Category Archives: record reviews

Vulpynes: Us Against Them – EP review

Review by Ella Patenall

Us Against Them is the third EP from one of our favourites; the Dublin-based, garage-rock duo, Vulpynes. The four tracks really pack a punch and bring to mind the good old days of dark, sweaty music venues and moshing to cathartic, primitive in-your-face rock & roll. This was meant to be their debut album but cut short by the pandemic, the duo decided to release four tracks as an EP instead, and are we glad they did!

They may have a full-band sound but the band consists of just Molly on guitar and vocals, and Kaz on drums. Over the past two years, they have been building a name for themselves in both their native Ireland and the UK, having supported Marmozets, Stiff Little Fingers, and Sleaford Mods. 

One Horse Mind, the opening track, is a powerful one. It starts with a ringing out of guitar feedback, giving you a clue of what’s to come. You are then hit with a thick wall of sound and Molly’s powerful blunt vocal line “your indifference doesn’t make a difference to me”.

The guitar riffs are simply and fuzzy, and sit perfectly alongside the chunky drums. Molly’s voice is clear, yet gritty, conveying attitude and sincerity. It brings to mind grunge vocalists Courtney Love (Hole), Brody Dalle (Distillers), and Shirley Manson (Garbage). The punchy lyrics mirror the music’s style; full of attitude and not trying too hard to be clever. Some words are a bit obscured as a result of being slurred together, but the song’s big energetic climax with Molly screaming vocals: “fucks with my brain” is a force to be reckoned with.

However, it’s the second track, The Motor is Me that is my favourite track off the EP. It starts with a dark grungy guitar riff before erupting into their signature in-your-face thick, fuzzy sound. The guitars do have a motor-like quality, whether intentional or not, which is fitting given the title. Kaz’s high-energy crashing cymbals on the drums complement the guitar well, ramping up the energy.   

The duo give us some breathing room in the bridge, which takes it down a bit with a marching drumbeat entering and the guitar thinning out slightly. This dynamic variation is important, and is something they could explore more in their music to add further interest.

I imagine they put on a ferociously energetic live gig, and luckily I don’t have to wait long to catch these two as they will be performing at our very own Loud Women Fest in September 2021 and I can’t wait to see them in action.   

Find Vulpynes at Facebook Instagram

The Twistettes: Live At Capture Works – album review

Review by Tony Rounce

Two is still the new four…

There are a number of excellent ‘duo bands’ around right now, most of whom employ a guitar/drums line up. What sets Scotland’s Twistettes apart from their two-person peers is that they are essentially a rhythm section, with Nicky D’Arc thrashing away on the drums like her life depends on it and her sister Jo playing her grumbling, menacing bass as a lead instrument at the kind of torturous volume that might even impress Spinal Tap, and that will make your speakers spin across your room if they are not sufficiently weighted down.

The big, grimy audio landscape of their adrenaline-fuelled, feedbackalicious accompaniment is the perfect foundation for the duo’s aggressive and angry sounding vocals to build on.  Hailing as they do from Lady Sturgeon’s manor, Jo and Nicky sing with their native brogue.  It’s not the first time anyone has done this, of course. But you can believe me when I tell you that they are a darn sight more animated – and interesting – when they do so than the Proclaimers could ever be.

If you caught their act at either of their previous appearances at LOUD WOMEN all-dayers, you will already have a fair idea of what to expect from a live Twistettes album – and “Live At Capture Works” will not confound your expectations.  Recorded during lockdown while live streaming from Glasgow’s Capture Works, it’s raw and technically unpolished, but it does get right to the heart of what the Twistettes are about, and what they sound like.

The flat, ambient balance of the audio puts you in the room with the two women and provides an exhilaratingly vivid slash of sound, buzzy and hissy and angry but most of all 100% exciting. The repertoire is mostly drawn from the duo’s two previous, highly recommended albums “A Strange Play” and “Jilt The Jive” and although there isn’t space here to detail the individual strengths of the songs there’s one new one called “Tory Cunts” – a ginormous aggressive terrace chant with a lyric that we can all get behind and enjoy singing along with, wherever we are.

Eleven songs performed with gusto and – the relative calm of the hypnotic, almost funky opener ‘On The Table’ notwithstanding – full frontal attack, none of them going much over two minutes, and all of them with something to say that needs to be heard more than once.  It’s not easy listening but, let’s face it, the best records seldom are!  ‘”Live At Capture Works” is available physically and digitally on Bandcamp. Check it out, you won’t be sorry you did.

Like all of us, the Twistettes aren’t doing much at the moment, but I’m sure they would love you to give them a follow on Facebook or Instagram until such times as they are gigging again.

Nervous Twitch: Tongue Tied – single of the month

Review by Tony Rounce

You won’t need me to tell you that it’s been a tough year for all musicians, and it’s a miracle that any music has been created at all, given the circumstances. It must be particularly tough for those singers and bands who are waiting to debut new albums but who prefer to wait till they can tour them. Such is the case with LW favourites Nervous Twitch, who completed a new album nearly 10 months ago and who have been waiting patiently to unleash it ever since.

Now under the umbrella of Reckless Yes records, the affable Leeds-based trio have thrown caution to the wind and decided to drop their second new single of 2020 on Friday the 13th.  After the slight surprise of employing synthesisers on the first one  ‘Keeping Faith In Something’, the trio is back on more familiar ground with the guitar driven ‘Tongue Tied’.  One of the first songs the band completed for what will now be their 2021 album on Reckless Yes, it has already been ‘road tested’ in the band’s past few gigs before lockdown to highly favourable response – so it’s fair to assume that they are onto a winner here.

‘Tongue Tied’ is indeed classic Twitch, its introspective verses married to a huge sing-along chorus to make perfect 21st century music that both looks over its shoulder at the trio’s musical influences, and forward to a time when we can all get out and jump around gleefully to our old and new favourite bands again.  Full of personality in real life, singer/bassist Erin Van Rumble is cast in the song as a shrinking violet who “ always find(s) the music comes much easier than words’, her plaintive vocals pushed along as always by Jay Churchley’s unfussy guitar and Ashley Goodall’s rock solid drumming. A song you can and will sing along with, and a proper pop record from a proper pop group. Who could ask for more than that? Its two and a half minutes are over all too quickly, and you will want to play it again while you enjoy the fab graphic video…

The two songs that we’ve been granted access to so far suggest that the album is on course to be their best yet.   Word from within Twitch HQ is that it will be out literally as soon as they are able to tour to support it.  I, for one can’t wait for that to happen. And if they have to release a few more singles as good as this one in the meantime, you’ll get no complaints from me…

‘Tongue Tied’ is available to stream and download from November 13th on all the usual audio platforms (Bandcamp, Spotify etc.)

You can follow Nervous Twitch on Facebook and Instagram – and you should! 

Sister Ghost & Fiends release ‘Samhain Mixtape’

To celebrate the thinning of the veil, here’s a Samhein gift from the awesome Sister Ghost from NI: the ‘Samhain Mixtape’ is out Bandcamp for the suggested donation of £6.66 or Pay What You Can. All proceeds are being donated to Girls Rock School NI, the local Girls Rock chapter founded by Sister Ghost’s Shannon. The organisation have been working online with young women and non-binary young people during lockdown to reduce isolation, create community and make music together. Shannon tells us

“I always like to do something fun around Halloween and this year I knew I wanted to create something collaborative given the increased isolation we’ll all be feeling, heading into lockdown number 2. It just made sense to reach out to some of my favourite musicians and to try and make it as far reaching as possible in terms of who was involved and from where. I’ve been incredibly lucky to have worked & performed abroad and made friends along the way, so to have a selection of those on one of our releases, at my favourite time of year, raising money for Girls Rock! is just a dream (or the perfect nightmare?!) come true!”

Short of time? Check out ‘Season of the Witch’ – those spooky sister harmonies hook you in, then keep you mesmerised with retro jangly guitars for an all-round Go-Gos-esque vibe.

Other artists on the mixtape so far are Heart Shaped (Houston/Belfast), Party Fears (Berlin), Mom Friend (Atlanta,GA), Kissin’ Kate (Michigan), Lauren Bird and more.

Bonnie Whitmore: Last Will and Testment – album review

Today we are mostly listening to ‘Last Will and Testament’ – the new album from Texan Bonnie Whitmore, which is out today. If you can take your Americana served hot, and need some big, brash tunes full of heart, this album will have you singing, dancing, heartbreaking and raging against The Man along with our Bonnie.

Bassist and singer Bonnie Whitmore has weekly residency at the Continental Club Gallery in Austin, where she lives. Her last (2016) album was the beautifully titled F*** With Sad Girls, and this follow-up similarly tackles hard issues head-on: suicide, rape culture, loss, and the great American divide all sung about on Last Will and Testament with the forthrightness of a good friend over a kitchen table.

“My goal for this record is to inspire people to have hard conversations. But I definitely subscribe to writing pop music, with catchy lyrics and repeating phrases.”

Stand out track ‘Last Will and Testament’ is about the painful experience of losing a musician friend to suicide.

Noteworthy also, ‘Asked for It’ invites men to reflect on victim blaming in rape culture. “So go on and blame the victim. Why should violence have consequence? And each time you silence them, recreates the same event. She’s the kind of girl you said asked for it.”

“I’ve always had the drive to participate and use my voice. I feel it is our responsibility to use our voices to challenge authorities if we want to make things better,” she says. “We’re seeing a resurgence of the ’60s civil rights movement, and it is so inspirational right now to see so many people willing to protest things that are wrong, to live up to what we stand for, which is equality for all.”

Find Bonnie Whitmore on Facebook Instagram

The Neptunas: Mermaid A Go Go – album review

Review by Molly Tie

The Neptunas new album, Mermaid A Go Go (out today) is a bubbly journey through the best sounds of surf rock.

If you are craving a bit of summat exotic and sunny as the result of 4 months in lockdown then have I got just the thing to satiate you. The Neptunas new album is a rollicking 60s-come-90s aquamarine fest full of classic surf music skill mixed with Little Mermaid-esque portrayals of a fun and happening world under the surface.

A mixture of instrumentals and vocal tracks, the album offers a lot of twang for your buck, all held together with some great production sounds that evoke a real party-feeling. The Neptunas have created a world for you to enter where you can meet characters such as Lord Jim (The Well-Bred Mop Head/ In a Garage Band) and find hip hang outs like the eponymous Mermaid A Go Go (Where the Mermen Are Flawless/And the Mermaids Are Bra-less). There are some eclectic cover version choices- The Kinks’ ‘Til the End of the Day’ nestles in quite nicely alongside a version of the 1965 Eurovision winning song for Luxembourg- Poupee de Cire, Poupee de Son (me neither but it’s actually quite nice).

An album of surf music cannot avoid the inevitable comparisons to bands like the Beach Boys and The Ventures but songs like School is a Drag and the opener Billy the Squid can certainly stand proudly alongside the works of those bands. The whole sound is 60s garage band with vocal tones reminiscent Laura Veirs or Kim Deal.

From the cover art to the fun lyrics, this album is a perfect Summer treat.

The Neptunas: website

Growth: Screaming Toenail – album review

Words by Julie Riley of I Am HER

I first came across Screaming Toenail when they performed for Decolonise Fest at the Poly Styrene expo in Brixton last year at which Big Joanie also played. In that tiny hot room, although I was squashed at the back and it was hard to catch all the lyrics, it was impossible not catch their energy, wit and charisma.

They say that with this album:

“Screaming Toenail celebrates the history and  growth of black, queer, anti-colonial resistance. It’s about growing back bigger and louder whenever you are cut down.It describes a small disregarded part of you that has something important to say.”

It really does.

Some of the testimonials, nay accolades about them cite them as punk and they are that, but they are also more. Punk for me is about attitude not style and they have the right attitude all the way. Also they are a joy to listen to. Jacob has a highly dextrous vocal range that spans from raging punk to sweet sung melodies. The production values are high – there is crystal clear clarity with enough space and dynamism in each layer of each track. The democratic arrangements are perfectly poised to let every part shine. And it’s never boring – super cute BVs on ‘Get Cute’; sound bite layering in  ‘Swarm intro’; bouncing disco synths, gnarly vocals on ‘IOU’; sweet singing on ‘Sever’ and ‘White Saviour’, and anthemic repetition on ‘Giant Woman’ as a long list of awesome women is name checked.

I am in love with Screaming Toenail.

Each song has something to say. ‘Define and Conquer’ is a particular favourite of mine, on topic with the current grades crisis. On topic generally with how much people are evaluated by grades, which is in itself degrading. A perfect example of how lyrically this band are super smart, super sassy, cutting edge, witty and fun. Another is ‘Swarm’ with its relentless, insistent, consistent analogies and word play “I’m a good worker, I’m a good bee”. The emphasis on the WAR in swarm to reflect how migrants/immigrants are regarded (by some) as invaders. “There’s no winner a race for Power”.   I could go on but you are going have to listen to all of them to understand how great and  bloody CLEVER these songs are.

Make no mistake, this is a protest album. We are familiar with protest that causes discomfort in order to affect change. This is protest of another hue. Unflinchingly blunt yet entertaining and accessible. ‘Growth’ lures the enemy into bed whilst holding them to account. The lyrical wit and bouncingly buoyant eclecticism of so many moments makes this album confrontational and compelling in equal measure.

I would not be the first to comment on the album’s remarkable ability to show us that ‘protests can  be funny, sexy and leave you feeling excited about the future.’ It does exactly that.

They cite various influences such as X Ray Spex, ESG, Big Joanie, Le Tigre, TV on the Radio, The Slits, The Specials, Sleater-Kinney, Special Interest, Big Mama Thornton. Elements of all these can be heard but they are extracted, interpreted and represented in unique Screaming Toenail fashion to create a sound that is wholly theirs.

The future is bright. The future is ‘Growth’.

Dream Wife: ‘So When You Gonna…’ Listen to this album!

Album review by Katie McFaul

Have you ever had one of those days where you manage to experience every possible feeling that a human being can feel in a mere 24 hours? An unoiled, out of control rollercoaster speeding through the entire emotional spectrum before you’ve even got round to brushing your teeth! Yes, we’ve all been there and believe it or not, Dream Wife’s second album, ‘So When You Gonna…‘ is like the soundtrack to one of those crazy days.

In case you didn’t know, Dream Wife are a London based band who draw influences from punk rock, indie and the riot grrrl movement. These gals stormed into our lives in 2018 with their debut self titled album, and toured the world with their unique brand of brash garage punk that you can really dance to.

Now they are back with a second helping, an album that is both totally fresh and exciting but with a classic, familiar feel to it. From track to track there is a definite shift in mood and tone, whilst remaining toe-tappingly catchy.

‘So When You Gonna…’ showcases Dream Wife’s impressive range both lyrically and instrumentally, varying from playful and tongue in cheek (‘When You Gonna…’ or ‘Sports!’) to raw and sensitive, (‘After the Rain’). Most importantly, they manage to capture the experiences of women at a certain time, and deliver it with such fierce attitude and creativity that you never want it to end.

Fun fact: In an effort to correct the obvious gender imbalance within the music industry, this entire album was recorded, mixed and produced by a female recording team. Pretty cool, huh?

Clever, thoughtful, funny, nostalgic and catchy as hell, this album is a slam dunk, a hole in one, and any other generic sporting references you can think of! Each song has an intent and purpose behind it, whether that’s sharing embarrassing memories of a drunken escapade or challenging the place of women within the world. There is something very present about this record, as the band themselves put it,

We are the youngest we will ever be, we are the oldest we have ever been, right now.’

So whether you like to head bang, sing along or just sit and take it all in, Dream Wife has what you’re looking for.

Check out Dream Wife on: Facebook Bandcamp

Girl Friday: Androgynous Mary – album review

Review by Tony Rounce

And still those great new records come.

This one’s come all the way from the City Of Angels, and the journey from there to wherever you are has been more than merely worthwhile. Girl Friday might not be completely new to you, but they will be for most. The 10 songs that make up their most excellent debut LP will ensure that’s not going to be the case for much longer.

Having previously put out two EPs since the end of 2017 – the first with a line up that features only two members of the current one, group founders Libby Hsieh and Vera Ellen – the quartet has now expanded its extended play activities to a debut full length LP. It’s not exactly arriving hot on the heels June 2019’s ‘’Fashion Conman’, but good things always come to those who wait, and you may be assured that “Androgynous Mary” is well worth waiting for. The present line up of GF was only a matter of months old when they recorded ‘Fashion Conman’, and it’s very easy to hear, right from the off, that they have made great strides as a cohesive unit in the 14 months they have been together.

The four tracks you can currently listen to on Bandcamp provide a good cross section of what can soon be heard across the album’s ten selections. Their press release describes GF’s songs as “ferocious and knotty” and that does actually sum them up somewhat succinctly.   To illustrate, the dreamy, low key ‘knotty’ shimmer of ‘This Is Not The Indie Rock I Signed Up For’ (one of THE great titles of 2020!) and the ‘ferocious’, punch-the-air anthemic rocker ‘Earthquake’ are two sides of a highly desirable coin and between them they give an instant impression of what else to expect across the other eight tracks.  GF are strong on melody and also on clear harmonies, their lyrics sometimes obtuse but counterpointed by the strength of the musicianship in Hsieh and Ellen’s full-blooded guitar and bass respectively. 

The big sonic soundscapes offered by the production give the group plenty of space across which to express their words. Echoey, jangly guitars mesh with a solid bed of bass that anchors well with Virginia Pettis’ simple, strident drumming and second guitarist Sierra Scott’s melodically-on-point extra strumming.  Being from the West Coast, the temptation to compare with their spiritual ancestors the Go Go’s and the Bangles is hard to resist, but even if their music follows a different path they are most certainly spiritually linked.

These ears can hear (some doubtless completely coincidental) similarities to the very early Cure, in the way that the bass and drums drive the music almost as much as the guitars do. If you want a more contemporary comparison, the wonderful (and much missed) Suggested Friends offer a similar blend of melody, harmony and musical power. That’s not to say that Girl Friday are anyone’s soundalikes, but as reference points go that’s not a bad quartet of ‘if you like those, you’ll like these’ names to drop.

“Androgynous Mary” is a highly accomplished album that has already earmarked itself as a likely contender for next year’s Hercury Prize (it’s arrived just too late for consideration for this year’s…).  Its ten songs amount to almost a year’s worth of activity on the part of a band that, by its own admission, have “been through a lot together and have come through it by sticking together and loving each other regardless” according to Ellen.  The songs may mostly be personal and introspective for the group, but they are all extremely accessible for those of us who do not have intimate access to Girl Friday’s personal world. ‘Rouncey’s recommendation’ doesn’t come much higher than it does here.

Androgynous Mary is out today on Hardly Art records in all formats, to be followed by live shows as soon as we can all go out and enjoy them again.

You can follow Girl Friday musically on Bandcamp and on Facebook

Rabies Babies: Rape is Rape, Even if the Rapist is in a Band That You Like – single of the year

‘Rape is Rape, Even if the Rapist is in a Band That You Like’ screams London DIY punk stalwarts Rabies Babies, and we couldn’t agree with them harder. We’re declaring this our single of 2020.

It seems like every day we’re hearing about another band, even within our own scene, who have members who have abused or even raped. And yet these abusers and rapists are still supported by their band, by the fans, and by the music press. This song is a crystal clear, in your face reminder for anyone who still needs it, that you can never separate the music from the assholes who created it. Here’s the band saying that better:

“Just because someone is in a band that you like doesn’t mean they are incapable of sexual assault. Too often when men in bands are accused of assault the victim is called a liar, blamed, and is ostracised. This song is not commenting on any particular person or incident. We believe that the problem is widespread – almost all of the women we know in the punk scene have experienced some levels of sexual assault or violence, it is time that the problem is taken seriously and we get rid of the culture that gives men in bands a free pass to act how they want with no consequences.”

The song is released ahead of their long-awaited (like 20+ years) debut album, out on Damaged Goods Records on 21 August – pre-order here.