David Ford – 2 Shots

To wishfully launch us into an optimistic and brighter new year, singer songwriter David Ford has granted us a small screen operatic ballad of coronavirus sparring hope. Recalling, over piano and violin, finer days of “Rock’n’Roll/soda pop and Philly soul”, the latter-day troubadour considers the stunting impact of the virus, “a thousand dumb conspiracies” and the militant hope we are all pinning on the “two shots of Astra-Zeneca” (let’s choose to ignore the fact that he’s probably queuing up for a third by now).

Accompanied by a black and white live performance promo vid, the single is out now for you to stream at all the usual outlets. You can buy it on bandcamp along with the entirety of his marvellous solo output and you can watch the video below:

An Edge of Arcady Christmas

To hurl us headlong into Christmas cheer and bow out of 2021 in suitably alternative indie style we have compiled our own list of our 8 toppermost festive songs, brought to you in watchable YouTube format. Sit back, scroll down, click along and enjoy!

1. Ramones – Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)

Potentially the greatest punk band put out one of the most enjoyable, dumbest Christmas singles going. Turning their snarling, lanky, leather and denim, drop out pioneer punk into pure yuletide joy for one song only.

2. Manic Street Preachers – Ghost of Christmas

Although they don’t celebrate the fact, the Manics created this saxophone rocker tribute to 70s Christmases and nostalgia, sounding every bit as ballsy as the Slade classic they evidently love.

3. Julian Casablancas – I Wish It Was Christmas Today

Between The Strokes and The Voidz Mr Casablancas took some time out on a solo project. During his wilderness years he conjured up this innocent ode to holiday magic. Thankfully for us it actually is Christmas right now but we appreciate Julian’s sentiment all the same.

4. Fountains of Wayne – I Want An Alien For Christmas

Back in the 90s Fountains of Wayne gave us this wonderful throwaway proto-emo indie tune where they begged Santa to hide an extraterrestrial in their stocking this year. There was pretty much nothing else Christmassy about the song other than that bit of the lyric, but it’s a solstice banger all the same.

5. Glasvegas – A Snowflake Fell (And It Felt Like A Kiss)

A contemplative, heart churning number now from Glasvegas’ 2009 wintery EP, where James Allen finds comfort and solace from turmoil in a quiet moment, feeling snowfall on skin when the rest of the world has turned to crap. If it doesn’t cause a lump in your throat and a tear in your eye then you’re a cold, cold human being.

6. Joni Mitchell – River

Another contemplative classic. From one of the timeless Joni Mitchell’s greatest albums, this song is less jingle bells and handclaps and more carols, piano and brass bands, warming your hands on a cup of mulled wine while considering lost lovers at the happiest time of the year.

7. The Waitresses – Christmas Wrapping

The best of the mainstream Christmas classics you’re likely to still hear on Radio 1. A new wave, post-punk wonder in it’s own right. You’ve already heard it a billion times so we don’t need to explain it anymore. Just take a listen to it again.

8. Tim Wheeler & Emmy The Great – Home For The Holidays

Tim Wheeler from Ash and Emmy The Great put out a whole Xmas album in 2010 and this was their heartwarming single about dreaming of bumping into an old flame in their hometown in the last days of December. The rest of the album was a collection of festive covers performed in their inimitably twee indie style.

Bonus mention: Razorlight feat. Lisa Moorish – Fairytale of New York

A gorgeous rendition of The Pogues masterpiece performed by Johnny Borrell, Lisa Moorish and an acoustic guitar. Sparse, minimal and beautiful.

And with that we would like to wish everyone who has followed us in 2021 a raucous and massively merry Christmas!Here’s hoping 2022 actually ends up being decent.

Thanks for reading. We’ll see you in the new year!

Disgraceful Friend – Craft Excluder

Independent author Ryan Bracha has an alter-ego. His name is Disgraceful Friend and this alter-ego has just released a spunky second album, Craft Excluder. Slotting into a bookshelf laterally with Scroobius Pip, Sleaford Mods and sonically with Working Mens Club, the record is compiled of Bracha’s sarky spoken word nestled just under the surface of plentiful squelchy industrial beat soundscapes and electronic experimentalism. There’s loads to unpack here amongst the darkly funny verse and expertly produced rhythm, the yorkshireman’s topics of carefully crafted fascination aren’t overt, the words definitely feel like lyrics to music rather than a collection of sound-tracked poems and the beats are crazily comprehensive with unforgettable hooks that stand up all by themselves, but the subjects cover: aged dad dancing when you should know better (Snake Hips), the uncomfortable consequence of freedom of speech (The Tolerance Paradox), the subversive science of branding and persuasion (The Colour of Money) and the absolute shite that web browser pop ups cover your computer screen with (Pop-Up Pirate).

Fellow author Craig Furchtenicht delivers the saga of Gary and Kyle – on ‘Prettiest S.O.B. in the Room’ Gary is a narcissist whose father used to say he was pretty enough to be part of Hitler’s master-race, in a non-weird, non-creepy, non-white supremacist way, with an oversized and weird nemesis, Kyle who, on Motherfucker With A Gun, gets his long obsessed over revenge on the pretty son of a bitch, Gary, with a bloodbath shoot out in a retail store. ‘Fake Fake Fake’ is a 7 minute expression of expectation versus reality over a rotating beat that has already made it’s way to 6 Music on Tom Robinson’s Fresh on the Net mixtape and ‘I Don’t Like You’ confrontationally destroys the sentiment that all people have goodness in them somewhere at the same time as marvellously picking a fight with the listener, ending a reel of scenarios of human kindness with the sign off “others? I dunno, they’re just pricks. That’s where you come in. I don’t like you!”

The record is a collection of one Barnsley resident’s (and his friends’) observations on a rather pitiful modern world alchemically transformed into a danceable slinky electro creature of an LP.

Craft Excluder is out now to buy on Disgraceful Friend’s bandcamp on CD with an 8 page booklet and nifty artwork or on MP3. Click on the link to snap it up.

The album is also available to hear on Spotify. You can watch the video for Fake Fake Fake below:

Billy Nomates – Christmas is for Lovers, Ghosts and Children

The mighty Billy Nomates has written and released a Christmas song to raise funds for Feed The Homeless Bristol throughout December. ‘Christmas is for Lovers, Ghosts and Children’ highlights the disconnect between the festive season shown online, in the media, on the high street and the reality many people experience – of Christmas being a poignant, lonely time.

The message is starkly honest but Billy AKA Tor Maries manages to include all the seasonal hallmarks of jingle bells, handclaps and some euphoric synthesiser alongside her unassumingly soulful vocals with the overarching request being just to spare a thought and give a hand to people who find the holiday period tough.

‘Christmas is for Lovers, Ghosts and Children’ is currently available to purchase on a pay what you like basis on Billy Nomates bandcamp. Tap here if you’d like to spare a few quid to own the track and give to a great cause.

We also recommend you click on the following link to read about the essential work Feed The Homeless Bristol do.

The video is also available to watch on Youtube below:

Best Coast – Leading

There’s a fun simplicity to Best Coast – power chord rock, west coast (obviously, duh) surf vibe, Beth Cosentino’s optimistic emo pop vocals, easy rhymes (“Nostalgia’s overrated/ or maybe it’s just complicated?”). ‘Leading’ is, thank all of the Californian gods, more of the same. This time the duo have teamed up with Los Angeles’ wonderful DIY teen punks The Linda Lindas who play the role of Beth n’ Bob’s backing band.

The release of Best Coast’s latest album, the brilliant Always Tomorrow, was rudely interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, so the duo are taking the opportunity to breathe new life into it with an expanded deluxe version, out on January 7th 2022, with ‘Leading’ coming out as the leading (lol) track. Hit the link to find out more about the release and their US tour.

Find a link to the song on Spotify below.

Death of the High Street – Drink Driver

Death of the High Street have put out some top quality tunes this year and they’re leaving 2021 in style with new single Drink Driver, an appropriate public service broadcast for the festive period: the bleak story of a lager-sodden, down on his luck dropout who exists illegally behind the wheel of his Vauxhall Astra, soundtracked by cowbell and a meaty Stooges bass line.

Alongside the single DOTHS have unearthed a music video recorded by them on a £50 budget in 2019. The promo clip shows singer Scott navigating roads wearing smudged clown make up, oversized red shoes and battered suit, bottle of vodka in hand, sat in a kids Early Learning Centre foot to floor ride on plastic car being chased by drummer Joey in policeman costume riding a similarly undersized toy police car.

Drink Driver is out NOW! Looking forward to much more from Death of the High Street in the new year! Check out the video below:

Bloc Party – Traps

To come up with new single ‘Traps’, art-rockers Bloc Party have delved back into their own archives, interrogating debut album ‘Silent Alarm’ and singer Kele Okereke’s solo output to compose a sure-fire indie club monster. The band’s line up has changed considerably in latter years, having lost and gained an entire rhythm section in 2016, and the importance of razor-sharp riffist Russell Lissack’s role in the band is now searingly clear as, when their craftsmanship is stripped back to basics, his earworm hooks coupled with Okereke’s distinctive voice are the defining elements of the Bloc Party sound.

‘Traps’ may be similar to their early stuff but the foursome of 2021 are lyrically ballsy in a way they never have been before, as Kele openly and forwardly pursues a wannabe bed partner with lines like “You’re not making it easy for me/ strutting ‘round here in those pum pum shorts”, “Meet me in the boom boom room/ and we can do what you like”, even co-opting ‘Grease Lightning’ lyrics to get his lusty way.

Bloc Party’s new album ‘Alpha Games’ will be released on 29th April 2022 via Infectious / BMG. Hit the link to pre-order, pre-save and find out more.

Find the video for Traps below:

Vortex Town – Vortex Town EP

Sheffield’s Vortex Town are visceral, raw and loud. Guitarist Ben Hodge’s amps get turned up to nosebleed levels, bassist Tim Davis ensures sure his sound is deep enough to rattle skulls, drummer Andy Purves wallops his skins at breakneck speed and vocalist Cassie Durance conjures her vigorously soulful voice up from the very deepest depths of her lungs.

The self-titled debut EP, also referred to as ‘1’, is a tunefully heavy sum of these pieces. Most parts grunge, some parts metal, all parts entirely rock. They do big, grimy, dysfunctional blues rhapsodies with cathedral sized choruses, like first track ‘Deeper’ and the monumental ‘Sugar’, as if Skunk Anansie studied at the university of Royal Blood. Lusciously named ‘Vigour of Vultures’ summons Placebo at their full throttle best, ‘On My Skin’ is the closest the group come to a power ballad and even that is shot through with humongous riffs and longing, “and when daylight surrounds me I’ll be hiding from the sun, I wanna be the trigger to your gun, I just want to impress you with all the things you like, I’ll spend my days pretending, if only you would notice me”.

‘Digital Fumes’ is a mesmerising epic, traversing dark styles and moods, exploring Pearl Jam levels of Seattle inspired grunge, Durance’s voice becoming an intimidatingly tetherless growl as she screams “Why don’t you touch me? Why don’t you love me?”. And after hearing the emotion poured into that one composition we’re certain that Cassie’s elusive beau won’t stay spinelessly distant for long.

Vortex Town are currently unsigned. The self-titled EP was produced by Electric Bear Productions, Mansfield and is out on all streaming platforms now. Hit here to listen on Spotify.

Check out the video for Sugar below:

Shame – Baldur’s Gate

Shame have come out with a nearly anti-Christmas single. The ingredients are there for a heart warming Yuletide ditty, albeit one performed by South London post-punks – jingle bells, a light melody with twinkling guitar and keys, gently coo-ing vocals. You can almost hear snow falling on pavement as the narrator trudges through wintry streets, pledging to lay everything down at a sovereign’s feet, in the words of the song: “fuck it, a Christmas story”.

Only the sovereign here isn’t baby Jesus, it’s an ex-partner, and rather than bringing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, Shame recite “If I could rip off all my skin/ and parcel it inside a tin/ I’d write my name in biro/ on the ribbons/ like decoration”. Not sure if Mary and Joseph or God himself would have appreciated that for their hay-smothered, donkey-fragranced kid.

You shouldn’t hold your breath hoping to see this festive smash on Top of the Pops (although that would be ace), but it still works as an ideal soundtrack to wrapping up crimbo presents with a mug of hot cocoa.

Baldur’s Gate is out now on all streaming services via Dead Oceans.

Windshake – Waking Moment

The psychedelics in Windshake’s veins flow strong. For debut album ‘Waking Moment’, the Welsh Bristolian four piece give their listeners space for an hour long trip out of mind. Dare I mention the ‘H’ word? Taking their inspirations into account I’m sure Windshake wouldn’t mind… the album has real hippy vibrations, you wouldn’t be surprised to hear it emanating from an incense and pagan gift shop in Glastonbury town.

One constant is singer, guitarist and main songwriter Sam Elliot’s vocals that resemble Oasis frontman Noel Gallagher, yet the songwriting and musicianship behind the voice bares more familiarity with the classics – The Beatles, Neil Young, Yes.

Opening with an unsettling Max-Headroom aping sample requesting “Let’s all just laugh” and descending into madcap laughter, the tone is set for some far out weirdness, and ‘Saving The Cherry’ becomes an acoustic song blasphemously asking “Is Mary is still saving her cherry for me?”. The lyrical subject matter visits new age themes, ‘Independent Stones‘ comparing humans and their relationships to the distance between ancient standing stones like Stonehenge and Avebury, the ego loss and freedom of the ‘Old Man Of The Desert‘, an “old man hanging naked and free”, the title track centrepiece ‘Waking Moment’ a kundalini experience in and of itself, 9 minutes replete with hypnotic opening verses and transcendent guitar solo.

There are spates of melodic storytelling, ‘Orange Raincoat‘ tells a darkly humorous story “Why did you have to go and shoot yourself in the face, I invited you over, the respect I got was blood in my face?”, spending most time criticising the shooter’s brightly coloured mackintosh overcoat, with strong hints of The Beatles and Primal Scream. ‘Perform Like Rain‘ has jaunty Paul McCartney elements and a Kinks edge, asking “Maybe I should stop living cos it’s living that gets me down” with upbeat organ backing.

Former single ‘Receive Me‘ is a toned down Starman by Bowie with talk of metaphorically receiving messages from a spaceship, unexpectedly merging with a gospel choir. ‘The Big Wheel’ ends with a big, dramatic prog-rock moment, like Yes at their grandest with the world spinning like “the big wheel rolls on and on”.

There are pianos, there are strings, there are big progressive rock moments and there are quiet acoustic ruminations. Amongst it all you can feel the band nudging you on and hoping you’ll have a spiritual awakening of your own.

‘Waking Moment’ was released on 10th December. To hear the album head over to bandcamp or have a listen on Spotify.