While the whole slacker vibe is a definite part of Black Surf, Oh Weird just sounds laaaaazy. Not in a bad, can’t-be-bothered way; more in a Tuesday-morning-off-work, no-need-to-get-up-quickly way. Which may explain why it’s taken me until the evening to get around to writing this. After the first verse, an arm attempts to extricate itself, but winds up straight back under the duvet. By about halfway through the track has picked up vigour enough to roll over and switch on the bedside lamp. After a brief slump then, we find we’re finally crawling out of bed; suddenly our feet hit the floor, the song over and our day begun. Oh Weird is currently available for free (well y’know, in exchange for your email address, natch) from the band’s website, which also features a countdown clock to… well, you’ll just have to follow and see!
One day, I will get round to learning Welsh. In the meantime though, I just have to be grateful that Ysgol Sul have dumbed things down for the sake of monoglots like myself; the songs on their new EP are written in the English language. Due for release on September 30th, Eventide is characterised by a subtle capriciousness, that draws on and accentuates the most whimsical elements of classic indie.
Elsewhere acts as an anchor in the middle of this release, and is the obvious choice for a single, its gentle but propulsive rhythm driving the song decisively beneath hazy guitars and languid vocals. The rest of the EP floats around this point somewhat formlessly, fluctuating gradually so as to avoid jarring its listener from the lulling state that these songs evoke. Perfectly timed as autumn draws in, there’s an erratic element here that’s just a bit too unexpected for a summer daze, and a slight sullenness to the vocal that suits the fall of the year.
Sometimes, very rarely, I find I have no idea how I first came across a certain band. It’s like they just appeared as if they’d always been there, assuming a place in my life with no introduction. Glacier Veins are one such occurrence, becoming familiar to me at some unknown point during the cycle of last year’s EP Clear Your Head. Of course, the question here is how rather than why this situation occurred, as one listen to their self-described ‘dream punk’ reveals my obvious attraction to the band.
Latest video Headspace Campout does nothing but reinforce this, the visual’s lo-fi aesthetic reflecting the song’s gorgeously soothing melody while the vocals add a depth of emotion, lyrics of pining for a loved one who’s far away. The overriding sense here though is one of optimism – there’s a joy in having someone to miss, and in the meantime being connected through dreams of one another. Having recently signed to Common Ground Records, the band will be releasing new EP Dreamspace through that label on October 6th.
Following on from a successful debut last November, HoyFest returns this month with a few favourites playing again and lots of new loves to discover, including headliners Pretty Vicious and the ever-vibrant Estrons. Condensed from last year’s two-day event into one manic Saturday, the festival has also been moved up a few weeks, this time coinciding with freshers’ in Cardiff. As before it will be held in The Gate, a beautiful converted church turned arts centre situated in Roath, one of the city’s main student areas. I don’t half wish I’d had the opportunity of an event like this on my doorstep back when I’d first moved here!
However while it’s unarguably convenient for them, the event isn’t aimed particularly at students. Showcasing some of South Wales’ finest up-and-comers, alongside various visitors from elsewhere in the UK, there’ll be something for everyone to discover no matter your level of familiarity with the local scene. Bands are alternated across across two stages to avoid clashes, the main area being the theatre and a second space in the cafe; the latter was previously sponsored by Fireball Whisky, which I can’t say did my head a lot of good – this year’s alliance with Brothers Cider doesn’t bode too well for my hangover either! Curated by Cardiff-based label Lucky Man Records, the festival takes place on Saturday 30th September, tickets are available online now and more details can be found on the event page or via the festival’s social media.
Opening with a few seconds of static and dissolving into tuneless la’s by its third line, Pawn sets the scene on an EP that’s not for the faint-hearted. Fizzy Blood have had an element of unhinged weirdness since first single January Sun, after that though everything seemed to become bit more restrained. For a while at least – over the past year or so the derangement has been getting gradually less subtle, as if they’d gently slid a knife between our ribs and are now twisting it.
That’s not to suggest that every moment on Summer Of Luv is is frenzied madness; this band know how to use space to enhance their impact, with sometimes the calmest sections coming across as the most eerie, particularly towards the end of Haunted. Then the title track jumps in, jarringly blithe, albeit through heavy distortion. It’s the ‘pop’ song of the release, if such a thing needs to be observed; before the final track sinks once more into darkness. Generally the idea of a band reverting back to a manner they’d moved away from is quite odd, but the way that everything they’ve learnt in the meantime is incorporated maintains a sense of progression with this release. It’ll be interesting to see where they go next, hopefully even weirder (if that’s possible).
Alright, so I’m a week behind, this was actually out last Friday. Blame festivals… Although that’s not a valid excuse really, as my pre-order turned up days earlier. Complete with stickers, badges, and a cherry Maoam – didn’t I feel loved to be sent the best flavour!
With a running time just over ten minutes (or fifteen if you get the special edition CD with its hidden bonus track), there’s no messing about here. Amalgamating high-tempo punk and grooving basslines into a ferocious but disarmingly seductive racket, this EP is everything you’d hope for from Ghost Of The Avalanche. The breakneck speed eases a little after two songs for ironically ‘pop’ midpoint White Noise, and the dark tale of a sleazebag getting his comeuppance in Snake Charmer.
The issues highlighed by the record’s title Obsessive Compulsive Gender Dysphoria have subtly rather than obviously influenced the songs here. As such the atmosphere is one of general alienation and maybe some confusion at the world, making it relatable regardless of whether you’ve been through specifically similar experiences. There’s harshness here, that echoes the world; but with this EP to listen, dance and scream along to, you get the feeling that things might just work out alright.
I know I’m far from the first to say this, but there’s always that fear when you fall hard for a band’s debut album, that they won’t quite ever reach the same dizzying heights again. Obviously only time spent with Pinact‘s sophomore record The Part That No One Knows will prove whether it really lives up to the strength of predecessor Stand Still And Rot, but based on the few listens I’ve had so far, I’d say there’s a damn good chance this could be one of those rare miracles.
The overall sound here doesn’t stray from what they’ve done before, but where so often that would be a weakness, it’s the strength of the songs themselves that make this band so beloved to me. Half-buried beneath the fuzz and and pounding indie-punk, at their heart these tunes are real little pop gems with genuine and easily familiar emotion behind them. The most immediately noticeable earworms are singles Seams and Separate Ways, but already new favourites are developing with every play; right now particularly Against The World but if this is anything like last time, I’ll fall in love with each track one by one.