False Advertising – Self titled review

FALSEADVERTISINGWhen someone mentions ‘Manchester’, iconic ground-breaking bands including The Stone Roses, Oasis, The Chemical Brothers, and arguably alternative music founders The Smiths pop into your head. Now False Advertising want to join the list of credible groups originating from the city, and join the list of bands that people will remember by the next generation. Forming two years ago, the group’s members have kept a low profile, working hard to produce their debut. Since finally unveiling songs online three months ago, Manchester has held its breath in anticipation for a full album, and the wait is almost over, with their self-titled effort scheduled for release on the 4th September.

Unfortunately, the first two tracks of False Advertising, although not necessarily weak songs by no means, are in my eyes a poor decision to open a debut with. First track Breaker does deliver a dark brooding mysterious sound, but vocal, from Jen Hingley, and instrumental alike create a sound all too commonly afflicted with the grunge genre, and ultimately it falls more into the mould of album filler rather than a lead track. Similar words can be expressed about Another Mention – the addition of distortion experimentation works, but overall the track is relatively limpid and I wasn’t wooed by it either.

Don’t let an average beginning put you off the rest of the album; third track Wasted Away turns the fortune of False Advertising’s debut around, and ensures that listening to it isn’t a waste of your time. With a chord sequence almost identical to Lived A Lie by You Me At Six, the riff is catchy, and to new listeners is the perfect introduction to the band. Wasted Away is a leading album track that should have been. Dozer awakens you to a riotous sound which is perfect chaos – screeching guitars and a sneering whip of “it’s not your fault” provides one of the highlights of the album, and hails similar to striking songs from growing grunge prowess Wolf Alice. Following track I Don’t Know again incorporates distortion into Chris Warr’s vocals as he for the first time take command of lead vocals, a smart move which proves far from rebarbative.

Although False Advertising falter on track All Of The Above due to its feckless sound that as a consequence leaves its fate no more than album filler, the album ensures a swift recovery with tracks Cold Shoulder and No Good, laced with dramatic bass from the brainchild of Josh Sellers that draws you into the songs. Jen unleashes rueful emotion on Only Way, vocals that craft a sincere grunge ballad. Finish Line, ironically named as it is actually only the penultimate song, instantly reminded me of a criminally underrated song you find pre-installed on new smartphones, and becomes your own little musical highlight secret. Eventually the finish line is reached with closing track Something Better – with an infectious chorus and enticing guitar melody, it’s a song which is the best possible the album could end by.

Despite a slow start and occasional stumbles, in the end False Advertising is a grunge victory, and ends on a high. It may not propel them to the heights of Manchester’s finest just yet, but it will win them a league of fans.

You can stream the album below.
False Advertising by False Advertising

Frank Turner – Positive Songs For Negative People review

PS4NPI don’t think it’s exaggerating to say that Frank Turner is almost at the point where he needs no introduction – after selling out Wembley in 2012 and releasing his critically acclaimed Tape Deck Heart, which peaked at second place in the UK charts, just over a year later, the Wessex boy is back with his sixth studio release, Positive Songs For Negative People. It might have only been eight years since his debut album, Sleep Is For The Week, was released, but the punk-folk singer/songwriter is already reflecting back to it; “When a band makes a debut record, there’s a freshness and excitement to it that bands often lose as time goes by,” he says. “I wanted to try and make a record with that young, exciting feel.”

This is a train of thought that’s ever present in the album – you need look no further than the tennis metaphor lyricism of two and a half minute blast Love Forty Down or the heartbreaking heart-on-sleeve nature of closing Song For Josh to find ties with Frank’s earliest work. And as the title might suggest, the record is one filled with swinging enthusiasm, with gritty determination and against-odds-optimism powering through Get Better, a track which seems like a rough and tumbled cousin of Recovery (Tape Deck Heart‘s first single). This previous single had such a buoyant tempo you’d think it would’ve suited Positive Songs, whilst there’s more than a hint of melancholy to story-telling lead Mittens.

After the musician and his band, The Sleeping Souls, perfected the tracks in an Oxforshire based rehearsal room, they headed to Nashville with producer Butch Walker for an intense nine-day recording session, leaving a very live influence on the album, wanting to capture the nature of their gigs as best the could. “Pretty much all of it is live. The end result is everything I wanted it to be,” he says. Gang vocals in Glorious You, a bass driven, emancipating, chant with your friends anthem, and the brazen enthusiasm in the hooks of Josephine signal towards this fresh faced sound, let alone the live recording of Song For Josh at Washington’s 9.30 Club.

Out Of Breath picks up the weight of the full band, sounding strikingly similar to Ghouls’ London’s Burning – a song Frank has previously championed – and although penultimate Silent Key has an opening that’s all but straining on the first listen, he tells of 1986’s Challenger disaster with an “I’m alive” ending, and combined with the addition of Esmé Patterson’s vocals this makes my personal favourite off the record.

Elsewhere, opening The Angel Islington completes a rough trilogy as tribute to North London, begun on Tape Deck Heart with Fisher King Blues and Broken Piano, whilst first single to be released off the record, The Next Storm, punches with the bold enthusiasm that the album is built on. Closer to the songwriter-supported-by-band style of his last album, The Opening Act of Spring completes the album alongside bittersweet Demons, another number to dabble in gang vocals.

Frank has described Positive Songs as “my definitive statement, a summation of the first five records”, and there’s no trouble seeing how this is true; it offers little that sees the singer/songwriter push himself beyond what he’s written before, whilst delving into the archives to pull out the best of his work and revamp it.

You can check out the video for The Next Storm below.

Arthur Walwin – Sleepless review

Self described as “Brand New in a Katy Perry sugar coated shell”, London based singer/songwriter Arthur Walwin is growing from his roots in the DIY pop-rock scene and jumping headfirst into the world of straight-up pop and EDM with his debut album, Sleepless, set for release on Monday 27th July. Last year saw the 24 year old play Wembley among headline tours both here and in America, and in previous years he’s received airplay and praise from the likes of Nick Grimshaw and Fearne Cotton with his debut single All For You.

Self produced, writing and recording the eleven track release took priority over everything for Arthur, allegedly comprising eating and sleeping for its sake, and is the accumulation of two years’ work. Latest single White Wine opens the record, a track that’s clearly made to be a hit with a fantastically catchy chorus and synth hooks that demands being hummed along to (despite soundly somewhat similar to Calvin Harris and Ellie Goulding’s Outside – maybe that’s why it’s so addictive).

The pace of the album is kept up with another electronics infused number, Seeing Her, though the same chorus-and-synth-opening trick is pulled here as it was in White Wine, and a similar trick is used in previous single Bad which follows the pair. Vocal lead Hard To Love provides more variation, touching on the more emotive side of Arthur’s work, as well as showing off his range and featuring alternative hip-hop artist Refraze.

An atmospheric build up and punchy drums preceding the explosive chorus makes Again & Again one of my personal favouites off the record, emancipating lyrics leading into dancey instrumentals and soaring vocal work, with a controlled come down before the whole process repeats. Lead single and most directly pop off the album, This Feels Like Summer is an optimistic, drink-parties-sunshine anthem for those rare British days of summer. Having been out for a year, one might think that this was a track that could become easily overplayed; let me assure you that isn’t the case.

Although there’s no abandonment of the electronics, the album sees a slight change in direction here, leaning toward the slower and more personal numbers. Affectionate Sweet takes the place as a token almost-acoustic track, though still builds up to a powerful, piano-backed chorus, and stands as another favourite for the fond tone and singalong potential. More acoustic again, romantic and humbling Chance shows off Arthur’s ability to pen moving lines disguised as upbeat hooks, whilst Void plays the same card, distracting from, “coming here was a big mistake”, with his huge range.

Bring to mind A Rocket To The Moon’s Like We Used, form it into a pop song, and you’ve got yourself penultimate I Miss You – compare “Does he watch your favourite movies? / Will he love you like I loved you? / Will he tell you everyday?” with “Does he do the things I did? / Will he say the things I said? / Will he ever understand our love?”. Closing LoCal, a tribute to his love for California whilst he lives in London, winds the album down perfectly with his signature mix of longing and positivity glowing through the track’s melancholy moments.

Sleepless has been crafted as eleven consecutive hits, and Arthur’s talent is deservedly flaunted through them. Old fans will be sure to find enough of his DIY sensibilities in the tracks to love the album, and new fans are bound to be roped in by the huge hooks and sincere undertones.

You can watch the video for White Wine below.

WOMPS – Live A Little Less review

Born from the remnants of Algernon Doll, Glaswegian two piece WOMPS headed into the arms of legendary producer Steve Albini at the back end of last year to forge their debut album. The garage rock duo have now laid claim to sharing a stage with the likes of Speedy Ortiz, PAWS and Honeyblood, as well as having received support from NME Online, Rock Sound and BBC Radio 1, and are set to release their debut double A-side 7″ single in mid September on Damnably.

Premiered on Consequence of Sound and available to stream below, Live A Little Less is a raucous three and a half minute blast, with a punky wildness immersing itself in the riff and cymbal laden instrumentals. These instrumentals die into a waterfall of noise to support the skeleton of the track; distorted, determined vocals that keep themselves strong through spiraling, compelling, ear worm lyrics. There’s method in the madness.

You can stream Live A Little Less below.

Notts Pop Punk Fest at The Maze, Nottingham

On January 3rd, The Maze hosted what was probably Nottingham’s first festival of 2015 with Notts Pop Punk Fest. Last Saturday, a little further into the year and at a more sensible time for a festival, it returned to the same venue with two stages (main and acoustic), all geared up for over seven hours of music. Though described as a pop punk festival, only a handful of the acts fell strictly into that category – this might explain why the festival’s pages have been scrapped and replaced by Hood Fest, ready to return next March.

A prime example of the non-pop punk side of the festival came from main stage openers Pack Mentality, who we saw give a solid show at Derby’s The Vic the night before in celebration of their EP launch. Though largely similar to their Friday night performance, The Maze’s low stage gave them chance to get involved with the crowd, with frontman Daniel Kevan joining the floor in single Salvation, and better sound quality was reflected in the more comfortable vocals.

The fest seemed to be good at getting opening acts right, with Lauren April on the acoustic stage delighting the crowd with her nigh on flawless vocals. Among a selection of her own work came a handful of well known covers, from Alanis Morissette’s Ironic to Sam Smith’s Stay With Me, and an infectious rendition of Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing that even had people outside singing along. Lauren gave a performance that demanded attention and respect, boasting the sort of voice that if you heard it drifting out of a pub or cafe would encourage you to step inside and stay till the last moment of her set.

With all the energy of a band with only a few months under their belts, Our Saving Day took to the main stage, along with the crowd working ability and confidence of an established act. A few moments saw the vocals fall flat or be covered by the instrumental, but the atmosphere drummed up from a couple of well known covers (a Fall Out Boy number and trusty pop-punk anthem Stacey’s Mom) left these moments forgotten in the dust.

Other noticeable points across the day included On The Open Road’s clear comfort to return to a more intimate venue after the well tackled main stage at Rescue Rooms which they graced last Tuesday, having less trouble keeping up with the energy of recently-announced lead guitarist Jack Dutton, and Requin Blanc’s upgraded-to-main-stage show, making the most of the significantly improved vocal power available.

Though both stages’ openers had been impressive acts, the stages’ closing sets managed to top that. With the inside of the venue reaching a point of boiling insanity (credit to pop-punk enthusiasm for that), acoustic headliner Arthur Walwin took his set out to the venue’s beer garden with support from Willowen’s “box monkey” – that’s percussion to you and me – George Fullerton. By the end of the first track any general chatter had died down, possibly in awe, as the unexpected duo worked their way through Arthur’s catalogue of hits alongside tracks from his forthcoming debut album. A medley of pop numbers and a mix of the two best known Taking Back Sunday tracks (“the band that got me into pop-punk”, Arthur claims) also cropped up in the setlist.

Quite the contrast to the quaint sing a longs and fairy lights of The Maze’s beer garden, Manchester quintet Milestones had the stage inside to cause a stir. With frontman Matt Clarke and bassist Mark Threfall taking to the floor to bounce life into the all but worn-out crowd, they perfectly reflected the band’s ethos; keep giving it your all. Since releasing their debut single More To Me in December and their debut EP Nothing Left a few months ago, they’ve gone from strength to strength, never slowing down or pausing for breath. A couple of front row fans showed the band the dedication they deserved by chanting every line with the same force Matt did, and the introduction of new, more vocal lead and assertive work went down a treat. Milestones feel – literally and from their position in the music scene – like an act ready to explode into the big-time shows at any given moment.

Though it came across as more of a rock party than its title would suggest, Notts Pop Punk Fest proved another interesting day, with the best acts standing out a mile.