Indieterria review – Drusila Want You single

Dear Readers

Logo

Writing reviews is not always as glamorous as it looks – most of the times you have to sit though excruciatingly bad demos or records that offer very little, even to a die-hard music fan. After a while to save your ears, you start to develop a skill to spot good material without hearing a note.  Pro-tip:  look at the name. You can learn quite a few things from the way a band named themselves. It can be poetic (“Collective Soul”), abstract (“Talking Heads”) or can hint at close ties among the members (“The Ramones”). So if you see an original and intriguing name  – grab that release. Nine times out of ten you will be right.

So, last week when I found in my inbox a single by Portsmouth based duo Drusila,  I knew I had quality material for the blog. Just by their name alone. Pop cultural knowledge is your friend when you review music. And a band that chooses a name after a prominent female figure from ancient times will surely indicate an ambitious project.

Drusila: these charming men

I can hear  the moans – Drusila is just an old fashioned name. What is there to get excited about.

A little bit of history lesson for you then, before we get to the music.

Drusila (Greek for “morning dew”) was a young and tragic figure in the times of Roman Empire, boasting of  incredible political heritage. Her father was famous general Germanicus (seen by his people on par with Alexander the Great for his military conquests) and  her mother was Agrippina The Elder (grand -daughter of Emperor Augustus and a powerful persona of Roman society). Drusila`s siblings included: Julia Livilla (“princess of Lesbos”), Agrippina The Younger (empress), emperor Caligula, Nero Julius Caesar and Drusus Caesar (heirs to emperor Tiberius). Her grandmother was empress Julia Augusta. Pomponia Graecina (venerated in Catholic church as St Lucy) was her aunt. After the death of Germanicus at the age of thirty three,  Agrippina The Elder returned to Rome with six of her children and started a series of complex political and military intrigues against Emperor Tiberius, whom she blamed for poisoning her husband. The power struggle was so bloody and so intense that it took lives of all six children of Agrippina The Elder before any of them reached age of forty.

In her life Drusila was a prominent member of the royal family and skilled political player. She was also known to be more beautiful than legendary Cleopatra. She had such a close relationship with her brother Caligula that she was seen as his wife and a lover. She divorced twice at Caligula`s request and shared his household. During his illness Caligula named Drusila as the only hair to all his possession and titles. Had he died, Drusila would inherit the throne and would become the first woman to solely rule Roman Empire.

Melancholic visuals are part of the band`s charm and carefully crafted image.

However, it was Drusila who perished first, during a famine at the age of 22. She would not witness executions, assassinations and starvation of all her other siblings. Caligula who was obsessed with his sister to the point of naming himself her husband (and probably marrying her against all rules of the empire) – proclaimed her a goddess and reincarnation of Venus and buried her in a huge public ceremony. Drusila`s death changed Caligula into a tyrant, who pillaged public funds and drove Roman Empire on the brink of collapse.

If you find this somehow familiar – you are right. Drusila and Caligula serve as a blueprint for Cersei and Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones.

You see – a good name can squeeze volumes of information  for a reviewer to decode and it is such a intellectual pleasure to meet a band who are ambitious and dig history and even have a good taste in picking up a TV show. They would surely be great to interview and maybe that`s what we will do in the coming weeks.

But now – to the point. The single, “Want You” just came out and I am more than happy to lend my ears and my pen to review this song.

“Want You” is a sultry electro-pop ballad for the romantics on the indie circuit. You can clearly imagine a club night full of kids on the floor dancing to it, and maybe using it to let their secret crush know how they feel about them. But the single is so much more than a perfect Fresher`s Week club filler. Drusila are very clever – they take elements from their contemporaries (like Hurts) but also from older genres: cold wave, 80s synth wave and electronic music to forge their own unique sound. It is hard to believe that George William Robert and Hugo Seckington (who form the duo) started out this year. They sound like a band with at least two-three years of touring and recording experience with a good understanding where they want to be in five – ten years time.

Single cover for Want You – red roses and suits, some very clever references to Morrissey and Depeche Mode. We approve.

Judging from previous singles and videos (“Forget”, “Something For Nothing”) Drusila have a liking for theatrics on stage and spiky hair that would make Robert Smith right at home. Combine that with ability to write beautiful pop melodies and you have a very interesting mix.

Forget single cover – we do love the spiky hair (and eyeliner!)

On reviewer described Drusila as a “strange affair between The Cure, Hurts and Pet Shop Boys” and I am a bit jealous that I didn’t come with this line myself. It summarizes their sound so nicely. From my end I will definitely add that they have ambition and talent to back up their impressive influences.  So it seems we have a duo that we need to keep an eye on. Those boys will be here for a long while. Lucky us.

Something For Nothing single sleeve – bringing to mind the 80s cult series The Twilight Zone. We said. we love the references Drusila envoke in their visuals.

You can follow the band on social media:

https://www.facebook.com/DrusilaWeAre/
https://twitter.com/DrusilaWeAre
https://www.instagram.com/drusilaband/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCE9ry-OOi9EB_UXrHoEoyxA
https://soundcloud.com/user-970258778
https://open.spotify.com/artist/1Lc5UFs2kwrs8HxGLjoIp7?si=W9I4XTBARnmc6eWQMqvQFQ

Or you can listen to them here:

That`s all for us this time around. I will leave you with one more stunning visual from Drusila – in the studio. As this blog goes live, the band has been featured on BBC Introducing and has a session at Rough Trade.  The only way up for them boys is up.

Purple haze – Drusila in the studio.

 

Cheerios,

Malicia

Indieterria review – Less is Better by False Heads

Dear readers,

On August 23rd, we have published our along awaited interview with False Heads. We wanted to do it for such a long period of time so we were truly happy when our plans finally materialized. And today, we would like to add the part deux to the interview in form of a review of their EP entitled “Less Is Better”.

False Heads UK/European tour, September-October 2018

Working with False Heads is incredibly simple. They are very communicative, easy going and open. Listening to their music is almost the same – it gives you some kind of liberty and freedom. Their music is heavy, full of emotions and raw, yet it has healing capabilities. It frees you of bad thoughts, gives you a respite from the world filled with large amounts of everything: bad news, information, cruelty. Even if this is just for a little while, but it helps.

If you’d like to read our interview with False Heads, please use the link below:
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2018/08/23/indieterria-meets-false-heads/

 

Less Is Better cover

We all know the popular expression “May you live in interesting times”. At first glance, it looks like a thrilling adventure. Interesting times are just that – interesting. You are not being bored, there is always something going on. Moving from place to place, travelling all over the world, an unexpected event here and there. A true bliss for adrenaline addicted folks. Yet, look closely at those “interesting times” and you may find out they mean something more sinister. War, economic troubles, racial tensions, lack of understanding, lack of prospects, industrial and cultural decay, and political oppression – the list could go on forever.

The saying is supposedly a translation of a Chinese curse and it does feels sometimes like we have been cursed to live through the worse. The last decade is certainly an interesting one. It took a lot of things from us that we have taken for granted and gave back nothing but kicks in the teeth and serious headaches. Trump, Brexit, instability, conservative and outdated outlooks on life, austerity, poverty – throw it into the mix and you have a recipe for long lasting troubles. It is not dark yet, but as the bard proclaims, it is getting there.

The times are not easy, money are tight yet silver lining is always there. People are organizing, communities are forming and the art is back on the streets where it belongs. We are experiencing a real renaissance of guitar driven, angst-filled scene with excellent bands popping all over the shop. Idles, The Blinders, Children of the State, Shame, The Surrenders, The Americas, The Wholls – again too many to list them all in this article. There is something special happening in Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham, Sheffield and in other cities. It is almost like some barrier has been removed and all those tamed feelings and frustrations suddenly found their release in music. We are literally drowning in sound and if this is the end, then it is the beautiful way to die.

We are not dead yet, as a lady keeps reminding us in one of the most important books of the 20th century. And if we are not dead yet, then we can enjoy whatever life throws at us. And today, my rock and roll existence offered me a chance to review a 4 track EP by False Head. And boy, it was a right smack in the face.

False Heads are a trio from South London that shook and stirred the rock and roll scene with such force that Iggy Pop had to stop and watch them. And so did the legendary manager, Danny Fields. You know the one who discovered and gave us The Ramones. With such a strong support from industry’s greatest, False Heads quickly conquered the capitol and large parts of the UK, gaining a truly faithful fan base. The EP is called “Less Is Better” and has been released by These Bloody Thieves Records to fantastic reviews from other bloggers and A&R’s.

The first song (and the second lead single promoting this release) “Yellow” starts as suspected with heavy riffs, catchy melodies and powerful drumming. Luke Griffith’s voice is well matched to the music and this is one of the most important qualities of the band. He knows how to use his voice and does it perfectly. When the music slows down, Luke’s singing technique is almost classical – clear and smooth. Second later, accompanied by fuzzed guitars, his voice is dripping with sarcasm or turning into scratchy, angry scream. His ability to vocally adapt to sudden tempo changes are well known and you need to see him live to fully appreciate how good he is. He is also a skilled guitarist and it needs to be noted that he can sing, play and roll around the stage in a frenzy simultaneously without losing any of his abilities. It is easy to understand why Iggy Pop is praising False Heads so highly. I’m sure he can see a younger version of himself in their stage act and again, this is something worth celebrating. Not many musicians can fall to their knees, crawl, jump and throw themselves off the stage and still deliver without dropping their Fender Cyclone in the process.

Praising Luke’s talents, let’s not forget about Barney Nash (drummer) and Jake Elliott (bassist) who are match made in heaven. These two seem to communicate telepathically as they are perfectly tuned to each other and nothing seems to distract them or break up their musical unison. Their thunderous bass-drum coalition rolls you into the ground like a steam roller and you don’t know what hit you. You only know it came fast, out of nowhere and it was really, really heavy.

In the lyrics department, False Heads are no poets and frankly, nobody expects them to be. You will not find any literary or artistic references in their words. They are street-smart, boyz-from-the-hood, type of lads that talk straight from their hearts, yet they do it with wit and intellect. “I let my hair down” sings Luke Griffiths in “Yellow” only to add playfully in the next line “So you can tear out”. The songs touch on serious topics such as alienation, living with constant stress (“Better let me down, better let me down. You can shoot away, we’ve all seen better days”) and trying to find a way of reducing what we have or what we know (“The less I know, the less I’m beat”).

The second song on this EP (and in a strange twist of things, the first single released to promote it in February) “Retina” is by far my favourite track and will probably end up in the top 5 on my personal list of the bests songs released this year. It reminds me of Nirvana, Green River and early Screaming Trees with its heavy bass line, repeated loops and catchy choruses. It is also the most commercially and radio friendly song the band has released so far and a massive crowd pleaser. Please check the video to this song as it is very nicely done as well.

“Help Yourself” and “Wrap up” bring traditional rock and roll mayhem to the center of the stage. Both compositions are everything we love in this genre: chaos, lo-fi distortions, unpredictability and creativity. Yes, creativity may not be the word you have expected to be used here but there is a serious structure to the songs and a calculated method in this madness. They may sound like an outcome from the strangest jamming session in the studio, but they are neatly written and produced to the highest standard. And they serve a specific purpose, I recon. They are long and wild and allow the band to trash their equipment or create as much noise pollution as possible at the end of the gig. Sonic catharsis, anybody? Here you go, sweat your souls out, dance until you collapse and you can happily march home whistling on your way back from the venue.

How do we rate this EP? 5 stars out of five and a hand shake to Jonathan Hucks who produced this absolute beauty. If you haven’t ordered your copy yet, do it as it is an essential addition to your record collection.

False Heads are currently on their UK/European tour and we will hear great things about this band in the future. If the music continues to be as good as it is now, then I hope to live in interesting times for a little bit longer.

And you will be wishing to do that as well.

EP Less is better is out on 23rd of  September (digital) and 5th of October (physical copy) through These Bloody Thieves Record/Cargo Records

Track listing:

  1. Yellow
  2. Retina (EP version)
  3. Help Yourself
  4. Wrap Up

https://www.facebook.com/FalseHeads
http://www.falseheads.com
https://www.instagram.com/falseheads/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqivl1sWLJyZxP3Ywei3HGw
https://twitter.com/FalseHeads

You can pre-order it here:
http://smarturl.it/FalseHeads

Hand written letter from the band received with a review copy (page 1)

 

And page two!

Till we meet again,

Rita Dabrowicz

Indieterria review – Guitar Music Is Dead by The Americas

“Not scared of no darkness” – The Americas “Guitar Music is Dead” review


When I look back, there is a cinematic quality to it. I can see it in my mind unfolding like a film. A girl is walking into a local venue, wrapped in her over-sized winter jacket. She`s very nervous to the point of feeling lightheaded. Yet, she is very determined. She came to this place to find bands to promote. She is about to rebuild her life from actual scratch and it’s the music business with no plan B. She will find herself some local acts to promote and it will snowball from here. It`s a Phillip Hall or Tony Wilson type of thing. You would not understand.

The bar is half full with some people talking and listening to songs played via PA system. There could have been an open mic night but it ended. The girl was late. She loiters with a glass of cola for a while and then strikes rather awkward conversation with two guys at the bar. They seem like a perfect target. And the conversation goes like this:

– Sooo, are you in a band? – she asks
– Yes – one of the boys is irritated because he has just been mistaken for his twin brother
– We are … ummm a five piece…
– And have a female singer  – interrupts the brother and they do look identical
– Would you describe yourself as a good band?

The boys stare at each other:

– Suppose so? – says the first one measuring words – But if you want to find a good band in this town there`s The Americas…

The Americas

The boy is Fergus Brazier – lead guitarist of incredibly potent indie pop/shoegaze act named nth cave. His hair is still not dyed blue, he is months away from departing to London to work at the Beeb. His brother is Hector Brazier, drummer in the same band. They recorded a session for BBC Hereford and Worcester but have no idea that it will become one of the most popular sessions for local chapter of BBC Introducing. They are unaware that in the future they will co headline Musicians Against Homelessness in Worcester collecting more funds than a similar event in Birmingham. It is also too early for their demos to end up on Steve Lamacq`s desk. It`s only winter 2016 and we have just met.

Similarly, the entire local music scene is yet nameless. It will take several more months before Andrew Marston of BBC coins the term “WorcesterWave” to describe our collective push to be recognized. But the stars are aligning. The nth cave boys just introduced me to The Americas.  I don’t know many people in town so it is hard for me to name others in the room. But it is full of people with whom I will work and whom I will call friends. Jesse River Dylan Murray is packing up his guitar – dressed in his fashionable coat, Troy Tittley of Nuns of the Tundra is out in the little garden in the back of the venue. Hanna Webb is saying good bye to her mates from Population 7 by the doors, there is a song by Soeur on the speakers…

 

The EP banner

The girl goes home quite ignorant that she accidentally stepped in to an environment that resembles Seattle in the late 80s – where local music scene is full of incredible talent and it is ready to make itself known to the country. So far the girl has just learned names of two local bands. One of them will change her considerably. She gets home and puts The Americas into Google…

It took 547 more days (I have been counting, not sure what it says about me) to finally see the band live – on 16th September 2017 during Worcester Music Festival. By then, The Americas had three singles out and they toured the country playing all the important festivals. They rounded up the year being featured by Tom Robinson on BBC 6 Music during his Christmas program.

Second time I`ve seen them was on 30th March 2018 (tendency to remember life events by the gigs), they played to a sold out crowd in the same venue when I first heard their name. They were dressed in matching red suits and white shirts. They debuted some new songs and taunted an upcoming EP.

If I can conjure some more of this nonexistent film about the Worcester scene. In March 2018, I am now at the side of the stage screaming out America`s lyrics and having a very emotional time. Over the two years period The Americas found a way into my soul and into my playlists. I interviewed them for my blog, I discovered their previous  project (Holy!), I have their song on my ringtone and I march into work at a local authority to their beat. If allowed – I am harping about them (and The Blinders) to anyone who was unlucky to show interest in anything music related.  The band kind of become friends since we all live in the same town.

The WorcesterWave is in full swing – local artists have been on BBC Hereford and Worcester, BBC West Midlands, Black Country Radio, Radio Brum, XS Manchester, BBC Radio 1 (including a Maida Vale session for Soeur), 6 Music, Radio X, Amazing Radio and festivals around the country. Local press (Worcester News, Malvern Gazette, Hereford Times), big rock magazines (Louder Than War, Kerrang, NME), independent zines (Leather + Denim, Some Might Say) have featured artists from the scene.  It becomes the norm to see local bands regularly gigging in London, Cardiff, Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester, opening festival stages and even being considered for labels. If a movie about us is ever going to be made – there surely will be a scene of Fergus (with his now trademark blue hair) pitching local acts to some indie labels at a music fair in London for an hour and forty –five minutes. Or The Americas singing their hearts out at The Lexington while opening for The Blinders…

Our combined efforts, support from Beeb and DJs such as Andrew Marston, Steve Lamacq, John Kennedy, Daniel P Carter, Huw Stephens, Mary Ann Hobbs, Lauren Laverne or Tom Robinson and simple luck pushed WorcesterWave further than anyone of us would dream. But one thing remains certain: The Americas seem to be ahead of everyone. They set trends and go places like they have found a crystal ball and can see the future. Whatever they do today, the scene will try out tomorrow.

And here we get to the meritum of this longish essay – the debut EP from The Americas aptly entitled “Guitar Music Is Dead”.

Signed copy of Guitar Music Is Dead

On September 7th 2018 The Americas debuted a six track EP – their first offering to the world. Recorded at a secret studio located in Oxfordshire countryside, “Guitar Music Is Dead” has been mixed and produced by Mike Hill and the band, using tape instead of digital technology. It gives the record unique, old fashioned feeling – something that you don’t hear on other indie releases. However this is not nostalgia for the golden era of rock and roll. The EP feels very modern, both in sound and output. It just has that “thin mercury sound” that Bob Dylan spoke about – for a lack of better definition.

Analogue approach brings forward the beauty of The Americas that could have been overlooked before – that of honesty, that comes from hearts and experiences of the members.  The band does not shy away from hard topics on the record: loneliness in “Come on Out”, political and economical mess of the world  in “American Morning” or drug use in “I Don’t Wanna Go Home”. But everything is delivered with a dose of sadness and poetry, rather than a blunt force. The Americas look at the world and  see what surrounds us and react to it in their own ways. They do get angry in “Bad News” that seems to be directed at people in music industry (or any industry where you work and struggle) but also deliver a beautifully crafted song about getting away in “Backyard Love Song” and a love song in form of “Rosanna”. This is my personal favourite. If I may dedicate few lines of text to it.

Front Cover of the EP, Photo by Holly Elizabeth Beson-Tams (band`s official photographer)
https://www.facebook.com/DenimnLeatherMagazine

“Rosanna” closes the record with a bang and a wonderful jam at the end of the track. But it is the lyrics that won me over.  Perhaps I am wrong, but this is not an ordinary love song. This is a “love beyond the grave” type of a story – where two people have each other for ever, no matter what.  “Rosanna” is a possessive, us vs. the world, Bonnie and Clyde, True Romance kind of a feeling. The one that each of us dreamed of but very few will ever experience.  And then there is this passage “I am not scared of no darkness, as long as I’ve got you here in my heart”.  For a whole list of personal reasons that should not go into the review  – this line got to me and became some sort of a mantra in times of trouble. It is nearly a protective spell, and I don’t believe in magic. I do however believe in power of music and “Rosanna” is one hell of a powerful statement.

The EP also brings in a new element to band`s repertoire. For the first time, both Harry Payne and Aaron Whittaker share vocal duties.  Aaron takes leads on “American Morning” and “Backyard Love Song” – both compositions he authored. While Harry Payne`s vocals are expressive and at times cutting like knives (last minute of “I Don’t Wanna Go Home will leave you with deep emotional scars), Aaron vocals are soothing and gentle. Harry and Aaron complement each other, when one sings leads, the other does backing parts and it works like magic. I have yet to find an indie record that has this sort of chemistry and fellowship between band members.

Back Cover of the EP, Photo by Holly Elizabeth Beson-Tams (band`s official photographer) https://www.facebook.com/DenimnLeatherMagazine

That partnership is very much visible on stage when The Americas play live. They instinctively know what the other person will do, where the music goes, what songs follows. Off stage, they sit together like a family unit rather than a bunch of mates.  I have seen other acts being fiercely jealous of the unity in The Americas. Come to think of it, “Guitar Music Is Dead” would not be such an exemplary record if it wasn’t for the brotherhood shared between Harry, Alex and  Aaron.

And I have to mention something about Alex Bradshaw`s drumming. The legend has it that he was “stolen” by Aaron and Harry from his mother group and was convinced to join The Americas instead. I`m not particularly sure this is what really happened but Alex`s input in the band is crucial for the sound. He hits the tubes like there is no tomorrow in “Bad News”, only to bring delicate textures of “American Morning” next and contributes groove to the phenomenal jam at the end of “Rosanna”.  How many times you get to listen to a record and say – yep, the drummer is the right one for the band. The chemistry between Aaron and Harry is kept in perfect balance by Alex and there is no doubt about it.

“Guitar Music is Dead” is a great EP, lasting about 30 minutes and it’s one of two records of the year for me, alongside with “Columbia” from The Blinders. What is a small disappointment to me, unlike “Columbia”, “Guitar Music Is Dead” doesn’t fully capture how the band sound when playing live. You still need to see The Americas on stage to fully understand their powerful mix of Americana, soul, gospel and classic rock. The EP is an excellent record but The Americas are capable of so much more than the format could handle.

If you can get yourself a copy of the EP, do so. It will be exciting for me to see where the band will go from here. And perhaps for the entire WorcesterWave scene as well.

 

Cover of Come On Out – first single to promote the EP.

***

It was very hard to write this review. Took me about a week.  I wrote at home, in a hotel at 3AM when on a trip to Manchester, on buses and in bed. I reviewed “Columbia” in about 5 hours from start to finish and required four revisions. The Americas took about thirty. This record hits so close to home that I had to take chunks of text out not to make it too personal. Morrissey once said that we should never forget the records that saved our lives. “Guitar Music Is Dead” did just that. On at least three occasions this year.

Alex, Harry and Aaron – thank you.

***

Cover of “American Morning” – second single off the EP

“Guitar Music Is Dead” was released on 7th September 2018.

TRACKLIST:

1. Come On Out
2. American Morning
3. Bad News
4. Backyard Love Song
5. I Don`t Wanna Go Home
6. Rosanna

Order:

https://theamericasyeah.bigcartel.com/product/guitar-music-is-dead-cd-pre-order

Cover of “Rosanna” – third and final single to promote the EP

Interview with the band:

https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/indieterria-meets-the-americas/

You can follow The Americas using the links below:

http://www.theamericasyeah.com/
https://www.facebook.com/theamericasyeah/
https://soundcloud.com/theamericasyeah
https://twitter.com/theamericasyeah
https://www.instagram.com/theamericasyeah/
https://open.spotify.com/artist/1QxPYzki5ME5mHztKXbEir?si=AC1ZwAdZSUemXwrCC3u3TQ
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/guitar-music-is-dead-ep/1422754052

Or listen online:

The EP has been promoted by three singles that were released throughout the summer. You can find them on band`s YouTube channel with respective lyrics.

Reviews:

Please do not take just my word for granted how good The Americas` EP is. Here is a whole bunch of other reviews (and this is just a small fragment of what`s out there) if you cannot make up your mind if you shall get your own copy of “Guitar Music Is Dead”:

Gigslutz:  „Every track varies from the last, showing the incredible talent and individual sound the band is bringing to the table, and this just the start of what The Americas are capable of”

http://www.gigslutz.co.uk/ep-americas-guitar-music-dead-2/

This Feeling track of the day: “Anthemic, groove laden guitar music you can dance to – and no one’s doing it better right now”.

http://www.gigslutz.co.uk/feeling-track-day-americas-come/

Oddscene (French online magazine):  “The Englishmen of “The Americas” start a brand new chapter with their first EP that will see the light of day in September”.

https://oddsceneblog.wordpress.com/2018/08/08/the-americas-on-veut-creer-quelque-chose-qui-soit-hors-du-temps/

Words For Music: “EP packs a whole load of guitar in one place. The ring of the classic bluesy vocals are complemented by rock and country guitars while hats are surely tipped towards indie music, making you really question the Midland origin of the band”.

https://wordsformusic.blog/2018/09/08/ep-review-the-americas-guitar-music-is-dead/

The review was followed by Q&A by the magazine:

https://wordsformusic.blog/2018/09/04/interview-the-americas-answer-10-questions/

Counteract:  The Americas are ensuring guitar music is in rude health”.

http://counteract.co/interview/interview-the-americas-come-on-out-for-new-single/

Northern Exposure:  “The Americas are a British guitar band trying to make it pay in the 21st century. Taking influences from 70’s Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and American pop-culture.They put on their suits, strap up their boots and take their rock and roll gospel to anyone who’ll listen”.

http://northern-exposure.co/the-americas-announce-three-new-singles/

North Exposure:  “These indie rockers cause quite a ruckus when playing and have taken that riot on tour with a slurry of festival appearances last year which were all well received”.

http://northern-exposure.co/daily-exposed-the-americas-come-on-out/

We Close Tonight: “If you can find me a trio of blokes from Birmingham who are better at making Americana music than The Americas, I’ll buy you a pint of something bitter.”

https://weclosetonight.com/2018/08/08/the-americas-rosanna/

One Great Song:  “From indie infused country guitar to melodic piano and bluesy vocals, the trio’s debut EP is shaping up to be a refreshing offering of proper guitar music with a nostalgic twist”.

https://www.onegreat-song.com/single-post/2018/07/30/The-Americas—American-Morning

One Great Song:  “Heavenly melodies meet with bluesy, soothing vocals  to create a classic rock n roll edge”

https://www.onegreat-song.com/single-post/2018/06/04/The-Americas—Come-On-Out

One Great Song: “Nobody else is producing a sound quite like theirs right now, and the Guitar Music Is Dead EP is all the evidence you need of that. Traditional but quirky, nostalgic and powerful; The Americas are proving that guitar music is in fact thriving”.

https://www.onegreat-song.com/single-post/2018/09/13/The-Americas—Guitar-Music-Is-Dead

Indie Central Music: „The Americas have just released six-track EP ‘Guitar Music Is Dead’, and prove in 29 minutes of 60’s-flavoured rock’n’roll that they are one of the new wave of UK bands making sure guitar music is very much alive”. (also user rating for the band is stated at 8.2 out of 10)

http://indiecentralmusic.com/moder-age-music-song-of-the-week/

Reyt Good Magazine:  “With their reputation and fanbase rapidly growing across the independent scene, the band look to be a definite hit this summer”.

https://www.rgm.press/review-the-americas-come-on-out/

Popped Music: “Once again the guys have smashed it and given us a summer anthem that we can listen to all day, every day. “ (about “American Morning”)

https://poppedmusic.co.uk/2018/08/09/just-listen-the-americas-american-morning/

Popped Music: “Have been a big fan of The Americas since seeing them gracing the stages at some small venues and then smashing their set at Isle of Wight Festival (…) Judging from this release, the EP, “Guitar Music is Dead”, is something to look forward to”. (about “Come On Out”)

https://poppedmusic.co.uk/2018/06/03/just-listen-the-americas-come-on-out/

Indie For Bunnies
(Italian Indie Blog): “For lovers of that sound of the ’70s but also for those looking for a half hour of great music: do not waste your time and listen to it, guitar music will never die.”

http://www.indieforbunnies.com/2018/09/15/ep-the-americas-guitar-music-is-dead/

Denim+ Leather: “Beautifully refreshing in a sea of indie rock and their songs truly mean something”.

http://denimnleather.blogspot.com/2018/06/the-americas-come-on-out-single-review.html

Indie Radar added “Bad News” to their playlist showcasing the most important guitar bands in the UK

On 7th September 2018prestigious service Indie radar added “Bad News” to their Spotify playlist

Till the next time.

Malicia

“Everyone can enjoy the sun on their face. It’s a basic privilege even the plants have.”

Indieterria review – Columbia by The Blinders

 

“Dream the most dangerous of dreams” – The Blinders “Columbia”

Dear readers,

So, I have got copy of “Columbia” – the debut album by The Blinders. When I am writing this review (or rather an essay), it is exactly three weeks to physical release of the album and the world is buzzing. Tickets to upcoming tour start to fly out, the performance at Leeds and Reading festivals put the band on radars and lips of thousands of people, series of record store performances and signing sessions has been unveiled for September. Their songs are Radio 1 and 6 Music singles of the week, Guardian mentions, 300-400 tweets generated a day, real talk among A&Rs and business insiders that the album may go into top 40, every indie band I know looks up to them – you get the picture.

This is a young, promising act on the edge of great things to come. They are the new Manic Street Preachers – throwing intellectualism, poetry and art at the world, loudly commenting political reality, wearing war paint and messages on their instruments.

They are once-in-a-generation band, a trio of working class lads from Doncaster with vision, balls and talent to offer the jaded, over-saturated world of pop music something fresh.  And people are drawn to it. You will see more and more fans jumping on The Blinders bandwagon as the time goes by. I`m old enough to see this happen several times in the past. It is exciting and scary, both for the writer and the band. I`ll get to that scary part at the end of this essay.

The Blinders headlining BBC Introducing stage at Leeds Festival 2018, photo by Sam Crowston https://www.facebook.com/sam.crowston

But back to the task at hand. How do you review “Columbia”? A deeply personal record for me for myriad of reasons. Do you do a regular review about the music and the cover and lyrics? Do you do a more in-depth account throwing some of your personal experiences into the mix?

I`ll write the emotional account – because I can`t do otherwise. It would not be honest. Especially since I have been championing and shouting about The Blinders daily for the last 2,5 years. And I don’t want this review to look like it`s written by a PR person for the band.

This review is done because The Blinders won me over.

Because we share the same background and love for high art.

Because we have similar determination in life.

And because we have “met” in a “right” moment.

In store appearances scheduled after Columbia comes out on 21st September 2018

“Columbia” is an angry album.  It`s written by musicians who come of age in a dark period – full of corrupted figures that divide not just people but the world with walls and borders, planet full of CCTV cameras and reality shows, party identities, wars, destruction of the environment, zero hours contracts and social media aka Big Brother.

The band grew up in a post industrial town with outdated architecture (“granite building and 1960s concrete bridges and the factories – they were just making electric fridges” from “Orbit”), read Orwell at school (1984 is a constant motive though out several songs on the album such as “Where No Man Comes” or “Ballad of Winston Smith”) and looked carefully around to witness modern poverty (“men and women worked to death”, “darkness seems to take its hold over both the poor and old”), saturation with news (“forgotten stories on the news”), refugee crisis (“fox hunt the refugees”) and general hopelessness (“feel so helpless all time”).

This will lead to righteous anger at previous generations and the state of the world. “Who will stand against them all?” ask The Blinders in “Ballad of Winston Smith” and follow up with a passionate soliloquy in “Free The Slave” against religious leaders, political figures and society in general.

Bleakness takes the center of the stage next to anger on “Columbia”. “They gonna build the Berlin Wall, divide us in two, and kill me and you” – screams Thomas Haywood at one point and this is not the only violent moment. Police brutality is referenced on “I Can`t Breathe Blues,” dragging people in the middle of the night from their beds is mentioned in “Where No Man Comes” and  there is talk about having your throat slit in “Brutus”. “Rat in a Cage” goes as far as to offer us an apocalyptic vision of devastated earth (“polluted and poisoned and dying race, our god doesn’t want to see the end of days”).

Columbia Tour poster for Autumn 2018

It is enough to make any young man pick up an instrument and scream into the void. And this is what The Blinders are doing with exceptional skills.  Their younger listeners will agree, but what about you older, more established members of society? Do you feel the same anger and hopelessness? Do you remember yourself from the way back when you were twenty – something and  you too wanted to change the world? What do you see and what do you feel when you listen to “Columbia”?

I almost forgot how it felt when I breathed anger at lack of prospects, walls and crazed political heads. Until “Columbia” arrived in its 12 track glory and hit me right in the chest. The album caused me physical pain – at the memories of growing up in a rundown mining town (to which I hate to return even now),  living in a Grenfell Tower like building in the middle of a council estate. In a world behind the Iron Curtain at a time when Berlin Wall was still standing and people were shot for trying to get to the other side.  Give or take, The “Orbit” or “The Ballad of Winston Smith” can be about me – for I too read 1984 in class, as art and literature were the only forms of escape. In desperation to have an impact on the world I even picked a tool of trade, but it wasn’t a guitar. It was a camera…

Cover artwork for Columbia Photo by Sam Crowston
https://www.facebook.com/sam.crowston

“Columbia” was recorded in winter of 2017 at the Magic Garden studio with Gavin Monaghan as producer. It is the final stop in a long journey the band went though in the last two-three years.  It captures the spirit of their live performance to the last sparkle. If you have seen The Blinders live you will notice immediately that “Et Tu”, “Brutus” and “Berlin Wall” come one after another on the record, in the same order as they come on stage. The band likes to use all three compositions to end their shows with a proper punch. Two older songs “Brave New World” and “I Can`t Breathe Blues” albeit in newer versions made it onto the record. “ICB Blues”originally appeared on the 2016 EP “Hidden Horror Dance”, while “Brave New World” was previously released as a stand-alone single in 2017. If one follows the band, there is very little new material you can hear on the record. All three main singles “Gotta Get Through”, “L`Etat C`Est Moi” and “Brave New World” have been on the radio since March. “Brutus” and “Hate Song” are in regular rotation during live performances since last year.  If you watch Pirate Studios performance from 2017 you can see early version of “Hate Song” being named “March March March” (19:00 mins mark). “Rat in a Cage” and “Orbit (Salmon of Alaska)” appeared in live versions on socials in recent weeks, so  the only new compositions that have not been heard are “Where No Man Comes” and  short “Free The Slave”.  Is it bad? Not at all in my eyes.   I regard “Columbia” as crowning achievement of the bands potential so far.  They evolved so much in such a short time that it is incredible to observe. “Columbia” brings and ties all the ends from their career so far in one spectacular album.

Do yourself a little favour  and listen to very early demos from Thomas Haywood`s SoundCloud account. Songs such as “Ballad of Johnny Dream” and “Wither” (or even “Death of Narcissist”) had a huge influence on “Orbit” and “Ballad of Winston Smith”.  There is also a very early demo of “Ramona Flowers” and “You`re So Cold” aptly entitled “The Darkest Thing I Ever Did Feel” on the account for those who are familiar with band`s older repertoire.

It is a privilege to see any band develop, less alone a band that will define the voice of a generation. I`ve been very lucky to discover The Blinders in May (?) 2016. Music Business is a cut throat industry, there are more bands that break up than those who make it. It takes determination, sacrifices, and being single minded to stick with being in a band.

I recently interviewed The Blinders and asked them what profession they would pursue if they haven’t been making music. “We’d probably all be butchers or something” came an answer. And then they added: “At the end of the day without signing a deal [with label Modern Sky UK] we wouldn’t be talking to you about our debut album. We’d still be scrapping around trying get Brave New World recorded. We were given the chance and we took it, and we can’t more grateful for that. We are now in a situation where we can pursue art and writing for a living, so you can’t complain”.

Those words stayed with me and returned to me when listening to “Columbia”. The band put everything what they had into their music and stayed on course despite heavy odds. Both Thomas Haywood and drummer Matthew Neale left university without a degree. They were also lucky to land a recording deal. Without it, who can say how things would turn out?

If I can be very personal for a short moment again. Here comes another reason why I have such an emotional relationship with “Columbia” and the band. I mentioned that we “met” in a “right” time.  Like them, I was pursuing a dream despite heavy losses, ridicule and scrapping by. In ten years I did not manage to break into the industry I loved despite being ready to sacrifice everything for it. Even my personal safety. Even life. Then trauma came and put the end to my chosen career. I relocated to UK in February 2016 with a life long illness and lack of direction. I put together whatever was left of “old” me and started all over again slowly building up a path as an A&R on the indie circuit. Another country, another  career with apologies to David Bowie.  The Blinders were one of the first bands I took notice of. And their music stayed with me since. In an ironic twist of fate our paths seem to cross on the indie circuit. If I seen them live at a venue, the next week one of the bands I worked with would be playing  the same stage. To me and to me only “Columbia” is not just an album that shows true talent of three young lads. It is a soundtrack to my own personal journey to where I am now. The record entangled itself (or maybe I made it this way) with what happened in the last years and will always remind me of the bleakest and most victorious moments. That’s my own “concept” behind the record.

Thomas Haywood (“Johnny Dream”) performing with The Blinders (“Codeine Scene”) at The Sunflower Lounge on 16.02.2018

To anyone else it can be a striking concept album telling a story of a dystopian state of Columbia, where people disappear at nights, where police is free to murder and oppress, where population live in poverty and the young feel anger and solitude. Where Johnny Dream is calling to break out from mental cages and to support one another. Where despite the evil and the suffering there is still place for compassion, love and will to survive.

It can also be a set of twelve songs without any story behind them that try to make sense of the messed up world we live in.

It is guitar orientated  album that is true to the live performance.  Songs are fast and yet catchy, with haunting back ground vocals and  hypnotizing drums. Sometimes there`s spirit of Jim Morrison there in the spoken parts, sometimes you will hear Oasis or The Beatles or even Pink Floyd flirting with David Bowie. You can hear Mark Bolan`s groove.  There are some oriental musical themes that make me think of Kula Shaker. But mostly, mostly it is the fresh perspective on what music should be in 2018 – direct, poetic, enigmatic, political, tearing out your soul  and different from what is happening around. And that is what Thomas Haywood, Matty Neale and Charlie McGough bring to the table.

The album may be bleak as the abyss but I can see The Blinder`s future in quite a positive light. At the end of this review I`d like to refer to one single thing I  find worrying.  Here`s a small appeal to fellow music press folks – please do not treat the bands members and especially the vocalist as some sort of rock gods. I find the comparisons to “messiahs” or “Jim Morrisson” absurd and dangerous. Stage persona is not necessarily how artists are in real life. Please enjoy the show and leave the whole rock god icon in the past.  4REAL.

Columbia is out on 21st September 2018 via Modern Sky UK.

TRACKLIST:
1. Gotta Get Through
2. L’Etat C’Est Moi
3. Hate Song
4. Where No Man Comes
5. Free The Slaves
6. I Can’t Breathe Blues
7. Ballad Of Winston Smith
8. Et Tu
9. Brutus/Berlin Wall
10. Brave New World
11. Rat In A Cage
12. Orbit (Salmon of Alaska)

Introduction to the band:
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2018/07/07/indieterria-presents-the-blinders/

Interview with The Blinders:
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2018/08/24/indieterria-meets-the-blinders/

You can follow The Blinders on inter-webs:

https://theblinders.tmstor.es/
http://facebook.com/theblindersband
http://twitter.com/theblindersband
https://instagram.com/theblinders
https://soundcloud.com/theblinders-music
https://open.spotify.com/artist/3Z8Y3Ek99rukRa1Hdo14GE?si=yx5j8oK-RpG6qE7MQtVU5Q

Or their label Modern Sky:

https://modernsky.uk/
https://modernsky.uk/blinders-debut-album-columbia-now-available-pre-order
https://twitter.com/ModernSkyUK
https://www.facebook.com/ModernSkyUK/

Till the next time,

Malicia D.

Indieterria Reviews: Mudlark

Hello!

It is a common knowledge that Wales has a strong connection to music. From Ivor Novello, Shirley Bassey and Tom Jones to Budgie, Funeral for a Friend, Manic Street Preachers and Catatonia, Welsh music has always been a step ahead of everybody else, setting new trends and refining musical tastes for decades.

The money might be in London, but the talent is definitively hidden among the valleys and it’s our pleasure to introduce our readers to the best of new acts that Vanadian Avenue has the privilege to discover.

Come Clean /Swansong cover by Robert Paterson

Our today’s guests, Mudlark hail from the beautiful town of Caerphilly. At the beginning, it is worth mentioning that their name is quite original and what’s even more important, it fits them like a glove. In the 18th and 19th century England (especially in the capitol) people scavenging through the river mud in search of valuable items to sell were called either mud searchers or mud lurkers. Usually they belonged to the city’s poorest residents, yet they enjoyed a great deal of  independence, respect among other dwellers and could keep all their earnings to themselves. Nowadays, the term is attributed to treasure hunters, amateur archaeologists and even metal-detectors looking for World Word II souvenirs. When we say the name fits the band well, we mean the listener has to literary “dig” through many layers and intricately constructed melodies to discover and appreciate the true value of their music. Multidimensional and complex creations are Mudlark’s trademarks.

The quintet was formed over two years ago and on the 5th of November 2017, they released their new double track single entitled “Come clean/Swansong”. You may remember them from their September release of an instrumental track “Ruth” that received very warm reviews from independent music websites and online zines. A well made, silent-cinema inspired video (known as “Frankenstein’s Ruth”) also helped to raise the band’s profile. We can promise you that the new release is as good as the previous one and shows that Mudlark are in incredibly great musical shape.

Mudlark picture by Rhys Morgan

Now let’s sink our teeth into the two new compositions. The first one track “Come Clean” is the shorter of the two, standing at only 2 minutes and three seconds. It starts with a longish atmospheric interlude but blossoms into a dynamic and structured sonic landscape at the end of the first minute. The band lists New York hard-core legends Minor Threat as one of their influences and the heavy, gritty guitars and distorted amplifiers are there but “Come Clean” masterfully covers them with haunting harmonies that reminds us of the classic Tool or maybe even more accurately, The Perfect Circle. Luke Powell’s powerful set of lungs shatter the poetic lyrics into shreds but somehow it goes perfectly well with the music. Our only complaint is that the track is a bit too short, yet it is a matter of individual taste. In our opinion, additional 20-30 seconds would allow the song to develop a bit better and keep its natural flow. It is not a big flaw, rather leave  the reviewer wanting more, which is a great thing.

Another great shot by Rhys Morgan

Second song entitled “Swansong” is much longer at 5 minutes and 13 seconds. Again slow beginning, with nearly spoken word vocals, mid tempo that gradually evolves into dramatic and vibrant finish. It is very hard to put it into a single genre – there is a bit of hard-core, a bit of progressive rock, mixture of clean and  growl vocals. If we could say, Swancong is something of a Faith No More, meets Fear Factory (Burton C Bell type vocals) with The Streets and a fellow Welsh metallers, Taint thrown into the concoction. Both songs were solidly mixed and produced. In short this is a professionally prepared demo from a band that`s on a good way to great things.

The double single comes with beautiful photographs taken by Alexandru Olteanu and cover art made by Robert Paterson.

Final mark: Highly recommended!

Promotional photography by Alexandru Olteanu

Mudlark
Luke Powell (vocals)
Wesley McCarthy (lead guitar)
Benjamin Morgan (rhythm guitar)
Nick Giles (bass)
Jack Williams (drums)

Hometown: Caerphilly

Bio: Lifelong friends from the Welsh valleys who write melancholic, poetic and dark oddities.

“Swansong/Come clean” two track single
Release date: 05/07/2017

Written and performed by Mudlark

Engineered by Rhys Morgan – https://twitter.com/rhysdrums
Produced by James Minas – https://twitter.com/minassound
Artwork by Robert Paterson  – https://www.facebook.com/robertpatersonart/
Photography by Alexandru Olteanu  – https://www.facebook.com/not.nanu
Video by Stone Letter Media  – https://www.facebook.com/stonelettermedia/

Second picture by Alexandru Olteanu

You can find more about Mudlark online:

Booking and interview requests:  mudlarkmail@gmail.com
Bandcamp:
https://mudlarkuk.bandcamp.com/releases
Soundcloud:
https://soundcloud.com/mudlarkuk
Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/mudlarkuk
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pg/mudlarkuk
Youtube:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKwB_UXUDEVppX7dUrbNE2w

Swansong video:

Frankenstein’s Ruth video:

If you’d like to have your music featured on Indieterria, please send links to your Soundcooud or Bandcamp pages 3 or 4 pictures and a bio to rdabrowicz at yahoo dot com. Please note that Vanadian Avenue do not accept mp3 or zipped files. Also, please give us a week or two to listen to your music and write the review!

Thank you and see you shortly.
Rita and Malicia

———Update 2018/04/14————

Canvas EP cover

After several months of being relatively quiet, our favourite Caerphilly based hard rockers, Mudlark returns with a new digital EP  entitled “Canvas”. We are extremely pleased to announce that “Canvas” is even better than “Come clean/Swansong”. We sincerely loved their  previous EP and we thought that recording something even better will be hard to beat. We admit, we were wrong!

Instead of four tracks, “Canvas” offers only two new songs: an epic 11-minute long “Stare at the Sun” and nearly five-minuter “Death Lessons”. As before, all songs were written by Mudlark and produced by Rhys Morgan.

The first track “Stare at the Sun” opens with a prolonged beginning with heavy, distorted guitars and melancholic vibes that would make Paradise Lost turn green with envy. Luke Powell’s monotonic, almost spoken-word monologue reminds us of  Johan Edlund of Tiamat (circa “Wildhoney”era) that quickly turns into a scream and then morphs into a crystal clear singing. The music is again layered and each layer seems to represent a different genre. You can find progressive rock, metal, heavy metal, college rock, math rock and psychodelic music. All in one yet perfectly mixed into what we can only call a classic Mudlark sound.

In comparison to “Stare at the Sun”, second track, “Death Lessons” is composed with much more simplicity. It has a gothic feel to it and is much more heavier which we liked a lot. It starts slowly, builds up quickly and finishes with crazy guitars, galloping drums and heavy bass line. Mudlark prepared a black and white video to this song which you can watch it below:

We truly hope that the departure of  Nick Giles (bass), will not mean the end of the band. Mudlark has a lot of potential and very unique style that is hard to find among  post-britpop and alternative rock outfits that dominate the indie circuit.

We keep our fingers crossed and hopefully we will have the pleasure to review further releases from them.

You can purchase/and listen to Canvas online:

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/1swXNojvoh5fv8YQvKR9CF?si=MiRtRcLpQmarOWUBX9Qzbg
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/album/id/1366468517
Bandcamp: https://mudlarkuk.bandcamp.com/album/canvas
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/mudlarkuk/sets/canvas
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/music/album/Mudlark_Canvas?id=Bokd5hokn76xetdrxsd5qq22jhi
Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Canvas-MudLark/dp/B07BVPFDCD/ref=sr_1_1?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1523700515&sr=1-1-mp3-albums-bar-strip-0&keywords=canvas+mudlark
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRMy-NderSk

 

Malicia and Rita Dabrowicz