Tag Archives: richard archer

review: PAMs – Phasers

by Richard Archer

PAMs – Phasers (EP, April 2017)

On ‘PAMs Phase #1’, PAMs established themselves as masters of quirk and chaos, songs such as ‘Don’t Push Me’ sounding like a boozy, parallel universe version of the Scooby Doo gang having a dust-up inside your stereo. It was thrilling stuff, so it’s good to have them back for a second round.

On ‘Phasers’, they are moving  toward a more honed end result, and if that sounds disconcerting then don’t panic – there’s still plenty of ruckus there to enjoy such as the glam-for-a-bit ‘Fun’, on which bass player Satori Kurosawa shouts:

  • “If I cant have no fun, I don’t want nothing at all”

Audibly, the production has moved away from the murk of the previous cassette but that gives the new set of songs a particular character of their own and suits the refinement in performance that is apparent.

Maybe different influences are permeating the band right now. The band see-saw between Ramones style sprints (‘No Shoes’ is Ramones as played by the Runaways) and a slick wheels-on-tarmac groove worthy of bands like Crime (‘Comped To Death’ and ‘Pinback’ in particular).

It’s nice to see a band with an idiosyncratic nature like PAMs move around within their sound rather than repeat the same recipe and full credit goes to them for upping the ante.

PAMs Bandcamp

 

pams

Advertisements

interview: The Baby Seals

by Richard Archer, exclusively for LOUD WOMEN

The Baby Seals: Amy Devine, Kerry Devine & Jasmine Robinson

It’s my first interview assignment ever and I’m both excited and scared to be chatting shop with Jasmine Robinson and Amy Devine (bass thumper and traps basher respectively) of excellent Cambridge-based punx The Baby Seals.  They’ve spent the day filming a video for a track from their forthcoming EP, ‘Lips Are Sealed’, and have very kindly agreed to meet me down the boozer afterwards – a few classy Guinness and Malibus later, my nerves are alleviated and it’s straight to business.

Give our readers a potted history of the band…
Amy: Kerry (Devine, guitars and vocals) is my sister and Jasmine has been a really good friend of ours for ages and this band started as an idea in the pub when Kerry had this song called ‘Period Drama’. The band got its name from when I worked as a support worker. I asked my manager where she was going for New Years Eve and she said “I’m off to see the baby seals in Hunstanton” and I thought she meant a band. She didn’t, she literally meant the animals!

Yours and Jasmine’s last band (The Centimes) was alternative rock and the ‘Seals are punkier. Was it a conscious decision to go harder edged? 
Amy: I guess we have turned punky but it wasn’t a conscious thing – Kerry writes the songs, they just turned out that way.
Jasmine: But they’re poppy too. Kerry has a good ear for a hook. It just started as banter, with us just riffin’ off each other really.

Kerry’s solo material is very folky, in the run up to the band was she wanting to get into something heavier?
Jasmine: Not really, we wanted  to do something different after the Centimes, and Kerry wanted to as well because doing things solo is a very different experience. This is us just hanging out together. It’s a big kickabout really, but with instruments. We’re like a band of sisters!

Amy, what’s it like being in a band with your sister? I imagined you’ve played music together before right?
Amy:  We used to perform on holidays! And my dad had a band when we were little and they used to let us get up on stage and play stuff as well. It’s lovely being in a band with Kerry. She gets quite self-conscious sometimes because she’s very focused and driven and thinks it may come across as bossy. But we tell her she’s not, she’s got a good vision for the band.

Nothing wrong with being a perfectionist. Do you chip in with lyrics? 
Amy: Not yet, but we want to.
Jasmine: The lyrics tend to come out of conversations we have. Brutally honest female conversation! Especially since we’re all quite close, what with Kerry and Amy being sisters, they tend to be issues we’ve talked about and Kerry will come back a few weeks later having written a song about it.

Do the songs take shape in the practice room or does Kerry turn up with the finished article?
Jasmine: She’ll come in and say “this is the riff and what not”, and me and Amy will fill in the spaces, see what sounds good.

So what song were you making a video for today then?
Amy: ‘Girl’. We’ve been covert filming in a major high street chain of toy shops!
Jasmine: The songs lyrics are aghast at the gendered toys that there are in the shops. One thing we saw in there today was a Disney serving trolley – what does that teach your daughter?? To be subservient??
Amy: Predominantly pink coloured princess toys. We saw a lot of that.

Do you have a favourite song from your band?
Amy: I love ‘Nipple Hair’, it’s quite a dynamic song. It start with a Southern-California punk/beach-y kind of vibe and then it slows down in the middle with a three-part harmony. The lyrics make it quite funny as well.
Jasmine: I really like the lyric:

  • “Some ariola’s are big and vainy / Some look like puppy dogs noses / Some look like they’ve been dipped in gravy!”

It’s so true!

Is that your favourite too then?
Jasmine:  Yeah, I think it is. I enjoy playing that one, it sums us up quite nicely.
Amy: It quite a positive song, its not having a pop at anyone or excluding anyone.

What about Kerry?
Amy: She really gets into ‘It’s Not About The Money Honey’. I don’t know if that’s her favourite but I’ve noticed she really goes for it on that one.
Jasmine: She goes Kate Bush-esque and wild on that one!

With regards to your instruments of choice, are there any particular performers that inspired you to pick them up?
Amy: A few. I really liked Caroline Corr – there’s loads of female drummers but a lot of them are session players. There’s not many that are visible, in commercial music, it’s male-dominated. So I first saw her when I was something like twelve years old and I thought she was really cool. And I really loved Thin Lizzy, so Brian Downey was a big influence. My uncle Mitch was a big influence, he used to let me play his drums. It’s always been there in the family. And as I’ve gotten older, I listen to a lot of funky soul and Motown-style drumming.
Jasmine: Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, which shows how young I was when I first picked up a bass! I liked the poppin’ slap bass, even though I play nothing like that. I remember listening to ‘Aeroplane’ and I really liked that song, his bassline was slamming and I liked that his daughter was in the video too. I liked Incubus too – I don’t play funky bass but I’ve got an appreciation for it.

What is your favourite gig you have played so far?
Amy: This is hard! I liked the one we did in Brighton at Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar. The woman doing the sound was amazing, good stage, great monitoring too.
Jasmine: That was my favourite too. And there was a great audience there, really getting into it. Crowd-surfing at points! We got some really good feedback afterwards, people seemed thrilled that we sing about things that they talk with their girlfriends about. We don’t beat around the bush!

I’m resorting to job interview-styled questions now. If I was to interview your peers, how would they describe you?
Jasmine: Cheeky.
Amy: Laid back.
Jasmine: I’m gonna compare us to the Spice Girls! Everyone liked them because they were just normal lasses, and there’s a class thing going on there as well. We’re working class girls.
Amy: The feedback we’ve had has been positive.
Jasmine: I was really frightened for a bit before we started gigging these songs, I didn’t know how people would take it – if they would be offended. But they’ve been really on board with it. All our songs are meant with good intention, there’s no malice.

Final question – where do you see yourselves in five years time?
Jasmine: Conquering the world.
Amen!

 ‘Lips Are Sealed’ is available to pre-order now, ahead of release on 7 April from thebabyseals.bandcamp.com 

 

review: ‘All of Me’ by Dirty Dishes

by richard archer

All of Me by Dirty Dishes(Punk Fox Records Cat No: XOF012)

The Punk Fox label is now on its twelfth single release and each one so far has been a statement of intent more immediate than any album or EP, and a potent introduction to both the artist and label.  For the most part the song choices for each single have favoured art and risk over safe and radio-friendly, but there has always been pop sensibility in the mix somewhere and this has made for a satisfying listening experience.

The satisfaction continues with New York band Dirty Dishes’ single ‘All Of Me’. It’s a tantalisingly slow crawl through quiet and contemplative verses based around a two-note pendulum-swing of a bass line into a loud and crunchy chorus with random blasts of amplifier squeal. Jenny Tuite’s breathy and sweet vocals counterbalance the swamp jam with cryptic lyrics (‘four eye smile and third eye closed, you sneak a wink at me’) on what might be an ode but I can’t be sure.

This duality helps to give the song a cosy outer layer but a thuggish core and listening to it is a bit like being punched in the ear with a sugar-coated boxing glove. Overall, it makes me think of Gary Numan’s  ‘Are Friends Electric’ as if it had just got out of bed and hadn’t really had the chance to wake up, move around the house a bit and get it’s electro-clothes on yet. And in my opinion, that’s worth owning.

Limited edition Blue vinyl single available February 2017
Dirtydishes.bandcamp.com

review: Dungarees & Dragons ‘Paint it on the Wall’

a2596920202_10review by Richard Archer

Cambridge indie-rock favourites The Centimes dispersed a couple of years ago and went in surprising directions.  The great rhythm section of Jasmine Robinson and Amy Devine have formed an equally-loved punk rock group called The Baby Seals with Amy’s sister Kerry on guitar and lead vocals. The remaining Centime –  12-string whizz Adam ‘Woody’ Woodsford – moved to Copenhagen and has formed Dungarees & Dragons with Tina Bang-Olesen (formerly of London indie legends the Sock Puppets) on lead vocals.

‘Paint it on the Wall’ is the first fruits of the pairing. A groovy and international vibe is maintained  throughout this 12 song set – we are treated to bouts of duetting girl/boy vocals that fall on the right side of sweet, whirling Hammond organs, skipping drums and Woody’s trademark 12-string guitar which is a delight to have back in the ear canals where it belongs.

The opening rush of ‘Hi Pierrot’ will zing the heartstrings of even the most hardened cynic, conjuring as it does a joyful melancholy akin to looking at photographs of fondly remembered times.  Elsewhere, ‘Calling Tomorrow’ drifts into the stratosphere with an  effervescent ascending guitar break at the songs tail-end. Even ‘Horoscope’ with its lyric of ‘clouds are raining down from the sky’ is delivered as if sunshine is not too far away.

To provide balance, the duo bare their fangs on the angry ‘Privatisation’ (sample lyric – “they don’t pay their taxes, they don’t live where you live/ Every time you buy a train ticket you give them ten quid”), and kick out a moody Julie Driscoll and Brian Auger-styled jam on the yearning ‘I’ll Be Seeing You’.  But for the most part this is a gloriously up-tempo affair, calling to mind some of the best work by The Cardigans, the Pastels and even Stereolab in bits. An intriguing record.

https://dungareesanddragons.bandcamp.com/album/paint-it-on-the-wall

 

record review: Doe – Some Things Last Longer Than You

by richard archer

I loathe the term ‘slacker rock’ because it suggests the bands that are dubbed so are sloppy and lacking poise. It may be that bands such as Dinosaur Jr. and Superchunk gave off an aura of indifference, but they had had a sledgehammer delivery on record and stage that let you know that they meant business.The same is true of this record from Doe, who are similar in their sonic method to the aforementioned ‘Chunk. They rarely move beyond the mid-pace on this record and it’s pleasing to hear a band move away from the frenzy of punk into something more unhurried (but not slack). Singer/guitarist Nicola and guitarist Dean kick out riffs that land like the direct hit of a toe-punted football on cold ears, and the interplay between them and drummer Dean on tracks like opener ‘No.1’ give Doe classic three-piece potential.

Off-kilter structure gives the band a further edge. ‘Sincere’ has a few extra or few less bars here and there which surprises and delights when coupled with its cynical lyrics (“You’re so commanding / The lies are outstanding / A perfect betrayal / Of someone who cares”) and lurching dynamic shifts. Elsewhere on ‘Monopoly’, Nicola throws lyrical darts at relationship breakdown (“I never liked your family anyway, anyway / They used to cheat at Monopoly anytime we played”) on what could be a ballad played with cudgels.

The songs are propelled by fabulous production which makes the most of the bands strengths whilst respecting the three-piece value. Where mobs of harmony and fuzz guitar on tracks like ‘Monopoly’ and ‘Something To Tell You’ will give your stereo speakers something to do, they won’t distract from the band performances at the centre.

So here we have a band worthy of being as revered as the classic bands in this most mislabelled of genres. Let’s hope there’s a writer with more creativity and talent than myself who can think of descriptive terminology that better suits them all.

review: Nervosa – ‘Agony’ 

by Richard Archer

When I used to enjoy the thrash metal of the 1980’s, it felt like it was a fresh atom-split from the hardcore punk genre. Labels such as Roadrunner specialised in releasing records with very home-made cover artwork and a fixation on gloom, all of which carried a peculiar charm. Later on down the road it all got a bit rhythmically convoluted, moving away from the loud and fast template that it shared with the likes of Motörhead and Dead Kennedys. Where it had broadened in scope (no bad thing), it had also lost some of the snotty immediacy.

Brazil’s Nervosa have the same appeal as that exciting first wave of thrashers, without being throwback. ‘Agony’ is a harder and more straightforward album than their spirited debut ‘Victim of Yourself’, with assured performances running parallel to a refined approach in arrangement. Prika Amaral’s distinctive punchy guitar playing style holds the foreground in the production but she has dialled down on the guitar breaks – check out the brief but blistering solo towards the end of ‘Hostages’ for confirmation. For metalheads, this might be akin to the original punks hearing the staggering two-note guitar solo on the Buzzcocks ‘Boredom’ for the first time.

It’s not an album without curveballs though. The aforementioned ‘Hostages’ includes some unexpected jazz swing from drummer Pitchu Ferraz on the song’s introduction, ‘Guerra Santa’ (meaning ‘Holy War’) has almost folky vibes despite it’s short sharp delivery and final twister ‘Wayfarer’ shows off bluesy skills and reminds me of ‘Sabotage’-era Sabbath. Bassist/vocalist Fernanda Lira holds the album’s final surprise – an acapella sign-off with a slinky croon that you never knew was in there.

It’s tantalising to think where album number three will take the band, but I hope they stay true to their roots. This album will win a lot of new ears and re-energise older ears to the ways of thrash. Loud fast rules.

review: Dizzyfruit (s/t)

by Richard Archer


Dizz
yfruit is a project of Satori Kurosawa, the bass player for London ear-bleeders Flemmings. In this self-titled album she plays guitar and sings across 7 tracks that flirt between Crypt Records-styled rock n’ roll and late 1970’s punk. Backed by members of The Mule Team, this set is as quick as lightning and devastatingly direct in it’s execution. But simple is often the most difficult thing to nail and songs like ‘Unico’ bounce along for a good minute and a half without it ever really mattering that you’ve been listening to just the one chord.

The track titles often give clue as to the kinetic effect of the songs themselves. ‘Rollrecoaster’ is just that, full of leaps and falls, ‘Shake It’ makes with an instant lip-curl and ‘Flying Supercar’ is a no-brakes adrenaline rush of fantastical pop melody.  The great band performances show a genuine understanding of the genres they are drawing from and their easy grooves make this excellent fun to drink, dance and sing along to.

Overall, it’s a tantalising listen – at end of the last song you’re cued up for another and that’s the way it ought to be. Topped off with great cover art by Satori, this is one of the best records you’ll hear this year.dizzyfruit