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TOUGH LOVE

The Stroppies

Look Alive!

    Originally starting as the DIY home recording project of Angus Lord and Claudia Serfaty, The Stroppies have now evolved into what some might call a “proper band”. Following on from their 2017 demo cassette and a sling of singles, 2019 saw the release of their debut LP Whoosh!, a studio-based affair that evolved The Stroppies sound, underpinned with a newly discovered melodic classicism. Look Alive!, their latest effort which was recorded only months after the bands return to Australia after their second European tour of 2019, represents a marriage of the two different styles of Stroppies recordings and rounds out an incredibly productive twelve months for the group. Look Alive! Is the sound of The Stroppies honing their craft under new and unfamiliar conditions.


    Written mainly on the road then finished and recorded at home with whatever was on hand with only three of the four members present, it is according to the band’s singer/guitarist Angus Lord, "an EP forged in circumstance. A sum total of fleeting vignettes on scraps of paper, voice memos and iPhone notepads all collated between soundchecks and long stretches in a tour van rolled pieced together over weekly jams. We didn't want to waste much time when we got home so we opted to record it ourselves". For a band who began with the initial idea to create what the band called “open-ended music, collaged quickly and pieced haphazardly together”, it is in some sense a return to their true self. If Whoosh! glimmered and sparkled with tight production and succinct pop songwriting, Look Alive! is a somewhat darker shade, employing a more diffuse, impressionistic sonic palette and a more obvious penchant for experimentation.


    Tracked by the band and long time friend/collaborator Alex Macfarlane (Twerps, The Stevens, Hobbies Galore) at home and then mixed and mastered direct off the tape at Phaedra studios in Coburg by John Lee, it’s also a somewhat collaborative project, drawing in influence and inspiration from myriad sources. Such means of production are evident in the resulting eight songs. The title track sees acoustic pianos duel with synthesizers over Pavement-esque guitar wig outs, whilst ‘The Aisles of the Supermarket’ employs tape loops to forge loose ambient foundations. Though these ideas may reflect the band’s noted “stream of consciousness creativity”, remarkably the songwriting remains as sharp as ever. Album opener ‘Burning Bright’ gallops forward with the propulsive energy of ‘77-era Talking Heads and is transported by a casually brilliant chorus delivered by shared vocalist Claudia Sefraty.


    Elsewhere, lead single ‘Holes In Everything’ presents the band at its pop best: "If I could disappear into the atmosphere, I would be around you all the time" sings Lord, before swiftly throwing shade on the sentiment in the chorus, "It's always frightening what I think". It's this penchant for push and pull of light and dark splashed against the backdrop of trepidation and humour that make The Stroppies records so endearing and open-ended. Though undeniably pop structure orientated, the bands propensity for re-inventing and re-appropriating their recording and writing process ensures that nothing starts to fossilize. Indeed, Look Alive! is that most intriguing of records precisely because it represents two ideas at the same time - the sound of a band in flux, but also the sound of a band becoming more sure footed as they walk their crooked line.

    White Flowers

    Day By Day

      RIYL: Beach House, Cocteau Twins, Cigarettes After Sex, Slowdive.

      White Flowers have today shared a new track, Day By Day. The track is taken from their second 12” release for Tough Love Records following Night Drive / Portra, which was released in January of this year and sold out immediately. The 12” also features a cover of Red House Painters’ Katy Song.

      Talking about the track, White Flowers said:

      Day by Day was actually written a few years ago but has taken on an eerie relevance in light of current events. As the title suggests, the song explores living in the present moment as a way of overcoming difficulties and growing stronger. Written during a dark time in our lives the song is about the struggle of carrying on, taking each day at a time in hope that things will eventually get better’.

      Brought up on the sounds of 80s Manchester though too young to have experienced it first hand, Preston’s White Flowers, made up of Katie Drew and Joey Cobb, make gloriously gothic dreampop that’s as ambiguous as it is beautiful and exciting.

      Co-produced by Doves’ guitarist, Jez Williams, Day By Day picks up where Night Drive left off, fragile, and amorphous, driven by a Kevin Shields-esque drone and underpinned by Katie Drew’s beautiful and delicate vocal.

      The band, who earlier this year completed a brief U.K. tour with Toy to celebrate Independent Venue Week and played a number of their own shows around the UK, will be announcing further dates following the current situation and their debut album is set for release later in 2020.

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      Ltd 12" Info: Limited to 150 copies.

      Peel Dream Magazine

      Agitprop Alterna

        After 18 months of writing and playing live with a shifting cast of supporting members, Peel Dream Magazine is back with Agitprop Alterna, their new album which pushes the group’s dreamy, motorik-heavy sound to a deeply melodic and beautifully discordant place. Their 2nd LP pays homage to the fuzzy, mod-ish twee of acts like My Bloody Valentine and early Stereolab, but it's also indebted to stateside bands like Yo La Tengo and Rocketship that were cut from a similar cloth. It's part Chickfactor, part Space Age Bachelor Pad; a shambolic, drone-heavy brand of minimalism, filtered through a cross-section of classic indie pop.

        Peel Dream Magazine is the musical vehicle for NYC's Joe Stevens, who launched the band in 2018 with the critically acclaimed album Modern Meta Physic. The debut was a mysterious, liminal tribute to the hazy end of ‘90s dream-pop – a masterful mix of first-class songwriting precision and train-window sonic impressionism. Stevens played all the parts on Modern Meta Physic himself, blending live and sampled sounds into uniquely identifiable and abstractly psychedelic soundscapes. The album struck a perfect balance between DIY bedroom pop auteurism and studio wizardry, and duly found its place on numerous “Best of 2018” lists. Where the creation of Modern Meta Physic was a solitary pursuit, Agitprop Alterna found Stevens channelling the collaborative spirit of the band’s ever-rotating live incarnation in the studio. He worked with close friend Kelly Winrich to develop new sounds for the project, creating musical snippets that Winrich would mix into the cohering whole.

        Live band members like vocalist Jo-Anne Hyun (later replaced by Isabella Mingione) and drummer Brian Alvarez would stop by and work their magic on the recordings, laying down parts with trademark exactitude. The resulting music revels in its realness: heavier, more dynamic, and truly the work of a band. Each tune’s unique character fits carefully into a broader thematic whole examining personal freedom from manipulation and misinformation. First single “Pill” examines what Stevens calls the "inundation of performances of normalcy and fulfillment that fuel our desire to consume – self-medication for the pain of doubt, want and need.” “Emotional Devotion Creator” frames advertising (and the cynical, manufactured emotional response it elicits) with a critical eye, while “It’s My Body” is an “anthem against people who want to exert power over you and make you feel small…a reminder that you don’t owe anyone anything.

        Agitprop Alterna is ultimately defined by the tension of difference: between itself and its predecessor; Stevens’ and Hyun’s intertwined male-female vocals; the music’s languid dreaminess and concrete sonic immediacy. Deeply rooted in the Brechtian ideas of art as a tool to spur action, Agitprop Alterna deepens the connection between the existential and the interpretive first explored on Modern Meta Physic, giving the listener space to find their own meaning in shimmering guitars, fuzzed-out synths, and buzzing organ drones.

        FORMAT INFORMATION

        LP Info: Limited edition transparent vinyl.

        The Stroppies

        The Stroppies - Repress

          Starting out as a recording project between Angus Lord, Claudia Serfaty and Stephanie Hughes, the germ of what would eventually become the Stroppies was formed around a kitchen table in Melbourne's inner west early 2016. The initial idea was to create open ended music, collaged quickly and haphazardly together on a Tascam 4 track Portastudio that drew on stream of consciousness creativity and a DIY attitude a la Guided By Voices and The Great Unwashed. The desire to move beyond the pre programmed drum patterns available on their Casio Keyboard led to the addition of Rory Heane on drums and a more conventional band dynamic.

          In Late 2016, Alex Macfarlane recorded the band in their lounge room direct to 4 track, capturing 7 songs that would become their 2017 self titled cassette tape debut. The songs were bounced back and forth from tape machine to computer to tape machine to computer again. In keeping with the bands initial aesthetic, dubs were laid over a 4 month period incrementally on different devices as members had babies, explored intercontinental love affairs and set up homes together. Since the release of the tape, Adam Hewwit has joined the group on third guitar as they settle down into exploring the new band dynamic and focus on their next recording project. The Stroppies is composed of members of many Melbourne and UK bands (Claudia is originally from London) including Dick Diver, Primetime, Possible Humans, White Walls, Boomgates, The Stevens, See/Saw to name a few. They make modest, idiosyncratic pop songs that reward with repeated listening. 

          FORMAT INFORMATION

          Coloured LP Info: Frosted clear vinyl.

          Toy

          Songs Of Consumption

            TOY, who released Happy In The Hollow, their fourth, and by far most acclaimed album to date, in January of this year on Tough Love Records, have announced details of Songs Of Consumption, an 8-song collection of unique interpretations of tracks which have inspired the band.

            The idea was originally birthed when the band recorded four covers for the bonus 7"s that came with the Dinked and Rough Trade versions of the last album. 3 of those songs feature here alongside 5 new recordings completed last month, which comprise tracks by Stooges, Amanda Lear, Nico, The Troggs, Serge Gainsborough, Soft Cell, John Barry and Pet Shop Boys/Elvis/Willy Nelson (depending on how you know the song).

            Talking about the album, TOY said:

            Songs of Consumption sonically is a continuation and development of the themes conceived on Happy In The Hollow and it will show people where we are going towards musically. The DIY approach was explored further utilising more of the electronic elements that we touched upon before. Drum machines, stripped down arrangements and rudimentary production give a primitive sound that we thought suited the choice of songs. Some of the songs have very big sounding production, so we wanted to experiment with them by going in a different direction.

            Music is consumed voraciously now whereas these songs came from a time when the song was of the most important thing and that's what was appreciated. Stripping them back to the essence of what they are was also something we wanted to explore. Also, we wanted to make a covers record with songs by people that influenced us in the past few years and it’s as much about the way they dealt with their ideas, and how they put themselves in uncomfortable situations in order to make something that in the end is simple. It’s a homage to the spirit of these people, that helped us to untangle ourselves from our inherent complicated nature and create a new space where we can exist.

            Additionally, having played a sold-out tour of the UK in February, including a mesmerising show at Village Underground in London, the band have announced a couple of very special shows at the end of the year.

            Playing under the banner of ‘Hollowed Out – A night of strange sighting and unhabitual ritual’ the shows will see them re-imagining songs from Happy In The Hollow. In London they will be joined by AV artist Sculpture, live performances from The Thelma Death Stare and Ducasse, DJ sets from Cherrystones and Sheet Noise and live visuals from Daisy Dickinson. In Manchester they will be joined by Mutabase and a DJ set from Sofie K.

            STAFF COMMENTS

            Barry says: It's nice to hear a selection of (superb) covers from Toy, expanding their sound into this diverse range of covers. Though the songs are not their own, it gives us an insigt into their influence, and honestly couldn't be any more their own. Swathes of guitar noise and succinct percussive throbs work their way behind Dougall's recognisable vocals, all accompanied with their ever present crystal-clear synths and melodic sensibilities. Lovely stuff.

            FORMAT INFORMATION

            Coloured LP Info: LP is on cream opaque vinyl and is exclusive to Indie stores.

            The Stroppies

            It's A Hit!

              It's A Hit! brings together four songs recorded by The Stroppies at home on their Tascam 4 track in mid 2017. Permeated by dystopian imagery of machines building machines and cats driving cars, It's a Hit! is perhaps the Stroppies most idiosyncratic release. Indeed, the title is a humorous nod to the inherent lo-fi quality of the recordings, a sound that some might not consider to be "radio friendly". Surley though, the songs contained herein are still unashamedly pop, albeit adorned in crackle and hiss. For reference think Alex Chilton's "Like Flies on Sherbert", early Swell Maps, and a touch of Loaded-era Velvet Underground shuffle. Originally released only in Australia via Hobbies Galore as a limited edition 7" in a hand stamped sleeve, the long sold-out EP is now being given an international release on the eve of the band's debut UK tour. Limited to 300 copies on white vinyl, and with a different sleeve to the first pressing. 

              FORMAT INFORMATION

              7" Info: 7" EP on white vinyl, limited to 300 copies only.

              Big Supermarket

              1800

                Rest-of-the-World pressing of Big Supermarket's debut LP, previously released in mid 2018 in Australia only via the Hobbies Galore label. Little information about Big Supermarket exists online - no 'official' band photos, no accurate information re personnel, no social media profile - so much of what is known about the band must be earned in the old fashioned way: from listening to the music itself. That alone has been difficult enough, given that until now the record had no distribution outside of Australia and was only available by Bandcamp. In an era of information overload and endless image cultivation, it's refreshing to uncover a band - yes, a band, not producer or 'solo bedroom auteur' - who favour the shadows, who prefer to leave some things unsaid. What is present is a collection of fourteen songs recorded over a three year period in Kensington, Victoria, that trace a wobbly line through the backstreets of jangle-pop, new wave, and post-punk in a way that sees them oscilate between the melodic and the obtuse.

                In that sense, there's an obvious affinity with much of the early Flying Nun output, where an appreciation of the classicism of pop songwriting rubbed shoulders with a fierce DIY spirit charged on the more outre possibilities of punk autodidactism. Australia is making a habit of producing compelling, singular new guitar-led bands. In their shunning of the traditional cycles of publicity and promotion, Big Supermarket have counter-intuitvely emerged as a leading light. A secret to be passed around that doubtless wont remain a secret for much longer. 

                FORMAT INFORMATION

                LP Info: Limited green vinyl.

                “There is something completely nonsense about it, especially when removed from any kind of context. For me it conjures up images of something absurd and transient - two things fundamental in the experience of listening to or making good pop music.” Whoosh may indeed be a silly word but it almost onomatopoeically captures the sound and essence of The Stroppies first proper debut album, one that breezes along with boundless energy, a refrained pop strut, infectious grooves and the sort of jangling guitar melodies that sound like a prime-era Flying Nun band. Between them, the Melbourne-based band - currently comprising of Gus Lord, Rory Heane, Claudia Serfaty and Adam Hewitt - have been in countless bands such as Boomgates, Twerps, Tyrannamen, Primetime, Blank Statements, The Blinds, White Walls, See Saw and Possible Humans.

                The band formed together around a kitchen table in 2016 with a heavy focus around the essence of collaboration and a DIY ethos. This led to an acclaimed cassette release of lounge room recordings, which was then pressed onto vinyl to more acclaim. The Stroppies next step was then taking their DIY approach to home recordings into the studio to make a transitional leap to what would become their proper studio debut. “Whoosh is our first concerted effort to make something with a bit more sonic depth,”says Claudia Serfaty (the bands other primary songwriter). It’s a record that possesses all the spunk and gusto of a young band hurtling forward yet also knowing when to take their foot off the accelerator.

                It’s an album that simultaneously feels young and fresh but wise beyond its years. “Whoosh is the most robust sounding release we have ever recorded,” Serfaty says. Combining taut post-punk rhythms, indie jangle, seamless melody and sugary pop, it’s a record that Lord says is influenced by: “All sorts of things - life, work, relationships, old cartoons and the last 60+ years of guitar-based pop music in some form or another. This includes everything from Bill Fay to the Clean to Stephen Malkmus.” We utilised whatever was on hand to pull sounds, including but not limited to vintage synths, rain sticks and an old door frame that we used for percussion.”

                RIYL: The Horrors, Moon Duo, Wooden Shjips, Spiritualized, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Dungen, Goat, Clinic.

                Toy release their fourth album, and their first for new label Tough Love Records, and it is unquestionably their most direct and propulsive album to date.

                Recorded between their own home tape studios and mixed at Dan Carey’s Studio B in South London, the album was entirely produced and mixed by the band.

                "Happy In The Hollow is entirely uncompromising: an atmospheric capturing of a state of mind that touches on Post Punk, electronic dissonance, acid folk and Krautrock. Familiar qualities like metronomic rhythms, warping guitars, undulating synths and Tom’s gentle, reedy vocals are all in there, but so is a greater emphasis on melody, a wider scope, and a combining of the reassuring and the sinister that is as unnerving as it is captivating."

                The sound has without doubt expanded — and grown more confident — in part because this is the first album for which Toy has become a self-sufficient five-person unit doing everything for themselves.

                “Each song was a blank canvas,” says Maxim. “Producers inevitably develop their own patterns over time, right down to certain drum sounds. We were starting from scratch and it felt very creative as a result. It’s an album we feel deeply connected to”.

                TOY are: Tom Dougall (vocals / guitar), Dominic O’Dair (guitars), Maxim Barron (bass / vocals), Max Oscarnold (synths / modulations) & Charlie Salvidge (drums / vocals).


                STAFF COMMENTS

                Barry says: Toy on fine form here, in a somewhat more dreamy and progressive mood than on 2016's 'Clear Shot', with swirling guitars and cavernous reverb surrounding the psychedelic chord changes and echoing haunted vox. They've managed to craft something that is both immediate and deep, easy to engage with but develops the more you listen. A truly stunning work.

                FORMAT INFORMATION

                Coloured LP Info: Limited to 1000 copies on “Behind Blue Eyes” vinyl and exclusive to Indie stores only.

                Toy

                The Willo / Energy

                  Since 2010, Toy have earned a reputation as a band of integrity, virtuosity and taste, with Tom, Maxim, Dominic, Charlie and (joining in 2015) Max creating a sound that is embedded in the underground tradition, yet distinctly their own. Now here comes a two-track twelve-inch on Tough Love, a foretaste of a forthcoming album in January 2019, which marks a new dawn for this most singular of bands.

                  ‘The Willo’ is a dreamlike, seven-minute glide, redolent of a forest at sunset and just as pretty, but not without hints of malevolence. Maxim's fingerpicking acoustic melds with electric twang from Dominic, and a whirling organ from Max Oscarnold gives this elegant creation an extra layer of disorientation and depth. “People appear to have seen Will-o’-the-wisp, a mysterious green-blue light, over the centuries. It generally means something ominous is about to happen", says Tom.

                  Then there is ‘Energy’, which lives up to its name with thunderously metronomic drums from Charlie Salvidge and a ferocious guitar from Dominic O’Dair. The lyrics, culled from a story written by Max about a nighttime ritual, are obscured by the barrage-like forward momentum of the music.

                  The twelve-inch, recorded and mixed by the band between Oscarnold’s Stoke Newington flat and a south London studio, is the first release for Toy on their new label Tough Love, representing the latest stage in the evolution of the band. Since their inception, they have released the acclaimed albums Toy (2012), Join The Dots (2013) and Clear Shot (2016), and toured everywhere from Serbia to China, while holding onto that youthful, magical moment of discovering strange new worlds of innocence and experience.

                  STAFF COMMENTS

                  Mine says: Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of TOY. The band return with "The Willo", a dreamy, innocent sounding song that quickly develops into the soundtrack to a ride through a magical forest, and "Energy", which with its pounding drums, driving bass and post punk-y, occasionally chaotic guitars could hardly sound more different. Two interesting songs that leave us excited for the new album!

                  FORMAT INFORMATION

                  Ltd 12" Info: Indies store exclusive - limited to 300 copies on black vinyl.

                  Girls Names

                  Primitive Desire

                    Primitive Desire is an 11-track collection of the first ever studio sessions by Girls Names, recorded in 2009 in Belfast. It compiles their debut EP originally released on Captured Tracks, the eight songs that originally featured on the long-out-of print You Should Know By Now mini-EP released on Tough Love, and a hereto-unreleased bonus track. Primitive Desire is exactly as labeled and provides fans with a document of the band's early years as a two-piece, fuelled by a distinct nervous energy and nascent dark edge that would manifest itself much more obviously on subsequent albums. 

                    Autobahn

                    The Moral Crossing

                      “Melancholy and darkness, and dissonant, uncomfortable music, resonates with us, for whatever reason,” says singer and spokesman Craig Johnson. “The new record is more melancholy than dissonant. I feel we're just opening up a bit more on this record.” A sliver of strings, a squeal of feedback, pulsing drums, sheets of steely guitar and sonorous bass, and a rough, declamatory voice - from these primary components, Leeds quintet AUTOBAHN unfurl their second album, The Moral Crossing, which adds more finesse, dynamic and colour to the commitment and energy shown on their debut.

                      While Dissemble was made by imagining what the late, great producer Martin Hannett would do, The Moral Crossing is the sound of what AUTOBAHN would do. To capture the new sonic details of the band, lead singer and principal songwriter Craig Johnson, guitarists Michael Pedel and Gavin Cobb, bassist Daniel Sleight and drummer Liam Hilton decided to give up their practice room that doubled as a hardcore/punk venue (which influenced their original sound, as did a love of The Birthday Party) and build their own studio space. The album was mixed in New York by Ben Greenberg (Sacred Bones label). On top, Johnson taught himself how to make a record after the studio was built. We’ve had the chance to create the sound we want, at times it’s more melancholic, and romantic.” Part of the shift comes from Johnson’s newly honed melodies such as ‘Vessel’ and ‘Torment’, part from a greater use of electronics, such as the synthesiser underpinning a haunting ‘Future’, evoking neon-lit rainy-nocturnal rides through a cityscape, likewise the album’s title track, which is one song to benefit from the judicious addition of violin and cello

                      Ulrika Spacek

                      Modern English Decoration

                      The relatively short amount of time between their first and second albums is testament to the band’s self-contained creative environment and the productivity it encourages. There’s a tendency to label this degree of self-reliant creativity ‘DIY’ - and the band do certainly feel emboldened by that ethos - yet to consider Modern English Decoration solely in these terms is a disservice. Their craft is considered and purposeful, the means of its production reflecting the band’s overall vision rather than the value system of an often haphazard and accidental DIY culture. “We enjoy listening to music through the album format and want our records to reflect that”, says Rhys Edwards (guitars, vocals, synthesiser).

                      Ulrika Spacek formed in Berlin in one night, when 14-year-long friends Rhys Edwards and Rhys Williams conceptualised ‘Ulrika Spacek’ and came up with The Album Paranoia as their debut album title. Moving back to London with the intention to record it, they were joined by Joseph Stone (guitars, organ, synths, violin), Ben White (bass) and Callum Brown (drums, percussion), ossifying into the five-piece they are now. The album was released soon after with little forewarning and was accompanied by a year long, near-monthly club night called Oysterland.

                      Given the lyrics often favour abstraction and the vocals can be more impressionistic than declarative, the album title itself offers perhaps the most telling entry point to the record. In part, it’s a self-effacing play on an interior design cliché that references the meticulous creative processes the band adheres to. There’s also a nod towards the environment in which it was created – a Victorian house turned art gallery turned home studio

                      Unsurprisingly given the context of its creation, Modern English Decoration might be considered a companion piece of sorts to The Album Paranoia.But there are crucial differences. Most notably, this isn’t the work of the Ulrika Spacek conceptualised by Edwards and Williams in Berlin – Modern English Decoration is the band as five rather than two people, and it shows. Those who have witnessed the intensity of their live show will instantly recognise the merits in this. The bass and drums provide a versatile anchor, at once soft, then aggressive, while the vocals drift woozily in and out, like druggy hindsight or skewed premonition. With three guitarists in the band guitars were always going to be central to the music, but what is less expected is the dynamic interplay between the trio that suggests a three-headed version of the Verlaine-Lloyd axis at the heart of Television. What’s more, the absence of reverb is integral, in part attributable to the ambience of the studio, but also a conscious decision in order to add focus. And focus is the abiding term: this is an album designed to be just so - a 45 minute commitment, a surrender.

                      The Proper Ornaments

                      Waiting For The Summer

                        THIS IS A RECORD STORE DAY 2017 EXCLUSIVE, LIMITED TO ONE PER PERSON.

                        Following the release of Foxhole in January of this year, Tough Love will issue on vinyl for the first time The Proper Ornaments debut long-player, Waiting for the Summer: a compilation of their first 10 songs, originally released on CD in 2013. What they said in 2013… Is perfect pop still possible? It’s hard to imagine, but the answer is Yes, and The Proper Ornaments are here to prove it. A timeless beauty that reminds us of The Velvet Underground and The Jesus & Mary Chain and yet sounds classic and effortlessly original. Produced by Charlie March of NZCA Lines and featuring ten golden nuggets of pure pleasure. James Hoare and Max Claps formed The Proper Ornaments in 2010. The first line up included bassist Michael Lovett and Lets Wrestle front man Wesley Patrick Gonzalez. Micheal went on to form NZCA LINES, but Wes remained part of the tag team thanks to a nifty half nelson and the offer of a night in the corner of London's darkest stages and the theft of his organ…. 

                        Ulrika Spacek

                        The Album Paranoia

                        RIYL: Mercury Rev, Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, Radiohead, Deerhunter, Atlas Sound.

                        Ulrika Spacek is a British experimental rock band formed in Berlin by Rhys Edwards and Rhys Williams, relocated to Homerton, London. Work on debut album ‘The Album Paranoia’ began in the summer of 2014 in the band’s shared house KEN, and was finished there last month. In conjunction to the making of ‘The Album Paranoia’, the band has curated a number of nights under the name ‘Oysterland’ combining their first live performances with a series of exhibitions. The band's music has drawn various interpretations, a cross pollination of hypnotic fuzz, Verlain-Malkmus guitar idiosyncrasies and intertwining feelings of both angst and melancholia. 

                        STAFF COMMENTS

                        Mine says: Ulrika Spacek's debut album is an addictive roller coaster of blissful psychedelia, hypnotic melancholy and raucous, repetitive kraut rock. Heavy and droning in some places, dreamy and pensive in others, its atmospheric soundscape makes it an album to get lost in.

                        FORMAT INFORMATION

                        LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                        The long-awaited new album from CYMBALS is named after a book by Princeton academic, Daniel T. Rodgers, which addresses the fragmentation of ideas towards the end of the last century and how collective meanings have become uncertain. Singer and guitarist Jack Cleverly writes: "It hit me that I often feel paralysed by the feeling that everything is 'too complicated', and that many people I know feel that paralysis. I realised that this way of thinking can be traced through these songs." Produced by Dreamtrak (Swim Deep, Chad Valley, Hot Chip) in his Hackney studio and written collectively over the last 12-months, the group have taken their time to carefully piece the album together, song-by-song, in sequence.

                        The album was completed following a final mix from Daniel Rejmer (Foals, Everything Everything) and the result is testament to the band’s attention to detail: a cleaner, brighter sound than their brattier early recordings, edging towards the European sophistication of the end-of-the-century French house Jack grew up around. Singles 'Like An Animal', 'The End' and 'The Natural World' are characterized by an upbeat disco cool and all push the 7-minute mark, whereas ‘Winter 98’, ‘This City’, and ‘Call Me’ are brooding, stark synth-led numbers reminiscent of early-New Order, with some lyrics sung in Jack’s native French. The literary inspiration runs further through the album. The track ‘The 5%’, more obviously making reference to the themes of the album's namesake, declares “Time can be erased, you’re stupid if you try and stay in place,” over a pulsing bassline and swirling electronics. ‘Like an Animal’ is inspired by the intellectual and moral confusion of the main character in Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain. The album has even garnered literary responses of its own by British poet and novelist Joe Dunthorne, author of Submarine. “I told Joe about the book and the way the album was kind of a reaction to it, and he threw my rationalisation of it back at me through a short story inspired by the album.” says Cleverly. “It helped reveal the emotional territory of the songs. He showed me how I had been dividing things up artificially - desires and priorities, getting older and not being able to stop writing music…”

                        Through the writing of this album, CYMBALS have inevitably matured. “We've never been in it just for a laugh," says Cleverly; “but things got confused when we said we wanted to keep it fun – we just didn't want to end up bitter, having chased a hollow dream. But this album is less about us; it's more outward looking, more aware of the world at large." Despite the weighty literary influences, the band are keen to separate themselves from the over-earnestness that can sometimes accompany such associations. “I hate the whole 'serious earnest-singer-songwriter-thing,’” says Jack. “With this album I really wanted to get away from that and make music that makes people want to dance and feel joy. Neil's kick drum is the most important thing we have to say as a band. Is this all "fun"? Yes, of course, but at the same time, not just that." Produced by Dreamtrak & mixed by Daniel Rejmer. Featuring a new poem and short story by Joe Dunthorne.

                        Toronto’s Moon King will be issuing their debut European release on September 16th via Tough Love (Girls Names, Weird Dreams, CYMBALS). Entitled Obsessions, the record compiles all of the band’s output to date as well as one previously unreleased track.

                        Comprised of Toronto native Daniel Benjamin and collaborator/co-conspirator, Maddy Wilde, the duo have been making music together for most of their lives. As Moon King, the two singers weave dreamlike harmonies over buzz-saw guitars and electronic percussion, their live performances capturing a raw-nerve intensity that verges on ecstatic. While they have ties to a handful of other Canadian projects – Majical Cloudz, Grimes, Austra – they more obviously share a sonic affinity with the alien androgyny of Cocteau Twins, mbv and The Breeders.

                        Many of Daniel’s songs appeal to our darker subconscious desires, revelling in the embrace of fear and ego as a means of escape. Daniel also frequently performs with his brother Airick's group, Doldrums.

                        Jethro Fox

                        Blinding Light

                          Jethro Fox is a Biblically named singer from a family of Atheists, and his celestial music is set to light up 2012. Brought up in Colchester, Essex and sharing a proud 6th Form College music teacher with Damon Albarn, Jethro moved to Liverpool to study and has since become a central character in a once again thriving music community. A multi-instrumentalist, he has played in most of the new bands in the area’s resurgent scene, which is centered on the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts.

                          Now playing under his own name, Jethro’s own music is urgent and life affirming in a manner that belies the rainy gray of Liverpool. Characterized by his already-distinctive golden harmonies, and the echo of school halls and cavernous churches, his music suggests a deep affinity with the classic symphonic pop of The Beach Boys, Roy Orbison and Grizzly Bear.

                          A few months ago, Jethro posted his first track online, ‘Before’. Received to great acclaim (“One of the most exciting musicians on the planet”, John Kennedy, XFM”), Jethro was subsequently invited to record a Steve Lamacq Maida Vale Session for 6 Music: an almost unprecedented opportunity for an artist yet to release a record.

                          That’s all set to change with the release of his debut single, ‘Blinding Light’, through Tough Love Records (Weird Dreams, Girls Names). Backed by ‘Lonely Sound’, it’s the perfect introduction into Jethro’s immaculately conceived world. "A staggering set of vocal chords...there’s not a great deal of ground that it fails to cover." This is Fake DIY. “Hotter than the surface of the sun…One of the most exciting musicians on the planet.” John Kennedy, XFM.

                          Following feverish response for their two EPs and recent single ‘Holding Nails’, East London’s psych-pop four-piece Weird Dreams are set to release their brilliant debut album, Choreography, on Tough Love. Influenced by both the Beach Boys and the films of David Lynch, Weird Dreams draw equally on the intricate harmonies of the former and the latter’s penchant for twisted suburban ennui.

                          “The way David Lynch pushes reality to a point where it feels uncomfortable, his obsession with 1950s culture, his stream of consciousness approach to working”, says frontman Doran Edwards. “Weird Dreams is a bittersweet pop band with twists.” On record, it translates to the highly melodic, self-produced Choreography, an album on which every track has the right to be considered single-worthy. Written in Doran’s studio flat overlooking the train tracks, the tunes may be sweet but the words often have a sting in their tail. “I love how idealistic and overly gushy ’50s doo wop and ’60s girl groups were, but I wanted to produce an even more dreamy-sounding version with lyrics that could be quite dark and resentful,” says Doran.

                          True to that vision, tracks such as “Little Girl” and “Hurt So Bad” speak of unusual relationships, while album centerpiece “Suburban Coated Creatures” is a personal unraveling of difficult teenage years dealing with small town life. Initially built around the nucleus of Doran (guitar and vocals), Craig Bowers (drums), Weird Dreams formed when Doran and Craig met working in a vintage clothes shop, where talk frequently turned to ’50s pop, ’60s girl groups and – naturally – David Lynch movies. Releasing a joyous, cassette-only debut EP on an imprint of Craig’s aptly named Sleep All Day label, they recruited Hugo (bass), then adding James (guitar) for live duties and in time for second EP Hypnagogic Lullaby, a notably darker, harder-edged affair. And it’s with their debut album that these early forays have coalesced into a coherent, immersive whole.

                          The band’s name – and much of its outlook – is taken from Doran’s propensity for real-life weird dreams. “Since I can remember I've always had incredibly vivid dreams, both good and bad,” says the frontman. “They've always felt like an important part of my life.”


                          The record starts with the pop-nous and angular guitar stylings of "Five Minute Wonder" and doesn't let up until the chaotic climax of "Zhero". Various influences are apparent but never entirely or obviously replicated, William creating a sound that is very much their own. Taking the lo-fi spirit of The Replacements and Pavement and pairing it up with the intensity of Rites Of Spring and The Van Pelt, William are an exciting and brave prospect. Guitar lines repeat and adapt, all kept in line by a rigid and melodic rhythm section. Tracks such as "Porco Dio vs Schweinehund" and "Thomowski" echo these songwriting sentiments perfectly, both containing memorable instrumental hooks to back up Gavin's impassioned vocals. "Self In Fiction" is one of the most consistent releases of this year, of any year, and is an album that deserves to find a home in the hearts of hipsters, indie-kids and punks alike.


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