Tuesday, 27 November 2012
*Originally published for The 405 (27/11/12)
It's mid-summer, the car windows are wound down, your friends are drinking in the back seat and the air stinks of West Coast hubris. You're not in Los Angeles, however, you're in Bos Angeles, UK and it's pissing it down with rain.
According to a local travel website, Boscombe is lovingly referred to as 'Bos Vegas' or 'Bos Angeles' (though we'll leave the level of irony to the opinions of those who've visited). Three lads from the area have also decided to name their band after it, and they're here to brighten things up a bit.
'Beach Slalom' catapulted Bos Angeles into buzz band territory in November last year, catching them the attention of many a tastemaker. Such a response was inevitable with the band scoffing the liquid hooks of Beach Fossils, WAVVES and Girls, yet sounding distinctly rawer. Lazy, pubescent vocals groan over prickly guitars on 'Beach Slalom', with distorted bass and kitchen pot drums thrashing in the background. It's an addictive sound.
A year later, Bos Angeles have decided to compile all their unreleased EPs onto a retro, yet of-the-moment 21-song cassette tape, Taking Out The Trash as their final parting shot (they disbanded this year). 'Beach Slalom' opens the thick onslaught of lo-fi surfer-rock tunes, followed closely by 'Days Of Youth' with its assured oohs and ahs and happy-go-lucky guitars. It's a strong start and adheres to the 'bedroom pop grunge lo-fi post-punk surf' that the boys have previously (and a little humorously) marketed themselves on.
The next ten minutes do not allow you to lose sight of these genres, so much so that the tracks merge into one another. 'Making Waves' plods in 4/4 like a tired indie filler, lacklustre lyrics grate rather than satiate, and 'Endelss Summer' makes of a double-mockery of its title. Perhaps it's the juxtaposition with the ferocious 'Beach Slalom' and 'Days Of Youth', but either way, it feels like you're looking up from the foot of the mountain.
You can wipe away the beads of sweat once you've pass the halfway mark where, at last, a good cluster of songs breathes life back into the record. 'Stone Washes' is a wonderful early noughties pop-punk with its jangling bass and classic three-chord guitar progression and 'Shallom Goy' boasts of a fresh identity with its battered vocals and anthemic punk-rock chorus. There's something all the more different in 'I Hate It When You Look At Me', which shuffles its shoegaze feet and lets guitars gnaw beneath an impossibly slow beat.
You're just about getting somewhere until a couple of dreary numbers ('Friendzoned', 'All I Do Is Dream') take pole position once more. But the Boscombe boys are clever and draw the compilation to its close with some stellar tracks in 'You're The One That I Want' and 'Pretend With You.'
'You're The One That I Want', unfortunately, isn't a Grease cover, but it is fortunately two minutes of scorching post-punk. 'Pretend With You' is where you can't help but scream "more of this" into your speakers, with its stunning guitar stumbling over calypso drums and ghoulish vocals. Seriously, more of this please.
In all its giant, aggregated glory, Taking Out The Trash is more of a curse than a blessing. Chop it up into bits and it's perfect for easy listening, but swallow it whole and you'll choke before you reach the end. There are some great tracks hidden in its spools – you'll just have to play cassette roulette to find them.
Monday, 19 November 2012
*Originally published for The Generator's Tipping Point blog (19/11/12)
Hello there again, girl + guitar. You’ve been defying the music industry of late with your Marlings, Roses and Daughters and you’ve been doing a fine job of it. Is it beginning to wear a bit thin, though? Aren’t we beginning to tire of all the cute acoustics and breathy vocals? No, not just yet, because 16 year old Bridie Monds-Watson a.k.a. SOAK is here to shake things up a bit.
Originally from Belfast but now based in Derry/Londonderry, the unsigned singer-songwriter has already released two EPs, supported bands like The Undertones and Villagers and even leapt onto the Radio 1 playlist. It’s not so much the complexity of her music that has stirred such attention, but its simplicity. Listen the components of her latest single, ‘Sea Creatures’ (taken from her recent EP of the same title) and you’ll see why. There are no interweaving guitars, just a gently plucked acoustic. There isn’t a full-sized drum kit pelting in the background, just a gently rumbling cajon drum. Dust those elements with the most untouched vocals imaginable, and you’ve got a perfect little nugget of acoustic pop.
Far beyond musical analysis of ‘Sea Creatures’ is the importance of SOAK’s lyrics: lyrics that tell of innocence and experience. “They don’t know what love is, throw it around like it’s worthless,” her precocious head cries, but we also hear her cursing the juvenile “Sea Creatures” that inhabit her world. She’s at once older than her years, yet too young to be ahead of them. That’s her charm.
The ‘Juno’-isms and the twee nature of her music might not suit everyone, but there’s no denying that SOAK has penned a contagious number in ‘Sea Creatures.’ It’s bound to stick in more heads to come.
*Tip comes courtesy of Damian Baetens
Thursday, 8 November 2012
*Originally published for The Generator's Tipping Point blog (7/11/12)
Unsigned London songwriter and producer KHUSHI should be one self-assured fella. He’s received substantial attention on the blog circuit and repeated airplay on Huw Stephens' In Huw Music We Trust – yet just a handful of songs make up his back catalogue. Some stellar tracks must be at his disposal, then.
As stated on his Facebook page, KHUSHI is influenced by the likes of Bon Iver, The National and Alt-J. It would be superfluous and exhausting to pinpoint these sounds out however, for KHUSHI actually acts on his own territory. There may be the odd nod to Justin Vernon-like falsettos, but these are few and far between and there isn’t really one artist to attach him to (alright, I lied, there are a some stirring similarities to Colorado bedroom musician, Mesita).
On KHUSHI’s recent track, ‘Magpie’, an assured vocal tone and cutting lyrics tumble from lips, muted guitars mimic violins and careering drums drag root notes behind them. The entire song has a minimalist structure – starting small and ending big – and a brooding pulse that picks dirt up as it rolls. It does nothing less than entices you to explore more.
With an exciting career ahead of him, here’s to everyone doing the same.
Today's tip comes courtesy of Jeremy Lloyd from Laissez Faire Club.