Spector – Moth Boys review

MOTHBOYSWords: Matthew Drew

Spector fans eagerly awaiting another album packed full of guitar pumped sing-along’s for all occasions will be disheartened to hear that the band have tried to move towards a more mature position, from where they have attempted a lighter approach to song writing with new album Moth Boys, out today via Fiction Records. What this means in practice is that this album has put more emphasis on enigmatic synths and vocals, and less on the kind of choruses which could unite a room in song, day or night.

This is particularly eminent in the Dev Hynes co-write Cocktail Party which almost belongs on a Daft Punk B-Side than a Spector album. It’s cinematic opening and jarring structure which leaps from slow atmospheric sounds to a distinguishably funky beat is certainly a step away from the stadium rock inspired music of old but whether it is a step forward is another matter. The feel of the song is captured in the album artwork which pictures a defunct Berlin nightclub. Like that venue the song undoubtedly has its moments but seems to only fit into a certain mood, time or place – none of which are the casual listeners headphones on a walk to the shops.

Another song which carries the new Joy Division/Kraftwerk fusion of sound is Decade of Decay, although this contribution holds a chorus and beat which pull you into and through to the closing notes before you know it. Hypnotic Kyoto Garden also presents a triumph for the band’s new approach to song writing. It is tender, honest, melancholic and thoroughly enjoyable.

There are moments of familiar relief amid the experimentation, with next single Bad Boyfriend providing a short blast of completely memorable lyricism, but the best of this album is seen when the band have managed to mould their new sound with the old traits. One such example is Stay High, complete with deliciously funky guitar from Jed Cullen amid a richer sound of synths and backing vocals which leaves you gasping for more – and which in truth is far more likely to fill stadiums than anything from the band’s first album Enjoy It While It Lasts.

Other strong successes are lead single All The Sad Young Men and Believer, which demand to be listened to with a sway in your hips and your arms in the air.

Moth Boys is certainly a more mature album from Spector with plenty to dance to, sing along to, and enjoy wholeheartedly. It is however, complete with a few cinematic experiments which could perhaps be shelved in future.

You can listen to All The Sad Young Men below.

Best Years interview

BESTYEARSCOVERRecently I reviewed the sophomore EP Drop Out from the pop punk outfit which I loved, and now you can read why they always wanted to make pop punk music, their career highlight, and if they would make music for a Christmas soundtrack…

What pushed your decision to leave ‘reality’ as mentioned in your press release, and fully focus on committing to the band?      
Every band any of us have ever been in had either not worked or run itself into the ground, we all knew that if we dropped everything and focused properly that we could make something of ourselves this time round and so far we’ve done exactly that.

Was pop punk music always the genre you wanted your music to fit in, and for future releases do you want to stay close to the sound you have developed, or explore different sounds?
When we started this was the initial idea, I would like to say “yeah this is what we’re going to do for the rest of our career and it will never change from pop punk”, but you never know what’s going to happen. For now we’re loving it and we want to make a dent in the scene by attempting to bring pop punk back to its roots instead of every band trying to sound like The Story So Far.

What has been the highlight of your band career so far?                                                                                    For me (Ed) I would say playing our first ever show at the Camden Barfly with As It Is which was completely sold out! I’ve seen plenty of bands there over the years and it was pretty surreal. Also having a chance to play with some of my favourite bands from my childhood (Man Overboard).

Where can you imagine the band in a year’s time?
I imagine us still as strong as we are now, even better friends and hopefully smashing it with our newest release… maybe even touring Europe or further. Who knows.

If you were to describe the ‘unique selling point’ of listening to Best Years, what would it be and why?
We’re not trying to be anything we’re not; it’s all natural and we intend to keep it that way. We just want to have fun ourselves and also make sure everyone else does too.

Who would be your dream collaboration?
Dream collaboration would probably be with Good Charlotte/The Madden Brothers, that would be insane and we would be blown away by it I think!

Have you as a band experienced any setbacks – if you have, then how did you learn to deal with them?
We experienced a bit of a setback with being able to afford new gear to gig with and stuff like that, and with only one of us being able to drive it kind of makes it harder to transport all of us and our gear to gigs, but it’s all fun and we have a good time in the Corsa.

If each of you was placed on a desert island, and could only take one album each with you, what would it be and what are the reasons behind your choice?
Joel – Yung Lean / Unknown Death (2002), as it is one of the most emotional albums of all time and would be perfect to listen to for the rest of my life in perfect solitude.
Holland – Transit / Young New England because it has my favourite track of all time on it and it sums my life up perfectly.
Ed – Alt J / An Awesome Wave because I don’t think I could get bored of it and it’s a very chilled and easy to listen to album.
James – Anything by the Foo Fighters they’re the kind of band that really make me think about the important things in life.
Berzins – Slipknot / self titled so I would have a good soundtrack to end my life to and I could also throw up those God damn horns – am I right?!

Would you ever consider making a Christmas-themed track, or contributing your talents to a film soundtrack?
Yeah definitely if it was for the right kind of thing and we all felt comfortable doing it – I guess that would be cool! We’ve had friends who have done some film soundtrack work and it hadn’t worked out that well for them but I guess we would try it.

If you weren’t in the band, what would your dream career be?
Joel – Film/ Multimedia Camera work.
Holland – Navy / Military / Air Force.
Ed – Touring Guitar Technician.
James – Rubix Cube factory worker.
Berzins – Ralph Lauren model.

Drop Out EP by Best Years will be released on the 28th August, and you can listen to Overrated below.

Patriot Rebel – Propaganda review

Last week mark the release of the new single from Nottingham’s own Patriot Rebel. Since the current five-piece line up came together in 2011, they’ve been sharing stages with the likes of Tesseract, Jettblack and Skarlett Riot, as well as selling out hometown landmark Rock City. 2013 saw the band hit the studio with Matt Elliss (Black Spiders, Terrorvision) and record their Two Worlds EP which racked up acclaim in national press, and now they’re back with new single Propaganda and a forthcoming release in the works.

From the storming riffs that open the single, it’s apparent that they’ve done a good job of encompassing their live show in their recorded sound. As the four minute song unwinds, epic, stadium-worthy vocals take the forefront of the track, whilst lead guitar continues to dazzle in the most compelling manner. Cascades of percussion pump the track further, and by the time it winds to a close there’s left an exhilarating feeling of having been blasted by a huge water pistol.

You can see the video premiere here.

Los Plantronics – Surfing Times review

SURFINGTIMESIn the majority of cases, the music of an album comes before the album’s artwork – this isn’t a convention Los Plantronics have stuck to with their new album, Surfing Times. Despite being convinced they couldn’t play like an authentic surf band, when they received Rick Griffin-esque piece of artwork from UK artist Johnny Stingray, they decided to work with it, keep the title and record an album around it; these original factors remain as the cover art and album title. Speaking of the writing process, the band said, “we really put our heart & soul into it; sat down on their Mexican beach blanket and re-arranged six tunes from the golden area and wrote six new ones to fit the project.”

Though the album is essentially a surf one, especially when you look into some of the classics covered, there’s a new take on the style that ranges from garage to R’n’B. Opening From Mecca To Mescalito has the frantic sound you would expect, whilst still only being a stone’s throw from ska at points and comic chase-scene backing at others. A rendition of The Gamblers’ 1960 instrumental Moon Dawg follows, another atmospheric blast sitting at under two minutes.

There’s a Presley-esque swagger to the vocals of Mary Lou that then descend in the tightly arranged instrumentals the nine-piece outfit are so smooth at working together to forge. Showing off their attention to detail in the many layered instrumental Golden Dawn Surf Patrol, the almost-four-minute number finally gives something to more thoroughly sink your teeth into, with swinging undertones and a classic movie sound.

Psychedelic influences begin to become present in El Jeffe, which are then extended in a mariachi rendition of Gene Clarks’ So You Say You Lost Your Baby. Trust me when I say this is one of those songs you have to hear to believe, with the strange juxtapositions somehow fitting together.

Again, the ska influences are played upon as the album’s second side begins with Zapatista Surfista, also featuring a drum solo and drifts into the Tex-Mex sounds the band like to entertain. If the album wasn’t already film-soundtracky enough, here is where it takes a sharp turn towards the genre instrumental Shawnee and snowball momentum (and beautifully titled) Monetzuma’s Revenge sandwich another swagger filled number with Red Hot.

Penultimate T For Terror touches on the whirl of psychedelia and closing Shortnin’ Bread Pt. II (a follow-up to James Whitcomb Riley’s early 20th century work via. The Beach Boys) plunges full-on into the grungey garage sound the album had previously teetered around.

It’s certainly a roller coaster. No two tracks are the same in the slightest, and cramming so much variety into a twelve track album couldn’t have been done with a band any less talented. Sure, it’s not going to be for everyone, but I promise the only reason for that will be people who don’t like the genre(s); rock ‘n’ roll, Tex-Mex, grunge, psychedelia, and of course surf fans are bound to love this.

You can listen to Shortnin’ Bread below.

NORTH ALONE – Cure & Disease review

NORTHALONEOn July 10th, Germany based NORTH ALONE released their new album, Cure & Disease, an eleven track offering of singer/songwriter punky folkness fronted by Manuel North. Recorded in Osnabrück (where the full five-piece band call home) at DocMaKlang studio (Chuck Ragan, Tim Vantol), the album features guest vocals from John E. Carey Jr. (Old Man Markley) and Ian Cook (Larry And His Flask).

From the album’s opening title track, two things are unavoidably clear; first of all, the band’s music is distinctive and powerful for their use of the fiddle, with this being the main factor that sets NORTH ALONE from being a bulked up version of one-man-and-his-guitar. Second of all, there’s a Frank Turner-esque edge to the album, which swells as the record continues. Cure & Disease launches the album with frantic Tim Vantol-esque energy, only exemplified by the brilliant addition of a fiddle solo, which continues into infectious The Last Inch.

Warming things up slower with Black Water, the gravelly edge to Manuel’s voice shines through against the gloss of the fiddle whilst Some Other Day inspires a Flogging Molly style enthusiasm in the opening’s instrumental, once again allowing the fiddle to dance over the rest of the pacey instrumental, touching down at the staccato pulses that break up the song.

Snappy Hydrogen Peroxide is sandwiched by the guest vocalists’ offerings – Scatter My Ashes Into The Sea sees Ian Cook contribute in the determination of the song, and Old Dog Barking appeals to Frank Turner meta lyricism with support from John E. Carrey Jr. Missing Heart Shadow takes its place as my personal favourite off the album with the soaring, open-windows-on-a-road-trip atmosphere that the country twang of the NORTH ALONE’s music inspires.

Greetings From Someone Else provides the token melancholy number, before minute and a half blast Inscription crams in a fierce amount of energy. Closing The Road Most Traveled again hits the Tim Vantol/Frank Turner midpoint – look at the discussion of punk and the closing gang vocals if you need evidence in support of this.

If you’re a fan of a full band’s worth of singer/songwriter work, you’ll probably like NORTH ALONE, with their fiddle adoration and frantic pace adding an Irish, Flogging Molly tint to the colour.