The Pit

The Pit – 22/02/07

We’ve had our fair share of rain and even some snow, but now is the time to forget all that and get ready for the furnace of noise that is The Pit. Our writers will be serving you up some prime cuts of indie, metal and punk for you to devour. So wrap up, get toasty and move onwards into the carnage:

Dee Massey recommends:

Record Of The Month
ENTER SHIKARI – Anything Can Happen In The Next Half Hour
(Ambush Reality)

2006 was quite a year for St Albans locals Enter Shikari but 2007 looks like being their breakthrough year in more ways than one. Firstly – hats off to the guys, they’ve shunned the scrabble from major labels to sign them and have maintained complete artistic control and integrity, with their debut album scheduled for release on March 19th on Ambush Reality. Secondly….how many unsigned bands have sold out the Astoria? It takes a whole load of talent, confidence and some stellar tunes to do that.

Anything Can Happen In The Next Half Hour’ is the band’s third release, and it’s nothing short of spectacular. The single is an intoxicating mix of trance and full on rock, descending into raw guitars, almost guttural screamo vocals courtesy of frontman Rou. The electronic element cuts a swathe through a crunching hard bass line, with drums urging the proceedings on from below. This single had almost a euphoric quality; it’s uplifting and soars upwards, nicely caged by the darker vocals and spikey guitar sound.

As with their last two singles, ‘Anything Can Happen…’ is not only fresh and innovative, but it’s british! Home grown talent that needs to be nurtured and needs to be pushed onwards. Who knows where these guys will be in 12 months time, but I for one, can’t wait to hear it. Sit back, turn this up and let Enter Shikari pull you out of your Valentines blues with a track that’ll metaphorically kick your arse and leave you hooked.

THE VIEW – Hats Off To The Buskers

With three well received singles, Dundee’s finest are back with their Owen Morris produced debut album ‘Hats off To The Buskers’. The singles ‘Superstar Tradesman’, ‘Same Jeans’ and ‘Wasted Little DJs’ shine out from a collection of pretty mediocre indie ditties. Not there’s anything wrong with this ubiquitous sound, but the description by one ‘music magazine’ describing it as “the best debut since Definitely Maybe” was possibly a little overzealous. Or maybe they just had a hard on for Owen Morris?

Frontman Kyle Falconer has a wistfulness quality to his voice, which works either winding up ‘Wasted Little DJs’, bouncing through ‘Dance in to the Night’, or crooning after ‘Claudia’ or showing his humorous side with ‘Same Jeans’ – let face it, any band who can start a track with the opening line ‘I’ve had the same jeans on for four days now..’ commands respect. Guitars are universally light and upbeat, and there’s some solid writing ability on display, which can only grow with time. Fresh faced and full of youthful exuberance, things are on the up for The View, who this time last year were relatively unknown.

Hats off To The Buskers’ is a self assured debut from the band, and it’s easy to forget that the average age of these guys is just 18, and they come across well with a self assured, fresh and confident sound, helped no doubt by recording with Morris, who apparently whisked them off to a strip bar whenever things weren’t going so well in the studio. Nice work if you can get it.

BIG HAND – Black & White EP
(Self Released)

Mark it on your calenders, February sees the release of a Ltd Edition 7″ of Big Hand’s EP ‘Black & White’. Produced by one of Edinburgh’s most innovative producers, one Jonny Crawshaw, who bought on board Will Worsley at the helm for mixing, this is a second offering from the band hailed by many as one of the best unsigned acts working the UK at present. And it’s clear Big Hand have certainly been putting in the hours, with a seemingly relentless touring schedule, and support slots for Mumm-Ra, The Slackers, Reel Big Fish and The Sunshine Underground to name but a few.

Even if skanking along to ska’s not really your thing, Big Hand could be the band to sway your opinion. Tracks like ‘Big Hand’ are bound to bring a smile to your face, with their universally appeal brand of sunny, upbeat ska. ‘Oh No’ have you nodding your head…and god help us…almost dancing. Laid back carnival vibes will send some warmth your way, just the thing you need for this miserable month.

Black & White follows their successful ‘‘Day & Night’ and with such solid offerings, here’s hoping 2007 is the year Big Hand get the payback they clearly deserve and get signed. These four guys appear to be genuinely passionate about what they do, and with this feel good, uplifting reggae tinged ska, you can’t help but lose yourself in this upbeat band.

(Virgin Records)

Think of Jared Leto and you’ll probably think of his gritty roles in Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for A Dream, playing a messed up gun runner in Lord Of War and pummelling the crap out of Brad Pitt in Fight Club ( oh..and if you’re a girl you’ll probably remember Jordan Catalono in My So-Called Life…) – but it’s his role as frontman with his jagged edged act 30 Seconds to Mars that starting to cause waves.

Formed back in 2002, Leto has now bought onto board Shannon Leto on drums, Tom Milicevis on guitars and Matt Wachter on bass to complete a line up that’s got people talking. The band have sold over 900,000 copies of their Josh Abraham produced album ‘A Beautiful Lie’ in the US, and have now set their sights firmly on the UK market. ‘Attack’ is our first taster of what’s coming our way, and what an introduction it is. Epic guitars and a chorus that digs under your skin ” Run away and I’ll attack’ roared out by Leto. The track punches out emotive cries soaring up to aggressive threats, it’s a broad sounding single, with a power-pop slant and giant choruses that can’t hurt it in the charts.

Taken at face value, ‘Attack’ is a impressive debut from the band, but realistically, it’s nothing we haven’t heard before really – it could be Gerard Way singing vocals, or any one of the kohl-eyed frontman you can’t escape from. In a commercial sense, 30 Seconds To Mars are a dream, and kudos to Leto for making the switch from actor to frontman with such panache, and they’re sure to be a runaway success ( their only two UK dates had to be upgraded to larger venues and still sold out)To be honest, with all the same same gritty indie bands out there, 30 Seconds to Mars and their LA sheen and eye candy frontman could be just what the doctor ordered.

(Modular People)

New Young Pony Club has taken elements from punk, disco, electronica and added a dose of synthesisers – the result being a quirky, capricious upbeat single in ‘The Bomb’. The one thing with NYPC is that they come across as bit too cool for school, and as darlings of the NME, here’s hoping they don’t get too carried away with the hype. Mixed by Tom Elmhirst ( who’s added some magic to Hot Chip, and Amy Winehouse to name just a couple), it’s a funky little slice of indie disco, with an almost cosmic tone.

But despite the decent mix, at times singer Tahita Bulmer sounds a little bored of it all, her vocals seemingly coated in distain at times, whilst at other times she ignites the track with the passion it sometimes lacks. NYPC fall neatly into the new rave genre, but despite the funky, retro stylings that we’ve come to expect from the band, there’s not much to write home about with this single.

The Bomb’ is a decent dance track, but it might just be one for the fans. With a slot on the NME Indie Rave tour, New Young Pony Club will doubtless enjoy further success, with The Klaxons and The Sunshine Underground forging the way, but here’s hoping the next single’s got a bit more bottle to it.

Rebecca Geach recommends:

Record Of The Month
BAT FOR LASHES – Prescilla

Natasha Khan’s beautiful vocals strike you as soon as they fall out of her mouth and through the speakers. If anything her hypnotising voice is worthy of praise alone. But “Prescilla” is more than just a good voice. It is an intriguing cocktail of instruments including harp, drums, saxophone, trumpet and trombone.

These instruments combined with her haunting voice and the ideas of her multi-instrumental mind have created a very colourful piece of mystical music that reminds me somewhat of the odd but very mesmerising songs that Stevie Nicks created for Fleetwood Mac. Of course there is no sound of the ’70s or ’80s in Khan’s work but I can see where she’s coming from. I look forward to hearing more of her when she tours later this month in the UK.

LAVENDER DIAMOND – The Cavalry of Light
(Rough Trade)

I am always excited by any modern music which is described as being reminiscent of the ’70s since it is my favourite musical era. However “The Cavalry of Light” depicted as a combination of the best of the early ’70s Brit-folk boom and gorgeous arrangements only vaguely lived up to half this illustration. I could certainly hear the sounds of the ’70s in “You Broke My Heart” and “In Heaven There is No Heat” and they were genuinely good pieces of work combining lively instrumentals with captivating vocals.

You Broke My Heart” was especially ear-catching. However, the other two pieces “Please” and “Rise in the Springtime” were slow and boring with not much behind them except a piano and a gentle voice which too easily sends the listener to sleep. Overall Lavender Diamond known as Becky Stark when she’s off the stage has a long way to go before she can call herself Joan Baez, but she’s at least halfway there to potentially making some very good music just as long as she keeps the slow sensitive ballads to herself.

RICHARD SWIFT – Kisses For The Misses

With a voice like his I certainly wouldn’t mind being Richard Swift’s misses. It’s a rare jazzy harmony that makes the electric spinal cord of this jolly song. Filled with strong beats and carried by bold piano playing it reaches the level of a four minute masterpiece that so many bands fail to reach these days. There have been musicians who have sounded like Swift before, but not for a long time and there is no one who matches his buzzing style today.

With the courage to take a different angle on music it shows what an inventive creature he is and how much promise he potentially has as a musician. Curiously “Kisses For The Misses” reminds me of the early Beatles and Al Green at the same time but that could just be the way my odd mind works. Indeed Swift’s music is hard to give the credit it deserves in words. To know what I’m talking about you really need to listen to the track yourself.

THE ALTERKICKS – Album Sampler
(Polydor/B Unique)

The Alterkicks are revving up for the big one-the release of their first album in May this year, and what an electric build up it is. This sampler album is a four track tease of good things to come. Every song is vibrant and bursting with energy and the excitement which this recently signed five-man band must be feeling. Ever since their signing the band’s creativity has really flourished with ever more dimensions being added to their music.

Do Everything I Taught You” one of their oldest pieces now wears a brand new sparkling outfit of added tunes and inserted notes that makes the old version of this fantastic song sound bland. There’s no turning back for The Alterkicks now. It’s either up and up or crash and burn. So their album better live up to its promise. However as a long standing fan, I’ve definitely got my money on the band.

THE HOURS – Back When You Were Good
(A&M Records)

As this single springs into action it has the feel of a cheesy 1950s love song, but it’s just a tease because after a couple of seconds you realise that it’s much better than that. Yes it’s a love song, but it has a sweet and easy going swing to it that is not easily found these days in heart rendering tunes. That is what makes its unique but what is really lovely about Back When You Were Good is the harmonious duet in this two man band.

Both Jo Whiley and Zane Lowe genuinely have lovely voices and the combination of the two is spot on. This is their second single with Ali in the Jungle being their first but an album is already on the way. Narcissus Road is set to be released this February and will include both Ali in the Jungle and Back When You Were Good. But whether these will be the only two gems in the collection or several many time will only tell.


The Automatic are true trendsetters of the weird and wonderful in the music industry. ‘Raoul’ follows in the footsteps of the Automatic’s first masterpiece ‘Monster’ by being completely strange but utterly fantastic. The lyrics make no sense but they sound great and as for the instrumental I can’t fault the band. Having seen them on stage myself I know how talented they are. As a song it’s fast and upbeat with a touch of misplaced anger and madness. I could imagine dancing to it or putting it on when I need to relieve a bit of pent up tension.

Despite the bizarre lyrics the hit line stands out like a guiding beacon: “It doesn’t seem like you mean. I don’t believe you really believe it.” There are too many people whos faces I would like to say that to, but since that is not really an option maybe I’ll just send them a copy of ‘Raoul’.

Alex Gosman recommends:

Record Of The Month
COMEBACK KID – Broadcasting…

Following up 2005’s excellent ‘Wake The Dead’ album was never going to be easy, but this band aren’t called Comeback Kid for nothing. New vocalist (and former CBK guitarist) Andrew Neufeld does a fine job of filling the now-departed Scott Wade’s shoes.

Screaming his throat raw over the course of an record that ploughs darker, more abrasive territory than the band’s previous efforts, but remains utterly compelling throughout. Powerful, passionate and refreshingly devoid of the macho posturing that so often seems endemic to hardcore, ‘Broadcasting…’ is an essential release from one of 2007’s finest ambassadors of the genre.

FRANK TURNER – Sleep Is For The Week
(Xtra Mile Recordings)

You might not have expected the former frontman of UK post-hardcore geniuses Million Dead to pick up an acoustic guitar and hit the road solo, but he’s already proved himself a worthy singer/songwriter type. ‘Sleep Is For The Week‘ is a collection of heartfelt yet witty anecdotes set to a folk-punk/country soundtrack.

It includes tales of relationships gone awry (‘Worse Things Happen At Sea’), morning-after reflections (‘The Real Damage’) and some sharp social commentary in ‘Once We Were Anarchists’. Proof enough that an ear for a tune, a knack for storytelling and a punk rock ethic can go a long way, Frank is probably touring near you soon. Go see him.

THE HOLD STEADY – Boys And Girls In America

Brooklyn quintet The Hold Steady have probably never been fashionable in their lives, and frankly, they sound all the better for it. ‘Boys And Girls In America’ – the band’s third album – could well be the record to make them a household name; an addictive hybrid of classic hard rock and US alt-rock influences, with frontman Craig Finn’s whisky-soaked tones lending a Springsteen-esque sense of intimacy to songs like ‘Party Pit’ and ‘Hot Soft Light’. Often radio-friendly but never bland, The Hold Steady are a band with no shortage of tunes and many a story to tell. So listen up.

THE LEGACY – Solitude
(Visible Noise)

In an ideal world, it would be The Legacy getting substantial recognition and high-profile support slots, as opposed to a certain other Sheffield ‘hardcore’ band. Still, ‘Solitude’ stands proudly enough on it’s own two tattooed legs; featuring eight tracks of intense, breakneck-speed hardcore with brief flashes of melody and solid breakdowns, plus a fair few nods to US hardcore greats like Black Flag and Minor Threat.

Having put themselves through some truly punishing tour schedules in recent years, here’s hoping that ‘Solitude’ is where it all pays off for these guys.

PIEBALD – Accidental Gentlemen
(Side One Dummy)

Hailing from the Boston area, Piebald have long been carving themselves a nice little pop-rock niche; imagine a punkier Weezer hanging out with Ben Folds, and you’ve got a rough idea of what ‘Accidental Gentlemen’ sounds like.

There’s a wry, self-deprecating sense of humour at work on tracks like ‘A Friend Of Mine’ and the beautiful, piano-led ‘There’s Always Something Better To Do’ that helps to set Piebald apart from the crowd, as well as their apparent knack for writing great tunes as easily as you’d eat ice cream. Did I mention that they tour in a vegetable-oil burning van to help give the environment a break? That’s got to be worth nearly as much kudos as this record.

Ryan Bird recommends:

Record Of The Month

When Maylene And The Sons Of Disaster supported Atlanta metalcore champions Norma Jean on their recent UK tour, to say they made a splash would be an understatement. Boasting a triple guitar frontline, the Alabama sextet not only produced a bowel shaking performance, but spent much of the time high fiving the front rows and shaking their mullets.

Blending Motorhead’s thrash-punk growl with a hefty portion of Lynyrd Skynyrd worship, ‘II‘ is a true classic in the making, stomping, shimmying and boozing its way through each southern rock assault. This band will change your life, and give you slap hands in the process.

CAPDOWN – Wind Up Toys
(Fierce Panda)

It’s been some six years since Capdown’s last studio full length, but the result is most definitely an album worth waiting for. Where many bands (particularly those from our side of the Atlantic) would be largely forgotten, the near sold-out attendances currently packing in at their ongoing UK tour suggests the ska-punk heroes are firmly at the front of their pack.

Produced by Hundred Reasons six-stringer Larry Hibbitt, ‘Wind Up Toys’ is undoubtedly the band’s best work to date. Blending their usual ska/reggae combo with a crunching hard rock edge, this is the most fun and diverse punk offering since Sublime breathed their last.

MACHINE HEAD – The Blackening

Picture the scene. You’ve just released one of the greatest metal debuts of all time. Then it all goes Pete Tong. Rap replaces riffs, band members begin to come and go and to top it all off, you make the shittest album of 2001. Having rediscovered yourself somewhat since, what do you do now?

Why, make the best album of your career, of course. The follow-up to 2003’s career saving ‘Through The Ashes of Empires’, ‘The Blackening’ is an early contender for album of the year. Produced by legendary mix-master Colin Richardson, each of its 8 tracks represent a master class, with song lengths ranging from 5 to 12 minutes without compromising an ounce of ferocity. Fuck being alive, Machine Head are reborn.

30 SECONDS TO MARS – A Beautiful Lie

Juliette Lewis may have proven that movie stars can indeed rock, but you only have to look at the train wreck that was Wicked Wisdom (fronted by Will Smith’s actress wife Jada) to realise that they can also suck copious amounts of balls.

Fronted by ‘Fight Club’ star Jared Leto, 30 Seconds To Mars can firmly count themselves on the right side of the line. Having shipped nearly a million albums worldwide already, ‘A Beautiful Lie’ is a true masterpiece. Diverse, mystical and utterly spell binding, you’ll be hard pressed to find a record so full of epic twists this side of the next A Perfect Circle opus.

TEXTURES – Drawing Circles

Hailing from the pothead paradise that is Holland, Textures are quite possibly the most skull-fucking experience not available in a coffee house or red light district. Following their promising 2003 debut ‘Polars’, the Tilburg mob return with yet another slice of pure polyrhythm psychosis that has served the likes of Meshuggah and Gojira so well.

Entirely self-produced, ‘Drawing Circles’ is a jaw dropping body of work that sees the sextet frothing with rabid ambition, pushing the envelope of metal to its limits and bending and moulding the genre into unexpected new shapes. Mind altering substances? Hell no. This is the real Dutch treat.

Joe Moynihan recommends:

Record Of The Month
THE SECRET SHOW – Impressionist Road Map Of The West

Debut album from a collective of passionate country heads, Impressionist Road Map Of The West sees Matt Davies’ side project, The Secret Show take listeners on a guided tour of the campfire folk song. A collection of comforting country riffs intertwined with the tales of two fantastically unique and pure singers. The album does as it says, it is an example of how music should be made, a group of friends paying homage to their childhood music heroes, and having a hoot while making it.

It’s incredibly accessible. With a cool, autumn breeze feel to the sound and enough variety between fast and slow it offers an apt introduction to the band. Opening track and recent single, Lovers is that lush sort of alt. country rock song that leaves you slightly refreshed and energised, and having you humming the chorus the following day. There are no hard hitters on this album, or complex metaphorical lyrics, just a soundtrack built for escapism. All be it constructed with rather clichéd stories, it only fuels the simplistic, yet wholly vivid atmospheric bliss that the songs create.

While Rhod Viney’s expert musicianship shines, the show is stolen by the unfathomably perfect combination of Matt Davies and Lianne Francis’ auteur like vocals. Very distinguishable on their own, but together is the birth of something magical. Impressionist Road Map Of The West is a lovely little record that brings you home. The band creates songs out of the pure joy that comes with writing and playing them. Anyone who can’t appreciate that is a no good shenis.

JAMIE T – Panic Prevention

“Fucking croissant!” One of the first of many bizarre exclamations littered throughout Jamie Treays’ debut album, Panic Prevention. From its inception, the album stands out like an unsavoury looking stain on your brand new pair of slim fit cords, ‘what have you been up to last night then soldier?!’

It’s that sort of eyebrow raising comparisons that make Jamie’s unforgiving carnivalesque lyrics so special. Cue those puzzled looks now lads, as this album is filled to the brim with a grog soaked take on everyday life. And just like those drunken philosophers you always seem to come across while out on the town, he’s hit the nail on the head. Then smashed it in with a crowbar.

It took me a while to appreciate the glitter in this turmoil. Especially the brutal honesty of this album, in which I hope Jamie appreciates my brutal honesty here, I fucking hate his voice. Proper. It grinds against my skull as if a LSD induced pasta chef thought he’d top off his dish with some grated skin fresh off my face. But many people adore his scrappy, manic voice, so each to their own! But after getting past that barrier, uncovered before me was a gem of an album. Painfully intelligent, delivered to you like a mail bomb. 12 explosive tracks lurk on this innocent looking shiny disc. They will hurt you, spit on you and kick you when you’re down, but they will dust you off after and show you the way forward. Blur say that, “Modern life is rubbish”. No. It’s fucking shit. And that’s what makes it so good.

BENJY FERREE – Leaving The Nest
(Domino Recording Co.)

Benjy Ferree’s debut offering with Leaving The Nest is a fine demonstration of how an LP can be filled with variety, exploration and depth, into a relatively short running time and still leave you with a simple image of the album. It’s not complex by all means, just a mild psychedelic LP complete with ranging vocals and some really pleasant choruses. Like dozing off at a campfire. I can envisage at least 4 of the songs on here appearing in skate videos for every cord sporting, half cab wearing, pole jamming and wallride skater of ’07.

Opening track, In The Countryside sets the tone for the proceeding tunes, humble and bizarre in a fresh way. Atmospheric without being haunting and strangely compelling whilst not ever being an annoyance, this is the perfect soundtrack to a perfectly chilled spring day. Dog Killers! remains to be my favourite track on the album due to it’s insanely infective chorus, which is not by any means hit and miss on this album. Overall, a splendid debut from Washington’s hat sporting, scumtache representing finest. Niiice.