Rewind to 2pm Thursday, I was sat in the library writing a lab report I did not want to be writing whilst peering out the window longing to just be sat in the sun. But the only saving grace was knowing that in 5 hours time I would be thrown into a night of summery indie-pop tunes which could account for missing out on the actual sun.
We were eased into the night by 4-piece Indigo Kids. The encompassing vocals of Katie Mitchell left me feeling like their set ended too soon. It was a strong start.
Following smoothly on were Guildford based, Waiting for Malory. Not only did they provide us with a James Bay look-alike contest with a clear winner, bassist Adrian Foulkes, they gave an energetic performance with clean lead guitar riffs which were delivered without hesitation. Lead singer James Sharp had the most infectious smile which made their big pop chorus’ sound even bigger.
Last night showcased some excellent local bands, one being the main support The Night Society. As soon as lead vocalist Harry Buxton opened his mouth we were taken by surprise to his Jamie T approach style of singing – but The Night Society deliver that little bit more power. We were also given funky guitar chords and rhythms, delivered with enthusiasm, which gave a pleasing edge to their indie-rock tracks. As well as up-beat lively tracks which had the band diving around the stage, there were also slower tracks with guitar sounds similar to that of Jaws. I am as intrigued by this band as I was by the pink floral pattern on Buxton’s guitar, and by that, I mean very intrigued.
Then headlining act RedFaces swooped onto the stage. The audience was hit with lead vocals that were reminiscence of Jake Bugg from lead singer Harry Lyon that were close and tight with the backup vocals from Isaac White. The second track kept up the excitement with a circa waves-type dancing track – it got the DM’s and Converse of the crowd tapping for sure. The tight hi-hat rhythm drove this along whilst Lyon had a tasty exploration of his falsetto range in the verses. Next up was ‘Wise Up’ a track they released in 2017. The strong guitar intro was singable and drew the crowd in. Lyon (who was sporting a ‘Jack from The Magic Gang’ stripey tee look) delivered the rasp and vocal skill that is present on recordings with no trouble at all. Despite having to fight a persistent unnecessary fire alarm, new single ‘Messed Up Feeling’ came across well. But I wished they’d just turned up their amps as a big ‘fuck off’ to the fire alarm and powered through rather than letting it affect their live set and mindset. The verse vocals in ‘Kerosene’ had energy which I can imagine would go well at a larger festival set and the bigger overdriven guitar sounds played to match this. Sheffield boys RedFaces left the crowd of the Boileroom with ‘Take it or Leave it’. This sounded the most radio ready, and most
tightly played, giving a good send off. The highlight of this was the faultless drumming of Charlie Yapp which really drove the performance along. Throughout the set I was longing for more synth work from new synth guy ‘Will’ – when the synth line kicked in the chorus of ‘Take it or Leave it’ it was the moment where it really took off. It was the most interesting vibe they had – it made them have an extra dimension.
As I was driving home I was humming ‘Take it or Leave it’ over the dutty bassline that was on Radio 1, so all in all that’s a sign of a good gig.
So Blossoms’ time has come – the long anticipated second album. The time has to see if Blossoms’ are a long-standing band or just a fluke summer hit.
The record rips open with a soaring synth line which anyone would find hard not to feel elated by. ‘There’s a Reason Why (I Never Returned Your Calls)’ is a stand out track, so was a wise choice making it the opener. This could be released as a single and I think it would do spectacularly: it’s catchy, well-arranged and got substantial style to it. The first glimpse we got of this second album ‘I Can’t Stand It’ is up next. We are once again absorbed in the familiar Blossoms mixture of warm synths and groovy rhythms paired with a solid indie beat. Title track ‘Cool Like You’ has a production feel similar to Peace in the verses and intro but by the chorus we are definitely back in Blossoms land. Blossoms land is a great place to be, don’t get me wrong. The rest of the record has a mix of synth lines following the vocal line presented to us by front man Tom Ogden – a classic characteristic of Blossoms. But Ogden is exploring his falsetto range in ‘Unfaithful’ chorus which is hugely welcomed. ‘Stranger Still’ gives us the more melancholy track on the record (especially in the acoustic deluxe version) and ‘Giving Up The Ghost’ shows weird similarities to a particular Rolling Stones track.
Blossoms have got bigger – this album shows growth from the band in comparison to their first album. But also they’ve managed to maintain a style which is recognisable to them. The fact they’ve managed to achieve a recognisable style already is impressive alone. But is that all they’ve got in them?
Indie music gets a bad rep. With bands consisting of four 20-something year olds with much more hair than sense, playing slightly shitty guitar with the same generic ‘indie’ vocal plastered on top. Yes, don’t get me wrong this is an accurate representation of many many bands, but the music industry is also blessed with some complete gems.
There’s such a wide variety of indie bands to select from, you’re almost spoilt for choice.
The ‘It’s Always Summer’ Circa Wave Vibe
This is probably the most stereotypical version of indie – most of the bands have ‘that’ vocal, and the clean guitars playing sing-a-long riffs. That all being said, this is the music that electrifies crowds, solidifies bromances and causes throats to be so raw from screaming the words that a good old Lemsip is needed the morning after. There’s something anthemic about it. It’s music that makes you want to have BBQ on the beach regardless of the weather.
Who else can I listen to?
The Hunna, Paris Youth Foundation, High Tyde, Viola Beach & The Sherlocks.
The Gallagher Wannabe
If you’re the lead singer in a kickin’ band then 9 times out of 10, you are gonna be a dick. Or at least act like one. We’ve all witnessed the expansion in Alex Turner’s ego over the past decade, and a new generation of bands are inventing themselves to mirror his too cool for school demeanour. Having slurred vocals, and often putting on an accent to mimic king of cool Liam, this style of indie definitely takes looks and style into consideration. At least though we see the introduction of heavier overdriven guitars plastered in reverb and some slower sexier tracks.
Who else can I listen to?
Miles Kane, Blossoms, Catfish and the Bottlemen & Palma Violets.
The Bedroom Producer
Back in the day ‘indie’ music was the term used to describe music being released independently, and over the years as that style of underground music has come into the mainstream the term ‘indie’ is now a little bit meaningless. It’s now more of a genre rather than an ethos. However a new generation of kids have just popped out. Artists who have been mucking around recording stuff in their bedrooms whilst growing up, so now have absolute zero problems in just whacking out a polished production masterpiece. Then due to the world of the internet can successfully distribute – they don’t even have to say another word to another human being if they don’t want to. The indie singer-songwriters of today’s generation seem to all love their extended harmonies, their jazz influences and solemn beautiful vocals.
Who else can I listen to?
Rex Orange County, Gus Dapperton, Tom Misch, Yellow Days & Puma Blue.
A Whole Lot of Everything Else
It’s near on impossible to even try to categorise all the different styles and sub-genres of the whole indie family. But here’s a little guide to find a band which suits your mood:
If you're feeling a little bit funky: Peace
If you're feeling like you wanna cry: Blaenavon
If you're feeling like you wanna sing along: The Magic Gang
If you're feeling a little bit sexy: Blood Orange
If you're feeling angry: Abattoir Blues
If you're feeling like you wanna zone out: Jaws
Indie music may not have the most complicated bass lines and it might repeat a chorus one too many times, but essentially it is the music of the people. Every lyric is meticulously picked to ensure whole crowds can relate to their music and simply have a good time. And that’s why I fucking love it.
This collection of tracks oozes out waves of nostalgia. I’m not sure how they’ve quite done it – the overall sound of a Spector track is so identifiable that even if you’ve never heard the track before it feels like you are being transported back in time to a Year 9 sports day where you’re having a water fight with your soon-to-be best friend.
‘Untitled in D’ beckons us into this EP very nicely. The opening verse exhibits a complimentary duo of front man Fred Macpherson’s soothing voice and a carefully concocted guitar pattern that is both beautifully intricate and also one that is memorable enough you can imagine crowds singing it back to them. By the time the chorus hits we are into full Spector swing: the high pitched screeching guitar riffs building layers underneath the vintage vocal melody which contains repeated motifs – classic Spector. The 80’s synth sounds in ‘Fine Not Fine’ is reminiscent of a slightly melancholy Madonna track. It’s also slightly melancholy in theme as well – probing and questioning male mental health. It doesn’t give the answer to solving any mental health issues, but vocalises in a simplistic way what many people are probably feeling. Something which can be reassuring to hear.
It’s clear to hear the intention of providing a more ‘real’ sound in comparison to their older work. This can be heard in ‘Local International’ which is produced similarly to how I imagine they would play it live as a 5-piece band – rather than elaborate atmospheric production. I think this gives it more energy and proves that this band can actually play and write just down to earth good music, rather than relying on edgy production techniques.
The lyrics which stuck with me from ‘Wild Guess’ was ‘Licking the side of a cigarette before it’s lit,The realest hearts take the hardest hits’. Just goes to show how you can make a beautiful lyric out of a fairly mundane task, probably because it sends you flying back to somewhere. ‘Don’t ask me who I’m trying to impress’ probably sums up this entire EP, you can hear that this is just the music that Spector wanted to make and didn’t really care about if it sounded similar or different to their older work. It just became what it wanted to be.
23-year old, London born Isaac Gracie is breaking Wanda’s Tracks records by being the first artist to appear on an Album of the Week for the second time. He is entirely worthy.
I could sit here all day and attempt to spout out the words to describe the sincerity and artistry within Isaac Gracie’s lyrics. However, the only way to fully comprehend it is to take this album and let it lock out the rest of the world. Having a poet for a mother has clearly rubbed off on Gracie, he really has a knack for creating captivating verse.
There’s elements of hurt, anger, hope and love soaring throughout this collection of songs. All each as convincing as each other.
Hurt: ‘reverie’ shows a heartbroken man, simply wishing for the comfort of his loved one – ‘I could tell you that I’m doing great, but darling I’m just not okay‘.
Anger: We’ve seen the evolution of Issac Gracie, from bedroom-recorded grungey demo’s from first EP ‘Songs From My Bedroom’ to a roaring lion pouncing into the current music scene. In ‘the death of you & i’ around the two and a half minutes mark finally shows the Isaac we’ve all been waiting for: he lets it all loose.
Hope: ‘last words’ is a track that’s been on the radar for a while now, but with every listen it gets more intriguing. The last verse show’s the question of realisation – ‘I thought I was just having fun, but no I was just looking for the one, always looking for you‘. The hope that maybe, it might just work out.
Love: There’s an overwhelming feeling of longing in this album – it’s all about love, every aspect of it. Thank god someone broke his heart so we could hear this music.
The lack of capital letters within the album text shows that it’s all about the words rather than how they are written. If there’s a time this week you need to get away from it all, just take 5:40mins and listen to the Mahogany live session of ‘reverie’. It will be worth it.
On the day that Wanda’s Tracks’ favourite, Bad Sounds, are Annie Mac’s hottest record in the world, it is time for the long overdue Album of the Week. Having been absent for a few weeks we’ve missed some brand new corkers: The Vaccines, Tom Misch and even Demob Happy. However this week we’re focussing on an album consumed by beautiful acoustic guitar and serene vocals, brought to us by Bristol born Fenne Lily.
Title track ‘On Hold’ gives us a charming vocal line paired with a slightly grungey sounding guitar. It’s interesting – it feels like this could be a track you’d belt out whilst driving along with your friends, but simultaneously it is gracefully melancholic.
It’s clear to hear some artist influences in Fenne Lily’s work – yet she has successfully crafted her own unique sound. ‘Tip to Toe’ and ‘More than You Know’ both have elements of early days Lucy Rose or Daughter – simple acoustic guitar accompaniment with lullaby vocals which fleet up to high delicate falsetto notes. Additionally ‘Brother’ has moments where the vocal melody and style is similar to that of The Staves. The stronger, more defiant approach to ‘Three Oh Nine’ is something I wish for more on this album. The first vocal lines have a presence about them – a strong woman with an elegantly gentle voice. This tracks also delves into more expressive production, something which also appears in ‘The Hand You Deal’. I love the simplicity of the production on this album, the songwriting speaks for itself. However I am intrigued to see what music could be created with Fenne Lily’s memorable vocals with thicker, rockier textures.
The dream-rock group hailing from Bath Spa University cut through the norms of female-fronted rock by having intoxicating melodies and a psychedelic feel. Having only formed in the second half of last year, their intricately hand-crafted tunes do not represent their minimal months they have been playing together. It’s clear these musicians just slot together effortlessly.
They are currently on the rollercoaster of recording, gigging and making a name for themselves and we were lucky enough to be a stop on their journey. Not only did they provide us with what they do best, an extraordinary live session, but we also got to find out a little bit more. Keep on reading for the story behind this up and coming band, a live session, and also the lengthy thought process when faced with a ‘would you rather’ question…
Who’s idea was it to start the band? Where did that inspiration come from?
Meg: I guess it was mine really? I approached Jessie first.
Sam S: Then didn’t you message both of us at the same time?
Meg: Yeah pretty much. I remember thinking you [Jessie] were really good and were going to have loads of people after you.
Jesse: I think it’s because you said you liked Radiohead and I just thought, well if we both like Radiohead.
Meg: I was surprised when you said yeah actually.
Sam S: I think my audition went quite well actually because I managed to sufficiently scare off all the common bands, I was like, so listen ‘I’m gonna do weird shit, If you want me that’s fine, but be ready’.
As you’re a relatively new band are you always experimenting and trying to find your sound? Or are you pretty settled for the minute?
Sam S: I think we found it pretty quickly actually.
Sam C: We are all open to experiments.
Jesse: It’s subjective, I mean it could change in the next EP or whatever.
Meg: To an extent I think you always need to be trying out different sounds and ideas.
Sam S: This sort of style we’ve got at the moment has just sort of trickled out of the covers hasn’t it? It feels right. It feels good.
What’s your writing process?
Sam S: It’s a very normal writing process.
Sam C: There’s nothing particularly experimental about it.
Sam S: Although I guess it is different in the sense that we don’t really have one lead song writer.
Jesse: I think that’s the best way to go about it though, we don’t have a ‘lead’ necessarily.
Sam S: This latest track, I sort of started it then everything built up.
If there was one album you wish you could have written, what would it be?
Jesse Roache:Innerspeaker – Tame Impala.
It’s a production masterpiece. It blows my mind to how well structured it is and I just aspire to be as good as Kevin Parker.
Sam Cother: Songs for the deaf – Queens of the Stone Age.
It seems to perfectly have that blend of pop sensibility whilst keeping a sense of originality. It’s wicked.
Sam Showler: Thriller – Michael Jackson.
It made a fuck-tonne of money. It’s a terrific album. Actually ‘Off the Wall’ is better, but Thriller still made more for the bank.
Meg Jones: Heaven or Las Vegas – Cocteau Twins.
She’s got a beautiful voice, but the melodies that she writes are so intricate and unexpected, they work really well. And the guitar sounds amazing.
What’s more important, the lyrics or the overall feel of a track?
Sam C: It completely depends.
Meg: Like with that song we’ve just been working on, that’s all about the feel of the track and not the lyrics.
Sam S: But I don’t think there’s any excuse for bad lyrics. Like you can write ok lyrics and the instrumental can hold it up, but if you have good lyrics you sort of get the ball rolling, because you have feeling.
Jesse: You just need a song people can relate too.
Sam C: I mean you could argue that in a band like Primus, they don’t really give a fuck: ‘Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver’, like how the fuck can you justify saying “God I really connect with this”.
Sam S: I think that actually summarises why Primus are so difficult to get into. There is no relatability in their songwriting whatsoever.
Jesse: I guess you could say that for Rush aswell. Some of the lyrics are pretty out there.
Sam C: That would make sense to why Rush and Primus have essentially the same fans, I’d say.
Sam S: We sort of derailed the question there, but in summary, there isn’t an answer.
Jesse: Prog is the answer.
What’s the plan for 2018? Any releases? Upcoming shows? What are you most excited for?
Sam S: We’re gonna get a beach house.
Jesse: [laughing] Cocaine and hookers…
Meg: Is that what you’re gonna blow your money on? The small amount that we earn?
Sam C: Just a one-legged hooker and tiny molecule of cocaine.
Sam S: We’re hoping to get an EP out.
Sam C: Hopefully in time for summer. I’m most excited for working on the EP, gigs are fun and all, but being in the studio is where your music comes to life.
Sam S: Its early days though, still need to figure out if people actually like it first.
And finally, would you rather a head the size of a tennis ball or a head the size of 3 watermelons?
Sam S: I think an important factor is whether your organs scale to the size of your head. Because if you imagine the tennis ball, your head would just be a face. But then if you had the watermelons you would have like a giant fucking skull and tiny face in the middle. And would your brain scale to it aswell?
Meg: Yeah that’s what I was thinking, would you have a tiny brain, like the size of a pigeon brain?
Sam S: I don’t know what would be more horrifying.
Sam C: I think that the tennis ball would be terrifying to see from afar. Because you’d be like “Fuck that guy is decapitated” from far away, then he walks up close then its just some guy with a head the same size of a cat or some shit. I personally think 3 watermelons.
Sam S: If my intelligence didn’t scale with the size of the head I would go with the tennis ball. It would make me smaller and more likely to fit into tight spaces.
Jesse: You would be fucked in a mineshaft if you had a watermelon head though.
Sam C: Wait are we thinking the watermelon’s going upwards?
Sam S: [laughing] Do you mean 3 watermelons stacked on each other?
Sam C: No I’m thinking both.
Sam S: 3 watermelons?! Like a fucking axis on a graph? So 9 watermelons?!
Jesse: I think this has become way more complicated than it needs to be. I think I’d go with the tennis ball as freaky as it would look.
Meg: You probably wouldn’t be able to stand up with the head the size of the watermelons.
Sam S: You’d be such a fucking baller on Halloween aswell.
There was only one possible album we could celebrate this week: romantic indie-pop gold The Magic Gang. If you’ve previously been a fan of The Magic Gang then you will already love and appreciate a chunk of songs from this refreshing debut – but if you’ve never heard of them before, then you are in for double the treat.
Classic’s such as ‘All This Way’, ‘Jasmine’ and ‘How Can I Compete’ have been re-vamped and refurnished to give cleaner guitar chords, tighter bass riffs and that extra something in the drums. But we are treated to previously unheard song’s such a ‘Slippin” – graced with comforting production and notable harmonies this has the warm enjoyment presented in every Magic Gang track.
There are some stand out moments on this album for sure. Firstly, the piano introduction to ‘Take Care’. It sounds as if it’s about to lead us into the newest Drake album but it evolves into a glossy creation. One of which is thickened by fuzzy guitar layers and interlaced with the notorious Magic Gang harmonies showcasing the lead vocals of bassist Gus Taylor. Something we have not heard before, but we definitely like. A second high on this album is sing-a-long corker ‘Getting Along’. The energy and arrangement just gets you overflowing with excitement. The slap of vocals in the chorus hints at the performance The Magic Gang boys can give, they’ve got some punch. I would be sprinting into the pits if watching this live. If any track could present to you the essence of The Magic Gang in 40 seconds it’s this one.
Although this album has an uplifting and exhilarating outer layer it’s clear these boys have been through some heartbreak. The simple honesty and relatability of the lyrics adds another importance to this album. It’s another reason to belt these songs at the top of your lungs – because chances are, you sympathise with what you’re shouting.