a spin; it’ll help re-discover your inner child.
UNEARTH – III: In The Eyes Of Fire
Having stolen the show on the Sounds Of The Underground tour in London earlier this year, metalcore maestros Unearth have returned with their finest album to date. The Massachusetts quintet’s strengths lie not so much in reinventing hardcore-tinged metal as simply playing it harder, louder and more skillfully than most of their peers. ‘III: In The Eyes Of Fire’ sees the band sounding nothing short of savage, with songs like ‘March Of The Mutes’ and ‘This Time Was Mine’ guaranteed to whip any self-respecting moshpit into something resembling a war zone. A fresh shot of vitality into an increasingly over-crowded genre.
Jane Hawkes‘ playlist:
RAZORLIGHT – America
Razorlight return with the second single from their current self titled album and revisit the sound they do best with ‘America‘. In other words, it’s another slice of radio friendly goodness from the London four piece, which to a cynic would sound like it was well and truly made to cash in on the American market. Still, the less cynical of us would say, it’s a scrumptious sing along anthem made to be played in front of thousands. Whatever you think, you can’t deny Razorlight have a certain knack of tapping into your head with their harmonious tunes and ‘America‘ is certainly no exception.
JAMES DEAN BRADFIELD – English Gentleman
What a difference a few years makes. Minus his Manics bandmates James Dean Bradfield lifts his second single from ‘The Great Western‘. It’s catchy enough and sparks thoughts that Bradfield maybe has a more mature outlook on life these days. Of course, it’s nowhere near the quality of older Manics tracks and that’s the problem here. Bradfield’s solo stuff is always going to get compared to the Manics and unfortunately this single falls somewhat short.
SEETHER – One Cold Night
(Wind Up/Sony BMG)
Shaun Morgan sounds like a man full of issues. With a much publicised break up with Evanescence songstrel Amy Lee, Shaun is clearly still full of angst if the lyrics on these live tracks are anything to go by. Taken from a show in Philadelphia’s Grape Street in February earlier this year ‘One Cold Night‘ is an acoustic, stripped down performance of some of their best songs. Seether are well known by their fans for performing acoustic versions of songs at their live shows so it makes sense that they would at last release a live album and bonus DVD which truth be told, is actually rather good. With obvious Kurt Cobain comparisons aside, Shaun has a glorious voice and tracks like Broken, Remedy and Gasoline are both delicate yet ballsy in their execution. Whilst probably not as successful on UK shores as they are in the US (their current release Karma & Effect has sold over 700,000 copies there and still counting) this CD shows how extraordinary they are live. Do not miss them when they tour the UK in October.
ESCAPE THE FATE – Dying is Your Latest Fashion.
Hurrah! It’s here at last. Escape The Fate‘s debut album that is. After a well received EP ‘There’s No Sympathy For The Dead’ and an appearance on the legendary Warped tour this summer it’s all going rather well for the boys from Vegas. Ok, they look like every other band around just now and sound similar to some but they have just enough creativity to edge them apart from bands like Atreyu and Senses Fail. Having a few huge tunes like ‘Situations’ and ‘Friends And Alibis’ doesn’t harm them any either. In fact, I’d bet my last fizzy cola bottle that this lot are going to be massive. Check this CD out for yourselves. You’re going to love it.
THE LONGCUT – Airtight Session EP.
When I saw The Longcut a few years ago in a dingy little pub in the back of beyond and I wasn’t sure if I was standing in piss or beer, it was a quiet affair. Just a handful of people and a stage as big as a postage stamp. Now with their videos on almost constant rotation on MTV2 and with much airplay by Zane Lowe, The Longcut release their Airtight Session EP and are shaping up to be quite the band. Quintessentially Mancunian, there are elements of The Stone Roses and Joy Division in their music even if it is sometimes deficient in variety. This EP shows progression, determination and most of all, clear talent. An absolute belter.
Joe Moynihan’s playlist
THE FRATELLIS – Costello Music
In a generation that’s becoming vastly over-populated with those “Indie Cindy, lego haircut and polka dot dress” lot, more and more bands are flooding the airwaves to encourage them. At first glance, I dismissed The Fratellis as just another band following suit. Though, thanks to a truly “Epic” Essex Pong video, (search that shit on youtube, you won’t be disappointed!) with bouncy ‘Chelsea Dagger’ as the soundtrack I was proven otherwise and bought debut album “Costello Music“. What I heard was a harmless, Scottish-tinged, indie-pop record that’s as infectious as the clap (check the irony!).
The Glaswegian trio venture into every crevice of the indie-genre, with triumph, resulting in a solid and chart worthy debut. Perhaps my immediate dismissal was an over-reaction; the record is definitely a worthy investment for anyone looking for some happy-go-lucky beats to bop around to like a mentally detached sap on a rainy day. So fellas, don your skinny fit jeans and knitted sweaters, ladies, start combing your hair like Doc from Back to the Future and go hit up your local indie disco. From the top ladies and gentlemen, “Doo, do do doo, do do doo, doo do doo de doo”.
GET CAPE WEAR CAPE FLY – Chronicles Of A Bohemian Teenager
I’m sitting here, sipping on a steaming caramel macchiato with the beautiful debut from Southend’s very own Sam Duckworth under that now infamous alias, pouring into my grateful ears and I can only feel an overwhelming sense of comfort. After a shaky start, playing to slowly growing fans in his local haven, Chinnerys, Sam has managed to strap a jet pack to his arse and fly up that ladder of music prestige. It’s about time the lad got some credit. I first saw him playing a small set in my local summer festival, though totally wankered, the potential from him shone through and I made sure I was present at his later, heart warming live shows as often as possible. He’s definitely gone a long way since then. ‘Chronicles‘ has that instant appeal factor to it; while charming your ears from the beginning, it leads you on a trip from cleverly written acoustic medleys, to finger clicking, head nodding, jazzy scores that make that caramel macchiato taste just that extra bit, bohemian. Spicy. Despite being unavoidably comparable to USA’s Conor Oberst, Sam manages to pull away, just that extra bit, and create something that’s been missing from the English music scene for way too long now.
SAOSIN – SAOSIN
Somehow, it took Californian 5 piece SAOSIN 3 years, 2 member changes and a ridiculous amount of fiddling with songs before releasing their self-titled debut to the ever growing, awaiting fans, thankfully just before their impatience would have reduced them all to ripping their ears off in protest. So was it worth it?
I first heard the group in 2004 on some shoddy compilation CD free with a magazine. “I Can Tell There Has Been An Accident Here Earlier” demanded my attention more than if a drunken gentleman was to sporadically pummel me in the face with a screwdriver. Its immediate pounding beat alongside an addictive catchy riff had no trouble in getting my head to bump along to it, much to the hilarity of anyone on the same bus as me at the time. Although the agonisingly high-pitched vocalist, that could give Justin Hawkins a run for his money in the squashed testicle department, put me off slightly on first listen, it proved to be infectious and I soon sought after their previous releases. To my despair, there was only the one EP, ‘Translating The Name’. So, like many other fans I started to wait, and wait, and wait for an album.
Two years later, and bang, debut album frontin’ on the music store shelves. There was this awful feeling mind you, that all the excitement behind the album, would result in a bitter disappointment. Fortunately, SAOSIN hit the nail on the head with this, resulting in a beautifully produced, psychedelic and very likeable full-length which is proving to be one of the finest post-hardcore release of recent years. While it may lack the energy of some of their earlier work (in particular those with former singer Anthony Green, now of Circa Survive) it is still an album delicious enough to be in any post-hardcore lover’s collection. Just, for the love of God, don’t be fooled by the CD’s goodness and see them live. You may never hear it the same way again.
Nelson Bibb’s playlist.
MY MORNING JACKET – Okonokos
For those who hark back to the good old days of rock where the women wore the make up and the men wore their hair long then you probably already know and love MMJ. For those of you that don’t then Okonokos, a double live album, just like they used to put out in the good old days, is a perfect introduction to a band who pride themselves on musicianship, top songs and good old-fashioned rock!
MMJ give a heavy nod towards Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Lep Zep & even Pearl Jam, but by no means are stuck in the past, listen to One Big Holiday, Dancefloors or the sublime Golden and there is much more to their sound than rock throwback pastiche. The mastermind behind MMJ is Jim James, whose guitar playing, evoking many duels with fellow guitarist Carl Broemel, and incredible vocal talents are the heart and soul of the band, all conducted at the back by drummer Patrick Hallahan.