Categories
Indie/Indie Rock Reviews

Review: Billie Marten – Flora Fauna

Billie Marten has returned with her third album, Flora Fauna. Back in January when its release date was announced, I immediately called dibs on writing about this record. After stumbling upon Billie’s music through the wonders of Spotify around this time last year, I have been fully captivated by her ever since. A sound so euphoric and otherworldly, her music is the embodiment of stepping into a stray patch of light where the sun managed to peek through. 

With a two-year gap between Flora Fauna and its predecessor, Feeding Seahorses by Hand, I fully believe that it was well worth the wait. Each song is masterfully crafted with an almost entrancing sort of magic that envelops you in a warm embrace. With a voice comparable to silk, effortlessly gliding through the soothing instrumentals of each track, a moment of bliss is promised the second you press play. 

“Garden of Eden” was the first track unveiled to the public, and it is—without a doubt—one of my favorites. Everything about it is utterly stunning, but do not even get me started on that chorus. It’s one that makes you feel truly alive and elated to be so. Evoking feelings of freedom and contentment, this track has been on repeat. I mean, can you blame me? Absolute goosebumps.

In an Instagram post, Billie writes:

“It’s about the competition to grow and constantly be better, about how we all desperately need to be fed and watered and given space to thrive, and yet we’re so subscribed to this idea of pushing and evolving that we’re not actually doing the living part.”

“Creature of Mine” and “Human Replacement” were the other two tracks revealed prior to the release of Flora Fauna. Both of these songs are divinely rich and mellifluous, and although they bear different musical qualities and approaches, they complement one another magnificently. Out of the two, I would choose “Human Replacement” as my personal favorite; the lyrics, the band, the melodies… everything.

The meaning behind this track is significant as well. Shedding light on a devastating reality, Billie emphasizes just how unsafe every little task can be for women. Her impactful words have a thunderous music video to match, and I strongly encourage you to give it a watch.

You’re just not safe in the evening

Walking around

You could be taken

You’re just not safe in the evening

No room for doubt

Human replacement

“Ruin” is another show-stopper. I’m obsessed with how the instruments interact with each other in this song, going from somewhat of a playful riff in the verses to a brilliant explosion in the chorus. It’s an extremely clever arrangement that undoubtedly serves its purpose in telling the story lyric by lyric. On that same note, these lyrics are incredibly compelling as Billie expresses her personal struggles with self-love. 

“If I spoke about another person the way I do about myself, it would be horrific, it would be bullying,” the young singer confessed in an interview with Independent. “I was really not good on tour. I was so tired and cold all the time and couldn’t project my voice.”

The album in its entirety is mystifying. Each individual second in every song dances into one another so intricately, it’s impossible to only listen to one. With additions like “Liquid Love” and “Walnut,” why would you, anyway? This is a record you genuinely want to take the time to appreciate in full.

Like what you hear and live in the UK? You can catch Billie Marten on tour later this year, so grab tickets while you still can!

Categories
Pop/Indie Pop Reviews

Review: Olivia Rodrigo – SOUR

Like a lot of people, I first heard of Olivia Rodrigo through her record-breaking song ‘drivers license’ that spent eight weeks at number one. What I did not know was that she had originally become famous through acting on High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. Because of her multipotentiality, however, she has excelled in both. Having released her debut album SOUR on the 21st of May 2021, there is a lot to marvel at.

Aptly named, SOUR reflects the post-break-up resentment and bitterness and the melodramas of teenagehood. The first track of the album is ‘brutal’, a heavy riffed self-deprecating song that feels reminiscent of punk rock. It reminds me of songs from Kate Nash’s album Girl Talk, which also acts as a representation of a modern angry sceptical female perspective. This musical depiction of Olivia’s emotions is something that is consistent throughout the album. As a consequence, the listener is drawn into her story over and over. In particular, I was captivated by the depiction of the repercussions of her relationship ending. This can be seen in the songs ‘traitor’, ‘1 step forward, 3 steps back’ and ‘good 4 u’.

Had this album come out during my first break-up, I would have sobbed along to these songs. There is something so very pure and relatable about ‘traitor’. Yet, for me, it is missing the anger that ‘good 4 u’ skillfully conveys. In addition to this, it seems a little naïve, which can be seen as endearing and feels like a type of hindsight. If I had it my way, I would have ordered the songs differently as it is somewhat jarring to have all these different emotions crashing into each other track by track. However, at the same time, it makes sense for this to be the resounding theme of the album, a confusing reevaluation of identity. Therefore, if a stylistic choice, it is artful and introspective.

Continuing on from this, ‘1 step forward, 3 steps back’ hurts in a young, vulnerable way. With the twittering of birds in the background and a laughing lilt to her singing, Olivia has managed to write a song that paints a picture with the listener as its protagonist. You are welcomed into her bedroom to watch her phone her ex-partner and can see her hanging out of her window on a late summer afternoon. The way the piano is played seems almost playful and enticing. Contrastingly, ‘good 4 u’ has a deep bass groove that makes you want to dance around irrationally. The sharpness in her tone is exciting and makes the lyrics all the more raw and honest. Currently, this is my favourite song on the album and really epitomises the amount of effort and emotion poured into SOUR

At the age of 18, Olivia Rodrigo has all the potential to keep on bringing out bops and SOUR is proof of that.

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Uncategorized

Live Music Back Again?

Here in the UK, life is slowly beginning to feel like normal after hospitality venues were allowed to open again this week. Following cautiously behind, the rest of the world is beginning to reopen concert venues and book live bands. But what will life look like once live music returns? And is it too soon to start buying tour tickets?

Superstars from the north, the sensational Blossoms were the headline act at the UK’s first official mass gathering in well over a year. The pilot gig, held in Liverpool’s Sefton Park, was given the go-ahead last month in order to test the waters before any official comment was given on whether we may see large events return soon.

You may think that after more than a year of restrictions, facemasks, and social distancing, especially in one of England’s worst-hit areas, people may feel a little cautious before jumping back into a crowd. If there’s anyone on Earth you can trust to bring live music back in true fashion, however, it’s the people of Liverpool.

A top lineup of local artists played to a sea of five thousand people as fans reportedly jumped on each other’s shoulders, lighting flares and spilling beer. It looks safe to say the gig was a hit.

Headliners Blossoms were supported by new kids on the block The Lathums as well as local singer-songwriter Zuzu.

The excitement for British music fans didn’t end there, however. As the annual BRIT Awards rolled around, we saw yet another dazzling lineup of awesome talent. Arlo Parks performed her song Hope, a song that almost brought a tear to the eye as we were reminded of how much we’ve missed her. After performing, she picked up the award for Best Breakthrough Artist—an award most definitely deserved.

COVID restrictions didn’t stop brilliant artists from around the world from picking up awards as they video-linked to the stadium for their acceptance speeches. Singers Dua Lipa, The Weekend and Elton John also gave very special performances to the live audience of fully-vaccinated NHS workers. Upon collecting her award, Dua Lipa was sure to drive home a call for a ‘fair pay rise’ for all frontline workers.

With all that excitement, plus the many rumours surrounding new albums in the air at the moment, the future for music fans everywhere is looking brighter than ever.

It wasn’t hard to miss the smashing new singles dropped by Wolf Alice over the past couple of months on the buildup to their third official album. Singles such as Smile and No Hard Feelings have pointed to this record being the best we’ve seen from the band yet. Fans in the UK and Ireland will be able to catch the band live in concert later this year; make sure you grab your tickets fast.

The Vaccines are a band that you can always count on to re-invent themselves in phenomenal fashion with every album they write. Their new single Headphones Baby gives us our very first glimpse into what’s in store. Tour dates are still yet to be announced.

On the subject of new music, we couldn’t end without an honorary mention of the new double-side single from our ride or die, the ever-lovable Mattiel. A fabulous new single with a particular Kirsty Maccoll groove, Those Words is out now on 7” vinyl.

Categories
Punk/Rock Uncategorized

Trashmouth Records Remix Release: Heaven On Earth

New Malden-based, cult favorite, indie label Trashmouth Records have released the second track from their tenth anniversary compilation album. It’s a remix of “Heaven on Earth,” a deliciously chaotic, sonically schizophrenic rocker from Fat White Family’s incendiary debut, Champagne Holocaust.

A statement from Trashmouth Records explains the concept behind the remix album and offers a preview into its contents: “The remixes see the brothers Liam & Luke May, who not only run the label, but have recorded, produced and mixed all of their releases at Trashmouth Studios in New Malden, exploiting their long-standing Acid-House roots (see Decius/Medicine 8).”

“The LP will of course be pressed on the finest affordable, luxurious fake-gold vinyl & encompass a visual history of the label within its artwork, featuring photographs of the now legendary Trashmouth nights at the Brixton Windmill, where bands bitched & bonded, where blood, booze & tears were spilled in almost equal measure & where the seeds of a small corner of modern musical history were inadvertently sewn.”

Fat White Family ringleader Lias Saoudi eloquently explains the incredible importance that Trashmouth Records holds for him: “Where does mediocrity go to die? Simple: New Malden…Trashmouth Records are the only positive energy left in South London, all else is just a congregation of fashionable dust. The only way I can get to sleep at night nowadays is by telling myself over and over again that it was real, that I really did cut a few records with those grand masters, those brothers sonic oracular – Liam and Luke May. That no matter how bad it all gets, they can never take that away from me. That is my truth. THE truth. OUR TRUTH.”

Over the next few months, we can look forward to remix releases from other Trashmouth Records signings such as Madonnatron and Meatraffle, before the release of the album in full.

Trashmouth Records 10th Anniversary Commemorative Photo Collage by Lou Smith.
@lousmithphoto

The track listing is as follows:

  1. Fat White Family – Heaven On Earth (Trashmouth Remix)
  2. Peter Harris & Lee Scratch Perry – Nothing & Then Nothing (Trashmouth Remix)
  3. Warmduscher – Yolk Buns USA (Trashmouth Remix)
  4. Meatraffle – The Horseshoe (Trashmouth Remix)
  5. Madonnatron – Venus & Rahu (Trashmouth Remix)
  6. Taman Shud – The Hex Inverted (Trashmouth Remix)
  7. Weston Decker – Lazy (Trashmouth Remix)
  8. Bat-Bike – Drag & Drop (Trashmouth Remix)
  9. Pit Ponies – Arrogant & Sad (Trashmouth Remix)
  10. Chupa Cabra – Violent Urges (Trashmouth Remix)

Individual remix singles, digital downloads and of course, the limited edition gold vinyls, will all be available on Bandcamp.

Join the label in celebrating their landmark accomplishment of surviving a decade navigating the shark-infested waters of the music biz and emerging as South London’s shining knights of sonic expression by purchasing a copy for your record collection.

Imagine dropping the needle down and having Madonnatron, Meatraffle, the Fat White Family and Warmduscher all in your flat at the same time (only without the possible threats of property damage, hearing loss, and the worst hangover you’ve had since that girl back during freshers week convinced you to drink something called Satan Comes for Pope John XII.) Heaven, right? What could be better?

May the place “where mediocrity goes to die,” celebrate many more anniversaries, and may their signings continue to bless us with their sonic dreams and nightmares alike.

Categories
Pop/Indie Pop Reviews

notes from the trenches: from Black Flag to Black Books

Black Flag vocalist and renaissance man Henry Rollins practices something he calls Protein/Carbohydrate listening. It’s a system in which he organizes his sonic consumption into two categories. New music—stuff he’s never heard before—is classified as protein, while old favorites are classified as carbs. He tracks his daily intake of ‘protein’ and ‘carbs’ in the obsessive manner of any fitness fanatic or health freak.

So far this month, my carb consumption has been way up, and my protein consumption has been way down, nonexistent but for the excellent, Austin, Texas-based band BLACK BOOKS, whose recent single Goodbye Cool (released in early 2020) is eerily prescient in the same sort of way that Contagion is eerily prescient. Watch it and see for yourself…

My roommate’s been playing the most recent HINDS album, The Prettiest Curse, on repeat 24/7, and I don’t mind a bit. The neighbors, however, are absolutely losing it–but then they always behave as though loud music is something physically threatening, like a crazed triceratops bulldozing through the front door. (An absolutely absurd stance on their part, and I find it’s best to help them work through it by blasting Frank Zappa.)

You know what Eve Babitz (cult writer and demi-monde darling of 1970s L.A.) said about really good songs? She said they were like booster shots, like concentrated doses of vitamins. The Prettiest Curse (despite its title) is like having an IV of healthful, revitalizing stuff. Through my roommate’s love of Hinds I’ve discovered the Spanish indie pop singer ESCORPIA, whose recent single Ten Cuidado has a promo video not unlike a three minute snippet of an Eric Rohmer movie. 

In other news of tremendous importance, INSECURE MEN have confirmed via a reply to an Instagram comment that their third album is forthcoming, a joyous prospect indeed.  There’s been a gaping hole in my soul ever since it became obvious that Ben Romans-Hopcraft’s supremely excellent outfit Childhood were not going to be continuing on in the immediate future, and hearing his work in Insecure Men consoles me greatly.

Totally Wired’s favorite “synth sensation,” JESSICA WINTER, has also hinted at new music. (Which reminds me: limited edition clear vinyls of her LP Sad Music, are currently available on her Bandcamp site, and I’d highly advise snapping one up for your record collection.)

DECIUS, a techno/acid-house outfit comprised of members of Paranoid London, Trashmouth Records and the Fat White Family (a combination calculated to make any self-respecting music geek hyperventilate) have released their first EP, entitled Bread and Butter, available wherever you get your music–I can’t keep track of all the ways to get music anymore–but it’s out there, so go get it.

Yours in solidarity and Bandcamp Fridays,

Annie

xxx

header art credit: @judehavoc

Categories
Uncategorized

Opportunities for Writers and Artists – Join Our Team

Are you a writer or illustrative artist who enjoys nerding out about music?

TotallyWired Magazine is looking to recruit to our team a handful of new creatives from around the world. Whether it’s a chance to gain some hands-on experience in Music Journalism or to meet and connect with other fantastic members of our team, this is the perfect place to let your talents grow.

Our artists help develop the magazine’s visual style and are working on some exciting upcoming projects.

Writers roles are super easy to work around whatever schedule life throws at you. Got a band that you want to shout about? The stage is yours.

APPLY NOW

Categories
Creators Monthly

Creators Monthly: April

Once again we’re back with your monthly fill of the hottest new artists who you better keep an eye on. Boy oh boy are you in for a treat. Without further ado, let’s dive into this month’s Creators Monthly.

Lewca

3 kids & a Mortgage is the new EP (and life story) of the brilliantly infectious artist known simply as Lewca. The fist-pumping first single ‘Doing My Thing’ from the new EP, aside from being colourful both stylistically and lyrically, is, in the words of Lewca, ‘an anthem in praise of inappropriate drunken debauchery and generally belligerent behaviour’ – and one we can’t stop ourselves replaying.

Ed Cosens

‘On The Run’ is the fifth single from storming new success Ed Cosens, taken from his new album ‘Fortunes Favour’, which made its debut on the 9th of April. A fiercely felt and deeply personal story about Ed finding his voice as an artist. Certainly an artist which fans of Alex Turner, Oasis and Richard Hawley will love.

Hotel Decor

‘All The Rage’ is the brand new single from Canadian artist Hotel Decor, a tune with a great low-fi quality and late-night-drive vibe, mixed in with soundscapes just as stunning as the locations in this video, made by DualSense Films.

The Early Mornings

Three musicians from manchester start recording demos together and decide to form a band. Sound like the familiar origins of some of histories greatest songs? The Early Mornings met and formed in 2018 and their brilliant new track ‘Blank Sky’ is out now for all the world to hear. The music video is a love letter to their city, with flashes of artistic flair mixed in against the grey concrete backdrop of inner-city life. This depiction of breaking away from the mundane is a trait which the band embody throughout their music too. Definitely a band to follow.

Kicksie

Kicksie is a songwriter from Toronto, Ontario who has just released their FORTH yes FORTH album written, recorded and mastered entirely by them. ‘All My Friends’ is an explosive collection of catchy indie-pop and synth-pop tunes. Songs that make you want to stand on your bed shouting the punchy lyrics from the top of your voice. With more music hopefully to follow, the talents to this songwriter are endless.

Paul & The Microcosm

Back in February, we featured the wonderful Paul & The Microcosm, a 5-piece rock band from Germany who keep on pulling it out of the bag with their incredible blend of indie-rock, garage punk and neo-pych. If you’re looking for a band pulled straight out of the 70’s explosion of experimental techno, P&TM are a band you should definitely have on your playlists this month and always.

Space Nat

‘Dreamy and grounded’ – Space Nat’s newest single ‘Bug Bites’ is an incredibly powerful and emotional tune, one which reaches out and touches the deepest parts of your soul. A soft and fragile voice suddenly transforms into an astonishing weapon. It makes you wonder what this talent is truly capable of. We can’t wait to hear more from Space Nat.

Thanks once again to all the musicians who submitted their music this month! Make sure to keep an eye out for more brilliant artists on the way by signing up to our newsletter. We’ll see you next time.

The TWM Team x

Make music? In a band? We want to hear from you! Submit here for a chance to be featured in next month’s Creators Monthly.

Can’t wait for more? Read last month’s issue here.

Photo Credit: The Early Mornings/Kyle Dubay