A new single from powerpunk quartet Fightmilk, a precursor to their second album which is now due in early 2021. Singer Lily has been treading a quieter emotional line with the release of an EP by her alter ego ‘Captain Handsome’ and this track is a bit of a crossover between that work and the full-on Fightmilk recordings. The band have a knack of setting an emotional tone with their music and then in the words fixating on an aspect of the theme, building up the tension obsessively until it overwhelms.
In this lyric the dark-edged insecurities flow ‘…she’s so confident, confident… and we look so alike…’, to the discontent of ‘…I’ve been cheering you on from the sidelines…you’ve been running around like a pro…its not the seventies any more and you say its a shame…’ Finally resolving into the repeated pay-off ‘…maybe if you had a sister you wouldn’t be this way…’. This is another excellent vocal performance from Lily, full of nuance and emotion.
The words hold your attention but it is the music that eventually wins over. Starting with a 1980s calming bass and drum beat the guitars subtly appear before stretching out with short solos and before the end an insurmountable bank of glorious noise. There is a piano somewhere in there too. It is a departure for the band and along with previous release ‘I’m Starting To Think You Don’t Even Want To Go To Space’ hints at richness to come on the new LP.
Following some single releases over the last few months the debut album from London quartet Bugeye arrives…
Opener ‘On And On’ is a disco stomper, spiked with punky edges and although filled with synth swathes it still sounds organic and played live by the band. ‘Breakdown’ has the desperate vocal and staccato rhythms of an early 80s misfit chart song. ‘Shake and Bake’ is enhanced by a sliding keyboard figure, a shouting title line chorus and a psychedelic ‘theremin’ sound somewhere in the mix.
The concise ‘Blue Fire’ has stealthy superdeep bass and sinister overtones and lodges firmly in the brain. Some albums may be running out of steam by this point but ‘When The Lights Go Out’ keeps the energy level up with a banging chorus and rock and roll piano to push the rhythm along then the track evolves into an instrumental electronic spectacular near the end.
I am usually drawn to calendar list songs (…Friday I’m In Love…Manic Monday….) so ‘Sunday Monday’ is immediately interesting with its work-life balance over some great drumming, duelling guitar and a constantly varying backing.
And still four more tracks, including ‘Electric’ a previously released perfectly constructed pop single and a great vocal powerhouse performance on ‘Nightlife’ and ‘Don’t Stop’
Definitely a band to catch live when the time comes – the ten tracks on this LP would form a rich and juicy setlist….
Combining elements of art and math rock the debut single from indie supergroup GodNo! (featuring members of Grawl!x, Pet Crow, Cable, Merrick’s Tusk) was the dissonant ‘Unholy Water’ with its tight, spiky anger loping between a main riff of two chords underneath a sinister double vocal describing the psychoactive effects of alcohol. The satisfying total onslaught sounded like it could fit into an electric version of Brecht/Weill’s ahead-of-their times 1930s theatre songs.
The new track ‘Hulk’ begins slightly lighter, with just drums and sparse guitar before a raw bass joins the party. This instrumental power frames an excellent disconnected vocal from Shelley Jane, with a gradually building level of intensity and tension ‘…. when what I get is the minimum that I expect….’ soon exploding into the searing guitar-led sensational chorus ‘…and being nice won’t save you….my strength is growing all the time…‘.
There are a couple of short instrumental bars but the rhythm guitar continues unrelentingly as the vocal phrases become more dominant, brittle and in the end unhinged ‘…I don’t say sorry for what I do…. I could be nice this is the choice….’ before a final link into the dark but catchy chorus.
This duo of blistering singles should be joined by more releases later this year…
Derby based four-piece Pet Crow release a follow up to their 2017 debut long-player ‘A Simple Guide to Small and Medium Pond Life’ and the punching intro to opener ‘Limbo’ is a clear statement of intent. As on all of their tracks the band seem to extract depth and endless variety from the conventional bass/guitar/drums line-up as Danielle’s vocals soar and echo above.
Favourite track of mine and forthcoming single, the lively ‘Insomnia’ is B-52’s in full garage mode, with some of the busiest drumming on the album. ‘NOCD’ is a relentless groove with atmospheric guitar adornments and bass way up in the mix. ‘What We Doin’?’ maintains the power output level with an insistent chorus and unpredictable changes of pace.
‘One Whole Summer’ is a celebratory and creative three minutes with the drum kit flayed until it sounds like it is being thrown down the stairs and features the haunting refrain ‘….we can stay up all night…and the next day is a mess…’. ‘Controlling’ has some sparser passages and strange effects with a playful vocal driving the song. Title cut ‘Take The Edge Off’ is a sub two minute punk burst mainly built around the title phrase and still there are three more tracks to discover (including a surprise appearance of a frantic saxophone on ‘Scars’).
The album features excellent production, successfully capturing a ‘live’ sound – I was lucky enough to see them performing last year when they played a memorable standout set at the Leicester Indiepop half-dayer.
The new EP from Fightmilk singer/guitarist/composer Lily Rae performing as Captain Handsome arrives and according to Bandcamp is tagged as ‘pop, bedroom pop, country gloom pop, indie, lo-fi, pop revenge, country, sad pop’. All of this and more, it is a sublime and potent mix….
1. I Wish I Had a Dog. Detailed review of this first single at https://cambridgemusicreviews.net/2019/11/20/captain-handsome-i-wish-i-had-a-dog-single-released-november-2019/
2. Annalise. For this excellent track the narrator and the Annalise of the title seem to blend and separate in a tale of infidelity and disappointment, a sort of murder-ballad atmosphere with no specific crime. The sentiments are ambiguous ‘…..I carve his name into the trees….he gives me something to believe…..I paint his name his name across the walls he’ll be the ruin of us all….’
The melancholy chords resolve into something more positive for the chorus as the tragi-country rock pushes on, while underneath some mournful strings stalk the lyric. A violin solo finally emerges near the end as the song finishes with ‘…Annalise had a secret…’ and we are none the wiser?
3. Dolly Parton. A slower, introspective track as cymbals roll in and out and the sparse electric guitar is a platform for Lily’s raw and emotional vocal. It is all a bit sad, but there is still a glimmer of optimism in the haunting chorus ‘…there’s no point in being broken hearted…just pretend that you’re Dolly Parton….’
4. Halloween. The second preview single may initially recall the glorious Fightmilk song ‘Pity Party’ but the Halloween event described is a much darker affair for the narrator. There are many impressionistic phrases that help to evoke the mood ‘…..I felt my voice turn into vapour….everyone’s a diving board to nowhere….’ along with a shimmering but sinister violin build-up. The gentle guitar and poignant words make this a thoughtful and powerful song.
5. I Am Not An Animal. Initially delicately accompanied by a lone guitar this bookend to the EP moves from heartfelt plea to bitterness, expressed in the lyrics and by the crescendos from the band (driven by some spirited drumming!).
With words and music contributing equally, many of the elements and themes from the collection are distilled into this one song, probably my favourite track of the five.
Based in Berlin, Eilis Frawley uses drums, percussion and electronics as soundboards for her spoken words.
Released in 2019, ‘Illusions’ delivers a humdrum diary of existence over a tense drum pattern, dramatically coloured by staccato bursts and an ominous keyboard sequence. The follow-up ‘Strangers’ features a more uncomfortable and spiky rhythm as a narrated relationship swiftly shifts into decline. The synthesiser figure is deceptively cheerful but the words are not very optimistic, ‘…we used to be members of the same team….our joyful past blurred by our current disconnect….will we last?…’
Current single ‘Intellectual Men’ opens with bass electronic tones and an excellent percussion and drum work-out, saving the words for the second half of the track. The musings of the lyric are subtle and caustic ‘…these intellectual clever engaged men want to endlessly probe my argument for weaknesses…..want to argue just for fun…’ and drives the point home.
As Eilis concisely sets out the words, the fiery drums cut inbetween, their dissonance and anger underlining the disconnected emotion.
These three tracks will form the core of an upcoming EP ‘Never Too Emotional’, to be released on the label Reckless Yes Records, fast becoming a haven for bold, fun, original and constantly challenging musicians.