Glittery emo quintet Simmer have returned with their debut album entitled Paper Prisms. Simmer previously impressed us with their 2015 EP Yellow Streak; a beautiful and delicate yet sharp and biting rock record that showcased an extremely accomplished sound for such a young band. Personal anticipation was high for this record, so do Simmer deliver the goods when they move onto their first long-player?
Sort of. This is clearly the same band that wowed us last year, but there’s something about Paper Prisms that feels like a band trying to spread their ideas too thin. The setup is identical to Yellow Streak; we get beautiful, sweeping guitar melodies complimented with sombre, lilting vocals and it’s all accompanied with a punchy performance on the drums. The one/two opener of Faze and Control is a perfect beginning to the record and it showcases all these elements beautifully.
However, what becomes apparent very early on is just how much time is spent on overindulgent moments of guitar feedback. Every song seems to start with a big wailing burst of feedback and in the case of some songs like Antwerp, they even linger to a limp conclusion using even more feedback. Simmer are clearly trying to create atmosphere on Paper Prisms and the guitar feedback is never abrasive or obnoxious in anyway, it just feels like it takes away from the immediacy of the song-writing. Songs like Calendar don’t kick in until half the track’s run time has gone by and it’s a bit annoying that so much time is spent holding a guitar to an amp.
It’s also a shame that the vocals often get lost in the mix. The vocals on Paper Prisms are often treated more like an instrument and they’ve been hidden away in the composition to the point that you can’t really make out what’s being said. It’s not the biggest problem because thankfully the gorgeous melodies are still audible; it just would have been nicer to have heard the vocals front and centre.
Simmer’s Paper Prisms is by no means a bad record by any stretch of the imagination. This is still a wonderfully light and dreamy emo record and as a debut album it certainly sets the band up with a great foundation to build on. Sadly it’s let down by a lot unnecessarily drawn-out moments of guitar feedback that have a tendency to kill the pacing. It Simmer can tighten up their song-writing and think of ways to meld the extra texture into the songs themselves, then their next release should be something really special.
Simmer’s Paper Prisms is out now and available to buy from Dog Knights Productions.
So-Crates are a new project featuring members of Hold Your Horse Is and Reuben and if that doesn’t get your post hardcore senses tingling then you might need to see a doctor. v1 is the band’s first offering; a pay-what-you-want, 7 track mini album that is bursting with ideas.
The music on v1 is a pretty angular and progressive affair, but always fast and driving. Imagine At the Drive-In wrestling with Billy Talent and you’ll have a good grasp as to what So-Crates are aiming for. Despite the manic, almost nervous energy of the record, So-Crates are surprisingly tuneful with Robin Pearson’s half sung/half spoken vocals still being incredibly striking and unique.
What really adds some wonderful texture is the glittery lead guitar work by Toby Jackson. Despite the songs often being consumed by chunky bass-lines and furious punk rock drumming, the presence of Jackson’s leads means there’s always an earworm melody on display and it makes songs like Paused on a Crossfade really stand out. So-Crates are always mixing a wild and dangerous sound with extremely tuneful and welcoming melodies and it makes v1 a very unique record to listen to.
There is one obvious negative though; music of this energy could do with sounding weightier. The production work on v1 makes it sound more like a jangly indie rock record which seems at odds with how bat-shit crazy the songs are. So-Crates could really benefit from having their drums hit that little bit harder and their riffs need to carry a little more bass. It’s an adjustment that could have really set this record on fire, but it’s something we’ll have to hope the band addresses in future releases.
Overall, v1 is an accomplished and intense debut from an extremely exciting new band. If you’re a fan of post hardcore and math rock then you’ll find a lot to love here and despite some niggles regarding the production, the song-writing really does shine bright and offer a record that is greater than the sum of its parts.
So-Crates’ v1 is out now and available to download by clicking here.
BiT are a noise rock band that dress up as haggard old ladies with terrifying hag masks. It certainly gets your attention because outside of their image and music, there isn’t an awful lot of banter happening. You never quite get to grips with why these 3 guys look like this and why their ultra-fuzzy noise rock is played so loose and atonal, but you’re always entertained. There’s something fascinating by how utterly bizarre this band is. Musically they’re quite lacking and their dual guitar attack (one using a low-pitched distortion and one using a high-pitched distortion) is often too abrasive to really enjoy, but sometimes the sheer shock value of a performance like this is just enough to keep you engaged and I certainly felt that way while watching BiT. This is the sort of band I’d take friends to see just to see how they’d react.
Old Forest continue the theme of fuzzy over-distorted guitars with their special blend of noise rock and grunge. Despite being a little more tuneful than BiT, I had a hard time enjoying their music as both the bassist and guitarist used a similar sounding low-pitched distortion which meant the riffs were often difficult to ascertain. You could see the band’s drummer also had difficulty hearing the progression of the music and there were quite a few hiccups in the performance that became quite uncomfortable to watch. Thankfully the band were almost able to redeem themselves with some really savage riffs that certainly kept my head banging, but I couldn’t help but think how much better they’d sound if the band had more discernible melodies and a better contrast between guitar and bass.
This review of Sludgefeast’s set is going to have some pretty heavy bias to it because I can’t deny how much this band means to me. The garage rockers rarely play live nowadays, thanks to lead vocalist and guitarist James Barnard now living in Singapore, so a brand new Sludgefeast show has a very special and precious place in my heart. Now this performance wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination. Barnard was under-rehearsed and sloppy throughout and would often trail off between songs just to fuck about for a laugh, but I certainly did laugh for the entire set. Sludgefeast’s on-stage antics are nothing short of hilarious and even though their playing wasn’t the tightest, the band still managed to frequently play their songs well enough that you were reminded how unapologetically rocking they are. Sludgefeast are all about being obnoxious and loud and they definitely delivered on both of those points tonight. They also managed to remind you that their back catalogue is home to some pretty spectacular riffs and while they may have not been played particularly well, I was extremely happy to see them played at all.