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BRACE YOURSELF RECORDS

Slate

Deathless

    Following the force of their introductory singles 'Tabernacl' and 'St Agatha', the band return with an invitation to explore their landscape of violent poetry and gothic propulsion to the fullest extent yet. Prepare to be lulled under their spell once more with the slow-burn of forerunning single, 'Remoter Heaven'.

    Produced by long-time collaborator Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard's Tom Rees. It begins in a dream state of hypnotic repetition that mounts in intensity, with vocalist Jack Shephard presiding over it all with his distinctive, poetic drawl. His protagonist is revisiting a memory of the pain inflicted by a thorn as a child; "I was awake with feeling", he confesses, before the song takes on the momentum that feels like a triumph over the numbness attendant to adulthood.

    Of the track, Shephard shares: "I liked the idea of writing a very simple narrative to a big, epic song - something as modest as the story of a child playing in some flowers and then bursting into tears when a thorn pricks their leg. The words are an ode to that sensitivity we embrace when we are young. Then, when we become adults, we insist on subjugating all of that wonderful, absurd rage."

    'Remoter Heaven' follows on from 'Tabernacl' and 'St Agatha' which earned Slate rave write-ups and support from publications including NME, CLASH, So Young, DIY, Buzz Magazine, The Most Radicalist and more, as well as early radio plays from the likes of Huw Stephens and Steve Lamacq on BBC 6Music, Matt Wilkinson on Apple Music 1, John Kennedy on Radio X and Jack Saunders on BBC Radio 1.

    Emerging from the depths of Cardiff’s burgeoning music scene and heirs to their country’s lineage of storytellers, Slate are barely touching their twenties, but together, they have command of post-punk which rings with the gravitas of a death knell; a grasp of atmosphere and melody which touches on the ethereal.

    Their debut EP, Deathless, is their most ambitious act of storytelling so far. Recorded in one take, the narrative of its six tracks takes place within a single room - or, perhaps, one mind. It begins with what the band feel is some of the darkest material they will ever write, to reaching, in its second half, a place of transformation and epiphany. On the EP's vinyl edition, the lyrics are written out like a diary entry, each one penned in another member's hand. 

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Darryl says: Fantastic six track Ep from Cardiff's Slate. Lead track "Remoter Heaven" is 7 minutes plus of pure bliss, revisiting the epic extended grooves of 'A Storm In Heaven'-era The Verve.

    TRACK LISTING

    1. Remoter Heaven
    2. The Heir
    3. Sun Violence
    4. Deathless
    5. Shade In Me
    6. Hailstone 

    Dog Unit

    At Home

      Midway through At Home, Dog Unit’s debut album, at the end of the record’s fourth earworm in succession, there’s a pause for breath. It’s the first time the music has come to a halt since the LP began — the first time this ribbon of sound has been cut, after twenty-plus minutes of motorik groove, nagging riff, and insistent hook — and as a result, it also serves as perhaps the clearest indicator yet that At Home is more than just a collection of individually wound super-melodic instrumental rock songs; it’s a suite of music precision-engineered for a single sitting, complete with resting stops, signposts and tiny diversions in just the right places along the way.

      Anyone who’s seen Dog Unit live won’t be surprised by what that pause signifies: indeed, this knack for world creation has been the band’s MO since their inception in 2019, writing and performing music designed to arc over the course of an uninterrupted hour, with the four Londoners’ musical idiosyncrasies combining for just the right recipe: Henry Scowcroft and Sam Walton on guitars that alternate between howling feedback and poised melodicism, James Weaver, a pop-dub bass maestro whose minimalist style reveals a genius for conciseness, and motorik drummer Lucy Jamieson, the most reliable timekeeper this side of an atomic clock. Together, on stage or on record, there’s a sense that this isn’t four musicians, but one 16-limbed creature guiding its listeners on an undulating journey of sleek modernist wonder, like a bullet train scything beautifully through Japanese countryside.

      That half-time pause on At Home might be the album’s most noticeable breath-point, but on closer listening, moments like that are dotted all over the album, and this focus on flow, aiming to make the entirely instrumental record sing, is 100% played-for. “On tour last year, we road-tested two or three new songs that had a really strong sense of where in an hour-long gig or on an imagined album they should sit,” explains Sam of At Home’s gestation. “Once those tent-pole tracks were finished, and once we had a blueprint for the structure of the as-yet unwritten album, we realised the rest of the music could kind of be written to order: we knew we needed an opener to side two and a midway breather, for example, and a sort of ‘closing credits’ song, and a climactic moment near the end that led from civility to menace.

      “And because we’d already made those plot decisions, we knew what to write, which keys to write in, how long each song should be, etc, to make sure everything flowed from start to finish as well as possible — we were just answering our self-imposed briefs.”

      Over the course of 2023, then, Dog Unit enacted their meticulous plan, writing and recording in the studio while trying out newly written parts of At Home at their Servant Jazz Quarters live residency. Each time at the intimate Dalston bar, the band tweaked and perfected their new material in front of a curious audience who grew into a cult following, drawn to an unorthodox live show in which a boiler-suited band, seated in horseshoe formation, played straight through for a gloriously intense unbroken hour of music.

      In short, At Home is Dog Unit’s first major statement. That statement may be wordless, but it’s also sonically and conceptually articulate: here are four friends and native Londoners making an album in their home city that’s custom-built to feel enveloping, warm and transporting as listeners wend their way through its running order. Put simply, with this debut record of all-encompassing world-building, Dog Unit are inviting you to lap up those tunes, bathe in those washes of sound, and yes, even revel in those pauses — ultimately, they want you to feel At Home. 

      STAFF COMMENTS

      Barry says: A stunning, spellbinding mix of math-rock intricacy, post-rock groove and indie pep. Dog Unit's music is endlessly evolving, but pulls you into each segment within moments of them starting, effortlessly pulling your ears along without a hitch. It's a brilliantly crafted and beautifully hearty noise.

      TRACK LISTING

      1. Concrete Barges On The Banks Of The Thames
      2. Lab Coats
      3. When Do We Start Fighting?
      4. We Can Still Win This
      5. In A Magic World, Then Yes
      6. John X Kennedy
      7. Consistent Effort
      8. The Dogs Are Barking Again 

      Italia 90

      Living Human Treasure

        RIYL: Folly Group / M(h)aol / The Murder Capital / LIFE / Crack Cloud / Squid / CROWS

        Italia 90 release their debut album Living Human Treasure on Jan 20th on Brace Yourself Records. The London based 4-piece have released a number of singles and EPs since their breakthrough and have steadily built a cult following in England and mainland Europe. Italia 90 have received critical acclaim from publications such as DIY Magazine, The Quietus, So Young as well as extensive coverage at BBC 6music - with Steve Lamacq in particular offering continued support. Across the album, tracks from the band’s earliest days (New Factory, Competition) sit side by side with newer tracks, in a breadth of new styles for the band. "We consciously drew on elements from other genres, like new wave, goth rock, post-hardcore, jazz, jungle and ranchera that have inspired us but which we hadn't incorporated into our music previously”.

        To record the album, the band decamped to the residential Echo Zoo studio in Eastbourne. With five days booked – far longer than the band had ever recorded for in the past – the whole album was tracked within two days with producer Louis Milburn. For the rest of the allotted time, they explored the nooks and crannies of the building and the bounty of unusual instruments lying around to add mystical textures to the bones of the songs.

        Italia 90's songs aim to be timeless. Like the painting on the album’s cover, which shows a crowd of people all facing away from the viewer, the idea of the collective takes precedence over the individual. “I care deeply about the things that I’m singing about,” says singer, Les Miserable, “but I don’t think that it needs to be me that is saying it. I have my point of view, and think that the ideology that I’m forwarding in the songs is correct, and very important, but it’s not important that it’s me saying them. If I did, I would already be contradicting the things that I am saying in the songs.”

        This philosophy is the sign of a band going against the grain and stopping to really consider their statements, both musically and lyrically, rather than hopping on trends. Across their debut album, Italia 90 step off the relentless, exhausting hamster wheel and create something fantastic with the abundance of ingredients already here, pointing a different way forwards.


        TRACK LISTING

        Side A
        1. Cut
        2. Leisure Activities
        3. Magdalene
        4. Competition
        5. New Factory
        Side B
        6. The MUMSNET Mambo
        7. Funny Bones
        8. Golgotha
        9. Does He Dream?
        10. Tales From Beyond
        11. Harmony

        DInked Edition Bonus 7":
        Side A 7”
        1. This Is Not My Fire (exclusive New Song)
        2. Ghosts (Japan Cover)
        Side B 7”
        An Audio Story By Les Miserable And J Dangerous

        Flossing

        World Of Mirth

          Once described as “Kate Bush’s gothic darkness brought to the edge of oblivion”, the enigmatic and provocative New Yorker Heather Elle knows that a key component of the artistic process is the tedious and uncomfortable excavation of self. Hence the Flossing moniker. Flossing has received support from publications such as DIY, Clash, Gigwise, So Young Magazine and well coverage at BBC 6Music. 

          After tackling misogyny in their last single Men On The Menu, Heart of Hearts is the impassioned new breakup song from the New York project, Flossing where singer-songwriter Heather Elle (ex-BODEGA/The Wants) channels the vulnerability of Depeche Mode and Tears for Fears in order to process a major breakup in the midst of chaos and change (the pandemic). Co-produced with Elijah Sokolow (The Living Strange) in Heather’s home studio in Brooklyn, the two manipulated an old vibraphone they once shared with their ex-partner to rework the song from scratch.

          When the 2020 pandemic sideswiped the world, Heather found themselves thrown from touring in two buzzy post-punk groups — Bodega and The Wants — and into a dizzying state of overdue decompression. Aching to artistically progress, they had to completely untether themselves. They departed from the two bands, left a long-term relationship, and quickly began writing and recording songs in their new bachelorette pad. They dug up five-year-old songs, random ideas written on the road, and unexpectedly wrote a new song — the hedonistic and confessional debut single Switch — which pushed them to take the project further. The following year, with help from Trout Recording’s Adam Sachs (Swans, Amen Dunes, Joan As Policewoman) and London’s Brace Yourself Records, the debut EP Queen of the Mall was released to critical acclaim, describing Heather as a “mischievous pop poet” and the “newly appointed master of psychological provocative.”

          TRACK LISTING

          1. Men On The Menu
          2. All We Are
          3. Heart Of Hearts
          4. Side Eye Life 

          Laundromat

          En Bloc - 3 EP Collection

            Laundromat (AKA Toby Hayes) announces En Bloc - 3 EP Collection - a vinyl release encompassing the three Laundromat EPs released to date.

            Laundromat has built a reputation over the previous twelve months as an innovative and profoundly skilled songwriter, his languid style and deftly created songs earned him support from the likes Steve Lamacq, Lauren Laverne, Marc Riley, DIY, Dork, Loud & Quiet among others. Red, Blue and Green - the 3 EPs - all released to critical acclaim, were mixed and co-produced by Tom Andrews (alongside Hayes). Recent single Combo was recently added to the playlist at BBC 6Music after extensive support at the station. Laundromat is currently writing his debut album.

            On the new collection, Laundromat says "These nine tracks were written (really slowly) over a number of years, and although they’ve been out a while now, it's massively cathartic to release them as this 3 EP collection. Mainly because despite the fact that this isn’t an ‘album’ release, it was certainly written as one. So to finally deliver these tunes in the order that they were meant to be listened to feels real good I have to admit. ‘En Bloc’ - 3 EP Collection also includes a number of segue pieces that link the songs together - the idea being that this slice of work would be released as two continuous chunks of sound, i.e - side 1 and side 2. A nice big feast for the ears." Inspired by a broad range of influences including Kim Deal, Broadcast, Jaki Liebezeit, Jason Albertini, Madlib and Gonjasufi, Hayes also cites film as a huge source of intrigue: "I find a lot of inspiration in film - Repo Man (1984), Deep End (1970), Punch-drunk Love (2002), and Alice in the Cities (1974) in particular."

            Lyrically, the project explores the end of the world, binge drinking, social anhedonia, nostalgia, as well as the time Hayes got ‘catfished’ - for nearly 7 years.


            TRACK LISTING

            1. Flat Planet
            2. Off
            3. Slow Clap
            4. Humans
            5. En Bloc
            6. Nein
            7. Bug Eyed
            8. Bureau De Fatigue
            9. Milky

            Bonus Dinked Edition 7” Tracklisting:
            A. Laundromat - Flat Planet (Bothelbows X MIIIKE Remix)
            B. Laundromat – Bureau De Fatigue (Marcus Hamblett Remix)

            In spring 2020, having been forced to postpone any live action due to lockdown, John set to work on the follow up to their Out Here On The Fringes album. It seems that the enforced confinement allowed them time to fine tune both their songwriting and sound and produce their best LP to date. The album opens with “Return To Capital” a brooding, slow-build instrumental that’s escalating nicely until it suddenly plummets head first into “Sibensko Powerhouse”, a ferocious collision of distorted guitars, pounding drums and snarled vocals, which kind of sets the tone for the rest of the album. Being a two piece, they operate with limited tools: drums, guitar and vocals, but that doesn’t in any way limit their sound. Seeing them live reminded me of seeing No Age play live for the first time and being blown away by how much noise two people could generate. And they’re creative with that limited palate too, this isn’t all a 100mph dash for the line, it’s a very nuanced sound, there’s plenty of texture. Idles have been an obvious reference point in recent reviews, but to me their sound is rooted in the US hardcore scene of the 80s: The kind of stuff that was being released by the likes of Touch And Go and Dischord Records. (There are definitely echoes of Mackaye / Picciotto in the dual vocals at times.) That’s not to say their sound is dated, far from it, they’re one of the most vital bands around at the moment.

            STAFF COMMENTS

            Laura says: Ooof! This is just awesome! Intense, dynamic guitar noise that has more in common with the likes of Jesus Lizard or any number of bands from the 80s DC scene than any more contemporary noisemakers. (The dual vocal on Šibensko Powerhouse in particular brings to mind Mackay / Picciotto.) That's not so say their sound is dated, far from it, this is the most vital noise around right now.

            TRACK LISTING

            1. Return To Capital
            2. Šibensko Powerhouse
            3. A Song For Those Who Speed In Built-Up Areas
            4. Haneke'd
            5. Austere Isle
            6. Jargoncutter
            7. Stadium Of No
            8. Power Out For The Kingdom
            9. Northwood Turret
            10. Nonessential Hymn

            Peeping Drexels

            Bad Time

              ‘Bad Time’ is the new EP from Peeping Drexels. The London based 5-piece, who have been together since they were sixteen, have to date released a series of singles on the Permanent Creeps and Fierce Panda labels. This is their first release on BY Records. They've previously received support from the likes of Steve Lamacq, DIY, So Young among others. They've also performed live with artists such as Shame, Goat Girl and Public Practice.

              First single, 'High Heels', sees Peeping Drexels eulogise about white pills and night thrills - anxious overtones abound until the crescendo of guttural angst takes over. "High Heels is a dimly lit journey through the narrow corridors and backrooms of a twisted underground club, all whilst under the influence of an unknown substance. The song is the first taste of Peeping Drexels rebirth; experimental new sounds, broader instrumentation, yet pop music to the bone. A never ending loop of bad-trip fuelled excess, and there is no way to escape."

              Prior to lockdown, Peeping Drexels played a Sold Out Parallel Lines headline show at London’s Bermondsey Social Club and ended it with a sold out main support slot for Fat White Family at EartH (Evolutionary Arts Hackney).

              The project takes influences from a broad musical spectrum, from the dance vibes of Gary Numan and Mr. Fingers to the intensity of Tyler The Creators' synth-heavy Cherry Bomb and the maximalist work of Kanye West.

              Songs tackle a range of themes; from leaving your childhood home only to enter the cycle of drug addiction and artistic hindrance (Pit), toxic lust and obsession for an unavailable person (Bloody Gums), only finding anything close to pure happiness in escapism from the real world (Miami Lounge) and hardcore hedonism (High Heels).

              TRACK LISTING

              1. Miami Lounge
              2. Pit
              3. Bloody Gums
              4. High Heels
              5. Part II

              Laundromat

              Red EP

                The Red EP is the third and final Laundromat (AKA Toby Hayes) EP in the current set, concluding a triology completed with the prebiously released Blue and Green EPs. Laundromat has previously received support from Steve Lamacq, Marc Riley, DIY, Dork among others.

                On the EP opener ‘Flat Planet’, Laundromat says "I don’t ever remember setting out to write a tune like this, but here it is anyways. I kinda hear it like a St. Vincent song or something like that. Some tongue in cheek (but not) apocalyptic-pop. An eye-roll pointed right back at us dumb humans. You know how when you’re reading the news, and it’s facepalm after facepalm? This was a response to that feeling. The drop at the end is a Big Muff driving a Harmonic Percolator - a lot of fun through headphones."

                Laundromat, the new project from Toby Hayes has been a long time in the making. Hayes admits as much, recalling a process that has taken "years" to bear fruition. The resulting EPs showcase a musician who has earned his stripes in the DIY scene.

                Elsewhere on Red, En Bloc is an ode to friendship, Hayes describing how he "grew up a bit awkward, socially. So now I get really romantic about my pals". While Milky is a more sombre affair that recalls Beck at his most tender.

                Lyrically the project explores the end of the world, panic attacks, political figures that don’t represent the people that elected them, the preciousness of friendship, binge drinking, mental health and the time Hayes got ‘catfished’ - for nearly 7 years.

                Influences are broad, ranging from Broadcast, Jaki Liebezeit, Jason Albertini, Madlib to Gonjasufi. Kim Deal stands out as major inspiration. Film is also a huge source of intrigue for Hayes "I find a lot of inspiration in film. Repo Man (1984), Deep End (1970), Punch-drunk Love (2002), and Alice in the Cities (1974) in particular" he says.

                Hayes finds salvation in the intimacy of bedrooms recordings, " I love the sound of them. There’s something special there that I will always love, the sound of someone exploring their imagination, performing to themselves." Lo-fi may be the guiding force, but after an eventful and painful few years Laundromat is ready to embrace positive change and seek catharsis with these new recordings.


                TRACK LISTING

                1. Flat Planet
                2. En Bloc
                3. Milky


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