With what might possibly be the best song title of 2018, Manchester-based trio DARMA release ‘Procrasturbator’ TODAY in support of their EP ‘Gloom’.
The band have coined the phrase “loudquietheavypop” to describe their genre, and ‘Procrasturbator’ demonstrates just how accurate this is. Fusing together grunge and alternative, DARMA have created a new furious and feral take on rock and roll, complete with a heavy dose of darkness.
The video (as seen below) demonstrates their maverick and unhinged approach to their art, featuring trip-inducing elements such as rotating cartoon pizzas and jump-out word art. This is an energetic, gritty young band, that aren’t afraid to deviate (and set fire) to the alt-rock formula.
Supporting the likes of Primal Scream, Dinosaur Pile Up, and fellow Mancunians The 1975 and Ist Ist, DARMA have had a busy 2018, playing shows at Sound City (Liverpool), Tramlines (Sheffield) and the
Manchester Apollo for Radio X.
And with their debut EP ‘Gloom’ scheduled for release on November 16, we can’t wait to see what these Mancs are going to do next.
The continuing appreciation of folk music as an artform is, though surprising, extremely gratifying. In an age when voices and instruments are buried beneath suffocating layers of protools and effects, it’s perhaps understandable that there would be a counter reaction of some form, a musical style which relied on anything but techno-wizardry.
Son of William are a Manchester-based duo who eschew laptops and embrace wood, catgut and maybe a bit of steel here and there. They produce songs which showcase both the fragility and power of the naked human voice and guitar, allowing their sounds to wrap around themselves cocoon-like, producing the kind of warm cosiness you might find in Simon and Garfunkel tracks.
Colour of Love, their newly released EP, is a warm glow of a release – it challenges no new frontiers but is all the better for it.
Hope Lovina is the latest singer to emerge who leans on the Sean Paul-influenced sub-genre of bashment to create a sound which could scarcely be more ‘now’ but seems relentlessly sunny. Camden market might not be the most glamorous location to film a music video, but it feels quite apt that such a resolutely British location packed with its ever-cosmopolitan shoppers is the setting for a sound that is influenced from so many areas.
At just sixteen-years-old, Hope is bidding to be the genre’s next flagship artist. Born and raised in Manchester, the teen discovered her singing and songwriting abilities at just six years old. During the last ten years, she’s honed her songwriting craft and fine-tuned her voice, while culminating a clutch of tracks from numerous recording sessions. It wasn’t long until Hope inked a deal with teen initiative label Indie Muscle, before dropping her first offering Wifey.
Though Space Rock immediately brings to mind 70s bands with 3 songs written on their set list, a large stash of weed and an audience with an awful lot of patience (and probably a similar amount of weed), though somewhat stealthily, the late 80s saw a new breed of artists who were, on one level, similarly cosmically inspired, but employed more to their sound than just a few guitar pedals.
The most influential of these is arguably Flaming Lips, a band who over the course of their career have veered wildly from anarchic cut-ups of sound to keyboard-led almost hymn-like anthems. With bands likes Mercury Rev and MGMT joining the procession along the way, Space Rock is now a far more respectable genre, possibly with slightly better drugs.
Even newer to the wave is Satellite Ravens, essentially a one-man show by Phoenix native, Carson Rohde, whose name we haven’t misspelled, it’s just like that. Carson’s spin is to bring some funk to the mix, as a bass-player first and foremost, this is an interesting development, at time changing the slant to something nearer to Happy Mondays than anything else. Indeed, lead single, Changes, kicks off like it’s disco o’clock 1979 before settling back to a swaggering, bouncing study in dream pop and indie shuffle. Lest you think you’ve got the measure of Satellite Ravens, you’ve had two guitar solos, some background screaming and keyboard rushes before the five minutes are up.
Nearer to the aforementioned Flaming Lips and MGMT is the follow-up, Suffocated, though the more obvious comparison is Radiohead, with Carson’s falsetto being very Thom-esque. This is less stompy and more sparkly, with some lovely floating melodies and a bass that rolls in and out like crashing waves. It borders on being too good for it to have come from one person, though there is a suspicion that extra influence from band -mates may tighten up some of the lengthier instrumental indulgences. A tighter edit on this and you’d be looking at prime radio play.
After Thoughts is more confused. At over six minutes, the main melody is colossal, a beautifully crafted majestic avalanche – however, to stretch out the epicness, there are crunchy tempo changes and rather more angular scratching – absolutely fine for live shows but for an album when you’re a complete unknown, it’s a little reckless. These are no longer days where you can look fondly back at your early albums and think how you’ve gone from avant-garde to full orchestra – audiences have less time and, critically, less money.
Enclircled continues to drift towards experimentation, though in a more relaxed, poppy way. It’s the track you’d go to the bar during, though with a slight spring in your step. Equinox Ashes, the album’s lynch-pin, is Carson throwing the kitchen sink at a song, as if you’d foolishly come to conclusion that you’d already experienced the full extent of his potential freakouts. The solo bass breaks guitar are a little too self-indulgent, with few, other than other bass players surely finding anything of worth during these interludes. On the other hand, the more orchestrated elements combining several instruments and effects are tremendously satisfying, a huge credit to both player and arranger. Closing with Searching for a Reason and Rearrange, you’re left with a feeling that you’ve experienced something significant – not something yet fully rounded but something which is definitely leading somewhere. A fine effort.
Having already received glowing reviews across both North and South America, Ricardo Bacelar now releases his latest album, Sebastiana, on CD and vinyl in Europe. The album comprises some of Brazil’s most significant jazz standards alongside some new tracks composed by Bacelar himself, all of which were recorded in Miami with a carefully selected band of musicians from across Latin America, all of whom added something unique from their country of origin.
It’s sophisticated stuff, from synthy squeals to seductive cocktail jazz, smooth without becoming trite or self-satisfied. Though Bacelar’s exceptional keyboard skills underpin the album, the rest of the band are allowed space to breathe musically, a pleasingly democratic arrangement which gives a real feeling of energy to the tracks. The jazz fusion tag shouldn’t scare off those put off by endless noodling and spikey never-ending solos, this is for those kick-your-shoes-off moments when you can pretend your phone ringing is a flock of parrots.
Well worth investing in either the CD or vinyl, both of which are extravagantly packaged.
Although it’s the 50th State, in all other respects, Hawaii feels as distant and exotic as it’s possible to be. From flowery garlands to the reflection of lava flows on mist-covered swamps, it’s known for its mystical qualities and permanently cheery inhabitants – less so for its musical output. Enter Kūkahi, a Hawaiian native who has taught five members of his family to play joyous pop music…with only a smattering of ukulele thrown in for good measure.
JAM represents Kūkahi’s third full-length musical outing, his previous two releases being rapturously received in his homeland, snagging him the Best Alternative Album at the Na Hoku awards (Hawaii’s version of the Grammy’s). Though these covered a huge range of musical styles and showed off his musical dexterity, they were more a showcase than a fully-fledged listening experience. With JAM, Kūkahi and his band (his mum, three sisters and a brother!) have created a straight ahead pop album, with the odd soft rock flourish. Extremely eighties, it’s completely unpretentious and has the feel of a Jackson Five tribute act after too much fizzy pop. Hardly life-changing, but good fun.
Ben Ridley’s debut album, Sing, is tantalisingly close to release, a bewildering almost cinematic stroll through New York streets, or at least those of Brighton. From the jaunty bounce of the album’s first single release, Dancing Mood, to the plaintive falsetto confessional, I’m Only Dreaming, it’s a strange beast in many ways, but never less than intriguing.
Having previously enjoyed the life of a classical pianist, recording successful albums of his own material, Ben has turned his attention to the pop world, using his skills honed in arranging instruments alongside a natural talent behind the production desk. The result is a mature piece of work which fits in no particular time or genre and is all the better for it.
One of the most affecting albums you’ll hear all year, Broken Island’s debut long-player, Wars, is a magical combination of jagged guitars, trip-hop-esque beats and golden vocals. Hailing from Vancouver, remote even by Canadian standards, they combine the flag-waving gloom of Joy Division but with a Sigur Ros level of ethereal orchestration and ambition.
Somehow managing to convey introspective anguish and amplified calls to arms, Broken Islands, along with their celebrated producer, Dave Ogilvie (NIN/Skinny Puppy), break out of the current trend for reviving shoegaze as a genre, by imbuing genuine emotion instead of attempting to fit into templates for the sake of it. Of particular note is Crown, a track which sizzles with tension yet still has a pop heart. Magical stuff, we really can’t recommend it highly enough.
Breakthrough band Oceans Of Noise are now on the path to victory with the first battle ending in the triumphant release of a brand new self titled EP.
Currently based in Turkey, Oceans Of Noise have been over here in the UK to promote their music as well as perform at the OMEARA in London as part of their EP release. They played an array of songs from their vaults, which gave audiences a taste of what is yet to come from the melodic metal band.