Why We Love: Animals As Leaders

Coordinated chaos reigns supreme in the music of Animals As Leaders.

Their meticulous breed of progressive metal is a daunting beast that grooves to an unfamiliar pulse, the alien heartbeat of instrumentalists Tosin Abasi, Javier Reyes, and Matt Garstka. Originally a vehicle for Abasi’s solo work, the project underwent a gradual evolution up until the trio first recorded together for 2014’s The Joy Of Motion, an album that immaculately showcased each of their distinct skillsets and set the stage for their future as a band. With the release of their fifth record, Parrhesia, the reasons for their success are clearer than ever. 

Initial listens to Animals As Leaders tracks can be intimidating, even for seasoned veterans of the genre. The erratic rhythms and intense textures that define their sound are rarely digestible from the get-go, and they have no qualms with overwhelming the audience.  

Take for example “Arithmophobia,” a promotional single from The Madness Of Many. Rather than take the chance to draw in new fans with simpler material, they presented what can only be described as a complete and total mindfuck. Those brave enough to stick around for repeat listens, however, are handsomely rewarded. Honing in on any of the individual instruments reveals a world of sonic delights while taking on the track as a whole opens the mind to beats and melodies that have no right to be as memorable as they are. 

Our first taste of Parrhesia came in the form of the aptly titled “Monomyth,” and in many ways, it seems equally impenetrable. Where the key difference lies, though, is in its length.  

At only three minutes, it manages to distil the dark magic of “Arithmophobia” into a much more accessible package. It retains the mystique in its writhing melodies yet shows a level of focus atypical of progressive music, primarily revolving around the dichotomy between two closely related sections. When it does depart from the main form, it does so to offer respite from the mania – a transcendental breakdown slows the pace, gifting the listener with something more tangible before they are violently dropped back into the fray. 

Much of the album follows suit in this fashion, teetering on the fault line between cataclysmic and euphoric. “Gestaltzerfall” effortlessly bridges the gap in passages that are as dense as they are achingly beautiful, while late cut “Thoughts And Prayers” divides its attention more distinctly across soft and heavy moments. Reyes proves his worth on the latter with a rousing solo that stands out as one of the band’s most emotional. 

“The Problem Of Other Minds,” meanwhile, delivers a glorious soundscape of interwoven guitars and synths, backed up by a hefty drumbeat from Garstka. Released alongside a stunning music video directed by Telavaya Reynolds – who also designed the album sleeve – it is a foil to “Monomyth,” boasting a lighter tone and some soaring leads from Abasi, and is Parrhesia’s shortest track.  

If there is an easy entry point to the record, this is it. “Asahi” allows its contemplative harmony to linger, a lush build that gives it new context within the tracklist. 

Though it’s by far their briefest outing, Parrhesia packs in something of everything that makes Animals As Leaders great. From breathtaking highs to the earth-shattering lows of “Gordian Naught,” it expertly weaves between consonance and dissonance, sprinkling both in equal  measure into standout tracks like “Red Miso.” It may take some time to warm up to its more uncompromising moments (namely “Micro-Aggressions”) but ultimately, that’s half of the fun; the more you listen, the more you become accustomed to the turbulence. Once it works its way into your brain, listening to the album is a completely different experience. 

Animals As Leaders often evoke the sublime in that their music is equal parts astonishing and terrifying. With that in mind, their music might not be for everyone, and it’s okay to feel that it’s too much. Take it slowly and let it flow over you, though, you may find yourself swept away by a sound like no other. 

Indie/Indie Rock

Indie Idols: Trevor Sensor

Image by Ben Rouse

An artist often compared to the likes of Bob Dylan thanks to his use of philosophical and anecdotal lyrics, it is difficult to not be transported into the world of Trevor Sensor through his debut album – Andy Warhol’s Dream. Released in 2017, the album contains some musical masterpieces and created quite the splash among fans of label Jagjaguwar, being described as “one of the most refreshing albums I have heard in years.” Having been born and raised in the desert of midwestern America – Sterling, Illinois – surrounded by prairies, where the hardware store is the town’s greatest attraction, Sensor is an unlikely hero in the music industry, aiming to divert from traditional pop music  and the traditional indie music route, while still honouring his origins. A sentiment he displays through both his music, his videos, and his methods. High Beams, the first song on the album, for instance, describes what I would argue is a feeling of being lost, stuck in the crossroads of life, a deer in the headlights, unsure of what dream to follow, and was filmed in Sterling, showing imagery of agricultural silos and factories and a pretty desolate backdrop, save for the three backing dancers, who although being quite conventional, still manage to subvert tradition by being completely out of time and uncoordinated – an extra touch that for me, makes the video more relatable. 

Since Andy Warhol’s Dream, Sensor has gone on to release a second album, On Account of Exile, Vol. 1, in June of this year. The release has a whole range of different undertones, from slight 80s rock influences in Madison Square Garden, which arguably is even reminiscent of Take Your Mama Out by the Scissor Sisters, and ends in a jazz like cacophony, to an ABBA-esque introduction and more calm happy melodic general sound of Days Drag On, while still managing to sound cohesive, thanks to Sensor’s iconic voice and his signature cultural references, such as to the infamous Zodiac Killer, arguably the most prolific serial killer in history who has subsequently inspired the 2007 film Zodiac

My personal favourite from the On Account of Exile, Vol. 1 album is Chiron, Galactus. Released as the second single of this album, it not only tells the story of the pain of being in love and the difficulties of loyalty to religion, through its lyrics, but also in its title. Chiron, in astrology, is suggested to represent having a “spiritual wound that we must work to heal in this lifetime.” This song also has an incredibly simple but emotive and hard-hitting music video, shot in monochrome, in which we watch Trevor Sensor sing, his facial expressions dramatically highlighted by a single spot-light that really emphasises the pain of the song. The camera tilts downward to reveal that Sensor is tied to his chair and as the video progresses we see him struggle to free himself, pained, angered and exhausted he gives up, just as the music slows. This cinematic video is perfectly suited to the song, and I feel like anything more than this minimalistic accompaniment would distract and overpower the song.

Sensor has also released a new single this month: Honest Abel, Old Red Tiger. A song showcasing the artist’s intellectual lyricism by referencing American history throughout, as evidenced by the title “Honest Abel” which was a nickname given to President Abraham Lincoln as he was known as one of the more truthful politicians in history, while also providing a social commentary on the state of religious beliefs in various situations in America, such as prison’s, from both the inmates and warden’s point of view. This song is a very clear example of just how weighty and consequential Trevor Sensor’s song’s can be once truly picked apart and understood. Adn is just a small taste of what we can expect in On Account of Exile, Vol. II, which is set to be released on the 19th of November.

I recommend listening to Sensor’s music on full volume as it really shows you how incredible he would be live. He is most definitely an artist that deserves far more recognition and acclaim for his great talent. And be sure to check out The Reaper Man, Sensor’s most known song, once you’ve finished this article.

Creators Monthly Punk/Rock Reviews

Don’t Die in the Waiting Room of the Future

Tim Mohr’s Burning Down the Haus: Punk Rock, Revolution and the Fall of the Berlin Wall is an essential history that reveals punk’s wrath and how it contributed to the downfall of the East German dictatorship.

Throughout history, reigns of terror crushed hopes, ideas, behaviours; we’ve seen it all – intimidation and manipulation, violence. We’ve seen walls. Tall, made of concrete and strengthened with steel, with a strip of land guarded by merciless apostles of havoc by whose hands hundreds died. You would think nothing can break through it, but soundwaves don’t stop at borders. Soundwaves travel.

Mohr’s book is a compelling account of untold stories that starts with a handful of Berlin youths who heard the Sex Pistols on a military radio broadcast. Unlike British punks, who were living in a society that couldn’t guarantee them a bright economic future, East Berlin punks fought the battle of Too much future – the dictatorship had everything planned for them. Punk was a cathartic discovery, where chopped-up hair and clothes, loud singing and buzz saw guitars turned into a revolutionary philosophy of resistance.

Tim Mohr was able to closely observe this uniquely Eastern phenomenon when he moved to Berlin in the early 90s. Oblivious to the reality of the post-Wall city, he started exploring the nightlife scene, the clubs, the squats. He worked as a DJ for 6 years, a time during which he befriended many of the East German punks who were interrogated by the Stasi and imprisoned by the GDR – and ultimately helped build a fascinating, progressive DIY world.

East Berlin punks on Lenin Platz, Friedrichshain, ca. 1982

Mohr spent ten years researching Stasi files, tracking down and interviewing the punks whose stories were indispensable – teenagers who were spied on by families and friends, fired from jobs, beaten up and imprisoned, but not just because of their clothes or the lyrics they sang. It was more than that. Punk rock was a weapon against the tyranny that smashed protestors and militarized the police. It was a tough fight that had its manifesto disseminated in churches, safe havens offered to the teens by compassionate deacons. Not even jail could stop these kids. They got out, put their leather jackets back on and boy, did that hell break loose.

Burning Down the Haus is a fiery, dramatic history about the grit and spirit of a bunch of young punks who played a fundamental part in bringing down the Berlin Wall. Intensely researched, riveting and satisfying, it is a great book that passes on the legacy of grassroots oppression fighters. Maybe the lesson here is what they used to spray on walls: Don’t die in the waiting room of the future.

Burning Down the Haus: Punk Rock, Revolution, and the Fall of the Berlin Wall is available in Rough Trade physical stores and online at World of Books.

Indie/Indie Rock Punk/Rock

Indie Idols: Crywank

The 1980s were a wild time, to say the least. Teenagers were rebelling – as per usual – and creating their own kind of lifestyle, diverting the general expectations of growing up and maturing that had dominated previous decades. Fashion was outrageous, attitudes were eccentric and controversial, and all of this was reflected in the music. Punk emerged from the underground and, in a symbiotic relationship with the youth, the face of music was forever scarred for the better. Bands like Sex Pistols and the Ramones exploded onto the scene expressing anarchy and distrust in the establishment, loudly displaying their political agenda and providing a voice for like-minded young people. Throughout the decade, punk influenced countless subgenres and subcultures, encouraging political freedom and rebirth of the most riotous kind, while also merging with others to create completely unexpected, but lyrically brilliant, hybrid genres.

This month’s Indie Idol embodies the spirit of punk while exhibiting its versatility within other genres by displaying elements of anti-folk – a musical movement established in the 1980’s to “mock the perceived seriousness” of the decade’s popular music, serving as a protest through clever lyricism. Crywank, a band spontaneously conceived by Jay Clayton in Manchester in 2009 upon receiving their first guitar, expresses a more personal kind of anarchy, announcing displeasure with mundane realism we have all probably felt from time to time, as well as dealing with more serious issues like mental health. I Am Shit from the band’s 2013 Tomorrow is Nearly Yesterday and Everyday is Stupid album, for instance, serves as a criticism of one’s self, overthinking everything you have said or done, and being stuck in a loop of self-doubt and inadequacy. The lyrics are hard-hitting and emotional, with a characteristic DIY-nature that adds to the charm and meaning of the song.

Arguably, Crywank takes a more comedic stance in some of their productions, helping to lighten the typically downbeat mood of their work while fitting to the anti-folk genre, still providing that dramatic social commentary the band and sub-punk genres are known for. Songs like An Academics Lament on Barbie, which comments on the irony surrounding the suggestion that Barbie is a feminist icon for young girls, having had over a hundred different jobs, many in typically male industries, while also being subject to strict and traditional female beauty standards that fail to represent the vast majority of women. Or Tin Foil Hat Crew at the Student House, which discusses constantly being monitored by companies online and other politics while also featuring the highly intellectual lyric, “Slap my thigh call me messy sweaty petty silly sausage,” from the duo’s 2017 Egg on Face. Foot in Mouth. Wriggling Wriggling Wriggling. album, for example. Both of these songs also demonstrate Crywank’s musical diversity by embracing a sound vaguely similar to that of Parklife by Blur, with more melodic speech rather than general singing, while still harking back to their punk-inspired roots – which are especially evident in the final few lyrics of Tin Foil Hat…, “Don’t Be Evil, Ooglie-booglie-googlie-booglie.”

(Check out Story of the Lizard and the Sock for another dark comedy-esque song)

The group’s most recent and final album, Fist Me ‘Til Your Hand Comes out My Mouth, a name that most definitely reflects the outrageous and uncensored nature of the 1980’s punk movement, features an eight-part story about friendship and its effects on the band. And, as the title I Love You but I’ve Chosen Me… suggests, the importance of loving oneself before attempting to love someone else. The album is, overall, fairly different from Crywank’s previous seven albums due to a larger focus on instrumentalism, such as in The Best, poetry, similar to Jamie T’s use of Sir John Betjeman’s The Cockney Amorist poem in his debut single Sheila, and a more upbeat sound – the existentialist lyrics are still going strong, though. 

The band seems to have steered clear of music videos in the traditional sense, preferring to upload live versions or random rehearsal sessions onto their Youtube channel. However, the few music videos that have been created for their most recent album all exude a sense of incomplete chaoticism that perfectly reflects the sentiment of their whole musical catalogue. The videos tend to be stylised in a low budget arts-and-crafts-type manner using watercolour (Egg and Spoon) and torn paper (Ego is a Phoenix) to depict the narrative while making the meanings of the songs feel more tangible to the audience and, once again, hinting at the homemade elements of punk style. Album art for the band is definitely something to behold, ranging from a simple photo of a shelf adorned with wooden cat sculptures to a fluorescent drawing of a two-headed monster with the iconic World War II “Kilroy was Here” doodle looming above. However, I feel as if the variation in album art reflects the large range of topics and emotions discussed and felt through the band’s work and does show progression in the bands freedom of expression over time.

Unfortunately for all who love them, Crywank’s musical career is coming to a voluntary end after their next North American tour, which has been postponed to 2022. However, their music and merchandise will continue to be available on until it is all sold out. In the meantime, check out Memento Mori and Hikikomori, my two favourites by the band. 

Indie/Indie Rock Punk/Rock Uncategorized Why We Love

Why We Love: Press Club

Spotify’s Discover Weekly is a wonderfully exciting place where you can unearth artists specifically tailored to your tastes and it is what led me to a band that has been described as “one of the most exciting young prospects in rock music.” Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, Press Club’s gritty garage-punk sound first blessed the ears of Bandcamp listeners in 2017 with the release of their single Headwreck, a hazy two and half minute anthem clearly expressing the band’s true unadulterated passion and determination that has continued to shine throughout their two subsequent albums, Late Teens and Wasted Energy.

Influenced by bands like Brand New and Hüsker Dü, the energetic and chaotic sound of their music can often be seen to juxtapose the peaceful and laid back vibe that their narrative music videos exude, an effect that is especially evident in the video accompanying Suburbia, a personal favourite of mine and their most streamed track on Spotify. The calm everyday visuals of the video create an anticipatory tension throughout that reflects the angsty nostalgia of old relationships and moving on, a feeling that I am sure many can relate to. Lead singer Natalie Foster introduces dream-like vocals that explode into punk fervour, a technique common in Press Club’s discography, in Crash and Same Mistakes for example, and gives the band that irresistible indie edge and attracts an audience atypical to the punk genre.

The band tends to embody a kind of “go with the flow” attitude, creating music with ambiguity allowing the listener to interpret the meaning in a way unique to themselves and, as Foster revealed, deciding upon song titles and even their band name by throwing ideas around and seeing what felt right. Many of Press Club’s songs do, however, deal with quite heavy topics enabling an emotional connection to form between the band and the listener over similar shared experiences. Twenty-Three, the concluding track to their Wasted Energy album, for example, discusses topics such as drugs and how you can’t hide from your actions.

As a band notorious among its fans for delivering loud, atmospheric gigs and tirelessly touring around Australia, Europe, and the UK, racking up a huge number of shows in the last few years, Press Club should 100% be at the top of your “bands to see live” list. They will not disappoint.

Photo by: Ian Laidlaw

Listen to Press Club on Spotify now.

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.

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.

Indie/Indie Rock Punk/Rock Uncategorized Why We Love

Why We Love: Sinead O’Brien

Sinead O’Brien is the Irish ‘punk poet’ that thrives on the edge; denying herself of anything cosy or familiar and instead opting for a ‘heavy heavy, busy busy life’ consisting of travel and new adventures. 

Always doing things differently, her spontaneous attitude and lifestyle result in a lot to be grateful for; helping her to deliver marvellous songs, exploring the beauty in darkness, that we can’t help but love and believe that you will too.

Born in Dublin and raised in Limerick, the singer has never felt much of an attachment to a particular place but has always sensed a calling from further afield. This free spirit and ability to adapt to new ways and places feed their way into her consistently evolving songs. Using expansive language and sounds that vary from punk and folk to a hint of soul and funk, she expertly provides tracks that take you on a journey where, just like her, you’re kept on your toes every step of the way.

Despite her desire for re-location though, there’s absolutely no denying O’Brien’s Irish roots. The moment that she opens her mouth, she has you hostage; her divine accent delivering mesmerising words with equal parts grit and beauty. Painting a picture with every line, including desolate wonders like I feel like the daytime chasing the night” to relatable longings for motivation with “Days like this are the wildest way, to tame the flames, to get the head to higher…” she always leaves you longing for more.

O’Brien is currently living (but most definitely not ‘settled’) in London; the city where her real musical journey began. Upon her move, she fully embraced her desire for fresh experiences by taking a page out of Jim Carrey’s book and simply saying ‘yes’ to any opportunities that arose. Fortunately, for music fans, that included attending a spoken word night in Brixton where she first performed her poems up on stage. Subsequently, the natural lyricist joined forces with current bandmates Julian Hanson and Oscar Robertson and began to put her words to equally grand music; turning dreams and expressive thoughts into songs.

Her talent in doing so was undeniable right off the bat which led to Chess Club Records; the same label as fellow alternative rockers Wolf Alice, signing O’Brien up. She then began to release her hypnotising tracks with them, before stepping up a level from South London pubs when king of the punk poetry game John Cooper Clarke invited her on tour. The two immediately hit it off (which is no surprise when you listen to each of their gutsy works), and, thanks to JCC O’Brien was introduced to Mark E. Smith who she describes as one of her “most valuable references ever”. 

As well as meeting one inspiration (who showed her the work of another), the tour with Cooper Clarke was also an opportunity to try a stint of something different once again, as like him she performed solo. After doing so she was told by a gig-goer that they could still “hear the music in it” which both she and myself completely agree with. Even without physical music present, you’re always touched by its essence thanks to her rhythm and heart, which is testament to the skill she has for her craft; consistently turning words into something so much more.

Her gifts don’t just stop there either, describing herself as incredibly determined from a young age, she pushed herself to excel in a range of areas both academic and creative- which even resulted in her moving to Paris to work for Dior. Just like her Irish upbringing, this motivation and affinity for style are also evident in her music; producing ambitious tracks that are sleek and well-tailored with a real artistic edge.

A sparse feeling is present in Sinead O’Brien’s songs, similar to that heard on Unknown Pleasures where space is intentional and meaningful; a bold move that not many even attempt to pull off. Each track contains an aura of magic, whisking you away on a different experience, that can vary from a trip to the dance floor on the snappy rhythmed ‘Taking on Time’ to dark dreams thanks to the strutting guitar and twinkle of keys on ‘A List of Normal Sins’. In doing so, she has laid the foundations to progress in any direction she wishes and seamlessly built her way up to releasing recent EP ‘Drowning In Blessings’; which to listen to feels like exactly that. 

O’Brien’s intense voice cuts straight through the musical foundations of Drowning In Blessings’ tracks, her strong delivery inducing chills and making every word hit. Exploring the cynical side of modern culture in the likes of single ‘Most Modern Painting’ she generates such existential excitement with her observations on this and ‘Roman Ruins’ that you can’t help but feel riled up and ready to rock. She perfectly balances this edge and gloom with slightly more gentle elements though; resurfacing distant childhood memories of lullabies and carousels on ‘Fall With Me’ and closing with ‘Strangers in Danger’, her packed song on relationships between people and life- a perfect opportunity for reflection after the journey.

Filled to the brim with talent and creating songs jammed with ideas that are not only personal to her but can also touch each listener, O’Brien creates worlds within her work, and I firmly believe that it’s about time you’re swept away into them.

Take a listen to Sinead O’Brien on Spotify.

Punk/Rock Why We Love

Why We Love: Dream Wife

A truly badass punk rock band by any definition – these three girls are set to take on the screwed up modern world and kick it where it hurts, bitches to the front please for Dream Wife. 

Using their lyrics to quite literally give the finger to stereotype gender roles, sexism and objectification they’re here to save the world with a voice louder and a message more pervasive than the misogynistic old gits who run it.

The group, fronted by Islandic talent Rakel Mjöll and accompanied by effortlessly cool instrumentalists Alice Go on guitar and bassist Bella Podpadec have become known for a popular “bitches-to-the-front” code at their killer shows, where female gig-goers can mosh together without fear of wandering hands or other unwelcome attention.

Defiant words, rocking music and advocates for equality, Dream Wife are the group that we’ve been longing for and they couldn’t have come at a more needed time. About to set off on their 2021 Europe wide tour, they’re taking their message with them and yelling F.U to old ways.

Given that their origins were as a ‘fake girl band’ for a concept art piece, they’ve come a long way- now having evolved into a fully-fledged powerhouse of a group.

Yes, you did read that right, Dream Wife simply started out as a performance project after Podpadec and Go, who had already met during a Battle of the Bands (they just keep getting cooler don’t they?), joined forces with Mjöll at Brighton University and released their inner Spinal Tap- playing characters in a music mockumentary. 

However, it evidently surfaced that these weren’t just personas they were channelling but actually, their true rock star identities rising and ever since the band have been putting out amazing tracks that you’ll definitely be wanting to turn your volume up to 11 for.

The girls bring a clean-cut edge to punk. Storming guitars, strutting basslines and strong elocution in Mjöll’s gritty vocals have a well-polished finish- resulting in an all-round refinement that sets them aside from many bands that are currently opting for grungier post-punk mumbles. Stand out tracks that encapsulate their trade-mark sound include the adrenaline-inducing Sports!, Hey Heartbreaker and Taste; featuring the line ‘I’ve got movement in my blood and it’s pumping up’ which is definitely how you feel whilst listening.

They’re no one-trick pony solely dependent on volume and aggression either, with Mjöll having originally trained in jazz and opera she’s also more than capable of displaying a more melodic side on songs like emotional sophomore album closer After the Rain tackling the tough but equally important issue of abortion or Temporary where accompanied by softer riffs and a dreamy aura they show that they’re capable of just about anything.

Not only do the trio have the coolest collection of names between them but also the coolest attitude to back their pure punk sound. I defy any female to feel anything other than empowered whilst listening to them, with lyrics like ‘serve it, smash it, win it, own it’ delivered with a punch, you’re left feeling riled up in the best possible way; energised and ready revolt. 

Citing the likes of Debbie Harry and Madonna as inspirations you can hear that they were raised on an array of iconic female stars and this combined with their reminders that they’re more than just an object and saying ‘hasta la vista’ to anyone that doesn’t agree means they look set to take on their idols roles; inspiring a new generation of girls both musically and in life.

It’s not just women in awe of Dream Wife though; evident by the fact my fellow writer James was planning an article on the group at the same time as myself. He graciously embraced the ‘bitches-to-the front’ ethos and let me have it but I still wanted to include his take as a male fan.

Sometimes it’s only when a band like Dream Wife comes around do we realise how much we needed them. This group and others like them such as Pussy Riot and Nasty Cherry are grabbing us by the collar and showing they’re a force to be reckoned with.

Just as we’ve seen throughout history, it’s this unmissable attitude gets sh*t done and I respect anyone talking sense with a voice louder than the Donald Trumps of the world.

These girls have proven time and time again that anything we can do, they can do better. Guitarist Alice Go may even be one of the most talented guitarists of her generation. Notice how I didn’t say most talented female guitarists? It’s time we stopped putting women in a separate category. While that may work for sport, music is about intelligence and these girls have sure shown us that.

What I really hope to see is that Dream Wife inspires a resurgence of all-female punk bands, because without them, the world would be a very bleak place indeed.

I have every faith that this invigorating band has it in them to do just that and keep the world rocking. It’s time to prepare yourself for the force of Dream Wife and the riot that will inevitably follow.

Get rocking to Dream Wife on Spotify now

Indie/Indie Rock Punk/Rock Why We Love

Why We Love: Courtney Barnett

With albums like IDLES ‘Ultra Mono’ and so many other spectacular artists from the same vain currently dominating the UK charts, it’s safe to say we could be on the very edge of a new era for music and the true revival period for 80’s grunge. If hearing this makes you jump for joy, then the songs of guitarist Courtney Barnett from Melbourn are certainly ‘must-haves’ on your playlists.

After first hitting big on the underground rock scene in 2012 with her self released EP, ‘I’ve Got a Friend Called Emily Ferris’, Courtney Barnett has since grown to become one of the most talked-about rising modern rock stars of today. After two studio albums and a host of incredible singles, Courtney has earnt phenomenal praise and worldwide recognition for her garage rock sound and muddy ’90s style. This is an artist who certainly never disappoints and a woman who truly embodies the spirit of ’90s MTV Nostalgia – talented AF, cool as hell, she might just be the Kurt Cobain of her generation.

Home-made and humorous, not only does Courtney Barnett produce smashing tune after smashing tune, she continues to amaze us with her terrific funny music videos.

Along with her neutral wit and creative humour, Courtney has brought something we love about music back to the world; a feeling on authenticity, high-school DIY band vibes and a persona inspired by her classic rock influences. Commonly pictured with a Fender guitar around her, the attributes of Barnett’s grunge pioneer predecessors Johnny Marr, John Squire and Thurston Moore are not lost on this extraordinary talent.

Her early experience in music as a guitarist in several garage and psych-country bands still shines through in her music today, both in the melodies and production of her songs and through the southern twang in her slumberous vocal style.

Old school and modern at the same time, one of her more recent tunes ‘Nameless, Faceless’ from her 2018 album ‘Tell Me How You Really Feel’, along with the songs animated video, is very much in the spirit of ’90s MTV and also reminds us of Franz Ferdinand’s ‘Take Me Out’ music video from 2004.

Since the release of her last single ‘Everybody Here Hates You’ in 2019, Courtney has been quiet about any new material she may be working on since Woodstock 50 festival had to be cancelled at the start of the year, but we have seen a great cover of Kev Carmondy’s ‘Just for you’ as well as many great new songs emerging from artists signed to her self-founded record label, Milk! Records.

Courtney has been known to collaborate frequently with other artists, this week she appeared in Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy’s creative lockdown music video for his new single ‘Gwendolyn.’

We’re dead excited to hear Courtney Barnett come blasting back onto the scene with new material soon, but for now at least we can rest assured that artists like Courtney exist in the world. We can sleep easy knowing that grunge is not truly dead.

Courtney Barnett is on tour in the UK with Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds from April 13th. Get your tickets here.

Listen to Courtney Barnett’s most recent single Everybody Here Hates You on YouTube and Spotify now.

Punk/Rock Why We Love

Why We Love: Amyl and The Sniffers

Australian pub-punk band Amyl and The Sniffers have quickly become one of the most talked-about underground bands of the year. When I first saw their electric yet unorthodox performance style on Jools Holland, which reminded me of watching an Iggy Pop performance, I had no idea what to make of this crazy looking bunch thrashing about in front of the BBC’s apparently paralytic studio audience. Something about this group just intrigued me from the get-go… maybe it was the hairstyles, but possibly also the singer Amy’s boots made completely out of gaffa tape wrapped around her ankles. I just had to know more about them, and after adding the song I had heard to my playlist, I then ended up listening to every one of their releases non-stop for that entire week.

Packed with fantastic punk attitudes, this band have quickly become a favourite, a group I’ve been telling everyone about, and those who hear them become just as hooked as I first did. The frontwoman of the band, Amy Taylor, has compared their music to the street drug Amyl after which the band takes their name; “In Australia we call poppers Amyl. So you sniff it, it lasts for 30 seconds and then you have a headache – and that’s what we’re like!” Frontwoman Amy is certainly one of the coolest rocking people on the planet today, a true queen of the modern punk world who I know has inspired many young women in London and across the world with her highly energetic, rebellious and empowering image.

The band have been touring Australia and America, primarily playing cult and punk festivals across the world, with appearances also at festivals throughout Europe this year. They formed in Melbourne, Australia, all close friends, writing and releasing their first EP, Giddy Up, in just 12 hours.

THIS is the true revival of punk, and nobody does it better today than Amyl and The Sniffers.

I leave you with their awesome lockdown cover of Peaches posted on their Instagram a few months back. This is one extraordinary band you’ll simply fall in love with, and who are worth every penny to see them at one of their fantastic, beer-soaked, sweat-drenched gigs. I can’t wait to see these guys back on stage where their flair truly comes alive.