Nouns – Still Bummed Seeing as we just entered the second half of 2014 I was considering compiling a ‘Best Of The Year So Far…’ list, in a way that blogs like mine tend to, but decided against it. If I had put together said list then Nouns’ second record Still would’ve topped it – I’ve yet to hear anything better this year (read my glowing review here). Still Bummed is the bands first record, and although it’s undoubtedly recorded by the same band it does differ from its follow-up. It’s less weighted in a sense, more positive musically and lyrically. In the same way you could dance to Still you can dance to Still Bummed but it’s better suited to movement, carrying an almost carefree charm which exists on songs like opening highlight Dogs, whilst following track School Bus is much darker as it unfolds, beginning bleak and ending so, with aggressive barrage of noises in between. I’ve never heard a band who play music quite like Nouns do – their debut is an eclectic audio epileptic fit of noise, and I love it. Taking influence from a number of styles and blending them into a semi-cohesive roller-coaster the music Nouns play is charged and charismatic, and it’s impossible not to enjoy the vivid nature of it all. Still Bummed is an incredibly colorful punk album primarily, and although it isn’t as emotional as it’s follow up, the emotion is still there on tracks like Conch and Dumped. It’s expressive in a different way, and with the final few songs only consisting of a few lines at most there’s less emphasis on the lyrics, and more on the dynamic, disjointed soundscapes which really shine. I’ve an immense amount of love for Nouns, and if you’ve yet to check them out and are reading this now then do yourself a favour and take the opportunity to love them likewise – you won’t regret it.
Fatherson – I Am An Island I discovered this album a few weeks after its release, so never got around to reviewing it, but if I had I’d have said nothing but nice things about it. I Am An Island is one of the best records I’ve heard this year, and for a debut it’s as good as it gets. I’ve mentioned briefly before how much I love a Scottish accent when used vocally, and I’m pretty sure that no-one utilises it as well as front-man Ross Leighton. His performance throughout evokes constant goosebumps as he soars and climbs his way through the eleven tracks present, with the rest of the band reaching consistently staggering heights in tandem. I Am An Island is lyrically downcast, and in some ways it’s a sad sort of record. There’s songs about leaving home, hating home, relationships etc, and as a whole there’s a somber fog hanging over proceedings. What makes Fatherson’s debut truly exceptional is the times when the music outpourings are so immensely bright that they pierce this fog and enter the stratosphere. Take the chorus to emphatic closer Foreign Waters, or the equally huge chorus to James – sublime. Despite these towering peaks the record is humble, it doesn’t seem to push too hard it order to achieve these moments of wonder. It comes so naturally that there’s a very genuine, authentic feel to proceedings which makes it all the more enjoyable. Fatherson are very, very good, and I Am An Island is exquisite, a charming and charged rock record rich with melody and craft. It’s gorgeously composed and produced, and every aspect of it glows, making for an experience which is enthralling and intoxicating. I picked up the vinyl version a few weeks back, and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve listened to it. Here’s a review which really does it justice.
Healing Powers – S/t 7″ In a UK scene that’s becoming increasingly relevant and important Healing Powers are proving just how far a passionate DIY approach can go, and the Durham bands debut 7″ is everything I love about music of this nature compacted into just under ten minutes of swirling, spaceous yet aggressive music which is above all else emotional. This is a release which matters a great deal, and with Healing Powers seemingly leading the charge it goes to show just how much the underground punk / screamo scene still has to offer. S/T is primarily a screamo record, think iwrotehaikusaboutcannabilisminyouryearbook (fuck that bands name) but not quite as brash, and with an emphasis on intricate, clean guitar melodies and sections reminiscent of American Football (Everywhere I Go Is Hell). On the surface it is a difficult release to pin down, but regardless of how you classify it it’s very good. The mystery is all part of the appeal I suppose, and S/T is brilliant as a result of its willingness to do things differently. The opening ninety seconds of opener Friendship Bracelet are immensely calming, a warm bed of drifting noise before harsh vocals come in, contrasting the mellow ambience, whilst third track Weirdos At Work is ferocious initially, subsiding again to delicate harmonies. With five impressive tracks S/T is a short release I’ve listened too enough to detract from longer variations of the style. The formula the band experiment with is a compelling one, and they’ve delivered one of the best EPs I’ve heard so far this year. Released on vinyl by the ever dependable Wolf Town DIY you can pick it up here, or stream it below.
Jamie T – Panic Prevention This week Jamie T announced his ‘return’, and it was slightly underwhelming considering the wait and his absence. Jamie released the dates of three gigs, and I’m hoping this is just the beginning, a second beginning of sorts. It made me look back to Panic Prevention, the Brit’s groundbreaking debut, and after seven years it still grabs me in the same way. Turns out I still know all of the words to Sheila, and If You Got The Money still has me tapping my feet along with the intermittent guitars. Welcome back Jamie, welcome back.
No Devotion – Stay I was, and still am to an extent, a big Lostprophets fan, and I’m glad the remants of that band have continued with their careers, this time with ex-Thursday frontman Geoff Rickley on vocals. I’ve yet to really make my mind up about the new direction, the song reminded me of 30 Seconds To Mars in a sense – slow verses with relaxed vocals giving way to an anthemic, poppy chorus. I’m not sure there’s another to really set the song apart, although I do like the synth feel to it which works really well with Rickley’s vocals. It’s refreshing to hear him try something new after Thursday, and he’s generally pulled it off here, and although Stay isn’t brilliant it sees each respective member bounce back, sounding triumphant in the light of past events.
Alpha Male Tea Party – Droids Another release I’ve been really impressed by, and another one which is tough to categorise. Droids consists of 43 minutes of intriguing, ambitious experimental rock devoid of vocals. It’s complex, and it’s thoroughly enjoyable. Rocksound recently gave it a 9/10, and I purchased it solely on their backing, and I’m glad I did. It’s up their with Animals As Leaders‘ Joy Of Motion as one of 2014’s best instrumental releases. Check it out below.
The Ghost Of A Thousand – New Hopes, New Demonstrations Probably one of my favourite British punk/hardcore records of the last half-decade, closely following Gallows’ Grey Britain. I recently picked it up on vinyl and remembered just how highly I value this band, and revisiting their best record made me miss them all the more. A smart, thoughtful, accomplished and aggressive approach to hardcore makes New Hopes, New Demonstrations a triumph, with Bright Lights and Split The Atom being highlights. Even with the genre as congested as it currently is I can’t think of a band as good as The Ghost Of A Thousand, and that’s a testament to how great this band actually were.