Vulpynes’ Dye Me Red is not for the faint of heart. For just two people, Vulpynes sure makes a lot of noise and I mean that in the best possible way.
This Irish two-piece’s latest EP features aggressive vocals, insistent drums, and fuzz-drenched guitar. As a member of a grungy guitar-drums duo myself, I am definitely partial to this style, but head bob-ability alone isn’t enough to warrant inclusion on my Spotify playlist. The songs actually have to be good and make no mistake: these songs are fucking GREAT.
The EP starts by kicking you in the face (lovingly, of course) with the uncompromising ‘I Can’t Sit Still’.
Song 2, ‘Bitches are Like Waves’, is much more melodic, but not the slightest bit less intense.
Next up on ‘It Washes Out’ Kaz pounds out a classic four to the floor beat as Molly frenetically and anthemicly screams about how she “won’t settle down” and is “running, but staying in the same place.”
Last, but certainly not least, this four-song masterpiece concludes with ‘The Hunt’, which gives off some serious L7 vibes and features some glorious kick-ass harmonies.
Do you like grunge? Do you like music made by badass women? If the answer to these questions is “yes”, go listen to Dye Me Red right now and thank me later.
The soundtrack to our Friday today is an EP the brilliant Claire Foxx and the Antisocial Justice Worriers, the unequivocal message ‘Rise Up!’. Four hard-hitting gender politics pop punk bangers – essential listening.
Claire Foxx is a Scottish trans punk singer-songwriter, alumnus of Edinburgh Girls Rock School. Her new pop punk EP – Rise Up! – is out 12 Dec on lush 12″ vinyl, available to pre-order now from Bandcamp. You can also catch her live the same night at Alotta Noise! Queer • Punk • Cabaret. at DIY Space for London – a benefit for Mermaids.
Get ready to pour your pint all over the patriarchy and then proudly stomp away with your head held high; it’s my new favourite band: Problem Patterns.
Who are Problem Patterns? Problem patters are a DIY, RRRIOT punk band from Northern Ireland. Self-described as “just women shouting in a room”. Yes please!
Their EP, “Good for you, Aren’t you great?” has everything you would want from a punk record, a glorious balance of heart pumping chaotic distorted guitar , and delicious slowed down gritty numbers all of which are showered with witty words of wisdom. There is also a delicious hint of sarcasm which I am always in the mood for. So let’s take a look at a couple of the tracks.
Day and Age: A fun fast-paced rant about being a modern day women and trying to keep up with the ridiculous standards the mainstream media set. What I love about this track is how the lyrics themselves are a fairly polite, low key vent about trying to be an ideal woman in today’s society but the whole thing is screamed out – just like lots of women must be silently screaming every bloody day. There’s just something so beautifully frantic about it. Like the singer has had enough and is on the brink of exploding.
Sell-by Date: This song starts as one of the bands slower, grittier songs. The guitar tones are chuggier, thicker, and heavier and the drums are simple but so effectively punchy. The first chunk of the song is written from the perspective of people asking ‘those questions’. You know the ones: “Do you have a baby yet? No? Why not?”
“Aren’t you too old too….” The second phase switches to the person who all of this has been directed to, and they are clearly not taking any systemic abuse made to feel women like biological ticking time bombs, made only for breeding and nothing else. Nor should they be! This song makes me hopeful that more of us will shake off these false social constructs we are taught, that are normalised. Our bodies are our own! More like this please!
Throughout the EP this feisty four play with their rhythm with little punches here and there or fun vocal inserts. Problem Patterns also have no one fixed front person and all swap around vocally and instrumentally. I don’t know who is singing or playing what on the EP, but what I do know is, they all know how to make ranting about life sound spectacular!
Listening recommendation: If you have had enough of mainstream media making you feel like you are about to buckle under the pressure of it all, stick this on and stomp around!
There was a time, in the late 1980s, when UK melodic punk met US melodic punk for the first time. Out popped Mega City 4, SenselessThings, Snuff, HDQ, Sofahead, Leatherface, Joyce McKinney Experience and so on. This spawned a brief period of brilliance – and the odd unexpected hit single – before the existence of the genre gave inevitable rise to the generic. Since then the UK has always had plenty of bands kicking around doing that thing, and almost none of them has done anything special with it.
With ‘Heavy Seas’, Misfortune Cookie have done something very special. It’s awash with pop sensibilities, folk tinges, UK punk chugging and US punk arpeggios. The personnel are old enough and self-aware enough to know that they can’t be singing songs about teenage concerns, but are smart enough to know that those songs need to feel as if that’s what concerns them. So the record is rammed fully of urgency, plaintiveness and righteous anger coming from people at their weakest who want to assert their vision for a better tomorrow. The pedigree is there, of course; I mean, it’s basically Bear Trade with Helen Chambers fronting them. So it’s phenomenal punk rock of the tradition I outlined earlier, plus Helen Chambers. And everyone loves Helen Chambers.
It’s been far too long since we had any new music from Party Fears.
Exactly one year has gone by since the Berlin-based duo of Maggie Devlin and Eilis Frawley (and their regular studio collaborator, bassist Lisa Roller) brought us the estimable ‘Dog Star’, and almost two since their eponymous debut album arrived to serve notice that PF were (and are!) much more than the sum of their parts as a band.
Finally as 2019 draws to a close Maggie and Eilis treat us to a new offering that upholds the exceptional quality of their previous work, and that shows exactly why they are such big favourites at Loud Women Towers.
Catchy and up-tempo, with a mighty chorus and positive, upbeat feel throughout, ‘OK. No Problem’ is a shining example of PF at their finest. Like all the best pop songs it clocks in at around two and a half minutes, the final minute of which is instrumental. Given the high quality of Maggie’s singing, you might wish there was a little more of it, although the driving, wordless second half of the track IS jolly exhilarating, to be sure. She has such a terrific voice that she could probably sing the instructions on how to microwave a ready meal and make it sound vibrantly thrilling…
Maggie’s buoyant delivery of the song’s lyric – darker than might seem apparent from a first listen – and her jangly, jagged guitar playing are perfectly complemented by Eilis’ busy percussive patterns, criss crossing from traditional thumping rock bets to swishy, splashy disco with the greatest of ease. Together they bring the same irresistible drive to this highly recommended track that they bring to their far-too-infrequent UK live shows…
…And how lovely would it be for us all if Party Fears could accompany the release of this fine new offering with another tour soon?
A long time coming it might have been but ‘OK. No Problem’ is more than worth the wait. We’re a couple of weeks late in featuring it here – but it’s out now, and you can buy it as a digital download from Maggie and Eilis’ Bandcamp.
Please also keep up with Party Fears’ adventures past, present and future on Facebook!
If you have seen Lemondaze live (and if you haven’t, you should) you will be accustomed to their all-embracing aural onslaught – a densely crafted audio soup, with layers and layers of rippling, swirling guitars providing the musical counterpoint to Isis De Chastelain and Rosie Heard-Edwards’ ethereal, other worldly vocals.
More than three years on from forming in their hometown of Cambridge, North London’s finest SlightlyDelic transplants have finally released their debut single. Please believe me when I say that the wait has been more than worthwhile.
‘Neon Ballroom’ presents a huge sounding, thoroughly compelling musical landscape that puts your ears in the presence of something very special indeed. The track gets very close to replicating the live Lemondaze experience and, while it may sound a little cleaner in the studio than it does on stage, it accurately captures a young and very exciting band on their way to many greater things in the very near future. What it lacks in instant hooks or sing-along choruses it makes up for with an audacious, in your face, wall-of-sound immediacy. To know it is to love it is to want to play it again. And again. And again…
A fan on the group’s Facebook page hears hints of Curve, Cocteau Twins, Lush and similar in their work (Me, I hear early Public Image and Grateful Dead, but I feel it unlikely that those comparisons really exist anywhere other than in my mind). Lemondaze themselves identify their music as ‘shoe: gaze’, but I feel they are underselling themselves a tad with this description.
Nobody will be gazing at their shoes while ‘Neon Ballroom’
‘Neon Ballroom’ will be available via all major streaming platforms from November 15th. Lemondaze are playing a hometown gigs at the NCI Centre in Cambridge on November 26 with more planned in early 2020. Follow them on Facebook for future developments!
The group photo is a Jack Fieldhouse/Rosie Heard-Edwards collaboration.
I can’t quite put into words what Atigheh makes me feel. The opening vocals is like a call to home, pulling at something in the core of me. It asks me to be still, to listen. It asks me if it’s possible to be homesick for a place you never knew.
Atigheh (out now on Bandcamp) is the third EP by Zahra Haji Fath Ali Tehrani, entirely self-produced and independently released. Performing as her solo project DespicableZee, Zahra is an Oxford-based musician and composer specialising in leftfield, electronic lo-fi-pop. She’s been creating music for over 15 years, and also drums for acts such as Lafawndah and Young Knives on their UK and European tours. Her latest project is a music video for Clay Grouk, the fourth track of the EP, which I had the pleasure of previewing – and it hasn’t left my mind since.
Atigheh is a story of the in-between. The lyrics guide you through Zahra’s experience as a second generation immigrant; her father is from Iran and her mother is from Ireland. The songs explore the search we go through as immigrants to meld two identities into one body. But identity is never binary. In each person, it exists as an amalgamation of environments, influences, and experiences… yet there’s an unspoken feeling shared by all of us who walk this tightrope. We perform a balancing act between different cultures, never fully able to embody either, which invokes a constant longing to belong. It is this chord that Atigheh manages to strike, with lines that force you to stare your liminality in the face, such as:
“Foreign mind and soul in a white-washed zone, no matter where we land we always feel alone”.
The title track Atigheh derives its name from a ballad by Persian singer Hayedeh, whose voice is sampled throughout the EP. The song was released shortly before she entered a self-imposed exile in 1978 (the year before Zahra’s own father emigrated to the UK), leaving Iran so she could continue to sing. Zahra sings “to attempt to understand why her father left and what he left behind”. Having lived in Oxford her whole life, she has never been to Iran herself. For many of us who grew up in a place where you can never fully belong, home is a loaded word. The idea of “return” is tied up in an inherent shame of being so far, so other to yourself. Yet when she first heard Hayedeh’s singing, it resonated with a deep-rooted affinity for a shared home she could envision but couldn’t touch. Although she couldn’t translate the words, Hayedeh was calling to her and her directly. Zahra’s father translated the lyrics for her, at which point she realised the parts which struck her the most were when she sings about her exile and describes a longing for Iran; when they say that music is transcendent, I like to think this is exactly what they mean. Something in Hayedeh’s voice drew out a homesickness in Zahra that she hadn’t even recognised. It’s a certain magic that music carries, transcending the boundaries of language.
Zahra explains all of this to us on a sunlit Monday evening session of the Young Women’s Music Project. YWMP is an educational charity based in Oxfordshire that aims to provide a safe and supportive space for womxn to make music, collaborate, and discuss the issues facing them, whether it be mental health, sexuality, race, class, relationships, or other axes which affect their lives. As the director of the project, Zahra has seen first-hand how YWMP is a lifeline to many of us growing up in a place of “un-belonging”. The project means more to us – and to her – than I can truly express, because this isn’t just a group of womxn making music. This is sisterhood, in its purest form.
As a member of YWMP, I went to watch Zahra perform Atigheh as a solo set over summer. This was the first time I’d ever heard it, and one line lingered in my memory that I can’t shake off. Clay Grouk contains no other lyrics than the words “you force a silence in me”, over and over, which pulls at a space in my heart I never knew I had. The song samples her son Sé’s voice, and the sounds you hear are from recordings Zahra has taken from everyday motherhood: Sé at his playgroup, with a toy tractor, or from a trip to Modern Art Oxford where he played with a projector. Even the title Clay Grouk comes from Sé’s attempt to pronounce “play group”. The music video is a beautifully simple concept – we watch as Sé plays with parts of a drum kit, and dances around a pink-washed room, hiding under blankets and spinning round in circles. In all its simplicity, the video captures everything that Zahra is addressing through Atigheh. The drum kit represents her in the video, whilst the blankets he plays with are covered in Paisley – a traditional Persian pattern that was stolen and brought to England. To make the video, Zahra asked Sé to play “some form of musical statues”, achieving the candid shots of childhood lovingly captured as pockets of joy. I found it unexpectedly moving, watching in stillness from start to finish. Zahra describes the song as a reflection on “the chaos of being a parent – I’m not really with it most of the time. But there are moments. There are times when I’m travelling with Sé, and he falls asleep, and I’m holding his hand – and the noise stops. It’s the cliché thing that people say when they have kids, that it’s really hard work but it’s all worth it.”
The line keeps coming back to me. “You force a silence in me”. It’s exactly what happened when I first sat down to listen to Atigheh. It forced me to be still, to take it in, to let the notes ring around my room and settle in my stomach. The same thing happened when I first watched the video for Clay Grouk. I meant to take notes, to prepare for writing this up, but within the first few seconds, I stopped. I watched it through, and then again, touched by the underlying messages of motherhood that Zahra threads through the track, and wordlessly expresses through the clips of Sé. She describes the EP’s overall “sparse sound” as an “acknowledgement of the holes that displacement leaves”. And I get it. There are so many unnamed feelings that Atigheh digs up from the roots. Thoughts on belonging, on home, on heritage, and motherhood, or on the shared, silent loneliness of immigration. On what it means to be liminal. If any of these ring true to you, you need to watch Zahra perform Atigheh. It will force a silence in you, too.