April – Piece of Me

Ireland’s April Lawlor has put out two fantastically sultry electro-indie EPs to date, namely 2020s New Conditions and Luna. Piece of Me is release number three, produced by Low Spirits/Spector’s Fred Macpherson, co-written with Sea Girls’ Frank Colluci, and with it the stakes get raised yet again.

Firmly aimed at the mainstream, the record is a delicate tale of lost love, losing part of ones self with the end of a relationship and the sensation of not being able to move on while the other party seems to be getting on just fine, a narrative told over what begins as a wistful guitar strum and morphs into a hands in the air euphoric dance number.

Piece Of Me has been out since September 15th on Atlantic Records. Watch the video below.

Kaputt – Movement Now

Kaputt are six Glaswegian art punks and their latest single ‘Movement Now’ is a post-Brexit DIY critique on the UK’s immigration policy, advocating more freedom of movement as opposed to the gammon-consensus demand for immigration limits.

Starting as a doomy rumination over chirping drone guitar from lead singer Cal Donnelly, in his almost gothic drawl, on the country being packed wastefully full of stale old men, the chorus takes on a ska inflection with keyboards, saxophone and other singer Chrissy Barnacle joining in to declare the greed of the moral majority – “Totally satisfied but I want more”, with the fierce and ultimate final demand: “Movement na-na-na-na-now!”.

Vona Vella – Driving to L.A.

Driving to L.A. is a sunny, optimistic soul song with jazz. A wistful, escapist soundtrack, like a road trip to a far off place, “a thousand miles away” on a crisp autumn day with the windows down and the radio on. Izzy Davis and Dan Cunningham share entwined vocal duties as a duo, Izzy’s sweet, ebullient voice positioned at the high end of the register and Cunningham’s low, silken tones at the opposite end, sounding decades beyond his actual number of years, the perfect accompaniment to a daydream.

As Vona Vella are only the second artists, other than Doherty himself, to have a release on Strap Originals, they’re a strong hint at the potential eclectic stall of exciting new artists the label is preparing.

Find the video for Driving to L.A, directed by the legendary Roger Sargent, below.

Pigeon Wigs – Near The Knuckle

One day Cardiff’s newest gang, Pigeon Wigs, convinced Jack White, The Rolling Stones and The Black Keys to go for a stroll in Blackweir Woods. When they got to a clearing all five band members pounced on them and forced them into a Fisher Price blender. They slammed down the lid and switched the blender on. Out came their brand new single – Near The Knuckle.

After a year of delays, this loud, outrageous, retro shock-wave of rootsy blues psychedelia is the first taster Pigeon Wigs are providing the outside world of their sound and suffice to say we’re excited. There are riffs, there’s tambourine, there’s an abundance of ooohs, approaching pastiche but cracking out a drum roll before they get there.

With Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard and Panic Shack ruffling feathers and now Pigeon Wigs bursting onto the scene, it feels like something’s bubbling up in Cardiff. We’re mega keen to hear what comes next.

Near The Knuckle is out now on Clwb Music. Watch the excellent video below.

Sunflower Bean – Baby Don’t Cry

New York bands often follow a cool by numbers template, brooding in leather jacket and shades. Which is why it’s refreshing that Sunflower Bean buck the NY trend with their glitter and feather boa, bright, brash, intelligent glamour flair.

Baby Don’t Cry is a tribute to putting the radio on, listening to whatever plays out of the speaker and feeling something from it, whether joy, melancholy or despair. A break from the digital streaming world. There are strains of Hole and Wolf Alice, but Cumming, Kivlen and Faber have carved out their own unmistakable niche over their past two albums and numerous EPs, with a punchier, fizzier sound than their peers.

Baby Don’t Cry is their first single since 2020’s Moment In The Sun so we hope to Christ there’s a new album on the way now!

Thirsty for more? Check out their song Twentytwo which may just be one of the best songs ever written:

Jaws The Shark – Cold Feet

Jaws The Shark is London (via North Devon) songwriter and one man band Olly Bailey. Cold Feet is the latest blues-punk riff-laden beast of a record from his new solo project.

Drawing on The White Stripes and The Kills early 2000s garage rock revival, the song is packed with melodic hooks and turns the rawness and fuzz up as far as it goes. The lyrics are thick with paranoia, Bailey pondering whether his friends would even notice if he packed his shit up and moved to the countryside, the anxiety is so dense you could only cut it with a really fucking sharp knife.

The Magic Gang and The Goa Express – Tramshed, Cardiff, 10/10/2021

Tonight’s gig was originally scheduled to take place in March but, like every good thing in life, was delayed due to COVID-19. The room has been waiting a long time for this gig.

First on are The Goa Express from Manchester. Unassuming in tee shirts and jumpers, swigging from cans of Red Stripe, they make music akin to 70s art punk – Television and Modern Lovers with occasional Mancunian hints of 80s baggy and Oasis, some harmonica thrown in. New single Everybody In The UK is one to seek out.

The last time The Magic Gang played Cardiff they performed at the significantly smaller Clwb Ifor Bach but they manage to upscale to the Tramshed’s stage well. They blast their way in with past single Think, playing a 12 song set with material mainly from their debut self titled album and 2020’s Death of the Party.

For their hard core appreciators they give an outing of Hotel Apathy from EP Three, announcing to the eager horde that they don’t usually play this one. A sweaty version of Teenage Fanclub-tastic Caroline is the apex of the night.

Lead vocal duties swap between Eddie Vedder doppelganger guitarist Jack Kaye and Rivers Cuomo facsimile guitarist Kristian Smith throughout with bassist Gus Taylor taking over for What Have You Got To Lose? As the main set comes to an end, Jack Kaye grabs a towel from the ether to dry off after a particularly sweaty couple of songs, then turns his mic about to the crowd for some audience participation and the crowd sing the Brighton boys lines back to them with a massive degree of gusto.

Two of their strongest numbers – Death of the Party’s lead single Take Back The Track and the 2017 indie club smash How Can I Compete? are stored up for the encore and as the band leave the stage they go to the sound of Atomic Bomb by William Onyeabor playing over the speakers, which sounds funnily like one of their own biggest singles.

After nearly a two year wait, this was solidly a night worth waiting for.

The Vaccines – Paranormal Romance (Orchestral Version)

Paranormal Romance was already one of the highlights from The Vaccines latest album Back In Love City but the band have now gone and treated us to a luscious orchestral version of the track with wind instruments, stringed instruments and soul singers galore turning an already fine record into a near masterpiece.

The release is an Amazon Original so it’s not available on Spotify but you can find the YouTube video above.

The Mysterines – Hung Up

I wonder if The Mysterines were sat on their sofa in Liverpool one evening when The Supremes ‘You Keep Me Hanging On’ came on the radio and as a group they decided “let’s take the sentiment of this sugary Motown classic and turn it into a full throttle heavy fucking grunge rock assault”. Even if that wasn’t the real genesis of the record, that’s exactly what they went and did. Lia Metcalfe’s voice is a fierce, deep dark howl and George Favager’s bass is turned right up loud as a clear, straight forward invitation to the centre of the mosh pit.

The Mysterines have put out some absolutely slamming tracks since 2019 (see I Win Every Time, Bet Your Pretty Face and Who’s Your Girl if you want evidence) and have now announced debut album Reeling for release via Fiction Records on March 11th 2022. This is looking like a classic in the making.

Pioneers -The ‘What Have You Got To Prove?’ Interview

Pioneers – Sam Watts (vocals/rhythm guitar), Toby Gathercole (lead guitar), Sam Over (bass guitar), Charlie Filde (drums).
Photo Credit: Connor Mason

“Possibly we now understand how everything isn’t so straight forward and easy as it seemed when we were young with the debut single.”

What Have You Got To Prove?’ is the latest single to be released by Pioneers, Southampton’s current finest indie rock group. Written during lockdown and recorded at the legendary Rockfield Studios in Monmouth – birthplace of (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?, Bohemian Rhapsody, Coldplay’s Parachutes and subject of the recent BBC documentary, it’s a single in the vein of Two Door Cinema Club, Bloc Party, Editors and has been blasting out of Edge of Arcady’s headphones since we caught wind of it.

After the madness of lockdown livestreams, recording the single, and rocking Isle of Wight festival this summer, the boys agreed to take some time out to answer a few questions for us. We opened up the floor to them, discovering more about their latest single, the inside scoop on the Southampton scene, the highs and lows of life in Pioneers, as well as managing to uncover a loud, proud and unashamed love of country music in the process…

Tell me about What Have You Got To Prove?
WHYGTP was written in the first lockdown. It was such a weird time for everyone as we lost the ability to do so many things. I think this is where the idea of the song came from; we were stripped away from so much, but I think it gave me the time to appreciate the here and now. It’s great to look and strive for things, but I also think it’s so important to face your flaws and appreciate who and what’s around you now.

From listening to the song’s lyrics, it’s evident you value authenticity. Has there been a time in your life where you’ve had to fight for that in yourself? What advice would you give your younger self or anyone else who is battling to remain or become their authentic self?
I think when you grow older you start to care less about how you’re perceived. I think when you’re just turning into an adult there’s an expectation of what you should be into and what you should be doing. I think once you begin to grow you begin to find your individuality and instead welcome your differences a lot more. I think this runs alongside our songs; at first we maybe thought what our songs should be, rather than what they naturally are.

What was it like recording at Rockfield Studios?
Rockfield was surreal, it was amazing being able to record in the same room as some of our favourite artists. The location is so lovely but the drive there wasn’t – we have a thing for coffee so it probably took a bit longer than it should after stopping at every Starbucks available. We recorded 2 singles over 2 days: ‘What Have You Got to Prove?’ and other one which you will get to hear in the near future.

You also played at Isle of Wight Festival this year. What was performing there like? Any stories to tell?
It’s still weird to think we played a major festival this year, especially after the couple years the music industry has had. We had initially planned to stay for the entire weekend, which we really really wanted to do, but we had to get back to the mainland not long after our set. There were a couple of bands that had pulled out of the festival due to COVID reasons, meaning we got asked to play another set on the Friday night, but were already back home and working again. It was an honour to play and we hope to be back in the future – all our thanks go to This Feeling for letting us open their stage!

How did the band begin?
It’s weird to look back now and realise we formed back in late 2017. Myself (Sam W) knew the other three band members individually and when deciding to start a band, we knew that we all shared the same influences and interests. Toby could play Guitar, Charlie was learning Drums and Bailey picked up a Bass after joining the band! Since then, Bailey has gone onto other ventures but we now have Sam O with us that has enhanced us musically for sure.

Photo Credit: Connor Mason

Your music has changed a bit and has progressed since Take Time. Has this been intentional? How do you feel as a band now compared to when you began?
I think that’s fair to say and I think it’s for a few reasons really. Firstly, it’s just time. With Take Time we were very young around 17/18 years old and that song and flow reflected who we were then. We were experiencing things for the first time and going out for the first time and things like that, this influenced the writing of Take Time as well as the fast-paced lyrical flow. However, as we’ve grown older and reflected, we’ve started to explore different components when writing. Now, as adults, our day-to-day life and experiences are different to what they were back then. Possibly we now understand how everything isn’t so straight forward and easy as it seemed when we were young with
the debut single.

Which bands and artists are you into and what inspires you?
We’re all into slightly different stuff weirdly enough. Sam W is into early 2000s indie which I think you can hear in our tracks. Artists like Jamie T and The Strokes have definitely influenced our tracks heavily in the past. Apart from that we all like different bands and even different genres. The only genre which we all seem to agree on is country music so that is what gets played if we’re on the road and when we’re altogether.

What is the Southampton music scene like? I’ve read that you play at the 1865 venue?
The Southampton music scene is thriving at the moment, and it’s great to see. People like Gavin Foord and Tyrone have done a lot to put Southampton’s music scene on the map. It really is our favourite place to play, whether it’s Heartbreakers, Engine Rooms, The Joiners, The 1865 or The Loft, every venue seems unique to one another with its own history and characteristics. If you’re planning on touring, make sure you come here.

Which other bands from Southampton or elsewhere do you admire and feel close to and why, if any?
We have always admired Djuno, who also played Isle of Wight Festival this year. Courtney’s voice is iconic, and they always put out top-drawer tracks. On a slightly bigger scale, Band of Skulls – we’re a sucker for a good riff and they provide us with plenty.

You wrote ‘What Have You Got To Prove’ during lockdown, how did you find lockdown and did you and the band come away from it with any personal insights?
I think lockdown helped us comeback with a different point of view and that is just to enjoy what we’re doing. It can be quite stressful and a lot of pressure, being in a band. It taught us to appreciate the little things like all meeting up and rehearsing, not to mention playing live. Some of our strongest tracks so far came as a result of it too which is nice. It also allowed us to just focus on our own instruments a lot more and play stuff which we wouldn’t have done otherwise. When you have other stuff going on in life, sitting down at or pick up your instrument can be hard so when you do it tends to be for stuff revolved around the band. It allowed us to play and learn other stuff which is different to Pioneers and come back to our music refreshed.

How was taking part in a lockdown livestream?
It kept us going! Ideally, we wanted to be touring toward the end of last year, so we were understandably frustrated (like every other band). The livestreams gave us an opportunity to get close to playing live again and were useful to keep our content up. We also think they were exceptional to boost morale and give people something to look forward to.

How has lockdown affected Pioneers as a band?
It has and it goes back to what we said about finding lockdown in general. I feel like we appreciate it for what it is as opposed to looking at streams and ticket sales all the time. I just hope we hold onto that going forward as we didn’t start it to get streams etc, we started it just because we loved music and thought it’d be fun to play it ourselves.

What has been your highlight of being in Pioneers so far?
This is going to seem a bit hypocritical after saying we’re now not watching ticket sales so much but the highlight is always sold out hometown shows. We’ve done a few big ones now like Engine Rooms and The 1865 and they are just unreal.

Photo Credit: @indyebrewer

What has been your worst experience being in Pioneers so far?
There’s been a few which could have been really bad, but we tend to laugh it off when we’re all together. There’s been the typical playing to one man and his dog scenarios but not many to be honest. For that reason, I would have to say one of our first gigs we played at a bigger venue. We supported someone at The 1865 and everything what could have went wrong did. We had a broken drum pedal and broken guitar by the end. We got through it, but it was and is such a big venue for us that we built it up so much only to ruin it by drinking a bit too much before.

What plans do Pioneers have for the near future?
We’ve been working hard recently to get our tour rescheduled; There are so many places we want to visit up and down the country, starting up in Scotland and hopefully finishing down south with a hometown show. We’re also preparing for our next huge show at The 1865 on 19 November, alongside releasing some more music before the new year, if you’re lucky…

Find Pioneers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Buy tickets to see Pioneers at This Feeling, The Edge Of The Wedge, Portsmouth – Monday 8th November 2021 – click here.

Buy tickets to see Pioneers at The 1865, Southampton – Friday 19th November 2021 – click here.