Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Guest Post: Imogen Reed - New Artist Alert: TUSK

Back for her third guest-post by popular demand, here's Imogen Reed's fantastic feature on Newcastle rockers TUSK. Enjoy!

Boy Bruce, The Mighty Atom / Subtle Fun cover art
image courtesy of wearetusk.bandcamp.com

One of the best places to discover new music at the moment is Newcastle and one of the brightest bands to emerge from there are the four piece self styled “indie math-pop” band TUSK. They’ve just released their third single and with it launched their very own recording label “Into The Blue” records, too. The band comprises Thomas Robertshaw, Jonathon Evans, Andy Cutts and Sam Hodgson and they’re one of the most exciting new bands you could hope to hear.

New single
Following on from the critically acclaimed success of their first two EPs, “Before The End/As You Begin” released in August last year and April 2012’s “Lloyd Fleet”, as of August 27th the band have just put out their third single, a double A-Side release called “Boy Bruce, The Mighty Atom/Subtle Fun”. You can download all three releases from their bandcamp.com page and it is definitely well worth a listen.
Trying to find another band past or present to compare TUSK to is very difficult indeed as they seem to defy pigeonholing. Their sound is very unique and they mix intricate guitar parts with storming bass lines and really assured vocals. This is the video for one half of their new single “Boy Bruce, The Mighty Atom”
They create a wonderful musical atmosphere, quite ethereal in places and remarkably fresh sounding considering the dearth of guitar-by-numbers bands there are out there at the moment who all seem to want to look and sound like each other. Listening to these guys is a breath of fresh air in a quite frankly, stale, sweaty, rehearsal room, smelling of cigarette ash and beer dregs, that have been there mouldering since Britpop tailed off in the late 1990s. At their heart is a good, solid guitar band and one that could really deserves to go places if the music buying public could be persuaded away from all the identikit groups that are out there.

Previous releases
This is the band’s second single “Lloyd Fleet” which was released earlier this year:
Again, this is another prime example of how they combine really intricate guitar rhythms with strong vocals. If you didn’t know any better you’d say they’d been around for years, honing their craft and gigging. There’s something very shy and unassuming about them too, they’ve none of the cocky “we’re ace” swagger that some groups with much less talent have.

Critically acclaimed
They’ve had a lot of critical acclaim and praise from those who are really in the musical know. BBC Radio 6’s very own Tom Robinson has singled them out for a few mentions and they’ve had a number of really successful sessions on BBC Radio Tees, too. Some of the videos for those sessions are accessible on their YouTube subscription page here, WeAreTusk.
They sometimes like to throw in a few unexpected covers; highlights so far have been a version of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and Wham’s “Club Tropicana”. These are done with their own typical brand of quiet enthusiasm and really show off their considerable style and talent.

image courtesy of wearetusk.bandcamp.com
Difficulties of student life
If you’re in the position of living the difficult student life at the moment and thinking about having to do everything on the cheap, from food shopping to clothes purchases and making all sorts of cutbacks from stopping smoking, buying Chantix online or finding other ways to kick the habit, then it’s sometimes nice to try and use a bit of really good music as therapy to make tailing off cigarettes much easier and relaxing. One of the best ways to get your music for a reasonable price is from bandcamp and when you look at TUSK’s page, you’ll see a whole host of other bands that they recommend. Sometimes the downloads are available for free, so while you’re there, check them out too and maybe make yourself up an old style mix tape for literally next to no money at all.
You might also want to think about putting the saved cash towards going to see TUSK play live somewhere, which is highly recommended. They’ve got a few gigs coming up in Newcastle during the next couple of months or so, details of which can always be found at their Facebook page which you can find here.
The band’s next gig is coming up on 21st October as part of the Oxjam Music Festival where they’ll be playing alongside lots of other local acts. At the very least, downloading their singles from Bandcamp is definitely the way to go, you seriously won’t regret it.

Friday, 14 September 2012

New Artist Alert: Mister Vertigo

In keeping with bands from across the pond may I introduce to you another of Boston's musical exports, 'Mister Vertigo'. The rocking quintet have been together for twelve years and have a whole host of DIY EPs and albums under their belts, not to mention having worked with top US producers Scott Riebling (Fall Out Boy, Weezer) and Brian Charles (The Figgs, Azure Ray).

Mister Vertigo, now part of the Zippah Records family, are prolific songwriters having recently written a plethora of tracks recently. The band are set to release their next single 'Taciturn' in early October, which will include three bonus track as part of 'Metatheory', and I've had a little pre-listen...

Taciturn is fit to burst with a great spectrum of musical influences apparent, with the likes of Pearl Jam to Weezer to The Beach Boys hidden somewhere in the folds of the track. The chord progression and form are simple but effective; the vocals sit proudly atop the mix, sometimes with nice harmonic backing, as the chorus follows the wails of lead guitar. Extended solo sections are a feature, so if you're a fan of winding guitar this one's definitely for you. The rhythm section are grooving along, holding everything together very capably, as the lead vocals, laced with passion and a little desperation (the good sort), project strongly and lead the charge. The track, albeit a little short with a slightly abrupt ending, is a great pop-rock tune that's sure to be a favourite for fans and critics alike.

Mister Vertigo are on Facebook, so keep in touch with the guys to make sure you get your hands on Taciturn when it's released early next month. In the meantime, there's plenty of music and pictures to whet your appetite. Enjoy :)

New Artist Alert: Prospect Hill

When We Were Beautiful are happy to welcome to our list of newly featured artists American-rockers Prospect Hill, a 5-piece hard-rock outfit from Boston. The band, veterans of the 'new-music' scene having been together since 2007, pride themselves on their strong work ethic, and have recently released the hard-hitting album 'Impact' under Carved Records.

Having been available since the end of August, I've had a listen to the album's lead-single 'Come Alive', and it's a real ball-grabbing rocker. The intro is relentless, effortlessly easing into a half-time feel as the verse sidles in, quickly and efficiently. The drums have a lovely grooving feel to them, as harsh guitar noise sits atop the foundations of track, led confidently by a great, classic rock vocal. There's a polished 'Hinder' feel to the track, but with elements of some darker, more underground sounds creeping in to maintain a real rocking edge. The chorus returns to the double-time feel as in the intro, shifting up a gear and taking no prisoners before returning to the driving riff and restoring familiarity. The track takes no shit and gets to the point quickly; there's no space for unnecessary here as the second chorus merges flawlessly into the middle eight and, before you know it, we're going back around again for the final chorus. At just under three and a half minutes, it's probably the perfect radio-ready rock-song, and is only missing a guitar solo in my humble opinion. Otherwise, it's a great rock track that I can't find fault with and, if this is your thing, the song fits as snugly as a favourite old pair of jeans that you've been wearing for years, and you're going to love it.

Be sure to check out Prospect Hill on Facebook to check out photos, live dates, and have a listen to Come Alive and the rest of the album. And if you've really got some time on your hands, delve into the rather lengthy bio to really get a feel of what these guys are all about.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Guest Post: Jim Mackney - Gallows, 'Gallows' Review

I'm very pleased to introduce a good friend of mine and a very talented writer to you, a one Mr Jim Mackney, who is debuting as a guest-writer for When We Were Beautiful with a review of Gallows' latest self-titled offering. Here's to many more!

When Gallows released ‘Death Is Birth’ late last year it was a statement of intent from a band written off by some quarters of their fan base and some music journalists who should have known better. Gallows have always been more than the sum of their parts and their parts are making such a wonderful racket on their new eponymously titled third album you’d think that they had concealed a nuclear warhead in every disc. This album is for those people that wrote them off but if not more importantly it sounds like this album is for Gallows. 

The album opens with ‘Victim Culture’, a song that typifies Wade’s performance from the off. A woman’s voice trails off after delivering a solemn series of questions and in comes Wade, screaming at the top of his lungs ‘IN US, WE TRUST’, before launching into a verse so cursive and antagonistic you can almost feel the spittle coming out from the speakers and with that you’re slipping into Gallows’ vice like grip and there’s no way back. 

The latest single ‘Outsider Art’ showcases Wade dictating the momentum of the song with such a galloping pace you can sense the world around you spin that little bit faster, you’re not sure of where you are anymore and the world you’re in is now run by Gallows and they’re showing you the night of your life. The disenchanted and broken world view given over on Grey Britain is still present on this record (if a lot less blatantly) but it is done in such way that that you want to live there, you want this world to envelop your every pore. 

Gallows have presented the world with a snap shot of punk rock history with this release and present is sounds are akin to the snotty British golden age, brutal Eighties hardcore and even some punk’n’roll for good measure. They’ve boiled all these elements down and created a record that is unmistakeably punk rock in 2012. 

Musically on this album Gallows have never sounded tighter. Every guitar line laid down by Steph Carter and Laurent Barnard strikes harder than anything on the previous two albums and perhaps even, every song on this record contains guitar lines as strong and memorable as seen on, ’In The Belly Of A Shark’. The drums are battered and driven in every song to breaking point by Lee Barratt, proving that there are very few better drummers in punk rock right now. 

‘Odessa’ and ‘Depravers’ come in with a shit-kicking fury (one veiled under static, the other brutal from the off) and are arguably the songs that every Gallows fan has wanted them to make. Coming in at a pummelling five minutes and twenty five seconds it contains four guttural verses, two gang vocal choruses that are begging to be performed live and contain drums that drill your head into the nearest wall leaving you wanting the wonderful pain to stop but you know if it did that your life wouldn’t quite be the same again. 

The song that really sets this record apart from any previous Gallows release however is ‘Cross of Lorraine’, the final track on the album. At the point it starts you’ve been listening to the album for twenty nine minutes and eight seconds and you’re done; you’re hanging on the ropes wanting nothing more than for your trainer to throw in the towel but he’s just stood there shaking his head, refusing to let you quit, refusing to see your broken body climb out of the ring, and just as you shout him to do it, he throws your body back into the ring and all you can hear is Wade singing ‘You could never understand what it took for me to be your man’ and the venomous guitar lines return and the nuclear missile drums are dropping around your head once more. During the chorus of ‘GET UP, GET UP, you know it’s true’, you throw a flurry of quick fire punches and as ‘Always waiting for the death of the death of love’ fills your body with a nauseating desire for all this to be over, you realise you can only just about find the strength for one final breath. Wade MacNeil, Steph Carter, Stuart Gili-Ross, Laurent Barnard and Lee Barratt have beaten you to a pulp but you’re still breathing and more importantly they are still breathing. This is Gallows. They’re one of the most important bands around right now and you wrote them off? You deserved the beating.


Jim Mackney writes his own blog, which you can enjoy here.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

New Artist Alert: Observing The Ghost - EP Review

'Ghost rock' is not a sub-genre I am all too familiar with. Apparently, there are two criteria that must be met before you can describe yourself as pioneers of such a style. Thus, progressive, atmospheric, and psychadelic feels must be key features in your sound, and all your members' names must start with the letter B. Or at least these two points are true of 'Observing The Ghost', the ghost-rocking quintet from Portsmouth, UK.

Observing The Ghost have spent the past year or two making a name for themselves across the South-Coast, playing in a whole load of venues I'm all too familiar within in the Southampton/Portsmouth/Winchester areas. The guys are due to release their debut album 'Burn The Tsunami' on Coffee Jingle Records on October 26th, but until then I've had a listen to last year's EP 'We Will Find The Sun'.

With five tracks on offer, the EP kicks off with 'Now We Are Shadows', and sure enough my progressive and atmospheric senses are tingling. With a nod to the former, the vocals don't kick in until over a minute into the track; perhaps the guys are setting out their 'progressive stall' if you will, but I can't help but feel myself yearning for a much quicker introduction. The way the track starts on the EP could be a great feature live, but I'd love for it all to kick in at 25 seconds, there's a great window for a real punchy drop. But that's just me. When it does kick in, the wall of sound is so dense and texturally thick that there's a great platform to experiment with layering and building throughout the song which I, as the listener, look forward to. The vocals are simple but effective and the drums are interesting behind the scene-setting guitar and fort-holding bass. The chorus is a little messy but that's more a nod to the texture and I'm sure works well live, and I love the progression from half-time to double-time and back to a settling half-time in the second verse. There's a slight unsettling nature apparent in the vocals now with a few effects creeping in, showcasing a dip into psychadelic and electronic quarters that works really well. There's no hiding from the fact that it's a bit of a monster in length, with a self-indulgent guitar section which extends into the outro but it's certainly a monster musically as well, a great opener.

'Angles and Opinons' marks the half-way point of the EP, with more unnerving electronica-laced riffs and rhythms before the vocals seek to find some common ground in the verse. Vocally, the chorus sounds a little weak compared with the music on show but melodically it is branching into the stadium-rock-friendly progression that is also cited amongst the band's influences, perhaps a hint of Coldplay somewhere in the mix. Again it makes for a really interesting audio offering though, something a little different from the norm and daring to hold its own. The track is less memorable than our opener but is still in keeping with the theme of the EP and I definitely wouldn't go as far as to describe it as a filler, ending a lot stronger than it began.

'Rebirth in Reflections' is the EP's closing statement, headed with an interesting groove and settling into a nice 6/8 signature. It's a much calmer affair than its predecessors but it feels as if the band have thought long and hard about the tracklisting of the EP which signifies a real journey for the listener. The drums stand out for all the right reasons once more, showcasing yet more creative grooves and fills as the track closes the EP and rounds off our musical outing safely yet comfortably. I'm not sure on the guitar tone for the short solo section that falls off into obscurity towards the end but overall this marks the finale well to a great-sounding, and altogether rather different, EP as the full-band bring around the last chorus one more time with a final goodbye.

Observing The Ghost will be on the road in support of their debut album from 19th October, for full info on locations and to keep up to date with the band, be sure to check them out on Facebook

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Video Release: Kyoto Drive - 'Breathe'

The Kyoto Drive lads have been busy recently, and I'm happy to share with you their video for the track 'Breathe' taken from their new mini-album 'The Approach'. Adam Binder, of Kyoto Drive, had this to say about the track:

"Breathe, the song, is basically about sex, lets not skip around that fact. The song is written from the viewpoint of the boy, looking for some kind of sign that the girl is enjoying herself as much as he is. So it's kind of a love song, kind of not, and no matter what guys say, we've all been there, we've all waited for that second of recognition from that girl that we REALLY liked. So following on from that we really wanted to do a boy/girl story style video, keep it in theme with the song, plus we've done the whole band performance video thing, we wanted to try something new. This is what Josh the director came up with..."

The band have a busy tour schedule over the next few months, including a UK tour support with Hawthorne Heights


Also the mainland Europe tour with There For Tomorrow of Hopeless Records has just been confirmed and announced.




31/10 B72, VIENNA (AT)


Check out the video for yourselves below, and be sure to keep in touch with the guys on Facebook