Tag Archives: alt rock

Live Review: Man with a Mission at the O2 Academy Islington 4/7/16

RORY INDIANA
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Brighton’s Rory Indiana make satisfyingly bouncy, riff-heavy alt rock in the style of Marmozets and Press to Meco. The band deal in a very angular, unpredictable noise that presses my buttons in exactly the way I like and they put on a captivating show that puts the band’s musicianship front and centre. This is an incredibly strong start to the evening’s entertainment and Rory Indiana manage to show an unfamiliar crowd they have the chops to support a band as well-loved as Man with a Mission and keep everyone absolutely enthralled. I’m very much looking forward to seeing where life takes these boys in the future.

MAN WITH A MISSION
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I feel like we’ve reached peak gimmick when I watch Man with a Mission walk on stage. 5 guys wearing big, fluffy, wolf heads with light-up eyes and another guy in a kabuki mask is quite the sight and it never really gets any easier to take in how utterly stupid their image is. It’s an enjoyable stupid, though. Regardless, Man with a Mission manage to put on a bloody great show. Sounding like a fusion of Rage against the Machine, Skindred and Sum 41, Man with a Mission deal in the sort of rock that gets played on the radio all day long and the audience hang onto every note. Man with a Mission offer up a multitude of huge riffs and choruses to get your rocks off to, but sadly their mix on the night betrays them ever so slightly. Their turntablist often buries their guitars under a sequence of electronic bleeps and bloops which is a real shame because when the guitars are given room to breathe, they carry a serious amount of groove. Their only major miss-step comes in the form of set-closer Raise Your Flag which has a chorus that sounds as wonky live as it does on record. Man with a Mission are certainly a band who grab your attention and their showing tonight was definitely host to more highs than lows, but I feel like a better audio mix would have really made them shine tonight.

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Live Review: Meet Me in St. Louis Live at The Dome 18/6/2016

VINCENT VOCODER VOICE
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Full confession from the get-go; I got to the venue late and only caught the last 2 songs of Vincent Vocoder Voice’s set so this won’t be the most insightful opinion on their live show. What I saw of the band showcased an abstract fusion of alt rock and grunge that was purposely played with an unpredictable sloppiness. I’m not sure if this works in their favour as the vocals in particular sounded a bit off key. Regardless, the band are definitely interesting and I’d like to see more of them if I get the opportunity.

TTNG
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TTNG (previously This Town Needs Guns) are a joy to watch if you appreciate musicianship. I was drawn to their drummer for most of their set as the man is an absolute machine on the kit. Their math rock stylings are technically proficient, glittery numbers, but things step up a notch when original vocalist/guitarist Stuart Smith shows up to sing a couple of TTNG classics. There’s an instant step up in energy and the crowd reciprocate with unbridled enthusiasm. TTNG with Stuart Smith are a seriously exciting band which makes the end of their set somewhat bittersweet as Smith leaves the stage for the final song and it simply can’t stand up to what came before.

MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS
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No band should be able to come back from an 8 year hiatus and sound this good. Meet Me in St. Louis have reached a near mythical status since their split and listening to their one and only album Variations on Swing in 2016 is still as electric and ground-breaking as it was in 2007. Imagine my surprise when the band appear on stage with suitable pomp and circumstance and absolutely nail every song of their set with ease. The math rock/post hardcore act have some wonderfully complex songs to their name and they perform them with an unbelievable tightness that puts so many other bands to shame. This was an absolutely astounding performance that felt a little too good to be true and the crowd lapped it up. The whole room held onto every word and all I can think about is how much of a shame it is that Meet Me in St. Louis will once again be no more at the end of this tour. We need you, guys.


Review: Samoans’ and Freeze the Atlantic’s Split EP

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Samoans and Freeze the Atlantic have seen fit to produce a split EP to accompany their October tour. Both bands have produced a new song and a cover of one of each other’s songs in the BYO Split Series mould.

SAMOANS

Samoans have a wonderfully diverse offering on this split. Opener Wrong Cops sees the band exploring alt rock territories with comparisons to Transmit Disrupt-era Hell is for Heroes coming to mind. It’s a wonderfully dreamy bit of rock music that’s big on noodly guitar work and it’s drenched in Daniel Barnett’s soaring vocal melodies.

Then we approach Samoans cover which is something pretty special indeed. A take on Freeze the Atlantic’s Stompbox, Samoans strip the song back to its bones and concentrate on that wonderful riff that kicks the whole thing into gear. Instead of being the high-paced rocker that it took in its original form, Samoans’ version of Stompbox slows the riff down and amps up the distortion to give the whole thing a Deftones vibe that reminds us of Minerva. Stompbox now plods along with an Earth-shattering groove that Samoans are so fond of incorporating.

This is extremely strong stuff from Samoans that further cements their more considered post rock approach that the band implemented on their previous record. Samoans deal in large-scale, floaty melodies that are punctuated with dirty great walls of distortion and it’s still an absolute joy to listen to.

8/10

FREEZE THE ATLANTIC

Freeze the Atlantic have had a pretty rocky start to their career and they’re already on their third vocalist. While we were previously left a bit hollow by Liv Puente’s performance on their previous self-titled record, Puente has hit his stride on new song The Floor is Made of Lava. This is a far moodier and more musically interesting offering from the band that doesn’t follow the standard hard rock structures they’ve previously explored. This is more like a post hardcore song and it reminds us of bands like Radio Alcatraz. This is creatively a big step up for Freeze the Atlantic and we completely welcome it.

Now we approach Freeze the Atlantic’s cover. What’s interesting with this song is they actually opt to make Samoans’ I Am Your Density more approachable by changing the structure to something that flows more like a traditional rock song. This is quite a nice trade-off between the two bands that showcases exactly what they both do so well. Freeze the Atlantic do a fantastic job of making this their own and see fit to add a massive riff that will get the crowds jumping.

Freeze the Atlantic have definitely improved dramatically as song-writers and thanks to a stronger vocal performance from Puente it feels like all the pieces have finally fallen into the right places. I personally cannot wait to see what the band deliver on their next long-player.

9/10

This split from Samoans and Freeze the Atlantic is a great bit of fun that showcases both bands at the very top of their game. Fans of heavy rock music are given an incredibly diverse display of alt rock, post rock and post hardcore that manages to meld together in a strangely cohesive package.

Samoans and Freeze the Atlantic’s split EP is out now and can be bought directly from either band.


Review: Down I Go’s You’re Lucky God, That I Cannot Reach You

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Alt rockers Down I Go have an interesting and surprisingly long-lasting career that has seen them break up and now reform after being offered an opportunity to record a new album in Iceland. The band have also managed to achieve this with all 3 members now residing in Toronto, Stockholm and Chicago respectively. They’re third album You’re Lucky God, That I Cannot Reach You is the culmination of their time in Iceland and it sounds like a mad combination of early Biffy Clyro wrestling with Between the Buried and Me.

Before we start our analysis of this record, I’m going to let you in on a little secret; I hold music against two main points of criticism. The first is the music has to be interesting and the second is the music has to be memorable. If you nail them both then you’re onto a winner but if you only achieve one then I personally think the music falls a little flat as a result. Down I Go’s music can definitely be described as interesting but an awful lot of You’re Lucky God simply goes through the motions without any melodies that really stick with you.

Down I Go manage to meld a wonderfully progressive, almost mathcore sound with some beautiful and uplifting vocal melodies that would happily lend themselves to alternative or post rock. Not only that but Ben Standage and Pete Fraser put their trombone and saxophone experience from previous band Jesse James to good use by flourishing the music with wonderful little bursts of brass. Their sound is bizarre and unique and the band have to be commended for making something sound so different.

What’s really strange about this record is how it manages to be incredibly brash and noisy but lack a lot of that power that makes heavy music so exciting to listen to. There’s a very stripped-back sound to You’re Lucky God and that means it often feels a bit lacking. The bass doesn’t beef the band’s sound up in the way it really should and despite the razor-sharp guitar work that could have been taken from a tech metal release, the guitar tone is just a bit tinny for something so fundamentally angry.

The real disappointment is that there are no real outstanding riffs or melodies that will lodge themselves in your psyche. You’re Lucky God plays out like one extended piece of music with many movements but the angular guitar work doesn’t generate riffs and the mainly screamed vocals also lack melody. When the vocals do move into sung territory they often have a drawn-out, lazy drawl to them that also fails to generate any memorable moments.

The most memorable moment from the record comes from its introduction, Mother in the Pen which sounds like nothing else on the record with its minimalist focus on melody that feels more like a Mogwai track. It also returns for a reprise that makes the whole album into a charming cyclical experience.

You’re Lucky God, That I Cannot Reach You is an ambitious album with a wonderfully unique sound that doesn’t really allow Down I Go to work with any melodies or riffs that could really set the whole experience off. This whole record made me feel somewhat hollow as it often showcases a band who have mastered their craft but their craft is unfortunately lacking in melody.

5/10

Down I Go’s You’re Lucky God, That I Cannot Reach You is out now on 12″ white vinyl through Holy Roar Records.


Review: Patrons’ The Momentary Effects of Sunlight

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Patrons are a 4 piece alt rock band from Plymouth who are clearly influenced by luminaries like Biffy Clyro and In Case of Fire. Their second EP The Momentary Effects of Sunlight sees the band’s sound expand exponentially, creating a truly satisfying slab of emotional rock music.

Patrons manage to prove that over these 4 songs that they have an unnerving talent for writing music that ebbs and flows with wonderful fluidity. Songs like Circus kick off with a brilliantly off-kilter twangy riff that opens up into a soaring chorus before driving the whole thing home with a massive riff that could shake a house to its foundations. The movement of Patrons’ music is so natural that it makes for bizarrely easy listening considering the sheer amount of action contained within.

The band also make use of some famous post hardcore tricks like the quiet/loud dynamic. This becomes one of the most satisfying elements of Patrons’ sound as they often follow up their more subtle and understated moments with an enormous explosion of guitar euphoria.

We haven’t even spoken about the vocals which are exemplary throughout. Melodies are incredibly memorable, heart-on-sleeve affairs and when the music steps up a notch then the vocals follow suit. There’s some satisfying screams in here that really help deliver the notion that these boys really do sing it like they mean it.

Patrons have a seriously accomplished sound for a band this early in their career. The Momentary Effects of Sunlight is an EP loaded with fantastic song writing and the emphatic choruses are coupled with a lovely melding of delicate yet abrasive guitar work. If you’ve been looking for your new favourite rock band then look no further because Patrons might just be the one.

8/10

Patrons’ The Momentary Effects of Sunlight is out now and available to buy on CD direct from the band.


Review: I, The Lion’s Run

Run EP Cover - FINAL

I, The Lion’s Run EP took me by complete surprise. The EP has a rather weak opening during the first half of Hold Strong. It’s a pretty uneventful plod through all the clichés of modern emo, but half way through the song the band unleash a tirade of screaming and off-kilter guitar work and it’s absolutely exhilarating.

From here on, I, The Lion are a completely different beast who meld the alt-rock madness of bands like Reuben and Biffy Clyro with the emocore stylings of bands like A Day to Remember. The band’s music shifts and moves quite naturally considering the number of riffs and melodies the band pack into a single song. Speaking of riffs, there’s an absolutely mind-melting display near the end of Hold Strong and it’s accompanied by a tremolo-picked lead and it’s fucking sublime. Euphoric even.

Moving on, songs like Icarus start with a riff that could’ve been easily pulled from your favourite Reuben song before opening up into that angular, guitar noodling that Biffy are so famous for. Bolstered with some absolutely massive choruses, I, The Lion have nailed this rock music malarkey and despite the vocals often sitting in a comfortable mid range, the music is dynamic enough to help you ignore such discrepancies.

Listening to Run is a beautiful journey into the rock music of my youth. If this record was released when I was discovering Hundred Reasons, Hell is for Heroes and Funeral for a Friend for the first time, I’d happily regard it as a modern classic. Hopefully a new generation of rock kids discover this record and go on to regard it in the same light because it really deserves that sort of praise.

I, The Lion’s Run is a wonderful celebration of riff rock. It’s a gargantuan-sounding EP loaded with some of alt-rock’s most thunderous melodies and it constantly evolves and welcomes new ideas into it’s already accomplished sound. A lacklustre opening hides one of rock’s most enjoyable EPs and I, The Lion need to be a band you start paying immediate attention to.

9/10

I, The Lion’s Run EP is out now and is available to buy direct from the band.


Review: Empress AD’s Still Life Moving Fast

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It’s so good seeing young bands signed to Roadrunner Records again and Empress AD are a perfect fit for the label’s roster. The band deal with the sort of thunderous, proggy, groove metal that bands like Mastodon deal with but they sprinkle their sound with an earnest and very British-sounding layer of alt rock which reminds us of bands like Reuben.

Empress AD have been honing their craft for quite some time and it really shows on Still Life Moving Fast. This record has a seriously accomplished sound that dives effortlessly in and out of massive riffs and slower, more contemplative moments of restraint. Empress AD make the quiet/loud dynamic sing on this record. The more reserved moments give way to some absolutely Earth-shattering grooves and the contrast makes their impact all the more powerful.

An album highlight comes in the form of Deeper in Disguise which bursts out the gates with a blistering riff before slowing down for a sombre moment. It isn’t long before the track once again bludgeons you with its Glassjaw-esque, post hardcore craziness. It’s a beautiful lesson in heaviness.

Things even manage to move into doom metal territory for the crawling, bass-heavy dirge of On My Return. This is the sort of groove that would make Black Sabbath jealous but it’s juxtaposed with a beautiful vocal melody by Ollie Loring before it opens up into a more spacey, desert rock sound. Empress AD have really packed a surprising amount of influences into these songs.

The only downside to Still Life Moving Fast is that it does get a little bogged down in its prog rock leanings. Some of the quieter moments meander around doing very little for far too long and it unnecessarily bloats the album. Delve into the Retrospect suffers from moments like these and it often feels like the band have extended the run time of the song for the sake of self-indulgence.

Regardless, Empress AD manage to hit a larger amount of highs than they do lows on Still Life Moving Fast. This is a wonderful prog metal album that is stuffed with interesting song structures that are also bolstered by some of the best riffs heavy music has to offer. This is an impressive beginning to what I hope is one of the UK’s brightest metal discographies.

8/10

Empress AD’s Still Life Moving Fast is out now and available to buy from Roadrunner Records.


Review: Samoans’ Rescue

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Samoans have stepped into brave new territory with the release of their debut album Rescue. Previously an alt-rock band with math-like tendencies, the band has stripped their sound back to maximise on soaring melodies and expansive riffs. The pace of their music also been dialled back to allow for slower building songs that explode into huge chord-driven grooves that are reminiscent of post rock. If bands like Deftones and *shels have ever intrigued you then you’ll certainly find yourself in a comfortable environment with Samoans’ new direction.

Songs like Lightning Beneath the Sea are great examples of Samoans’ new formula in action. The song begins with a delicate introduction before the riffs flow thick. Vocalist and guitarist Daniel Barnett brings everything together with his powerful yet soulful vocal melodies. It’s surprising how satisfyingly wholesome everything sounds and Barnett manages this without hardly ever breaking into a scream. It’s always a good sign when a vocalist can carry heavy music without having to resort to barking their vocals at you all the time and Barnett achieves this perfectly. The main exception to the rule is A Thousand Knives / A Thousand Wives but even when that engages the scream it’s after a good five minutes of construction that results in an amazing crescendo.

Despite the move away from the band’s earlier math-rock style, there are some wonderfully progressive little moments that creep into songs like The Moth and Dancing on the Sea Lion. The Moth is probably the closest remnant of the Samoans of old and contains some brilliantly wild snare work from new sticks-man Chris Rouse. As for Dancing on the Sea Lion, the song has these bizarre little stop/start tempo changes that make it wonderfully weird and generally quite interesting to listen to without sacrificing melody for technical prowess.

The real step up in musicianship comes in the form of the textured lead guitar work and this is all thanks to the inclusion of new rhythm guitarist Oli Miles. With another guitarist in the mix Barnett has gone to town in sprinkling gorgeous, jangly leads over the verses and even finds room to bring some rather warm and endearing solos into play like the ones near the end of Dancing on the Sea Lion and Wearing Shorts in Scotland. It’s apparent that Samoans have really grown as song-writers as everything on Rescue has earned its place on the record through necessity and not through unnecessary decoration.

Finally we have to give a special mention to another masterful job at the production desk. Despite the glittery clarity that heightens the lead guitar work and makes the sombre vocals really shine, the mix favours the bass to allow the songs to really explode when the band open up with a huge chorus or riff.

Samoans may have engaged a subtle stylistic change but Rescue is a much better record because of it. The album has a beautiful knack for textured guitar work and epic melodies with enough meaty crunch to make it a real rocker at the same time. Samoans have entered the world of rock albums with a strong statement of intent and Rescue marks one of the best alt-rock releases of the year so far.

8/10

Samoans’ Rescue is out now and available to buy on 12″ vinyl direct from the band.


Review: InMe’s The Destinations EP

Essex rockers InMe return for a release that marks a sort of a stop-gap for the band. The Destinations EP was crowd-funded on Pledge Music as a smaller release to satisfy fans before the release of next year’s incredibly ambitious triple album. It also marks the first time the band have released anything independently which is a bold step forward for the band.

The EP follows the foundations the band laid on previous album The Pride which means these songs are built around interesting song structures which are punctuated by huge choruses. This also means that harsh vocals are still completely absent and Dave McPherson no longer uses strong language. It really feels like InMe have grown as people and are now completely focussed on making great songs with heaps of melody.

A nice surprise for fans of the band’s guitar work are three amazing solos in Anthemusa, Driftwood Figurines and Beached Whales. The band have dabbled in solos in the past but they’ve never sounded as accomplished as this. Their appearances on The Destinations EP are as important parts of the song structure and not just an excuse to show off which is so often the case with these things.

We have to return to Driftwood Figurines as it’s clearly the highlight of the EP. This is one of the best songs the band have written in recent years and it’ll sound familiar to fan’s of the band’s second album White Butterfly as it has more than an air of Faster the Chase to it. The song is built around a catchy guitar melody which makes way for a massive chorus that’ll hopefully be a permanent fixture in their live set.

It often feels like InMe have taken a retrospective look at White Butterfly in particular to help with the creation of these songs because you’ll often notice that The Destinations EP draws many parallels to it. All the songs showcase a more focussed, song-driven structure that means you’ll be singing the choruses way after the songs have finished.

InMe continue to be one of the UK’s most exciting rock bands and their long career is a testament to how great their song-writing is. It’s a shame The Destinations EP is only 4 tracks long because once it rolls to an end you’ll be gagging for more. Thanks to the band’s increased focus on using Pledge Music as a platform to release their music, it shouldn’t be too long until we get another release from the band but The Destinations EP is a solid release that’ll happily satisfy fans until then.

8/10

InMe’s The Destinations EP is out now through Pledge Music. You can download Pelorus Jack for free via this link.


Music Video: Hold Your Horse Is’ Whistlepig

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Today is the last day of Hold Your Horse Is which is a pretty sad time. We’ve been proud supporters of the band since UK Scumscene’s inception and tonight you can see the alt rockers play their last show at the Old Blue Last in Shoreditch. As one last final hurrah for those of you who can’t make it, you can now watch an absolutely brilliant music video for ‘Whistlepig’ from their last release ‘Hold Your Horse Was’. Keep an eye out for Guy Davis of Reuben/Freeze the Atlantic fame:

You can grab Hold Your Horse Is’ final release via the below widget and we suggest you do. Don’t be a stingy bastard and throw some money at it as well as I hear the band owe some money after thrashing that van around for your enjoyment.