Super Luxury – Ten Years Of Applause

“Pissed Jeans if they swapped the ennui for dancing.” The 405 hit the nail on the head with their accurate description of Leeds’ noise-rockers Super Luxury. Subtly isn’t their strong point, but smashing everything together to create a sonic earthquake is.

Opening track 1.25 Metres on debut album Ten Years of Applause introduces feedback-laden riffs and shouty vocals over the noise, bringing melody to Baby Godzilla style thrashing. Second track Constant Delicious is a hit single in the making, bursting with eye-watering energy reminiscent of Dischord-era aggression.

Super Luxury are keeping DIY ethics alive by self-recording their own music, mostly at their adopted HQ the Brudnell Social Club in their hometown. Filming their own music videos and producing their own album artwork, they strive to put as much effort into their music as they do into their live performance.

Ian Mackaye Made So Much Money Out of Fugazi… is a song so heavy, it would be unwise to be too close to the stage when this is being played. If you’re a standard attendee at a punk or hardcore show, you most likely still would not be able to prepare yourself for Super Luxury chaos. If confetti cannons, inflatable-crowdsurfing and hotdog-eating competitions are your thing, why haven’t you been to one of these boys’ gigs yet? Just remember to time your dives well, or end up with broken legs like frontman Adam, after a gig at the Brudnell.

Keeping the fierce charisma of post-punk alive, Golden Climbing keeps Creative Adult-like sludge to the mix of classic rock and distortion. To date, Super Luxury has shared the stage with the likes of Metz, Cloud Nothings, Wet Nuns and That Fucking Tank. Songs like Hyperhidrosis are audible reasons why this band is deafening bruisers with a well-deserved following in the UK.

Ending the album with speaker-blowing smashes of percussion and an assault of screams, Crunchy Boy is a dirty infusion of boozed up feedback and an onslaught of headache-delivering angst. You may need to have a sit down after listening to this.

Ten Years of Applause follows a cassette release of 2012 EP Mystery Thriller Teen Drama, both released on Super Luxury’s very own British Wildlife Records. The album came out later last month, and you can stream or buy it on Bandcamp.

Nai Harvest – Hairball review

From debut EP Feeling Better and full-length record Whatever to the game-changing sophomore EP Hold Open My Head, Sheffield’s answer to the likes of Ty Segall and FIDLAR are driving their energetic pools of sound forward to deliver 10 songs of sonic brilliance.

Having the ability to surprise people with each release is a skill that can be quickly lost – people will expect each release to be different. Nai Harvest focuses on their sound on their own terms without consideration of anyone else; and that is what makes Hairball so unique. It’s not a change in sound; it’s a natural evolution from the memorable hooks of cult-hit Buttercups.

Opener track Spin spits into a dreamlike affair between Ben Thompson’s clean guitar cycles and Lew Curries’ rhythmic drumming that is a celebratory pint full of fizz and fuzz before the explosive entrance of acidic throw-up second track Sick On My Heart which, if any of you have caught them live recently, would have definitely been dancing along to.

Releasing a split on flower-shaped vinyl with London mates Playlounge, relentless touring, signing to Topshelf Records and recording an album with legendary producer Bob Cooper (Sky Ferreria, Citizen, etc.), Nai Harvest have it all. Songs like Melanie are the reason why this duo is gaining recognition from the likes of Stereogum, who named the band as their ‘Band to Watch’ for being “fucking great”.

Full of bubbling artistic imagination, Nai Harvest’s hungover brand of garage rock flows through on a summer’s surf on each track. The new recording of anthemic single Buttercups transforms the song from a clean pop hit to a snarling monster of a track with clenched fists and dirty sounding reverb, all washed up in reverb and fuzz that leaves a taste on the tongue you can’t shake off.

There are a few parts of the album that sound truly magic. One particular highlight is Oceans of Madness which I first heard on Nai Harvest’s tour supporting Superheaven around the UK in the fall of last year. The song is fluid between live excellency and creating a special bubble away from the chaotic madness of over songs on the album. Oceans of Madness is nowhere near a precision cut diamond, but is more like waking up from a hard night’s drinking with a clear head.

The neurotic title-track Hairball closes the album on a successful theme of lyrical vomiting throughout the record. The album closer is five minutes of deranged rhythms and hooks, that sound both manic and tired; from acid to come-down to adrenaline jolt Hairball ends the record on a fiercely aggressive and glorious track.

Nai Harvest plan to spend this year much as they did in 2015: extensive touring and festival slots and selling out shows that’ll rocket them skywards off their best material yet. Catch them around the UK throughout April with Best Friends and don’t forget to buy Hairball on the 28th of April if you haven’t pre-ordered it already!

NHHTOUR

Happyness – Weird Little Birthday review

Credited as being in the The Sunday Times’ Top 30 Albums of the Year, the debut album Weird Little Birthday by Happyness has been gathering well deserved appreciation across both sides of the Atlantic.

Since their first gig in November 2013, the South London trio have since supported the likes of Speedy Oritz, finished two successful UK headline tours and played slots at Reading & Leeds and Wales’ Green Man Festival.  Frequent trips to the States and Europe show that Happyness are doing something right.

First self-released in June 2014, Weird Little Birthday is being re-released through Moshi Moshi Records in the UK and Bar None Records in the USA TODAY, alongside new single A Whole New Shape.

First track Baby Jesus (Jelly Boy) was recorded in the bitter cold of an abandoned church which adds an edge to the melancholic tones and the eccentricity of the lyrics that opens the album. Mostly recorded in the band’s very own Jelly Boy Studios, songs like Naked Patients showcase other elements into the mix: lofty bass lines and lo-fi guitar work wrap around shared vocal duties to an extent where your head feels like it’s wrapped up with marshmallow pillows.

The youthful fuzz pop of Orange Luz opens into the grand, atmospheric Pumpkin Noir with guest vocals from Ed Harcourt which is quite simply a beautiful side of the album.  The teenage exuberance shown on singles like It’s On You carry on the band’s style from the first EP, but Weird Little Birthday is a spectacular deliverance of different recording techniques and jumps from illustrious lo-fi ballads to surf-punk  pop songs in the vein of new Nai Harvest songs.

When an album is re-released, often a few B-sides and acoustic versions are dumped without any care. On the re-release of Weird Little Birthday, the four extra tracks sound like natural extensions to the overall record: not just continuing on the sound but further developing it. The acoustic distortion of Stop Whaling is a particular favourite, conjuring visions of Neutral Milk Hotel songs such as Songs against Sex. As a fan of NMH, I’d personally be interested in seeing Happyness practise with that sound even more.

The last bonus track A Whole New Shape is a grunge, garage rock hit in the making. Sounding like Wavves meets Weezer meets shoegaze, the single is an artful bombardment of the senses that still gives you room to focus on different parts of the song in depth to fully appreciate its scale.

Weird Little Birthday deserves every bit of praise it deserves, for this album is on its way to becoming a British classic. Every song has the potential to be a hit. Happyness are continuing their US tour throughout April, while returning home in May to shred some UK shows.

The Kimberly Steaks interview

We recently had a chat with Greig from Glasgow’s The Kimberly Steaks about living and chemical imbalances, murdering burgers and living and dying in West Central Scotland. Don’t ask, just read on.

You released your debut LP last year through All in Vinyl records titled To Live and Die in West Central Scotland. How was it received?
The reception has been great! We really didn’t expect so many people to hear it, and considering that word of mouth is really the only promotion we get, it’s been really surprising. We’ve had quite a few orders from far-flung places like Indonesia and Pakistan; and loads from Japan. It’s pretty weird to know that people so far away are listening to songs I wrote in my flat and recorded in a house a few miles away.

How was the recording process for To Live and Die…?
Like most of the punk bands in central Scotland, we did it with budget producer-extraordinaire Boab of Punk Rock Rammy. He was moving house at the time, so we moved all the gear into an empty bedroom and recorded the whole thing there in two days in January last year. It was the first time I didn’t drink or smoke during a recording session, so I guess that’s why it sounds better than the older stuff!

You have a new EP out 20th March called Chemical Imbalance. Does the way the material written for it or the way you recorded differ in any way to how the debut record was?
It was written in the same way – we always have the music and vocal melody perfect before the words get written. I tend to write quite a lot and we discard a lot of songs so I don’t bother writing words for them unless we’re definitely going to use them. The only difference really was that the EP doesn’t really have a central theme and all the songs are about something different, whereas all the songs on the album were about boring everyday life in a dreary town. For the recording itself, we did it again with Boab – but in an actual studio this time.

The EP is going to be released through Round Dog and Don’t Ask Records, who have been great friends for years. What made you decide to release the record through these two labels?
I’ve been friends with Fraser of Round Dog/The Murderburgers for years and he’s always been a fan of the band and really supportive of everything we do. The label hasn’t even been going for a year but he’s already doing really well. All of the releases have been great so far. He’s just released the debut album by Don Blake which is just perfect pop-punk with great insightful and philosophical lyrics. It deserved to be heard by a lot of people and I think it really captures everything that’s good about UK pop-punk. I met the guys from Don’t Ask through their band, Austeros. Stuart from The Murderburgers was driving us on tour and let us hear their first EP and all of us just loved it instantly, so we got in touch and got them up to Scotland for a couple of gigs at the end of last year. What they’re doing as a band and a label is just so similar to what our band is about, so I’m really happy to work with them on this release.

What can you tell us about your influences and experiences that helped you to write the latest project? Your music has been described as equal parts pop and punk, are there any bands or artists in particular who have influenced you?
I guess our influences are pretty obvious from the music, and we’re not exactly doing anything new. I just hope that we do it well enough to pay homage to the bands that have influenced us and get a few people interested in a sub-genre of punk that sadly seems to be forgotten about these days. Like a lot of people my age, I got into punk through Dookie and Smash and proceeded to find everything Green Day and The Offspring ever recorded. Avalanche Records in Glasgow used to have a Lookout! Records section and a lot of the CDs were under a fiver, so I would buy whatever ones had the most songs on them. This way I came across The Queers, Screeching Weasel, Squirtgun and loads more. I still think some of those albums are among the best American punk records ever recorded. More recently I think we’re inadvertently influenced by a lot of bands we play with and see live a lot, like The Murderburgers and Wonk Unit. Also pretty much everything that Dirtnap Records release.

And last: what’s it like being a pop-punk band from Glasgow, and what’s the DIY scene like in Scotland?
The DIY scene in Scotland is gradually getting a lot better. 10 years ago it was pretty much non-existent outside of hardcore punk, but thanks to a few dedicated people, there’s now a healthy gig-going audience. I think the fact that the Scottish bands have gotten a lot better over the last few years has also helped a lot. It’s great to see so many out-of-town bands coming up to Dundee for Book Yer Ane Fest at the end of the year, and last year we had Stuck in Springtime Fest in Glasgow which was absolutely packed even though we didn’t have any of the usual names that tend to appear at UK punk festivals. I’d like to think that people are starting to look further than the very few “trendy” bands that seem to represent UK punk. Hopefully this will get noticed and get some of the lesser-known names some well-deserved attention.

Chemical Imbalance is officially released 20th March, but you can stream it right now for free on Bandcamp or a pay-what-you-want download!

Argonaut – Try Review

Channeling all forms of 90’s grunge and rock influences from Sonic Youth, Hole and The Pixies, Argonaut are releasing their sophomore album Try through Criminal Records after taking a long time in the making.

Guitar-driven music that wouldn’t sound out of place on the Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World soundtrack, songs like third track You Guys deliver The Blue Album era Weezer garage rock guitar work, that carries on rolling out the punches opener TV subjects the listener to.

Channelling Metric-like vocals while still keeping a firm hold of that Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth) punk attitude. The vocal duties shared between main vocalist Lorna and guitarist/backing vocalist Nathan is nostalgic of Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation album and the vocals shared by Gordon and Thurston Moore, but are still free to experiment with their emotive brand of charming post-rock grunge.

Try follows on from big hitters on the debut, Garbage and The Pixies-influenced Touch Electric and More Life bleed into songs like Seven; Lorna’s presence gives the band a ‘Riot Grrrl’ atmosphere that is easy to tap into and enjoy the adrenaline kick.

Yawn experiments further the emotions and sound of Argonaut’s style, slowing down the tempo but not losing attitude as a perfect intro to seven-minute super-song September which is almost like listening to a completely different band. Lorna and keyboardist Abbey harmonious their voices together to a youthfully high standard lauded with dreamy passion and shoegaze-influenced amounts of guitar effects. September is grander and more atmospheric than many of the songs on the album; further proof of the diversity of Argonaut’s music.

Never Sleep is calmer, slowing down the youthfulness of the record and producing a maturity in the songwriting that is unexpected. Stylishly mixing strings underneath fuzzy guitars finishes the album on a high note.

You can stream or pre-order Try on Bandcamp.