The debut single from Cambridge band Apteekii starts with a gentle but moody piano punctuated by restless electronic pulses. The lyric soon sets the tone of the message of this track with the bleak ‘….just another Saturday…as you scream into the void…..alI I hear is birds that tweet….’. It is portraying a swirling mix of the pernicious influences of fake news, distorted messages and the exploitation of negative social media. This is chillingly shown by the infamous comments that scroll behind the song words within the video.
It is not all downbeat – despite the despairing ‘….the more I read, the less I see, the less I understand…’ of the chorus the music sounds more optimistic. It is lifted by layers of synthesiser with a rich cello sound and there are glimmers of hope; ‘…so be my guide…to know what’s right…before it’s washed away…’ could be a fragment from a tender love song.
This is a complex, immaculately produced and thoughtful debut from this talented trio.
This is the long-awaited first album from London quartet Dream Nails, a glorious amalgam of rage, fun, protest and emotion; reminding you just how good their live shows are.
Interspersing the tracks with short spoken ‘skits’ to introduce songs and keep the momentum going it is a concise 24 minutes, full of insight and energy.
From the start, you are pulled into their world as the celebratory holiday sound of ‘Jillian’ flows into the bitter twists of the workplace in ‘Corporate Realness’. Whatever the messages, the bass sound and drum dynamics are off the scale. The lyrical ideas keep coming, but it is also their music that pushes forward; when I have seen them live the meticulous attention to their set up and sound pays dividends and this production has captured that as-live atmosphere.
The razor-sharp bass and surf-rock guitar splendour of ‘Swimming Pool’ is frenetically followed by ‘This Is the Summer’ which manages to celebrate the season as well as weave a strong environmental theme through the perfect structure of a powerpop single. Watch the video too to see the band performing in a scrapyard, wrestling with a giant frog and footage of climate demonstrations.
‘Payback’ has caustic riffs, a soaring echoing guitar and an excellent wide-ranging vocal performance from Janey Starling in thoughtful quieter sections and then unleashed full-on.
‘In Other News’ introduces one of the most disturbing news items from last year, when homophobic taunting on a London bus led to assault. The band’s explosive response pulls no punches; ‘Kiss My Fist’ is musically and lyrically a very powerful track.
Catch them live when you can, in the meantime enjoy this scorching debut LP!
The debut long player from BansheeVa, one of Cambridge’s premier live psychedelic bands finally arrives. The album starts with the pacey fire of ‘F.O.Y.C’, a short burst of instrumental power built around staccato drums and a stop-start guitar figure. Clocking in at less than two minutes ‘Woman From Mars’ is more of a retro piece with full-on late 60s sound. It is ‘Space Invaders’ when the trio go into controlled power-drive with a full band propulsive riff and the welcome appearance of some indecipherable shouted vocals blended into the mix.
‘Janus’ is the god with two faces, looking into the future and back into the past and so represents a perfect manifesto for the psychedelic genre; on this track the core musical idea is a repeated single note but adorned with complex drums, a manic guitar solo and ultimately bludgeoning the listener into submission. In a good way.
Every Cambridge band that inhabits this musical territory is going to be aware of the ghost of Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd and I have seen BansheeVa play ‘Interstellar Overdrive’ as a feature of their live set. I sense that the languid ‘Sleep When I’m Dead’ is a spot-on tribute to mid-period Floyd with its laid-back instrumental colours, distant vocal and loose but always interesting guitar touches.
The final fourteen minute track is a widescreen, cinematic epic – the solo guitar arpeggios introducing the piece are gradually blended with a stately bass then the thunderous laying down of solid metal chords builds an effective platform for some more otherworldly vocals. Over this first third we get a guitar solo and dive-bombing synchronised with the bass. The track does not let up; the doom-laden bassline sounds like a portent to Armageddon and a deceptively quiet section allows some contemplation before it all kicks off again.
This is a loud and louder unrestrained debut, well worth the wait.
London quartet Wolf Girl release their debut album ‘We Tried’, following on from their 2015 EP ‘Mama’s Boy’.
From the opening riff of ‘Don’t Ask Me Questions (I Can’t Even Answer The Phone), this is an addictive slice of garage punk with a great title and some neat lyrical imagery of the difficulty of meeting and sustaining communications (…notes go rotten in your pocket forgotten…) , but it is that fuzzy guitar that steals the show.
‘Middlesexy’ continues this groove then ‘Are You Reading A Dirty Book?’ is a tale of a coldly disintegrating relationship over jangly guitar and 1950s backing harmonies. ‘Sourpuss’ is a smartly constructed pop song, and so the album sustains its momentum; the next track clocking in at 1 min 17, always a treat to find. A change of vocalist for the list of persecutions in ‘Rotten’ (..Rotten tomatoes slide down our windows and somebody lobbed a pineapple into our lounge…everybody hates us in this town…) .
The surreal flourish of ‘The Maybe’ leaves a lasting impression as the lyrics float over a persistent bass line.
I’m sure this album would sound great live, as their banner said at the launch gig (featuring the brilliant Chorusgirl too!)… ‘Congratz! It’s a Wolf Girl’..