Creators Monthly Pop/Indie Pop Punk/Rock Uncategorized

An Analysis of The Beach Boys: 1967-74

The Beach Boys during the late 60’s-early 70’s. From left: Carl Wilson, Bruce Johnston, Mike Love, Brian Wilson, Al Jardine, Dennis Wilson

Pet Sounds is one of the greatest albums of all time. There’s no doubt about it.

Released by The Beach Boys in 1966, it peaked at number 10 on the charts, which was actually considered a disappointment seeing as how successful the band had been at the time. While modern critics have come to understand how groundbreaking this album is, at the time, critical reception was also more mixed than previous albums, with some recognizing the album’s intricate genius while others were confused by the dramatic change in sound and tone from the albums of yesteryear. After all, the last Beach Boys album before this point was the empty-headed fun of The Beach Boys Party!

Within a year, however, the tides turned: following Pet Sounds was the single “Good Vibrations,” a compositional masterwork that shot to #1 on the charts and restored The Beach Boys in the public eye, at least for a moment.

“Good Vibrations” was intended to be one of the songs off of an album called SMiLE, a collection of sounds that would go in even more bizarre and interesting directions than its predecessor. However, Brian Wilson’s struggles with mental illness and drug use, as well as anxiety over how the public would view the album, ultimately led to the album being shut down, at least for the time being. Some of the recordings for this album were quickly compiled into Smiley Smile, which confused many and did not perform well on the charts. This sudden halt in momentum was highly detrimental to both Brian’s mental health and the band’s status as stars, and for many, this is where the story of the Beach Boys ends. This could not be farther from the truth.

From 1967 to 1974, The Beach Boys proved themselves to be remarkable composers, lyricists, and musicians, even with the dwindling participation of Brian, though he still contributed songs and ideas from time to time. Starting with Wild Honey and ending with Holland, there were ideas and gems abound on each tracklist.

Wild Honey’s album cover

Wild Honey seems to be The Beach Boys dusting themselves off after Smiley Smile. The title track, standout single “Darlin’” (which shot to a refreshing #19 on the charts), and “How She Boogalooed It” proved that the boys could still have fun while advancing themselves as musicians. Other songs such as “Let the Wind Blow,” “I’d Love Just Once to See You,” and “Aren’t You Glad,” serve as foreshadowing to what was to come from the band in the future, with comprehensive melodies and thoughtful pacing. Carl Wilson also continues to prove himself as a vocal powerhouse on this album, his singing on “Darlin’” being particularly impressive.

Friends album cover

Friends, released in 1968, is one of the most overlooked albums in the band’s discography. The vocal stylings and song structures give off the sense that this album is the perfect pairing of pre-Pet Sounds pop sensibilities and post-Pet Sounds musical knowledge. “Anna Lee, The Healer,” “Passing By,” and the title track have an innocence to them that harkens back to days on the beach while refusing to stop moving forward. Dennis Wilson also begins to come out of his shell on this album, writing the songs “Little Bird” and “Be Still,” which are both beautiful songs and serve as indicators of where Dennis’s writing would go in the future. Overall, the album feels very appropriate for the time and features some of the strongest vocal concoctions from the band, particularly on the chorus of “Anna Lee, The Healer.”

20/20 album cover

20/20 sees the band emerge from the gentleness of Friends with a newfound grit and energy while still preserving their melodic roots. The first two tracks on the album, Mike Love’s perfect nostalgia bait “Do It Again” and a gloriously performed cover of The Ronettes “I Can Hear Music” kick the album off in style and even got some love from the record buying public. The tight, punchy pop of “Bluebirds Over the Mountain” is punctuated by loud, surprisingly distorted guitar licks throughout, while “All I Want To Do” features some of Mike Love’s most passionate lyrics yet, making the song a fun listen. However, the album isn’t all late 60’s coarseness: newly minted member Bruce Johnston has his moment in the spotlight with the piano instrumental “The Nearest Faraway Place,” and Dennis Wilson’s gently swaying “Be With Me” serves as a stunning power ballad. Other standouts include Al Jardine’s jaunty take on “Cotton Fields,” the soothing waltz “Time to Get Alone,” and the surprise SMiLE compositions “Our Prayer” and “Cabinessence,” which, while they don’t entirely fit the feel of the album, are still mind blowing musical experiments.

The photo from the Sunflower album cover

The 1970’s kicked off with Sunflower, one of the band’s greatest albums. The Dennis composition “Slip on Through” kicks things off with gusto, followed by the soulful “This Whole World” and “Add Some Music to Your Day,” the latter of which features incredibly rich vocal harmonies. “It’s About Time” still stands out to this day as one of the band’s most grandiose, powerful tunes; it would become a killer live track in years to come. Ballads such as Bruce Johnston’s “Tears in the Morning” and Dennis Wilson’s classic love song “Forever” showcase a new dimension of the band’s softer side. The sonic experimentation on this record must be noted as well, with the cavernous opening of “Dierdre,” the proto-dream pop of “All I Wanna Do,” and the intricate, multifaceted “Cool, Cool Water,” the latter originating during the SMiLe sessions, showcasing a band not just evolving with the times, but leading the pack. 

Surf’s Up album cover

1971’s Surf’s Up features an even more eclectic mix of material. The album kicks off with the catchy yet urgent “Don’t Go Near The Water,” an environmental message that still holds up today, sadly. Following this song is “Long Promised Road,” which serves as a reminder of how amazing Carl’s voice is. Other standouts on the album include the sunkissed Bruce Johnston classic “Disney Girls (1957),” the thoughtful and atmospheric “Feel Flows,” and the incredibly bleak, Brian Wilson-penned “‘Til I Die.” Capping off the album is one of the more famous SMiLE cuts, the title track. Featuring multiple segments that coalesce under a dusky, murky instrumental and obscure lyrics, the song is yet another example of Brian Wilson’s compositional abilities.

In the following year, the band released two albums, both featuring new members Blondie Chaplin and Ricky Fataar, formerly of the band The Flame. These albums, Carl and the Passions – So Tough and Holland, showcase a band that is confidently wading into the future. At this point, The Beach Boys had begun to see renewed critical acclaim and a steadily increasing presence at their live shows, though record sales were still lacking. They were embracing a new image, and with that, they kicked down the door in 1972 with some of their strongest work yet.

Carl and the Passions back cover, featuring new members Ricky Fataar (fourth from left) and Blondie Chaplin (second from right)

Carl and the Passions opens with “You Need a Mess of Help to Stand Alone,” a funky number that shows off a groovier side of The Beach Boys. It features intricate vocal harmonies, tight guitar solos, and stabbing piano hits that roll it along at a quick pace with Ricky’s drumming. Blondie gets his first shot at the spotlight with the strutting “Here She Comes,” on which he proves himself to be a strong vocalist. “Marcella,” is a quintessential 70’s Beach Boys track, with its sultry piano, lush guitars, rich production, and stacked vocals that flow every which way during the chorus of the song. “Make it Good,” is another spacious, beautiful Dennis Wilson ballad, with his vulnerable vocal backed by a Hollywood-esque wall of orchestration and vocal harmonies that could bring a tear to even the most hardened listener’s eye. “All This is That” feels like a late 60’s cut, with its meditative themes, blissful harmonies, and mellow vibes. Ending the album is “Cuddle Up,” another Dennis ballad that closes the curtain with a deeply emotional bow.

Holland album cover

Later that year came Holland, truly a spectacular album. These nine songs feel like the culmination of years of growing and maturing as artists. “Sail On, Sailor” is a powerful and entertaining opener fronted by Blondie, and its swelling 6/8 time instrumentation gives it an appropriate seafaring feel. The surprisingly sludgy and austere “Steamboat” follows, with Carl’s plaintive vocal acting as a beacon within the murky low tones of the instrumentation. The next three songs, “Big Sur,” “The Beaks of Eagles,” and “California” all comprise a suite known as The California Saga. The fact that The Beach Boys even attempted a song suite is commendable, but the songs included are even more so. “Big Sur” is a charming waltz powered by harmonica and pedal steel guitar. Dreamy lyrics describe elements of California that are often overlooked, such as its forests. “The Beaks of Eagles” is a stunningly creative piece, featuring spoken word sections accompanied by flute flourishes, piano, and ghostly harmonies. In contrast, there are also sections of the song that roll merrily along, as if to break the tension. Finally, “California” is a euphoric, grown up version of the 60’s sound, with Mike Love harkening back to multiple iconic Californian sites such as the Big Sur Congregation and the farmhouse in the sycamores. It’s a lot of fun and is probably the most authentically “Beach Boys” the band had been in years.

The second side of the album starts off with “The Trader,” a stalwart piece of music with its head held high before things quiet down after a sudden key change from D major to C major halfway through. “Leaving This Town” stands as Blondie and Ricky’s highlight during their time with the band, with haunting piano chords, heart wrenching lyrics, and a synthesizer solo of all things burning the song into the mind of the listener. “Only With You” stands out as one of Dennis’s most beautiful compositions. Velvety piano mixes with faint, heavenly strings in a way that has hardly ever happened, with the watery production actually helping the song’s graceful nature. Finally, “Funky Pretty” ends the album with some quality lyrics from Mike Love and an applause-worthy instrumental from the band. Also of note is the companion EP to this album, Brian Wilson’s fairytale Mt. Vernon and Fairway, the intriguing instrumental and descriptive narration making it a strange listen that proves that Brian still had something to say.

Carl Wilson during the Holland sessions

After 1974, with the release of the hugely successful best hits compilation Endless Summer, the dream was over, and the music that followed largely revolved around trying to repeat past successes, chase pop trends, and cover oldies. However, the music produced in 1967-74 proves not only that The Beach Boys were far from adrift after Pet Sounds, but that each member could shine in his own right. Even the worst cuts from this era demonstrate that the band was fighting into the future, discovering new and interesting ways to express themselves. Although not nearly enough people know about these classic albums, for those who have listened to them, they will always stand the test of time as musical classics.


Fix Yourself, Not The World

The Wombats have really outdone themselves, not to anyone’s surprise, however. If you’ve been a fan of the Liverpudlian trio for any amount of time, you’ll have seen firsthand that Murph, Tord, and Dan are an unstoppable indie force that isn’t to be reckoned with. 

Since the release of the band’s last record Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life, the boys have gone on to play across the world, conquer TikTok, and release bundles of music within individual projects. The hammer of the 2020 pandemic put a spanner in the works for the traditional way of writing and recording new music, so with the band separated between three different countries, The Wombats began to write music, send ideas, and develop one of the band’s most successful entries to date. 

Fix Yourself, Not The World!, The Wombats’ first UK number 1 album, really deserves all the praise it gets. Thematically, the record holds a nice message, which I imagine is a direct result of it being a lockdown album, but it works really well and all the more tightens up the stories within the album. Musically, the LP comes together astonishingly well. It feels incredibly fresh and coherent, and trust me, pops off harder when played live. I was lucky to hear the album played in full a week early at Pryzm in Kingston, and for an album written and recorded entirely separated within a pandemic, Fix Yourself… was born for a live setting. 

It all kicked off with lead single “Method To The Madness,” followed by “If You Ever Leave, I’m Coming With You,” which you can read all about here, I won’t repeat myself. Every track on the album, though, packs a punch that blends with your brain to enforce this feeling of positivity and forward momentum. Maybe it’s the production, maybe it’s the message, or maybe it’s just because it’s one of the first big albums of 2022 to drop into our laps. Whatever it is, I’m addicted to the cure that is Fix Yourself, Not The World

I wanted to be all cool and tell you all of my favourite tracks that I think are worth your time to get you into the album as quickly as possible, but sadly, the album’s just too good. So, I’m going to stray from the album’s singles as you’re more likely to have been exposed to them already.

“Flip Me Upside Down”, “People Don’t Change People, Time Does” and “Worry” are absolutely the underdogs currently. I swear they’ve laced these tracks with illegal substances for my playtime and money, but frankly, if it’s working, then fair play to ‘em. My favourite off the album at the moment, though, has to be “Don’t Poke The Bear.” The catchiness and bedrock of a vibe that keeps this track moving just melts my ears and, well, rocks my socks off.

Fix Yourself, Not The World is a great album, crafted so well with a lot of love and effort. The finished product is a brilliant demonstration of The Wombats still having that knack for being one of the most versatile indie bands of today. I’ll be listening to this album for years to come by the looks of things, and I’m more than happy to keep it on repeat. Starting 2022 off with a bang, I suggest you all start streaming this corker of an album before future-you gets all the bragging points of discovering it.

Listen to Fix Yourself, Not The World on Spotify here, and catch The Wombats on tour in various locations throughout the year!

Pop/Indie Pop Uncategorized

Maggie the Cat: Femme Fatale Extraordinaire

Today marks the release of Maggie the Cat’s second solo single, “I Love You and I’ve Got a Gun.” For those of you who are new to the work of this femme fatale extraordinaire, she’s formerly the lead singer of South London’s witchiest glam-rock group Madonnatron, and currently flying solo under the moniker, Maggie the Cat. 

Her new single, “I Love You and I’ve Got a Gun,” showcases her signature flair for film noir drama interwoven with deeper themes of power, baring the psychological struggles that so often accompany love affairs, and threading her work with a feminist undercurrent.

The impetus for the song occurred in 2019, when Maggie the Cat’s two-year old son, who’d just begun to speak, toddled up to her and announced: “I love you, and I’ve got a gun.”

“I thought, ‘Oh my God!’ ” Maggie remembers. “A: why’s he talking about guns? And B: that’s amazing. So I held onto that (phrase) as an idea, and I wrote the song.” Stefania (of Madonnatron) suggested that Maggie might find inspiration for the song’s lyrical content in the Italian B-movie, “The Girl with the Pistol,” starring Monica Vitti.

” …I watched the film and I loved it,” Maggie explains. “It went so well with the title, I just literally wrote the lyrics about the film, and about the character in the film: her madness, her obsession. Following on from Madonnatron, there’s nothing like a bit of amorous killing. I’ve worked on it from time to time over the last couple years and it’s morphed from being a guitar song into this kind of pop, arabesque thing, that now will grace the airwaves.”

A haunting, fretful ballad with gorgeous instrumentation influenced by both modern North African pop music and traditional rai, “I Love You and I’ve Got a Gun,” is ultimately a powerful blend of ‘a tale as old as time,’ with the strong left hook of a crime thriller.

You can follow Maggie’s adventures on Instagram @maggiethecatmusic and @trashmouthrecords. Her latest single, “I Love You and I’ve Got a Gun,” is available to stream on all platforms, and available for purchase on Bandcamp.



2021 has been a year full of surprises. After months of lockdown throughout the previous year, gig-goers were more excited than ever to taste the sweet adrenaline of live music again.

With most musicians having to spend most of 2020 in lockdown, the world knew it could only expect a wave of brilliant albums this year unlike no other, and boy, did the world not disappoint.

If, like us, you were ready to catch that wave, you’ll know about the sheer amount of fantastic music released by some of the world’s most exciting bands, with some newcomers who have since earned their place on our playlists amongst some top bands and artists. Without further ado, here’s our recap of some of this year’s favourite albums.

Amyl and the Sniffers – Comfort To Me

Amyl and the Sniffers: Comfort to Me Album Review | Pitchfork

Photographs can barely give credit to the sound of Amyl and the Sniffers. Nothing can quite capture their pure high-octane adrenaline shot to the heart, tanked up with a thrill and urgency akin to Vincent Vega reviving Mia Wallace in ‘Pulp Fiction.’ An almighty duo of Gus Romer’s bass and Bryce Wilson’s drums strike the match on the album’s opener ‘Guided by Angels’, followed by the fizzling fuse of Dec Martens’ on guitar, before in a burst of flames, fireworks, and fury we are slammed with the voice of Amy Taylor.

‘Comfort to Me’ is guttural perfection, chewed up and spat out glory, filled with a simmering rage and a pulsating vulnerability. The Caltex Cowgirl burns her way through every track, always defiant and at times delicate. From the thrashing sincerity of ‘Security’ to the bitter sermon of ‘Knifey,’ Amy Taylor has truly mastered her own particular blend of lyricism and performance. My personal highlight of the album is ‘Hertz,’ a song that I danced around my kitchen to with such ferocity that I pulled a muscle in my neck; a whole working day of painkillers and Ibuprofen gel later, and I can still tell you that the headbanging was worth it.

Jessie Smith

Idles – Crawler

IDLES announce new album Crawler, share lead single The Beachland Ballroom  — Kerrang!

After their 2020 album Ultra Mono hit the post-punk world like a sledgehammer, projecting the band into the spotlight across the world, their follow-up album, Crawler, became the second hit that we all so desperately needed this year.

In a time of shabby politics and poor decisions, by some divine intervention, a small band from Bristol have risen up to heal the world over, personifying the frustrations of a disillusioned generation and giving it a voice so loud it was unignorable.

Today, Idles are compared with the likes of The Clash, The Sex Pistols, and other hardcore punk rock and post-punk bands in the making. If you’ve had a chance to attend an Idles concert this year, you’ll be aware of the band’s devout following and the almost holy nature of their stage presents.

James George Potter

Self Esteem – Prioritise Pleasure

Self Esteem - Prioritise Pleasure gold vinyl - Transmission Record Shop

“Girl Power”: The immortal slogan of the Spice Girls and title of the 1996 album by Shampoo. However, its origin supposedly comes from a zine published by the US punk chicks of Bikini Kill in 1991. In The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, it is written that ‘they articulated an agenda for young women in and outside of music.’ 30 years later, and we are presented with Prioritise Pleasure, the highly-anticipated new album from Self Esteem.

It is a manifesto for the modern girl, a cornucopia of style punctuated by battle cries, all while celebrating strength and vulnerability. Throughout 2021 there has been a steady release of singles and videos, as well as a slam-dunk on this year’s festival scene, all creating anticipation for the album itself. The reviews are in, and they are stratospheric, stars upon stars upon stars as far as the eye can see.

From “Prioritise Pleasure: Self Esteem’s Story of a New Girl Power” by Jessie Smith

Arlo Parks – Collapsed in Sunbeams

Arlo Parks: Collapsed in Sunbeams Album Review | Pitchfork

The long-awaited debut album Collapsed In Sunbeams by the indie icon Arlo Parks finally arrived in January this year. As a Black bisexual woman in an already oversaturated music industry, it is so refreshing and rewarding to see the success that Arlo Parks has gained since her music debut in 2018, becoming a contemporary to the likes of Phoebe Bridgers and Clairo, but a superstar in her own right.

The album kicks off with an arpeggiated acoustic guitar and lo-fi-ambient sounds underneath a poem by Parks, setting up the journey that, by track three, has already taken you all around town. “Hurt” puts the car into first gear, a great opener demonstrating those sounds we’ve become familiar with from singles like “Green Eyes” and “Eugene.” The use of sampled and chopped drums gives the track this slightly agitated feeling that goes hand-in-hand with the themes of Parks’ lyrics. The album earned Parks the win for Best Breakthrough Artist at this year’s BRIT Awards, and rightfully so.

Liam Lynch

Wolf Alice – Blue Weekend

Wolf Alice: Blue Weekend Album Review | Pitchfork

Blue Weekend was the highly anticipated third studio album from English alternative rock legends, Wolf Alice, who delivered us this masterpiece in June this year. Speaking for the band’s now worldwide audience, the LP couldn’t have come at a better moment. Its hit-by-hit tracklist accompanied by several beautiful music videos got us through the worst of the summer lockdown.

While their previous album Visions of a Life did a superb job of satisfying the hard-rock appetite of fans, Blue Weekend offered up the more melancholic and elegant side of the band’s dual persona.

James George Potter

Silk Sonic – An Evening with Silk Sonic

Bruno Mars + Anderson .Paak | An Evening With Silk Sonic - playlist by  Phillip | Spotify

Coming in at just nine tracks, An Evening With Silk Sonic cements Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars as a duo to keep an eye on. The pre-releases (“Leave The Door Open,” “Skate,” and, my favorite of the three, “Smokin Out The Window”) gave listeners a peek into what was to come, and their accompanying songs undoubtedly keep the momentum going.

There’s something incredibly glamorous about this record. It just makes you feel lavish and expensive, doesn’t it? The prominent golden hues throughout their music videos and outfits add to that feeling, and my God, does it give an ego boost. The combination of Mars and .Paak is otherworldly, and each of their abundant musical talents transforming into one almost feels like a divine gift from the gods themselves.

From: “Review: An Evening With Silk Sonic” by Kylie Warrix

The Marías – CINEMA

Get lost in a dream with The Marías on “Cinema” | ALBUM REVIEW

The lethargic soundscape of CINEMA by The Marías is everything they’ve built up from prior releases, excavating out a direct highlight to not only their own discography but to the whole roster of music 2021 has had to offer us.

CINEMA injects you with all the traits The Marías are known to deliver, whilst adding the spice of different genres and styles that, before now, would seem abnormal for them. As far as debut albums go, it hits the spot in all the right places. It follows you through so many emotions. It’s sexy and dreamy and leaves you craving more of the handsome harmonies that cradle you.

Tracks such as “Hush,” “Spin Me Around,” “Heavy,” and “All I Really Want Is You” are prime examples of what The Marías does best and sharpens every expectation. Upon being introduced to them by the lovely Kylie then finally becoming absorbed into CINEMA, The Marías have solidified themselves and this record as one of the best of the year. If you catch me spending a day not listening to at least one track from this masterpiece, I’ll give you a tenner.

Liam Lynch

Clairo – Sling

Clairo: Sling Album Review | Pitchfork

Oh, Clairo. My sweet, sweet songbird. I adore this woman with everything in me, and that love grew tenfold when I first listened to this record. Each song feels like getting that hug you’ve been in need of for far too long (they have healing powers, I swear).

This is such a transformative record for Clairo; it carries a more mature sound that proves bedroom-pop isn’t the only genre she can master. Sling has been on repeat for me during these colder months, and if you still have yet to give it a listen, I implore you to do so. It is the musical equivalent of watching the sky melt with the sun as it sets.

Kylie Warrix

La Femme – Paradigmes

La Femme: Paradigmes Album Review | Pitchfork

This album was the first one of the year to make me say, “This is for sure going on the end of the year wrap-up.” No further questions were needed; I was set on getting it included all the way back in April when it was released. La Femme truly never disappoints, and their abundant creativity shines through clearer than ever in Paradigmes.

Their ARTE Concert performance is absolutely brilliant as well; it brings each song to life so flawlessly. It spans for a little over an hour, but I promise you, every moment makes it worth it. Give it a watch, go on. Right here. You’re welcome.

Kylie Warrix

Doja Cat – Planet Her

Here's Everything We Know About Doja Cat's New Album 'Planet Her' | Genius

Doja Cat was my #3 most listened to artist on my 2021 Spotify Wrapped, and Planet Her’s “I Need To Know” was my top song overall. So, needless to say, I am obsessed with her and everything she makes. Each and every track on Planet Her carries an awe-inspiring sense of vibrancy; there is not a single song that doesn’t make me want to stand up and salute it like a national anthem.

It has been incredible watching Doja get the hype she undoubtedly deserves, and this record has cemented her as a legend in the making. Since Earth’s progressively getting a bit weirder, you may as well take a trip to Planet Her.

Kylie Warrix

Pink Pantheress – to hell with it

PinkPantheress - To Hell With It | Mixtape Review

PinkPantheress’ short-but-sweet debut mixtape to hell with it is a fantastic slap in the face. There’s not a single dull moment on the record, and its length leaves you wanting more. The 20-year-old producer is perhaps one of the major staples in music right now, really driving the resurgence of old-school UK garage-inspired music that ties so hand-in-hand with modern jungle and drum ‘n’ bass music—a scene in the UK that may have gone underground and evolved but one-hundred percent is still a vibe we all fuck with. 

In an oversaturated indie-pop market, the catchy samples, melodies, and emotional lyrics make way for such a refreshing selection of tracks that, because of the success of TikTok, have already become ingrained in our heads (and for such good reason). We may only be at the opening eyes of PinkPantheress’ career, but there is so much more to see for her future. The fact nearly everyone I know, without even knowing PinkPantheress, has heard more than one track off to hell with it proves that she knows exactly what she’s doing with her craft, and we’re all along for the ride. 

Liam Lynch

Tyler the Creator – Call Me If You Get Lost

Tyler, the Creator Releasing New Album Call Me If You Get Lost Next Week |  Pitchfork

Alternative Hip-Hop’s favourite son returned this year with his album Call Me If You Get Lost. Tyler’s sixth studio album is the follow-up to his world-renowned LP IGOR released back in 2019 and features a whole host of new collaborators from artists like Lil Wayne and Pharrell Williams.

IGOR set the bar high for the rapper, but by no means was he flustered in the face of expectation. The new album has quickly become one of the most talked-about albums of the year and acts as a statement about its various ups and downs throughout.

James George Potter

Damon Albarn – The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows

Damon Albarn: The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows review –  beautifully haunting | Damon Albarn | The Guardian

Damon Albarn is quite high-up on my list of most-loved musicians, so I was beyond thrilled to hear about this record’s arrival when it was first announced. On the day of its release, I popped into my favorite record store (shout-out to Criminal Records in Atlanta, I love you!) and felt my heart race once I spotted it in the new releases. Funnily enough, right after I grabbed it, I got a message from our very own James that contained a video of Mr. Albarn himself sat by his piano.

Pushing my mountainous levels of jealousy aside, I listened to the album once I got back home and instantly felt like I was being transported to another realm. This is, without a doubt, an album chock-full of creativity and genius. Truly an avalanche of unadulterated beauty.

Kylie Warrix

Lunar Vacation – Inside Every Fig is a Dead Wasp

Album Review: Inside Every Fig is a Dead Wasp // Lunar Vacation : The  Indiependent

More Atlanta representation, folks! Lunar Vacation has been on my radar for quite some time now, and they’re well on their way to becoming something even bigger. Inside Every Fig is a Dead Wasp is the band’s debut album, consisting of eleven blissful tracks. After clinging onto their two EPs so dearly, this record is everything I could’ve ever hoped for from Lunar Vacation. They already have their own distinct sound, and the album emphasizes the dreamy, pool-rock goodness beautifully.

(Also, lead singer Grace has one of my favorite voices. Like, ever.)

Please, please, please give this record a go; you’ll be glad you did.

Kylie Warrix

Black Midi – Cavalcade

black midi Announce New Album Cavalcade, Share Video for New Song: Watch |  Pitchfork

There are few bands around today who are able to fit so much personality into an eight-track album, but Black Midi, a four-piece band originally from Croydon, are one of those all-around rare exceptions. While the music video for the album’s first single, “John L,” has become one of the most talked-about of the year, it will leave you wondering what you put in your drink (in a good way, we promise).

Music-legend Iggy Pop didn’t seem to mind being pulled down the rabbit hole and promoted the band’s music via his Radio 6 podcast. Cavalcade is the second studio album from the experimental-rock-jazz-fusion-math-rock-avant-prog (and other genres you never knew existed) band.

James George Potter


Kid A Mnesia: Exhibition – A masterful blend of music and visuals

Teeth grinning wildly. A sea of trees, washed of colour as to appear lifted from a book. These are the first things you see when you load up Kid A Mnesia: Exhibition, Radiohead’s latest venture into virtual art. It’s as you tentatively walk through the only door in sight and ‘Everything In Its Right Place’ creeps in as it creaks shut behind you that the eerie brilliance sets in.

From then on, you are left to explore a vast labyrinth commemorating the music of Kid A and Amnesiac, the releases that cemented Radiohead as a madcap force to be reckoned with at the turn of the millennium. Visually, the exhibition employs the contrasting cold and warm aesthetics of the twin albums to outstanding effect. Pristine white interiors and their uncanny sheen give emphasis to the vibrance of more dilapidated areas like the Pyramid Atrium, which acts as something of a central hub leading to each location. Here, and in many other sections, the experience makes full use of its digital nature, conjuring up immersive environments that could only exist within the confines of a computer; featureless clay figures and particle ghosts aimlessly shuffle from room to room, overgrown roots shoot up grey walls, and imposing structures hang weightless in the air, suspended in nothingness. Elsewhere, rampant graffiti and newspaper clippings surround you, while televisions display hellish cartoons and studio footage. Imagine the most surreal dream you’ve had, imagine at least ten more, then make pathways from one to the other through the deepest, darkest corridors of your mind, and you’ll have something close to what’s offered here. 

So far, we’re only skirting on the surface of what this treasure trove holds. After an hour of walking, I thought I had discovered most of the major features, but was pleasantly surprised to find that what I’d seen made up only around one-third of the exhibition. In fact, I had missed many of the larger exhibits. 

Though the visual elements are impressive in their own right, the way they integrate with the audio is the crux of the ‘gameplay.’ One chamber, set to the mechanical groove of Amnesiac opener ‘Packt Like Sardines In A Crushd Tin Box,’ features an ominous cube at its centre. Stepping on any of the floor markings in its shadow causes your surroundings to warp, and dramatically alters the mix – one isolates angular reversed guitar melodies and casts a spectral maroon overlay into the room – while walking up and down the scaffolding around the edges adds and strips away the track’s descending bass riff. There are many more of these interactive moments to be found, and each one makes slow exploration rewarding. Even lingering in the areas between installations is worthwhile, with each boasting a completely unique atmosphere.

Kid A Mnesia: Exhibition is for the most part nonlinear, and the one occasion in which the player is forced to remain in one area for a certain amount of time winds up feeling just as freeform as the rest. Stopping to fully appreciate every detail could take hours, but it’s refreshing to sink time into something for the thrill of discovery rather than achieving any specific goal. 

That isn’t to say this is a relaxing time. The world around you poses little threat (many of the creatures you come across seem docile, perhaps even friendly) yet a foreboding sense of dread is prevalent throughout. After all, the music on which this museum bases itself can hardly be described as easy listening: ‘Idioteque’ and ‘Like Spinning Plates’ weave social panic and biting political commentary into their lyrics;

While you make pretty speeches,

I’m being cut to shreds

‘How To Disappear Completely’ plays out like a cross between a lullaby and an anxiety attack; and ‘Knives Out’ sees the band descend to morbid depths;

If you’d been a dog

They would’ve drowned you at birth

All of these emotions and more are reflected in this audiovisual fever dream. Arbitrarily Good Productions and Namethemachine have done an outstanding job of translating the ‘feel’ of these albums into a multimedia format, though the contribution of longtime collaborator Stanley Donwood cannot be understated. Having designed all of the group’s artwork with frontman Thom Yorke since The Bends, everything you come across in the exhibition is as much his work brought to life as theirs. His artistic output with Radiohead has been plentiful, and every project they’ve worked on together could easily produce something as extensive as this. Repetition is rarely their style, but it’s hard to resist the idea of expansions celebrating other release eras. That being said, there’s more than enough here to satisfy.

No matter the order you experience events in, the exhibition is bound to leave you feeling intrigued, impressed, and just a little bit terrified. Between this and the awe-inspiring Dreams of Dali, the argument that video games are a lesser art form is growing thinner by the day. As a matter of fact, staring up at the towering oddities scattered through the exhibits reminds of witnessing Dali’s elephants in that VR project, if markedly more frightening. One can only shudder at the thought of Kid A Mnesia: Exhibition in virtual reality – perhaps simultaneously out of primal fear and immense excitement at the possibility. 

Unless that daydream comes true, your best bet for experiencing it is in the dark, with a good set of speakers or headphones and a decent slice of your day carved out.

I’ve been wary to avoid the term ‘game’ in this review because it forfeits most of the mainstays of modern gaming, save for movement. However, it’s hard to envision this being done in any other format, and despite a message at the entrance insisting ‘this is not a game,’ in my eyes it encapsulates exactly what games stand for: Immersion. Moreso, it’s emblematic of the integrity and generosity Radiohead fans have become familiar with. Art this detailed often comes with a hefty price, so granting free passes to anyone with the hardware to run it is as bold and selfless as their 2007 ‘pay-what-you-wish’ release of In Rainbows. 

If your machine can handle it, this is a must. With or without prior knowledge of Radiohead, there’s something to be found for everyone, enticing faces and places lurking around every corner. It really is something to be experienced, equal parts macabre and melancholy, and at all times evocative.


Why We Love: Wunderhorse

Are you a child of the Windmill Brixton? All of us babyfaced, barely legal and sneaking tins into gigs before screaming along to ‘Social Experiment’ by the Dead Pretties like some still-pimpled pheromonal cult. We’ve all seemingly grown up in the past five years, and the Dead Pretties frontman himself, Jacob Slater, is no exception. 

There has been a slow tease of singles, beginning with ‘Teal,’ which holds some of the flavour that you’ll find familiar from those wild nights in 2017; it’s there in its hyperactivity, as well the balance of a gentle croon against that snarl from the back of the throat. Fans of old are launched back into the arms of the Jacob they used to know, whilst the new are freshly immersed in a world of shoegaze and Britpop. The lyrics, however, are a nostalgic piece of heartache, with love and death juxtaposed against a thumping crescendo that fills you up and up and up until you feel as though the raw vocals are ripping from your own throat.

A B-side to ‘Teal’ follows shortly after in the form of the short but eerily saccharine ‘One For the Pigeons.’ To me it’s a bittersweet Jeff Buckley and Sufjan Stevens hybrid, taking the falsettoed voice of one and playing it over the instrumental stylings of another (‘The Other Woman – Studio Outtake’ meets ‘Death With Dignity,’ if you want me to specify). It’s gloomy and unusual, once again with surreal lyrics of love and death, but this time as a tranquil lullaby of a chaser to the youthful adrenaline shot of ‘Teal.’ 

The most recent release as of November is ‘Poppy,’ a vibrant and heady piece of 90s-esque psychedelia that emanates the opiate-suggestive title of the name, but only in sound. In both lyric and tone, Slater once again gives us a masterclass in evoking nostalgia, placing a haunting backing track to our hindsight. ‘Poppy’ feels as though it should be played in the background of melancholy time-travel, like a theme song to a TV shows akin to ‘Life on Mars’ or ‘Ashes to Ashes.’ The lyrics fall away in the middle of the song, leaving us with roughly two minutes of intense guitar that sends you to some dimension where Woodstock and Spike Island meet. 

Wunderhorse plays with my nostalgia because I was there, being choke-slammed whilst crowd surfing to the Dead Pretties at Moth Club. The themes of love, death, and the passing of time take me back to that era too. I unexpectedly got to spend a little bit of time on a project with Jacob this year, and we had a couple of chats about the past. We talked about who we were then and who we are trying to be now, and after listening to his new songs, I now know I couldn’t have had a conversation about those topics with a better person.

(photographed by Yi-Hsuan Li / @maretrail)

Nostalgia is a treasured artefact, something that is generally untethered by any one particular emotion, but when it does hit a nerve or strike a chord, it’s easy to get lost within it. While listening to Wunderhorse it’s easy to float around in the past, whilst also wondering about what comes next. Have we really grown up all that much? I certainly hope not.

Not yet anyway.

Wunderhorse plays at the Lexington on 10/03/22
Tickets available via Dice


Review: An Evening With Silk Sonic

Dear readers, the album we’ve all been waiting for is finally here. Ever since the release of “Leave The Door Open” back in March, I had been in absolute dire need of a full record. I can assure you, however, it was one-hundred-percent worth the wait. Before I could even finish my first run-through, I already knew that it would be featured on our 2021 Record Collection (read last year’s here!). I may even go on and say that this is my album of the year… who knows? Stay tuned.

I had been in quite the writing slump with pressures of school and work clouding my mind, but Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars have parted the skies and shown me the light again. I listened to the album in the car with two best friends of mine, aimlessly driving around the streets of Atlanta, and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Even within the first few seconds of “Silk Sonic Intro,” we were already bopping our heads and letting out the occasional “Daaamn!” Genuinely speaking, I whipped my phone out of my pocket and started typing this up in the backseat after only three songs in. 

Coming in at just nine tracks, An Evening With Silk Sonic cements the two singers in the industry as a duo to keep an eye on. The pre-releases (“Leave The Door Open,” “Skate,” and, my favorite of the three, “Smokin Out The Window”) gave listeners a peek into what was to come, and their accompanying songs undoubtedly keep the momentum going. 

There’s something incredibly glamorous about this record. It just makes you feel lavish and expensive, doesn’t it? The prominent golden hues throughout their music videos and outfits add to that feeling, and my God, does it give an ego boost. The combination of Mars and .Paak is otherworldly, and each of their abundant musical talents transforming into one almost feels like a divine gift from the gods themselves. 

Bearing that thought in mind, the features of Thundercat and Bootsy Collins in “After Last Night” catapults the track into another realm. With so many geniuses behind a single song, it’s impossible to not love it. Its not-so-subtle sexiness makes the track even more addictive, and it’s charming enough to make the line, “That gushy, gushy good,” sound profound. This is easily one of my favorites; give it a listen here:

“Fly As Me” is another track I’ve fallen in love with, and it’s not hard to understand why. The feisty instrumental matches the energy of the witty, yet bold and empowering, lyrics in an act of harmonious unification. It’s a song for when you’re walking down the street with your headphones in and your main goal of the day is to be the coolest person on every block. I guarantee that as long as this is what’s playing, you’ll find just the right amount of confidence to turn the world into your own personal runway. While you’re at it, listen to Anderson .Paak’s advice and sprinkle those truffles on your mashed potatoes, you little superstar.

With tracks like the explosive “777″ and the dreamy “Blast Off,” there’s truly not a dull moment in the album. As a matter of fact, I would say that the only dull moment is the ending itself. When it ended, I wasn’t even expecting it to end. I mean, I knew it had to end eventually, but it came as such a shock. It felt like I showed up to the party right before it got shut down; I needed more. I’ll graciously take these nine tracks, though, and make them well-acquainted with my eardrums, don’t you worry.

Alright, that’s enough from me. It’s time to let Silk Sonic steal your attention for a bit, don’t you think? So, I urge you to drop whatever it is you’re doing and press play; I promise it’ll make you a whole lot happier than Anderson and Bruno in “Put On A Smile.”

Uncategorized Why We Love

Why We Love: Maggie the Cat

And just like that, summer’s over and it’s October, the month when spooks and ghouls roam the earth freely. Prime time for the debut solo release from a founding member of south London’s finest and freakiest gang of voodoo high priestesses, Madonnatron.

If you’ve heard Madonnatron, then you’ve heard Maggie. Her voice is the lynchpin of the band’s signature sound, the gathering force that holds it all together, powerful and hypnotic. She’s recently struck out on her own, embarking on a solo career under her Madonnatron moniker, “Maggie the Cat.”

With her Farrah Fawcett hair, glam rock eye makeup and brooding, melancholy, stare, she explained the evolution of her solo work thusly: “Maggie the Cat emerged over the last few years like the mutant love child of covid and my long running obsession with Elizabeth Taylor, most notably her character of that name from the Tennessee Williams play, ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.’

Her debut single, “I Think Last Night I Killed A Man,” is a definite shift from Madonnatron’s harsh, witch-punk sound. The production is more technically intricate: “… centered around a lot of quite dark, melancholic symphonic refrains juxtaposed with 80s synth sounds and disco drum patterns. The vocals are something of an id festival and may have ventured into other realms in places as I’m shamelessly emotional and the voice is a real channel for the soul, I think,” Maggie explains.

“Bianca Jagger rides in on a horse any second…” she teased on Instagram, days before the single’s release. A fitting comparison; the stylization is very Studio 54, albeit with a touch of what Maggie the Cat calls, “general murderous content,” a sinister speciality of supposed sweetness followed by violence, honed in the service of years of lyric writing for Madonnatron. Her blog describes the forthcoming album as “…simultaneously bewitching, erotic, menacing, and occasionally chilling (although never without mischief.)”

Trashmouth Records, the infamous New Malden-based independent record label that nurtured the raw, loose-cannon power of cult favorite rock n’ roll bands such as Warmduscher, the Fat White Family (and of course, Madonnatron) into musical adulthood, are backing Maggie the Cat’s solo efforts.

You can purchase “Last Night I Think I Killed A Man,” via Bandcamp at the link provided below. It is available to stream on all platforms.

Indie/Indie Rock Pop/Indie Pop Reviews Uncategorized

Indie Idols: Will and the People

Image by Daniel Harris

Have you ever attended a concert and decided to skip the support acts? After all, they’re not who you’re there to see and one more drink in the bar is so tempting! If you have, I must say I think you missed out on some possibly brilliant music. I used to think that the support acts were just an unnecessary warm up to the main event, however, I have come to realize the error of my ways, and have since discovered some impeccable artists supporting others. This month’s Indie Idol is evidence of that. In 2019, I attended a Barns Courtney concert at the Electric Ballroom in Camden, London, and had looked up the support acts, Ulysses Wells and Will and the People, on Spotify before going in. Now I must admit, I was not entirely convinced of Will and the People’s music when I first heard it but after seeing them perform, in their underwear I might add, I was hooked. Their performance was incredibly energetic, charismatic and addictive, and I have since seen them again – most recently at Boardmasters festival just over a week ago. At which their performance was once again sublime and full of frontman Will Rendle’s usual antics – crowd surfing for example.

Hailing from Brighton, Will and the People formed in 2010 with brothers Will and Jamie Rendle (although Jamie joined later), Charlie Harman and Jim Ralphs and are considered by many as one of “the most down to earth bands, who appreciate every single one of their fans and put 110% into their live shows!”* It is with no doubt that Will and the People definitely go over and above with their gigs, the atmosphere is electric and shows tend to be a generally riotous experience, whether they’re the support or headline act, Will and the People will be a highlight of your night. The band have so far released four albums, with a new one promised for November, and it is difficult to classify Will and the People’s music into a single genre as every song is so distinct from each other that the variation is like a signature of the group. One of the band’s earliest tracks, Lion in the Morning Sun, for instance, has some very obvious pop music vibes but is full of ska and reggae fervour, with a strong but fast paced walking beat, almost reminiscent of the ska-punk or 2 tone genre that rose to popularity with bands like The Specials or The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, whereas more recent tracks like Justify, a track released in September of last year, has a more emotional rock ballad sound merged with rap elements and ethereal aspects similar to that of the band Evanescence. 

Of the band’s work, the song that stands out most to me as something special is the 2019 single Gigantic. Lyrically, the track tells the story of love, specifically familial love and how the people you choose to surround yourself with and those who love you can make the world better than anything. It discusses the sentiment that you would do anything for your family and friends, as evidenced in the first lyric, “I could be there for you, if you want me to,” as well as, the idea that even if you’re feeling down or lonely you will always have your family and friends to fall back on, just as they would have you, no matter how far away you are. The accompanying music video effortlessly depicts the warmth and sentimentality of the song, as it is presented as a sort of home video, going from door to door collecting relatives, young and old, to go to a large family get together. Hearing Will call his grandmother in the opening seconds really elevates that feeling of the music video and overall creates a human connection with the audience as you almost feel like you are part of the family.

Lucky for all who love them, Will and the People have a new single coming out on the 27th. In two days! Animal, a long awaited song that has been all over the world in its production stages, is sure to blow your mind. And! To add to the excitement, are on tour around the UK right now, and then all over Europe in the first few months of 2022.

*Quote from Tom Embling, who saw WATP on the 22nd in Bristol, where they, once again, performed in underwear. The tour wardrobe must be very compact!


Why We Love: Madonnatron

Madonnatron formed in 2014  by “arising unabashed from the mists of the Thames,” (that’s according to their Spotify bio) released their eponymous debut album in 2017 and, since then have gone on to conquer the hearts of listeners the world over with their 2019 album Musica Alla Puttanesca, featuring the hit single, “Goodnight Little Empire,” (which appears in the soundtrack of Netflix’s Emily in Paris.) 

Their sonic impression live has been likened to that of Michigan-born proto-punk marauders the Stooges as well as early-career Joy Division, and if the miraculous melding of those two disparate sounds doesn’t melt your synapses in the best way imaginable upon the first listen, then darling, you’re simply not human.

Trashmouth Records have recently released a remix of “Venus and Rahu,” a track off Musica Alla Puttanesca, as part of their 10th anniversary 10 Years Still Not Dead celebration compendium.Within days of its release, the remix had already been spun and praised by Amy Lamé on her BBC 6 radio show.

In their own words, Madonnatron say: “If ever there was a real pulsating, strutting, superbad music ‘scene’ in South London at any point in the last ten years, it is a certainty that visionaries Liam and Luke of Trashmouth Records, were firmly at the epicentre. Flying the flag of truth for outsider music in this stifling elitist terrain, the brothers May have lovingly catapulted bands such as feral darlings the Fat White Family, Warmduscher, Meatraffle, and not least Warrior Queens of utmost sonic savagery MADONNATRON to your stereos. 10 Years Still Not Dead is the vinyl equivalent to the book of revelations, go forth and listen to its delinquent teachings! Forever Trashmouth!” 


You can hear Madonnatron live at The Victoria on September 25th, where they will be supporting fellow Trashmouth record label signees, Meatraffle, as well as the avant-garde stylings of Nuha Ruby Ra.

The Trashmouth remix of “Venus and Rahu” (as well as Madonnatron’s album Musica Alla Puttanesca and a treasure trove of singles) are available via Bandcamp, linked below.