Saint Max & The Fanatics are Max, Eliot, Fraser, Muir, Scott and Aldo, who hail from both Glasgow and Edinburgh in Scotland.
Together they create a joyous little racket. A quintessentially British sound with an open door policy on influences, incorporating a whole raft of luminaries from a rich pop family; Ala The Libertines’ devil may care attitude, the bouncy ska-pop rhythms of Madness and soulful horns of Dexys Midnight Runners. These echoes are never too much to bear, rather, they are effectively stitched together with swooping vocals, frenetic choruses and razor sharp lyrics, marking 18-year-old frontman Max Syed-Tollan as a songwriter beyond repute. While spritely gems such as ‘Soul Surrender’, ‘Afraid of Love’ & ‘Glasgow’ set the agenda for their insidiously catchy debut album, Saint Max is Missing and the Fanatics are Dead, there are pensive and emotive moments between the rhythmic frenzy of this indie-punk-ska-soul combo. Emotive and stirring renditions of ‘Sadsong’ & ‘Book Review’ offer a wistful and wilful insight, and display an added capacity to his songwriting. An insidiously catchy, plucky and utterly loveable band, who manage it all with swagger and style.
You can check out some choice picks from Saint Max and the Fanatics below or give their debut LP a listen here.
Sen Segur are quite the pop music recycling plant. These Welsh psych-rock wonders – Benjamin Ellis, Sior Amor, Dafydd Evans & Gethin Davies – melt down bit ‘n pieces from past decades of the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s & ’90s, and press it all into something new and rather exciting.
Performing in both Welsh and English, the four-piece already have a number of releases under their belt, constituting to a fun and supremely engaging collection of modern psych-pop. Sen Segur’s own reserved dreamworld of odd ball wizardry is one of psychedelic playfulness, splotches of spaced out throwbacks and straight-up riffs which spills over into our dimension to produce lovely, soft and dizzying psych pop songs. When they find their groove, as they do with their latest singles ‘Love Zebra’ & ‘Get On Up (And Get Back Down)’, it is a blissfully enjoyable experience. Sen Segur have happened upon a sound sparkling with enough ingenuity and charm, to make the past seem like an undiscovered country, well worth taking a trip to. Oh yes. This is great stuff indeed.
All aboard for the wondrous and imaginative world of Sen Segur? You can listen to and download some choice cuts below.
Oh Boland are a garage rock trio – Niall Murphy, Éanna Mac Donnchadha and Simon McDonagh – from Tuam, Co. Galway.
Formed just over a year ago, the Tuam trio’s sound borrows from an earthy mix of garage rock, indie, pop and some local guitar flavours. It’s rough, ragged and abrasive, yet Oh Boland present an utterly charming and lovable listening experience. Amid all the general abrasiveness of thrashing guitars, thundering basslines and growling vocals; every rumbling note proves their music ever more captivating and palatable, through a combination of sweet melodiousness and unusual off-kilter oddity. Oh Boland have taken up a sizable portion of my musical intake of late, and to put it simply, they are utterly fuckin’ brilliant! No nonsense, no faffing about, just top notch tunes done with style and swagger. This here only scratches the surface of their many virtues and given some of your attention, their music will do the rest of the convincing. Bands of this ilk are relatively scarce in Ireland, which is all the more reason to treasure them so.
There’s some choice cuts below to set you on your way, and their two excellent EPs, Oh! and Ho!, are available todownload free at Bandcamp
Gangs are a four-piece indie-rock band – Jordan Curtis, Dan Smith, James Connolly and Jonny Halpin – from Tallaght in Dublin.
Their brand of ‘indie-rock’, loosely speaking of course, is inspired by ’80s bands like The Smiths, The Jam or The Cure combined with a nod here and there to more modern contemporaries such as say, The Libertines and their ilk, or mod revivalists The Rifles. Inspiration is one thing, harnessing it and putting your own stamp and style to it is another matter entirely. Gangs pull this particular feat off with considerable gusto, adding their own spirit to proceedings, this gang of four mete out some tasty tunes. They harness all their mojo from a combo of catchy guitar riffs, energetic melodies and powerful vocals; of which their two singles to date are testament to. ‘Crumbs in my Bed’ is a blast of hyperactive indie-punk while ‘Down Boy’ is more of an indie tune and less storming, but just as brash. From the outside anyway, Gangs seem to making a bit of name for themselves.
You can check out some their tunes below or catch them in the flesh when they play The Grand Social w/ longstanding BarryGruff favorites The Statics and Otherkin this Friday. More info here.
CaStLeS are Cynyr and Dion Hamer of We Are Animal, who are joined by Calvin Thomas on bass, completing the Welsh trio. Their music is an engrossing experience and a joy to behold, yet with an overwhelming oddity to it. Their reverb soaked melodies and jerking riffs are irrefutably infectious, all rounded off perfectly with an off-kilter oddness and some distinctly Welsh lilted vocals. The only fear is, if there is one, as this is a side-project it may not get the attention it really deserves. No doubt about it, there’s plenty of legs to this one. Also, in case you were wondering, there’s no need to Fret, We Are Animal are very much alive a kicking. The band are currently working on second album. A creative bunch aren’t they?
There are some choice cuts to whet the appetite below and if they are to your liking, there’s plenty more where that came from on Soundcloud.
Channel Swimmer is the alias of Birmingham based Welsh beatsmith, aka 25-year-old Mathew Mayes, who, only a few months back, released his audacious debut record to the world.
A culmination of five years work, Alphabet contains 26 tracks ordered from A–Z, and clocks in at a nice 1 hour and 45 mins. Daunting as that may sound, this lavish exploration through through genres, styles and eras, doesn’t for one moment enter the realms of tedium. In fact, as soon as you hit play on this meticulously crafted record, you will be lost in a sea of breathtakingly lush layers, choice samples and snappy beats, which maintains a shimmering warm glow throughout. Alphabet is one of those records which manages a real sense of familiarity without having heard it before. Touching on feelgood territories usually associated with the likes of Washed Out, The Go Team, late ’90s David Holmes and our very own, The Expert, he’s created a sound which oozes nostalgic feelings for all manner of hazy summer days and nights. Channel Swimmer spent his time with this one, letting things simmer until things were just right.
There’s some choice cuts below but looking past that, you can pick Alphabet from bandcamp now, just ‘name your price’ and away you go. Dive in!
The Rifts are a four piece – Matt Thomas, Lewis Stubbs, Chris Platt and Tim Shotton – from my old stomping ground of Wrexham, in North Wales.
Formed last year, these four guys, all 18 years of age, are a powerhouse of indie-rock tunes, something their recently released debut EP, Between These Times is a testament to. The opening three tracks – ‘Fly’, ‘He Said, She Said’ and ‘Fire In Your Eyes’ – are a full on, uncompromising and clattering onslaught of indie-rock fury; driven by pummeling drums, choppy punk-funk guitars, frantic rhythms and dashes of boisterous energy. Impressive as the opening salvos are, it is closer, ‘Between The Times’ which is the EP’s finest moment. Slowing the tempo slightly, it’s a grungy, ’90s garage rock sprawl, and a thundering four minutes of sharp edged riffs, menacing melodies and buckets of righteous fury. A touch of Pavement meets Idlewild circa 1998 if you will, which is no bad thing at all. These most promising of beginnings suggests rock’n’roll is alive and well, and living in North Wales.
You can check out two choice cuts from The Rifts below. If they are to you liking you can grab their debut EP, Between These Times from bandcamp now. Oh and it’s FREE.
From the one that slipped under the radar department comes Dublin electronic duo, Terriers, aka Peter Ward and Ronan Downing.
The duo impressed on numerous occasions throughout the year, yet somehow managed to be overlooked. Their debut EP, Marie Celeste, kicked off an impressive 2013, while their latest tracks ’13/13′ & ‘For You’ adding further clout to their growing credentials as classy purveyors of synth-driven minimal electronica. Their inspiration is derived from an admiration of atmosphere, the grimey disarray of Dublin city and an overall love for melody and underground bass tones. Terriers’ compositions take on much of this character, providing predominantly downtempo, elegantly produced electronic jams with an after hours, late night atmospheric feel. They’ve captured both a vibe and a groove all of their very own, in short, fantastic stuff all round. And a pleasure to finally put it into words.
Like what you hear below? There’s plenty more where that came from on Soundcloud and you can get their Marie Celeste EP for free from bandcamp. Also, Terriers play Junior Spesh @ Twisted Pepper w/ Princess & Monto on Dec 12th.
Regular visitors to the blog will be well aware of my penchant for music with a quirky, playful psychedelic underbelly, and Portuguese quartet Cave Story, are yet another case in point.
Cave Story have released an EP of three demos, offering proof of their credentials as virtuoso’s of this joyful style. The EP is a rollicking, breathtaking romp through bygone eras, bringing to mind classic band after classic band while conjuring up a modern and original take of their own. Opener, ‘Crystal Surf’ has a dark, ominous post-punk vibe whilst ‘Martin Stellar’ embraces this sound but sees the band experiment with playful keys and echoey vocals. The standout of the bunch is ‘Ghost Steps’, a stomping psych-garage number. It contains the obvious protrusion of a ‘6os infatuation with echoes of the psychedelic-era Small Faces, the Kinks circa Village Green Preservation Society and more recently, The Bees. Three very contrasting yet equally wonderful demos from Cave Story but one thing is for sure, their next move should be eagerly awaited.
You can sample some choice cuts from the EP below or pop over to bandcamp, ‘name your price’ and download it.
Paddy Hanna is a name that many may be familiar with from his role’s in Grand Pocket Orchestra, No Monster Club, Skelocrats and Ginnels. One would think he might have enough on his plate with four bands as it is, but not so.
With his new solo venture Hanna has enlisted the help of some familiar faces Mark Chester (Ginnels) Bobby Aherne (NMC) and Enda Canavan (GPO). With his first solo offering of ‘Join The Army’ and ‘Barry White’, Hanna is in a somewhat more laid back and relaxed mood. Two absolutely gorgeous tracks of mellow yet pleasantly chipper indie-pop with Hanna’s voice filling the songs with so much warmth. He (and and band) played their first live show down at EP last weekend and the set was an absolute treat too as it goes.
The single package of ‘Join The Army’ / ‘Barry White’ is out now on Popical Island. You can give ’em the once over below or download it gratis via bandcamp.
Junior Bill & The Scallies are a four-piece from Cardiff, fronted by singer/songwriter/guitarist Junior Bill (aka Rob Nichols) and ably assisted by his band The Scallies.
Together they form a pretty formidable union, bashing out an eclectic mix of energetic and politically charged ska-tinged pop music, drawing influence from Reggae, Folk, Hip Hop, Punk and Skiffle. Their music displays a fine ear for melody and a breathtaking talent for a lyrical turn. Be it ‘Umbrella Pedestrians’, a stunningly ear-catching reggae-roots-rocker or ‘Tatty Laces’, which is just as lovable but Bill’s lyrical endeavors enter a new level altogether. Beyond knocking out tip-top catchy-as-hell tunes, Junior Bill is a man with his eyes open to the world around him. What makes the difference is his ability to interpret and digest what he sees into succinct tales that tackle everything from discrimination toward young people by the UK justice system to the class war being waged by the UK government. All done with energetic enthusiasm where by both style and substance are met with equal measures.
Check out ‘Umbrella Pedestrians’ and ‘Tatty Laces’, a fine introduction to his streetwise sounds.
Now, Kyle Lee and the Mexican Walking Fish isn’t likely to be a name you’ll forget in hurry but reassuringly, the music is just as memorable as their handle. The likes of ‘Humble Human Being’, ‘When we’re Lost’ and ‘Things Never Change’ flow gently by, amid a sea of subtle instrumentation and soft lilting vocals. Backed by The Mexican Walking Fish, Lee’s soft whispering lyricisms are shrouded in melancholy, adding a comforting air of vulnerability which binds everything together beautifully. There is a willingness to branch out beyond the relative simplicity of ballads, ‘Humble Human Being’ is peppered with brass, organ and banjo, lifting it to lofty heights. To put it simply; these are beautiful, simplistic and assured songs.
You can listen to a few choice cuts from Kyle Lee and the Mexican Walking Fish below.