Tag Archives: alternative

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.


News: Official Alt-Fest Announcement Due Monday

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The Alt-Fest organisers have finally spoken. In a statement on the event’s official Facebook page, the Alt-Fest organisers have promised to make a full statement by Monday the 4th of August regarding the supposed cancellation of the festival.

“Currently we are working all hours to deal with some extremely challenging & stressful issues for Alt-Fest. We will be able to provide an official statement with full information before Monday and answer any questions you may have at that time.”

The post has been inundated with responses and mostly of the negative kind. XP8 who were booked to play are claiming they have sent the festival multiple messages without response and when they finally received a response it pretty much echoes the current statement:

…we finally got a facebook message from the promoter, Dominic, last night.

in that he mentioned again what he told us in reply to our public comment to their only statement so far, and that he never got any of the 5 emails we sent him yesterday, and he also remarked that he doesn’t have any spam filters… guess those email…s just vanished into thin air.

anyway: he basically only told us in private what he/they told you all… to wait till they come up with an official statement.

that’s it, no further information whether the festival is cancelled or not, or any reasons why this is happening: this is the only FACT I can provide you – we don’t know anything yet.”

Interestingly the organisers still aren’t committing to saying the festival has been cancelled. Could this mean the event is simply downsizing? Are replacement shows being organised for ticket holders? Are the organisers stalling because they’re about to tell Kickstarter backers they won’t be refunded? I guess we’ll have the answers come Monday.


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.


News: The JCQ Call it Quits UPDATE Band Release B-Sides Collection

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UPDATE

The JCQ have now released a collection of 3 b-sides from the Mechanical Young recording sessions to go with today’s announcement. You can stream/download the collection below:

ORIGINAL STORY

The JCQ (formerly The James Cleaver Quintet) are splitting up. This is incredibly sad news for fans of alternative rock and punk as The JCQ are one of the most original sounding bands in the UK right now. Luckily the band released 2 great albums and an amazing EP (seriously, go and download ‘Ten Stages of a Make Up’ right now). Here’s some words from the band regarding their decision to split:

“So it is with heavy hearts that we announce the end of The JCQ. There are many reasons for our decision, but ultimately, although friendship within the band is at an all-time high, we just don’t feel that we can carry on putting the same amount of effort into making this band what it is, when our hearts just aren’t in it any more.

We will of course all be pursuing our own projects and ventures afterwards, so be sure to look out for new things coming from us individually. Charlie and myself (Maud) have begun work on a new band – Death Rattles, Paul is pursuing his career in tour management and will still be drumming for studio projects, Martin continues his production work as ‘In Lieu of a Studio’, Trips is playing in Mermaids On Heat with Sacha of The Secret and Jack will be pursuing his own ventures in new walks of life.

The good news is that we’ve booked a small tour to see off The JCQ properly. Unfortunately we can’t play everywhere, but we have selected a few towns that have always been good to us, in the hope that if you want to say farewell to The JCQ, it won’t be impossible to travel no matter where you are. We hope to see as many friends as we can at these gigs for one last time.

R.I.P The JCQ; 2006 – 2014.”

The full statement from the band can be found on their Facebook page.

Here’s the full list of dates for The JCQ’s final tour:

18/3 – TBC, Leeds
19/3 – Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham
20/3 – Avondale House, Southampton
21/3 – Underground Theatre, Eastbourne
22/3 – Old Blue Last, London (free show)


News: MINE Announce New EP ‘Disappear’

The alternative hardcore beast that is MINE return with a new EP titled Disappear. The new EP will be available on vinyl via Holy Roar Records (click here to pre-order that bad boy) with Cult Culture dealing with the cassette version (pre-orders up soon). Both versions arrive on September 30th.

You can stream Penknife from Disappear over at Rock Sound’s website now.

MINE are currently on tour with OK Pilot. The full list of remaining dates are below:

29/7 – Bristol, Exchange
30/7 – Cheltenham, Frog & Fiddle
31/7 – Plymouth, Tiki Bar
1/8 – Exeter, Cavern


Review: Classically Handsome Brutes’ Somethingsaurus

Classically Handsome Brutes are one of those bands that give me a headache because they’re so bloody difficult to categorise. This is obviously not a bad thing, but it does mean I’m now going to have to use a ridiculous analogy to give you some idea what they sound like. Think Biffy Clyro’s first 3 albums mixed with Charger and Pulled Apart by Horses and you might be in the right ball park… I hope.

So this is Classically Handsome Brutes’ debut EP Somethingsaurus and it’s a pretty mental blend of alternative rock, sludge metal and hardcore. The band should definitely be commended for finding a sound that’s incredibly unique, but does it work?

Well yes and no. There is nothing particularly wrong with the Brutes’ down-tuned rhythms and angular songs, but they don’t have anything hugely memorable to draw you in. Somethingzilla and its’ weirdo riff is about the only thing that lingered in my head once the EP drew to a close. The guitar work on both Concrete Kraken and Poachers was all a bit of a sludgy blur which is a damn shame because the mix clearly favours the guitar with the drums simply providing a distant rhythm.

The vocals also lack a lot of structure and generally feel like screaming for screaming’s sake. There aren’t any big hooks on Somethingsaurus which is a massive oversight by the band because they hint at a big chorus on Concrete Kraken with the repeated line “so throw a stone if you think you’re hard enough” but the delivery is weak and like most of the vocals on the EP a bit lacking.

Classically Handsome Brutes are definitely onto something interesting with Somethingsaurus and the band have unearthed a sound which they can truly lay claim to their own. Unfortunately, the band need to work on their song writing for future releases so their listeners can get their ears round a good riff or vocal hook. Without these elements the songs blend into each other and sadly leave us with a unique yet forgettable experience.

5/10

Classically Handsome Brutes’ Somethingsaurus is available to download now at a pay-what-you-what price directly from the band’s Bandcamp.


Review: Circle of Reason’s These Hands and This Mind

South West rockers Circle of Reason return with their 2nd release, These Hands and This Mind which is a 5 track EP and sounds like a blend of current-era Exit Ten, Fightstar and short-lived alt-rockers In Case of Fire.

These Hands… is a fairly mid-paced rock record that focusses on carefully building strong melodies before backing them with some satisfyingly, chunky riffing. Circle of Reason are in no rush to beat their audience around the head with an immediate and unnerving blast of rock and prefer to take a more considerate approach by easing the listener into their alt-rock leanings.

Themes Amongst Thieves is the only song on the EP that begins with a massive, crunchy riff that’s almost metalcore in fashion. It isn’t too long until the song develops into a massive, heart-on-sleeve chorus with vocalist and guitarist Simon doing a fantastic job of delivering his emphatic vocals.

The problem with Circle of Reason’s focus on mid-paced songs is that all of the songs on These Hands… tend to blend into each other. With a bit more variety in the song writing department, Circle of Reason could’ve unearthed a set of unique and distinct songs.

The songs also lack memorable chorus’ and instead opt for an almost progressive approach that means a melody doesn’t usually get revisited. This is a shame because as mentioned before, vocalist and guitarist Simon does put in a great vocal performance, but with know focal melody the songs just seem to meander along with no focus.

Circle of Reason are a peculiar band who obviously have a passion for slow-building, thoughtful song writing but can’t quite muster enough ideas to keep their music interesting. With a bit more variety in tempo and a stronger focus on melodies this band could turn out a splendid alt-rock release, but unfortunately These Hands and This Mind isn’t that release.

5/10

Circle of Reason’s These Hands and This Mind will be released by the band on July 29th.


Review: Bad Sign’s De l’Amour

When Bad Sign’s De l’Amour begins it starts with an enormous, grunty, slab of a bass followed by a monolithic alt-rock riff. We could quite easily end this review here because over the next 50 minutes there is rarely a moment where the Croydon trio divert from this simple yet hugely enjoyable structure. It’s also a wonderfully surprising start that is at polar opposites with the album artwork which looks like a poster for a bottle of Chanel No. 5. Basically, De l’Amour is quite the heavy hitter for a debut album.

Bad Sign have a rather unnerving talent for great riffs and even better chorus’. Bassist/vocalist Joe Appleford not only supplies the incredible low-end rumble, but also manages to succeed in being a fantastic vocalist with a beautiful, heart-on-sleeve delivery and a wonderful croon that brings to mind Biffy Clyro’s Simon Neil and Fightstar’s Charlie Simpson. Urgence showcases Appleford’s delivery at its’ best with one of the album’s best chorus’ and and some brilliant guitar work from Jon Harris.

Let’s not forget drummer Kev Miller who puts in an absolutely stellar performance that isn’t ruined by being over-produced like a lot of modern rock and metal albums. All the weight and crash you’d expect from a live show is captured perfectly and Miller sounds like he’s absolutely destroying his arms on almost every song.

The only thing that could hurt Bad Sign’s debut album is that on occasion it does feel like you’ve heard everything the band can do. This might be down to the 50 minute running time or the 2 “slow” tracks Vicissitude Pt. 1 and Tonight being placed next to each other. Regardless, this is a minor issue that is outweighed by the brilliant song-writing that fills the majority of this record.

Bad Sign are a truly epic sounding alt-rock band that are brilliantly accessible thanks to their memorable chorus’. They also pack a serious punch which will satisfy rock fans and might even have some cross-over appeal with metal fans as some of Jon Harris’ riffs command a serious head-bang. De l’Amour is an amazing debut album that should only be missed at your own peril.

8/10

Bad Sign’s De l’Amour is out now and available to purchase direct from the band by clicking here.


Touring: earthtone9

Alt-metallers earthtone9 have a couple of cracking festival dates lined up for this Summer in support of their brilliant new album IV.

A rather special performance is also scheduled for ArcTanGent festival which sees the band performing their seminal arc’tan’gent album in full.

See below for the list of dates:

June 13 – The Albert, Brighton (Download warm-up show
June 15 – Download Festival, Donnington, Pepsi Max Stage
August 29th – ArcTanGent Festival, Somerset (performing arc’tan’gent in full)


Review: Bloody Mammals’ Eventually Your House Will Burn Down

London four piece Bloody Mammals make an almighty racket fuelled by some amazing alt-rock riffage. The band sound like an amalgamation of early, experimental Biffy Clyro and Reuben’s heavier, progressive side. After a single and an EP, the band are putting forward their strongest material to date with the release of mini-album Eventually Your House Will Burn Down.

This 6 track post hardcore beast is fuelled by some of the most intense drumming put to record and some rather peculiarly memorable scream-along chorus’. Eventually Your House Will Burn Down is a challenging listen that worships the quiet/loud dynamic with stunning effect. For every amp-busting riff a more delicate section is always soon to follow. Bloody Mammals’ song-writing really excels in these moments as they never feel sudden and uncomfortable and genuinely flow quite naturally, guiding the listener through their multi-faceted sound.

Album highlights include opener This Neighbourhood is Cursed which showcases Bloody Mammals signature sound straight off the bat and The Tie-Down Team which is full of brilliant leads that add a catchy melody that stands out around the band’s almost mathcore leanings. At only 16 minutes in length, you’ll be exhausted by the end of the release as this 6 track mini-album packs in more ideas then some bands can manage for their entire career.

The only real let down is that some tracks tend to let the alternative part of the band’s sound take center stage when what Bloody Mammals really need is a big hook to sink your teeth into. Madam instantly springs to mind as the entire song lacks a catchy melody that would help the song stick in your head. The screamed vocals are delivered emphatically and almost save the song, but a bit more melody could have really set the song off.

But when Eventually Your House Will Burn Down draws to a close, these minor foibles are not what you’re going to remember it for. Bloody Mammals have presented us with a fascinating rock release that is equal parts punk, post hardcore and alt-rock. The band have absolutely stuffed this album with interesting ideas and it’s a real privilege to hear the whole thing unfold into one scruffy but brilliantly executed release.

8/10

Bloody Mammals’ Eventually Your House Will Burn Down is released on the 6th of May through Flatpack Recordings and 49s vs Dolphins.