THE BEGINNING

New 7-inches from Tribe, Warm Brains, Clout!, Trogons, 2:54 and Husband.

tribes-single

TRIBES
WE WERE CHILDREN
(Island)

One early profile piece on Camden quartet Tribes had them down as “Kings of Leon to Yuck’s Strokes”. It was actually meant as a compliment, and although plainly offensive in light of what the Followill family band has rotted into, it’s a pretty good comparison. Tribes are an indie rock’n’roll band, and they clearly have their eyes on mainstream success. This, their debut EP, echoes their manifesto that speaks of the band turning their back on “experimental weird music” that you “stroke your chin to”, which is the kind of thing that Liam meat-n-meat Gallagher might say to convince you that The View are the “only proper fucking band out there doing it!”. Tribes are slightly cleverer than that though, and not only because who isn’t?

‘Girlfriend’ is particularly difficult to argue with, combining a grunge-light power chord chorus with an overall anthemic nod to Weezer and Americana pop. It’ll clean up on Xfm. ‘We Were Children’ then owes so much to Britpop that it can’t help but confess “we were children in the mid-90s” – no kidding. And while the acoustic ‘Coming of Age’ whiffs of desperation like its title suggests, Tribes are quite brilliant in an FM pop rock kinda way. They’ll probably play support on a Razorlight tour and steal the show, naturally.

HUSBAND
LOVE SONG / SLOW MOTION

(Robot Elephant)

Bologna duo Husband don’t approach Italo disco like you’d expect them to. On ‘Love Song’, for example, clacking tribal drums take centre-stage while faint spaceship drones endlessly bother the kind of weightless zombie vocals you’d find on an ambient HEALTH remix. It makes for an alluring and arresting debut single. It waggles a curly, come-hither finger, but it’ll probably vaporise you if you surrender yourself to the temptation. ‘Slow Motion’, ironically, is a lot faster, and a lot more overtly threatening. Its beat isn’t loose and spiritual; it’s hard and industrial. The duel vocals aren’t as friendly as they used to be either. They’re sparse but upfront and talking gobbledegook, practising witchcraft over demonic, analogue synth lines and the sound of what may or may not be an elevator being called. And of course music like this lends itself perfectly to the remix crowd, but none of the re-workings here match the brilliant terror of the originals.

CLOUT!
EP

(Dirty Bingo)

Southend five-piece CLOUT! are proud to be of a generation that has always known the Internet. The way they see it is, genre cross-pollination is nothing but a good thing, and with untold resources and influences bouncing around cyberspace, new musicians these days are able to be more innovative than ever. There’s an argument, of course, that the practice of meshing hip hop with jazz and chillwave could spell disaster in the wrong hands, but not in CLOUT!’s, it seems. ‘Maxwell’s O’ is the crowning glory of their 7-track debut release – made up of various tinkering electronics, a snappy hip hop beat and the vocals of an angel (well, artwork designer Bradley). It’s beautifully forlorn, noisy to just the right extent and surprisingly baggy. ‘It’s Too Late’ cranks up the crackle, and ‘The Dodo Riddim’ is plainly experimental, but there’s still a groove there from a band inspired by everything.

WARM BRAINS
OLD VOLCANOES
(Marshall Teller)

Brilliant producers don’t always make for fine musicians. Just look at Timberland – a man who can shine the shit of anyone but raps so badly himself he has to gurn his way through music videos to keep us watching. Rory Brattwell is a producer, but he’s also a pretty good punk rocker too, maybe because that’s what he was doing way before he began recording every DIY band in London. Warm Brains is his current (solo) musical concern, and quite possibly his best yet – certainly if ‘Old Volcanoes’ is anything to go by. A mess of drums, sliding basslines and guitars, none of the instruments here appear to be playing the same song until they hit a chorus that is more than a little anthemic and features a surprise appearance of a xylophone.

It’s an arrangement uncharacteristically sophisticated for a project so heavily set in today’s ‘lo-fi’ scene – full of the kind of lurching rhythms and endless, distortion-free riffs that allowed Pavement to make ‘slacker’ an aspiration in the early ’90s. Vocally, Brattwell is a little like old Test-Icicle band mate Dev ‘Lightspeed Champion’ Hynes, in the sense that he chooses to not swamp his soulful, semi-flat tone in reverb or echo. It’s just another smart move on a consistently smart debut single.

2:54
ON A WIRE

(House Anxiety)

Grunge is back, so it was only a matter of time before post-grunge showed its face, which is perhaps why London duo 2:54 sound a lot like a mid-paced Garbage on this, their debut single. ‘On A Wire’ is sighed out in the most seductive of earthy purrs by singer Collette, accompanied by a trudging low-end that is dragged along by the waspy distortion of a dirty guitar that occasionally wanders off to perform metallic solos from the eighties. It sounds like it wears leather, and that it could teach you a thing or two in the bedroom. What’s most bewitching is that while all of that sounds like ‘On A Wire’ is instantly – and dangerously – gratifying, it isn’t. And perhaps the suspended allure of 2:54 – as well as Collette’s Shirley Manson drowsy hush – is what makes this track seem like a lost demo of ‘Stupid Girl’. Because while this single is sexier than suspenders day at Victoria’s Secret, it takes a while to realise just how much you fancy it.

TROGONS
CONTINA

(X-Ray)

When you’re a band of self-confessed sci-fi nerds – despite what your collective pasts suggest (Trogons is made up of four people who’ve played in some very hip London outfits before now) – telling a tale is bound to be high on the agenda. ‘Contina’ is the band’s debut “comic book with a serious message”, and its lyrics are even more important than its trippy, Hammer Horror organ and Death On The Nile guitar intro. This is the most theatrical and operatic story of a giant woman breaking through the earth’s crust, destroying the planet and finding the whole thing hilarious. “Ha ha haaa!” repeatedly channels our narrator, singer Gemma Fleet. For her part she sounds not like the Siouxsie Sioux she’s often compared too, but more like the raven sister of Kate Jackson of The Long Blondes. And it’s a perfect tone for Trogon’s gothic take on psychedelia – bewitching and only just of this world.

Originally published in Loud And Quiet issue 27 & 28.
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