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.
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.
Grieving are a very new band with a single EP under their belt. Their twangy, angular emo is reminiscent of bands like American Football and Joyce Manor. After a nervous start they quickly prove that they’re a very accomplished and tight act, and their drummer was supposedly pretty ill throughout so huge respect to that guy for absolutely nailing it. On the whole, the band looks like they’re having a blast and seem very humbled to be playing to this audience. Grieving are definitely a band you’re going to want to keep on your radar because if this performance is any indication, they will be going onto bigger and better things very quickly.
If you aren’t aware, So-Crates are a new band featuring members of Hold Your Horse Is and Reuben and that’s a bloody exciting combination on its own. The band deal in an unpredictably, mathy post-punk which is nothing short of exciting when performed live. Their music twists and turns on a dime with aggressive drum-work, angular guitar melodies, chunky bass grooves and some surprisingly dreamy guitar leads. While it’s still early days for So-Crates, you can see that past experiences have allowed these guys to burst out the gates with some truly accomplished music and make it all look easy.
Grunge-punk duo Cassels are something really special. Sounding like a mix of God Damn and Eugene Quell, the two lads on stage make the sort of music that song-writers twice their age would be proud of. The word is clearly out on Cassels because they fill The Old Blue Last, and on a Monday night no less. The duo has a massive sound considering their limitations and they put on a friendly and engaging performance that sees everyone in the room hanging onto every note. Cassels love that quiet/loud dynamic and it was strangely weird to hear a crowd at The Old Blue Last be so quiet when the music became more introspective. Cassels are genuinely fascinating to watch and are definitely a band you’ll want to see as soon as possible because they won’t be playing venues this small for very long.
Here, we bloody love Press to Meco. We thought their debut album Good Intent was one of the best records of last year and it’s good to see the lads are still promoting it well. The latest track from the record to get the music video treatment is the rather dreamy, post hardcore anthem, Autopsy. Check out the incredible and bizarrely trippy animated music video below; you won’t regret it:
Autopsy comes off Press to Meco’s Good Intent, which is out now and available to buy direct from the band.
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 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.
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.
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.