review: The Franklys – Are You Listening?

areyouLast autumn The Franklys. played the first LOUD WOMEN Fest and they were outstanding: mesmeric, energetic, playing a kind of danceable garage rock.

Are You Listening? is superb! It starts off with ‘Castaway’, a good, straightforward rock track elevated by Fanny Broberg’s superb guitar work.

Complex, catchy, energetic, nimble rock that, yeah, fulfills some of the criteria for being ‘classic old school rock’ but is far too light on its feet to be compared to the more lumpen bands that term can conjure up. The Franklys might cite Led Zeppelin as an influence but their music is much more agile, much more interesting.

The songs deal with relationships, growth and development, war and democracy: in short, they explore the darker side of the human condition.

On this album Jennifer Ahikvist proves herself to be a very sophisticated vocalist, able to emote without ever being melodramatic.  Fanny Broberg excels on lead guitar, and Zoe Biggs and Lexi Clark are a tight, creative, equally talented rhythm section.

Stand out songs for me at the moment are ‘Keeper’, ‘Don’t Kill Your Friends’ and ‘Imaginarium’ but the whole album is overflowing with talent, craft, energy and danceable, catchy rock.

The Franklys have successfully captured the excitement and energy of their live performances on this release and if you like rock in any of its various forms then you should check this out.

Buy the album direct from The Franklys

introducing: Tricot

Japan’s tricot have shared their music video for the single, Melon Soda after a premiere with The Fader

The band are also pleased to announce they will hit the UK this August for a run of headline dates surrounding their appearance at ArcTanGent Festival in Bristol on 19th August (details below).

The clip, shot entirely in reverse by director Mani Kato, is about farewells, as the band explain: “Even if you go backwards, time does not unwind, so you can only move forward.”

‘Melon Soda’ is the entrancing new single from their third album entitled 3 and set for release on 17th May 2017 on Topshelf Records (US), Big Scary Monsters (UK) and Bakuretsu (JP).

Watch the video for previous single ‘DeDeDe’ here:

Tricot UK live dates:

18.08.17 Dublin, Ireland – Whelans
19.08.17 Bristol, UK – ArcTangent Festival
21.08.17 Glasgow, UK – Broadcast
22.08.17 Leicester, UK – Firebug
25.08.17 London, UK – Bush Hall
27.08.17 Brighton, UK – The Hope & Ruin
29.08.17 Cardiff, UK – Clwb Ifor Bach
30.08.17 Leeds, UK – Headrow House
01.09.17 Southampton, UK – Joiners

Formed in the historical and culturally rich city of Kyoto, Japan in 2010, the three-piece have gained a steadily-growing following with their high-energy live shows throughout Asia, Europe and North America over the past few years, recently supporting The Pixies in the UK. In March 2016 their third tour of Europe took in 21 shows across 12 countries on a schedule jammed with sold-out dates.

Singing in their native Japanese and utilizing unpredictable song transitions, melodic post-rock-inspired sounds and jazz-influenced instrumental breaks, tricot are an enticing prospect for avant-garde music fans and are renowned for their vibrant and intense live performances.

They’ve drawn on a wide variety of rock scenes, from slow-burning American post-rock to bustling Fukuoka’s frantic indie-rock, to create guitar-centric songs that constantly pivot in new directions, and their first two full-length albums, 2013’s T H E and 2015’s A N D, crashed into their home nation’s music charts.

With their current line-up featuring founding members Ikkyu Nakajima (vocals / guitar), Motoko “Motifour” Kida (guitar / backing vocals), and Hiromi “Hirohiro” Sagane (bass / backing vocals), tricot’s unusual and distinctive sound harmonizes pop sensibilities and emotional vocals with complex rhythms and time-signatures that fans of Battles, Speedy Ortiz and Don Caballero should fall instantly in love with.

Tricot online:

Lorna draws … OOIOO

2017_05_30_ooioo1OOIOO (support from Bamboo) Kamio, Shoreditch, 30th May 2017

I have waited for years to see Japanese band OOIOO, and they absolutely were worth the wait. They are amazing and brilliant and words can never do them justice.
The whole band are incredible, but I couldn’t stop myself being fixated on bass player Aya. Everything about her is cool and she makes her complicated bass lines look so effortless.

Lorna Tiefholz plays in Rabies Babies and Mofam, are draws/writes at Gigs and Pencils. Thrilled that Rabies Babies will be joining us on 30 Sept for our family-friendly matinee gig at The Lexington!

review: The Coathangers – Parasite

a2728717029_16review by Kate Whaite
Reviewing this EP is my very first experience with The Coathangers. I don’t know how that’s possible, but I am very much in love at first listen and so excited to dip into to their back-catalogue.
Apparently while I was oblivious, The Coathangers (Julia Kugel on guitar, Meredith Franco on bass, Stephanie Luke on drums, and everybody on vocals) have been in Atlanta making cracking rock tunes for over a decade. Title track ‘Parasite’ sounds like the soundtrack of the cool kids’ Halloween party I never got invited to. I can’t think of a better way to explain it.
‘Wipe Out’ introduces a more melodic note, showing an appealing lyrical weary contempt for the vicious circle of drinking, embarrassing yourself, being hungover, getting sober, and doing it all again. Only they say it more concisely — “Wipeout, dry up, can’t stop” goes the chorus. It is probably physically impossible not to bop along to this song, and with the catchy, sing-song, call and reply of “Say you’re sorry” you’ll be singing along, too. And I haven’t even mentioned the handclaps! I love handclaps.
‘Captain’s Dead’ stands out as a tasty piece of summer garage. It’s exactly the kind of thing you want to be blasting as you pull a beer out of the cooler at a barbeque where you and all your friends are having a sundrenched endless afternoon. You should definitely wear sunglasses while you listen to this.
“Captain of a Dixie Cup/ You thought you had it all but you made it up” sounds like such an innocent insult, but cuts so deeply. They’ve made a pleasingly weird video for this tune as well.
‘Down Down’ is haunting and seductive and its energy reminds me of The Kills’ early records. Lyrics like “Don’t worry about me/ I don’t need you at all” reinforce that The Coathangers are just doing whatever they want and not really caring if you like it or not, which everyone knows is the best way to do anything. The vocals in this are particularly enchanting — raw and scratchy in such an unpretentious way as to actually let you believe in the honesty of the expression.
The closer, ‘Drifter’, is slower and a touch wistful, reminiscent of early rock and roll love songs. A little vulnerability peeks out here, with the vocalist sweetly asking “I heard you saying something/Was it all about me?” I, for one will definitely be talking to everyone I know about The Coathangers. The Parasite EP is great from start to finish. It’s got a comfy DIY feel, simple arrangements that mean nothing comes between you and the tunes, and a good sense of fun.
Go check them out at their bandcamp.
Don’t mind me, I’ll just be obsessing over this band all summer.

review: Ivy Crown – ‘Timeout’

ba0dda259b80fd901244317c2cadf258983a9facreview by richard archer

Starting with a blast of infernal amp noise from guitarist Natasja, this debut single from Danish metallers Ivy Crown hits a sudden charge with a riff so abrasive it could peel wallpaper if it was played loud enough. What is surprising is that it sets up a pop melody from singer Camilla that feels untypical yet fits right into the ferocious sonic scuffle.

Along the way we get a pleasing shout-along of ‘No No No No/ I don’t care, NO!’ as a prelude to an anthemic chorus that switches to half-speed, allowing for maximum lurching in the crouching tiger pose (I’m imagining that’s what is done, I’m no dancer). Propelling all of this is some fantastic rock drumming from Sara – a blaze of accents and burly fills that keep everything bowling along with energy.

‘Timeout’ is a fine opening shot for the threesome who have each left their mark on the track, whilst sounding more than the sum of their parts. The production is also very good, keeping the band’s heart and grit audible through the professional gloss which ensures that the individual performances shine. For those (like me) who are not accustomed to newer generations of metal, this might be a door-opener into the genre.

Single available on ITunes, Apple Music, Spotify etc

review: Holly Henderson – ‘Mystery Man’

hollyhendersonreview by richard archer

This new single from guitarist and singer Holly Henderson is outstanding in its ability to deftly conjure its title character from swathes of guitar that shimmer with both charm and menace, and a tempo that hovers between slow and mid-pace.  The lyrics simmer with a gloomy undercurrent  (“Are your hands really as cold as they were in my sleep?”) and these are given a bluesy delivery that lingers in the ears after the songs finish.
Even the chord progression has a wandering-lost feel to it, rippling in the slightly blurred production, with only intermittent stings of Peter Green-ish lead guitar (the kind of sparse blues he was working on  ‘Then Play On’) to bring it into sharper focus.  Bearing in mind that I don’t know the provenance of the lyrics, to my ears ‘Mystery Man’ sounds like a downbeat counterpart to Kevin Shield’s ‘City Girl’, the beguiling song that he wrote for the film ‘Lost in Translation’.

When you consider the pacing of the song, it is odd that it clocks in just short of three minutes but feels much shorter. But there’s not much that makes sense here and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible. This is for sure the most interesting single I’ve heard this year so far.

Holly Henderson on Facebook
Single available on ITunes, Apple Music, Spotify etc

review: Dorja – Target Practice (EP)

targetpracticereview by Richard Archer

Listening to rock-centric radio nowadays often provokes delight and dismay in equal measure. The delight occurs mainly after the discovery or re-discovery of a golden nugget of purest rock from bygone days (Blue Oyster Cult, AC/DC and what not) nestling amongst the airwaves. The dismay occurs usually when the new stuff gets played. Cliched lyrics, overwrought vocals (everybody now seems to sound like that annoying lion-bloke from Nickelback) and band names that would have sounded jokey twenty years ago. Except it’s not a joke.

Dorja are a bit of a surprise then. Their debut EP ‘Target Practice’ avoids all of that slavish devotion to the old guard and instead asserts the bands distinctive sound. It’s the strong musical personalities within Dorja that allow them to reference the best bits of ‘classic rock’ in a way that feels like forward momentum rather than a call back.

Opening rocker ‘Fire’ introduces Aiym Almas’ bluesy Jekyll and Hyde voice – cut glass at one moment and rusty nails the next and seamlessly too. The resonance of her vocals is similar in effect to, say, Robin Zander of Cheap Trick but characteristically she’s out there on her own. ‘Not In Your Shadow’ and ‘Reaching Out’ both highlight a promising guitar partnership in Rosie Botterill and Holly Henderson, their guitar lines weaving intuitively and cutting away from each other in an intriguing manner that will make budding guitarist-listeners want to work out who is playing what.

The through-line for all four songs are bassist Becky Baldwin and drummer Anna Mylee, marshalling the band on ‘Reaching Out’ and final track ‘Target Practice’ with a thunderous low-slung groove on the former and a laser precision on the latter. As a group, Dorja have a knack for audibly building tension and gaining momentum as the songs progress – the last half of ‘Reaching Out’ excites with a perilous vocal climb that tumbles into a guitar riff that stomps like iron clodhoppers.

This is the first really convincing hard rock act I’ve heard in a while and I would recommend it to people who have lost faith in the genre.

Buy the EP direct from Dorja

For all those who support putting women on stage, and turning up the volume