Bobby Aherne and the rest of the No Monster Club crew are on a mission. Their resolution for the year seems to have been a thoughtful, gifting one. For on the first day of every month No Monster Club release a brand new single! Is it a big ask to keep that going and good? Not for No Monster Club; the only band I wanna be in. Here's why...
"No Monster Club is a slideshow of the grotesque and a gramophone of the absurd. Imagine Daniel Johnston representing Bora Bora at the Eurovision and finishing last"
- Bobby Aherne
Bobby Aherne, quite literally one of Ireland's most prolific song writers, never misses the mark when it comes to hyperbole. There's a metaphor for everything. So despite the flamboyancy and fairy tale like descriptions (seriously, who wouldn't want to see Daniel Johnston represent Bora Bora at Eurovision?), he and his group No Monster Club are preaching the extraordinary with their latest batch of tunes. One listen through this year's No Monster Club encyclopedia, and you'll blurt out my favourite, over-used descriptor. GENIUS. The whole thing sounds and seems like a whale of a time. Creating such a euphoric mood, isn't that just the best kind of band to be a part? Aherne thinks so...
"I have so much fun recording every song I make, and I never know which one is going to appeal to other people. It's always a nice surprise when one of them gets special attention, though. I'd love to know what the occasionally present magical ingredient was, so I could sprinkle it all over everything"
I've listened to the whole string of releases No Monster Club gift us on the first of every month, and so I'm gonna take a stab in the dark at finding that "magical ingredient". And that ingredient is...fun. The whole Monster catalogue is drenched in it. But it's fun without ever being novelty. Every song sounds as cool as the last, experimenting, but also utilising their unique band chemistry to create the ultimate bounce affect. It's impossible choosing where to start with No Monster Club, so lets concentrate on just two. Last month's single Faqir/Hex, and this month's Hiccup/Kalimanko.
You Are Here. This is a song that needs to be experienced. So put your coat on, head into the back garden when it's stormy out, stick this tune on, and enjoy. The ultimate 90's dance pop beat will greet you, with the perfect guitar accompaniment, and a chorus to singalong to n'all. It's a brilliant song. Then Kung Fu Buffet hits you. You'll think you're listen to Dr. Dog, but then you'll realise they haven't done anything this good for years. It's got to be No Monster Club. The lyrics grip, and again the chorus is just so cool. Epitomises the fun without novelty and another brilliant track.
"If you've never listened to music on a swing, you should give it a shot. There's no better feeling than when your swings are perfectly in sync with the rhythm. Try it with 'Hiccup' by They Shoot Horses Don't They. You'll get a thousand butterflies at the chorus. But yes, it'd be cool to play a gig at a funfair while everybody is on waltzers and stuff"
That was last month's gem. And this month's is just as good. Aherne's ideas continue to shine with Birthday Cake, proving that No Monster Club are comfortable with whatever they are playing. There's no real formula or style. Just look at the band's beach picture; organised chaos. There's no set plan for the music. Just fun, and what sounds right. Coincidental, then, that the real beauty on the release is called A Long Day At The Seaside.
Welcome to the sound of jungle beats, old cinematic strings and the cheekiest keyboard ostinatos in town. It's a marvelous theme that bounces along, and builds in rhythm and layers. Then, we find that magical ingredient Aherne is so determined to bottle. The perfect transition into beat, accompanied by the sound of ocean. We've arrived somewhere new. It's the same beat, but isolated and magnified, it takes on a whole new life. It's so brilliantly simple. And simply brilliant.
"We'll get around to doing more recordings together. It's been a few years since we did a band record, and the group has changed a lot since then. We did a charity cover of 'Remember You're A Womble', and I think that's pretty much it"
There are plenty of bands from the South-Coast of England who play it big locally, but struggle to thrive elsewhere. It's a tough corner to break-free from, for sure. But Gender Roles are managing to do just that with the release of their latest five track EP Planet X-Ray. Here's what we think, with a little insight from GR bass player Jared Tomkins...
Planet X-Ray is a major release for the Brighton Based Indie group Gender Roles. Released on Hanger Records earlier this year, it's the first sound-bite of a band who could and should break-free from the local Indie hotbed of Brighton and the rest of the south coast. Planet X-Ray offers the kind of powerful Indie Rock 'n' Roll which has seen the likes of British Sea Power and Royal Blood make it to the next level. Quite simply, it grabs you. It shakes your speakers. YES!!!
"We weren't sure how we wanted it to sound, or even how it was going to sound, but it turned out to be pretty much exactly what we were looking for. We've had some really positive feedback since it came out and we're really grateful for that"
Where many bands like Gender Roles go wrong is their lack of diversity in sound. By that, I mean the important art of contrast. On Planet X-Ray, Gender Roles get the balance between heavy thrash and sparse, punctuated, rhythm spot on. It allows for a narrative to come across in their songs. Yeah, we all like head banging, but we like hearing too. Much like the very first Paws record Cokefloat!, Gender Roles have produced a soundtrack which works across the entire spectrum of Indie music.
"Paws are great. I think if you get annoyed by being grouped with certain bands, you should probably change the genre or style of music that you play"
The latest release Chemicals is a perfect example of this. Drifting between a gripping verse and a rocking chorus, it's a very tight example of what's to come from Gender Roles. But, it's not the band's best. That accolade falls to their very first release Skin. The vocals on this track really are stand-out, in fact, it's the best example of how voice and instrumentation work together on the Planet X-Ray record. "You really got in underneath my skin...". 'Nuff said.
"Skin. First song we wrote, first song out and first video as well. The song is basically about the 'scars' that past relationships leave. When I wrote Skin I pictured it as a couple getting tattoos of each others names and breaking up.
The 'kiss of death' as they call it".
So, it does beg the question, what will happen to Gender Roles in the world of Indie music? Do they remain in Brighton and the south coast, or will the potential their debut Planet X-Ray shows propel them onto a greater stage? For a debut EP release, this record really is out of this world. A phenomenal introduction. But in reality, as bassist Jared Tomkins reminds us, there is a lot more to it than just releasing the best music.
"When you're a new band, you just want to play shows. You're going to be on first, so it's got to be somewhere you can get to by running for the train straight after work because you're not famous and still work for the man, and get back from easily because you're not famous and still work for the man".
© Photo: Piotr Filipek
Jon McKiel is the epitome of cool. No try-hard, no nuffin'. Just his own style and his own brand of music. No small talk necessary. The Canadian songwriter has recently returned with the release of his new record Memorial Ten Count on You've Changed Records.
You get very little out of McKiel in interview. His answers are short and precise. Flamboyancy isn't part of the McKiel deal. He leaves most of the talking to his music. So, if pictures can speak a thousand words, Memorial Ten Count can speak a zillion. With this latest release McKiel and co have stretched the boundaries of what an ordinary alternative-genre release might sound like. McKiel dabs in and out of his favourite genres from the blues melancholy to the thrash. But one underlying factor throughout is the unrivaled use of the guitar. One moment it jags the perfect rhythm, the next it sings the sweetest melody. This is McKiel's forte.
"Past records felt more like a collage with me playing most instruments and overdubbing, whereas this one was live off the floor with a band I've been playing with for a few years"
"Brothers came about from us just playing around during the recording session. I had that scale written as it sounds now and the rest of the arrangement was written on a break then re-arranged by Crocker"
And so, to the important introduction of McKiel's band. Steadily involved for a few years, this release is definitely that of a group, not a solo artist. It would be fair to say that the introduction of Jay Crocker on guitar, Shawn Dicey on bass and Aaron Mangle on drums has given McKiel the edge he was perhaps missing. It's definitely our favourite effort since the solemn tones heard on The Nature Of Things a few years back, and with the strong backing of the aforementioned members, it has allowed McKiel to stick to his strengths, get the guitar spot-on, and belt that incredible voice out. For that reason, then, Memory Cook has to be the best track on the record. Hands down.
Minnesota noughties throw-back rockers Remo Drive have just released their first record audaciously named Greatest Hits. May as well start at the top, eh? Here's what Third Outing thought of Remo Drive's effort after a conversation with front man Erik Paulson.
With the release of Greatest Hits, Remo Drive have proved that our starry eyed memories of yesteryear's Indie Rock 'n' Roll dream days are alive and kicking. Listening to Remo Drive I can't help but feel like I'm back in the summer of 2008; straight out of school, about to embark on years of mop head and questionable fashion decisions. But it was the best time of my life, and with this "greatest hits" release, Remo Drive prove to be my time machine to a better place. And so let's start then with the first single on the new Remo Drive record curiously entitled Art School.
"We love a lot of music from that era.
That riff in particular was originally much slower but
I decided to speed it up after listening to some older punk stuff"
The problem is, it's no longer 2009, and this era of Indie Rock 'n' Roll has all but disappeared. At least, when you hear it now, it feels somewhat dated, a bit like watching episodes of The Inbetweeners on E4. To judge this record on these terms seems somewhat unfair. But still, we kind of can't help it. Yes, the first single Art School is an excellent record when isolated from space and time. Though we don't quite concur with the older punk influence, it is one of the catchiest, upbeat, and sound-trackable records we've had on Third Outing this year. Still, something we can't escape...
...yep, we hate to judge a great record based on something as trivial as decade, but it just doesn't sit right for us as a contemporary piece of music. I'm listening to this and I'm thinking about bands such as Operahouse, Pigeon Detectives, Pete and the Pirates. Again, the sound track of my youth and the greatest of memories, but still memories non the less. I can't help but ask, where have Remo Drive been for the last 10 years to still create this kind of jaunting Indie record? Or am I just looking at this in the wrong way? Are Remo Drive actually genius? Are they the first noughties revivalists to get it absolutely spot on?
"Outside of our DIY community the our reception has always been lukewarm at best. There's a lot of opportunities
here though if you persist"
Alas, maybe I've got what's going on here. You need to delve further into the record to discover it, but this revivalist notion grabs hold when you uncover tracks further down the listing like Summertime, Name Brand, and particularly Yer Killin' Me. There's a punk spirit hidden behind an Indie guise. It's like a combination of thrash and melody, a little bit like what Paws are doing right now in Scotland, giving it some beans but keeping it accessible with melody. In short, a tanked up Indie song from the noughties with an originality from the now. That counts for Yer Killin' Me particularly.
"The end of Yer Killin Me was a very happy accident.I had the
bulk of the song written and that jam section came from
jamming one day.The acoustic ending came
about during the recording process"
This is the most beautiful song on the record, constructed in a way which keeps you on your toes throughout. Is it loud and in your face verses? Reflective Muse-esque choruses? Indie-jangle middle 8 sections? Or best of all, an unbelievably enticing stripped-back, acoustic outro that somehow encapsulates the energy of the entire record in one sweet and solemn cheerio farewell? It's all of these things, of course. But seriously, what an ending, and one which leads to a final verdict on Remo Drive. Yes, despite their initial out-dated execution of Indie Rock 'n' Roll, these guys are in fact the first serious revivalists of a time and space which needs to be celebrated a little more often in life.
The former college buds LVL UP, now signed to Sub Pop Records, have released their third outing Return To Love and are about to kick things off here in the UK. Here's a few words...
When we ask LVL UP about their second effort Hoodwink'd, they told us things straight: "we look back on it fondly but we are more interested in moving forward and working on new things". The "moving forward" comes with the release of Return To Love on the legendary American Indie label Sub Pop. This was last year. From Pitchfork to Rolling Stone the reviews are strong. But now the band is coming to the UK and they're ready...
LVL UP embody the career progression many bands would like to have. A very decent first record followed by a better second one. Influenced by Silver Jews and 90's Indie Rock, naturally it caught the attention of the media and a buzz formed. But they have also gone one step further than most other bands behind the scenes...
LVL UP founded a record label Double Double Whammy which is set to re-release on vinyl one of the best Indie records of last year, Hovvdy's Taster. That's a side project, for now their own release on Sub Pop takes priority. They've struck up an accord with the label and have worked together shaping the whole package; "Nick did most of the drawings and then he and Dave collaborated on the layout and design with some help from the Sub Pop design team. It was hard for us to agree on the final layout, but it happened". That's the best way to learn how to run a label, right? This has resulted in Return To Love maybe being their best effort yet.
"Having three different songwriters can make it feel more experimental
when we are all pulling in different directions"
We asked the question, is Return To Love the most experimental record so far? "Yes we definitely feel that way! Not sure why it turned out that way because we didn't necessarily intend to make a record like that, but I guess having three different songwriters can make it feel more experimental when we are all pulling in different directions". The band's philosophical lyrics have great impact on the way listeners approach the record, but the true consistency of the record is the genuine high-level quality of each track, not just the philosophy behind them.
Take a track such as Hidden Driver as an example. A combination of musical talent and vision creates the most important consistency of all: a record which makes you think from beginning to end. Between the mystic, wisdom and the theories, this is the band's sound developing towards their happy end point. "In the beginning it was an aesthetic decision born out of necessity, but lately our sound has been shaped by a desire to find unique sounds in the studio".
"SARN's brand of experimental pop is kissed by both a love for noise and Hip Hop. The results remain distinctly melodic and sweet, even when tackling tough issues". That's the description from label DEATHBOMB ARC who released SARN's return Postmodern Trash earlier this month...
"The songs on Postmodern Trash are centered around my youth and were written based on not only my experiences growing up, but those of the people around me. Obviously not all of it is factual, but the stories and sentiments were informed by life experiences" - SARN
SARN's latest record Postmodern Trash takes the idea of "noise and Hip Hop" to another level. This is no ordinary record. SARN, again having entered the studio with veteran John Vanderslice, decided to really let the screws loose this time. The former 'Go-Tell-It-To-The-Wallers' have merged a whole host of influences together, ranging from relaxing Asian sounds on Trail Marks to the rather robotic on Too Much Art.
"Everything was recorded through a vintage Neve console to analogue tape. We don’t demo songs or do any pre-production. It’s a very casual and relaxed atmosphere, but also very fast paced in a good way. All of the songs are first or second takes. I think we did six songs on the first day"
What we like about SARN is that despite their varied use of equipment, they manage to marriage each element so lovingly with the guitar. They are the experts at using the weird and wonderful. The aforementioned Neve Console, for example. But it all falls back to the familiar six stringed instrument somehow or other.
No Shade is definitely one of the more beautiful examples of this on the record, and it backs up our point perfectly. Hear how the piano almost falls like raindrops on the rhythm guitar. How the roof comes crashing in by the second verse, and the instruments join together under the thunder of the snare drum. Majestic.
"No Shade is probably my favorite. It’s a throwback to my younger years being carefree and reckless; skateboarding around town on those scorching summer days; the smell of sweat, hot asphalt and gas fumes; playing in shitty garage bands; going to punk/hardcore shows; tagging all night, evading police; consuming way too much sugar, and crashing just before dawn"
Photography by Andy Catlin©
After the release of his magical Die Hard Christmas song, it's been difficult for Third Outing to forget about Jonnie Common. Until then, the boy from Glasgow had been lying low since the release of Kitchen Sync last year, a record created exclusively using the sounds of his kitchen...
So we thought hey, let's give those who have missed out so far a little insider's knowledge on why Jonnie is really not so common after all. For Third Outing, it all began with our discovery of Leith based record label Song, By Toad, run by Matthew, who Common describes as the "Tony Wilson Of Leith, but a bit less difficult".
There were rumours on Facebook that the label had released a Die Hard themed Christmas record and with a natural curiosity, we took the click-bait. What ensued was one of the most engaging, well-written and Goddamn addictive Christmas classics we'd ever heard. Indeed, Yippee-Ki-Yay, Father Christmas was to be only the beginning of our fascination with Jonnie Common and his wonderful way with music.
"I had wanted to write a Christmas song based on Die Hard for forever. I tried once but what came out was way too shmultzy and I scrapped it. When I spoke to Bart from eagleowl about it, he encouraged me to give the Die Hard song another stab and I’m so glad he did.
It might be the most proper song I’ve ever written"
Jonnie Common is the expert of diversity, you discover that very quickly. If you like your artists to stick to one theme and then develop it, the boy isn't for you. His music is that of an all-rounder. Rarely does somebody engage with Electronic music, Acoustic music, Indie music so equally and well. For us, though, it's the way that he joins each of these genres together. There's a vibrancy which each of his records produces, a weird kind of low-decibel buzz, which energizes and gives each track a wave-like movement.
"I don’t listen to my albums much, but since I kind of use them as time capsules, when I do hear them, they always stir up a lot of memories and I get a real kick out of it"
There's two records which stand-out for us, and which we must talk about. First is the 2 track EP Photosynth. It's the pinnacle of this wave-like motion mentioned earlier. A maestro in the art of song writing, both tracks (Photosynth and Bits Of Maschinery) display masterful lyricism and orchestration, utilizing both voice and instrumentation to perfection. It marks Common's transition from the more typical sounds found in his earliest records, towards something altogether quite different. Namely, Kitchen Sync...
"As much as it could be viewed as a new direction for me, I don’t think it’s a sharp turn.
I’ve always put less traditional, perhaps less expected, sounds into my tracks but Kitchen Sync is certainly the most extreme example of that, by quite a way"
Kitchen Sync is a record which famously uses nothing but the items and appliances found in Common's kitchen. Remember that episode of the Fresh prince where he plays Hip Hop on the wine glasses? This is just like that, only to autistic standards. There's a delightful video on Youtube where Common explains the finer details of making the record. It's the ultimate relaxation record, proving Common's keen ear for a sound. Really, who knew an entire record could be made out of such noises, and actually sound so good?
"The pleasing sound of the oven door closing in an old flat set off a chain of events that resulted in me making an album exclusively from sounds in kitchens. It was a labour of love for sure, but I learned a lot doing it and it’s already led to a few possible avenues of development"
With this impressive and varying back catalogue, Jonnie Common has joined a great list of Scottish artists who have pioneered their own style and sound. Join the likes of Arab Strap, Frightened Rabbit, Paws; Common has adapted, inverted and reversed his sound time and time again, becoming a real mainstay of this generation of Scottish artists. It's a lesson in song writing, and that's something which requires skill.
Austin-based brothers Art Pop have just released their first outing This Is Art Pop. The band welcome a fresh new sound to the Indie world, defined by a certain musical mis-match. Art Pop is all about the deeper meaning. It's hard to define and that's what we like about it...
It's a simple story about two brothers who wanted to see what together their two minds could create. It was the day after a typically messy Parquet Courts gig in Austin, TX. The New York rockers Andrew Savage and Austin Brown spent most of the night yelling until they were hoarse down the microphone. That's all it took for future Art Pop duo Max and Miles Grossenbacher to go to the guitar shop and bought a $50 microphone set. They cleared out the closet and began recording that day. Two months later, the result is here for everybody to see, the release of This Is Art Pop.
"I hope that people will be able to hear the authenticity of the music"
Despite Art Pop's clear musical reference points (Car Seat Headrest, LCD Soundsystem, Parquet Courts, and on and on and on) they never quite cross the line into hipster-wallpaper. Thematically, This Is Art Pop is stuffed with so many sugarcoated melodies it’s almost headache-inducing. Yet there isn’t a single insubstantial lyric here. It’s a record about trying to make friends, heartbreak, insecurity; the crucial and personal subject matters which typically reflect the life and days of a soon-to-be grown-up rocker.
These carefully crafted words alternate visions of despair and anger with reconciliation and acceptance way beyond the efforts of many first releases. Hey Hey!! recalls the feeling "I was teenage scum beat down, broke, crooked numb/dumb". It's the downers mentality we relate to on a grey day. But then it switches, listen to Human In A Big City "All I Need Is Some..." where the band sing "I think I’ll be alright. I think I’ll be just fine. Cause I never needed you in my life. I was just looking for someone to make love to". They're back in the game.
This Is Art Pop reveals a voracious musical vocabulary that spans most things music has to offer. For the two classically trained pianists, the mishmash of sounds, textures and noise all mix together to create a little world of its own. It's the single most impressive thing Art Pop have risked, to simply record the record. Yes the influences can be heard, but it's subtle. They don't over-complicate the classical. They don't undersell the Indie.
For that reason the album proves both visionary and re-visionary, as the two ponder both their own and their country's past music idols, whilst looking ahead to new musical possibilities. The record follows no guidelines, it's not repetitive, instead there's a story line, style, experimentation, and its own distinct mood. It's hard to define, and as we said, that's what we like about them...
Splashh are a band who took their time to truly explore a whole new world of sounds. After reinventing most of their originals ideas to finally release the much anticipated Waiting A Lifetime, their sophomore record, we ask: was it worth the wait?
2016. On February 25, Splashh came out of their hibernation to release a statement across social media: "Pretty much want our record to sound like this". "This" referred to a live version on French television of Moon Safari by Air. "We're all big fans and there's definitely a few moments on the record you can hear it", confessed synth player Jaie Gonzales to Third Outing.
Now, fast forward eight months, and the band release their highly anticipated first single Rings. The song begins more or less on a standard Splashh style melody. It's fast, upbeat, and oozes noisy guitar sounds. At first, you may think Splashh are a good rock band. Plain and simple. But then you realise Rings is based upon volatility and a seeming relentless non-conformism too. Then at 1.24 sec, the track breaks into a new dynamic; a slow, atmospheric, space-pop whirlwind begins.
With Rings it sounds like the band's ethos is to adhere to rock-song schematics while scribbling between the lines. Here's what we mean by that. "I think with this record we wanted to show, to ourselves even, that there are still so many places you can go as a guitar oriented band that feel new and exciting. It's fun to see how far you can take it before you stop sounding like a guitar band", explains Jaie. Then it's this combination of analog keyboards, the dependable traditional rock instruments, guitar and bass, this combination with unpredictable chord progressions, various experimentation and the time spent in studio alongside sound mavericks such as Nicolas Vernhes at the Rare Book in Brooklyn that has shaped Waiting A Lifetime. That has given Splashh a new dimension. They are adhering, but those "between line scribbles" are outstanding.
"When we went into the studio we ended up reinventing all the ideas we had and it kind of brought us full circle. 'Rings' felt like an appropriate first taste of that"
Rings is indeed an example of a band whose imagination seems limitless. And then further noises such as See Through confirm this new dimension Splashh have now entered. "'Comfort' was a true bedroom DIY record", tells Jaie, whereas Waiting A Lifetime is without a doubt a studio record. The tag isn't derogatory. It simply means that the new record is full of overdubs, little subtleties and refinements. Take Gentle April and its big orchestra feel, as if the band are heading to a 90's Jason Pierce anthem kind of vibe!
However, it's the following number Waiting A Lifetime which is the song which best marks Splashh's transition. This is the track which is fully embedded with the band's old and new sound. It looks back to the past but also turns towards new ventures. That's the album's strength. It's a record which doesn't sound totally new to the long-time fan but succeeds where so many second records fail; experimenting without loosing its touch, its trade-sound.
Listen to the penultimate song Presumably Dead Arm on the new record Ed Buys Houses by Sidney Gish, and you understand the spirit in which the talented composer writes. It's her document of teenage life in Boston. Ed Buys Houses; the time-capsule of youth by Sidney Gish...
"I wanna know your password without changing them in preferences // Scrolling through click-bait endlessly // Valencia filters are passing the time". Sidney Gish documents the thoughts and emotions of the final years of teenage life 2017 with her New Year effort Ed Buys Houses. Moving away from sporadic flutters of Soundcloud releases, this time-capsule of youth is Gish's first crack at moulding her inspirations into the long-play format, and she has succeeded.
"I didn't grow up going on secret adventures and making decent art, I grew up awkwardly walking around the grocery store.
I wanted Ed Buys Houses to show that; not the story of a cool, rebellious youth, but the bleak, uncool youth that way more people are familiar with"
Gish summaries her intentions brilliantly here, confidently playing the realistic and relatable card which too many artists seem to avoid. This release is more intentional than everything else she has made to date. Yes, the record follows one concept of youth throughout, but it remains spontaneous and exciting. Numerous standout tracks including Buckets Of Fun, Vaudeville, and Friday Night Placebo, which entitce the ears with excellent song writing knack and capabilities. Then there are the tracks which soar to even higher heights. Hexagons And Other Fun Materials is one example, and Midnight Jingle (with its Intro) is the other.
"I love the dumb Intros to songs like Steal My Sunshine by Len, and Weezer's The Sweater Song, where they're just making stuff up and setting the scene. I could not pass up the idea of doing a banter skit by myself"
Midnight Jingle is the stand-out track on Ed buys Houses. Its comedic Intro, catchy bass and guitar riffs, plus the fact that it is so damn sing-along-able; it adds up to make a flagship recording on the album. Maybe it's something in Gish's voice, or maybe it's the beauty in simplicity, but you can't help but think that she has got this song writing thing down to the ground. Then she sings the words "single last minute little jingle". It's all complete; and all of this with a few instuments, a voice, and a Garage Band App! Like many young artists, the fact that the sound of Gish's late teenage years comes from a bedroom recording is incredible .
©Photography by Jess Gleeson
Ever wondered what it would be like if you went down to your local pub on a Friday night, gave everyone an instrument, and tried to make a band out of them? It would probably be a horrible noisy mess...
But what if the pub was a small pub of nine people and everyone in the pub was musically talented and happened to know how to play a set of perfectly matched instruments? What if the nine people in the pub had even played in other legendary Australian bands like Saskwatch, The Bamboos and Eagle and the Worm? Well if you took those nine people, chucked in a dash of psychedelia, some snarly guitar and a hell of a lot of stage presence, you might get something resembling Dorsal Fins!
Dorsal Fins are a Melbourne outfit lead by Liam McGorry, also trumpeter in Saskwatch. Their sound is a sort of orchestral-psychedelic indie rock. Their 2015 release Mind Renovation presents melodic guitars on tracks like Sun & Stars (a personal favourite), with psychedelic and rhythmic riffs reminiscent of Tame Impala, exemplified in the title track Mind Renovation.
Their more recent release, Digital Zodiac, has taken the band in a more ‘pop' direction, continuing the strong melodies found on earlier releases and combining it with a more conventional, and perhaps less psychedelic sound. They have moved in to indie-rock-pop territory reminiscent of Foster the People, or even late-stage-Angles-era Strokes kind of thing.
The lead track, Sedated is definitely worth a listen, and goes to the heart of the more pop end of the pop-rock spectrum, whilst Roll Back the Years takes it down a notch and provides one of the more laidback highlights of the album. Precious Hands is another highlight that harks back to the more psychedelic sound heard on their debut album.
"It's easy to get people going when they can see you're enjoying yourself. When you're playing in a large group of your mates, that's easy to do”
On any given track there are male voices, female voices, keys, guitars, multiple percussive sounds, electronic flourishes and brass. Their tracks bristle with an energy that only a band of so many people can provide. The number of people in the band is its defining feature, and makes for a hell of a live show. However, spending hours listening to Dorsal Fins in your headphones or through your speakers at home is like peering longingly at a caged albatross – you are just never going to see it in its full glory.
It's that time again where we look back at some of the greatest bands and artists of the year. Deciding who has made it onto the famous Third Outing Best 11 teamsheet is always a difficult task. It's certainly been an inspiring year for alternative music; we've seen the best of Indie, Pop, Punk, Rock & Roll and so much more. Unable to keep it to 11 places (this year subs and a manager are included), it's time to get the show on the road and introduce the Third Outing Best 11 of 2016...
1: Fletcher C Johnson Wilder Than Me Thank god Super Fan 99 was here to save us with the discovery of Fletch. In the earlier days, his voice presented itself with a more mellow and soft touch, the sounds very much associated with classic American DIY. This year Johnson returned with a new album Lesson In Tenderness and it's first release Wilder Than Me. His imagination is still vivid, the voice more unique and the guitars extra skewed.
2: Here's Andy Spreadin' Thin Spreadin' Thin was written with the listener in mind. "I am moving on and I'm doing just fine, I'll be ok I just need more time" sings Andy on the promising track which made waves earlier in the year on Third Outing. Here's Andy is a Kurt Cobain fan and you can hear the influence. He has hit the nail right on the head there. Some follow up to the 2015 Small & Scary, it has left us wondering what 2017 will bring...
3: YOWL Saturday Drag On Saturday Drag there is a line you might yell at someone across an empty room, half-drunk paranoiac. "I went to the doctor and I said I'm scared again. Now I am scared of everyone". But it’s not hollered, it’s sung, almost poetically so, by YOWL's front man Gabriel Byrde. The band might at first sound apathetic like they don't really care. But listen closely, their music goes beyond. Saturday Drag is the helpless song of the year.
4: Jackson Reed Goodbye Endless Summer Across four songs Jackson Reed's The November Gales dabbles in serious deadpan surrealism. "I want to take a trip just to prove I exist", he whispers on Goodbye Endless Summer. Released on Deadplant Records, Reed's play is almost perfectly delivered, full of little sounds and details which take time to master. Discovering his music in the way only the best songwriters can, Reed is all about taking the journeys and living life.
5: Navy Gangs Special Gland 2016 marked the release of Navy Gangs' highly anticipated new EP. Full of youthful exuberance and wrapped in delicious halos of intoxicating reverb, ear-shredding fuzz and occasional pensive melancholia, this release was one of the richest doses of bittersweet nostalgia to fill your ears this year. The most genuinely Lo-Fi band, you could say they bleed it, they could develop into a classic...watch this space.
6: Cigarettes After Sex K Masters in the art of romance, melancholy and the seductive side of Rock and Roll, Cigarettes After Sex have had a great 2016. K is the soft but strong new release which Third Outing sawplayed to perfection in front of an adoring crowd earlier this year. It's little wonder why CAS have become a huge success. Front man Greg Gonzales is like Thiago Motta from PSG. He is relaxed, knows what he's doing, and delivers the right play every single time.
7: Catholic Action L.U.V The Scottish Glam Rock outfit Catholic Action shared the L.U.V this year with their simple pop structures and outstanding sense of melody. The first notes of the release is a pure clarion call, something exciting is truly about to go down. After such a year we're certain their self-concious and witty atmosphere is the perfect tonic to creating the perfect pop song. Catholic Action are the ones to keep the faith in for 2017.
8: The Orielles Jobin The Orielles have some serious sing along potential and Jobin is a real anthem track. From the opening words, and the lovely downward inflection on the word 'Brother' in the opening line, you find yourself surfing the waterfall of The Orielles. Though the Jobin EP, released on Art Is Hard Records, is only three tracks long, it's a record which portrays great diversity. Thankfully a new release is planned for next year...
9: Sammy Hale Hollywood Hills There's no doubt about it, Sammy Hale's debut LP Post Cult is a magnificent piece of work. His voice powers above all. It's a strong, raucous growl which will become his signature, and one which he rightly compares to Joshua Tillman AKA Father John Misty. Song after song on the record stand out in their own right as the moment to savour, but Hollywood Hills is our one to remember...
10: TV Girl Taking What's Not yours Inspired + (Sharp Bursts Of Colour; TV Girl) = Cool. That's the equation we formulated to describe the sensational TV Girl earlier this year. They are no ordinary group. With a sweet distinct mixture of musical genres all effortlessly fitting into one certain style and sense of cool, Third Outing regard this as one of the best songs of the year. Even the music video is a testament to how the group makes colour work for them!
11: SKiNNER Chair Kicker It's the music you wanna hear when you're trying to grasp the essence of life. Real, rough, ready, cheap poetry which tells the story of so many young people. But SKiNNER isn't necessarily trying to define the sound of his generation, he's just being it. Chair Kicker is the ultimate example from SKiNNER's standout 2016 release SKINT. Our final player in the Third Outing Best 11 of the year, it can only be SKiNNER...
SUB: Mal Devisa Fire Sometimes 11 selections just isn't enough. Equally as deserving in the starting line up is Mal Devisa for her incredible 2016 release Kiid. Lyricism, voice and delivery. Rarely do all three come together as the "package deal" and rarely do they come together with such abundance and creativity. Fire has to be one of the stand outs of the year; feel her pain, her sorrow, her optimism, until a final note which just kills you.
SUB: Hush Moss It Takes A Lot Hush Moss were a relatively unknown quantity before the release of It Takes A Lot, but it's already proved to be the soundtrack of the summer for Third Outing. There's some seriously impressive skills on show here, and not least from the blinding rhythm across the bass lines and percussion. Expect a lot more from our Nacho Libre loving friends over the next year...
SUB: Hovvdy In My Head Though the music can be labelled as Indie Rock, Hovvdy managed to create a world of their own this year. Pure toned, with beautifully odd, angular and inverted melodies, there's another side to Hovvdy's sound. When you suss the formula out, you understand what's going on. It's an experiment and venture towards something new. Our final song of the year is In My Head; almost the perfect song.
Manager: Healthy Eating Records Finally it's time for the Record Label of the year. We've been lucky enough to work with some of the best Indie labels around over the past 12 months, but few shine brighter than Healthy Eating Records. The Leeds based DIY label have been responsible for some of the best releases of recent times including Third Outing favourites Chest Pains and the infamous Yorkshire Puddings compilation.
Photography by Song By Toad Records©
We end our music diaries adventure with the making of a record from the perspective of the Record Label. Song By Toad Records is "Scotland’s most perversely idiosyncratic record label". Set up by Matthew Young, it's one of Edinburgh's best spots to record live sessions, play a gig, and in their little studio in leith, finally lay down that record. Here's the story behind Song By Toad's last release, the Split 12" Vol.5, and the journey it made all the way to New York City...
"Last year Mrs. Toad and I moved to New York for her work, and I took the opportunity to work with my brother (who lives there) and Tom from Gold Flake Paint (who likes a lot of the same New York bands that I do) to make a Split 12". This is the one and only ever release on Toad Flake Paint Records.
I sort of ended up being pals with Tom from before I ever met him, I think, in that way that can happen in the internet era. When he moved to Edinburgh for a year or so we hung out more, meeting at gigs a lot, as tends to happen in Edinburgh where the gig-going community is actually very small. Then he treacherously moved through to Glasgow at which point he was totally dead to me and has been ever since"*.
(*This may be a slight exaggeration.)
"Despite this, when Mrs. Toad and I arranged to move to New York for three months at the end of 2015, and the idea of doing a Split 12” locally whilst we were there was born, Tom made perfect sense as someone to collaborate with on the release, given his own affinity with many of the bands I love from that part of the world.
I’ve always admired Gold Flake Paint as a blog. Tom never seems to really care about fame or fashion, he just writes with constant energy and enthusiasm about the stuff he himself likes the most, which gives the blog a sincerity and integrity often lacking elsewhere on the internet, as well as a sort of sonic cohesion as well. In terms of where to record the actual music, well that was solved by the fantastic coincidence that my brother just happens to be a professional sound engineer. And just happens to live in New York. And just happens to have access to the studio at the National Opera Centre".
"Hanging out with my wee brother, talking bollocks about football, Star Wars and music stuff...what an incredible three months"!
"My family have always been pretty much my best friends. We moved around a lot while we were growing up so we were basically the only constants in one another’s lives, and that meant our relationships with one another were always more important than those with the people around us, who were always changing. This is the first time Ben and I have actually spent anything like this much time together since I left for university though, and the chance to just hang out, never mind work together, was fantastic.
Living in Red Hook, going to the Bait & Tackle, Brooklyn Crab, Hometown Barbecue, Rocky Sullivan’s, The Silent Barn, Fort Defiance for huevos rancheros, to see the Islanders at the Barclays Centre, taking the water taxi across to Manhattan and hanging out with my wee brother, talking bollocks about football, Star Wars and music stuff...what an incredible three months"!
"The interesting thing about recording in a proper studio, apart from me being intimidated by my brother’s sheer professionalism and actual, genuine expertise of course, was how different the atmosphere was. When we record at home the bands just naturally take it easy - they’re just visiting our house after all. But in the studio there was only really my ‘natural charm’ to keep the atmosphere relaxed, and suddenly because of the formality of the setup things like monitoring and proper tracking took on more importance than they ever do in someone’s living room.
Today's Music Diaries comes from Lunar Quiet who have the most difficult story in Rock and Roll to tell. Like some of the greatest bands of all time; Nirvana and Joy Division to name but a few, Lunar Quiet have lost their enigmatic front man Tom Knights too early. Here's the life of Lunar Quiet as told by guitarist and co-founder Ben Thompson...
"Lunar Quiet began in the late Autumn of 2015. Tom Knights and I began jamming and formed as a bedroom project. We were writing little dream pop Lo-Fi songs, drawing inspiration from the likes of Beach Fossils, DIIV, My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth, The Cure, and many more. After writing what was to be our first single Endless Migraine, Tom and I set out to look for other members to form a full band and take our aspirations further. Around early December we found George Miles through mutual friends. Straight away we connected and he became our drummer within the first practice. Then, around early January, Lena Pilshofer joined on bass and immediately began as a full band and became Lunar Quiet.
Instantly, Tom became the focal point of the band, not only because of his talent to write songs, but his passion, emotion and desire was beyond anything we had ever witnessed as individuals or musicians. He lived and breathed music, every spare time he got he spent writing, listening, watching and exploring music. He wrote countless poems, lyrics, and quotes in books that was just filled with absolute genius. Tom was one of those people that really brought the best out of you and he brought the best out of us not only creatively but as people".
"Music was his therapy and his nirvana, and it was in the late summer and early October we wrote our most important songs"
"Tom and I wrote and jammed as much as we could, whenever we could. We would take our ideas to rehearsals and show Lena and George, where we would then turn each idea into songs. About 60% of Lunar Quiet practise’s were disasters, mostly because of Tom’s incredible passion, something that you have to step back and realise just how creative and how incredibly talented he was. This abundance of creativity drove him to many breakdowns, often storming out, kicking things, shouting and always breaking strings (something Tom did almost every time he played guitar). He strived for perfection. Though he never once said anything bad towards us, nor would he direct his anger towards us. Tom was the kindest, most loyal and loving person you could ever meet".
"40% of good practises we did have, well they were bloody good! But it was becoming very noticeable, especially in the last few months we had with Tom, that his battle with mental health issues was taking a toll on him; but music was his therapy and his nirvana, and it was in the late Summer and early October we wrote our most important songs. Firstly She’s Septic, and then the last song we wrote as a band Happy Couple, a song which Tom, and all of us, felt we had reached the direction we wanted to get to from the start. It was a song which summed up Lunar Quiet, a song that summed us up as individuals and summed up Tom".
"In time we will carry on our music together, but as a new project, leaving Lunar Quiet to live on in Tom's name"
"We were making plans to record these songs early next year as a small EP, however it was on the 23rd of October this year that with a heavy heart we lost our dear Tom. A shock and tragedy to all his friends, family, and loved ones. Something we will all never forget, and a person who we will all never forget. Someone who will live on in all our hearts forever. Tom will continue to inspire us everyday. In time we will carry on our music together, but as a new project, leaving Lunar Quiet to live on in Tom's name.
We have phone recordings of our last songs She’s Septic and Happy Couple, and plan to hopefully use them for something in the future as well. We are also putting a special charity memorial gig on in our hometown of Brighton which is dedicated to Tom Knights. We will have all our close friends bands playing the night and will be selling Art and Lunar Quiet merchandise too. For now, sleep well Tom, we love and miss you everyday. Until the next song, rest peacefully".
Music videos, promotion, management. It's all part of modern-day band requirements. But self-recording an entire LP must be the next step on the DIY chain. This month, London-based indie-folk-rock six-piece The No Sorrows release their first LP. Inspired by everyone from Fairport Convention to Felt; the album's warm, analogue sound is pure 1972. And it's hardly surprising given that they recorded it in a collapsing farmhouse in rural France. We asked frontman Tom Huddleston to give us a little insight into the making the record...
Recording The No Sorrows: A Day in the Life
"The final day of recording The No Sorrows was the hardest work I've ever done. It was the day we realised that we were on the verge of completing a record that, against the odds, we were genuinely proud of. But we also knew that if we didn't get our asses in gear and work until stupid o'clock in the morning, it would all be for nothing.
With one exception, and if you've ever seen us play you'll know who that is, the members of The No Sorrows are all enthusiastic amateurs with busy day jobs: it took us two years to play our first gig, three to make a demo and six to get around to making this record. But when the time came, we approached it the same way we do everything else: we made a vague but really fun-sounding plan, crossed our fingers and hoped for the best".
"I always imagined that most bands make their first record close to home, in a local studio they've practiced in for years. We made ours in a tumbledown farmhouse smack in the middle of France, owned by a couple of my relatives. There were snakes in the grass and spiders in the outdoor shower, and there weren't enough beds so some of us had to camp in the garden. We carted all our gear; kit, amps, recording equipment, down from London in a splitter van, allowing ourselves ten days in total: two to set up and eight to record. If we didn't get it down in that time, we wouldn't get it at all".
"The first nine days went pretty smoothly; they were hard work, of course, but we could feel it coming together. We shifted the furniture out of the living room and laid mattresses up against the windows, creating a makeshift recording booth in the front hallway and running wires under the door. We laid down the drums and bass first before starting on the acoustic guitar, the violin and the vocals. When I wasn't needed I spent my time pottering around with a portable recorder, picking up the ambient sounds around the farmhouse; sheep in the next door field, frogs in the pond, kids playing in the lake down the road. We wanted the record to sound like the place it was made".
"But by the dawn of the final day, we were started to panic. We'd laid down a few electric guitar tracks but they weren't close to done, and the vocals were only about 60% finished. What's worse, we'd ambitiously carted down every single instrument we could lay our hands on; mandolins, banjos, oboes, percussion, a saxophone, even a bloody didgeridoo, and were determined to find room for every last one of them (the didj never made it, because we're not idiots).
By 2 in the afternoon we were working flat out, by 4 we were drunk, and by 8 we were in another world entirely, laughing hysterically as we added maracas, frying pans, wine glasses and cheese graters to the last song on the album (listen and you'll hear them all). But somehow we managed to pull it together, and by 3 am we were floating on our backs in the aforementioned lake, watching shooting stars rocket overhead and trying not to fall asleep and drown.
The making of a music video. Every band has to go through it. Sometimes they're multi-million dollar productions, but for the vast majority in this increasingly DIY world of music, bands can no longer just be bands. They have to be promoters, A&R, tour managers, and now more than ever; they have to be music video producers. Here's the diary of Music and Medicine who decided to make a video for their first single Waves. Their goal was simple: to make a DIY music video that didn't look like a DIY music video. Here is the 6 months that followed...
Day 1: Planning
"It was March this year when we started talking about the project; discussing what we could do with it and sessioning band videos online like Crazytown Butterfly. We had some ideas and we knew what we didn’t want. No Indie, forest, cold-breath visuals. No student-video acting malarkey. The notes from an ‘Ideas’ meeting, March 2016, followed: the visuals need to fit the track, do we bother with a storyline vibe or keep it real vague? And finally, what's the set and where are we going to film?
After chucking around various hallucinatory narratives, we decided to keep it real simple and go for a live band shoot. We bought a strobe light and had a few ideas for putting Ben’s head in a box of LED’S, but in the end it just seemed unnecessary. We could mess with the footage in post-production. Enough talking".
"Check that relative you know with a decent pension plan and ask them if they’ve got a basic DSLR kicking about"
Day 5: Materials
"First things first, we didn’t have a camera. So we borrowed one. Check that relative you know with a decent pension plan and ask them if they’ve got a basic DSLR kicking about. We ended up using two different cameras, which actually wasn’t ideal when it came to mixing footage. Next time we’ll stick to one.
As averagely computer literate people, we set about finding some editing software and learning it. Will has had some experience with video stuff before, so he took point on that. We found splitting tasks was key in getting this project off the ground.
Finally, we needed a place to do it. Rolling generators into a local building site and hanging strip lights from dumper trucks sounds sweet as, but we knew the filming was going to take a while, so we chose to film in Mac’s basement. We decided to shoot in a location we could control; it wasn’t that MTV but there’s a lot you can do in post-production to spice things up".
Day 30: Doing
"Things got different once we got the cameras out, started getting footage and watching it back. Problems occurred: the lighting wasn’t working, my jumper made me look like a schmuck and we shot four takes with the mic lead blatantly unplugged. But that’s the game. Some problems you can solve and some you will have to get around. Side note: if you're googling a camera issue and someone’s doing his hair in the mirror (Ben), tell them to get on it mate. There’s a lot to do, work together.
Over the two days of shooting we learnt some lessons. Always make sure you’re keeping an eye on the footage that you’re getting. Always have an extra friend and camera operator on hand to get those full band shots. Never change your clothes halfway through. For us, once the lighting and gear was set up it was surprisingly chill. We shot a live run-through of the song about ten times from different angles and that was plenty of footage".
"If you’re going to have a crack at making a video yourself, good luck, next time it will all be easier or maybe just bigger and more challenging, but no worries you’ll be famous by then"
Many Days Later: Editing
"After some intense discussions (compromise is key), we finally pinpointed a style we were all happy with. Then came the time to work it, work it and work it. We kept Bombay mix and coffee stacked up and the child prodigies of YouTube on tab when the software technicalities got too much for us. Side note: Don’t take your stylistic differences down the pub. It’s not productive, you only talk breeze down the pub, and everyone will hate you for it".
"Everything must come to an end. Although our finished product is different from how we first imagined it, it’s something we’re all dead chuffed with. So if you’re going to have a crack at making a video yourself, good luck, it will be well worth it, and the next time it will all be easier. Or maybe just bigger and more challenging but no worries you’ll be famous by then".
© Photo by Benjamin Torrey
As part of a special 'music diaries' week here on Third Outing, we are inviting various people from across the world of music to tell us their stories. First up it's Soft Pop trio Slumbers who are enchanting your stereo with sweet and relaxed sounds. But with such a particular sound, we asked the girls to choose THE songs which have influenced their latest EP Come Over out via Sports Day Records...
Sabrina - Answer by Tyler The Creator
"I love the lonely guitar riff in Answer, and how honest Tyler is in his lyrics. It inspired me to say whatever I feel like in songs and do whatever I want to in general, and to not care about what other people think about that. His whole album Wolf was probably a huge influence, with its mix of honesty and imagination. I was listening to him and Sufjan Stevens almost exclusively for a couple months when I wrote some of these songs we recorded, and I think you can kind of hear their influence in this. There's also kind of a shout out to Odd Future in one of the songs".
Emma - Close Your Eyes and Count to Ten by Grouplove
"It was influential for me and our band because it's the first song we ever played together in Sabrina’s spidery basement. They’re also one of the first bands we saw live together, back when we had to convince our parents to drive us into the city on a school night. I like the story it tells and the way it allows you to visualise something or get a new look on the world especially when you need a different view. Grouplove rocks and I will forever be enchanted by them".
Claire - I Make Boys Cry by Adult Mom
"It is observant and unapologetically honest. I admire the work of artists that utilise their need to express themselves to reveal truth and poke fun at ignorance. Every part of that song works together to support an important message. The tinge of humor and musical poise makes you want to listen again. When you do and you start to sing along you realize the song isn’t very up-lifting. Whether it comes off as profound, goofy, or sad I want to create and promote honest expression. I think Adult Mom is effective at doing so. This song specifically helped me to see the power of putting something disgusting, such as the dehumanisation of women, into a groove with an endearing and direct voice. It tricks you into facing an ugly reality, feeling bad and hopefully somewhat responsible for the future of the issue...
The line “how many times will I be the one to enlighten and never get anything” really shows the exhaustion of being a tokenised minority or simply being socially aware and having to navigate personal relationships with those less aware of social landscapes. Perhaps the song stems from a personal experience but it feels relatable and political. Adult Mom often creates music that comes off as beautiful when it’s actually quite tragic...
If you google Luna Rosa the first thing that comes up is a Spanish-Italian restaurant on the outskirts of Birmingham. "A vibrant dining option", it states. Though Third Outing is yet to venture into the world of culinary blogging, there is a Luna Rosa we do want to talk about. Making the most vibrant musical concoctions instead, the group from Corby, Northamptonshire, have released one of the best British Indie EPs of recent times; the Luna Rosa EP.
Luna Rosa certainly make a noise. Throwing together all of the best things from the world of the Indie, Punk, and Pop music, Luna Rosa have stumbled across a recipe for music that is refreshing and reinvigorating the 'Indie EP' release. Across 6 tracks the band show a variation which is not normally found on such formats. They bring their live sound to the recording studio. That's the difference. It allows for a certain energy to come across, both in the thrash and the relax of the record. To be honest, we're only annoyed that we've come to the party so late, with the Luna Rosa EP being released this time last year.
"We're all factory youth which is invigorating. We make a noise, we don't know what it is exactly but it's certainly noise"
In terms of the EP it's difficult to know where to start describing it, there are too many details. Rest assured it's cool. In fact that's exactly what Luna Rosa are; cool. If you want proof look at the video for the band's first single FEVER and note the appearance of the old CR Smith Celtic shirt; now that's cool. But of course the music is too. Starting with fearsome Fire Inside and ending with the reflective Coming Up, Luna Rosa showcase many sides of song writing skills on the EP, all underpinned by an undoubted feeling of cool.
"God knows how it came about, we just lock ourselves away and see what happens. I think for all of us Spread My Ashes and This One are our favourites to play"
We can see why the band state their stand-out song to play live is This One (High On The Groove), it's probably the stand-out on the EP too. From the moment we hear the Punk inspired Intro, we're hooked. The verse begs for singalong. The chorus guarantees it. It's proof that Luna Rosa have all of the ingredients, where else could you find such an energetic song being resolved with the sweet words "you're so beautiful"?
Faith Eliott is a natural born storyteller. With lyrics which take you on a journey guided by the most beautiful metaphors. With musical mastery which rings with absolute clarity. With narration leaving no stone un-turned, no detail left unsaid. With the release of Insects, Faith Eliott has truly made a spectacular entrance to the world of singer songwriting like few before.
"I’ve had lots of material kicking around for a while now and tend to be horribly indecisive, so it feels good to have something cohesive to show for myself"
The first thing we immediately recognize when in conversation is that Faith Eliott is extremely modest. Perhaps, even, Faith doesn't know how good their music really is. The Edinburgh based singer songwriter is fairly new to the Scottish music scene, and probably has little to compare to. It's a good position to be in for Third Outing, because we can offer the comparisons which need to be made. Truth is there's only one thing to say, the release of the debut EP Insects on Song, By Toad Records is spectacular.
"The songs were written whilst I was living in rural Nebraska last year on an artist residency. It was just a totally incredible, surreal place. Like a little postage stamp of wilderness surrounded by hundreds of acres of identical corn fields. We were living in half-ruined farmhouses and barns.
The video for the song Insects is all made up of footage I filmed there"
The title track Insects is indeed the perfect introduction to Faith's style. The dreamy acoustic guitar ostinato builds in emotion and serves to progress the ever more intriguing story being told. Faith's harmonies really stand out, and the introduction of the strings serves a great purpose. It results in a truly emotive and thought-provoking piece of music.
But where Faith really excels is their narrative and delivery. The opening track to the EP Pyrite Ammonite is the perfect example. The crescendo in the story portrayed, the imagery of relationship between protagonists, the tiny details found in the most important, insignificant things. It all colludes under a perfect delivery which suddenly makes everything so clear. Faith has discovered the perfect way to express the things which always seem to remain stored, confused and unused in our minds.
"I had a tutor when I was studying animation that said you should be able to describe what a film is about in a single sentence. I sometimes find that useful advice with writing songs too.
If I’m struggling with a lyric, if there's too much going on or something, I try and strip it back. Once I know what I’m trying to say, I can go to town with descriptions and metaphors and lists. I like lists"
Pyrite Ammonite is the epitome of this approach to writing music. It's a simple story about fossil hunting with Mum. But like all great songs the most normal of things can be made magical with the small detail, by giving clarity, by building a relationship. That's what Faith's music achieves so easily, the fact that the story being told is now my story, because I feel like I was there. Only the best songwriters can really do this.
Which is why it becomes difficult to compare Faith Eliott to other songwriters, simply because there are so many original qualities about their music. Comparisons will be made to the likes of Joanna Newsom who utilizes a similar vocal delivery and quirkiness in melody. But Faith's style is unique, the intonation cannot be replicated, and though every singer tells their story in their own way, Faith's is shared so openly.
"I really like Joanna Newsom. I can understand why one might draw that comparison, especially in relation to lyrics. I suppose we both tend towards a sort of maximal magic realism.
Lots of animals. Lots of swarming, clustering, stampeding things"
Faith Eliott has made a big statement with this debut EP release, so much so that Insects must be regarded as one of the best recent acoustic releases in Scottish music, if not the entire UK. What remains interesting is the direction Faith will take when the full length record is released. Expect more provoking stories for sure, but also a delivery in song which will hopefully find it's way into the ears of many more people.
I carefully weigh up my words when considering the incredible journey the chief of Northampton's indie scene Thane Thomsen has taken. Join Third Outing and ponder what could be one of the greatest songwriters and musicians of the 90/00's. Chieftain Thane O' Northampton.
I'm sat in the Third Outing office after hours researching Thane Thomsen and The Figments, their past interviews, early performances, their incredibly 90's hairstyles. As a big fan of both Pavement and Silver Jews I was shocked I didn't know of The Figments prior to this. The tone, the essence, the cool is very similar, but it hadn't found its way to my ears yet. In fact, I stumbled acrossThe Figments when writing about another artist; the new Rub Wrongways Records release Turkey Andersen. As I searched through the other bands signed to the label, one name kept repeating and repeating itself. Thane Thomsen; Rehab Massachusetts. Thane Thomsen; Goldwater. Thane Thomsen; Gold Water The Second. Each band stood out from the last, it seemed that I was the only yet to discover the Thane Of Northampton, at least for the time being.
The story begins in 1995 Northampton, MA, when Thane Thomsen together with guitarist Matthew Zapruder, bassist Trace Meek and drummer Brian Marchese form The Figments. The new band soon released their debut EP Won't Hurt You in 1997 but a further 4 years followed before the debut album All The Gone Days released in 2001. Imagine an early Pavement album sung by Bill Callahan with lyrics inspired by Silver Jew's American Water. This is the foundation of The Figments. By the end of 2001, the band's hopes of becoming the next big thing faded away. However Thane’s interest in making great music had not.
'Although fame was never my ambition, I won't deny that I wish that my music reached a broader audience'.
In 2006 Thane started working on a one off project called Rehab Massachusetts, collaborating with Terry Flood and Scott Hall from The Drunk Stuntmen and Kevin O'Rourke and Bruce Tull from Lo Fine, as well as trusty drummer Brian Marchese. This was my first introduction to the genius of Thane Thomsen. The new project was a concept album about the twelve step recovery program, showcasing Thane's song writing at its best. The record entitled Twelve Steps was released with great success.
I found it strange that despite the success of Rehab Massachusetts it was only ever 'intended to be a one off project from the start'. Soon after the Twelve steps release, The Figments returned with their stand out 2007 record Blood On The Clouds. In a record which largely relates to the band's discontent with certain lifestyles, as well as the Bush/Cheney political climate, the sheer optimism throughout Thane's song writing give the record real drive and sense of clarity. Take Never Tomorrow, a reflection of life emphasised by hope;
Both Rehab Massachusetts and The Figments share a definite musical style characterised by Thane's warm and sensitive approach to music, in fact it seems as though the Rehab Massachusetts had simply taken up where The Figments had left off, and then back again. Thane recognised it would have been difficult to receive recognition or commercial success without a label, but he carried on recording his music regardless. It's clear to see that despite a strive for success, the music is really the driving force behind both projects, and therein lies the beauty of The Figments, Rehab Massachusetts, in fact the entire Northampton music scene. y 2010 Thane fronted The Figments fourth release Twelve Belles as well as a new project, this time Goldwater. Surrounded by his friends from Rehab Massachusetts, Goldwater recorded an EP entitled I’m A Pessimist Because Of Intelligence But I'm An Optimist Because Of Will. Political desperation and frustration themed once again. But The Figments new release is the one which inspired Thane the most; 2013 followed a similar path. The Figments released their latest album Where You Go and once again Thane began working on another project, this time Goldwater The Second, a reinvented Goldwater with the inclusion of partner and cellist Melissa Nelson. Goldwater The Second is a different prospect altogether, however. It's creativity stands out from the original project;
'If I had a gun to my head and was forced to choose, I'd say that Twelve Belles is the strongest [record] start to finish'.
This perfectly embodies who Thane Thomsen is, a man of many talents. Besides being the leader of The Figments, Rehab Massachusetts, Goldwater,Goldwater The Second, he has also played in other bands such as Niceface, Haunt and The Supreme Dicks. However, it also portrays the reason why The Figments, the band I was intending to research, didn't sign in 2001.
Third Outing call it the "Turner-Kane conundrum". A great singer songwriter can only be in one great band at a time. Few have successfully accomplished it; perhaps in recent times arguably Damon Albarn with Blur and Gorillaz. Alex Turner tried it with the Arctic Monkeys and The Last Shadow Puppets, as did Miles Kane with The Rascals and The Last Shadow puppets. Ultimately both artists found their successes from their original prioritised projects. Thane's priorities over the past 20 years have been to make great music, but not necessarily great bands. I use "great" in terms of commercial success, as each band mentioned within Thane's musical career have been rather spectacular. Each on a par with contemporaries Pavement and Silver Jews, and some, notably The Figments, who surpass these bands. It's not that a man in four different bands at once lacks ambition, in fact the opposite; Thane has simply been in too many successful bands at once. One genius across four bands does not work, even over a 20 year period.
Thane has recently been honoured by his friend Brian Marchese with Thane Songs; a CD collection of artists throughout the music community who have covered his songs. It's a clear sign of his influence and moreover great recognition from his local community who truly appreciate his song writing talent. In the late 90's, Thane joked thatThe Figments supreme goal was to be signed on Chunk Records, the indie Northampton-based label which went bankrupt a few years later. Who knows what would have been if they did sign, perhaps we would have been discussing The Figments amongst other US indie groups which made it at that time. But sat in the Third Outing office after hours, researching The Figments, their past interviews, early performances, their incredibly 90's hairstyles; selfishly, part of me is thankful they never signed.
Sometimes you listen to a new band or artist online and think they sound like every other band in the world, ever. You hope to hear something new, original, different, exciting; magical perhaps. We were intrigued to hear about a new Canadian artist who fits the bill. His name, Christopher Edwards, 30 years old from Victoria, BC. His stage name, Kkidss, the new master of Lo-Fi.
It may sound quite unbelievable but within the last 9 months Christopher has written about 500 songs and selected the best 324 of them to be released on 18 albums! His recording process is very simple. Though he used to record with a complex signal chain, using various different wires, recording systems and compressors, Edwards has now changed his vision and tries to live by a simple theory. The theory that 'Less is More'. He records sitting on his bed with his broken Spanish guitar claiming to be looking for truth, not money and fame. He dreams of recording on beaches, sitting next to fires or in the woods, essentially rediscovering his roots where he grew up in the beautiful Canadian countryside. He plans to go back there one day, but first his job at a liquor store and the recording of 18 new albums must take priority.
Kkidds is inspired by many different music genres and he enjoys listening to all kind of different artists. He tells us of his passion for Sonic Youth, that he admires Mazzy Star and fell in love with Patti Smith after reading her book 'Just Kids'. The comparison to Daniel Johnston we suggest albeit an obvious one is still something Christopher is pleased about it. He maintains that their recording processes are the same, that the melodies and lyrics remain simple but honest. He tells us that he understands why people have to compare artists with other artists, but for him what matters is the music and trying to do your own thing without being catalogued. Not an easy but an admirable stance to achieve.
"I can play a good melody over in my head for days. It’s like a drug"
It's here where you realise that Kkidss is a true music fan. As soon as we spoke his first comment was about Scotland and how many of the artists he likes come from there. The Jesus And Mary Chain, Belle and Sebastian, Camera Obscura. His straightforward philosophy on music and life want to inspire people to think differently. According to him, Pop music is a reflection of our times but that doesn't mean it's no time to re-evaluate music in general. Music should be accessible, easy and down-to-earth; essentially you don't need multiples pedals or an expensive guitar to convey feelings and music. Many of the greatest artists and songs came from misery, heartbreak and rejection and we shouldn't be afraid of it.
Throughout our time spent with Kkidss we begin to understand that you shouldn't always take yourself too seriously. His point of view on life may be idealistic and dreamy, but at least it's an honest reflection. However this isn't Edward's first attempt to change the world of music. Several years ago whilst on an audio-engineering production course Christopher Edwards met Matthew Niemann of the band Little Jungles, and as they became friends, a new band called Magic Message was established. They got their hands on a bunch of old cassette tapes called Magic Message, 40 second loop tapes that were used for answering machines, and filled them up with electric guitar feedback.
Name me the last song which reminded you this often cruel, unjust world is in fact the most remarkable, beautiful opportunity? that "you know what let's make the most of it" feeling? It's a pleasure to introduce you to Ireland's musical hope and future: Dr Duloc.
Such thoughts are easy to perceive when listening to Dr Duloc's new album Bowl Cuts, recently released on Little L Records. The song which the good doctor, aka Henry Earnest from Dublin, Ireland, has hooked me on repeat with today is The King, one of the very few songs in life which make you reconsider yourself.
The King begins with the familiar ambience of The Fox and The Hound Goodbye May seem Forever. Enter the gentle strum of guitar and the reassuring voice of Dr Duloc and you're ready to take a lesson in the musical philosophical feel good. 'I Know I'll be human one day, the world will be less hopeless' The King reminds us, it's one of the album's first examples of a musical philosophy emphasised by hope. Remarkably Dr Duloc has six such songs on Bowl Cuts (the other five comprising of pop brilliances as well as the rather odd tale of Herzog), a feat not accomplished since Willy Mason's Carry On in 2012.
A modest account of a record which truly stands out from start to finish. The opening track Portland Oregon is an upbeat story which sees our good doctor living in Portland, Oregon (of course), stealing cash out of his girlfriend's purse admitting he wants to make us laugh, get together and dance. It's the first stand out hit on the record which is promptly followed by Madison, the single for the alternative audience. But as Dubliner Henry Earnest remarks, it's not necessarily about creating something for the alternative audience.
"It goes back to trying to capture that perfect emotion, using music. Hence, the Doctor title. I am the doctor of feelings"
Polar opposites do coincide on Bowl Cuts, especially if you are to place the mellow and intrinsic Feeler and Street Cat next to the funk inspired Lady Lou and the pop ambient Sega. Yet that is precisely the beauty and the appeal behind a song writer with the potential of Henry Earnest. Though inconsistencies lie within the musical style itself, the record's true consistencies are the high quality of each track as well as the philosophy behind them. The world has heard enough Mumford and Sons where the monotony of each track merges into one long Mike Oldfield-esque production. It's the philosophy and lyricism behind Duloc's tracks such as Eton Mess (1-2), combined with sheer musical talent and vision which create the most important consistency of all: a record which makes you think from beginning to end.
Though Henry Earnest is new to the world of song writing, he is already proving himself to be a prolific writer. In a little over a year Henry has collaborated on projects called Hawarden Kite, Gand Mr Rosso, as well as his own solo projects Just Henry and Dr Duloc. Herzog TV, Earnest's base for this new wave of Irish creativity has been rewarded with Bowl Cuts being taken up by Little L Records.
Joey Fourr has just released his first new material since the likes of 2015's incredible To The Floorr, and since the last time we spoke he has found himself in some rather interesting situations. But with more singles to come later in the year, we thought we'd give you Fourr fresh facts from Joey you'd never heard, before giving you the low-down on the new record NEVER 4EVER.
NEVER 4EVER was originally called YA REBEL but changed name after being inspired by an episode of Ru Paul + Michelle Visage's podcast What's the Tee?... MJ (Hookworms) who mixed it is some kind of audio wizard "I don't know what he does but I luv it".
The song was written around the same time as Joey was recording the vocals and guitar for TO THE FLOORR in Good Job, Bermondsey, a large space for artists' studios which has since been demolished . Inside they used a room to rehearse in, which saved a lot of money and also meant they could casually practice at anytime...they were there everyday all day and night. "It was such a privilege OMG, in comparison to now, where we have to haul all the instruments to the other side of London and pay £20-£40 just like everyone else again! THE LUXURY"!
All the keyboard parts were recorded on his Yamaha DX7 which was then stolen a few months later, a GOFUNDME page was set up and lots of beautiful, generous people helped him raise funds to buy a replacement so he can continue writing album #3 .
Before the end of the year there'll be another single, some real fun gigs and possibly a little tour too. Follow Joey on Twitter, Instagram or FB to find out what they're up to.
Honestly, we were unsure if Joey Fourr would top his effort To The Floorr especially with its mega-monster track My Dolphins and the follow up PLAYY. But then why not? Joey Fourr is just going from strength to strength. Even a stolen keyboard won't stop the lad. So what's new?
Well despite certain magazines claiming the spirit of Bowie in this new record, after Joey himself telling us "I dunno it doesn't sound anything like Bowie to me", it can't be denied that he's definitely moving slowly away from the bass heavy attitude which was so characteristic of his style, to something altogether a little more free.
And by God is NEVER 4EVER free. The bass line is still there, but he compliments it with some other wonderful things. The guitar takes a liking of Mac Demarco and when it's not dreaming and twanging between the verses, you can't help but lose yourself a little in the soundscapes that the mystical stolen keyboard creates.
Pure melodies have always been Joey's strengths. NEVER 4EVER is no different. The vocals are flawless as ever, and we don't even necessarily mean in delivery, but in attention seeking. There's almost a contrapuntal feeling in the vocal melody, and when it doubles up in the deep decibel chorus you really do smile a wicked smile. Flick between "I'm a man" and "I'm a woman" in your head before signing off with "what a waste"...that's Joey's style and it can't be beaten right now.
Sammy Hale got in touch with Third Outing last week pronouncing a sound which is the "love child of Father John Misty and Lana Del Rey that grew up listening to Lou Reed and Johnny Cash". It struck me as an interesting, but very definite mixture of musicians to compare yourself to. Aside from the obvious vocal comparisons and the aforementioned's similar lazy Country, Folk-Rock motifs, I wondered what Sammy Hale really wanted to achieve with his debut release Post Cult?
There's no doubt about it, Sammy Hale's debut LP Post Cult is a magnificent piece of work. His voice powers above all. It's a strong, raucous growl which will become his signature, and one which he rightly compares to Joshua Tillman AKA Father John Misty. Song after song on the record stand out in their own right as the moment to savour. Ol' 75, Darkness, Sweet Little Dime, High Hopes, You, and of course the obvious single choice Hollywood Hills. They all give the impression of an artist who is completely comfortable in his environment. But then why is Hale travelling city to city obscurity, looking for a place to cement his music?
"I personally think Father John Misty and Lana are two of the most intriguing figures in popular music right now. I wasn't crazy about either of them when they first stepped onto the scene, but I've been completely won over...I also love the effortlessness that both their voices seem to possess"
We might find the answer if we analyse parts of Sammy Hale's Post Cult a little closer. Hale points the finger towards certain artists very quickly when describing his sound. Indeed, we need look no further than Hollywood Hills as proof of this. The sound, the melancholic themes, even the damning description of Hollywood, it's all something that could be lifted straight out of the Tillman back-catalogue (yes, see Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings). The production both artists bring to the table is where we can differentiate. Hale opts for a rawer, unpolished finish, whereas Tillman goes for something a little more atmospheric and sound-scape. But in essence, there's little to separate the two.
"You can't think of Hollywood without thinking about the entertainment industry and all that brings to my mind is fake people caring about unimportant things. It's also sad how downhill the film industry has gone with all the remakes and flat out just bad movies being made at the moment"
It begs the question, is this why Hale travels from town to town, looking for a place where his music can fit the bill? I fear that the people of Portland have already come across Tillman and his endeavours in Fleet Foxes or as FJM. And it's no different in Pennsylvania or Nashville. What these music fans haven't come across yet is Sammy Hale being Sammy Hale in his complete entirety, just using his influences to maximise his amazing raw sound, rather than disguising it as something else, no matter how unintentionally.
And thus to our title question, what do you really want to achieve with the release of Post Cult? Is it your own sound which will find itself right for our times and places? Or do you want to receive the credit which we all believe our endless releases of EPs and LPs should deserve? It's a difficult question, for the two can be related. But you need to want one of them more than the other to reach the next level of music, like the Tillmans, Del Reys, Reeds and Cashs'.
"I've always been a little bit of an outsider in my own right. I've never really been too appreciated musically in my hometown, yet within one year of living in Portland I knew almost everyone in the music scene, was playing tons of shows, and getting the credit I wanted back home. I think working hard and being open to stepping outside of your comfort zone is what makes people successful and that's exactly what I plan to do when I arrive in Nashville"
There's no doubt about it. Sammy Hale has got the raw talent, the incredible voice, and most importantly the precise and definite songwriting ability that it takes to reach the top in the world of music. With this ability alone, Hale has already achieved somewhat in his "stop-over" towns, and will continue to do so in the towns to come...
Photography by Andrew Benge©
Rooted in the Post-Punk tradition, Leeds band Chest Pains hit the road with a less-is-more aesthetic; it's guitars you can dance to and simple, punchy production techniques which capture the truest sounds. But will this be enough to stand out from the rest? Third Outing finds out...
There's a real buzz right now. Chest Pains are a Rock band, plain and simple. And if you go into this record expecting nothing more than that, then of course you'll be pretty pleased. Blood Pumping bursts and buzzes out loud, with bright riffs and squalls of feedback. It's all knitted together by Sam Robinson’ bleary, strained voice. A perfect match for the perfect Post-Punk sound.
This first single from the EP Bath Bandits exposes the basic rock elements of Chest Pains; sharp and fast guitar riffs, punchy momentum and driving tempos. It's an EP made up of five of their favourite songs to perform live, and so naturally the EP captures the energetic intensity Chest Pains have to offer. But then Chest Pains are more than just a Rock band. They have more to offer. And so if you go into this record expecting more than a rock band, you're going to be quietly surprised by what they have to offer...
"That episode of The Simpsons where Homer had a Heart operation and his Chest hurt. It really spoke to us and we felt the need to start a band. Cheers Homer"
The melodies for Chest Pains' slower and more winsome songs hit us much harder. It's as though they have reserved a higher grade which soars way above the power chord explosions of the typical Rock band. That can come across a little stale, but Chest Pains are countering that. The best example is Favourite Fruit as one of the poppier tracks of the EP. The song redeems a "cookie-cutter" nature, hitting the right notes not because of what Sam says but how he says it. There's a slowing in his voice, a wobbly quiver, a mimic of travel haze and the very pensive nature of the lyrics. Much reminiscent of the early Arctic Monkeys releases, a mishmash of different styles and influences.
However, it must be said that as an original sound, Bath Bandits lacks the creativity and unconventionality inherent in any of the all-time great Rock bands they could impulsively be compared to: The Ramones; The Buzzcocks; The Strokes. But then, how many bands actually make it to this level?