We took a breather in January, but Getintothis writers are back with a bumper edition of brand new music for February as Steven Doherty ponders if music could learn from comedy.
With all the recent hand wringing among the Liverpool music fraternity about poorly attended gigs and rapidly closing venues, it may surprise you to know that there is somewhere in the city that at the weekends, are selling out four 200-capacity shows every night at £15 a ticket.
It seems like the self-proclaimed city of music has a new love. Stand-up comedy.
The first hint of this sea change came last year when the gorgeous and frankly under-used Magnet announced it’s closure and re-opening as the second venue in the comedy behemoth franchise that is the Hot Water Comedy Club.
Since it’s humble beginnings in a small room over a pub on Lime Street, it has grown with such purpose and momentum that it’s now a 7 days a week, full time set-up in a venue built specially for purpose. Their is no big business behind it, no huge sponsorship deals (a la O2), just someone spotting an opportunity to have somewhere for masters of their craft to entertain the paying public.
And the Liverpool public are handing over their hard-earned in droves.
The success of the weekend gigs allows it the freedom to put on free gigs on the other evenings, the majority of which are also sell outs. Yet even though there is no door charge, there is also no drop in quality as they have a large number of acts from outside of the local area, happy to come and perform, as the club has built up such a reputation.
Hot Water Comedy Club has even raised their own comedy equivalent of Ed Sheeran, Liverpool’s very own Paul Smith. Compere of the shows from their humble pub beginnings (and still fulfils this role on an almost nightly basis), he was last seen selling out the Echo Arena (as was).
Most comedians see Liverpool as an absolute must to play on their tour at whichever level they are at, whether it’s a small club, Unity, Epstein, Empire or Arena. The scene is absolutely thriving.
Whereas, if such a business model is this successful in the field of comedy, why is there no comparable music equivalent?
Where are the purpose built venues? Why are gigs so poorly attended? When was the last time a local band had such a pub to arena career trajectory?
Sad to say, the majority of bands use playing Manchester as an excuse to miss out Liverpool on their itineraries. When they do play, the choice of supports seems to come from an increasingly tiny pool of the same bands, familiar (and in danger of becoming overused) to anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of the local scene.
Where are the out of town supports?
Scroobius Pip (when he was still touring) engaged in a Twitter rant about the lack of advance ticket sales, but only in Liverpool. Future Of The Left declared they would not play Liverpool again due to a continuous lack of an audience, yet play some big old rooms just down the M62.
So, what is the answer?
I’m a music fan, not a businessman, that’s for people far cleverer than me to discuss, but even I can see that we are in danger of losing a whole new generation who would take a chance on someone making them laugh rather than making them dance, and that is a crying shame. – Steven Doherty
The Pacific Northwest, similar to the English Northwest, is seemingly always covered in a thick layer of clouds. Stutter-Step by Seattle-based band Antonioni sparks a similar feeling to the one that arises on the first clear, moderately warm day of the year. Colours seem more vibrant, the streets are full of faces happy to see the sun, and it’s so easy to forget the gray that had taken residence for the past several months.
Distorted guitars, energising synths, and a funky bass line contribute to the summery soundscape constructed by the band. The mood changes in the final fourth of the 5-minute track, with the instruments building suspense before a key change and increase in distortion that carries through to the end.
You can find Stutter-Step on Antonioni‘s recently released EP, The Odds Were All Beating Me. – Abby Meysenburg
Alex Abbuehl: Black Coffee
Set for his first recorded release this February, Liverpool local Alex Abbuehl intricately blends a heartfelt appreciation for an array of influences on debut single Black Coffee.
Jazz piano with an understated modern pop sensibility is served up fresh, but kept in excellent moderation that allows a supporting cast of guitars and vocals to spellbindingly shine.
“Too many heavy weights to carry, and what for?” is the perfect question to mull over a strong cup of Joe, Abbuehl patiently waiting on divine intervention to save him from his woes. We’ve all been there, right? – Luke Halls
Graces began 2019 by announcing new single Clean ahead of their first headline UK tour. The band spent their formative years in the Lake District before relocating to Sheffield two years ago. Clean is an energetic and anthemic combination of distorted guitar, exhuberant vocals and enough emotion to pull on the heartstrings.
It’s a face paced and, at times, explosive four minute effort and follows previous singles Hotel and, debut, Glamour. Now armed with a hat trick of releases, they’ve explored different areas of indie pop rock, but this latter feels a more solid indication of where Graces are heading. It’s their best so far, probably their bravest so far, and an exciting way to begin a year that looks to be a watershed for them.- Lewis Ridley
I Was A King: Bubble
I Was a King are a 4-piece band hailing from Norway. They have released 5 album since 2007 and Bubble is the lead single from their upcoming album Slow Century which is set to be release on March 8. It sees Teenage Fanclub‘s Norman Blake work as producer and hooks on delightful harmonies.
Bubble also shows strong influences from the 60s, theres a Beatles vibe and the track essentially combines that inspiration from yesteryear with modern influences and their own touch to create what is ultimately a unique, feel good track. Bubble is all about the importance of friends and how the best ones will stand by you in times of trouble and be by your side. – Sarah Pitman
Oh Well Goodbye
This three track EP needs to be played loud. It’s dark, for sure and it’s one of those works where the vocals are played down in the mix so the guitars and rhythm take a leading role. Think Sisters of Mercy and Fields of the Nephilim. Definitely one for the Goths amongst us.
First track, Maudlin in Faux Fir sounds exactly like its name suggests it would with a brooding bass line that gets ever more urgent as the track goes on, but always sparring with the guitars to an almost chaotic climax.
Tracks two and three are connected by ellipses – Breathing … and … Monuments as though they form a kind of disjointed twin. The first of the pair gives us some snarly guitar and an ode to words unsaid. It’s unsettling and it makes you wonder how you should have done things differently.
…Monuments is a giant of a track. The vocals are even lower in the mix, with the guitar riff taking the central role. Over and over again. Until it just fades away in a glorious feedback mess that gently, gently sputters out. The EP is 15 minutes you will listen to and be glad that was not time wasted. And then you’ll do it again. – Peter Goodbody
Cora Pearl: Shangri-La
Cora Pearl are a four-piece who met as students in Sheffield, and Shangri-La is their third single, following Hope Machine and Graffiti last year.
They have played with We Are Scientists, and are named after a nineteenth century feminist icon. Intriguingly, they sometimes work with a burlesque collective. The mind boggles.
Their claimed influences include Queens Of The Stone Age and Car Seat Headrest, but this song starts out quite like Art Brut, thanks to Jack Hardwick’s vocals, but is slightly more traditional indie rock with the rising guitar line and then solo, as hints of The Killers and Kaiser Chiefs come more to the fore with the whole thing ending up being fairly anthemic.
This became their first single to get national radio play earlier this month, and the band could certainly end up going serious places if they keep writing good tunes like this one.
They are coming to The Zanzibar in Liverpool with Tiger Twins and Nocturnal Coast on March 30, so get down there if you enjoy this track. – Will Neville
Modern Acid Test: Strangelove
Strangelove by Modern Acid Test wastes no time at all in making its presence felt. It arrives, slicing through the air, all piercing, tripped out electro waves cutting in like Norman Bates’ knife through a soggy shower curtain.
Layers of deliciously sweeping synth strings and Kraftwerk flavoured motifs soon give way to a smooth understated, twisting, looping groove while jangle guitar lines take us into the vocal.
Here’s the thing. The dreamy melody, as immediate as Merseybeat, and as instantly loveable as monkey-in-chief Ian Brown‘s best work, then takes this intriguing song somewhere different. Off into glorious pop technicolour, and smiling into the sun.
With so many hats on its head, it shouldn’t work. It absolutely shouldn’t. It absolutely does though. While these references may be clear for all to see, Strangelove offers something new for legions of pop-loving space cadets. Pop music doesn’t have to be difficult, In fact the best stuff is often quite the opposite.
It doesn’t always need to challenge, but it does always need to thrill. It’s intention is simple, clear, at times obvious, even. This will enlighten and be-summer even the darkest moments of the driest January… Summer’s shuffling along slowly towards us. Not long now.
Modern Acid Test is the work of a human by the name of Michael Jones, and a downright lovely piece of work it is too. You won’t find anything else online about this project. Yet. More is to come. Don’t forget your Factor 50. – Paul Fitzgerald
Rebekka Anstem: Bridges
Based in Liverpool but hailing from a small island just off mainland Norway, Rebekka Anstem channels her Scandinavian roots in this folk-cum-ambient electronic number. Bridges, the debut single from Anstem, beautifully showcases her vocal range and combines this expertly with dreamy atmospheric pads, filling the space nicely behind her glittering guitar playing.
This song sounds like the love child of Bon Iver and Shallou, taking the best elements of each artists unique style, and creating a piece of music that makes you want to get your boots on and hike through the Norwegian country side. Having being played on one of Norway’s prominent digital radio stations, NKR P3, Rebekka Anstem is gaining traction.
With the success of her fellow Countrywoman, Sigrid, and more locally to Liverpool, Sara Wolff, it wouldn’t be a surprise before this singer songwriter follows in her footsteps and makes a big splash in the UK. – Nathan Lord
COW: Happy Birthday
Forming in late 2017, COW have lumbered the way into Liverpool gig goers’ consciousness with sets at Smithdown Road Festival, Threshold Festival and a support slot for The Spook School. On eight minute behemoth Happy Birthday, they betray why comparisons have been made to such alt rock touchstones like Dinosaur Jr and Neil Young.
After a quiet start of gentle finger picking, Happy Birthday (sadly not an Altered Images cover) is a track that explodes into a resentment-fuelled sludge-fest of endless Crazy Horse-esque soloing and feedback to glorious effect. Bar after bar seems to herald the end of this epic mantra until yet more guitar effects are summoned up and another ear bleeding fret-fest propels you inwards and onwards. Lyrics are at a premium but this is seriously pissed off music for seriously pissed off people. With beards. Probably. – Jamie Bowman
Paris Youth Foundation: Look What You Started
Liverpool five piece, Paris Youth Foundation, are back with yet another enigmatic and energetic track. New song, Look What You Started, is due for release on February 8 and is the first track off their debut EP, The Nights Are For Thinking About You, which they will launch at Jacaranda Phase One on the March 29.
The EP is certainly to look forward to if the first track off it is anything to go by, with it providing a superb melody and catchy lyrics. As with all their previous tracks, the song has an uplifting feel to it, with a sad undertone still existing in the words.
The track was recorded at Parr Street Studios and produced by Rich Turvey, who has worked with the likes of Blossoms. Ultimately, it’s about: “forgetting the world for the night. Reminiscing with someone you shouldn’t be reminiscing with. In the middle of a bar in the middle of the night. Asking yourself whether they will still love you when their sober. And knowing the answer,” says the bands front man Kevin Potter.
From playing the main stage at Sound City and supporting the likes of The Sherlocks in 2018, with tracks like Look What You Started,it’s going to get even better for this band. – Amos Wynn
Hertfordshire alternative rock fresh faces, Redwood, released their spacey new single Mono during the tailend of 2018. Ethereal basslines bounce off lush atmospheric guitar licks intertwined with haunting harmonies as the five-piece exercise their inspirations.
With cosmic synths, the mood contrasts brilliantly with the melancholic lyricism about isolation: “And i’ll die in my own arms, cos i never let you in,” vocalist Luke Birchall sings. The track meanders through a sound within the musical venn diagram of sad dad twinkly post-rock and the UK’s boss new shoegaze scene.
Suitably, the video is also just as nu-grunge with guitarists Edan Brown and Jamie Richards seen twinkling on their telecasters besides shots of the band in a charity shop-chique style upon a green screen background of budding nature and 1950s America.
Signed up to Failure By Design Records, on which they released debut EP Lay Your Love Down, Redwood are label mates with itoldyouiwouldeatyou, Weatherstate and Acid Tongue. Smashing their first Liverpool show for scouse label Doing Life Records’ Sound Basement show in mid-January show, Getintothis can’t wait for them to return. – WIll Whitby
Yank Scally: Symphony Number 1
Well what have we here then from Toxteth-based producer Yank Scally. This self-taught musical enigma has seen output wielding a whole host of influences. May it be jungle-tinged drum and bass to r’n’b electronica, this musical magpie enjoys a little audio pilfering.
This latest release to join the vast volume already out there is a sprawling soundscape that takes you on a rather intriguing journey. Coming in at over fourteen minutes Symphony No. 1 (C maj) is a statement in itself. Don’t be expecting the familiar output here this is an ambitious,
Starting with electronic pipes and staccato strings, in come the flowing echoing trademark vocals. As symphony unfolds were treated to marching drums, tempo changes, and of course beats. The ideas drift in and out keeping you on your toes, eager to hear where the next curveball is going to take you.
It’s a musical pandora’s box that has us thinking back to The Weeknd’s Starboy. Eight minutes in the track shifts into a whole new beast- not too dissimilar to what some might refer to a cut and paste of ideas. Out come the 90’s dance vibes, full drenched piano chords, proper hands in the air moments. It’s already melting the recent snowfall with thoughts of those summer beach bangers.
Could this have been better presented as two, possibly even more completely different tracks? You’ll have to make up your own mind. One hell of an achievement either way. – Howard Doupe
Joe Slater: Nothing Ever Seems To Change
Croxteth rising star Joe Slater returns to Liverpool this month for a gig in Parr Street Studio after dropping his new track Nothing Ever Seems To Change in January.
After a 2018 which saw Slater playing the Cornbury and Isle of Wight Festivals, as well as touring nationally, and getting airtime on BBC 6Music; the 22 year-old is preparing to release his debut EP. Titled State of The Ark and produced by Grammy-award winner Kipper, the release from Talentbanq records has been likened to Bob Dylan and James Bay.
Slater has been tipped as an artist to watch by BBC Introducing DJ Tom Robinson, who described his work as having: “such absolute conviction you can’t help but get swept up in its gravitational pull.” – Mostyn Jones
Weimar: John Doe
Manchester four piece Weimar release their debut single John Doe on February 1.
There is an 80s indie vibe to their sound, reminding us initially of the likes of The Wedding Present. But their own character is to the fore and with repeated listens, John Doe reveals the band’s post-punk Manchester roots, with hints of Inca Babies and The Fall.
Weimar are soon to record their debut album, produced by Simon ‘Ding’ Archer, who has previously worked with The Fall, Pixies and PJ Harvey.
Recently tipped for great things by Louder Than War, Weimar will launch their single with a gig at The Eagle Inn in Salford on Friday 1st February, with support from Sticky Pearls, Dominic Carlton Jones and Geneviève Walsh.
Weimar‘s songs focus on the seedier side of culture and the darker elements of humanity, and the need for cultural and artistic rebellion in the face of political oppression. A band for our times then. – Banjo
Deaf Kids: Mente Bicameral
Deaf Kids are a genre-less trio from Brazil and this track comes from their soon to be released third album, Metaprogramacao, with the title of this single, Mente Bicameral, named after a psychological theory that the brain is split into two parts, one speaking and one listening.
Right, so that’s the pleasantries out of the way, because there ain’t nothing pleasant about this howling wall of noise. From the first few seconds of cymbals crashing, it’s a cacophony of filthy, hammering guitars, disturbing distorted vocals and it doesn’t let up for the full 260 seconds.
Not one breath taken, it’s a track of death or glory, a raw primal explosion. This is the sound of a world in influx. They tour the UK shortly, one can only imagine the damage they will do live. – Steven Doherty
The Indica Gallery: Wait For Your Love
Having formed early in 2018, it’s been some rollercoaster ride for The Indica Gallery.
Having supported Twisted Wheel and Glasvegas, as well as playing Kendal Calling festival, the Liverpool quintet also signed to Someone Great Records/PIAS. With new label in tow, The Indica Gallery bring us the follow-up to their debut single, Forever Loving You – new jam, Wait For Your Love.
Wait For Your Love is an steady chime-pop number reminiscent of something between Real Estate and the Beach Boys, also throwing into the mix a summery psychedelic lo-fi hybrid many would associate with odd-ball rocker, Connan Mockasin.
Presumably a new album is in the works and if this proves to be the case, The Indica Gallery may just be the local hit of the summer. Wait For Your Love is a fitting number that could prove a nice companion whilst sipping a beer in the back garden in the summer sun. – Simon Kirk