Leeds, the jewel of the north, is well known for its steady turnout of self-sufficient, trend-proof rock wallahs. Bilge Pump are no exception. These three men have forged a sound based on clang and whallop, given shape by the rollicking bonh(a)mie of Neil Turpin, a man who has loaned his rhythm to Him, Enablers and Damo Suzuki more than once. Think Gang Of Four bass tumbling over Led Zep drum-rollick, slammed up against gnarled, screeching King Crimson guitar fripperies. Bilge Pump are heavy and off-kilter, but never turgid. Sharp melodies and upbeat delivery jump out with repeated listening.
Stewed down rock'n'roll at its most primitive played by two punk/blues/garage rockers featuring 4 stringed guitar, minimal drum kit and shouting. Subject matter included getting divorced, boozing, wanting to be the next James Bond, crashing your car and wanting to make the world a better place. During their time together Clambake sonically changed from their earlier 50's inspirations to a two man Motorhead, or the Ramones with a slide guitar. Whatever way you sliced it, it was just good time Saturday night rock'n'roll - not designed to change peoples lives, but intended to make people jump about, drink, shout and large it up.
Designer Babies started as the musical brainchild of Dusty Bible, following years of experimentation with bizarre and innovative fusions of blues-rock, electronics and the avant-garde. Manifesting in various incarnations throughout the formative years of the 21st century, Designer Babies finally reached stability in late 2002 with its present line up of Dusty Bible (guitar, bass, vox), Kushal Gaya (vocals), Nick Perry (drums) and Kate Deane (noises). Designer Babies collage the old and new, fast and slow, melodic and abrasive. Their influences range from old blues and rock n roll to traditional Mauritian music and Japanese experimentalism.
Empire-Builder was never prolific. Recording their 3 song debut 7" for Gringo in 1999, their self-recorded follow-up was released six years later and featured only one song. Too awkward and unsettled to be that super-familiar type of post-rock they played a weirdly soulful style shot through with uneasy cynicism. Their output is minutely perfect like a nice wee satsuma or a Belgian chocolate. You'd like it.
Until now most famous for the fact that old drummer and good friend Stuart Braithwaite left to start Mogwai, Glasgow's most under-rated band are here with the goods to claim their crowns. Sure, they can master the slinky genre bending instrumental, but they are also adept at the dual vocal math-pop rock that has won them all that airplay and all those adoring fans. This record sounds less-straightforward and more inventive with each listen but you'll never forget the first time that the catchy opening wriggle of "Goodbye To Victories" sucks you in.....
Nottingham quartet Grey Hairs formed in 2011 as an excuse to go the pub on a school night and played their first gig (Americans might know these as ‘shows’) in November that year. It was not bad.
The men and women of Grey Hairs have played in UK underground bands as diverse as Lords, Fists, Fonda 500, The Cult Of Dom Keller, Kogumaza and probably hundreds more they, and you, have forgotten about.
You’d probably call them ‘stalwarts’ if it didn’t sound like something your doctor would find in a prostate exam.
When asked what lead them to form Grey Hairs they will all give the same inspirational answer and that answer is “Geographical Proximity”.
Being in a band in 2013 is the domain of the financially secure. You learn the art of touring in a Transit from the history books and you do it once or twice as a rite of passage before you get a proper job. Every week a new book or documentary comes out that redefines then-young-people’s instinctive and impulsive actions as acts of clear, intelligent design and those once-young-now-old-people reunite to play their accidental masterpiece albums to crowds of actually-young-people as though they designed it that way.
You know what? Fuck that.
Grey Hairs are financially insecure and worried, staring middle age in the face and backing down, afraid. The future is confusing and upsetting. The young distress them and they deal with modern technology like a dog being shown a card trick. Are they angry? Yes they are. What are they going to do about it? The same as they’ve always done: form a band and tour in a Transit while no one takes any notice whatsoever. It’s said it isn’t stupid people who make mistakes, it is stupid people who repeat them again and again.
Hirameka Hi-Fi formed in that long hot summer of 97. Tom Coogan and Chris Baldwin met whilst downing cheap alcohol at a ruined Roman wall in Colchester. The two had schooled together, and quickly found that they shared the desire to make music that was exciting, angular and accessible enough to buy them and the nascent Gringo Records a ticket out of Colchester. Their first record, 'Munchin', was released in January 1998. Its canny mix of shouty vocals, sugary car-alarm guitar riff and pounding rhythm may have owed a lot to contemporary influences like The Yummy Fur, Bis and Urusei Yatsura, but it also won the band support from both John Peel and Steve Lamacq's Radio 1 shows.
Their rhythms are suggestive, their cello phrasings majestic. Their soaring, sprawling soundscapes preach revolution in a manner more vivid than the most eloquent of words. I am Spartacus recordings persist in an eerie half-life. They were taped, not for commercial speculation, but for the fulfilment of its members' transient needs. They serves as a memento of three heady months of discovery and joy. From the opening reflective piano of "a dream woke me" to the gradually mounting tension of the closing title track, "Forward!" offers ten instrumental tunes of devastating beauty, punctuated only by the occasional burst of redemptive, startling ferocious climax.
Not since those heady nights when the Jesus Lizard were getting arrested for public indecency has a well formed rock unit made me want to repeatedly bang my head against the wall for the love of having a headache. By 'well formed rock unit' we mean, of course, guitar that does not sound pretty, bass that leaves a chest pain, drums that Pound! Pound! Pound! and vocals that wobble on the precipice of detached humour and righteous anger.
Lords deliver good vibes at exceptional volume. Their rock is both shonky and squidgy. They follow the 'drunken master' approach. They are one part 70s rock, one part euphoric free jazz, one part primitive blues, one part garage rock and one part DC hardcore. They are all parts love. They are no longer teenagers.They laugh hard in the face of woe and strife. One of them is a lifeguard. Their drummer's real name is Elvis. Do not lend them your amplifier
Ox Scapula have helped make their hometown, Stoke-on-Trent, exciting. Really. Their debut album "Hands Out" captures the fierce sonic storm of their rugged and raucous live performances. Fans of Unwound or Drive Like Jehu will already know the feeling - frantic, stroppy guitars over a heaving, grooving, bass and drumset jam. Then expanding space.
Camberwell's Part Chimp has at its core guitarists Tim Cedar, Iain H and drummer Jon Hamilton (aka Drumm Chimp). Their reputation for being extremely loud is a justifiable one. As they put it, "turning [the volume] up won't magically bring the music to life. The secret is to have the music sound deafening even when it isn't turned up to eleven." Part Chimp have played with the likes of the Melvins, collaborated with Alexander Tucker and put out split singles with everyone from Joeyfat to Gringo;s own Lords. They called their most recent record Thriller (yes, it's meant to be a joke) "a stoner rock piss take that happily came up trumps".
Polaris (Andrew Pollard Guitar, vocals, Joe O'Sullivan Guitar, John Ford Bass guitar, Neil Turpin Drums) release their second album on April 10. For a band that's been around since the mid-nineties, that might seem a little slow, but there's more to Polaris than meets the eye. Formed in Leeds in 1993 and featuring members of bands like Bilge Pump and Quack Quack, Polaris have quietly become godfathers of their now exploding local scene, turning at their own pace and never compromising quality for quantity......
Through the course of their Gringo-era, Reynolds were captured on the cusp of a transformation from melodic vocal hardcore to an instrumental trio obsessed with technology. Matt Tagney’s impassioned vocals and the sinuous backing of the band dare each other on to greater heights in a frenzy that left the listener sweaty palmed and breathless.
Just when you thought 'punk rock' was gonna keep on being divided and subdivided by 'punk rockers' until it existed only as atoms, Sailors come along and remind you why you ever listened to it in the first place. Sailors absolutely, 101% DO NOT FUCK ABOUT. Their songs are examples of economy of rhythm and purpose seen too rarely and singer Nick spits forth snottily in a manner that'll make all you Sam McPheeters and Chris Thomson fans wonder why the hell you didn't do it first. "For fans of Monorchid, Circus Lupus, Born Against and Sweep The Leg Johnny" is what I'd write on the record in the record shop if I owned one and I was into all that microscopic genre breakdowns. Which I'm not.
Formed in the Black Country after the break up of their school band Fused, San Lorenzo aimed to create a varied and emotive sound from a basic three-piece set up. Owen's lyrics drew on suburban myths and dreams while the band's music was able to wrap these words in fragile melodies or noisy maelstroms. Their first 7" release garnered praise from the weekly music press with its dynamic intensity and melodic boy/girl harmonies. Comparisons were made to Codeine, Slint and Fugazi but these never quite hit the mark. In 2000 San Lorenzo toured with Idlewild to promote their debut album Nothing New Ever Works which was supported strongly by John Peel and Steve Lamacq's BBC radio shows.
Artistic affinities are pledged to Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Pissed Jeans and The Intelligence, but as Kurt Cobain once asked "Why can't we be both Black Sabbath and The Beatles?", Sauna Youth consistently and urgently pose the question, 'Why can't we be both The Ramones and Steve Reich?'.
Nottingham, England - home to Seachange. A band that takes a sledgehammer to the preconceptions of alternative rock. They are band who rock like the Stooges jamming with the Valentines. They take the neo-psychedelia of the Spacemen 3 and the tautness of Joy Division to the outer limits. Yet they rein in the wild excesses to pack a mighty punch.
Soe'za are currently a five-piece band, hailing from points along the M4 corridor, from Bristol to Swindon. With a somewhat unorthodox line-up of two drum kits, electric guitar, bass and French horn, Soe'za mix Can-esque grooves, and urgent guitars and folk tinged melody with Ben Owen's clear-voiced declarations. The band twist this template in every conceivable direction, their command of the irresistible rhythm is second to none, with the French horn rounding out subtle modulations of mood.
Souvaris are five like minded souls spilling forth rhythm and texture in songs that are long on the CD timer but seem short in the listening as you move along with them. Comparison are often made to Mogwai, Explosions In The Sky, Godspeed, Sigur Ros, Tristeza etc but Souvaris are about different things. Those bands concern themselves with the spectacle and the distance between themselves and their audience but Souvaris, however grand the heights they push their music to, remain an exciting and sweaty live proposition working these amazing songs just for YOU. It may have elements of prog-rock or modern composition but it never fails to move you or make you move.