30 November 2010

Thunder Bunny

It can sometimes feel a little false and pre-meditated when a modern band sounds exactly like the ‘sound’ from a specific era. Lots of the time it can be a sound fashionable at the time. The shoegaze scene is a clear influence on lots of the noisey and droney bands around today, and the Phil Spector wall of sound is seeing a good resurgence, too. IOf course it is increasingly difficult to be truly original, and it’s not necessarily a negative criticism of a band to sound exactly like the bands of a movement from yesteryear (The Horrors’ Primary Colours springs to mind, sounding a carbon copy of the likes of The Chameleons), but it can hint at a lack of personal creativity or just lazy song-writing.

If there’s one band that would be allowed some leeway with this, though, it’s Thunder Bunny, seeing the 90’s is when they were first active and all. Although lead man Christopher Padula – and pretty much the only ‘proper’ band member since starting Thunder Bunny back in 1995 and resurrecting it with some friends recently – denies the shoegaze (hence the 90’s reference) sound, the layers of noise, the distant vocals, and the distorted guitar sounds do at least hint otherwise; though beneath the fuzz does lie beautiful and almost folk-y songs with some definite hints of psychedelia and pop. Sometimes building from slow-paced acoustic guitar lines, a staple of the sound are guitars sounding like they were recorded in another room with the doors shut and Christopher’s calming, ethereal, and slightly effeminate vocals.

Head to their MySpace page for more information. Download “The World Gathered To Watch Him Fade Away” and “Sleepy Head” from Ashtapes here, stream and download Storm below, or here if that doesn’t work, where you can also buy tonnes of Thunder Bunny releases old and new.

Thunder Bunny - Storm

Well, This Is Just Darn Lovely: Teen Daze - Beach Dreams

I know it's not an especially sociable hour (in the UK at least), but Teen Daze have posted a new song on their bandcamp page and it's lovely. So lovely it even features Christmassy harmonies and jingly bells. Listen below, or at their bandcamp page:

29 November 2010

Old Smile

Listening to my HypeMachine favourited blog-list whilst doing a bit of writing, two bands caught my attention enough to write a mental note to find out their name once I'd finished these few sentences - one with some wonderful psychedelic and jazzy pop reminding me of Connan Mockasin, the other bare and beautiful folk. Upon finishing the sentences and researching the names of these bands, the two bands were in fact just one, and this band was Old Smile.

Old Smile is apparently the project of a Tom Herman, who is apparently also of the band Arches (who maybe I should check out more of). This information isn't particularly important. What is important is that the music of Old Smile, and EP Hawkins Bridge, is lovely.

On his bandcamp, Tom tags himself with "ambient", "pop", and "psychedelic", which gives a good insight into his sound. "Mirrors" opens with a Portishead-like walking bass-line and rattling, jazzy snare rolls; slowly opening up with Tom's unusually high-pitched and effected vocals (again the Connan Mockasin comparison is relevant) and gently echoing guitar strums. "Swept Up With The Tide" continues in beautiful, psychedelic tendencies, this time with clear folk influences and "Want To Be" has at least a few Deerhunter moments - the EP rumbles and crackles, like the record you'd expect to hear in the basement of a vintage furniture store.

Stream and download Hawkins Bridge below, or do the same at their bandcamp. You can also purchase the cassette from Treetop Sorbet

26 November 2010

Sauna Youth

Having an obsession with the Ramones is no bad thing. Try to search for the word "criticism" on their Wikipedia page and you won't find it. Proof, if anybody needed it, that the punks are a perfect band to aspire to be like.

Take Brighton's Sauna Youth. They might not sound exactly like the Ramones, but they certainly take a lot of influence from - from the simple, fast-paced, driving motorik-like drum-beat; to the raucous racket; to the general punk ethic. But far from being plain old punk rock (not that there is anything wrong with that, other than a band doing that today would be lacking at least a little in originality), the four-piece break up noisey, thrashing guitars and angry shouts with some experimentation; namely through lengthy moments of looping noise and drone, often combined with story-telling, with tales of swimming pools and masturbation.

Another advocate of doing-it-yourself, the band have self-released a number of limited-runs of cassettes and often put on their own gigs (often in less usual venues, such as an alcohol-free, all ages community centre) - although they will soon be teaming up Sex Is Disgusting (Mazes/Spectrals split, Prize Pets, Human Hair etc) which I think is an equally sensible move. According to MySpace, they have an LP upcoming which, along with releases from Pheromoans and Human Hair, makes 2011 looking like it will be an exciting year for DIY punk. Quite excited that my girlfriend now lives in Brighton, too.

Download the digital version of one of their tapes here, two songs from Pinglewood, and stream some (as well as reading some better words) at futuresoundstemporary. You can also read some of their band's own words at their blog, and buy the cassettes (the ones that aren't sold-out) at their online shop.

23 November 2010

The Black Tambourines

Most holidays, I go back home to Plymouth to visit friends and family. It's nice to see them, but going back can be a little depressing with just how non-existent the music scene is in the South-West (beyond Bristol...) of England as a whole. That's why I assumed that the blog No Fear Of Pop must have made some sort of a mistake when featuring a band from "the very southwest of the United Kingdom".

Cornwall's (Falmouth, to be more geographically accurate) The Black Tambourines are the perfect blend of everything that's big right now; surf, garage rock, punk, and noise. It might seem like a band trying to jump on the hipster band wagon, but it's more likely a combination of a range of influences and a DIY ethic from a band simply wanting to make music that they love.

With a split release with New Years Evil out now on the exciting Art Is Hard Records and a slowly growing blog-buzz around them, The Black Tambourines both have an interesting few months ahead of them and have got me looking forward to going home for Christmas.

The split is available to buy from Rough Trade here or from Art Is Hard's online store here, or to stream the whole set from their SoundCloud here.

I Don't Wanna Be Yr Lover - The Black Tambourines

Tommy - The Black Tambourines

22 November 2010


Christmas compilation album featuring the likes of Crystal Antlers, Coconut Records, and the first collaboration of stoner-lovers Best Coast and Wavves, streamable here. I'm not saying it's good, but it's certainly festive.

17 November 2010

Strange News From Another Star

Photo courtesy of Paul Gregory, Lense Eyes.

Back in 2005, The Independent were correct when they wrote that “one way or another, we will be hearing quite a lot more of Jimmy Watkins.” Referring to an on-track incident where, during his career in athletics a few years back, Jimmy farted whilst lining up for a race, although The Independent, even after that, probably weren’t expecting for us to hear more of him quite in the way that we have over the past year or so.

Indeed, the Jimmy Watkins in that article is the same Jimmy Watkins who fronts Cardiff band Strange News From Another Star and, indeed, also the same Jimmy Watkins who was asked to join Future Of The Left, one of his favourite bands, as guitarist and fourth member not long ago.

Jimmy likes to make a bit of a pillock of himself. Anybody who has ever even briefly met him or seen him play live (be it outdoors strumming an acoustic with his trousers around his ankles, dressed either in denim from head to toe or, with his now slightly plumper figure [sorry Jimmy], in his old athletics kit onstage) will be testament to that. Strange News' debut EP Full Frontal, although a strong release that a lot of hard work went into, was still Jimmy - and bandmate’s Mark Foley, bass, and Harry Jones, drums - in all of his usual silliness through the medium of raucous, blues-influenced, alternative rock. Since the release of Full Frontal last year, Mark has had a shave and a haircut, Harry has graduated from university, Jimmy, whilst still working in a Welsh wool shop, has joined Future Of The Left, and Strange News From Another Star have made some new recordings.

Now, it’d be foolish to suggest that with these new recordings Strange News have turned sensible because, well, they haven’t. They’re still completely nuts. For example, ‘A Ballad Of John Rostron’ is a song to/for/about/containing Cardiff-based music promoter and Swn Festival co-organiser John Rostron, where Jimmy asks “Where’s the car park?/Where’s the car park?/Where’s the car park, John?” (no idea...). ‘Deathbyugg’, besides from being perhaps the best named song ever, features a female/Jimmy unusual duet, ending with Jimmy, all Welsh accented, repeating “Burn that Tesco, burn that Tesco down, burn that Tesco, burn that Tesco down”. ‘White Man Blues’ is two minutes of heavy, blues-y guitar riffs, pausing occasionally for lines like “Tell your mother I’m back again/This time a respectable man.” And, after all, the band are still sponsored by a sandwich shop. But in these songs - some of which that will form an EP at some point - Jimmy, Mark, and Harry are, it’s fair to say, taking their music a lot more seriously and are certainly seeming a lot more relaxed, comfortable, and confident with their sound.

Although no gigs seem to be lined up at the moment, and there are no firm plans for this new EP, there will be some updates within the coming months, no doubt.

Head here for a playlist made by Jimmy for The 405, here to stream both debut EP Full Frontal and a live radio session for Bethan Elfyn, or follow them on Twitter here for more news on live shows, a possible EP, etc, and listen to clips of some of the new recordings below.

Strange News From Another Star - I Am Weatherproof (Crop)

Strange News From Another Star - Bullets (Crop)

Strange News From Another Star - Last Night I Happened Twice (Crop)

16 November 2010

Michael Parallax - Ghosts (Spirit Come In)

Yeah, more Animal Collective stuff. This time a chilled out sample-use from a song by the Florida-based Michael Parallax.

Download Ghosts (Sprit Come In) from Pasta Primavera here, or tonnes of his stuff from his bandcamp page.

15 November 2010

Oui Messy EP

Perhaps one of one of the most enjoyable parts of listening to music is being pleasantly surprised. It’s all too easy to dismiss a band on the blandness of their list of influences or the bagginess of their jeans (I jest, of course). Perhaps even better than that is being surprised when a band who have already put out some strong material come back with stuff that’s even better.

I posted about Cardiff-based Oui Messy a few months back, based on one live performance and regular listens of a small collection of songs on MySpace, and listening to their most recent EP was exciting.

Such is often the case with young bands the Oui Messy sound is a constantly evolving one, like a band who are both still yet to find a place they are completely comfortable with, as well as one constantly finding new great old bands to influence them. Not that that’s any sort of criticism; EP Gelert (and bonus tracks) are all the better for it. Initially, Gelert may feel a little plain-indie and almost Arctic Monkeys-y, but, given time, it’s a strong demonstration of one of Cardiff’s most exciting offerings.

Lots of small bands seem to find the transition from popular local act to one being more widely appreciated a difficult one, but Oui Messy are looking good for that wider audience so far.

Download or stream EP ‘Gelert’, as well as bonus tracks ‘…and Other Short Stories’ from here, stream Bubblegum (from it) or Salesman (an earlier track, not on it) below.

Oi Messy - Salesman

Oui Messy - Bubblegum

14 November 2010


It's a Sunday, so this post isn't a long one, alright? Triptides are three American guys making surfy pop music who aren't releasing stuff through Holiday Records, but could be. Their six-track album/EP is downloadable for any name-able price (including $0) in the space below (or here if that fails), and is enjoyable on the ears.

12 November 2010

H. Hawkline

There’s lots to be praised for playing in a band, but there must be nothing more satisfying for a musician than releasing something that you can completely call your own.

Cardiff-based musician Huw Evans has been playing in the bands of Sweet Baboo, Richard James, and Cate Le Bon for a while, and he’s even credited with assisting with some recorded Islet output, but only now that he is releasing a solo album under his H. Hawkline moniker may he be truly appreciated for his efforts.

I made a bit of a bluff describing H. Hawkline in the Swn Festival 2010 programme as “psychedelic and gypsy-inspired folk sounds - often largely instrumental and almost always spooky,” or at least I thought I’d made a huge bluff. Basing that description entirely on MySpace plays, I saw H. Hawkline live a few days after the programme would have already gone to print, where Huw was joined by two friends; playing catchy psychedelic pop, with vocals. Turns out my original description wasn’t a hundred miles off the mark after all (although, I’m told, his Swn performance was much like the one I’d witnessed).

Huw’s solo debut album A Cup Of Salt (put out through the wonderful Shape Records) is, largely, back to the spooky and weird instrumental (although not strictly without vocals) folk sounds of those early MySpace listens of mine. Beautifully constructed and well layered, it’s a wonderful krautrock-inspired mix of acoustic-led weird folk and driving psychedelic sounds, and it’s really exciting.

Which face of H. Hawkline Huw decides to show doesn't really matter, they're all bloody good.

Download H. Hawkline’s Gelly from A Track In A Box here, catch him live as he tours the UK with Gruff Rhys, and order A Cup Of Salt from Shape records here.

Edited to add:Stream the full album from H. Hawkline's bandcamp here, or listen to Gelly below.

H. Hawkline - Gelly

11 November 2010

Beaty Heart: Free Song

I mention the words "Animal Collective" far too often. Whatever. This new Beaty Heart track reminds me of them, as well as The Ruby Suns. I really like it.

Download "Lekka Freakout" from the box below. Oh, and if you missed "Cola", head to The Mix Tape to grab that or listen below, too.

Beaty Heart - Cola

Living Rooms

It is dull and tedious to read so many bands said to be influenced by Animal Collective, but Animal Collective are almost a genre all of their own now. The biggest reason bands are compared to the Baltimore quartet tend to be either a tendency to opt for a worldly and ‘tribal’ drum sound, the recognisable heavy use of loops and effects, and unusual, drawn out, high pitched, harmonised (or at least echoing) vocals in the style of members Panda Bear or Avey Tare.

Living Rooms are no straight up Animal Collective rip-off, instead borrowing bits and bobs (primarily the echoing, high pitched, unusual vocals), using them in as so far unused ways and, obviously, adding stuff. More beats, more bleeps, more electro, more pop and at times, arguably, more weird. “Worlds” features a sped up vocal sample which reminds me of Amon Tobin’s Precursor, which is cool.

It’s beautiful, bouncey, woozy electropop with an Animal Collective topping, and it’s all the better for it.

Download full album ‘House Kid’ for free from the box below or, failing that, from their bandcamp direct, here.

With thanks to Pasta Primavera.

10 November 2010


This blogging world can be a fickle old place. It feels like some blogs will ignore a band if another blog has already covered them. Clearly if I went by that ethos, I would have very little content, but I’d also be going against the reasons I write here.

Selebrities have been hyped from the four corners of the globe for a good few months already, but I’ve only recently discovered, and fell in love with, their music.

Putting a charming twist on a number of different movements, Selebrities are less inventors and more recyclers, taking old things and using them in different, but still beautiful, ways. Clearly influenced from lots of the post-punk/goth that the 80s, according to popular nightclub chains at least, are less remembered for, Selebrities also varyingly add shoegazey as well as electro moments and surfy guitar twangs, all fronted with (I want to call them fragile, but I don't really think they are) female vocals. It’s very often very The Cure-like, but there’s very little wrong with that.

Their debut EP is downloadable for free from Cascine, here. You can also download 'When I Look At You' form The 405 here.

When I Look At You - Selebrities

Selebrities - The Moonlight

Selebrities - Secret Garden

8 November 2010

Boy or Bison

The amount of material I am stealing off of The Pigeon Post is becoming worrying. Luckily for me, he's a nice d00d and doesn't seem to mind too much. Plus, it's kind of his fault for posting so much material that I feel I have to share.

Boy or Bison make hazy, almost lazy sounding, pop music that is indeed too good not to (steal to) share. With bits and bobs borrowed from other related musical genres (think along surfy, jangly, garage lines), Boy or Bison have a wide appeal - including mums, dad, granddads and grans - with their sound which, although not overly original since clearly heavily influenced by doo-wop, is well worth your time.

They've decided to release their most recent EP for free, available in the handy box below (or here if that fails). You can also download a lo-fi jangle-pop version of Metallica's Enter Sadman over at The Pigeon Post.


When I was young, I used to listen to music with my dad. My dad’s a fan of Tom Waits, though evidently he was blissfully unaware just how terrifying “What’s He Building” might be to a young boy. Fifteen-odd years later, and I can just about listen to Mule Variations the whole way through without crying. To me, Gindrinker’s “Bob Grainger: Sexual Pervert” is Waits’ follow up.

Opening with deep, heavy breathing which is then accompanied by birdsong, the track taken from the Cardiff band’s split release with Joy of Sex (out on I Blame The Parents Records in Septeber) is a fitting example of the weird and wonderful world of both Gindrinker and the Cardiff music scene as a whole. Witty, amusing, yet still seriously dark and disconcerting, it’s a brilliant track of semi-spoken-word vocals, riffing blues-y guitar lines, and drum machine.

It’s a familiar formula (one that leads to results not too dissimilar to The Fall on occasion, for some added lazy journalism there) for the two men – Graf (also of Threatmantics) and Gates (also of Brandyman) – who make up Gindrinker, and it’s an effective one, although they do sometimes like to mix things up a little by adding some trumpet, would you have guessed?

Gindrinker are certainly no new band, but when you’re new to a city (which I was 3 years ago) it’s fairly easy to be up to date with all of the great new stuff being released, yet completely unaware and unappreciative of some of the greatness that has been around for a number of years. I’m slowly making amends, and Gindrinker are another band I can add to the “Cardiff bands I really enjoy” list.

You can find “Bob Grainger: Sexual Pervert”, as well as the great “Y Chromosome”, on the band’s joint release Split Definitives, available from Rough Trade here. You can also download “Gorsedd” for free here, or stream lots more on their MySpace.

Gindrinker - Y Chromosome

Gindrinker - Gorsedd

4 November 2010


Making music with the aim of becoming popular is one of the worst things that a band can do. Music is about expression, entertainment, passion, enjoyment; not about dating Hermione Grainger (I’m looking at you, One Night Only).

It comes as a relief, then, to read on Pheromoan’s MySpace page, in a blog post addressed to potential promoters, that the band have no desire to become big. This statement should not only demonstrate that the band don’t want to be celebs, but it might also quash the possibility that they are making the music that they are right now – music with minimal production, lo-fi recording means, and a seemingly care-free attitude to getting things perfect – because it’s what is hip today. The fact that they have been release music like this for years through DIY labels goes one step further to removing this possibility.

Indeed, I’d happily Last FM tag Pheromoans with “lo-fi”, as well as “post-punk” (avoid ‘garage rock’, though – this is another point they make in their blog post), but the band don’t restrict themselves to one genre alone. “Robotic Son”, for example, features guitar twangs and jangles to a plodding bass-line in upbeat and light fashion; whereas “Soft Targets” is fast-paced and frantic shout-y post-punk. “Theme To Cole’s Law” sluggishly drags with distorted vocals and swelled guitar chords reminding of T-Rex; “On The Rec Again” is frantic, jerky and screeching, evoking thoughts of riot grrrl (despite being male vocals and not referencing feminism at all); and “Funny Names” is slow-paced guitar repetitive-ness and spoken word vocals next to a wobbling and bleep-y synth, like XX Teens arm-wrestling Mark E Smith. Lots of bands would either sound pretentious or plain shit, but Pheromoans manage to avoid both.

They release their first full-length It Still Rankles in January which promises to be 17 tracks of unreleased racket. The band, who are "scattered around the South East, (which is why things happen so slow)" also promise that they'll be touring around January/February time.

Listen to two tracks that aren't on the album but might be a little what the album might sound like below.

Pheromoans - Robotic Son

Pheromoans - Sussex Tomb 1

3 November 2010

Sweet Bulbs

Although this style of music journalism is incredibly lazy, describing Sweet Bulbs as ‘Best Coast if Bethany Cosentino listened more to Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine’ does give you a fairly accurate idea of how the band sound.

Sweet female vocals accompany noisey and bending guitar distortions to delightful effect. According to their MySpace, their debut self-titled LP should be released now, though I haven’t managed to find it anywhere just yet.

Download ‘Kissing Clouds’ from Gorilla vs Bear here, or do some listening below.

Sweet Bulbs - Springstung

Sweet Bulbs - Eyes Feathers

1 November 2010

Jonny: Free EP

Turnstile have been good to us these past few weeks. Free Gruff Rhys, free Girls, and now a free 4-track EP from Jonny; the collaboration between the greats Euros Child and Norman Blake.

The free EP also arrives with the news of a full-length debut, (album artwork above) due out on 31st January, and a UK tour, dates here.

Download the free EP by exchanging an email address in the box below: