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

WSTR – SKRWD review

When a group is signed to a major record label based on one EP, you can immediately deduce something about them – they have an awful lot of potential to make a heavy impact in the music industry. You would be correct to suss this out about WSTR – the pop punk outfit have mastered making promising first impressions, as No Sleep Records has eagerly snapped them up on just the basis of upcoming EP SKRWD.

The band open their EP with South Drive, which if it happens to be the first song a listener has the privilege of hearing by them, it will become infectious listening. With its incredibly catchy hook, I guarantee the track will remain in your head all day. A fun opening catchy song, it carries a boisterous bright spark which gives a promising start to the EP.

Fair Weather doesn’t allow itself to drop in quality; another ridiculously fun song, intricate chord changes by guitarists Danny Swift and Kieren Alder give it shape and added dimension. Although I liked all of the track’s lyrics, one line in particular defined the song for me: ‘my friends are dicks, but I would never have it any other way’. We all have people we talk to who are slightly mad and we do not know why we bother with them, but at the end of the day we wouldn’t want them to ever change, and this sentimentally of friendship adds passion to Fair Weather. My only critique is the band could have added another round of the chorus at the end, only as I felt the song ended too suddenly.

A shift in tonality of third track Graveyard Shift from the two preceding tracks ensures the EP doesn’t sound completely the same and therefore safe. Vocalist Sammy Clifford provides poignant reflective lyrics describing the low point of life when it becomes stuck in a rut, but the slightly more negative literate tone is cleverly wrapped in energetic pop guitar melodies.

There is a danger for any band that the second half of an EP or album fades out with quality, but this is not an issue for WSTR, who manage to keep the momentum going with their final three songs, thanks to the contributions of bassist Alex Tobijanski and Kieran McVeigh on drums. Brainsick is laced with summery guitar licks and pays homage beautifully to bands from pop punk’s golden years Sum 41 and Blink 182. Despite its title, penultimate track Aint Great unsurprisingly is very great, with witty and angst-ridden lyrics building a rousing song explaining a situation which clearly the band are a bit miffed off about. Finally, to end the EP on a high, Devils N Demons is an exciting concluding song that will make you wish SKRWD was actually a full album.

WSTR definitely have over-whelming talent and their EP proves this – it is a tribute to all the best parts of pop punk over the last couple of decades. The group deserve SKRWD to be the step that puts them on the path to success that recent pop-punk groups such as Neck Deep have achieved.

SKRWD is due to released on the 4th September on No Sleep Records.

You can watch the video for Fair Weather below.

Du Blonde – Hunter review

Back in May, Beth Jeans Houghton released her sort-of debut album; the first under pseudonym Du Blonde, and a world away from her 2012 offering Your Truly Cellophane. Two years ago, Beth had an epiphany and realised she wasn’t making the sort of music she really wanted to, so scrapped it all and started again. Her full length, Welcome Back To Milk, was one of our favourites of the year, an intriguing and creative listen (you can read our full review here). The new single Hunter has now seen its video release.

The three and a half minute video, which you can check out below, holds an old school, homemade feel to it, perfectly matching the strong but soft vocals Beth provides against decisive riffs. There’s almost a Florence And The Machine-esque power to it, with the controlled and emotive chorus beckoning you to listen closer, whilst promising that the hooks will stick in your mind for hours.

You can watch the video for Hunter below.

We Came From Wolves – Self titled review

We Came From Wolves (SSR 015) cover artMay 25th brought us the release of We Came From Wolves’ self-titled debut album via Saraseto Records. The Glasgow-via-Perth quartet had already thrown themselves into the spotlight with the impressive 2014 EP, Paradise Place. This time around though, the band have stepped away from the pop punk melodies of Stallion, Foals, Foxes, Crows and taken a more alternative rock approach.

The album debut opens with a beautifully haunting, one-minute acoustic intro, titled Wolves, before crashing into Glasgow Stranger. With such strong Scottish vocals from Kyle Burgess and some powerful pop-fuelled guitar riffs, this track is going to do well among Twin Atlantic fans. However, it’s Am I Useful? that sees Burgess’ vocal work really stand out – backed up by melodic riffs we’d expect from Deaf Havana’s Fools And Worthless Liars and steady drum beats, it’s a heartfelt and memorable track that won’t disappoint.

Coraline leans towards the band’s older pop punk roots, and there’s a hint of Franceschi-esque vocal work in there too, while Butterflies treats us to anthemic riffs and heavy basslines. Where’d Your Love Go? is the highlight so far, opening track six with a slow, spine-chillling riff. There’s a sense of power behind this track as the chorus kicks in and Burgess sings, “You’ve been keeping secrets from me / All this has to stop right now,” and it’s guaranteed to be a live crowd-pleaser.

Up next comes Validate Me, starting out with an intimate acoustic verse before an explosion of metal-esque riffs takes over in a Young Guns-meets-Framing Hanley spectacular – you can almost hear Kenneth Nixon within Burgess’ vocals here. You’ve Backed The Wrong Horse sticks to this sound, despite another hint of heartfelt pop punk, before I Know You’re Leaving surprises us with a McBusted pop fest and Ruiner draws us in with its catchy lyrics.

Finally, I Need Something slows everything down completely in an emotional acoustic effort. This song alone is enough to make you teary and will ultimately melt your heart when the electric guitar kicks in at the halfway mark. We Came From Wolves’ self-titled debut is packed with ups and downs, but they’ve got an exciting road ahead of them. Good work boys.

Castaway/Statutes split review

SPLITCOVERAt the start of this week, a pair of Midlands based artists paired themselves up to release an EP done the old fashioned way – splitting their music across it. At six track long and not including covers of the others’ work, the bands would probably be more accurate to describe the self titled offering as a split mini album, but it’s all the more attention to both acts. Recorded and mixed by Ian Boult (Basement, xRepentancex) and mastered by Bob Cooper (Citizen, Nai Harvest, Self Defence Family), there’s a wealth of experience gone into the offering, and it pays off impressively well.

One of these acts is Nottingham’s own Castaway (who we previously checked out briefly at Notts Pop Punk Fest in January). Forming over a love for band such as Title Fight, Basement and Balance & Composure, the five piece released their debut EP, Bleak, at the end of last June on a pay what you want basis.

Though the band take the second half of the EP, the close of their final June 15th so smoothly matches the style of Statutes’ sound it would’ve seemed more logical to fit them that way round. However, the other two tracks provide a rough edge in the vocals to accompany the chunky, grungey riffs, especially in middle Milk. Barely over two minutes long, it’s a vicious blast that deserves nothing less than to be played at full volume.

On the other half of the EP come Statutes, a band who exist purely as a creative outlet for the members, and will, in their own words, “continue to perform and record to anyone willing to listen until the day real life catches up”. It’s an intriguing attitude to have in an industry so progress and money driven, and perhaps that’s what makes their music so emotive.

Taking the opening half of the EP for their own, Statutes create a sound that meets in the middle of La Dispute and flatsound, with a slightly harsher touch. Though the echoing vocals seem somewhat incongruous to the music which have the detail and emotion to survive well as purely instrumental, it’s an incongruity that forms a fresh sound. Think the poetic originality of a newly turned over rock.

The cover of the record seems to directly imitate American Football’s album cover, and there’s something to be said for similarities in the music, but to the core this is fresh, organic talent in the music and if anyone had dared consider that the grunge/emo DIY world were dying out, well, here’s proof against that.