Tag Archives: Motor Tapes

Motor Tapes : Shine EP, released November 2017

An EP of four top-quality new songs from Cambridge band Motor Tapes, moving into a more synthesiser based sound but as always paying meticulous attention to all aspects of the final production. The distorted tower block imagery on the CD sleeve reflects the simmering tension behind the façade as in the novel and movie ‘High-Rise’.

1. Shine The lead track is a deep synth stomp with dominant vocal and despite the doomy portents has quite an optimistic lyric about shining lights from mirror balls (I saw one of those at a show recently, it is such a timeless, simple special effect..)

2. Get On The drum machine and solid bassline drives this one along as the husky vocal urges and cajoles. Lots going on in the instrumentation and then brilliant guitar fireworks in the closing bars.

3. Storm Bouncy 80s electronic keyboard pulses give way to some smooth melodic lines and a great earworm chorus. Keep listening, one of the great strengths of the band is there are always some subtle musical twists as the songs progress.

4. Burn The band are currently playing a storming version of ‘Personal Jesus’ in their live show and this track lets the Depeche Mode mode of their current direction run free. Dense, deep and dark, with sampled panicking voices(?) at the end this is a dystopian nightmare, but is probably my favourite on the EP.



Motor Tapes : Count To Ten EP, released April 2015

Cambridge four-piece band Motor Tapes continue to record carefully crafted quality music as shown on their new EP. After many hours in the studio the resulting four tracks show a new and varied musical direction. So what do we get?

1. Everything. This great opening track was previously released as a single. The shimmering synthesiser introduction drifts in and out then gives way to pounding drums and a powerful guitar rock riff, lyrically it sounds like the resignation at the end of a relationship as the insistent chorus that ‘I’ve given you everything….’ is left hanging and unresolved. Musically every recurrence of the main theme has an extra twist, that synth garnish appears throughout and finally drifts out as it arrived.

2. Falling Away. A bit deeper and darker, with a deceptively simple melody and drum pattern that sticks in your head. Again the arrangements and sonic textures keep changing slightly around the tune; by the end of the track so much has been crammed in you are surprised that it was only just over three minutes.

3. What I Want. Clipped bass and a pulsing synthesiser to the fore, drums start calm then let loose as if striking all the objects found in a forgotten attic. Sharp unnerving guitar interjections weave into the mix. I am not sure of the lyrical message, or is the vocal used as another instrument, punctuating with cut-up words?

4. Count To Ten. Lots of keyboards again with some prog-rock style deep bass sustained notes. This could be Gary Numan (with a better voice) fronting dour indie popsters The Twilight Sad for slabs of keyboard delight and images of death and foreboding. This is my favourite track, you hear some extra chord directions and adornments creeping in when you play it loud. As the track ends there are some spoken voices in the background, annoyingly indecipherable and hopefully not some satanic hidden messages…

All good stuff, the best recordings they have done so far. These tracks sound great live and loud and will there be more new songs soon?


28 Boulevard, Portland Arms, Cambridge, 19 July 2014

A hot Cambridge evening for a bill of 4 varied bands at the Portland, the common link being loud indie-ish rock rather than mellow introspection. I only caught the end of the set from opening band Rubber Duck, but as that featured a belting cover of ‘Seven Nation Army’ that seemed to be a good omen for the evening.

Preacher’s Son
from Dublin is a rock trio led by bass player and singer Brian Hogan who has been around on the Irish music scene in various incarnations for many years. They are on a short tour of the UK, pleased to be in the presence of the music loving audience of the Portland. They are taut and confident, excellent sound quality and musicianship. A hybrid of Thin Lizzy and The Fratellis?

Cambridge four piece Motor Tapes go from strength to strength, concentrating tonight on their faster, rockier songs. Frontman Paul is relaxed and likeable in front of the enthusiastic audience who are appreciative of the carefully crafted original sounds on offer. These include the excellent, hypnotic ‘Shore’ and ‘Aspirin’, the lively closing song. Their cover of ‘Blue Monday’ gradually appears from the instrumental end of their own song, and with limited use of electronic sounds it is a very convincing performance with metronomic drumming and an aggressive bass tune line on the guitar.

The final act was 28 Boulevard, brash swaggering indie pop, enthusiastic and loud. The five members are obviously committed to their music, powerful drumming backs up the three guitar soundwall and Tim Lloyd Kinnings can deliver the lead vocal with confidence. Their songs are brimming with ideas instrumentally and lyrically and the live sound lived up to expectations, a good end to the evening…
(PS Check out their song ‘Electric Feet’…)


The Nightingales, Portland Arms, Cambridge, 16 April 2014

The first of four acts at the Portland Arms, Motor Tapes (Cambridges’s answer to Radiohead?) followed up their recent second place winning set at the Junction Fiverfest band competition with another good performance. The first two songs established a contemplative wash of sound, before the rockier edge later. A surprise inclusion was a version of ‘Blue Monday’, treating the New Order original to more of a guitar and drum workout, going down well with the steadily growing audience. Congratulations to all who were responsible for the sound quality, excellent throughout the whole evening.

Kepler on next ( the name of a 17th Century Astronomer, this is Cambridge…), building up the atmosphere with their hard edged, tightly played songs, mostly their own compositions blending well with versions of ‘I’m Bored’ by Iggy Pop (we weren’t…) and ‘Lenny Valentino’ by The Auteurs. It was good to see a band that clearly enjoyed the music they were playing.

The arrival of Ted Chippington (the ‘anti-comedian’?) was much anticipated, like John Cooper Clarke (recently at The Junction) he has a loyal following, built up over many years and closely associated with alternative music. Over a quiet background of mournful late-night jazz he begins anecdotes and observations that go nowhere. Some comedic clichés are dissected and discarded with impeccable timing. Difficult to describe, you have to see him to realise how well the humour works, the audience were mesmerised.

Then straight into The Nightingales, favourites of John Peel (in the Top 3 of most number of Peel sessions, along with The Fall and Half Man Half Biscuit). They were a revelation. I had expected the detailed lyrical references and intense sound, a combination of Fall and Half Man, but as well as this the musical intricacy and power held the crowd rapt. Compelling frontman Robert Lloyd scowled, shouted, and even serenaded a cappella. He traded lines with drummer Fliss Kitson as she pounded a pulverising rhythm with little use for the cymbals as underneath the bass and guitar drove the sound faultlessly. The second half of the set was even more impressive, the songs linked together with no breaks – time, tempo and dynamics changing at a breathless pace. They left with no encore, the audience were bowled over, we had witnessed something very special.


Fiverfest Grand Final, Junction , Cambridge, 22 March 2014

Energetic bands were much in evidence at the Fiverfest grand final. Although a ‘band competition’ it is decided on a public vote, so bring plenty of fans and you win – fair enough I suppose but turning up at the voting booth before your band have actually played seemed to pre-empt the results, like the type of  political election that requires observers (proportional representation and postal votes for the bands? now there is an idea…).

Still, it is probably better than a panel of judges, leave that to television shows…

Winners on the night were Improvised Beach Party with a full mosh pit (new collective noun?) of supporters. They were treated to noisy three-chord riffing, a charismatic lead singer and unrelenting pace for their whole slot. It was a great show-stealing performance even though the sound quality was questionable, everything turned up to maximum resulting in a wall of mushy sound, but who minded?

In second place, also with a good audience response, Motor Tapes were a band of light and shade, edgy guitar effects, bold blocks of sound with and without keyboard, rocking out and slowing down. There was attention to detail evident in a carefully structured set, their frontman exuded confidence and enjoyed a good rapport with the audience.

Under the looming backdrop of the Millers Music Centre logo (retro sixties ‘Battle of the Bands’?) all the bands I saw were a great advert for live guitar based Indie music in Cambridge, played with passion and Loud!