The evenings are closing in so Getintothis digs out its big coat and looks forward to a busy Autumn full of gigs and albums, just to keep you on your toes.
As the days get shorter, the wind whips ever colder onto our skin and Autumn prepares her sepia cloak to drape over the summer landscape (this is good stuff isn’t it?), there is one benefit of heading out of Summer and leaving behind its festivals and holidays. And that reason is – gigs!
Autumn has long been a time for a rush of great gigs, all timed to fit in with the students returning to Uni, thus supplying a ready made audience in University towns, their pockets bursting with loans and money from parents.
Happily, this feeding frenzy isn’t just limited to students and the rest of us can join in the fun with unrestrained glee.
This Autumn alone offers us gigs from The Prodigy, Paul McCartney, Mogwai and The Orb. And with great tours come great albums – there is after all no point touring unless you have some product to push, and so our album reviews below look at new blockbusters from Spiritualized, Orbital, Jungle and Low, as well as some more under the radar belters from Adwaith and Michael Blythe.
The glory days of the 90s meant that going to at least one gig a week was the norm for the Autumn, criss-crossing the city and making frequent runs into Manchester and beyond. Sometimes we managed two gigs in one night, such as running from Lush at the Mountford Hall to see Levitation at the Krazy House, taking full advantage of their excellent buy-one-get-one-free bar policy before the barely remembered taxi home.
At the Jacaranda’s recent 60th birthday celebrations, DJ Dave Haslam was asked if he thought gigs were in danger of becoming old hat, due to the onward march of technology and the Internet. His response was a firm no – a gig was something that could not be replaced by its virtual equivalent.
No amount of virtual reality or high definition streaming video could hope to recreate the full experience of going to a gig, of live music assaulting your senses and joining in the communal experience with friends and strangers. No recording, no matter how high, good or real seeming, could come close to that feeling when a really great gig hits you square in the chest and takes you beyond the confines of whatever venue you are in, raising your spirits and lifting you higher.
A great gig can be the best entertainment you will ever witness, it can be a life affirming/life changing thing and it can be rallying cry for like minded souls to come together. Being a frequent gig goer, you can come to recognise other faces who regularly show up at the same gigs as you, to start a network of friends who might be with you for many, many years to come.
So for all the pessimists who complain that there is nothing to look forward to after the August bank holiday, have a look at our gig guides or the posters that are displayed around town and join in. Go and see SOPHIE at 24 Kitchen Street, or The Vryll Society at The Academy or even pop along to one of our Deep Cuts nights and maybe discover your next favourite band.
It’s happening now and we fully recommend that you all join in and experience music as it was meant to be heard – live and loud.
Discovering Adwaith these last twelve months has been a tantalizing tease of a journey. The delicious drip-drip of singles from the Welsh trio, it’s fair to say, has enticed a wider audience than Welsh language music is accustomed to outside the country itself. The reason for that is because – and I don’t want to sound like a bloody sentimental hippie here, but if I have to, I jolly well will – music can speak in a way mere words cannot.
Proudly feminist and political, Melyn (Welsh for yellow), their post punk-esque debut album, performed entirely in the Welsh language, is a brave unashamed trawl through a love of a wide expanse of genres – from the confrontational punk of Lipstick Coch (Red Lipstick) to the reggae swagger of Colli Golwg.
There are three short, weird instrumentals to refresh the palate, and the gorgeous bold Fel iFod captured the imagination widely in 2018, becoming one of the most streamed Welsh language songs ever, capturing 300k listens. The magnificent Newid (Change) is a stirring call to arms.
The Manic Street Preachers’ James Dean Bradfield remixed Gartref for Adwaith as he’s a fan of the band, but the album version of the song carries its own weight, in a slow, eerie build.
Adwaith have been called the future of Welsh music, the future of music full stop and all manner of wonderful things. One thing is for sure. They are so GOOD.
Each song on Melyn is inspiring and kicks ass, the dreamier carrying a punch of their own. whether post punk is an accurate way of describing Adwaith is up for discussion. I myself would argue there’s far more to Hollie Singer, Gwenllian Anthony and Heledd Owen’s songwriting chops than past eras long gone can boast of.
Y Diweddaraf is the first Welsh language song to be included on Spotify’s New Music Friday playlist a couple of weeks back. To give a wider sense of perspective on how ground breaking this is, consider that Spotify launched in the UK 10 years ago this month. Things are changing, people. And Adwaith are leading that change. Be part of it. Cath Bore
Her’s: Invitation to Her’s
Heist or Hit
The All Music Guide to Electronica (2003) defines dream pop as an atmospheric subgenre of alternative rock that relies on sonic textures as much as melody. Adopted Scousers, Her’s, could be described as wearing this definition like a badge of honour. Their official debut album, Invitation To Her’s, serves up multiple layers of wistful introspection, and sees the duo add further substance to their already acknowledged skill in said dream pop landscape.
From the opener, Harvey, which is for all intent and purpose, a paean to the James Stewart film of the same name, Cumbrian, Stephen Fitzpatrick and Norwegian, Audun Laading, introduce us to their world of melancholia, sex workers and boy racers.
Summoning up the ghosts of 80s intelligent pop purveyors such as Scritti Politti, Aztec Camera and Prefab Sprout, Her’s seamlessly weave a melange of funk-driven bass lines, lush guitar melodies and swooping vocal delivery.
On Low Beam, Fitzpatrick voices the gentle side of the biker in the gang, ‘Keeping my lights on soft beam, thinking of different thrills’, using bold baritone vocals to a backdrop of sparkling synths and a driving drum beat. In fact, the drum machine could almost be the third member of the band, so much is it in use. And on the album as a whole, it’s not a bad thing at all.
A sex line operator on Love On The Line (Call Now) coos, ‘Buttercup, call me up, Saturday night….I’ll be waiting on the end of the line’, showing how a seedy subject can be infused with the musical equivalent of Angel Delight.
Invitation To Her’s is cheeky, playful and wistful in equal measures. Merging doo- wop, shimmering melodies, skittish riffs, and enough hooks to hang a wardrobe of parkas on, Her’s have further cemented their reputation of today’s equivalent of perfect student bedsit connoisseurs. Mark Flannery
Jungle: For Ever
For Jungle mainstays Tom McFarland and Josh Lloyd-Watson, LA opened its arms following relationship breakdowns for the pair. The city’s summery vibes juxtaposed with mournful heartache, are a constant on their follow up to 2014’s eponymous debut album, which brought them much acclaim.
Opener, Smile, with it’s rhythmic drum beat, and instantly recognisable falsetto delivery, immediately let’s us know that a yearning for contentment drives the autobiographical feel of the record…’when you smile, the world feels a little better’.
The West Coast forms the backdrop for much of the band’s lyrical content. From Heavy, California, with its sun-drenched vibes, contrasting with the sense of lost love, with its ‘just hold me, I’m a lonely heart’ refrain, to House In LA, with its sweeping strings and languorous instrumentation. However, it doesn’t completely grab the listener throughout.
Mama Oh No and Give Over are Bontempi-esque fillers, which can be thoroughly glossed over, and (More and More) It Ain’t Easy sounds like they started getting bored with the whole shebang.
That said, there’s enough here to satisfy those who enjoyed their debut offering. Slinky basslines, slick disco grooves and electronic lush string arrangements pepper For Ever, and baring one’s soul in such a way, definitely has its upsides. Mark Flannery
Low: Double Negative
After The Invisible Way and Sixes and Ones I did fear that Low were on the slow decline, merely re-treading old ground. When one of your favourite bands is seemingly on the wane, it’s a difficult thing to contemplate. The fears quickly recede where Low’s new album, Double Negative, is concerned.
It’s why they are in the pantheon of modern age prominence. Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker enhance the notion that they are indie rock’s steady hand. As husband and wife, as parents, as a musical group, for years they’ve appeared unflustered. Until now.
Double Negative is Low at their most pissed off. Low in a complete shit-storm and while their listeners have spent over twenty-five years seeking a safe haven in their music, it seems that Low themselves have jacked it in and joined us in the mire. While far removed from Low’s signature slow-core blueprint, Double Negative is still very much a Low album. With the assistance of BJ Burton (Bon Iver), this could well be one of the greatest re-sets in modern times.
From the first twenty seconds of Quorum, it’s clear that their template has been thrown at the wall, put through the mincer, and the results are a reassembled warped combination of skewed vocals, scarred guitar and post-apocalyptic atmospherics. While Dancing in Blood is Parker’s finest moment on the album, Steve Garrington’s ingenuity from bassist to multi-instrumentalist shouldn’t be understated. His overall performance is integral to the results on Double Negative.
The album moves from sleepy town narratives to something larger in the way of Disarray. The lead single and closing track. Its chaotic themes illuminate our times and along with the sprawling twists and turns throughout Double Negative, it’s hardly surprising that this track concludes the album.
With Double Negative never have this band sounded so revitalised. Sure, Drums and Guns was seen as the black sheep of Low’s body-of-work at the time, however this album has a dark political undercurrent which in many ways is as equally uncharted territory for Duluth’s finest band. It’s a terrain that could swiftly become their natural habitat. Simon Kirk
Michael Blyth & the Wild Braid: Indigo Train
Michael Blyth knows the road. It became his home for a while. It’s as in him as he was once immersed in it. For him, the road led to the blues, to the bottle, prison and eventually to redemption and recovery. The raw pain and joy of that journey is held in this bleak, cutting emotion of where Michael Blyth has been and where he’s now found himself is evident here. There’s a darkness to many of the moments on this album, as well as the reflections of a former addict happy with the life he’s found, or rather, of the life that’s found him.
In the late 1970s, Blyth cut himself free from his Brighton-based band, over musical differences. He ran away to follow his one true love to America. The band ran away to become The Psychedelic Furs.
When his quest for love foundered, he found himself in California, lost, alone and with no idea what to do next. He turned, almost inevitably to the bottle, and that was where he remained for a couple of decades. Many attempts to resurrect his music failed, as his addiction took a hold. The demons were winning. But he began to use the weight, the turmoil and the agony of his chaotic lifestyle as a force for change. He wrote. He kept on writing. ‘I never stopped writing, motivated along the way by the pain and joy, to turn lead into gold.’
In 1994, he returned to Britain, landing in West London, where he began learning psychotherapy and working as a counsellor in a rehab. Fate and synchronicity led him to the kindred spirit of Aviator’s Pete Wilkinson (formerly of Shack, Cast and the Bunnymen) and Mark Neary, bass guitarist, pedal steel and producer (Adele, Van Morrison, Noel Gallagher). Together they brought this collection of dusty alt-country blues tales together. The raw emotion in Blyth’s cracked and scratched voice, is given plenty of free space to move, to tell these stories. The memories, fears, and hopes of a past life.
From the cello and flute laden country folk of When The Mist Comes Down, both inviting and familiar, to the simple, warm, honest love song When Day Is Done, Michael Blyth’s gift for telling tales from the road he’s loved and lived is unmistakable. Lyrically emotive and musically evocative, a haunting, melancholic beauty holds this wonderful album together. Paul Fitzgerald
Orbital: Monsters Exist
Orbital’s story is not without its twists and turns. The Hartnoll brothers’ debut single, Chime, was recorded in a cupboard using their dad’s cassette deck and saw them ride the crest of the Dance/Acid House wave, appearing on Top of the Pops as fresh faced youngsters, having to take time off from a job at the local pizza place to mime play their record to millions of people.
Then came a string of great albums and a legendary appearance at Glastonbury that still regularly crops up in lists of the best gigs of all time, before sadly calling it a day in 2004. They got back together in 2008 only to split up again in 2012.
This then represents their third time around the block. So what can we expect from a reformed band who had been there and done that before the old millennium ended? The answer: one of their best albums to date and one of 2018’s best.
Monsters Exist aptly starts with the title track, which comes across as an anthemic, atmospheric opener. Melodramatic keyboards and beats form an orchestral epic, sounding like the soundtrack to a sci-fi noir scene. The momentum built so far is spoilt a little by track two, Hoo Hoo Ha Ha, which sounds to a little throw away or cheesy to these ears. Balance is soon restored however, as The Raid mixes apocalyptic dialogue with more dramatic soundscapes.
Single P.H.U.K. showcases Orbital’s beeps and bleeps side nicely. As men of a certain age, Orbital seem to be aiming their music more at the head than the feet on Monsters Exist, and as such have crafted an album of what we used to call ‘intelligent dance music’. Tracks such as Buried Deep Within may not immediately fill a dance floor, but they are nonetheless superb pieces of music.
Monsters Exist finishes with There Will Come a Time, which features a lengthy talk from Brian Cox that focuses on our own deaths and the following deaths of Earth, our solar system and the universe itself. The effect of this with Orbital’s expansive and atmospheric music is oddly comforting.
Cleverly put together and expertly executed, this is Orbital in peak form. Banjo
Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs: King of Cowards
It all started at Psych Fest last year. We’d heard good things about this lot and figured they were worth checking out over in District. And we weren’t the only ones. There was a one out one in policy at the door well before they were due on stage.
What followed was one of the most extraordinary gigs we have ever seen. Mild mannered Matt Baty, the band’s lead, was dressed in a black jacket, black trousers and a white shirt as though he was going out for the night for a couple of Mojitos before heading off to swallow a fillet steak, cooked medium rare, somewhere upmarket. In Shoreditch, perhaps.
He was the essence of politeness to the sound guy, thanking him many times and being appreciative. He was concerned about the 3 second reverb on his vocals he’d asked for wasn’t coming through. ‘Don’t worry’, said the sound guy, ‘It’ll happen’. ‘Thank you very much’, said Matt.
And then the onslaught started. Baty kicked off a gig that will be seared into the mind for a Very Long Time as the band played the three songs that comprise debut album Feed The Rats in order and with a passion and an energy that will ever be one of those ‘were you there?’ moments.
Baty’s transformation from the smart gent wearing a nice suit to the crazed topless screaming maniac, microphone swallowing nutter, was the most amazing thing to see. It was impossible to understand how this seemingly random mayhem could be repeated either before or after. It was nuts.
But here we are and the band has a second album, King of Cowards. It’s calmed them down a tad, perhaps. It’s an easier listen than the earlier stuff. They even got a play on Radio 6 by Mary Ann Hobbs, with Cake of Light being perhaps one of the more radio friendly tracks on the album, if only because it comes in at less than four minutes.
Maybe that’s required for the exposure, but it’s the eight minutes plus of the other songs on the album that grab the best. The fact this band dares to explore the various avenues available – the psych, the punk, the heavy rock – and that they refuse to be just like anything else you’ve heard marks them out as special. Peter Goodbody
- Pigs x 7 play Liverpool’s Shipping Forecast on November 30
Saintseneca: Pillar of Na
Ohio’s Saintseneca bring us their fourth full length LP, Pillar of Na. Released on ANTI- Records, it’s the brainchild of frontman Zac Little, and produced by Bright Eyes’ Mike Mogis who’s other notable production workings include First Aid Kit, Alessi’s Arc, and Rilo Kiley.
From the intro Circle Hymn you’d be forgiven in thinking it’s the latest instalment from Alt-J, a 47-second intriguing interlude of a preaching harmony, overlaid by a penetrating poetic lead vocal. Although comparisons to others are put to bed from this point, a creative convolution carves through the soul of the record bearing it difficult to categorise in the best possible way. The album takes several listens to fathom, each bringing its own idiosyncrasies and emotion.
The genre crossing throughout the record dips into alt-folk, art-rock, elements of Celtic renaissance, symphonic classical, and just really good pop. This, intertwined with clever wordplay, and some hauntingly lyrical songwriting is captivating in each of the 10 tracks.
In its entirety, Pillar of Na has the attributes of being one of the most multi-layered, and multi-dimensional albums in a long while. The intricate tonalities, genre, and time-looping textural ambiguity are complex yet compelling which makes the record work so well.
Highlights include; Ladder to the Sun, evocatively written with jangly guitar riffs. Denarius is a modern classical gem with heartbreaking strings arrangements. Frostbiter is the stand out track of the album, a cinematic aura bleeds through the structured reminiscing writing, with a stunning falsetto chorus and slicing synths. Kevin Barrett
She Drew the Gun: Revolution of Mind
Skeleton Key Records
GIT Award Winners 2017, She Drew the Gun return with the follow up to 2016’s Memories of a Distant Future with Revolution of Mind. Produced by The Coral’s James Skelly at Parr Street Studios, this second offering offers their trusted recipe of a fair smattering of ballads contrasted with some sturdy protest songs.
Not surprisingly we find SDTG talking about a revolution . Of course we would expect nothing less from them. This time it’s about a Revolution of the Mind rather than taking to the streets and when we are told to “Arm yourself”, it’s purely in the metaphorical sense.
Resister, the first single from the album which has already occupied a spot on the Radio 6 playlist demonstrates a shift in tempo in that it absolutely races along and with a heavier keyboard contribution than we’re accustomed to which is also equally apparent in Wolf and Bird. Something for the Pain opens with a decidedly Merseybeat , 60s feel, which is not unusual since lead singer, Louisa Roach is a big Beatles fan.
Between Stars is an effective mix of spoken and sung word jangles along with an extra helping of fuzzy guitar to boot. The title track will be familiar to anyone who has seen the band play live in the past 12 months and is fashioned in the form of spoken word, much in the same vein as the highly acclaimed Poem from their first album.
Paradise reminiscent of Pit Pony as it rocks along is contrasted by the more suitably sedate Dopamine. A remixed, re-worked version of Resistor races in as Resistor Reprise and the acoustic ballad Human calls the album to a gentle close.
Second albums can be notoriously tricky, but She Drew the Gun have taken the firm foundations of first album to build something equally as impressive and possibly more appealing to the commercial ear. Jane Davies
Spiritualized: And Nothing Hurt
It’s been a long six years since the last release from Jason Pierce, aka J. Spaceman. 2012’s Sweet Heart Sweet Light marked a somewhat return to vibrant form. The lengthy break and recent teasing in interviews that this may be his last, ensures the new album arrives somewhat under anxious and intrepid scrutiny. Will it be worthy of its place among the catalogue, or a swan song footnote?
Well, from lead single I’m Your Man it’s clear the key elements remain but with a new sense of maturity, comfortably fitting into the well-worn glove of acceptance and appreciation. This theme continues through the nine track offering. There’s strings a-plenty, swooning gospel backing and driving guitars underpinning the elaborate and intrinsically woven tapestry which is the Spiritualized sound.
Opening with simple ukulele chords dancing around a determined declaration of love. ‘I’d like to dream you up a perfect miracle’ is the opening statement. Here y’go Jason take this canvas from our hands and paint us a picture .
By the time you reach third track Here It Comes (The Road) Let’s Go positivity is written all over our faces. It’s impossible to resist. The choir floats away into a saxophone playing us out in perfect timing.
Fans need not worry, those all to familiar themes still weigh heavy on Spaceman’s mind: love, loss, self-deprecation, mortality and eternal life. The differences this time around – there’s the absence of desperation and pleading that’s been there since the breakthrough Ladies and Gentlemen… the raw heartache echoes but no longer dictates.
The comfortable slippers of gratitude, contentment and a realisation of the preciousness of fragility is ultimately what’s celebrated here. On Let’s Dance Spaceman concurs, ‘Although I’m tired of sitting here falling for you, there’s better things y’know a lonely boy and girl can do.’ Of course, in the most beautifully decorated way that only Pierce knows.
The final coda of the album, its dying embers come with a promise, ‘If I could hold it down, I’ll sail on through for you.’ Spaceman, keep on loving, keep on feeling, the world needs to hear emotion that’s delicately brittle, heart-yearningly beautiful. Howard Doupé
Spring King: A Better Life
The Manchester quartet’s 2016 opening salvo Tell Me If You Like To went somewhat under the radar, due to the fact it felt more like a collection of (sadly under-performing) singles looking for a home rather than a polished, rounded debut album.
This second album however, benefits from the band writing the material together rather than just drummer/vocalist Tarek Musa (the band originally began as very much his solo project) and this, coupled with the 12 months they took to make it, leads to a far more cohesive piece of work.
Lead singles Animal and Us Vs Them are a perfect segue from the first album with large riffs, layered vocals and catchy, singalong-at-a-festival choruses very much still the order of the day, their mission to have that elusive ‘big hit single’ that will take them onto the next level shows no sign of abating.
It rolls on at a relentless pace, but as a band Spring King are also not afraid to accentuate their pop instincts, indeed The Hum is almost reminiscent of Alphabeat.
The sprightly melodies of Let’s Drink are very much at odds with its downbeat lyrics, and although the pace starts to drop in the second half, the bluster turns into well-rounded, more crafted songs, the harmonies very much at the fore on both Have You Ever Looked Up Into The Sky? and Paranoid, whilst on the hypnotic closer Thunder they stray almost into Arcade Fire territory.
Maybe a couple of tracks too long and perhaps not the giant leap forward that some of their contemporaries have made on their second efforts, but still a massive step in the right direction. Steve Doherty
Villagers: The Art of Pretending to Swim
On The Art Of Pretending To Swim, Villagers’ fourth album, the band dip their toes into deeper, darker waters. The album bolsters singer and songwriter Conor O’Brien’s nu-folk writing style with a much more electronic feel than the band is used to. Synth glitches, sampled vocals, and background noise feature prominently across all tracks. Despite maybe being one of the darkest Villagers albums, it is certainly the grooviest, with strong pulsing drumbeats forming the backbone of most songs.
We’re eased into the new sound with album opener, Again, through the use of a sampled and pitch-shifted O’Brien answering his own melody. The song also features one of three synth solos across the whole nine-track album, which is certainly new ground for a band that strongly relied on not much more than a finger-picked guitar line and a catchy melody in the past. Album track Love Came With All That It Brings features Moby-esque gospel samples and rhythmic sax parts, making it a standout track on the album, and definitely one to listen to to get a sense of how Villagers have progressed.
It’s important to note that the new sound certainly doesn’t come at a detriment to the songmanship of Villagers. Both singles, A Trick Of The Light and Fool, are some of the strongest that O’Brien has written. A Trick of the Light particularly manages to capture the plaintive pop of Villagers past, while still maintaining a groove. Fool is the closest we get to a Villagers-by-numbers hit. We still get the emotionally reaching, earnest melody in the bridge that O’Brien does so well, which will surely be a singalong moment live.
With songs often ending as if they’ve glitched out, or we’ve slipped into a remix of the very song we were just listening to, it’s clear that Villagers have moved into a new chapter, and it’s a strong one. Will Truby