On previous single ‘Heart Beat’, Collars created an instantly likeable track, fashioned from minimal instrumentation, a scant regard for time signature discipline and plenty of sonic surprises including an organ solo and the mellifluous vocal that playfully rolls around the melody.
Now this indiepop duo from Cambridgeshire have mixed in many extra elements at their isolated home studio in the Fens, making their sound slightly more claustrophobic with an undercurrent of nervous tension for the conversational lyric of ‘Hey Lizzie, Lay It On Me’.
Driven along by a choppy guitar with some lush synthesiser interruptions this uncluttered DIY live music experience feels like it could be in your living room with you, as of course it is in the accompanying video…
(This is a release from a forthcoming EP ‘Everything Present 1’, hopefully to be showcased at The Blue Moon in Cambridge on 31st July 2021)
Originally a low-key release last year, the third LP from US trio The Crystal Furs now gets a wider vinyl distribution in the UK.
From the opening tones of the Farfisa organ on ‘Comeback Girls’ the lo-fi indiepop shines through, with jangly guitars, unassuming instrumental breaks and a naturalistic production that puts the Furs right there in the room with you. The band sound is also encapsulated in the minor epic of ‘Expo 67’, opening with the strangely inviting line ‘…we built a home of concrete bones…’, full of melancholy in the verses before the catchy chorus. Lead vocalist Steph Buchanan keeps herself carefully placed in the mix, making the band sound as one cohesive entity.
‘Too Kind To Be Cruel’ is a compact pop song with a yearning melody and some well-honed rhymes ‘…write the things you’ll say to me …engaging in so much hyperbole…‘, while ‘Burn Us Down’ rocks hard; ‘….you wanna cure me, you wanna fix me I wanna kick you to the curb…’ and is probably my favourite on the album.
Over the twelve tracks (and an extra set of mono remixes on the digital album!) The Crystal Furs clearly sound like they are having fun in their music, as summarised in the final track ‘Second Time Around’, ‘…..join a band and play guitar… and play it loud it isn’t hard…‘ This is a lyrically dense album too, full of themes, ideas, reflections and social comment and not afraid to give these carefully crafted songs the time to breathe and develop.
This is the third single from London four-piece RAMES; a likeable blend of jangly guitar pop tempered with US influenced rock and a determination to lift the mood.
Their debut track ‘Easy For You’ with its joyous Cure/Byrds introduction was a fine welcome to the band, with an intense vocal, roving bass line, room for the guitars to breathe and a winning chorus. Follow-up ‘She’s Gold’ was more densely layered and driven by a recurring instrumental top line and pulsing drums duelling with the echoing vocal.
Now their new release ‘Won’t Be Long’ shows a band building confidence in their sound. This is also evident in the accompanying video showcasing the quartet visiting a variety of London sights, playing celebratory football and setting up to perform in the shadow of some railway arches. It is a punchy, catchy pop song with all the elements of their sound firmly in place, featuring a neat middle eight and bold chorus. In the strange unpredictable music future it would make it strong opener to their live performances…
A new EP from Manchester indie quartet Diving Station, evoking time, season and nature.
1.Joanna. The opening track is mysterious and claustrophobic, with the band inhabiting a recurring pattern of bass, subtle guitar and brushed drums with occasional extra layers from their distinctive Celtic harp (Clàrsach). As on the whole EP the instrumentation is restrained, untreated and perfectly complements the ambience of the songs. The lyric is intense and impressionistic as it portrays the title character ‘…..I dissociate and I put off, Joanna sings of silks and cloth…..she weaves a string, across the sheet, she sends my blood, back to my feet…’, as the words and music circle around in an atmosphere of relaxed dissonance.
2. Fruit Flies. A sensuous evocation of summer warmth and storms, it reads well as a poem but when delivered by the relaxed voice of singer Anna McLuckie the picture is fully painted. ‘….there’s an August shower, that’s unwinding foxtails in the grass……fruit flies on fruit….’.
As the time gently spirals there is plenty more imagery weaving through the track ‘…..air thick, cornflour, clouds swell with dew…..’ . Again the production leaves plenty of space in between the carefully placed notes, creating an optimistic, living and breathing song.
3. June Damp. There is an older alternative version of this track on YouTube, a tour de force performance played on solo harp accompanied by real birdsong, which has a haunting beauty of its own.
This full band recording takes the structure and adds subtly crafted embellishment that gives the track a pulsing heartbeat to drive it along. It is another warm, summery song that seems to follow a natural cycle with repetition and shifting variation, expressed in the lyric ‘……heatwaves on heatwaves……long days on long days….’ expertly blended with the pastoral yearning of the melody.
This may be the perfect antidote to the maelstrom of uncertainty and contradiction of current everything; London four-piece Tugboat Captain have fashioned a complex and upbeat compendium of rewarding sounds.
Like many of the tracks opener ‘Check Ur Health’ draws on a range of sixties sources with a touch of prog-folk detachment in the lyrical delivery and the unpredictable instrumentation. There are later Beatles influences too, emphasised by the band’s insistence that the disc was recorded secretly at Abbey Road when there was spare time available.
The prescient ‘No Plans (For This Year)’ was finished a while ago, bringing in brass and strings to add emphasis to the vocal lines, driven by a neat piano break. ‘C’mon! Haribo?’ is frenetic fun while ‘Downward Slope’ is a punchy minute and a half. ‘Come Dig Me Out’ lopes along with extra acoustic guitar flourishes before diverting into many different sections and a steadily building entourage of extra instruments and voices (the LP credits 35+ players, singers and helpers…).
And there is much much more to hear as the later tracks open up the studio opportunities with brass, strings, woodwind and ever-changing musical dynamics.
It is an album of depth and colour, every track immaculately constructed but still retaining an underlying anarchy and looseness that create welcome undulations in the polished veneer.
This debut long-player is summed up by Tugboat Captain themselves, ‘….the band have now pushed on, beyond being solely a DIY indie-pop band, leaving lo-fi behind in search of transcendence through pure pop…..’