After a successful and considerably underrated first run between 1998-2005, Californian alt punk-rock veterans Tsunami Bomb returned to the scene in late 2015, and they have finally culminated their comeback with their much-anticipated brand new album – The Spine That Binds.
Tidal is an ideal starter for ten, getting the energy levels up high right off the bat, especially with the illuminating synths that give it that sweet poppy feel. Naysayers assertively puts the foot further down on the pedal, racking the pace up to an insane degree and lighting up with soaring drum work and memorably hooking yells
The Rathors is a little more straightforward and doesn’t jump out as much, but the harmonies are in good form and the keyboards have an interestingly distinct organ-esque quality to them. Sinkhole is perhaps the lightest of the record, with a direction more in line with pop-punk, and the assemblage of singing makes a mark.
Petaluma is one of the ultimate highlights in terms of writing, and the closing moments are ferociously wild, and Dead Men Can’t Catcall is another focal point, especially given the potency behind the vocals.
Phosphene falls as one of the weaker cuts here, but they recoup with the fantastic Last Call, yet another tune that delivers a quality chorus, is lyrically effective, and quite catchy due to a thumping rhythm.
Lullaby For The End Of The World keeps that dynamic flow running with the forcibly riff-driven, Wake The Dead has a vibrant edge to it, and closing the compilation out is the poignant and empowering title track.
It’s been a long time coming for sure, but Tsunami Bomb have pulled through with a satisfyingly entertaining, riled up rock record that is persistently investing in both the subject matters they tackle and the diverse, altering array of styles that their songs traverse. Sure, there’s a couple of spots where they’re not at full gear, but these are few and far between, and there’s nothing that can be classed as even nearly close to bad here.
Overall, the message is loud and clear – Tsunami Bomb are back in business and aren’t going anywhere for the foreseeable future, and I fail to see any downside to that fact.
MICK HARGAN – I’m No Good
There is absolutely no question that Glasgow musician Mick Hargan is fiercely committed to doing what he loves most. Whether it’s performing on stage, touring the globe or promoting Scotland’s young, up and coming acts, he will give it 200%.
This also applies to recording, and just recently, Mick spent ample time in the studio crafting together his debut full-length album, I’m No Good, and the effort devoted to this project really shines through in wide amounts.
The title track kicks things off, and immediately Mick draws in the listener with his trademark raw voice and honest lyrics, and the passion only grows in size as he progresses
With If I Fall Into You, he proves to have a noticeable knack for creating some nice love songs that stray far from the usual cheesy metaphors you often see in the charts, opting to just keep it simple and straight, and this realism makes for something more heartfelt that can be easily identified with.
Other stand out highlights in the singing field include Take It, the candid Snake And Ladders and the foot-stomping pair of Flow and Ain’t No Good Reason Why, where Mick doesn’t hesitate and thrusts in the whole shebang.
There are also efficient acoustic sequences scattered throughout, with such examples demonstrating this being Mexico, Beautiful You Guitar and the damn catchy, energetic and spirited Magic Sponge; in fact, this might just be the best of the pack.
Pina Colada is a particular memorable selection with a magnetic melody and a pretty memorable chorus to chime along to, Blindfolded is blunt in tone and nothing is held back, the truthful thoughts being spilled out without a care, and lastly Ultraviolet serves as a pleasant, low-key conclusion to settle things down and let the listener take their leave on a high note.
This is a record that starts nicely enough, then it slips into a groove of sorts where it only gets better and better and Mick is busting out hit after hit, one after the other with little room allowed for errors, and any that exist are difficult to pinpoint.
Overall, I’m No Good ranks as one of the strongest, most legitimate solo albums to hit the Scottish scene across 2019, spawning from the heart and mind of a very dedicated individual.
***AVAILABLE ON SATURDAY 30TH NOVEMBER***
IN ASSOCIATION WITH SMALL KAFF RECORDS
Durham musician Harri Endersby may have only fallen into my radar within the last week or so, but she has been quick to leave an impression with her wonderful content, and I couldn’t have picked a better time to come across her, as she just put out her second album – Mazes.
Something special is sparked from the get-go as she commences with Mountainside, which serves as a great introduction to the charming sound that her music encompasses, that being an excellently blended mix of divine folk and familiar pop.
Now that the audience has settled in, Harri captivates with most recent single Breathe, an uplifting song about striving and escaping from the darkness into a wonderous place that helps put everything into perspective and leave you feeling better at the other side.
Golden Hour is quieter and a lot looser in tone, allowing you to take in the silky smooth essence it has to offer. It seems almost offensive to have not talked about Harri’s vocals by this point, but as exhibited in the titular number, her splendid voice is tender, extensive pitch-wise and able to translate waves of emotions from written word to harmony.
Glow delights with a good beat and a gleaming chorus, while Small Birds pleases with these gracious overdubs and absolutely grand strings. Isla comes to a lavish life with credit to the seriously sweet woodwinds, and following on from the lyrically sound Flight, she concludes with the dazzling, melodic Close To Home.
In a way that I can’t fully describe, Mazes has this therapeutic vein about it. There’s nothing cynical or scornful present here, instead Harri Endersby surrounds herself, and in turn the listener, within a veil of positivity that is formed from her passionate connection to the natural world that makes up the planet that we often take for granted, and as you would guess, it makes for a mature and more pleasurable experience that people could only benefit from revelling in.
IN ASSOCIATION WITH SAINT IN THE CITY
“Bubblegum doom”. Seems ridiculous, doesn’t it? But miraculously, it’s a concept that has been well executed by Portland pairing Fox Medicine in the past, and it can be displayed once again in their brand new album – Procedures Mystiques – which is graced by the most cute and fluffy of covers.
Comfort Pony sets the scene, with Neezy’s perky voice contrasting with her grungy riffs, and the song goes upfront and in your face with this imposing thumping rhythm. The madness only increases with the dead catchy Ice Cream Man, characterised by these totally surreal lyrics that you are quick to accept because this is the kind of alternate dimension the band reside in, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Swift verses combat with a slow, heaving chorus in Strawberry Tree, and matters only get further off the rails with the manic Cotton Candy Planets, where Vanny rocks hard with his superb drum skills. Orion’s Pointy Belt is similarly hectic, blasting through various speeds and styles as it proceeds.
Continuing the running theme of implementing plenty of diversity in their music, Red Velvet Dreams lowers the pace and marches on with a commanding force, and the writing is the distinguishable major factor of Chester Milktoast.
With Sympathy For The Prey, they go in this intriguingly weird direction (Fox Medicine, weird? I know, right?) where they form this reverberating atmosphere of sorts that is sustained by Neezy’s echoic harmonies, and there’s also great hooks present here too, and to finish, Space Kitty chucks all subtlety out the window in favour of a deranged, highly energetic track dedicated to the titular character.
Two completely conflicting kinds of sounds, a far cry from each other, yet they are somehow meshed together effectively in a way I can’t explain. They just make it work, and that takes mad talent. If you’re in the mood for content that is original and out of this world, then Fox Medicine are a must. Buy a ticket, take a ride.
IN ASSOCIATION WITH EARSHOT MEDIA
Okay, I know that the Norwegian metal scene is good, but for two guys aged 17 and 15 to be signed by a label to release their second (not first, SECOND) full-length album, that’s nuts. But that’s exactly the case with Ammerud partnership Golden Core, who are fresh off unleashing their sophomore record – Fimbultyr.
The lads establish a dominant force with the first song, courtesy of dank guitar tones, resonant snare shots and desolate vocals, and the aggression is only being cranked up with the shorter, petulant Runir Skal Rista.
Runatal is a 11-minute monster that manages to retain interest through consistent style and tempo changes that keep it fresh and engaging, never weakening their sound as they go, and it helps that there are great hooks dispersed throughout.
After that low-tempo marathon, they deliver something brash and berserk with Hrafnaspa, where the drumming hits harder than before and the riffs are more involved, not to mention the singing has an effectively gruesome punch to it. A swift blast of intensity from the somewhat needless Villist Vaettir, leads into Blod, which keeps that raw energy going strong.
The opening few minutes of Buslubaen are built up by these potent strikes, eventually unravelling into another bold, lengthy number which again goes through a series of altering movements and doing so well, and the album ends with the foreboding, almost unsettling instrumental piece Lite Vet Mennesket.
Johannes and Jakobsen have seriously impressed me here, forging a record that is diverse, sturdily performed, and able to make an impact with its callous force. These two have a bright future for sure, as demonstrated by their ability and laudable know-how to create music to a high standard.
Coming my way via Canada recently was the Vancouver trio of Hunting, who had humble beginnings based around alternative folk, but as the years have passed, they’ve developed into something different and even greater, as demonstrated in their latest album – Whatever You Need.
What they have to offer comes to light with Scenes From TV Screens, as they showcase this amazing fluorescent sound that is warm and rich, first cool and calm before launching into an exciting climax.
The personal, positivity-filled writing of Gold Day lifts the spirits, while She Was is a delightfully catchy and melodic number. Black Shirt is an easy track to fall in love with, given the thick, cool guitar chords, dense cymbal beat and superb chorus; this should definitely be considered as a future single.
Better With Time quells the pace to provide something more acoustic-focused and tender, Devils & Angels is a brilliantly written piece, and Whatever You Need itself is so bright and luminous all around, shining with these grand vocals, and the addition of rugged riffs give it that edgy girth under the surface
Falling has these lyrics that pop out and almost have you joining in, they grab you that easily, Spider Tree bounces along with yet another intoxicating rhythm, and they finish effectively with the smooth and captivating Not Been Sleeping.
Well, colour me impressed. Hunting have produced an outstanding record that is choc-a-bloc with these seasoned, emotionally versed synth-rock songs, and better yet, they have no fear in turning the tables and switching up their sound in various directions as they progress.
The duo of Noah Villeneuve and Billy Golding have been involved within the Bristol music scene for a long time under various projects, with their current undertaking being Yard Arms.
They made a good first impression with their debut Maiden EP last year, and now they have returned for their second effort – A Glossary Of Broken Humans & Beating Hearts.
Idea Of Me & You is a tender and melodic track, which really does well in conveying that feeling of emptiness, particularly through Noah’s fluid harmonies. The sound is very nice, where there is almost this shallow lightness present amidst the darkness. Keep On Laughing has a lot of life to it, united with the more positive theme here, and features stirring guitars and a rousing rhythm.
Comfortable captures that melancholy essence once again, and Billy shines with deft drum fills throughout the song, and finally is Heavy Silences, a very polished tune that comes through with both this sublime ambience and a lot of riled passion, and as an added bonus, there are neat snippets of brass in the background.
On the whole, Yard Arms have done well in developing their aptitudes in order to produce another great, plain and honest record that is as genuine as it gets, and capable of attracting an audience that respects a quality like that.
IN ASSOCIATION WITH MEMPHIA MUSIC
A few weeks ago, my attention was pulled in the direction of London multi-instrumentalist James Pain, aka tameBERSERK, and I liked him a lot, and not long afterwards, he came out with his debut album – Super Thinking – and naturally, I jumped at the chance.
Spring Grove sets an intriguing mood with nice repeated piano keys before coming in with these bright bell-like notes. A mystical intro of sorts to Centerfold is expanded upon with heavy shots and engagingly surreal electronics that create such a cool melody which totally entraps you
The instrumentations of Best In Show are even weirder in nature, and in combination with the neat varied-pitch harmonies, we get an insanely catchy track with the most infectious of beats pushing it along, and it transitions flawlessly into Favourite Years, the enchanting song that made me a fan in the first place
Until lays heavy into the bass tones, and Velo simmers down on the oddity to lend a lighter tune that is considerably heartfelt in both the writing and the vocals; these two aspects remaining key strengths going into Traditional.
Following on from an interlude, Eastern Western restores this sense of energy that especially comes through the tubular guitar chords which protrude here. Ari Atoll is a fascinatingly rich twisting and turning piece with a really great chorus, and James finishes this off in the most spectacularly jubilant way possible with the brilliant Single Point Of Failure.
No beating around the bush here, I just love this. James Pain has burst onto the scene in a supreme fashion, churning out one of the most impressive debuts to make a mark in 2019, a record that emanates with this outlandish quality while being able to implement various customs and present a solid amount of feeling at the core of it all.
In the name of everything that is holy, please don’t pass this up if you have the chance, James is a talented fellow that sure knows how to stick out from the crowd with his riveting music.
IN ASSOCIATION WITH A BADGE OF FRIENDSHIP
YOUTH ILLUSION – Terms Of Submission
Given the quality of this nation’s scene, it’s natural to be submitted umpteen great rock records on a weekly basis, and here’s another – Terms Of Submission, the debut release of globe-spanning London quartet Youth Illusion.
Straight off the bat, the guys succeeding in making a sweet first impression with the blistering lead single Better Off, highlighted by a banging chorus where the writing shines and Zach’s singing comes alive with a clear fire. They don’t let the pace slip moving into Cover Up And Die, where Rory’s basslines are more prominent, giving the rhythm a welcome extra level of force.
The double dynamic riffs from Matt and Zach, and Tim’s stiff drum strikes are the key ingredients that make Enemy as good as it is, in addition to some effectively hostile vocals in the second part, and they bring the record to a satisfying finish with the intense, hook-dotted Rebellion.
While not breaking ground or necessarily bringing original content in any capacity, Terms Of Submission is a damn cool EP that riles up the listener with this consistently fierce energy that is addictive and gives you the urge to go nuts.
***AVAILABLE ON FRIDAY 15TH NOVEMBER***
IN ASSOCIATION WITH SAN PR
Craig Ferrie has caught my attention in the past with several great albums under the guise of December 91, and now he’s back to do the same, although this time under the new façade of Patrick Whaler, accompanied by the record Garden State.
Wake Me Up is a really glossy starting point that shrouds the ears in a thick, haunting atmosphere. That carries over into Somewhere Down The Line, before settling down into a nice track defined by intriguing lyrics and exquisite clarinets courtesy of Loren and Peter.
I Worry captures that sense of being apprehensive about yourself and your life in self-reflection, and Craig partners up well vocally with Marielle for Spanish Steps. From there, an involved instrumental soon proceeds into the engagingly solemn Lazy Like On A Sunday, the mood infused by the chilling piano keys.
Rut hits the emotions hard with blunt nihilistic writing, easily the most impactful in that category here, although Garden State is considerably lighter and more melodic in tone.
Difficult To Be Around begins with this grinding loop, before turning into something with this chipper bounce and a super catchy chorus, and again Craig impresses with his lyrical aptitude; the same can be said for Trouble In Paradise. Been Running has a lot of energy to it, before All Around The World flips the switch and provides a powerful conclusion.
This dude doesn’t get enough credit and quite frankly, this needs to change. His consistently well-written, down-to-earth music has yet to fail in leaving a notable impression, and Garden State is assuredly his finest work to date, indeed worthy of everybody’s attention.
Dundee outfit Bravado is a ragtag group of folk from different sorts of backgrounds but united by the cause of music. For the last 5 years, they have been up and down the Scottish circuit, and if you need a taste of what has garnered them plenty of attention, then look no further than their most recent album – Cascadia.
The two-parter Dark Side is a rampant introduction that revels the listener in glistening synths and great guitar solos, and Guilty sways with a simple, cool hook. The pianos are a stand-out element of the passively-paced Where Have You Been, before they step it back up for the infectiously rocking Past The Point, and Look Into Me only elevates the energy with solid drumming and unbridled riffs.
Memories Of You is a vivid ballad, while the short Circles sticks with its catchy chorus. Return To Rock features these amazing choral harmonic sounds as well as jutting basslines and pretty enjoyable writing.
Wasteland is the undisputed highlight, as the vocals are displayed at their very best and get the emotions across quite well. The pack return to a familiar format with the heavy-going Ballad Of Roxy And Tim, eventually settling into somewhere middle of the road for the decent Better Than Lonely to bring things to an end.
Although suffering from lacking in any real complexity and the production standards leaning on the distractingly raw side, Cascadia is nonetheless a fun record that delivers in many respects and offers a varied selection of tunes that are worth revisiting again and again.
JOHN TILLER – Battle Ready
Hailing from Manchester, folk rock artist John Tiller is looking to get his foot in the door and make his presence known via his forthcoming debut EP – Battle Ready.
The melodic title track is a nice way to start, as John puts on display his great vocal and guitar skills; similarly so and improved upon with In The Dead Of Night, the lyrics beginning truly break out and hit the mark, as well as being treated to a really good chorus and a gracious sound that becomes ever more vivid as it develops.
The Tinman is perhaps the highlight in terms of writing, with the listener being induced by John’s engaging poetic words, and finally is Broken Now, which appeals with an easy-going melody and light toe-tapping beat.
While pretty straight-forward and not doing much to be distinct, Battle Ready is nonetheless a solid effort that shows that John Tiller has the tools handy to make something of himself. It’s just a case of stepping out of the circle and being able to create a unique identity that will separate him from the crowd.
***AVAILABLE ON MONDAY 25TH NOVEMBER***
IN ASSOCIATION WITH QUITE GREAT PR