Category Archives: Singles/EP Reviews

The Phantom Band – Tender Castle

The Phantom Band, after four years away, have announced their second album in under a year, due to be released on the 26th of January. Tender Castle, the first track released from Fear Trending, feels, somewhat expectantly, like a companion to Strange Friend with the band’s folk influences intertwined into a rockier arrangement, with Rick Anthony’s vocals leading the pack, rounded off by a slower, momentous coda.

See the band at The Lexington on Febuary 4th, their last shows here have been nothing short of excellent.

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Supermoon

Supermoon, aka Neil Pennycook of Meursault fame, has been quietly posting lo-fi recordings of new tracks and they are extremely good. These recordings are part of a series entitles A Month Of Black Fridays, presumably due to a new song each Friday that began on Black Friday, as a lament to the last Friday of new year, now fully engulfed by America’s celebration of retailers moving from the red to the black.

The songs are characteristically Pennycook’s, envelopingly miserable yet warm and deeply personal. The recordings are, for now, a hark back to Pissing on Bonfires/Kissing With Tongues, due to their stripped back and intimate bedroom nature. However, these are the building blocks from which the debut album will be formed, an album which we are told will be a marked departure from Meursault.

Supermoon plays The Total Refreshment Centre on Thursday 11th December, which will be an intimate opportunity to see these new pieces in an early live form. Get your tickets here.

Casual Sex – A Perfect Storm / Pissing Neon

Casual Sex deliver a brilliant double A side in the form of A Perfect Storm and Pissing Neon. A Perfect Storm sees the band tame their sound since The Bastard Beat EP. Soft electronic sounding drums sit alongside a click-like beat, synth backing, phased noise and simple guitar lines. The chorus is infectious and the long fade out leaves you wistfully wanting more.

If A Perfect Storm is as mellow as Casual Sex have gone, AA side, Pissing Neon is the opposite and as aggressive and impulsive as National Unity and What’s Your Daughter For. The increase in energy makes up for the slightly less hooky tune, and this comparison between the two sides is what makes this a great double A, each side complimenting the other and showing the band have more than one trick up their sleeve.

Buy it here – http://casualsex.bigcartel.com/product/a-perfect-storm-pissing-neon-7

Tuff Love – Slammer

Tuff Love reveal new single, Slammer, out November 24th, along with video, below. This comes alongside the announcement of forthcoming DROSS EP, out February 9th. Slammer has a more refined sound than the Junk EP, keeping the dream-pop vocals and grungy guitars, but rightfully bringing vocals more towards the forefront, letting the hooks shine through. The video is suitably silly coming from Lost Map.

Go and see them 16th November at Old Blue Last.

Dear Lara – Cape North EP

Cape North follows on from Dear Lara (David Lan)’s first EP, Plans, which was issued on tape as part of cassette store day last month. While Plans’ charm comes from its simply recorded and intimate feel, Cape North adds xylophone, harmonica and a cello to support the the guitar and voice, which, in spite of being recorded in a caravan rather than the loch-side cabin of Plans, sounds far beyond its means. Both Steven Forrest’s recording and Lan’s have improved, allowing the songs, rather than the timbre, to set the tone.

Although the framework is much the same as Plans, the songs here have a slightly poppier tinge to them. The songwriting progresses in parallel with the EP, with each track slightly improving upon the last, Bookclub and One I Know shining in particular. The vocals sit longingly behind the beat as David slides between notes through more interesting chord progressions and melodies. The delivery, combined with the poppier sensibilities and hints of optimism, implies that, while the subject matter may stem from personal tales, nothing cuts to deep to hinder shrugging the matter off through the songs on display, and this is what gives the EP its inviting charm.

Eagleowl – Life We Knew

Where It’s At Is Where You Are, or catchy anagram, Wiaiwya, release their 7th and final picture disc of their picture(disc) guide to releasing records, and it comes in the christmasy guise of Eagleowl, a band who’s wintery sound make this the ideal christmas release for the series.

Gone are Eagleowl’s trademark string arrangements and extremely low tempos, with the band instead opting for a more simple take using only guitars, bass, vocals and some low in the mix synth pads, however, the band’s usual beautiful melodies and harmonies shared between Bartholomew Owl and Clarissa Cheong. Life We Knew sits closest to MF from For The Thoughts You Never Had EP, due to its slightly more optimistic outlook than anything from This Silent Year, offering a nice counterpoint to the recently reissued debut.

There are only 77 of these, and are £7 with postage. Snap them up quick!

Yusuf Azak – Fuel EP

The first of the cassette store day reviews.

This EP stems from Yusuf bashing away on the piano during warm up and wind downs on his tour of the highlands and islands with Gerry Loves Records. The first three tracks here are taken from Yusuf’s release with Gerry Loves earlier in the year, Peace In The Underworld as well as new cut Don’t Wake The Moment. The piano versions offer slightly more intimate renditions of the tracks, showcasing nothing but the bare bones of the songs, with slight reinterpretations in terms of tempo and feeling.

Yusuf’s piano playing is effective, with flourishes decorating the melodies in a similar way to his guitar playing does, albeit in a more mellow tone. Whether intentional or just a natural reaction to playing with a piano as opposed to a guitar each of the songs is taken down a notch. Silver Rose is transformed from a lively pop song to a slow and unsettling circus ballad. Don’t Wake The Moment is a lovely new track with violin accompaniment which is littered with interesting chord changes and a catchy melody.

The breathy and hushed tone of voice employed throughout the record gives it an eerie quality. At times, however, it would have been nice to hear him drop the processed and doubled vocals that are also prominent on his albums and hear them stripped back to their bare minimum, as he has done with the music. There is something inherently pleasing though about hearing artists strip back their material in a way which is different from bashing on an acoustic guitar with someone whacking a Cajon and hear the songs in a different light.