CLOTH – Cloth
Last year, Huw Stephens claimed Glaswegian group Cloth to be ones to watch in 2019, and having been given the opportunity to check out their upcoming self-titled debut album for myself, he has proven to be a man of quality taste who can see obvious talent.
The opening instrumental Other impeccably sets the mood, before forthcoming new single Felt follows up on it and makes a fierce impact with so little; the minimal instruments and brief vocal segments sending chills all over.
As they progress, we see the trio’s sound becomes more involved and fleshed out, and what we get is a style mixing mild-tempo, toe-tapping rock with a fluorescent atmosphere, as a result being able to provide tracks either cool and catchy or pure eloquent and dreamy; often with more focus on one side of the field than the other, especially the latter, but they can capably tackle both at once where required; noteworthy highlights including Demo Love, the gorgeous Curiosity Door and the goosebump-spawning Tripp.
The three do a well done job keeping me thoroughly hooked, accomplished via a slew of ways, the first being the good writing that has a magnetic touch to it, displayed most noticeably in the likes of Sleep and Taxi.
The other important key element is the strong performances from the members themselves, bringing forth sweet tender guitars, faint bass notes, steady drum beats and, as hinted upon earlier, dazzling soft harmonies. But other qualities such as clicks, claps and electronic beats dotted about the songs are extra little touches that, while not necessarily needed, do help add to a greater whole.
Cloth have made a stamp with undeniably one of the most irresistibly beautiful experiences put onto a record this year; something maturely handled with care and delivered in a neat little package that will reach out and firmly grip anybody within listening distance, taking them on a splendid journey that will seemingly transport them into another state of mind entirely.
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2019 was the year where my attention was brought to Northern English rockers A Joker’s Rage, and at the perfect time too with them hitting a real stride as of late, courtesy of a couple of singles that have been making the rounds far and wide, all leading up to the forthcoming release of their overdue debut album – The Rain Dance.
The band are running on all cylinders from the offset, immediately getting the boogie on with the rousing Temptress, and from there onwards, there’s a perpetual energy that they manage to keep in motion for nearly 50 full minutes without letting it slip.
The frontman Zakk has clearly stepped in with his A-game here, armed with a blinding voice packing a hearty power, smashing notes left, right and centre with such ease.
There are deliciously sweet guitar tones throughout, brought to life by Adam’s consistently high-calibre performances, and their arena-sized sound is completed by the resolute rhythm pairing of Matt and Geordie.
Naturally, we get a collection of exciting tracks, with an abundance of awesome choruses spread out between them, as featured in the likes of Shylock, the dead catchy Bounce and the rampant Screaming With The Lights Out, but what’s also likeable about this record is their willingness to suddenly go in a different direction off the beaten path.
For example, Secrets is treated like an epic, operatic-style piece, and it’s so cool in how grand it is, This Dance has an amusing nod to Whitney Houston of all people, and in that same vein, we get Ballet To The Masses, an all-out tribute to Freddie Mercury, and the four pull it off in an impressively glorious manner, with charming lyrical throwbacks to some notable Queen hits for nice measure.
I’m impressed with this. Very, very impressed. I was blown away on the first listen, and there was this deep-rooted fear that this wouldn’t hold up on respective listens afterwards, but that isn’t the case whatsoever, it never fails to captivate and make a storming impression. It helps that the production standards are supreme too.
All in all, there’s very little reason to argue that this ranks among the best rock releases of the year, being a resounding, continual senses-heightening rush from beginning to end.
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It was a year ago this month that my buddy Kyle from GRAVELLE introduced me to a lovely lady by the name of Lisanne Jacob, aka TINY MURDER.
Earlier this year, the Glasgow-based Galway lass embarked on a Kickstarter campaign to fund her debut record, which proved to be quite the success. The final result, an EP titled Problem Patterns, was dropped from out of the blue very recently, and it turns out that my money had contributed towards a worthwhile cause, because this is absolutely stunning.
Sign Of A Storm greets us with some poppy keyboard notes, and as it unravels, it grows in scale, eventually transforming into something harsher and harder-hitting. A solid opener, but she’s only getting started. Dead Romantic quickly makes an impression, sucking in and encapsulating the listener with this gorgeous, dark electronica sound that sparks a fiercely chilling atmosphere.
Things only get better as she delivers a similarly magnetic experience with Wolf, featuring a cool wee drum beat and a memorable chorus littered with, fittingly enough, delicate howls. She tones it down again for Daisy Chain, where the lush melodies and beautiful vocals create this dense, haunting effect that has you rooted to the spot, soaking in the surrounding elements with each passing second, leaving goosebumps all over in the process.
Lisanne goes in a more upbeat direction with the title track, a delightfully catchy song that is easily to bob your head to, and the great lyrics won’t take long to make a permanent mark in the brain with just how infectious they are, and a breath is barely wasted as she dives head first into the closing number, Yellow Label, which raises the bar further with a glamorous high-octane energy that could fill any dance floor, capping off the record in intoxicating fashion.
Well, well, I was certainly expecting good things here, but Lisanne has went above and beyond to produce an utterly strong EP which is enchanting from start to finish, leading the audience on this magical journey that is really diverse and chock-full of provoking content which couldn’t possibly fail to make an impact on any sensible living, breathing soul.
Hertfordshire melodic death metal outfit Earthbound came into existence back in the early goings of 2017, and if the PR is believed to be correct, I’ve seemingly hopped onto the bandwagon at the perfect time.
Swiftly and firmly establishing themselves as an essential act in the British scene, the guys are fresh off releasing their second EP – Desolate – and if the results are to go by, then it’s no wonder why the hype is real.
Of Suffering is right up there as one of the best openers I’ve heard to any metal record from this entire year; the five members just powering through the verses at a relentless pace, carrying this face-melting insanity – asserted by the supreme scream work – which relays well into the top-notch chorus that will be stuck in the head after only a couple of listens, plus the guitar solos, electronics and bell tolls all add an extra spice.
Solitude serves as an extended interlude of sorts, calming things down to allow a breather before returning to the regular heavy duty stuff courtesy of Worlds Apart. Admittedly, it takes a little while for them to properly settle into the groove, but after a minute or two, they’ve regained their footing and have myself locked into prime head-bang mode once again, particularly with the rocking synth-focused rhythm and a good hook to boot.
But it’s with Remnants where they truly recapture the drive set into motion by the beginning number, cranking the elements into the highest gear to produce another blistering beauty featuring some standout bass lines and off-the-charts drumming.
Good lord, what a hell of a ride that was. Earthbound have thoroughly impressed with a mighty EP that, while maybe a little lacking in a few brief spots, slams with a whopping force for the other 95% of the duration.
The quintet pack as much meat as they possibly can into each of the tracks; not too much to the point of over-saturation, but just the ideal amount to provide something that is properly awesome.
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It appears that Glasgow indie folk-pop outfit Flying Penguins have mostly been keeping to themselves over the past year or so, and there’s a good reason for that: the creation of an EP by the name of Bodies And Artefacts, and they were so eager to unleash it to the world that they were kind enough to drop it earlier than planned.
The tender lead vocals are ridiculously warm and welcoming in Glacier, and mixed with the occasionally featured delicate backing harmonies, they are quite pleasing to the ears, while the addition of the flute and the fiddle provide a sublime Celtic dose. The solid Leave Of Absinthe has a enjoyable melody to it – definitively boosted by the great piano work – the writing catches on, and the song as a whole has this Fleetwood Mac essence about it.
The Fatalist is decent too, delivering some more joy courtesy of the string and woodwind section, but Manic Street truly stands out from the pack with a slow, engaging rhythm and a haunting atmospheric overtone which personally has me totally entranced, and they emerge from that in a smooth and steady fashion proceeding into the final number Marie, another purely magnetic piece that wraps up the record supremely well.
While some tracks certainly hit the mark better than others, this is nonetheless a charming little result we’ve got here where I’m easily convinced that each of the members made an equally substantial effort to produce something worthwhile, plus the bridging of several genres will surely satisfy a broad range of newcomers lucky enough to come across this.
Indie rock quartet The Bad Bees have become quite a mainstay in the Philadelphia music scene, already boasting a couple of EPs under their belt, and they’re back to treat keen fans to even more of their music via their third record, The Time It Takes.
Immediately sticking out in the warm opening piece are the distinctly high-pitch harmonies, but it’s the lead single Always Restart where the group’s sound is expanded upon and truly comes to life, with the aforementioned voice being showcased in full, in the process pulling my attention to both the lyrics and the music as a whole. With guitar chords that are nice and easy-going while being carried by a light subtle rhythm, there’s just this pleasing, leisurely tone to the song, with layers being constantly added with each passing minute.
These tropes remain constant with Frog Song, which has more of a sweet bounce to it, particularly emphasised by the cool bass work on display, and it only gets catchier and more infectious as it hops along. The energy is punched up once more for the finishing number It’s All New, where the riffs and drum beats have an extra power to them and hooks are littered across the board, making for a pretty engaging conclusion overall.
As a newcomer, the quartet have done a fine job getting me invested, having provided a really satisfying collage of tracks that, while brief and often simple, sucks in the listener with a wholly embracing essence that clicks and draws them in through ways that cannot be fully explained, but give it a shot and you’ll find out for yourselves.
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A couple of key things quickly drew my attention to Dundee duo Queequeg’s Coffin when I involuntarily came across them online. One was their name, but more importantly, the second was their sound, which is apparently hard to pinpoint.
The band label themselves as “electro fuzz rock”, whilst Make-That-A-Take Records’ description was “goth-soul dance punks”. Both considerably different, but either way, my heightened curiosity led me to their recently released Daddy EP, which proved to be something awfully good.
The title number is the perfect example of how to start off a record in bloody superb fashion, being an addictive track that quickly establishes an energy and entertains with a damn fine distorted rhythm, tenacious vocals and a catchy as hell chorus.
While not quite reaching the same hefty standard here, there’s still plenty to love about the remaining songs. For example, These Clouds goes at a steadier pace, tagging along with a cool beat before unleashing into more aggressive tones elevated by the raw, intense basslines.
They charge full steam ahead with Poltergeist, belting up the tempo to a wild degree whilst showering down with the hookiest of lyrics, soon returning to a leisurely pace for the amusingly titled G’beh, once again drawing you in with the sincerely delivered writing and a great melody.
A cracking debut effort from a pair who efficiently display their musicianship through a set of vivid, diverse numbers that make a stamp in one way or another, leaving a positive impression in no time flat. Cannot recommend enough.