Tag Archives: kris smith

record reviews  by kris smith

Deux Furieuses – Tracks of Wire LP (May, 2016)
This is an album that probably can’t be done justice without a dissertation in place of this short review. I had the pleasure of seeing Deux Furieuses live in London recently and it was, from the off, a scathing punk/rock assault on the senses and a further reminder of just how much more of an impact two focused, talented musicians can have on stage compared to your average-sized band merely treading water (Young Romance reminded me again of this even more recently). This album delivers the same impact as the live set, while broadening the atmosphere with slower, more atmospheric songs providing balance/contrast. ‘Tracks of Wire’ shouldn’t fail to be seen (along with the upcoming Petrol Girls debut) as one of the most important albums of 2016 and you should seek it out immediately if you haven’t already; you might find it filed under Uneasy Listening.

Ros and Vas used to Rock Like Girls Don’t, of course, back in the comparatively innocent days (everything’s relative) of the mid-to-late 2000s, and their 2009 album ‘How Did It Get To This’ was a brilliant series of tuneful short-sharp-shocks, not a million miles from their current sound. The difference is that whereas that album had song titles like ‘Queen of Heavy Metal’ and ‘I Just Wanna Stick My Head in the Bass Drum’, Deux Furieuses’ debut album leaves all that stuff behind and turns to reportage, with songs addressing global crises, the war on women, refugees, and political struggle. PJ Harvey could be a touchstone musically, or possibly post-punks like the Pop Group, but frankly the band could well have just been watching the sky over the last few years, and coming to their own sound conclusions. ‘Are We Sexy Enough?’ sounds like an exception, a title harkening back to the band’s previous incarnation; instead it addresses rape culture. The final track ‘From Fear to Fury’ manages to suggest a serious message without any words at all.

A record like this will bring listeners few traditional showbiz thrills. But, in addition to delivering a skilful display of rock technique, it dares them to question – as bands like Gang of Four aimed to – the nature of entertainment, the purpose of culture, the limits of awareness. And in doing so it achieves more than most, and secures itself a serious legacy. In simpler terms, this is by turns an angry, heartfelt and affecting alternative rock album, and highly recommended.


Good Throb – S/T EP (July, 2016)
One of the best vocalists (‘KY Ellie’) in UK hardcore, a guitarist (writer/activist Bryony Beynon) in a Huggy Bear t-shirt, a drummer who looks like a young Ian Svenonius, the singer of Frau on bass, and a series of brilliantly-primitive slightly-unhinged rants that come on like a cross between Warsaw (pre-Joy Division), Rudimentary Peni and something from early-80s Bristol label Riot City records: Good Throb truly have everything. Their third EP came out in the summer and includes the track ‘The Queen Sucks Nazi Cock’, which is also literally true.


Peach Club – The Bitch Diaries EP (April, 2016)

It’s been a few years since we heard the sound of what I persist in calling ‘Norwich grrrlcore’, since the dissolution of bands like Fever Fever, the BrowniesBrothersBearsuitKabeediesViolet Violet (plus a bit further back, Kaito) – and in the absence of any recordings yet by Graceland; in the meantime Peach Club have arrived. Song titles like ‘Go Away’, ‘I’m a Bitch’ and ‘My Best Friend’ give a clue to their youth, but this is a group that already has a great early-Bikini Kill-esque sound, a powerful vocalist, political awareness and great potential. Already planning a series of follow-up singles on local label Witchgirl, expect an impressive album from Peach Club within the next few years.


LIINES – Disappear / Be Here single (Oct, 2016)

A brand new release from LIINES, and more pulverising post-punk for the people. While Zoe‘s vocals here are typically passionate and powerful, the LIINES rhythm section too can’t help but conjure up thoughts of Killing Joke and Joy Division, which is no bad thing and certainly confirms the band in a unique musical position on the DIY scene. JD-esque rhythms were borrowed by a few high-profile US bands during the peak post-punk revival, of course, but you could see this as a UK band reclaiming their local legacy. It’s as valid an audio reference as three-chord-trick guitar or Motown-style wall of sound, after all – it’s what you do with these things that matters .What LIINES do with it – as anyone who’s seen them live or heard their last single or promo EP will know, is push the aural point home with a series of pile-driving riffs almost akin to a krautrock/hard rock fusion in their repetitive, controlled frenzy – but always with a song on top.

Eagle-eyed DIY music trivia buffs may notice that the single cover was inspired by artwork by Debbie Sharp, formerly of second-wave uk riot grrrls Valerie, who LIINES played with back when Zoe & Steph were known as [hooker]. Debbie later played in Womb, an arts/music collective who released no records (as far as I know) but did begat ILL, the other block-capital manc-postpunk grrrl-band sensation de nos jours. It’s a small world – and the mood of this single is suitably claustrophobic with it. Roll on the debut album.


Crumbs – Demo EP (May, 2016)

This was an unexpected delight. Unexpected, because with the sheer amount of new cross-fertilised DIY band combinations seemingly being born every week it gets increasingly hard to keep up with it all – there are worse problems to have, of course – and easier to miss stuff,  as I did with this. The just-do-it principle is worth shouting about but inevitably not everything the scene produces is; no such worries with Crumbs, though, whose demo, particularly on tracks “Tiptoes” and “Trapped in a Haircut”, shows exceptional grasp of what a little attention to dynamics and pace can achieve, even with the simplest of rhythmic elements in operation. It doesn’t hurt that vocalist Ruth has one of those voices (see also Emma from Witching Waves) you just want to hear more from, or that there’s an epic early-punk guitar sound going on in the background that pulls my Proustian levers (disclaimer: I have never read Proust) with thoughts of Swell Maps and Siouxie and the Banshees. Maximum Rocknroll have already given this EP a very thorough review, comparing Crumbs to every band Slampt Records put out in the 90s, so I won’t repeat all that here and will instead just say get this record –  for the music, or, if you don’t like music, there are puns to enjoy, like ‘Chaka Can’t’ and ‘Stockport Syndome’. And as we know, puns not dead.


Fight Rosa Fight!/Little Fists – Split EP (Aug, 2016)

A third release for Fight Rosa Fight, and a second for Little Fists, combined – this self-released EP shows both groups at their best. Always a band-to-watch for their DIY riotgrrrl charm, FRF have become an increasingly powerful live act, and that confidence translates into tight, impressive playing here. Unlike some altrockers who promote a vaguely-radical image in the press to appear more interesting, FRF put intelligent, educated thought into making specific and valued political statements in their songwriting (see also: Dream Nails/Petrol Girls), combined with a knack for writing tuneful low-fi pop-punk gems. Little Fists compliment with a more emotional aesthetic and an affecting sound they dub “sadcore”, with what seems like more of an emphasis this time on shared vocals meaning we hear more lovely yelps from Vanessa and Sophie in between Ste’s trademark growls. A band that brings the noise, and fills a room with energy *and* people (always handy, that), Little Fists definitely, as a journalist might say, pack a punch. I would never say something like that, but they totally do anyway. Get the EP, already, it’s great.


The Tuts – Update Your Brain LP (Sept, 2016)

What’s left to say about The Tuts, on the advent of their long-awaited debut album?

In Marcus Gray’s systematic dissection of The Clash, ‘Last Gang in Town’, he calls The Clash’s tendency to write songs about the travails of being in The Clash “Mott the Hoople syndrome” after an earlier band with an equivalent habit. Synchronicitously – seeing as how the Clash are one of the few Ye Olde bands they admit as an influence via their ‘Rudie Can’t Fail’ cover – The Tuts continue that tradition, and the fact is that many of their best songs are about The Tuts and their own (mis)adventures in music, ’Tut Tut Tut’ being merely the most obvious example (I’ll confess something here: I prefer the original single recording – but that’s the nearest thing to a criticism I have of this album).

‘1982’ is a case in point, a brilliantly-written second single from the LP (after ‘Let Go of the Past’) about some stupid stuff their ex-manager said and how they don’t really need one anyway, thank you. Like so much of this album, if the tune doesn’t get you, the vocal harmonies will – and on top of it all, that this band can be so smart, funny and self-aware; well what more do you want from pop music? This is as good as it gets. This is it, the real deal.

I say “pop music” advisedly, because while the Tuts style – like their sister band Colour Me Wednesday – remains unlikely to win over the hardcore underground (too sing-y, too girl-next-door), instead they’ve long had the girl-gang sass to appeal to a genuinely young female indie-rock audience, they’ve got the hooks (much like Wolf Girl do, or Personal Best) for the indiepop crowd, and they play their songs with an in-your-face rock ‘n’ roll élan which brings the punks to the yard without ever skirting close to the ‘rawk’ fakery that risks ruining so many grunge-type grrrl groups – because despite those inevitable comparisons to The Slits, The Tuts actually bypass the whole history of post-punk to deliver the clean guitar lines, melodies, impact and solid production (and this album is very well produced indeed) of first/second wave punks like the Undertones and X Ray Spex. (Which is why you see those older blokes at Tuts gigs: they haven’t seen or heard the like for *years*.)

I say “pop music” because there’s a Robyn-esque chord change in the chorus to ‘Con Man’ which brought me to the verge of tears with its sheer perfection. There’s an emotional vulnerability in Nadia’s voice here too which belies the band’s miscontrued mock-boisterous image – as does the presence of acoustic track ‘You’re So Boring’, and the self-deprecating bad-relationship stories in the album lyrics.

I say “pop music” because alongside the DIY ethics and common-sense left-wing politics (‘Give Us Something Worth Voting For’) is a pure pop ambition to reach as many people as they can, crossing any scene boundaries, a complete lack of anything approaching artistic snobbery, as well as an aesthetic (style/artwork/videos) that both celebrates and détournes the mass-market teen/tween girlhood sold in magazines and TV shows, and an approach to performance that echoes showbiz traditions you can trace back to music hall and beyond. Check out the video to ‘Dump Your Boyfriend’ from a few years ago: it starts with the band trying to find their way on stage, but one Tut gets lost in the stage curtain and the others have to pull her through; it’s a moment of pure Morecambe and Wise charm that I’m doubtful anyone else in the DIY music scene would even have thought of, let alone be able to pull off.

It’s those results and that attention to detail, not merely the hard effort they put into self-management or performance energy, for which The Tuts deserve to be rewarded. And if all you need after all is a dozen tracks of skilful indiepowerpoppunkrock to nod your head to, well that’s a given. Without any doubt, ‘Update Your Brain’ is one of the key albums of the year.


Other releases

Almost too much new music to mention this year, but look out for these, not yet reviewed in the ezine, 2016 releases:

Actual Crimes – Ceramic Cat Traces (farewell album); Lilith Ai – Riot (EP); As Ondas – Mares (debut album); Ay Carmela – Working Weeks (debut album); Baby in Vain – For the Kids (EP); Bamboo – Hexagonal (digi-single) and Live at Cafe Oto (second album);Bleached – Welcome the Worms (second album); Bratakus – Gigantopithecus (debut EP); Cat Apostrophe – Gut Songs (debut EP); Charmpit – Snorkel (debut EP); Charla Fantasma – No Excuses, Baby! (second EP); Cracked Up – Room 201(6) (EP); Deap Vally – Femejism (second LP); Empty Page – Unfolding (debut LP); Es – Object Relations (debut EP); Evans the Death – Vanilla (third album); Ex People – Live at the Unicorn (EP); Foxcunt – Phone in Sick (digi-single); The Franklys – Come Down 7″; Los Cripis – Restaurant (EP); GAYR – Greatest Hits (debut digi-single); Hinds – Leave Me Alone (debut album); Hoopdriver – s/t (EP); IDestroy – Vanity Loves Me (debut EP); Julie Ruin – Hit Reset (second album); Las Kellies – Friends and Lovers (fifth album); The Kills – Ash and Ice (fifth album); Kitten Snot – Womb Clumps (debut EP); Maid of Ace – Maid in England (second album); M.I.A. – AIM (fifth album); Molar – [Split EP w/Pale Kids]; Muertos – Black Box (digi-single); Nervous Twitch  – Don’t Take My TV (second LP); Neurotic Fiction – Demo (EP); No Ditching – [Split EP w/Baby Ghosts]; NOTS – Cosmetic (second album); Nova Twins – s/t (debut EP); Otoboke Beaver – Bakuro Book (EP); Personal Best – I Go Quiet 7″; The Potentials – We Are the Potentials (second EP); Primetime – Going Places (second EP); Quaaludes – Rejects (EP) & Are the Winners Always Losers (EP); Rattle – I Own You (debut album); Savages – Adore Life (second album); September Girls – Age of Indignation (second album); Sex Stains – s/t (debut album); She Makes War – Direction of Travel (third album); The Shondes – Brighton (fifth album); Shonen Knife – Adventure (LP), Skating Polly – The Big Fit (fourth album); Skinny Girl Diet – Heavyflow (debut album); Betty Steeles – Where I Be (EP) & Flow Flow Flow (EP); Tacocat – Lost Time (third album); TeenCanteen – Say it All With a Kiss (debut album); Towel – Wipe Me Dry (debut EP); Tuffragettes – [three undated EPs – see Bandcamp]; Twink Caplan – Practice Room Demos (debut EP); The Twistettes – Jilt the Jive (debut album); Viva Zapata – Fuck It, It’ll Be Fine (farewell EP); Vodun – Possession (debut album); Warpaint – Heads Up (third album); White Lung – Paradise (fourth album)

Upcoming releases

Look out for debut albums from SlowcoachesFeaturePetrol Girls and Young Romance plus second albums from The Wharves, Honeyblood and Ravioli Me Away, the debut EP from Muertos and a new single from Sacred Paws.

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interview: LIINES

by Kris Smith

liinesfor the benefit of anyone unaware of LIINES, please introduce yourselves!

Hello! LIINES are a three-piece band from Manchester. I’m Zoe (vocals/guitar), and I play with Steph (bass) and Leila (drums).

bands often have mixed feelings about genre labels, but how would you describe yourselves?

We have been given a number of different labels over time, from new wave to grunge, but we describe ourselves as post-punk.

the big LIINES news is that you’re working with a new record label and have a new single coming out – can you tell us all about it?

That’s right! We met two people earlier this year, who had recently set up as Reckless Yes Records. It took one meeting in a pub in Derby to know we had found the right people. They get us and we love them so it’s the perfect combination! We are releasing our third single with Reckless Yes, which will be our first physical release on limited white vinyl, ahead of releasing our debut album next year. It’s a double-A side release, “Disappear” // “Be Here”. We decided on a double-A as we’ve only released two songs so far and wanted to show more of what LIINES can do. “Disappear” shows a different side to us, whereas “Be Here” is more similar in style and intensity to our previous releases, so we were happy with this as a combination. Release day is 28th October and we’ll be doing a short tour to celebrate, including a release party at Birthdays in London on 29th October.

are LIINES ambitious, with an eye on the next level of sales/tours, are you focused on the grass-roots DIY scene, or are you keeping all options open?

First and foremost we love being LIINES – writing and performing live and seeing where it takes us. Our drive is performing our music and getting it out there for people to hear. We all have day jobs and so want to make the most of the time we spend as a band. This has meant we’ve become a bit more focused – especially around releases and gigs – but that is more being better at getting ourselves out there. We’ve also had some great opportunities along the way, from playing festivals in Europe, to some UK festivals like Dot to Dot and Ramsbottom Festival, and we’d love to keep getting opportunities like this. It’s a good test to be thrown into bigger situations like these and there is no other feeling like it so why would we not want to keep pushing for more?

does LIINES deliberately have a more consciously darker sound, than Zoe’s/Steph’s previous band, [hooker]?

I don’t think it has been deliberate necessarily. I think ultimately our style of music has grown-up a bit as we have grown-up! Just to explain, I started [hooker] a looong time ago and even with changes in line-up in that period our sound was fairly consistent. Whereas it felt different when the three of us started to play together, which was about 7 years ago. Once we started to write new music there was a noticeable change as Steph (bass) and Leila (drums) developed a combination that really drives our songs and it allowed us to become a bit more layered with guitar and vocals on top. This has definitely given us a darker, more intense sound than we had previously. Once we realised our new music wasn’t really ‘hooker’ it felt like a good time to start afresh – and we have never regretted that decision! But ultimately, it is music we enjoy writing and playing and we’re looking forward to putting this together into our first album project, which has already started.

you began playing from quite a young age, and played with bands like valerie and stephen nancy as part of an apparent new wave of DIY/grrrl bands, partly around the Ladyfest movement. As a participant, did that feel like an intrinsic scene?

That’s right, I started [hooker] in my teens! There was definitely a scene around that time, around bands and venues. The community was there, and I’m pleased to say we still know people from that scene today! So it’s had a lasting impact. We were also really fortunate to play a number of Ladyfests across the UK and Europe, which have been unforgettable experiences and we’ve been able to keep working with some of these people over the years too which is fantastic.

how does then compare to now? It seems to us that there’s been a recent mushrooming of DIY/grrrl bands, and festivals like ours and others are struggling to fit them all on. have you noticed a change?

There definitely does seem to be another wave of DIY bands, which we hope continues to grow and grow because playing music beats anything and anyone who wants to should do it! But you also need a DIY scene otherwise it’s difficult for bands to get their music heard. We’ve been given opportunities to play great nights across the UK but it does feel like in the last few years there’s been a renewed drive by people and groups with new nights and reinvigorated scenes.

  • “We have been so excited to watch from afar what LOUD WOMEN has been doing in London – and beyond.”

Here in Manchester, the Ladyfest community and others have also had a renewed drive over the last few years with some brilliant, inclusive events. It’s one of the reasons our label set up in Derby too and it’s becoming more and more widespread in the best possible way. So it’s vital that these scenes keep going, and are supported, to carve out their space as part of the wider music scene. It gives bands opportunities they might not have been given otherwise, and importantly it can inspire others to do something, set up their own gigs, pick up an instrument and play great music!

if the most interesting and artistically successful figures in music are women (Beyonce, PJ Harvey, Bjork, MIA) – is the artistic battle won; is the future female?

I think as long as women have the same opportunities as maleartists then there is a chance but I still feel we have a long way to go. I went to a club night recently and during the whole night I heard two songs sung by females – neither by new artists either. This is very common. Although the females mentioned are amazing and absolutely deserve to be icons, they have had to come a long way to be given that status. To become this from scratch with the music industry as it is today would be really difficult.

is the queercore/queerpunk scene important to the band? You’ve always had those associations, but has the way you present yourselves and your music evolved over time?

We’ve never seen ourselves, or pushed ourselves, as a queer band – as [hooker] or LIINES – it’s not something that is represented in our music. Saying that, we have played many queer nights and festivals, and will continue to do so, including part of our upcoming tour (Homotopia Festival, Liverpool, 17/11). So it’s not to say we don’t feel part of the queer community, as we do and are proudly so. Perhaps as different opportunities have come about for LIINES, our profile and audience has widened, but it’s not anything that’s happened consciously.

we hear your dad was a bit of a rock scenester in the 70s/80s, so you grew up in a family with a passion for music; do you think you were always likely to live a musical life, and is it important for people to encourage young creativity in that way?

Yes my Dad was actually a punk then a goth and always wore alternative clothing and make-up and had bright red hair. He was always beaten up for being ‘queer’ but he didn’t give a shit. That’s what I love about my Dad. He has always been true to himself and that has been instilled in me. I was introduced to lots of amazing music from a very early age and this had a massive impact. He used to record The Old Grey Whistle Test and The Tube and make lots of ace video compilations so I loved watching Siouxsie and the BansheesGun ClubSoft CellDavid BowieTalking HeadsBlondieIggy Pop performing and just being amazed by what I was seeing and feeling really excited by this music. I was sat on a tour bus post-gig with Alien Sex Fiend in America when I was 11 thinking, “Yep! this is the life I want!” I think it’s so important to encourage creativity, it’s just so hard to actually make a living but I know if I don’t play I would have no idea where I’d put whatever it is that builds up in me when I don’t play.

were you influenced by women in music *as women* or more influenced by the music itself; is the gender aspect important to you? who inspired you musically?

I have an emotional involvement with music. Regardless of gender, if it doesn’t move me then I’m not really that interested. I feel my music collection is pretty 50/50. I wouldn’t listen to or like something just because it was made by a female. Deep breath (and this is the short list!): SiouxsiePJ HarveySleater-KinneyJoy DivisionPixiesNirvanaSolar RaceVictory at Sea.

you often play in Europe. what are your thoughts on the scene over there (and also about brexit)?

We’ve done a couple of tours in Germany and Europe, most recently as LIINES quite soon after we’d started in 2014, and since then we’ve done a mini-tour and other gigs and festivals here and there. Each time we come back slightly changed people after amazing experiences – there is such a warmth and inclusiveness. People come to the gigs ready to dance and have fun, whether they know the band or not. That’s not to say that we don’t experience that here, but it just seems to come so much easier over there.

We were and still are devastated by the referendum result. It just doesn’t make sense to us, and whilst we don’t know how it will pan out we are all still coming to terms with it – or wishing it will go away. Leila and I were in Berlin at the time of the referendum and when people realised we were English they either looked at us with pity or sheer confusion. Why would we cut ourselves off? We are European. We have never felt that more strongly than when we’re on tour meeting incredible people and watching awesome talent and that feeling will never change for us.

thanks so much for answering our questions. anything else to add before we finish?

Nothing other than to say thank you to Cassie and everyone at LOUD WOMEN for what you’re doing!


LIINES are on tour now – catch them in London (29/10), Stoke (11/11), Liverpool (17/11), Derby (18/11), Manchester (26/11) and Leeds (2/12). Their release “Disappear // Be Here” is out on Reckless Yes Records on 28 October. 

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music review: emotional response (comp) | typical girls

by kris smith

16 tracks here, coming straight from the underground, and a very high hit rate for a compilation. This has a sample of songs dating from the last three years, from UK favourites Slum Of LegsFrauShopping and Daskinsey 4, and what looks like an exclusive track from Primetime.

Aside from a couple of (to me) iffy choices, i.e. a slightly-cheesy track by Brighton ska-sters Meow Meows, whose back catalogue I haven’t yet investigated but who are great live, and a sort-of instrumental from Brazilian band Rakta, this is a top-notch selection of Your New Favourite Bands, guaranteed to shame you if you hadn’t sought them out already. From the US, the great NOTS, and also Earth GirlsQuaaludesUV-TVBad Daddies and Street Eaters; and from Finland, Charm Bags and The Splits.

This selection, of course, only scratches the surface. File this LP alongside the Tuff Enuff ‘Riots Not Diets’ compilations and ‘Nobody’s Business’ from Candy Twist Records. There are rumours that Odd Box Records and LOUD WOMEN itself are planning similar comps, none of which need overlap with each other given the wealth of female-fronted, punk/pop and queercore DIY music around at the moment. Keep ’em peeled.
Typical Girls (Emotional Response Records, June 2016)