ALBUM: Lost Chimes – ‘Lost Chimes’

Lost Chimes is Gemma and Nicky Kirk, an indie-folk duo from north London. The husband and wife team have now joined musical forces after ten years of playing in separate DIY, folk, punk-rock and post-hardcore bands.

Their new captivating self-titled album blends traditional folk with a contemporary twist. The storytelling lyrics, delicate finger-picked guitar and memorable melodies keep your ears enticed from the first track to the last. 

Opening track, and first single, ‘Island’ is a soothing track about a mystery island. Gemma’s smooth, crystal clear vocals gently bob over lush and jangly guitar lines like a boat upon the waves, with the second verse painting a beautifully nostalgic picture: “You’ll do a lot of talking and I’ll do a lot of listening and one day the records will come out of their sleeves / the one that has my name on the back and the one that has the secret track, and everything between the backdoor and the sea wall…” The accompanying video of overlaid singing, sea, and birds perfectly complements the musical content, which evokes thoughts of nature and water.

My personal album highlight, ‘Voices’, offers a traditional folk-inspired melody, encompassing a fiddle which weaves around the vocal lines with a waltz-like rhythm. The sparse yet present drum beat gets your foot tapping and gives it a sea shanty feel. Gemma’s vocals may be delicate, yet they emit a strength bringing to mind Pentangle’s Jacqui McShee.

‘Stone Steps’ offers Nicky’s most interesting guitar riff on the album, a melancholic yet hopeful refrain. Gemma’s lullaby vocals in the verses erupt into something more powerful and reminiscent of Delores O’Riordan’s vocal in the chorus. Later on in the song, a spoken word section is introduced, giving your ears a new element to enjoy.

The duo’s cover of Joy Division’s iconic song ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ is both atmospheric and haunting. The finger-style of the guitar combined with the cinematic vocal arrangement does this tricky-to-cover song justice, retaining its sadness and depth whilst adding Lost Chimes’ own spin.

Ella Patenall
@nazandellamusic

ALBUM: Fightmilk – ‘Contender’

Recorded in two sessions a year apart, GIHE faves Fightmilk’s second album Contender is worth every second of the wait, following 2018’s Not With That Attitude. The band’s writing and recording process has understandably changed over the past twelve months. Combined with the influence of their new bassist Healey and and an expanded musicality, their style has developed without losing any of the raw emotion at the heart of what makes Fightmilk special.

The album kicks off with an authentic false start. This, along with later interludes, makes for lovely humanising moments that give DIY bands so much charm. Then the music comes in hard and fast. From the first beat, you get big drums, powerful vocals and guitars layered beautifully over each other. The album is rich with riffs, fantastic flourishes of strings that make every song pop. Both in individual tracks and across the album as a whole, the instruments build to roaring climactic moments that launch the vocals to an impressive new reach. The band know how to use their instruments to ramp up the power of every track at exactly the right time.

The songs explore the human experience with Fightmilk’s distinct brand of unapologetic vulnerability. There are wonderfully fuzzy love songs (‘Overbite’, ‘Maybe’) and pettiness-about-your-ex songs and please-dump-your-awful-boyfriend songs (‘Hey Annabelle’). There is also a song about “a hypothetical billionaire and his hypothetical pop-star girlfriend”, which is definitely hypothetical…

The lyrics are intense and personal in a way you can’t help but relate to. Every song is evidently grounded in real experiences and so imbued with emotion. The themes don’t shy away from the darker side of reality, but examine the impact of heartache, the patriarchy or corrupt governments on your soul with a twinkling, scuzzy charm. There’s a great balance between the reflective songs and hopeful ones. It starts and finishes with uplifting tracks that beautifully frame the journey the album takes you on, concluding with a sense of scrappy DIY optimism.

The album captures the essence of 2021 perfectly, drifting easily between plague and feelings and third wave capitalism and exes. The range of powerful energetic songs and more gentle ones fit well alongside each other without jarring. The changes in tone and emotion between tracks flow together with an endearing ease. Contender is at once cathartic, validating and empowering. It’s everything I want in the music that will propel me out of the lockdown slump and into a year that makes up for every lost minute.

Contender is out now via Reckless Yes. Buy on bandcamp now.

Kirstie Summers
@actuallykurt

ALBUM: Fears – ‘Oíche’

An intuitive artist who has transformed her darkest moments into graceful electronic soundscapes, Fears aka Constance Keane has shared her debut album Oíche. Released via her own label TULLE, the Irish-born, London-based musician balances her intense ruminations on trauma alongside delicate synth loops and tentative beats to shine a light on a personal metamorphosis.

Much like the coarse fabric she used to create her altruistic dress on the album’s artwork, Fears allows her lived experiences take up space and permeate this record, which swells with unflinching honesty and elegance. Oíche, meaning “night”, is a graceful collection of shadowy lullabies that spans five years of emotional territory for Fears, and the result is a truly immersive and enlightening body of work.

Since it was written & recorded in the music room of the hospital she was once an inpatient in, opener ‘h_always’ has remained untouched. “I’m black and blue / on the inside too” she softly repeats, juxtaposing her emotions alongside ward paraphernalia and atmospheric guitar lines, capturing a mindset that is revisited, dismantled and rebuilt over the course of Oíche.

She taps into the fluctuating nature of her mental health with magnetic synths and soft percussion on tracks like ‘bones’, ‘daze’, ‘vines’ and ‘Blood’, each embellished with vocals that ache with gentle sincerity. Her cyclical, buoyant synth loops mirror intrusive or recurring thought patterns, whilst her lyrics capture the mental push-and-pull of processing, accepting and learning to let things go. This is epitomised on ‘Fabric,’ which resonates deeper each time it’s listened to.

Her moving account of gripping her knees tightly while confessing “I’m so sorry for the mess I a made” on ‘dents’ is deeply affecting and marks a change in the record’s tone. The instantly mood-lifting ‘Brighid’ – a home-recording of Fears’ sister and late Grandmother in casual conversation – invites listeners to share in an intimate family moment. It beautifully precedes ‘tonnta’, where Fears weaves memories of her Grandmother into her lyrics, crafting a fitting tribute to the person who originally taught her how to sew.

The resilience of her familial relationships are acknowledged on the album’s poignant closing track ‘two_’. Whilst it centres around Fears’ own experiences of self-harm, the repeated sentiment “If not for my family / I’d never have healed” is deeply moving. It’s this unwavering love and support – whether from others, or mined from deep within herself – that’s helped to shape Oíche and why it’s such a cathartic, cohesive collection of songs.

It is a privilege to listen to this considered, intensely personal record.

 

Order your copy of Fears’ debut album Oíche here

Follow Fears on bandcampSpotifyInstagramTwitter & Facebook
Follow TULLE on Instagram & Twitter

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

ALBUM: ĠENN – ‘Liminal’

Made for playing loud, Brighton-based genre-blenders ĠENN have released Liminal, an extended play that takes us on an audible journey of post-punky psychedelia. Following the release of their debut record, 2018’s Titty Monster (released under their previous name, Cryptic Street), ĠENN left their Maltese archipelago in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea to shoegaze at the British seaside, crafting six tracks that clearly define their transition to a more free-flowing sound, whilst still staying intrinsically true to their DIY punk-rock ethos.

Opening with ‘Feel’, Leanne Zammit’s funky basslines and Leona Farrugia’s ethereal vocals build to a hypnotic hazy, wavy kaleidoscopic conclusion of psychedelic instrumentation; perfectly encapsulating all the elements of seventies acid rock such as The Doors. Next up, Janelle Borg hooks us in (pun intended) with a cacophony of melodic guitar riffs on ‘Mackerel’s Funky Mission’, whilst Leona’s seductive spoken word escapism is steeped in mesmerising, rolling percussion, courtesy of Sofia Rosa Cooper. It’s fun to pretend you’re something else, so why not pretend to be a fish?

’23rd March’ – a date we here in the UK will not reflect upon with any warmth – forces us back to reality with passionate lyrics concerning the current political landscape, written in the style of Maltese expression. Leona prays for the souls of an inept Government and their failure in handling Covid-19, Brexit and Black Lives Matter. “I’m just gonna say a lil’ prayer for your soul / Yeah, we ain’t gonna stop ’cause you told us so!”

Chants for revolution see ĠENN exploring darker territories with the more politically direct and raw ‘Catalyst’; a furious combination of scuzzy guitar riffs, rumbling beats, and anthemic, indignant Riot Grrrl lyrics rallying for change: “We’re awake now / Stay awake now!”

‘Just Another Sad Song’ follows with a slow burn of emotionally-driven melody, making way for Janelle’s guitar to flourish – a tender moment further showcasing the versatility of the band – before ‘Falling Out’ concludes Liminal with an upbeat fusion of fuzzy basslines, grungy guitar licks, disco-influenced percussion, and a catchy Warpaint-esque chorus that will stay with you long after the needle is lifted.

With Liminal, ĠENN have produced an infectious record that frequently flirts with psychedelia and flows with pop sensibilities; 22 minutes of raw, escapism-fuelled post-punk – worthy of repeat spins – that displays the passion and confidence of a band not afraid to experiment with their sound without compromise. “Take me to my destination / You know where I wanna go!”

Liminal is out now via Everything Sucks Music.

Ken Wynne
@ken_wynne

Photo Credit: Bridie Florence