As December Falls at Bodega, Nottingham review

ADFCOVERLast month, Nottingham alt-rockers As December Falls released their new EP, When You Figure Out You’re Wrong, Get Back To Me. Several days the band headed out on tour with Elements and They Say Fall, stopping off at Nottingham’s Bodega on Friday night.

Intros are a way to make or break a show – too often they’re cliche (kudos to Elements for only just saved their Star Wars intro from becoming this), over dramatic, or too predictable – but As December Falls kicked things off to a promising start with a solid intro. The fact that front woman Beth Curtis seems ready to party from the get go with a  carefree, infectious, energy only lifts the mood of the night, and the rest of the band are just as enthusiastic.

As the set kicked off, things hit a rocky patch  – guitarist Ande Hunter’s vocals were a touch too loud, not complimenting the live music as well the recorded versions, and by the end of the second song they came across as a smudge on a camera lens photographing a sky of fireworks. Nevertheless they carried on an the mishap was soon corrected.

The technicality might have been solved but things still seemed a little on edge for the band. It’s a brave move at any small show – no matter how sold out – to ask the crowd to crouch before dancing as the track comes in with full force, and I had half a fear the audience wouldn’t take any of the bait, but they danced along accordingly and the following cover of Justin Bieber’s Love Yourself was an equal hit.

Despite the crowd’s reaction, the cover felt sloppy and unrehearsed, the band’s eagerness getting away with them and marring its execution, the contrast highlighted all the more when followed by a polished old number. It seems to be be an obligatory move to include a token acoustic song mid-way through a set list, but things just seemed to be getting going. Whilst I loved how enthusiastic Beth’s performance was, for an acoustic number to have the emotive power and gravity it deserves, it needs to be delivered more softly.

Though I love the riffs in As December Falls’ tracks, as the final few songs came around Beth’s voice became drowned out, and whilst she was fighting for the volume she was losing the sarcastic attitude in the delivery of some of the EP’s best lines, particularly on new single Don’t Say A Word. I’m glad to say that somehow everything managed to fall in line for the set’s closing song, Capture, and despite a few slip ups, the show’s energy kept up throughout.

As December Falls have their core in the right place, and the quality of their latest EP just proves what they’re capable of. It’s clear from the moment they get on stage that they’re loving every second of it, but they let their enthusiasm get the better of them and things get a little rough around the edges.

Bare Knuckle Parade – Diamond Eyes review

There’s a lot of pop-rock out there, and everyone wants their slant on it to sound a little different. They might be from Bath, but it seems that Bare Knuckle Parade have decided to go about it by making themselves sound a bit Australian. An unconventional move but one that works all the same.

Last Friday the five indie-rockers released their new music video for latest single, Diamond Eyes, the band’s first release since their debut EP, Iron Lungs. Quite frankly, the music video seems to be nothing more than the band jumping around in front of a bunch of cleverly placed lights for four and a half minutes. This trick has gone beyond being a cliche, it’s just straight up unoriginal, and a perfect way to lose my attention.

In itself, Diamond Eyes is catchy and fun, the big hooks are bound to be a hit to win over fans at a live show, and they’ve got a passion that claws its way through with every slightly raspy vocal. Every aspect of the song shows how much the band are capable of, but the video manages to let them down spectacularly – one look at the light shining across several shots of the drums and you’ve lost me.

Bare Knuckle Parade have already had a good clutch at the limelight, having played Glastonbury, Nass, and 2000 Trees festival, and an album seems to be in the pipeline. All I ask of the band is that they take the catchy creativity they have in their music and apply it to their music video.

You can listen to Diamond Eyes below.

Sunset Sons – Somewhere Maybe review

Four surfers formed a band to help pay their bills. Just two years later, they’ve been on tour with Imagine Dragons, sold out a headline show at London’s Scala, and are on the verge of releasing their debut album, recorded with Jacquire King (Kings of Leon) and James Lewis (Arctic Monkeys). It’s been something of a dreamlike whirlwind for Sunset Sons, but with the release of full length Very Rarely Say Die set for April 1st, it looks like things are only set to pick up speed.

Their latest video for Somewhere Maybe is another indicator for big things laying ahead of them. The spirit of wanderlust and living in the moment is captured beautifully from the vintage car and clothes to the windows down, wind in your hair, road trip lifestyle that every shot portrays. It’s compelling enough to make you want to get on a train or jump in a car and escape wherever you are – which is exactly what the band intended.

Drummer Jed Laidlaw describes the song as about being about “escapism”. There’s a carefree sense of recklessness in the track, and front man Rory Williams say of working with Jacquire King: “He encouraged us to experiment and there was a feeling of something special and original in the studio when working with him.”

Sunset Sons have perfected the indie pop sound of The Killers meets Circa Waves, or think The Mystery Jets with a bit more punch. Either way, their sound is too original to run the risk of plagarism, they’ve found a different angle to throw themselves into the world of summery pop, and they’re already making leaps and bound to ensure they’re set on sticking there.

On March 23rd the band begin a 14-date UK and Ireland headline tour around the release of Very Rarely Say Die on April 1st.

You can watch the video for Somewhere Maybe below.

We Came From Wolves – Ruiner review

If you play word association with the genre of “Scottish rock”, Biffy Clyro and Twin Atlantic are bound to leap out of people’s mouth first. Recently there’s been a breakthrough wave of acts following in their wake – think The Xcerts or Fatherson – and We Came From Wolves are just as deserving to be on the same “commendable Scottish rock” roster as them.

2015 saw the band release their debut self titled album, selling out their album release show at Glasgow’s ABC2, and going on to win the Scottish Music Alternative Award for Best Rock/Alternative. This year is set to see them grow further, with a highlands tour locked in to coincide with the release of their next single, Ruiner.

The penultimate track of the album, frontman Kyle Burgess describes Ruiner as: “A frank and bleak self-assessment of a dark period in my early 20’s. The song battles the realisation of pain you are causing others through selfish choices and lifestyles, and opens up to the failures in my life at that point.”

Ruiner is a choppy ocean of sound, the staccato riffs that welcome the song setting you up for rough ride in terms of the bleak subject matter. Burgess’ calm vocals guide you through the storm whilst the self-deprecating lyrics themselves turn out to be as dark as first suspected, but on a dark night there is some hope among the collective, hinted optimism of the gang vocals which pinch the song’s close. There’s no rush in the song, each second though out with a deliberation that is paramount to the smooth execution of the track and safe passage through the storm.

 

Ruiner will be release on March 18th.

The Calls – Garageland review

THECALLS2Think of early music from the Arctic Monkeys. Give it an adrenaline shot of attitude, self awareness, and a punch courtesy of The Streets. Chuck in a bunch of bass-y riffs. You’re hitting near the mark for the forthcoming release from Leeds four piece The Calls, their four track EP, Garageland, being out on March 18th. They’re influenced by big names, from The Smiths through John Cooper Clarke to Pulp, but they do a brilliant job of disregarding conformity entirely and not sounding like anyone but themselves.

Garageland is a handmade, rustic, rocking chair. There’s a down-to-earth tang in Tom Fuller’s vocals that secures its feet on reliable ground with an edge adding authenticity and more than a little character. There’s a perpetual energy that pushes through all of the tracks, not lulling after the eagerness of the first two has blown over and leaving the closing track to tie up any lose ends. And there’s the originality, the flare, that only comes up when something’s been handcrafted.

Turn the volume up and be ready to get winded by the kick the EP opens with in On The Stairs. Among the stop-start energy and Alex Turner-esque attitude, there’s a hint of The Who. Think not so much the music, but of the aggressive momentum depicted in Quadrophenia when the mods make a stand. This is a track that’s gonna bite back.

You could be fooled for thinking Back In Town was about to open up to be an early era Wombats track, and though there’s a similar feeling of begrudged enthusiasm in the vocal work, that’s where the common denominators end. The lyrics are relatively everyday – someone back in town, drumming up reasons to not see them – and whilst the line “it’ll never be the same” seems to add a little life, the motivation seems a little deflated.

Lovers and Thieves is the EP’s crowning joy – take all the best parts of late 90s-early 00s alt-rock and put them in a blender to produce this gem that sounds like a compilation best hits of them all. It’s below the three minute mark, but it’s a brilliant wave of energy that satisfies all nostalgia for the days when music meant kicking and screaming energy.

What We Left Behind starts off with an ambiguous riff that indie-pop bands like Circa Waves wouldn’t be keen to disregard, but give it ten seconds and the closing track brings some punches too. Let the full band come in and you’ve got a distinct bassline to push things along whilst the forefront of the track has riffs careering around and dancing all over it. Forty seconds seems like a short intro when it’s this absorbing, and once the instrumental shifts to the back burner and Fuller’s heavy vocals leap it, any trace of beach pop is blown away.

If you’re a fan of good music, you’ll be a fan of The Calls.

You can listen to Back In Town below.