Tag Archives: featured

Personal Best: What You At – album review

by Tony Rounce

I made the acquaintance of Personal Best for the first time at LOUD WOMEN Fest 4.  Their set was exhilarating – a sequence of beautifully constructed instant classics that made me a fan for life before their set was more than two songs old. It also made me angry with myself that I had never seen or knowingly heard them before, despite having been to gigs at which they had been on the bill in the past couple of years.  As a penance for my oversight, I got up the following day and immediately bought every PB single, EP and album I could find.  And I have been playing their latest LP “What You At” incessantly ever since.

A four (and, on record, sometimes five) piece based in Bristol, PB are fronted by Katie Gatt, energetic and personable with a clear and powerful voice and a smile a mile wide. The twin guitar attack of Gatt and fellow loud woman El Morgan has the stellar jangle of history’s greatest pop groups, from the Searchers to the Byrds to the Hollies to the Flamin’ Groovies to the Bangles, and Gatt and Morgan’s harmonies score pretty high on the ‘to die for’ scale too. PB’s superb rhythm section of Tom Baker (Bass) and Jason Cavalier (Drums) have the engine room on lockdown and provide the perfect base for Gatt and Morgan to build their joyful noise on.

On the face of it “What You At” is an album full of radio-friendly anthems, busting out all over with immediately ear-catching riffs and choruses that stick and stay in the mind right away. It’s only when you start listening to the verses that frame those choruses that you hear how deep these songs are and the full extent of the hurt that each one lays out, a chronicle of what one or possibly more broken relationships that can only be described as heartbreaking in the extreme. 

The painted smiles of each 3-minute masterpiece here mask an ocean of tears that nobody should have to swim.  If you’ve ever felt wronged in love, your grievances will pale into insignificance next to the knife-in-the-chest double whammy of the album’s closing tracks ‘One Damn Thing’ (‘Do You Both Sleep At Night In The Bedding I Bought You?’’) and ‘Salute’ (‘You Never Will Come Through For Me’). Nobody deserves that level of hurt. (Well, other than a member of the Conservative party, perhaps…)

That said, tracks like ‘Jennifer’ and ‘Every Day She Kills Me’ are the kind of perfect pop that mainstream radio would have once fallen over itself to play, before it got hooked on the aural tedium it pumps out hour after hour in 2019. 

“Classic Rock For Tragic Lesbians” may be Personal Best’s strap line, but it’s really not necessary (or indeed obligatory) for anyone to be either or both to appreciate just what a superb album “What You At” is. It’s been out a couple of months now, but it’s never too late to catch up on something this good. 

Which is where this review came in, really…

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Ghum: The Coldest Fire – EP review

Review by Caitlin Webb

The intriguing gloom and grunge of post-punk quartet Ghum has already piqued the interest of many listeners on the scene, as well as the interest of beloved bands they’ve supported on tour like Dream Wife and Muncie Girls. With the momentum of these successes, they’ve garnered a wider audience in time for the release of their gorgeous new EP, given the poetic title The Coldest Fire.

Opening track ‘Saturn’ kicks off the record with a quicker pace than we’re used to from the band, complete with a hard-hitting beat that instantly gets toes tapping. A swirling guitar melody reflective of the song’s celestial title cuts through this texture; it’s a little angular and surprising, which brings intrigue to the track right from its introduction. It establishes its Gothic creds up front with shoegaze-y guitars and lovelorn lyrics delivered in a moody drawl. These vocals stay charismatic throughout, but are often subdued, biding their time until the climactic final chorus where they reach their peak. Fiery intensity builds as the crashing beat becomes almost overwhelming, completely transporting you into their evocative soundscape.

Next is ‘Get Up’, the leadoff single from the EP and another passionate track. Raw, wailing vocals and a title that quite literally commands your attention come together to make what we sense will be a huge crowd-pleaser at live shows. As with the previous track it knows when to hold back, crafting an aura of mystery and a formidable cool permeated by soaring guitar riffs, and when to let the anticipation pay off with a heavy punky breakdown. ‘1000 Men’ builds anticipation in much the same way, with its militaristic beat that marches on before implementing a looser beat in time for a chaotically passionate conclusion.

A little more experimental than previous records but a lot more powerful, ‘The Coldest Fire’ is an atmospheric wonderland all its own. It’s definitely worth catching this EP’s tracks and more live … their 10 October gig in the wilds of Stoke Newington has now sold out, so if you’ve not already bagged yourself that hot ticket you might like to do some forward-planning for their headline show at Electrowerkz on 30 Jan 2020!

Petrol Girls: No Love for a Nation – track of the day

Photo by Keira Anee at LOUD WOMEN Fest 2019

Today’s track of the day is ‘No Love for a Nation’ by Petrol Girls – as heard on Saturday at LOUD WOMEN Fest as they kicked off their UK tour. In their own words:

“This track is our anti-nationalist anthem. As a band, we come from three different nation states – Austria, Lithuania and the UK – and hold no love for any of them. The nation is a bizarre and often cruel way of organising societies on the basis of where people happen to have been born. It is those on the edge of this way of defining ourselves that suffer its harshest consequences – refugees, migrants and asylum seekers. Populist nationalism takes aim at these people, and uses them as a scapegoat for the failings of capitalism and neoliberalism. If history has taught us anything, it’s that we must resist the rise of populist nationalism that is sweeping the planet.”

Catch Petrol Girls around the UK on tour now

Petrol Girls: Pre-LOUD WOMEN Fest 5 Question Interview

Seeing Petrol Girls perform at the first LOUD WOMEN Fest back in 2016 was an emotional experience: rage, celebration, comradeship, and pure exhilaration. Punk as fuck. Since then, the band have enjoyed righteous success, including touring with War on Women, and even capturing the interest of the musical High Street with a recent live session on BBC Radio 1. Still punk to the core, they kick off their next UK headline tour this Saturday at LOUD WOMEN Fest. Do not miss! Here’s singer/force of nature Ren Aldridge’s 5 Question Interview …

1. For people who’ve not seen you play live before, what can we expect from you at LOUD WOMEN Fest?

Arguably too much ranting in between very loud techy post hardcore tunes about intersectional feminist, anticapitalist and antifascist stuff. And a pair of piss soaked sequined hot pants. And also a new stage backdrop which we’ll be making in 4 different countries on our way to the UK out of cut and stitched national flags… 

2. Fill in the blanks:

“Our sound is like the lovechild of Petty Bone and Refused with a bit on the side from RVIVR”

3. Give us your band manifesto in no more than 20 words.

Ideas like the gender binary/ nationalism are maintained through culture: so music/ culture is one front to attack them on. 

4. Who are you most looking forward to seeing play at LOUD WOMEN Fest?

PHHHH that’s really hard because there’s so many incredible bands that we’ve played with before and also a load of new bands that we’re dead keen to check out! I’m gunna say The Baby Seals because they always make me so fucking happy and that nipple hair song is an absolute banger. I also think that a bunch of people singing along to a song about nipple hair is a beautiful thing. 

5. What made you want to play at LOUD WOMEN Fest?

We’ve been lucky enough to play Loud Women Fest twice already, and its an absolute honour to be part of it again as it grows bigger and bigger, and makes a meaningful difference to the wider music scene by proving just how sweet a line up can be made from women and non binary people dominated acts. We’ve also discovered some of our favourite bands through this festival – especially Dream Nails who we went on tour with after meeting at Loud Women Fest! Can’t wait to discover more great bands this time round. 

Peach Club: Pre-LOUD WOMEN Fest 5 Question Interview

Peach Club are the bright young future of punk – and they’re coming to play LOUD WOMEN Fest this weekend! Couldn’t be more excited to host these Norwich modern riot grrrls. Here’s their 5 question interview …

1. For people who’ve not seen you play live before, what can we expect from you at LOUD WOMEN Fest?

Expect a lot of dancing, some cowbell action and lots of giggling. We love to enjoy ourselves on stage, we love seeing the audience vibe from our enthusiasm and giving them the confidence to dance along with us. 

2. Fill in the blanks

Our sound is like the lovechild of Bikini Kill and Deap Vally with a bit on the side from Bow Wow Wow

3. Give us your band manifesto in no more than 20 words.

We are a feminist, riot grrrl band who believe in the liberation of everyone who’s not a cis white male!

4. Who are you most looking forward to seeing play at LOUD WOMEN Fest?

Definitely Petrol Girls, we played with them recently and their performance made me cry. So much power behind their music and lyrics and they’re just lovely people, too. Also Lilith Ai because she played with us on a couple of our tour dates and she’s the best. 

5. What made you want to play at LOUD WOMEN Fest?

We love what LOUD WOMEN do and what they stand for so we’ve always wanted to be a part of it. The lineups are always incredible, so it’s nice to be in the midst of other incredible bands. 

The Cleopatras: Pre-LOUD WOMEN Fest 5 Question Interview

The Cleopatras are a totally rocking all-woman garage band from Tuscany, Italy and we adore them! They are coming to play LOUD WOMEN Fest on 14 Sept, 2pm on the Boston Music Room stage, and here is their 5 question interview …

1. For people who’ve not seen you play live before, what can we expect from you at LOUD WOMEN Fest?

We play a mix of garage rock, punkrock, surf and power-pop, and we try to keep a fresh and ironic style, rough and girlie at the same time.  At Loud Women Fest you will find our brand new EP “Onigiri Head “, that was released on August 30th 2019 as a 7” limited edition coloured vinyl. This release testifies a change in sound resulting from a recent line-up change, and it is also an opportunity to present Vanessa, the new frontgirl of the band!

2. Fill in the blanks…

“Our sound is like the lovechild of Ramones and The Cramps with a bit on the side from early B-52s

3. Give us your band manifesto in no more than 20 words.

Come on girls! Turn the Cleopower on!

4. Who are you most looking forward to seeing play at LOUD WOMEN Fest?

They are all very interesting! This bill is the clear expression of how most of female bands/artists have so much to say, while traditional paradigms are drying up and depriving of meaning. We are mostly into The Menstrual Cramps because…well, because they are bloody awesome!! And we really looking forward to see Gaptooth, as we like her style and her songwriting, and The Baby Seals, I, Doris, Nervous Twitch and Personal Best, the bands we feel more affinity for.

5. What made you want to play at LOUD WOMEN Fest?

In Italy we don’t have something like Loud Women Festival (yet). There are attempts but it’s really hard to be acknowledged. We wanted to be a part of something important and meaningful, with different dynamics than those ruling the music system. It’s like a breath of fresh air for us!